Till Death Us Do Part (1968) Poster

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Excellent Social Commentary on a Thankfully Bygone Era
michael-11515 August 2006
I first saw this film, when it was originally released in 1969 at the ABC Edgware (now, a block of flats and a gym, very much in line with the film's partial theme of community break-up), but was somewhat disappointed because it didn't contain the original music nor - until three-quarters into the film, the original format - Alf, Else, their daughter Una Stubbs and Tony Booth as her husband the "scouse git". Now, 37 years on, I think differently. Although somewhat episodic, it beautifully captures a bygone era, with excellent footage of London during WW2, a good feel of the old East End, plus old-fashioned pub culture without the plastic fittings and lager and the traditional family all eating around the table. There is the quaint working class Tory ethos embodied by Alf, not quite, the not for the likes of us of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, rather the loyal, home-owning, small-minded bigotry of someone who perceives himself as a self-made man, who has not made quite as much as he thinks he deserves.

There are some lovely home-truths and vignettes within this setting: the £1,500 paid for the house (not a bad price in this day and age!), the mortgage from the Council and the scrimping and saving to pay it off. Dandy Nicholls as the "silly old moo" housewife ultimately wears the trousers and guides the household through. There is also pathos from Alf's 5 shilling contribution to the Church in the hope his two up, two down will not be demolished to make way for flats and ultimately bathos, as the family is forced to move to a high rise block in Essex, where community and the sense of community hardly exist.

No more, the chat with the neighbour while carrying out ablutions through the wall of the outside "bog", the sheets of newspaper, which, during the war-scenes, enabled Alf to wipe his posterior with Hitler's picture, long since gone. It is far closer to reality than the fluffy adverts with the dog and the loo-roll of the present day.

Hopefully, the old-fashioned racism depicted by Johnny Speight with his sharp ear for dialogue and knowledge of the area, dissipated throughout the '70's and '80's as even Alf-like characters got to admire national role models such as Trevor MacDonald and Lenny Henry.The World Cup footage, presumably from Goal, interspersed with Alf and son-in-law in the Wembley crowd, were more evocative than most of the four-yearly diatribes we get as the England team seek to emulate their predecessors, with higher expectations than the results could possibly justify.

It is very much Warren Mitchell's film, his performance stands in comparison with any of those in more critically acclaimed '60's films such as This Sporting Life or the Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. Norman Cohen, the director, deserves credit for this too.

All in all, a worthy and atmospheric social drama with, yes, a little comedy, which being what it is, contributes to a period piece, which has stood the test of time well.
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Superior television spin-off
david-69731 May 2004
One of the first television situation comedies to get the cinema treatment, 'Till Death…' avoids the trap of being just an extended television episode which befalls many other adoptions, by opening out the story. It is more a prequel than merely being the 'film of the show', showing us the history of the Garnett family, from just before the start of the Second World War to the 'present day' of 1969, taking in the 1966 World Cup on it's way.

It is the wartime sequence of the movie (it roughly takes up the first 45 minutes of the film) which for me is the highlight of the picture. You really do get a proper sense of time and place. The credit mainly goes to the director, Norman Cohen, who gives what could have been a static television-style play, a real cinematic treatment.

The script by Johnny Speight is generally excellent and (as far as I know) isn't just a re-packaging of old television material. Ironically the movie falters when it moves 'twenty or so years later' and moves into the more familiar setting of the series That said, Rita's wedding is a memorable set-piece, moving between drama and comedy (and very uncomfortable viewing at times, due to Garnett's racism).

It's Mitchell's movie, of course. It's a credit to the actor's talents that that you can't help liking Alf, despite the fact that Speight's script constantly under-cuts and mocks the character.

It's an oddly bitter-sweet movie, as a community which had survived the Blitz is eventually disbanded, with the Garnett family exiled to a bleak modern concrete tower block. There is a real sense of loss here and it is this which places it a few notches up from the normal television spin-off. It's a pity that this movie will always be over-shadowed by its more controversial small screen incarnation, as it deserves a wider audience. It also showcases a rather brilliant title song, by Ray Davies, which any fan of The Kinks should check out.
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"Innit marvellous!"
The_Movie_Cat20 September 2001
Alf Garnett is one of TV's finest - and most misunderstood - comedy creations. Alf's brought to life by socialist writer Johnny Speight and tremendous comic actor Warren Mitchell. Mitchell is Jewish, yet Garnett is a blistering satire of right-wing bigotry.

