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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


(aka 'Five Fingers')

Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
USA 1952

 

An elegantly witty espionage movie, founded on fact but no slave to the facts as recounted by German military attaché LZ Moyzisch in his account (Operation Cicero) of an Albanian-born valet to the British ambassador in Turkey in 1944 who hawked top secret allied documents to the Germans. In Mankiewicz's hands, characteristically elaborated into a teasing rondo of political and sexual intrigue where each new doublecrossing move is mated by a totally unexpected irony of fate, the tale becomes an irresistibly dry, cynical comedy of manners in which the crafty gentleman's gentleman (a marvellous performance from Mason), scheming to secure the means to promote himself as a member of the leisured classes, falls victim to his own pretensions when a beautiful but unprincipled refugee Countess (the equally marvellous Darrieux) trails a heady promise of romance across his path.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide loacted HERE

***

A compelling if literal spy thriller by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, with an excellent cast that includes James Mason, Danielle Darrieux, and Michael Rennie. Contemporary reviewers were reminded of Hitchcock (as they always are by any film with pretensions to suspense); this 1952 film has none of the master's resonance, though its surface effects are fine.

Excerpt from Dave Kehr's review at the Chicago Reader located HERE.

 

  Posters

Theatrical Release: February 22nd, 1952

Reviews                                                            More Reviews                                                              DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Optimum - Region 2 - PAL vs. Carlotta - Region 2 -  PAL vs. Twentieth Century Fox Archives - Region 0 - NTSC

 

1) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL LEFT

2) Carlotta - Region 2- PAL MIDDLE

3) Fox Cinema Archives - Region 0 - NTSC - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Optimum Home Entertainment - Region 2 - PAL Carlotta Films- Region 2 - PAL Twentieth Century Fox Cinema Archives - Region 0 - NTSC
Runtime 1:43:32  (4% PAL speedup) 1:43:24 (4% PAL speedup) 1:47:44
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.53 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.64 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.17 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate: Optimum

Bitrate:  Carlotta

Bitrate:  Fox

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)  English (Dolby Digital 2.0), DUB: French (Dolby Digital 2.0) English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles None French, None None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Optimum Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• none

DVD Release Date: August 23rd, 2004

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 16

Release Information:
Studio: Carlotta Films

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Analysis of the film by Jean Doucet (French with no subtitles)

• De Bazna a Diello

• Operation Cicero - 46 miniute TV version with Ricardo Montalbon and Peter Lorre (English with French subtitles)

DVD Release Date: November 16th, 2004

Keep Case
Chapters: 11

Release Information:
Studio: Fox Cinema Archives

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Trailer (2:42)

DVD Release Date: February 13th, 2014

Keep Case
Chapters: 12

 

Comments:

ADDITION: Fox Cinema Archives - Region 0 - NTSC - November 2014: hands down winner as the PAL editions have the speed-up and are both interlaced. Maybe not as crisp as hoped, and a shade green, but easily the best for viewing purposes (of the 3) even being a single-layered, 'Made-on-Demand', DVD-R. standard Dolby audio - unremarkable but clear and only a trailer as an extra. Wow, could this wonderful film ever use a 1080P release! Since I don't hear of one on the horizon - this is the way to go to watch 5 Fingers!

***

ADDITION: Carlotta Films (France) - Region 2 - PAL - July 06 - Despite Jacques good intentions (see his comment below) there is no discernable difference in these DVDs in regards to image. They are equally soft, and non-progressive with some very minor variations in contrast. The Carlotta may be marginally cleaner.

The Carlotta has some extras, 2 featurettes in French, and a 46 minute 1956 TV short, based on the same story and called - Operation Cicero - it stars Ricardo Montalban, Maria Riva, and Peter Lorre.

The Optimum has no subtitles but the Carlotta has optional French (removable on both computer and Malata DVD players - so let's assume all). Unless you are very keen on the TV rendition, I'd say buy the cheapest edition available.

Gary W. Tooze

***

A marvelous film but a disappointing DVD transfer. It is, surprisingly, not progressive and exhibits 'combing' in horizontal pans (see last capture). The image is a little soft with a few infrequent speckles. Contrast is unremarkable.  Audio is a little 'clouded' and stays at that level for most of the film - dialogue is still very audible though. There are no optional subtitles or supplements and aside from this being one of the greatest spy films ever, the only other reason to recommend this DVD would be the reasonable price.

For a film that screams out for more recognition, the Optimum DVD is not the prime candidate for its lobbying. Still, as it is not out in Region 1, this is one alternative. The film has our strongest recommendation.

NOTE: Five Fingers (L'Affaire Ciceron) has also been released on a French Region 2 DVD (Carlotta) HERE. The image quality (though a little soft) & transfer are much better than on the Optimum UK release. The French subtitles are removable + there are good extras. (Thanks Jacques!)

Gary W. Tooze

 





DVD Menus

 

(Optimum - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Carlotta - Region 2- PAL RIGHT)


 

 

 

 

Fox Cinema Archives - Region 0 - NTSC

 


Screen Captures

 

1) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Carlotta - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Fox Cinema Archives - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


1) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Carlotta - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Fox Cinema Archives - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


1) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Carlotta - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Fox Cinema Archives - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


1) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Carlotta - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Fox Cinema Archives - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

NOTE: Combing evident on both PAL editions...

 


1) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Carlotta - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Fox Cinema Archives - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


1) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Carlotta - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Fox Cinema Archives - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Carlotta - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Fox Cinema Archives - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 


Report Card:

 

Image:

Twentieth Century Fox Cinema Archives

Sound:

-

Extras: Carlotta

 

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Optimum Home Entertainment - Region 2 - PAL Carlotta Films- Region 2 - PAL Twentieth Century Fox Cinema Archives - Region 0 - NTSC


 




 

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