The Noel Coward Collection DVD
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Directed by Various (Compilation)
Produced in 1969-1991
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
Noel Coward was a cultural force that makes our present ‘national treasure’ Stephen Fry look like a lightweight college boy dabbling in revue. It would take one hell of a box set to fully serve Coward’s career — dramatist, actor, screenwriter, composer, director, all-round wit and raconteur — which effectively dominated English theatre, film and popular music during the pre-World War II years. Happily, this BBC collection goes a long way to capturing and preserving the man’s œuvre, which lent itself to TV and radio just as effectively as Coward turned his hand to everything else.
These seven, features-packed discs offer an exhaustive chronology of the highest quality BBC TV versions of Coward’s plays and short stories; a smattering of radio adaptations; a couple of fascinating TV interviews with the great man himself; and even a programme devoted to performances of his pithy, enduring songs.
At 20 hours’ running time, there’s far too much of the Noel Coward Collection to fully dissect here, but the highlights include Paul Scofied in Suite in Two Keys - the two late-period, companion-piece plays 'Come Into the Garden Maud' and 'A Song At Twilight'; the mouth-wateringly frothy Hay Fever, marvellously acted by Paul Eddington, Penelope Keith, Patricia Hodge and Joan Sims; and the opportunity to compare radio and TV versions of Private Lives, the former featuring said Mr Fry.
The superlative material notwithstanding, the great attraction of this box set is the quality of the acting. Although it’s a pity we don’t have usable recordings of the original performances by Gertrude Lawrence, John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, Alfred Lunt, Lynn Fontaine and Coward himself, the esteemed actors on display here — Scofield, Eddington, Keith, Hodge, Judi Dench, Michael Williams, Alec McCowan, Dandy Nichols, Patricia Hayes, Ian Richardson, Tom Courtenay and more — acquit themselves just as admirably, perhaps more so in some cases. If you like your acting and writing achingly ‘civilised’, then the Noel Coward Collection is for you.
Julian Upton on 24th December 2007
Author of 150 reviews
A star-studded collection of BBC adaptations of Coward's full-length plays, one acts and short stories. Contains: The Vortex, Hayfever, Private Lives (1976), Design for Living, Plays in Laughter, Suite in Two Keys and Tonight at 8:30.
Length: 1200 mins
Cat No: BBCDVD2566
Format: DVD Colour
- 7 discs
- Extras TBC.
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