One of the earliest britcoms (1962-1974), Steptoe and Son is about a quarrelling father-and-son pair of rag-and-bone men (ie. junk dealers) who barely make ends meet most of the time. It was the habit in the 70s to make a film version of successful britcoms. Sometimes it worked; more often than not it didn't. Steptoe and Son is, at least in my opinion, a shining example of a britcom that made the transition to film beautifully. Subtitled "The Cinema Collection", this dvd contains two 90-minute films, both of which are really well done and contain lots of humorous (and some downright hilarious!) moments. Personally, I enjoyed both equally as well, and a familiarity with the series and characters is not a prerequisite. Also, the quality of the picture is very good--especially considering the films were made over 30 years ago.
For those unfamiliar with the series, I recommend watching the earlier film, Steptoe & Son (1972), first as it illustrates in greater depth the relationship between father and son. In a nutshell, Albert Steptoe is a frail, scrawny, tatty old man with a peg-toothed grin whose humorous appearance is milked to its full comic potential. But he is a wily, selfish old codger and a master at the art of emotional blackmail. His son Harold longs for a life of his own, but for all his frustration with his father's abuses, he really is a victim of his own compassion. He does care about his father and, being incapable of breaking free, is destined to a life of frustration and emotional bondage. This film sees Harold at long last falling in love and getting married, but with a father like Albert, the marriage cannot be anything short of doomed. Indeed, the film opens with Albert and Harold arguing about the reasons for his marriage having failed. The story is then presented in retrospect, coming full circle to end where it begins. I'll say no more, as I don't wish to give the story away. I will just mention (lest anyone be offended or wonder about the suitability for children) that there is a scene with a stripper--whose performance is presented in its entirety. It's probably quite tame by today's standards; still, I thought I ought to mention it.
The second film, Steptoe & Son Ride Again (1973), opens with the Steptoes going through a particularly bad patch financially, but matters only get worse when Harold gets them indebted to a mobster! Hilarity ensues as the Steptoes try one thing after another and end up taking a very extreme (not to mention risky!) measure in order to get themselves out of debt. Frank Thornton (Are You Being Served's Captain Peacock) makes a guest appearance near the end.
In conclusion, these two films (and indeed the entire series) hail back to an England and a way of life that is, sadly, gone forever; moreover, they hail back to an era in British comedy that has, also sadly, long since passed. If you enjoyed the series even a little bit, then this film collection is a must have. Personally, I enjoyed it every bit as much as the series (and perhaps even a little more!). If you're unfamiliar with the series but enjoy the types of comedies that Britain put out in the 70s or are a fan of shows like After Henry or Australia's Mother and Son (which also prominently feature a domineering, emotionally blackmailing parent), I really do recommend giving this one a try. With a mixture of comedy and pathos, these are not gentle, cosy, relaxing films; rather they can be quite loud and abrasive, what with all the bickering, but they are very funny. And if you find you enjoy the film collection, by all means get the episodes from the series that are available on video.