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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Blu-Ray Review: The Ipcress File

The Ipcress File

DVD released: November 10th, 2008
Approximate running time: 107 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 12
Sound: Dolby Digital English 5.1 & Dolby Digital English 2.0
Subtitles: English
DVD Release: ITV DVD
Region Coding: Region FREE Blu-Ray
Retail Price: £19.99

The Film

Around the time of the fledgling and successful Bond series of the 1960’s, co-producer Harry Saltzman was also involved in perhaps one of the best non-007 spy films of the era, and there were plenty of Bond rip-offs trying to cash in.

As a result we are introduced to Agent Harry Palmer, played by Michael Caine in surprisingly only his second starring role. In a way he was to become the working class James Bond, as he is gawky in appearance, wears specs and his spy world seems to amount to dull offices, paperwork and boring assignments, with only a blue Zodiac to drive rather than a gadget laden Aston Martin. To his superiors, Harry is little more than a crook and having been court-martialled from the army, they feel he is more adept to being a spy for them, as he will fit right into that world!

The plot consists of Harry trying to locate the whereabouts of a Western scientist, but upon retrieval of said scientist, it is discovered that his memory has been wiped and Harry is put swiftly on the case to discover why! Based on a novel by Len Deighton, The Ipcress File moves along at a great pace and is well written with convincing performances by Caine and in particular Nigel Green as his superior Major Dalby! While Bond movies embraced the special relationship of Britain and the US, Harry positively puts this relationship to the test with a clear dislike of American consumerism and more importantly his mistaken disposal of an US agent who was tailing him, so no Felix Leiter for this cockney boy!

In addition, both the camera work from director Sydney Furie and the cinematographer himself Otto Heller were at the time both revolutionary and extreme, with shots being tilted, low, high, at an angle...well you get the idea, but it works and adds to the puzzling nature of the film. Add a fantastic John Barry score to the proceedings and you have a crackling yet fascinating spy flick that perfectly captures a 60’s London going through many social changes with the classless Harry Palmer leading the way!

Transfer and Sound

Having previously only seen the washed out and badly framed DVD from Network, this 2:35:1, MPEG-2 1080p Blu-Ray from ITV DVD is a revelation, yet some reports were claiming the transfer was a huge disappointment. Although not stellar and perhaps not near the level of the 4K restored Bond movies, this is a fantastic effort and is probably as good as The Ipcress File will ever look! The colours are strong and vibrant with high levels of detail not previously seen and yes there is still some video noise and some grain but really nothing to worry about in a film from 1965, a fine job by ITV DVD! Also note that this BD is Region Free!

Two flavours on offer here sound-wise, with both DD5.1 and DD2.0 soundtracks available, there are very little differences between the two, with only minimal rear effects coming into play with the DD5.1 track. The dialogue is both clear and crisp with the fine John Barry score done a lot of justice. Removable English subtitles are also available.

Supplemental Material

Unfortunately only a Stills gallery and original trailer are available (both in HD). A little disappointing, given that the Network Special Edition had a 2nd disc full of interviews and documentaries!


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