452 The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

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kinjitsu
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452 The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

#1 Post by kinjitsu » Fri Aug 15, 2008 3:22 pm

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

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John Le Carré’s acclaimed bestselling novel about a Cold War spy on one final, dangerous mission is every bit as precise and ruthless on-screen in this adaptation directed by Martin Ritt. Richard Burton delivers one of his career-defining performances as Alec Leamas, whose hesitant but deeply felt relationship with a beautiful librarian (Claire Bloom) puts what he hopes will be his last assignment, in East Germany, in jeopardy. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is a hard-edged and finally tragic thriller, suffused with the political and social consciousness that defined Ritt's career.

SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE-DISC SET FEATURES:

- New, restored high-definition digital transfer
- New video interview with author John le Carré
- Selected-scene commentary featuring director of photography Oswald Morris
- The Secret Center: John le Carré (2000), a BBC documentary on the author’s extraordinary life and work
- A 1967 interview with Richard Burton from the BBC series Acting in the 60's, conducted by film critic Kenneth Tynan
- An audio conversation from 1985 between director Martin Ritt and film historian Patrick McGilligan Gallery of set designs
- Theatrical trailer
- PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic Michael Sragow

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Last edited by kinjitsu on Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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mfunk9786
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Re: 452 The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

#2 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Aug 15, 2008 3:41 pm

Criterion wrote:- More!
Had better be a commentary, it seems like a Twenty-Four Eyes pricing situation otherwise.

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452 The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

#3 Post by What A Disgrace » Fri Aug 15, 2008 3:55 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:Had better be a commentary, it seems like a Twenty-Four Eyes pricing situation otherwise.
Not really. The documentary on Le Carré itself is an hour in length; its looking more like a Le Cercle Rouge to me.

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domino harvey
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452 The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

#4 Post by domino harvey » Fri Aug 15, 2008 3:56 pm

Isn't this already out on R1? Has anyone seen that disc who can give some information on whether it was crying out for a new transfer or something? Because that's a pretty slim collection of extras for a rescued title

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452 The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

#5 Post by Cronenfly » Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:02 pm

domino harvey wrote:Isn't this already out on R1? Has anyone seen that disc who can give some information on whether it was crying out for a new transfer or something? Because that's a pretty slim collection of extras for a rescued title
By all accounts the R1 Paramount release (still in-print, BTW) was fine tech-specs wise (solid WS Anamorphic transfer, 5.1 [which the CC doesn't seem to have] plus original mono, though it was barebones), so I guess someone over at Criterion must have a special place in their heart for this film/Carré/Burton/Ritt, 'cause unless that "More!" yields a treasure trove, I'm with domino.

Or, perhaps this was a title Paramount forced Criterion to release in order to acquire some other titles...
Last edited by Cronenfly on Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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#6 Post by Poncho Punch » Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:06 pm

domino harvey wrote:Isn't this already out on R1? Has anyone seen that disc who can give some information on whether it was crying out for a new transfer or something? Because that's a pretty slim collection of extras for a rescued title
That's exactly what I was thinking when the rumor mill started turning on this one. The previous DVD looked more than fine to me, was cheap, and only a few years old.

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Re: 452 The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

#7 Post by Narshty » Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:09 pm

Cronenfly wrote:Or, perhaps this was a title Paramount forced Criterion to release in order to acquire some other titles...
That doesn't make much sense. It seems far more likely to be a personal favourite of someone at Criterion (Jon Turell, perhaps?). I think the release looks fine so far.

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Re: 452 The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

#8 Post by Cronenfly » Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:15 pm

Narshty wrote:
Cronenfly wrote:Or, perhaps this was a title Paramount forced Criterion to release in order to acquire some other titles...
That doesn't make much sense. It seems far more likely to be a personal favourite of someone at Criterion (Jon Turell, perhaps?). I think the release looks fine so far.
I agree (and admitted to that possibility in the first part of my post), but it could have been (though admittedly less likely in thinking it over more, given Criterion's established track record of releasing personal favourites of company higher-ups, a la Robinson Crusoe on Mars) a favourite of a Paramount exec who wanted to see a Criterion release of the title, which Criterion could've used as a bargaining chip to acquire other, more desireable titles. The more I run this over in my head, though, the more I think you're right, Narshty (given the amount of effort/time Criterion puts into most releases, I can't imagine them doing a SE of a major studio title they really didn't want to); I guess it's a moot point anyways. And this titile may acquire some more scintillating extra features once the "More!" is revealed, so even though I'm not too interested in this title personally, I will try to reserve judgement on the package itself until all the specs are revealed.
Last edited by Cronenfly on Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:24 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Finch
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#9 Post by Finch » Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:18 pm

A must-buy for me as I didn't go for the old Paramount disc. Even if the video is unlikely to be signficantly better than Paramount's own effort, the extras will still make it worthwhile for me (especially the new interview with LeCarre), considering that the original release had no bonus features and that the full specs have yet to be announced.

