If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium Blu-ray Review

A wonderful Sixties-era cast power this comedy gem

A womanizing British tour guide meets his match when an American woman takes an 18-day vacation across Europe in this amusing comedy from the Sixties. Director Mel Stuart (Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory) takes the ensemble comedy formula to perfection in If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium. A roster of famous cameos led by actresses Joan Collins and Anita Ekberg are icing on the cake for this humorous farce.

The movie is a sweet, funny concoction dominated by the playful chemistry between its two leads, Suzanne Pleshette and Ian McShane. Pleshette plays Samantha Perkins, a straight-laced American mulling a marriage proposal by going off alone in a nine-country bus tour of Europe, from London to Rome. Ian McShane plays the British guide in charge of the tour. Charlie is a roguish cad with a woman in each city. Can his Charlie Cartwright melt Samantha’s heart before the tour comes to an end?

Along for the ride are a loaded supporting roster of recognizable faces, including Murray Hamilton (Jaws), Mildred Natwick (Barefoot in the Park), Peggy Cass (Auntie Mame), Norman Fell (Three’s Company) and others. This doesn’t even include a number of cameos like John Cassavetes, Ben Gazzara, Senta Berger, and Robert Vaughn. Those old enough to have lived through the Sixties and Seventies will instantly recognize many, many familiar faces. There is even some interesting stunt casting, as Miss Belgium and various European pageant winners show up.

… a sweet, amusing ensemble comedy that gets a lot of mileage from its recognizable cast.

Each American on the tour has their own amusing quirks and comedic misadventures. There is the kleptomaniac, a man compelled to steal random things as he visits each city. The teenage daughter of one couple is determined to lose her virginity on the trip, which leads to a singing appearance by popular Sixties singer Donovan. Another man raves about his brief time in Europe during his World War II experience, hoping to see a woman he hasn’t seen in decades. One couple mistakenly gets split up to hilarious results when the wife finds herself on the wrong bus tour intended for Japanese tourists.

The mostly gentle humor and good-natured laughs found in this ensemble comedy remind me a great deal of an old favorite from the period, The Out of Towners. The jokes are much less mean-spirited than today’s comedies, which is a refreshing change of pace if you have seen one too many movies starring Will Ferrell or Adam Sandler. If you don’t have a thing for Suzanne Pleshette before seeing this movie, it’s easy falling for her Samantha Perkins. The romantic chemistry between Ian McShane and her is incredibly smooth and natural, aided by a script that lets it unexpectedly sneak up on viewers.

They really don’t make movies like If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium anymore. It is a sweet, amusing ensemble comedy that gets a lot of mileage from its recognizable cast. Long before the National Lampoon series of Vacation movies were conceived, this farce about American tourists in Europe was a funny delight.

If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium Blu-ray screen shot 17

Video

Olive Films offers a serviceable presentation for the 1969 film with a mildly satisfying film transfer. Licensed from MGM and likely using their provided HD master, the 98-minute main feature is shown at its intended 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Included on a BD-25, the video is encoded in adequate AVC compression with few overt artifacts. While some may find the video fairly dull and soft by current Blu-ray standards, this is a legitimate film transfer struck in Hi-Def resolution from stable elements.

The 1080P video has decent clarity and definition for an older catalog presentation. The dated telecine transfer leans toward the soft side with hints of halos, though ringing is kept to a minimum. The film elements are in solid, if dull, shape. There isn’t much to complain about in terms of print defects, though color saturation would be improved in a new film scan of the same elements. Was this master for MGM struck during the DVD era? That is possible. The noisy grain structure indicates a HD transfer made with DVD in mind than Blu-ray.

While on the older side, there is nothing egregiously wrong with this Blu-ray presentation other than a lack of razor-sharp clarity and detail inherent to the film itself. Except for a number of shots highlighting famous spots in Europe, the comedy’s cinematography is standard pedestrian fare. This was never made with demo material in mind but gives a small bump in picture quality over older home formats.

Audio

The 2.0 DTS-HD MA soundtrack in mono has a pleasant richness and unexpectedly smooth audio quality. The dialogue remains intelligible throughout with clear authority and command. Featuring Donovan singing his tune “Lord of the Reedy River” and a theme song written by him for another singer, the movie offers crisp audio fidelity. The soundstage has a nice bloom with decent extension.

While listed as mono, this is possibly a narrow stereo mix. A couple of things sounded bigger than mono in staging and impact. Films this old rarely sound this fine on Blu-ray. The Hollywood production was made by real recording professionals.

Optional English SDH subtitles display in a white font.

Extras

There are no included special features other than the movie’s original trailer, which is a new find. The MGM DVD included no special features at all. An informed commentary would have been great, but I suspect many fans are merely happy to see this comedy hit Blu-ray at all.

If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium Trailer (03:09 in SD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray disc. Images have not been altered in any way during the process. Patreon supporters were able to access these screens early, view them as .pngs, and gain access to exclusive shots.