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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Quiller Memorandum [Blu-ray]


(Michael Anderson, 1966)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: The Rank Organization

Video: Network



Region: 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:44:50.708

Disc Size: 21,473,444,550 bytes

Feature Size: 18,756,630,528 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.00 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: July 28th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit



English, none



Contemporary interviews recorded on location in Berlin with George Segal (4:18), Alec Guinness (5:25), Senta Berger (5:02), Max von Sydow (3:57), director Michael Anderson (4:53) and producer Ivan Foxwell (10:31) ( all in SD)
Original theatrical trailer (3:08)
Textless material (2:41)
Four image galleries, including extensive promotional and behind-the-scenes shots (*:18)
Promotional material PDFs





Description: This spy saga differs from the usual Bond-styled fare that was popular at the time. There are plenty of gadgets but the hero Quiller (George Segal) never once uses a gun. Quiller is called on by his superior Pol (Alec Guinness) to infiltrate a Neo-Nazi gang in Berlin after two British agents have been killed on the same mission. After a teacher at a school has hanged himself when he is accused of being a war criminal, Quiller meets the late teachers replacement, the lovely Inge (Senta Berger). He willingly goes home with her before being beaten, drugged, and kidnapped by Nazi thugs, but the head Nazi Oktober (Max Von Sydow) allows Quiller to escape in hopes he will lead them to Pol. Quiller is captured again and given until morning to reveal information or he and Inge will die. George Sanders and Edith Schneider make the most of their limited screen time with fine performances.



The Film:

The thinking man's spy thriller, in as much as Harold Pinter wrote the script. Although the whole thing is ill-served by Michael Anderson's direction, it remains perversely likeable precisely because it is rather long-winded and enig-matic: it gets closer to the feel of Len Deighton's novels far better than any of the three Harry Palmer films. The acting, with George Segal versus neo-Nazi Max von Sydow, is excellent, the Berlin locations so-so.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

One of the more offbeat entries in the tidal wave of spy films that flooded American and European screens in the 1960s, The Quiller Memorandum (1966) was based on the first in a long series of novels by "Adam Hall", a pseudonym of the British author Elleston Trevor; the original UK title of the book was The Berlin Memorandum. The prolific Trevor (1920-1995) wrote under several pseudonyms, though "Adam Hall" was the most common and was the one associated with the Quiller series. Over a span of thirty years Trevor wrote 19 Quiller novels, the last being the posthumously published Quiller Balalaika. Besides the Quiller series, Trevor was best known for the adventure novel The Flight of the Phoenix; the original British edition of The Quiller Memorandum even contains a dedication to Robert Aldrich, who directed the 1965 film version of The Flight of the Phoenix.

While The Quiller Memorandum is noteworthy for strong performances by Alec Guinness, Max von Sydow (who is appropriately menacing as Oktober) and the beautiful Austrian newcomer Senta Berger, from today's standpoint the most interesting aspect of the film is unquestionably its screenplay by the British playwright Harold Pinter, winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Literature. Pinter retains basic elements of the novel's plot, but he makes a number of significant changes; here Quiller is an American and not a British spy, implicitly evoking the classic "American in the Old World" story.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

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

Unfortunately, The Quiller Memorandum gets an unimpressive transfer to Blu-ray from Network in the UK.  I don't know that it is so much the 1080P transfer to blame as the source which is often compromised looking notably soft - and even waxy. Colors are flat and there is inconsistency with a few sequences showing some visible compression artifacts, as well as infrequent depth in the 2.35:1 frame.  Some close-ups show pleasing detail but they are the exception. This single-layered Blu-ray probably does the best with what it has but either a superior source should have been obtained or this requires some form of restoration, imo.
















Audio :

Network transfer the audio via a linear PCM stereo at 1536 kbps. A score by the iconic John Barry (Midnight Cowboy, Dances With Wolves and the Bond themes among his many credits) helps the film and sound decent in lossless. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

There are about 1/2 hour's worth of vintage interviews recorded on location in Berlin with Segal, Guinness, Berger, von Sydow, director Michael Anderson and producer Ivan Foxwell. Also included are a theatrical trailer, and some image galleries.



I would say The Quiller Memorandum is a passable thriller although it is notable for its lack of action.  The Network Blu-ray has some video issues providing a weak presentation. I'd have to say to 'pass' for now - the film is not worthy enough to indulge. Let's hope for a superior product from region 'A'. 

Gary Tooze

October 27th, 2014


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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