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UK 1944


The Central Office of Information (COI) was established in April 1946 and has produced thousands of films that reflected the culture and concerns of the nation. Volume 1 of the COI collection tackles crime, juvenile delinquency, policing and the justice system. A variety of styles and genres - story documentary, drama, public information shorts - are employed to deliver crime prevention messages and bolster recruitment in this area.

Excerpt of review from BFI located HERE

DVD Reviews

DVD Review: BFI (The COI Collection Vol. 1) - Region 2 - PAL

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Region 2 - PAL


1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Fully illustrated booklet including comprehensive contextualizing notes and essays from academics and film historians

DVD Release Date: February 15th, 2010
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Like the GPO collections and "Portrait of a Miner" before it, "Police and Thieves" is a collection of government sponsored shorts created over the course of several decades to act as publicity for and further the ends of a particular governmental office. In this case, its the Central Office of Information (COI for short) and the spotlight is specifically cast on the nation's efforts to combat crime and juvenile delinquency. While I don't think that the films offered here rise to the same level as those in the aforementioned collections, they nevertheless provide a fascinating look into the world of crime and punishment. Perhaps most interesting is the portrait that it paints of a society that is not focused on retribution so much as rehabilitation. Its all too common now to hear cries for the heads of offenders, rather than address the social problems that produced them in the first place. That's why its so refreshing to see a criminal justice system that treats offenders as human beings and focuses on youth offender prevention and reforming criminals rather than just locking them away (although the booklet plainly states that this approach wasn't always the most successful one).

The films in this collection generally look quite good. Indeed, as the booklet states, the films have all undergone a recent high definition transfer by the BFI's James White (who in my opinion ranks among the very best in his profession), and were constructed using the best available materials. There are very few instances of damage on the prints, and is usually limited to vertical lines that sometimes pop up on some of the films. Really, its no big deal and this is probably the best that any of these have looked since their initial production.

The producers once again chose to go with Dolby Digital 2.0 for the audio track. The tried and true format does the job quite nicely here, without any discernible background noise in the form of unwanted hisses, pops, etc on any of the films. The subtitles are excellent as always and never prove to be a distraction with the image on the screen.

The only extra here is a fully illustrated 25 page booklet. Like the booklets for some of their other collection releases, the BFI has included essays on all of the individual films and an essay entitled "A Brief History of the COI".

Overall, this is another strong release from the folks at the BFI. Anyone interested in the history of law and order or public advocacy films will likely get a real kick out of this one. Recommended.

 - Brian Montgomery


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