The film version of Till Death Do Us Part is superior to the misguided sequel In Sickness and in Health, though slightly behind the '65 TV original. The first half of the movie lacks the ethical counterpoint of his Labour-voting ("Randy Scouse git!") son-in-law, yet still scores with Mitchell's classic study of loud-mouth stupidity.

The joke is Alf himself, not his views, and seeing him denounce Hitler's fascism then, in almost the same breath, rally against "Eye-ties" and "coloureds" is a fine parody of small-minded ignorance. This is a man who gleefully cries, "get a bit of action now" at the outbreak of the Second World War. A man who proffers "Ugly, innit?" at the birth of his own daughter. On being told his daughter's mother-in-law goes to church every Sunday, he rants, "I said I was religious - I didn't say I was a bloody religious maniac!" Often it's the way he tells 'em. Other Alf philosophies include repressing student demonstrations with a plan to "bung that lot out to work at fourteen, same as they done in the old days". "Wasn't that bad," he says about Hitler, when deciding, with hindsight, that we should have joined forces with the Third Reich, "Had his faults."

Alf's the man who has an opinion on everything, no matter how ill informed, and regularly expresses it, preferably in a crowded pub, to anyone that will listen. Alf's only flexibility in his views is in having a photograph of Winston Churchill ready to take the place of Neville Chamberlain's when he resigns.

This form of satire takes risks and can be shocking - during the film Alf criticises the calibre of the Japanese after Hiroshima and insults the Pope. "The coon's got a sense o'humour" he declares of a young girl before collapsing in a drunken heap and plastering his daughter with beer at her wedding reception. A documentary on Mitchell's life saw him recount a tale of a man who approached him in the street, praising him for "having a go at them coons." Mitchell's response was "we were actually having a go at idiots like you." That said, while an elitist amusement, the fact that this material became such a mainstream hit means that real-life bigots will ultimately see it as a vindication of their views, making it questionable entertainment.

Working a half-hour sitcom into a feature-length narrative is inevitably hit and miss, though Speight must be praised for doing something new with the format rather than just crafting a triple-length episode. Where the series saw Alf tirading against 60s counterculture, the first half of the movie is a kind of pre-story, with Alf and Else in the middle of the blitz. The film's recreation of 40s England is well realised, even if editing in stock footage of aircraft disrupts the illusion somewhat. Direction by Norman Cohen is also often cleverer than you might expect for this type of material.

At the halfway mark we get a "nearly 20 years later" caption, taking us up to the present date and the series' timeline. A three-and-a-half-minute dream sequence in the final stages may seem like filler, but it was good enough for Chaplin in The Kid, so it gets by here. Maybe the problem with the central character is that Mitchell makes him so likeable in spite of himself. Some famous names offer support in the film - Brian Blessed, Bill Maynard, Geoffrey Hughes, Anthony Booth and Frank Thornton - but, other than Booth, none of them get much of a look in, this being Mitchell's film all the way.
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A Film that all would Like even Scouse Son in Laws Gits!
dhsb5827 September 2005
The Film of the Successful TV series "Till Death us do part" undoubtedly is one of the better TV to Film adaptations. Norman Cohen as mentioned has directed this superbly. (In comparison to Carry On Engalnd you can believe the war situation!) The Whole cast is present from the TV Series which is a bonus in itself. (Of which let down films such as Rising Damp - easier to not do it at all) Warren Mitchell & Dandy Nichols really do play up to expectations.

Usual errors within TV-Film adaptations is Recycled Material and/or weak plot lines/jokes. Till death us do part exceeds all these pitfalls and comes out trumps.

As Alf would say "bloody marvellous innit!" - and i would attribute that to this film!
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Alf Garnett - This Is Your Life!
ShadeGrenade16 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
No sooner had the television version of Johnny Speight's controversial B.B.C. sitcom ended - temporarily, as it turned out - than the cast reunited for this feature film spin-off. Interestingly, it sets itself up as a prequel, initially featuring Alf and Else in London's East End during the Forties. We see Alf here as an eccentric patriot, rather than the tyrant bigot he became. Over news reel footage of Nazi tanks he boasts that Hitler is too scared to go to war with Britain.