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#10 Post by Cinephrenic » Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:24 pm

This is a British production, no? Criterion lists it as "USA".

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#11 Post by domino harvey » Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:28 pm

Cinephrenic wrote:This is a British production, no? Criterion lists it as "USA".
Becker's maneuvering to get it placed on the next incarnation of this forum's Alternate AFI List

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#12 Post by zombeaner » Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:54 pm

Sounds good, I've heard a lot about this one, but I haven't seen it yet.

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#13 Post by cdnchris » Fri Aug 15, 2008 5:00 pm

The Paramount disc's image was pretty sharp, but the print had quite a few scratches and marks. Clean-up would probably be the only real improvement for the new transfer. I'm also going to assume Criterion will drop the 5.1 track, which was pretty much a mono track anyways (just had music in the rears from what I recall.)

Still, the supplements are making me look quite forward to this one.

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#14 Post by Svevan » Fri Aug 15, 2008 5:59 pm

I was given the Paramount disc, watched it once, said "so what," and have since put it on my shame pile. Obviously we've got three good actors involved, all giving fine performances, but that's a minor draw to me. The movie itself is very cold (not being punny) and empty - if that was the point, then I missed it. Anyone out there actually love this film? I have the disc around, so I might watch it again if given some choice advice.

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#15 Post by fiddlesticks » Fri Aug 15, 2008 6:06 pm

Svevan wrote:I was given the Paramount disc, watched it once, said "so what," and have since put it on my shame pile. Obviously we've got three good actors involved, all giving fine performances, but that's a minor draw to me. The movie itself is very cold (not being punny) and empty - if that was the point, then I missed it. Anyone out there actually love this film? I have the disc around, so I might watch it again if given some choice advice.
I've probably seen it three or four times on TV. I was entirely indifferent to it the first time, but it's grown on me. Unavoidably invoking a tired cliche, Burton's performance is nuanced and I see something deeper in it each time. It's still not a favorite film, but I suspect if I sat down and really paid close attention, I'd appreciate it even more. That said, my wish list is too deep for this to be a likely purchase.

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#16 Post by Person » Fri Aug 15, 2008 7:10 pm

I'm a big fan of this film, practically worship Burton and the extras sound great, so put me down for a copy. The previous Paramount transfer was fairly well detailed, but it was REALLY dirty/scratchy - from the days when Paramount didn't clean up their transfers. I also greatly admire the film's legendary cinematographer, Ossie Morris and I'm glad that he agreed to an interview, as this is his 93rd year on this mouldy sphere.

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Jeff
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#17 Post by Jeff » Fri Aug 15, 2008 7:53 pm

For me, the BBC Doc is worth the price of the disc.

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#18 Post by Harold Gervais » Fri Aug 15, 2008 8:12 pm

Jeff wrote:For me, the BBC Doc is worth the price of the disc.
That is pretty much what I'm thinking as well although the Paramount disc isn't bad for a budget, bare-bones release. If you don't hold the film in high regard I don't see a reason to double dip.

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#19 Post by tryavna » Fri Aug 15, 2008 8:14 pm

As a fan of spy novels/films in general, I'll put in a good word for this movie, which really is one of the most artistically ambitious (both the novel and the film). Le Carre's significance, of course, was in de-glamorizing the spy in response to the emphasis on escapism of the Bond novels and films. The novel -- and, by extension, the film -- aims to present a realistic but no less tense version of what spying is all about: the deadly cat-and-mouse games that depends upon wits and behavior rather than physical strength and agility, the blurring of good guys and bad guys by forcing both parties to engage in highly unethical behavior, the mundaneness and even banality of seemingly routine assignments that can unexpectedly blow up in your face, etc. I think the film does an exceptional job of retaining all the elements that made the novel so important within the genre. But as far as non-generic appeal goes, your enjoyment of the film will probably rest of two things:

1. How much you enjoy the cat-and-mouse game and the resulting low-key tension (as opposed to more action-oriented spy films)

2. How much you enjoy the actors' performances -- Burton's especially, but Oscar Werner is also excellent.

I have to say that I don't always enjoy Le Carre's stuff. Sometimes it can get too low-key and mundane. But his stories are almost always marked by intelligence. (By the way, my favorite spy novels of all are the Quiller novels by Adam Hall -- the first of which was made into another one of the best spy films, The Quiller Memorandum.)

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#20 Post by HugoDeVries » Sat Aug 16, 2008 2:06 pm

The Secret Centre doc is also on the UK BBC release of the Le Carre's masterpiece and tv classic 'Tinker Tailor Solider Spy', (what a cast that production had!!) and given the price both the Smiley series are selling at the moment (£5.99 each at Plays current best of british sale!) does mean this release falls way down my must have pile.

