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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

Directed by Stephen Frears
UK 1984

 

Terence Stamp is Willie, a gangster’s henchman turned “supergrass” (informer) trying to live in peaceful hiding in a remote Spanish village. Sun-dappled bliss turns to nerve-racking suspense, however, when two hit men—played by a soulless John Hurt and a youthful, loose-cannon Tim Roth—come a-calling to bring Willie back for execution. This stylish early gem from Stephen Frears boasts terrific performances from a roster of England’s best hard-boiled actors, music by Eric Clapton and virtuoso flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía, and ravishing photography of its desolate Spanish locations—a splendid backdrop for a rather sordid story.

***

This memorable drama helped bring British director Stephen Frears back from the limited opportunities of television (where he spent 13 years after making his promising debut feature, Gumshoe) and into the ranks of world-class filmmakers. Driven by the self-confident charisma of Terence Stamp, the vicious charm of John Hurt, and a fascinating debut performance by Tim Roth, The Hit concerns a criminal informant (Stamp) on ice for the past decade in Spain. Found out by the mobster who wants revenge on him, Stamp's character is apprehended by a pair of hit men who have to escort him to Paris. Along the way, the serene abductee, having become a bit enlightened during his ten-year retreat, seems not to worry about death or anything else. It's his overseers who feel the strain of their imminent task of spilling his blood. Smart, very funny, and very unconventional, The Hit is also a treat to look at as Frears enjoys the expanse of the big screen again.

Tom Keogh at Amazon HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 12th, 1984 - Toronto Film Festival

Reviews                                                                                    More Reviews                                                               DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Movinside - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC  - LEFT

2) Movinside - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

  

  

 

Coming to Blu-ray in the US by Criterion in October 2020:

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 469 - Region 1 - NTSC Movinside - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Stephen Frears The Hit is also available from Movinside in a 3 Blu-ray boxset with Richard Fleischer's The Don is Dead (1973), with Anthony Quinn, Robert Forster, and Frederic Forrest and The Midnight Man (1974) directed by Burt Lancaster and starring Lancaster, Susan Clark, Cameron Mitchell, Harris Yulin, Ed Lauter, Robert Quarry, Catherine Bach and others:

      

Runtime 1:38:03  1:37:53.041  
Video 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.86 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s   

Disc Size: 19,917,398,771 bytes

Feature Size: 19,753,918,464 bytes

Average Bitrate: 20.00 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 

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

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0) 

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1580 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1580 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1737 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1737 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

DUB:

DTS-HD Master Audio French 1695 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1695 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

Subtitles English, None French, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary featuring director Stephen Frears, actors John Hurt and Tim Roth, writer Peter Prince, and editor Mick Audsley
• A 1988 interview with actor Terence Stamp from the television show Parkinson One-to-One (36:56)
• Original theatrical trailer
• 16-page liner notes booklet featuring a new essay by film critic Graham Fuller

DVD Release Date: April 28th, 2009

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 14

Release Information:
Studio: Movinside

 

Disc Size: 19,917,398,771 bytes

Feature Size: 19,753,918,464 bytes

Average Bitrate: 20.00 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video    

 

Edition Details:
• None


Blu-ray Release Date: June 27th, 2017
Black
Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: Movinside - June 2018: I'm a bit suspicious of 'Movinside'. This is a bare-bones, Region FREE Blu-ray with optional French subtitles. It's a fabulous film by Fears - I like it more each time I see it. The image may even be a bump but it has more texture both grain and some minor scanner noise but the higher resolution improves the presentation over SD - especially in-motion. It is certainly not an overwhelming video uptick but it also has lossless audio and the option of a 5.1 bump (and French 2.0 channel DUB) that offers some mild separation.

 

The Eric Clapton sounds track reminds of his music in Rush - and I really enjoyed its subtlety in the lossless.

 

 The Criterion DVD has the commentary and lengthy interview with Stamp while this BD has nothing. I'm keen on the other two films of this Movinside Blu-ray boxset as well - and if they are at the level of The Hit - I will be pleased.

 

NOTE: Despite the menu - the French subtitles are optional on my Oppo and this is a Region FREE disc (as are the other two films in the boxset).

 

We'll cover the other two films in this boxset in the future. No fatal flaws are present so far, but the video is modest but has lossless audio.

 

NOTE: The Midnight Man is reviewed HERE.

***

ON THE DVD: Artisan came out with Frear's The Hit on DVD, HERE,  back in 2002, but it has been out-of-print for a while fetching high prices in auction.  Strangely, I don't own it to compare. The film, while feigning a directionless crime-drama, has deeper things to impart. It keeps you guessing whilst on a road trip with a unsettled carload of mysterious, and potentially dangerous, characters. 

Criterion's transfer is clean, dual-layered, progressive and anamorphic in a 1.78 frame-filling aspect ratio. There are plenty of outdoors scenes with SD colors and healthy detail. I wouldn't say it looks magnificent but is probably a reasonable facsimile of the original. It appears to have a faded appearance at times but the film is 1/4 century old and may reflect the source used. 

The mono track is unremarkable but clean and audible. Clapton's title music sounds adequately 'drifting'. There are optional English subtitles.

In the commentary the filmmaker participants initially discuss their early TV collaborations and the actors (Stamp gives input as well but is not listed) give their pleasant memories of production. Each chirp-in, some later in the film, with a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. I don't know that some weren't recorded separately as they occasionally reference each other as if they weren't in the same studio. It seems cohesive enough to enjoy and appreciate the information they present but despite there being six of them - there are some gaps. There is also a 1/2 hour interview with Stamp from 1988 Granada Television, a trailer and a 16-page liner notes booklet with photos and a new essay by film critic Graham Fuller.  

This is a lower-tier priced Criterion release and a very enjoyable film. It's curious nature makes it hard to nail down giving it prime value for re-visitation. Researching it I found it unjustly neglected from critical coverage. I've enjoyed what Frear's work I have seen and hope Criterion expose more 'forgotten' cinema of this nature in the future.   

Gary W. Tooze

 


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1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC  - TOP

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2) Movinside - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Movinside - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Movinside - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Movinside - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Movinside - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Movinside - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Movinside - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Movinside - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Movinside - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures


Box Covers

 

  

  

 

Coming to Blu-ray in the US by Criterion in October 2020:

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 469 - Region 1 - NTSC Movinside - Region FREE - Blu-ray




 

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