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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Prisoner of the Skull" or "The Man with the Steel Mask" or "Roboman" or "Robo Man")

 

Directed by Jack Gold
USA 1974

 

Adapted from the novel by famed science fiction writer Algis Budrys, Who? is a fascinating cold-war thriller/sci-fi hybrid. Elliott Gould (Little Murders, California Split) is an FBI agent trying to determine the true identity of a top US physicist who was horrifically injured in a car accident in East Berlin. The scientist is returned to the West encased in a metal mask and body-suit, reconstructed via cybernetic surgery. Is the man behind the metal mask who he claims to be, or is he a Soviet dupe trained to infiltrate US security?

Who?, from director Jack Gold (The Reckoning, The National Health), is one of the most unusual and affecting science fiction thrillers of the 1970s – not least because of the extraordinary performance by Joseph Bova as the masked enigma at the heart of the story.

***

In 1970, Elliot Gould was the hottest male star in Hollywood; by 1975, he was making do with indifferent projects like Who?. This interesting British/German sci-fier, also known as Man Without a Face, Prisoner of the Skull and The Man With the Steel Mask, and also under the title Robo Man. Gould's role as an American government official is secondary to the character played by Joseph Bova. While visiting the Soviet Union, scientist Bova is involved in a serious car accident. The Russian surgeons perform emergency life-saving surgery by replacing most of Bova's body parts with electronic devices. Thus when he returns home, Bova is to all intents and purposes a cyborg. It is up to Gould to find out if our reconstituted hero has been transformed into a Soviet spy. After several rondelay dialogue scenes and silly car chases, Who? ends on a quiet, pensive note-perhaps the most effective scene in the whole picture. Adapted from the well-regarded novel by Algis Budrys.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

Posters and Book Covers

Theatrical Release: April 19th, 1974

Reviews                                                                                                       More Reviews                                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

Review: Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Box Cover

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Also on Blu-ray from Indicator:

    

Distribution Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:33:14.839        
Video

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 37,957,090,206 bytes

Feature: 27,699,269,184 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.02 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

BEHP Interview:
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Indicator

 

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 37,957,090,206 bytes

Feature: 27,699,269,184 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.02 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

Audio commentary with director Jack Gold and film historian Tony Sloman (2010)
Selected scenes commentary with actor Elliott Gould (2010, 21:22)
The BEHP Interview with Jack Gold (1990, 94 mins): an archival audio recording, made as part of the British Entertainment History Project, featuring the director in conversation with Norman Swallow and Alan Lawson
The Megaton Mind (2010, 25:30): an archival interview with actor Edward Grover
The Man Behind the Mask (2019, 20:19): writer and critic Kim Newman explores the life and career of acclaimed science-fiction author Algis Budrys
Image gallery: original posters and book covers
Limited edition exclusive 36-page booklet with a new essay by Phelim O’Neill, an archival interview with director Jack Gold, a look at Algis Budrys’ source novel, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
UK premiere on Blu-ray
Limited Edition of 3,000 copies


Blu-ray Release Date:
May 27th, 2019
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 10

 

 

Comments:

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

Indicator transfer Jack Gold's unusual political, mystery, sci-fi, thriller film from 1974 Who? to a stacked Blu-ray package. It's on a dual-layered disc in 1080P with a max'ed out bitrate. The image is thick and very heavy which, I gather, is how the Kino 1080P looks. Textures overwhelm detail and colors seem to carry depth. It is in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and seems to export a consistent image quality throughout without noticeable blemishes. 

The audio is transferred ion a linear PCM mono track, in the original English, (24-bit). There are minor aggressive effects.
The mono sound is decent supporting the score by John Cameron (Kes, Night Watch, 1988's Jack the Ripper, The Ruling Class). There are optional English (SDH) subtitles on this Region 'B' Blu-ray.

Indicator include the same 2010 audio commentary with director Jack Gold and film historian Tony Sloman. It's somewhat dry but has information about the production - locales etc. There is also a selected scene commentary from 2010 with actor Elliott Gould running just shy of 22-minutes filling in details like the make-up artist, Colin Arthur, who worked on 2001 etc. There is BEHP interview with Jack Gold from 1990 that runs to the full length of the film. It is an archival audio recording, made as part of the British Entertainment History Project, featuring the director in conversation with Norman Swallow and Alan Lawson. The Megaton Mind is an archival interview with actor Edward Grover also from 2010 running 25-minutes. The Man Behind the Mask is new and has 20-minutes of writer and critic Kim Newman exploring the life and career of acclaimed science-fiction author Algis Budrys. There is also an image gallery of original posters and book covers and the package contains a limited edition (3,000 copies) exclusive 36-page booklet with a new essay by Phelim O’Neill, an archival interview with director Jack Gold, a look at Algis Budrys’ source novel, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits.

Who? incorporates a few different genres but is more a curiosity than a cohesive film effort. I kinda enjoyed it, but it isn't something I would strongly recommend although the extras on this
Blu-ray were wonderful and the video quality probably accurate if underwhelming. Those curious may wish to indulge - the completeness of this BD package, with the extensive supplements, accentuates the value.

Gary Tooze

 


Menus / Extras

 


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Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Also on Blu-ray from Indicator:

    

Distribution Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray


 


 

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