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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Falcon and the Snowman [Blu-ray]


(John Schlesinger, 1985)



Also coming out on Blu-ray in the UK (Region 'B') by 101 Films in October 2015:


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Hemdale Film

Video: Kino Lorber



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

Runtime: 2:11:30.632

Disc Size: 23,885,457,285 bytes

Feature Size: 23,554,940,928 bytes

Video Bitrate: 20.96 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 13th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1579 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1579 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)



English, None



• Trailer (4:3 - 2:04)





Description: John Schlesinger directed this fact-based drama - adapted from Robert Lindsay's bestseller of the same title -- about two Californians, friends since boyhood, who are caught selling government secrets to the Soviet Union. Christopher Boyce Timothy Hutton is an all-American boy, studying for the priesthood in a seminary. But Boyce decides to drop out of school, and with the help of his father Pat Hingle, a FBI agent, he gets a job working for the CIA in a message-routing center. While reading the messages, Boyce is shocked to learn that the CIA is involved in fixing Australian elections. Watching the Watergate hearings on television, he feels an ever-mounting sense of outrage at the arrogance of the U.S. government and decides to do something about it. Deciding to supply the CIA messages to the Russians, he enlists his childhood friend Daulton Lee Sean Penn to help him. Lee is to deliver the CIA secrets to a Russian operative David Suchet at the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City. But Lee is an unreliable drug dealer, and his sloppy spy trail leads the two old friends into more trouble than they bargained for.



The Film:

"The Falcon and the Snowman" never steps wrong, but it is best when it deals with the relationship between the two young American spies. The movie was directed by John Schlesinger, an Englishman whose understanding of American characters was most unforgettably demonstrated in "Midnight Cowboy," and I was reminded of Joe Buck and Ratso Rizzo from that movie as I watched this one. There is even a quiet, understated quote to link Ratso with the Penn character: A moment in a parking garage when Penn defies a car to pull in front of him, and we're reminded of Ratso crossing a Manhattan street and hurling the line "I'm walking here!" at a taxi that dares to cut him off. Instead of relying on traditional methods for creating the suspense in spy movies, this one uses the energy generated between the two very different characters, as the all-American Boyce gradually begins to understand that his partner is out of control. "The Falcon and the Snowman," like most good movies, is not really about its plot but about its characters.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert located HERE


In January 1977, Christopher Boyce and Daulton Lee, who had gone to school together in the upper-middle-class southern California community of Palos Verdes, were arrested on charges of having sold - over a period of two years - top-secret United States Government documents to the Soviet Union through the Russian Embassy in Mexico City. Both men, then in their 20's, were eventually convicted and packed off to prison, Lee with a life term and Boyce for 40 years. Unlike Robert Lindsey's factual book on which it is based, John Schlesinger's new film, ''The Falcon and the Snowman,'' has the effect of being less about the vagaries of international espionage than about the all- pervasive second-rateness of United States Government functionaries and of the society that produced Boyce and Lee.

Excerpt from The NY Times located HERE

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

The Falcon and the Snowman arrives on Blu-ray from Kino-Lorber.  The image suffers more from the mid-80's stock 'curse' than the single-layered 1080P transfer.  I wouldn't say it looks flawed - just less-remarkable than usual for the HD format. It obviously improves over the past SD in the usual areas showing some minor depth and tighter, moderately brighter, colors. But there isn't much to extol with the Blu-ray visuals - except its improvement over DVD.

















Audio :

Kino use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1579 kbps which handles most of the film's limited action. The score music by Lyle Mays and Pat Metheny (Bowie's This is Not America) isn't overshadowed by all the notable music in the film by the likes of Carly Simon, Average White Band, Maria Muldaur, The Doobie Brothers, J. Geils Band and others. It all sounds quite clean in lossless hinting at depth and supports the film well. There are optional English subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

The only extra is a trailer, but considering that the film has generally positive reception - it could have had some interviews or something. I don't know if the old DVD had some that might have been ported over. Anyway, only a weak 4:3 trailer.



I've always liked The Falcon and the Snowman. It remains very watchable - even after 30-years. A fascinating story, well-told by Schlesinger, and impressive performances by Hutton and Penn. The bare-bones Blu-ray isn't particularly remarkable, in the HD-sense, and its highest value lies in the film itself. But at the right price - it's enough, IMO to consider indulging. It's a film very worthy of revisitation and it probably won't look or sound any better than this. 

Gary Tooze

January 5th, 2015



Also coming out on Blu-ray in the UK (Region 'B') by 101 Films in October 2015:


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.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
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Gary W. Tooze






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