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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the TV series, Steptoe and Son always played with the audiences empathy. Old man Steptoe was a horrible man, but this was redeemed by the ludicrousness of his acts. Harold was naive and pretentious but because he was a rag and bone man nobody took him seriously. In this film someone does take Harold seriously and Steptoe is generally just horrible. The actors play their roles with their usual gusto, but the underlying love between Steptoe & his son that sustained the TV series is replaced here by something far less wholesome and more akin to psychological and emotional abuse. Cliff Owen (Director) had either never seen the series, or in this instance was incapable of capturing the subtlety and nuance that great comedy depends upon. Every gag is wrung dry and instead of pathos you get squalor. The TV series is and will remain a great example of British comedy, this film is not.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
User 'Cosmo-Bongo' and his wife must have led very sheltered lives if
they found this film 'horribly upsetting'. For millions of British
working class people at that time, this was their way of life;
cobblestones, tin baths, outside toilets, and all. If I were you, sir,
I'd stay well clear of 'A Clockwork Orange'. It'll most likely give you
The boom in films-based-on-British-sitcoms started in 1969 with 'Till Death Us Do Part and ended in 1980 with 'George & Mildred'. In between there was 'Dad's Army', 'On The Buses' ( three films in fact ), 'Man About The House', 'Please Sir!', and 'For The Love Of Ada' to name but a few. 'Steptoe & Son', while not a patch on the television series, is nevertheless an above average movie. Harold and Albert go to a stag night at the local rugby club, where the former is smitten by the vivacious stripper Zita ( Carolyn Seymour ). So smitten, in fact, that he proposes to and marries her. Of course the 'dirty old man' does not like this one little bit. When the couple go to Spain on honeymoon, he goes along with them, but gets food poisoning, and demands to go home. Harold is forced to leave his bride behind, where she is easy prey for the randy hotel manager...
Being a film this is of course ruder than the series. Harold uses bad language, there's nudity ( even Albert gets to display his bare bottom ), and lots of frank talk about sex. The conflict between the Steptoes escalates into full-scale war.
Carolyn Seymour is terrific. No wonder she was later asked to strip in workingmen's clubs for real! Also in the cast are Mike Reid ( who went on to become a star through 'The Comedians' television series ) and Perry St.Clare ( an alias for female impersonator Patrick Fyffe, later to become 'Dame Hilda Bracket' ). The film is a bit like 'The Bargee' ( also by Galton & Simpson, and starring Corbett ) in that it too moves from comedy to tragedy and back again. Corbett and Brambell are on sparkling form, particularly when they debate the future of the strange baby they've found in their stable. Only the scene near the end where Harold is beaten up by drunken Old Wendovians doesn't work.
Favourite bit? The old man bathing in the kitchen sink. You don't want to know where he puts the dish brush. Standing up, he accidentally exposes himself to a neighbour ( Patsy Smart ).
The film did well enough for a superior sequel two years later, entitled 'Steptoe & Son Ride Again'.
It was something of a trend in the 70s to make film versions of popular
sit-coms of the day. With one or two exceptions these were cheaply
made, second-rate efforts intended to cash in on the success of a
popular TV show and were therefore largely embarrassing to watch. The
first Steptoe and Son movie does, however, work fairly well.
The grit and seediness of the Steptoe's environment transfers very well to film and we get a valuable glimpse of a part of London which was grey, dilapidated and depressing...something we are never privy to in the TV series. With film censorship being slightly more relaxed than what could be seen or heard on television we get some hilarious outbursts from Harold and Albert, liberally peppered with swear words.
Of course the TV version of Steptoe is a sit-com and while this is funny in places the genuine tragedy of Harold and Albert's situation takes centre stage. Harold ends up getting hitched to a stripper but the match is doomed from the start due to his mixed feelings: all he wants to do is get away from his father and make something of himself yet abandoning him is the one thing he cannot do. We really do sympathise with Harold's plight in this movie and despise Albert's deviousness and thwarting him at every turn.
Of course, such sombre elements existed in the TV programme but due to them being mixed with relatively rapid comedy in 25 minute slots we accepted the character's situation without dwelling on it too much. This time round, with a longer running time and the tragi-drama fleshed out it sometimes makes for uncomfortable viewing.
All the leads perform well and this is a better example of how TV sit-coms could work as cinema spectaculars. Indeed, even if the characters weren't known from TV this has the potential to function well as a stand-alone movie.
See it and be pleasantly surprised.
This captures the heart and soul of the TV show.The two leads are so realistic that you could not really see them as anything other than a classic double act.a neat story even if the ending is predictable.but its stays true to character.some good genuine laughs.though you do feel for the younger Steptoe.
Steptoe and Son was massively popular in the UK, and sure enough in
keeping with a trend that continued throughout the 1970s, it was a show
that was guaranteed to have a movie spin off. In fact it got two! Such
was its popularity.
This first feature length film has the basic traits of the show, the tragi-comedy aspects of a son (Harry H. Corbett) forever destined to be held back by his lecherous and unclean father (Wilfrid Brambell) are fully born out. All set to the very basic working class backdrop of a Rag & Bone family business.
Enter a stripper, excuse me, exotic dancer (Carolyn Seymour), who bizarrely marries Corbett and cues up a number of scenes where old man Steptoe single handedly manages to destroy the marriage on the honeymoon.
It's not the coarseness of the screenplay that hurts the movie, or some of the dialogue that has the PC brigade spitting feathers, it's that in spite of sound performances and some well written sequences (Galton & Simpson), it's just too bleak for its own good!