But it happens, and suddenly he is terrified. He believes it won't last long though. His patriotism vanishes the day the call-up papers land on his doormat.

The attention to period detail here is marvellous; rationing books, air-raid shelters, doom-filled radio broadcasts, they're all here. Much to his disgust, soldiers are tucking into bacon and eggs while he has to make do with spam. The pub runs out of beer, and Alf cannot fill his pipe with tobacco. Though he manages to stay out of the army by being in a reserved occupation, he has other problems to contend with - Else is pregnant.

The second part takes us to 1966; mini-skirts are in fashion, and Alf comes into conflict with his trendy lefty daughter Rita and her 'Scouse git' boyfriend Mike Rawlins. Alf won't let her put 'Vote Labour' posters in his window. This section is not as good as the first, but it is nice to see the circumstances that brought the characters together. There is a hilarious scene at Rita's wedding reception when Alf gets into a fight with Mike's father, a devout Catholic.

Amongst the cast is future 'On The Buses' stars Michael Robbins and Bob Grant ( even though the latter has no lines ). Norman Cohen must have liked working in the wartime period as he went on to direct the film version of 'Dad's Army' and 'Adolf Hitler My Part In His Downfall', based on Spike Milligan's memoirs. Bill Maynard plays 'Bert', Alf's next door neighbour, with whom he conducts conversations whilst on the toilet ( how well I remember outside bogs. Ugh! Cold! ).

It is impossible not to feel sorry for Alf as he walks up the street where he has lived for years, now deserted. For many people, this was a reality. Hitler could not destroy the street, but the local council did. The movie ends where it began - in a cinema - with Alf standing as the National Anthem plays, everyone else having gone home.

Released in America under the title 'Alf 'n Family' ( presumably to capitalise on the connection with 'All In The Family' ), it was so successful it opened the floodgates for other sitcom-based films such as 'On The Buses' and 'Dad's Army'. A sequel - 'The Alf Garnett Saga' - was made three years later, but it was not a patch on the first.
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"Has it's moments, but not up to the TV series!"
jamesraeburn200327 August 2003
The life and times of the bigoted East End docker Alf Garnett (WARREN MITCHELL) from the second world war up until the late 1960's. Events include the birth of Alf's daughter Rita, Alf being called up for war service, the 1966 UK general election and Rita's (UNA STUBBS) wedding to Mike(ANTHONY BOOTH).

In the late sixties and early seventies, practically every popular British sitcom had it's own big-screen spin-off and the result was quite often disastrous with the exception of ON THE BUSES (1971), which proved to be the most popular British film of that year and MAN ABOUT THE HOUSE was a sizeable hit on its release in 1974. The first spin-off from the popular yet highly controversial BBC sitcom TILL DEATH US DO PART is far from being bad, but it seems comparatively tame with the TV series. There are moments such as Alf at the 1966 World Cup and during the year's general election where the British Labour party was returned with a landslide; but they fail to pack the same punch that has made the TV original become a milestone in the history of British television as it changed the way TV said things and how it said it. However, the original cast performs cheerfully and the film has a nice sense of place and period thanks to the photography of veteran British cinematographer Harry Waxman whose credits include BRIGHTON ROCK (1947) and THE WICKER MAN (1973). Very few movies of this nature were fortunate to have such a distinguished veteran of the industry behind the camera and another thing that works in the film's favour is that it opens up the story of the Garnett family (although it occasionally conflicts with how the TV series sometimes depicted the beginning) rather than just being an extended episode

