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A Town Like Alice Blu-ray/DVD

Tuesday, 07 March 2017 00:00 Written by 

A Town Like Alice - out now on Blu-ray and DVDVirginia McKenna and Peter Finch star in this BAFTA-winning drama set in South East Asia during World War II, adapted from a novel by Nevil Shute. Jean Paget (McKenna – “Born Free”, “The Cruel Sea”) is a British secretary who is part of a group taken prisoner by the Japanese army. The men are trucked off to a prison camp whilst the women and children are ordered to march, under guard, across the region to either seek refuge or a means of getting to Singapore.

Aghast at the prospect of a 50 mile hike, the women then find they are not welcome at their destination and are told to continue walking for hundreds of miles, criss-crossing Malaya as it was then known. Exhausted, thirsty and hungry, members of the group fall ill and their future looks bleak. One glimmer of hope lies in a chance encounter with an Australian POW (Finch – “Network”, “Sunday Bloody Sunday”) who takes risks to come to their aid.

I was completely drawn in by this classic drama. The production is packed with memorable characters including some strong female roles, beautiful scenery and some very emotional scenes. It might initially appear to be a bit whimsical but there is plenty of bite and gravity in the cultural clashes between the prisoners and their Japanese captors.

McKenna is excellent in the central role, maintaining an elegant femininity whilst also forced to take responsibility for her boss’s three young children, and help to keep the spirits of the group of women as buoyant as circumstances permit.

Dark moments are contrasted by occasional humour, not least by some amusing, hair-raisingly defiant displays by some of the older women. The budding romance between McKenna and Finch’s characters does not stifle the drama, but rather provides a nice theme that only comes to the foreground later on in the film.

Great support comes from Finch, fellow prisoners Jean Anderson (Tenko), Marie Lohr (“Went the Day Well?”) and Renee Houston (“Repulsion”), as well as the Japanese officers and soldiers played by Tran Van Khe and Kenji Takaki (“The Long and the Short and the Tall”).

This excellent black and white movie looks better than ever thanks to Network’s new high-def transfer. The detail in the exotic landscapes is stunning, fully illustrating the battle against the elements and varied terrain the women have to endure, and the soundtrack and dialog are perfectly clear.

Special features include:

  • A Profile of “A Town Like Alice” (documentary)
  • Virginia McKenna archive interview (from 1987)
  • Peter Finch archive interview (from 1973)
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery

“A Town Like Alice” (1956) is out now on Blu-ray and DVD, courtesy of Network. The main feature has a running time of 116 minutes approx, carries a ‘PG’ certificate and retails for £14.99 on Blu-ray, £9.99 on DVD, or less from BY CLICKING HERE.


Last modified on Tuesday, 14 March 2017 09:16