The Ealing Studios Rarities Collection, Volume 1 [2 DVDs]: Escape! (1930) / West of Zanzibar (1954) / Penny Paradise (1938) / Cheer Up! (1936)

The Ealing Studios Rarities Collection, Volume 1 [2 DVDs]: Escape! (1930) / West of Zanzibar (1954) / Penny Paradise (1938) / Cheer Up! (1936)



This initial cross-section of Ealing Rarities spans a quarter of a century. The label Ealing commonly refers to films produced by Michael Balcon after he took over the studio in 1938 – but he inherited a growing concern from Basil Dean, whose company had built the studio at the start of the decade to exploit the new medium of talking pictures. The films made in his time are thus Ealing ones too, and it is fascinating to juxtapose titles from both periods.

Escape! is in fact pre-Ealing, a prestige version of the Galsworthy play directed elsewhere by Dean himself while he waited for his studio to be built. The other two Dean titles are modest genre items: the London musical Cheer Up!, and the northern comedy Penny Paradise, directed by the young Carol Reed. Then we jump through time to the colourful West of Zanzibar, sequel to Ealing’s more celebrated Where No Vultures Fly.

All four films stand up in their own right, but are even better when seen as a quartet. First, for the variety of their settings: Dartmoor locations, typical ‘West End’ sets, Liverpool and the Mersey, exotic Africa. Second, for their range of female roles. Escape! has a great range of past and future stars, from Mabel Poulton to Edna Best to Madeleine Carroll. Cheer Up! has the young Sally Gray. Penny Paradise has the young Betty Driver, who 60 years later would still be dispensing ‘Betty’s Hotpot’ in Coronation StreetWest of Zanzibar has Sheila Sim as the game warden’s wife: she has little to do other than change from one colourful frock to another, and the contrast with the stronger women of the 1930s films underlines the value of a collection like this one – with more to come.

Charles Barr


A global byword for cinematic quality of a quintessentially British nature, Ealing Studios made more than 150 films over a three-decade period. A cherished and significant part of British film history, only selected films from both the Ealing and Associated Talking Pictures strands have previously been made available on home-video format - with some remaining unseen since their original theatrical release.

The Ealing Studios Rarities Collection
 redresses this imbalance. Featuring new transfers from the best available elements, in their correct aspect ratio, this multi-volume collection showcases a range of scarce films from both Basil Dean’s and Michael Balcon’s tenure as studio head, making them available once more to the general public.

ESCAPE! (1930)
A study of punitive justice: the fate of a man who has been shut up in Dartmoor Prison and socially ruined. What treatment awaits him when he turns fugitive?
Black and White / 68 mins / 1.19:1 / Mono / English

An African tribe must seek new pastures. Can game warden Bob Payton persuade them to choose fertile soil and peaceful living over the many temptations of the city?
Colour / 92 mins / 1.33:1 / Mono / English

Liverpool tugboat captain Joe spends a weekly sixpence on the pools. When his first mate forgets to post the coupon as a winning line is drawn, comic chaos is the result!
Black and White / 69 mins / 1.33:1 / Mono / English

CHEER UP! (1936)
Countless comic situations and spectacular dance routines punctuate a tale of two struggling composers trying to gain backing for their musical comedy.
Black and White / 68 mins / 1.33:1 / Mono / English

[] Original Theatrical Trailer for West of Zanzibar
[] image gallery
[] West of Zanzibar promotional material PDF

UK Region 2 PAL Double-DVD set, Network/StudioCanal 2013

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