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Billy Liar: 50th Anniversary Edition [UK] Blu-ray Review

billy-liar-uk-blu-ray-coverUnited-Kingdom-Flag-Orb-Icon-32px

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (24Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/24-bit-bit)
  • Subtitles: English HOH
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certificate: 12
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Run Time: 99 Mins.
  • Studio: StudioCanal
  • Blu-ray Release Date: May 6, 2013
  • List Price: £19.99

 –

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(The below TheaterByte screen captures are taken directly from the Blu-ray Discs and losslessly compressed in the PNG format. There should be no loss of picture quality with this format. All screen captures should be regarded only as an approximation of the full capabilities of the Blu-ray format.)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

Billy-Liar-UK-BD_02

John Schlesinger’s (Midnight Cowboy; Marathon Man) 1963 comedy Billy Liar, adapted from the Keith Waterhouse play, is a breezy and ironic glimpse into British working class escapism. Protagonist Billy “Liar” Fisher (Tom Courtenay; The Golden Compass) is an average working class bloke with a wild, Walter Mitty-like imagination. He uses his reveries to escape the mundanity of his job at an undertaker’s office and the bleakness of his close minded working class family. These vivid daydreams range from being a world saving general, to a heralded savior of the penal system, but mostly they revolve around romancing beautiful women. Two such real women eventually make their way into Billy’s life and try to jar him out of his fantasy world, into reality, and into a world of real love and romance, if he would be willing to grow up.

Billy Liar is one of the few comedies to come of of the British New Wave, and it combines the newfound interest in real, working class characters and their everyday problems, with a lighter wit, rather than the deep drama more closely associated with the genre. While Waterhouse’s screenplay adaptation from his own novel breezes along, it is the nearly effortless segues from reality to elaborate dream segments, guided by the careful hands of director John Schlesinger, that make Billy Liar well worth watching.

Courtenay is also rather proficient in his role as the dreamer Billy, coming off equally cynical, hopeful, and somehow pitiable at the same time. The film also marks an early appearance by Julie Christie (Troy; Hamlet; Don’t Look Now) as one of the real women in Billy’s life, pulling him into reality.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Billy-Liar-UK-BD_03

There’s a softness and often dullness to this AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement of Billy Liar from StudioCanal that often presents as a lack of contrast and somewhat artificial textural nature. While the film looks relatively clean, it is a bit too smooth, and shadows are never really black, lingering more in the greyish realm.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Billy-Liar-UK-BD_04

The monaural track, offered in LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit) is a bit boxy and scratchy by nature, but it gets its point across nevertheless. There are better soundtracks out there from the era, still, that have come to Blu-ray, but there are also worse. This one sits somewhere in the middle.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

Billy-Liar-UK-BD_05

Members of the cast, Tom Courtenay and Helen Fraser, are brought back for interviews in addition to further featurettes exploring the film, including an interview with contemporary director Richard Ayoade.

The supplements:

  • Remembering Billy Liar with Tom Courtenay and Helen Fraser (1.78:1; 1080i/50; 00:09:43)
  • Interview with Richard Ayoade (1.78:1; 1080i/50; 00:11:59)
  • A look through the Keith Waterhouse Archive with British Library Curator Zoe Wilcox (1.78:1; 1080i/50; 00:12:30)
  • Interview with Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley (1.78:1; 1080i/50; 00:09:34)
  • Behind the Scenes Stills Gallery (1080p/24)
  • Trailer (1.33:1; SD/PAL)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Billy-Liar-UK-BD_06

A classic British comedy from the British New Wave, Billy Liar would subsequently be remade into a television series, but this is where it all began, and is the classic worth seeing and owning. Thanks go to StudioCanal for reviving this one on Blu-ray and allowing cinephiles and newcomers alike to reassess this one.

Trailer

Additional Screen Captures

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Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

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[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00BD2SFG0[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

 Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

 

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