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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Wilby Conspiracy [Blu-ray]


(Ralph Nelson, 1975)




Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Baum/Dantine Productions

Video: Kino Classics



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

Runtime: 1:45:49.551

Disc Size: 21,903,461,918 bytes

Feature Size: 19,365,648,384 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.45 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 6th, 2018



Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1556 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1556 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)



English (SDH), none



Trailer (2:15) and 5 other trailers





Description: The Wilby Conspiracy is set in South Africa, at a time when Apartheid was the order of the day. Political activist Shack Twala (Sidney Poitier) finds an unlikely -- and reluctant -- ally in the form of the British Keogh (Michael Caine). Both Twala and Keogh are scrutinized by racist police official Horn (Nicol Williamson), who hopes that they'll lead him to the hideout of chief activist Wilby (Joe De Graft). Based on the novel by Peter Driscoll, The Wilby Conspiracy abandons its sociological overtones early on in favor of an extended chase. The film reteams Poitier and director Ralph Nelson, who, 12 years earlier, had collaborated on Lilies of the Field.


English engineer Jim Keogh (Michael Caine) and black anti-apartheid activist Shack Twala (Sidney Poitier) go on the run together in 1970s South Africa after falling foul of the police. Aided by Shack's lawyer, Rina (Prunella Gee), the two attempt to make their way to Cape Town where Shack hopes to return a diamond stash to the African National Congress and in turn seek help from the Congress' leader, Wilby (Joe De Graft). Unbeknownst to the pair, they are being followed.



The Film:

Screen giants Sidney Poitier (In the Heat of the Night) and Michael Caine (The Holcroft Covenant) ignite the screen as two very different men suddenly bound together and running for their lives in this suspenseful and politically pertinent chase thriller set in South Africa's powder keg of racial strife. When anti-apartheid activist Shack Twala (Poitier) is freed from prison, he quickly runs into trouble with the police. British engineer Keogh (Caine) helps Twala elude a sadistic government official (Nicol Williamson, Excalibur), but as both men, now fugitives, race 900 miles to cross the border to safety, they are drawn into a conspiracy much bigger and deadlier than they realize. Veteran filmmaker Ralph Nelson (Lilies of the Field) directed this top-notch action film co-starring the great Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner) in his first English-speaking role.


Michael Caine described The Wilby Conspiracy (1975) as his "first foray into that very risky realm of 'message' pictures." The film takes place in South Africa during apartheid and co-stars Sidney Poitier as a political activist named Shack Twala. Caine plays an Englishman named Keogh who is in trouble with the law. The two men team up and are soon hunted by a bigoted police officer hoping the pair will lead him to the chief activist, Wilby. In spite of Caine dubbing The Wilby Conspiracy a "message" picture, it is primarily a chase film. Most of the politics of the original novel by Peter Driscoll have been removed. The anti-apartheid theme, however, did prevent them from filming in South Africa.

On location in Kenya, Michael Caine quickly discovered no one there knew who he was. The first realization came at the airport in Nairobi when he and his family were looking for the person sent to meet them. They eventually spotted a man who appeared to be looking for someone. In his autobiography, Caine recalls, "I went up and stood right in front of him, but before I could open my mouth he walked straight by me and went up to a little old fat man with a bald head and asked him if he was Michael Caine." At first Caine thought he would enjoy the lack of attention, but after a while he became disgruntled with his non-celebrity status..

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

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

The Wilby Conspiracy appears pretty solid on Blu-ray from Kino.  The image detail advances over SD and is consistent throughout the presentation. This is only single-layered but has a decent bitrate. Colors seem tight and  contrast exhibits consistently strong black levels. I see no signs of manipulation and it is a good representation in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio. This Blu-ray has texture and no egregious artifacts.  By modern standards this holds up well - and the 1080P is adept.

















Audio :

The audio is rendered in a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1556 kbps (16-bit). It doesn't have any flaws and supports the brief aggressive effects utilized in the film.  The score is by Stanley Myers (Eureka, Cimino's The Deer Hunter, Roeg's Insignificance, Harold Becker's The Boost, Pete Walker House of Mortal Sin and Frightmare, etc.) and it runs alongside the film.  There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A"-locked.



Extras :

The only supplement is a trailer for the film and 5 other film trailers.



Always keen to see such a great pairing of acting talents. The film touches on serious political issues and it's a decent adventure-thriller. The Wilby Conspiracy has nostalgia appeal as well and I appreciated seeing it on Blu-ray. Caine and Poitier are the big drawing card but they get impressive support from Nicol Williamson, Prunella Gee, Persis Khambatta and Rutger Hauer! To those keen - recommended! 

Gary Tooze

February 5th, 2018



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