The gags quickly dry up entering the second half of the picture, which leaves us with only our good will to stay with characters that we have a mild interest in anyway. For hard core fans of the show, it's easy to go with the flow, but there's nothing here to remotely entice the outsider to venture further into the hygienically challenge world of Steptoe & Son. 6/10
Steptoe and Son (1972) was a feature length movie featuring the two
leads of the popular English television series. The plot deals with
Harold falling for a "scrubber". Albert in his cruel and crude ways can
see the marriage will never work, can Harold and his new bride work
things out or will his mean old man ruin his plans for a happy family
The first film is a lot like the television series, a mixture of melodrama and comedy. A tad uneven in some places but it's very enjoyable. The second film is more of a farcical comedy and it's more accessible to non-fans of this brilliant television series.
Highly recommended for fans of the t.v. series and for people who want to take a peek at the original "Sanford and Son".
This is a master piece of British t.v cinema. I have all the steptoe and son episode's on DVD. Their home and its contents have been a part of the shows make-up, (THEY ARE RAG AND BONE MEN) and there home trys to reflect that fact. Thats one of the reasons harold keeps trying to get away, he is only to aware of his messy surroundings. (dust? more like bleedin top soil) The film is just a re-working of an episode they did called 'STEPTOE AND SON AND SON' I have to concead that this is not as good as the series it still has all the humor you come to expect. BUt if you haven't seen the series then you may not get the all the humor, and if you like the film then you WILL love the series. purely British sit-com.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Let me start by saying how much I love the TV series. Despite the
tragic nature of a middle-aged man seemingly unable to pursue his
dreams because of his overbearing, manipulative father, it was
incredibly light-hearted and fun to watch in practice. In my opinion,
it is without doubt one of the greatest British sitcoms of all time.
The TV series has my 10 out of 10 rating without reservation.
This movie spin-off on the other hand is a true tragedy in every sense of the word. Hardly any of the essence of the TV show is transferred successfully onto film. This movie has a very dreary, depressing tone that almost moved me to tears on several occasions. Seeing Harold being beaten up in a pub (and not in a comical way) is not my idea of comedy but is most definitely one reason why fans of the TV series will not like this movie. The movie was painfully unfunny except for the scene where Albert bathes in the sink and is seen by a neighbour.
The romance between Harold and Zita is completely out of tone and it makes me wonder whether the producers of this movie ever bothered to watch the TV series. In the TV series, Harold always went after respectable girls, not strippers.
Albert's reactions to the remarks made against him by Harold's girlfriends were absolutely priceless in the TV series. In the movie, Albert says virtually nothing when such an opportunity rises.
Most movie spin-offs of British sitcoms tend to be quite dull, with the notable exception of the ON THE BUSES films (which in some respects were actually better than the TV series itself!). But, STEPTOE AND SON has to rank right at the very bottom of the pile, even below GEORGE AND MILDRED.
My advice - skip this one and see the second spin-off, STEPTOE AND SON RIDE AGAIN instead. It has a much lighter tone, is more faithful to the TV series, and is actually very funny.
"Women? They're all scrubbers...!"
No, not a good translation; not at all! This lags behind the previous year's "Dad's Army", entirely missing the special, small-screen magic of the seminal television sitcom original, and failing to play interestingly at all with the big screen... you could just about say that this film well represents a Britain entering decline, and more precisely even than that, a *British film industry* entering decline. And that is hardly a recommendation, is it? To be an exemplar of saddening folly...
All that remains after the subtlety of the TV original has been surgically stripped away, by Cliff Owen, Galton and Simpson are: endless, dilapidated musical cues, yawn, from the Ron Grainer theme... bolstered sentimentality (that shoddy, thick-eared ending... how much bolder does the second Steptoe film seem in comparison) an increased seediness - with director and writers seemingly detaching themselves completely - fully applicable to something like the 'misbegotten monstrosity' (yours truly on this site) from 1973, "The Mutations". There is a strangely botched, cut-adrift tone about the scene where Harold is beaten up in a rugby club, that I partly hate and recoil it (so far, as a friend intimated, from the mood of the TV series...), but this at least seems an original slant, and emblematic of tensions just rising to the boil in the Britain of 1972... There is, however, an implied prostitute, aye of a 'heart-of-gold' who turns loose woman-traitor 'pon poor auld 'Arold - and beyond-caricature writing of the 'class' element; not to mention, surprisingly misjudged performances from the usually redoubtable leads. Brambell and Corbett collude with the script, and indeed fail to cure it of an essential ham. What would Anthony Aloysius Hancock have made of it all...? I will merely concede that a few moments just about work - chiefly those where G & S play things a little more carefully and B & C touch tenderer nerves - and it is not on the whole an unwatchable affair.
But, and oh, how this pains me to say it: it is tiresome, boring, both wilfully detached from reality and what made the TV series great, and also fully in tune with the lazy, tawdry, misogynist 'fuck it, that'll do...' actuality of much of what was allowed to pass for mainstream film-making in the Britain of the time.
Truly a disgusting, vile film, with only a small amount of real humour.
The character of the father in particular is vulgar in the extreme (intentionally so, obviously), and portrayed in the most pathetic, seedy manner.
My wife and I found this film horribly upsetting, with absolutely no redeeming features at all. Frankly, I wish I had never seen it.
I consider this British effort to be a sick and gross embarrassment.
Those who enjoyed this film have an ability I totally lack: that of rejoicing in a display of deep depravity and squalor.
The producers should be ashamed of themselves.
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