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#21 Post by whaleallright » Sat Aug 16, 2008 6:37 pm

Criterion really ought to rescue Ritt's neglected adaptation of SOUNDER, which languishes in a sourced-from-VHS pan-and-scan transfer -- a DVD that's out of print, in any case.


EDIT: There's evidently a new, anamorphic widescreen DVD of SOUNDER available -- but judging from Amazon.com, this too appears to be out of print.
Last edited by whaleallright on Mon May 11, 2009 4:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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#22 Post by Person » Sat Aug 16, 2008 10:16 pm

tryavna wrote:As a fan of spy novels/films in general, I'll put in a good word for this movie, which really is one of the most artistically ambitious (both the novel and the film). Le Carre's significance, of course, was in de-glamorizing the spy in response to the emphasis on escapism of the Bond novels and films. The novel -- and, by extension, the film -- aims to present a realistic but no less tense version of what spying is all about: the deadly cat-and-mouse games that depends upon wits and behavior rather than physical strength and agility, the blurring of good guys and bad guys by forcing both parties to engage in highly unethical behavior, the mundaneness and even banality of seemingly routine assignments that can unexpectedly blow up in your face, etc. I think the film does an exceptional job of retaining all the elements that made the novel so important within the genre. But as far as non-generic appeal goes, your enjoyment of the film will probably rest of two things:

1. How much you enjoy the cat-and-mouse game and the resulting low-key tension (as opposed to more action-oriented spy films)

2. How much you enjoy the actors' performances -- Burton's especially, but Oscar Werner is also excellent.

I have to say that I don't always enjoy Le Carre's stuff. Sometimes it can get too low-key and mundane. But his stories are almost always marked by intelligence.
GOOD reply! I am not a big fan of action suspense, as I have found that suspense in real life rarely involves "ACTION". It's mostly a psychological affair. Burton, in TSWCIFTC, is stand-off-ish, withdrawn, foxish, get my drift? It's a great performance, I feel. Not an easy role - agree? I would have been reticent to have been a spy during the Cold War in the 60s. But it would have been an interesting time! Yes? Life is generally dull and is filled with innocuous situations. The chance to annihilate many men or to spy on the fatuous enemy is to be welcomed, frankly.

War with Iran is certain. As is China and Russian, besides. Why fear it? Most of you don't have children. Most of you are without faith, like I am. Nietzsche said that life could only be justified aesthetically, so with this line of thought, a secular apocalypse isn't a big deal right? A clever argument awaits! Why fear death? Why fear total annihilation, when one is an atheist?

Better to die laughing than to die weeping like a pathetic sentimentalist.

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#23 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Aug 17, 2008 1:41 am

tryavna wrote:The novel -- and, by extension, the film -- aims to present a realistic but no less tense version of what spying is all about: the deadly cat-and-mouse games that depends upon wits and behavior rather than physical strength and agility, the blurring of good guys and bad guys by forcing both parties to engage in highly unethical behavior, the mundaneness and even banality of seemingly routine assignments that can unexpectedly blow up in your face, etc.
It makes it sound like an everyday job too!
Person wrote:War with Iran is certain. As is China and Russia besides. Why fear it? Most of you don't have children. Most of you are without faith, like I am. Nietzsche said that life could only be justified aesthetically, so with this line of thought, a secular apocalypse isn't a big deal right? A clever argument awaits! Why fear death? Why fear total annihilation, when one is an atheist?

Better to die laughing than to die weeping like a pathetic sentimentalist.
Well, I'd quite like some extra time to watch some of the films I've accumulated! :wink:

But isn't that the argument you usually get from religious people or people with children? I can't go because I've got responsibilities. You, on the other hand, I consider expendable? I would assume that not believing in God and the afterlife would make you less likely to go throwing your life away for a cause, cherishing the limited time of conscious life you've been accidentally provided with instead of your actions being defined purely with one eye on securing a place in the afterlife or on the legacy provided by your children. Any kind of action can be justified when you've got the assurance that this world is only an intermediary place and you are going somewhere better - when this is all there is it becomes even more necessary to get along and try to make the best of what we've got.

Not sure how far off topic we've got here!

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#24 Post by domino harvey » Sun Aug 17, 2008 2:05 am

Has any other thread ever taken so swift a right turn into Hell?

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#25 Post by dr. calamari » Sun Aug 17, 2008 2:58 am

I'll say! This is a lot deeper discussion than I usually expect to find here.

Back to the topic at hand, I'm looking forward to getting this disc when it comes out...I've got the old Paramount disc, and it's better than I expected it to be for a bare bones release, but the BBC documentary looks to be a pretty substantial addition so it's worth the double dip to me. Also, this is an opportunity for those who haven't seen it to see Richard Burton at the top of his ability...he really did a magnificent job in this very unglamourous film. Claire Bloom, who I don't particularly like in nearly everything else I've ever seen her in, does a pretty good job too, as does Oskar Werner.

All in all, worth waiting for.

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