Followed by a sequel entitled THE ALF GARNETT SAGA (1972), which was even more crude and out of character.
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A pleasant surprise
jandesimpson17 March 2014
One-off movies based on TV sit-com series seldom work, which is probably the reason there aren't more of them. Generally they fall into the trap of expanding material that sits well in a half-hour slot but when stretched to feature length comes out as interminable even for the fans. "The Inbetweeners Movie" is a classic example of how not to do it. I must admit I approached the 1969 film of "Till Death do us Part" with some trepidation on this score only to finish up with more than a degree of pleasant surprise. Norman Cohen's Alf Garnett saga works well for the very reason it is just that - a saga spanning the second world war before hopping on twenty years. It crams in a tremendous amount, sometimes almost too much. A lengthy sequence in which Alf and his "Scouse git" son-in-law drunkenly attend Britain's World Cup victory seems just an excuse for including some archive newsreel footage. And then there are those monologues such as Alf's church prayer for salvation against being re-housed and his acceptance in a dream of an honour bestowed by "Her Gracious Majesty" that have a silliness bordering on the embarrassing. Not so two deliriously funny sequences, one where the old "moo" joins in a sing-song in a London underground shelter during the blitz, another a riotously drunken wedding celebration that has the energy one finds in the best of Fellini and Ford. Quite some achievement! But possibly the most memorable feature of "Till Death do us Part" is its re-creation of those dusty East End streets during the dark days of the war. In such scenes the film touches on the special.
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Above average TV Spin Off.
kittenkongshow14 August 2019
The Seventies would see the boom of the sitcom spin off film a very mixed bag but for my generation the first examples of many series' we'd see.

Alf Garnett remains a classic TV character much misunderstood but you can find commentators who can write more eloquently then myself on that.

The film is an interesting mix of Alf in wartime and in the sixties (including the 1966 World cup final) - It's a well made lovingly shot film (the exact opposite of the 2nd film - the truly awful 'The Alf Garnett Saga).

Times have changed and thankfully so - The trailer for the film even uses the racist language Alf spewed - But this film gives an excellent view of the changing times in both eras.

Cast wise all of the main TV cast are here and are as good as ever - One problem for Alf is that Warren Mitchell was such a good actor and managed to make us like the old sod!

A time capsule and well worth seeking out (Network DVD have released the ultimate version).
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enjoyed the film
marktayloruk7 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Johnny Speight made Alf too much of a monster. Did they have to make him a coward as well as everything else? And since he'd paid the Council £1,500 for the house, they should at least have given him his money back!
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Dissapointing for a fan of the series
sideways812 October 2003
I gave this a 6, cinemawise. For those of you who saw the series, it was a 3 or 4. I got 12 episodes of later years from Canada. The earlier years were a scream on the BBC, but then I was younger. This movie had little of its zip.
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Alf at war!
RaspberryLucozade28 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This was the first sitcom to big screen adaption. It seemed to do relatively big business at the box office. Johnny Speight was responsible yet again for the script. All the cast were present. However, despite all this, 'Till Death Us Do Part' turned out to be nothing but a stinker!

The film starts off with Alf, Else, Rita and Mike sitting in the cinema watching a film about World War II. Most of the film is taken up with a flashback sequence in which we see how Alf and Else coped with the consequences of the war. Alf appears to be a staunch patriot, however when the call up papers arrive through his letterbox, his demeanor suddenly changes. Worse to come, Else falls pregnant.

The second half of the movie sees their daughter Rita, now a fully grown woman, courting and marrying her long haired Labour voting boyfriend Mike. The wedding is a disaster, Alf ends in a punch up with Mike's father, who happens to be an Irish Catholic.

There are many impressive guest stars in the cast such as Michael Robbins, Kate Williams, Brian Blessed, Geoffrey Hughes and Bob Grant ( the latter who only has a non-speaking role ) but the film simply is not worthy of their talents.

Fortunately, 'Till Death Us Do Part' returned to its natural habitat on the BBC in 1972. That same year, a second movie was made, 'The Alf Garnett Saga', which was no better than this one.
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Introduces TV series
dsewizzrd-17 March 2013
Introducing the background to the television series, this film starts just before the War with Alf Garnett recently married and living in an attached house in the East End. Then it switches to the contemporary era, the world cup match in 1964 and the councils decision to demolish the house and move them to a high rise in Essex.

----------- I'd just like to point out a few factual errors promoted by Speight :

The housing in the east end demolished by Wilson was of very poor quality and in many cases falling down. It was poorly made in the first place and the east end was one of the most heavily bombed areas in the War. Garnett has an outside flush toilet but many houses only had a "short drop" toilet and relied on a nightcart service. When the Thames valley flooded in the early 1960s, there was a big outbreak of Tyhoid fever - this is when it was decided to demolish the area.

Speight has Garnett travelling long periods to work - in fact the container port was moved to Folkestone after the building of the Thames barrage (the bulk port had moved decades before) as the large ships could not enter so there was very little employment in the area.

While its technically true about the high rise (they were an elderly couple and the children were not on the lease but sponging), families were given semis not flats so the story is misleading.
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