Topsy Turvy – Pretty sure you’ve seen it or at least heard of it already, so won’t waste your time elaborating. If you haven’t, though – it’s the story of G&S creating the “Mikado”. I’ve spent waaaaay too much time watching this one.
The Story of Gilbert & Sullivan – The title pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? The film obviously doesn’t have quite as much time to go into detail as “Topsy Turvy” and, being from 1953, it is much more, er… simplistic than it would have been had it been produced nowadays, but it’s still compulsory viewing for any G&S enthusiast. Especially now that the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company is offering it for 10 quid.
Dick Deadeye, or Duty Done – crudely animated 1975 hybrid of pretty much all canonical G&S works, apart from, I think, “Ruddigore”. There are a couple of very mildly sexual jokes (e.g. Dick putting a beer mug on a waitress’s breast), the songs are plentiful, but in a strongly abridged form and with altered lyrics, but the story is so exorbitantly moronic that one wonders until the very end why one bothers. However, the production is, in some morbid way, fascinating thanks to its absolute trashiness. It remains unclear, though, who the target audience was supposed to be – a tad too rude for little kids and simply too wacky and harebrained for everyone else. Maybe that’s the reason the film still hasn’t been released in any digital format. Fancy spending 500 bucks for the VHS edition on Amazon US? (Not joking, check out the link above)
Gilbert and Sullivan, A Motley Pair – A light-footed 5-part documentary narrated by a formidable Simon Butteriss. And hey, the bonus disc contains another one, “A Salaried Wit”, about George Grossmith, based on his “Society Clown”.
The Pirates of the Pirates of Penzance – G&S are fighting pirates… the kind of pirates that violate copyright, that is. This one was produced for ITV in 1980, but I haven’t been able to find any info on the actual film. It’s not even on IMDb. Weird. If you’ve seen it, do let me know what you thought of it!
The Return of Gilbert & Sullivan – Again, G&S are involved in a fight, this time against the modernisation of modern operas. Apparently, this 35 min. comedy had been lost for half a century and has now finally been digitalised! Haven’t seen it, so can’t really make any statement about its quality.
The Gilbert and Sullivan Project – Three volumes containing interviews with Mike Leigh, Ken Russell etc. etc. etc. Haven’t seen it, to be honest – not so much because of the price (which is 20 bucks per disc), but just… well, I don’t think I’d be able to sit through three DVDs worth or interviews. But hey, if you do, let me know how you found the experience!
Now, the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company has been immensely assiduous and produced nothing short of an astronomic plethora of DVDs – not only with actual operettas (G&S, as well as others – such as “Cox & Box” or “The Zoo”), but also things like:
Will probably order “The Ladies of Gilbert and Sullivan” soon, after familiarising myself with the rest of their catalogue and deciding that else I want from it. Here’s the trailer: