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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Man Between [Blu-ray]

 

(Carol Reed, 1953)

 

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: London Film Productions

Video: Studio Canal (UK)

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:41:46.208

Disc Size: 42,678,332,559 bytes

Feature Size: 29,827,128,192 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.89 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 2nd, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

Interview with Claire Bloom (10:26)
Carol Reed: A Gentle Eye (44:01)
• BFI Audio- James Mason 1967 (41:59)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: A later collaboration between Mason and Carol Reed, The Man Between is often considered a companion piece to The Third Man thanks to its atmospheric portrayal of a city struggling to survive in a grim post-war reality of poverty and mistrust. The action is here transposed to a divided Berlin, and to the beginning of the Cold War. Unlike the devilish Harry Lime, Mason’s world-weary dealer Ivo Kerr is ultimately still a decent man, compelled by his love for a naïve schoolteacher to make one last misguided trip through the Brandenberg Gate, with potentially tragic consequences.

 

 

The Film:

Very much a return to the world of Harry Lime, with the ruins of edgy, divided Berlin standing in for the sewers of Vienna. The drab, snow-clad city finds its human counterpart in Mason's sardonic, disreputable double agent, who stalks and then succumbs to the provocatively virginal Bloom. Cold war dogmatism is refreshingly muted, with free world heroes and Stalinist heavies merely a backcloth to the complexly ambiguous relations centred on Mason. The film's rambling, ramshackle construction drew unfavourable comparisons with The Third Man, but despite thematic similarities, it is more fruitfully seen as a forerunner to the down-at-heel spy stories of John Le Carré.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

From the opening scenes, Reed establishes a tension: strangers ominously eye their movements through the airport and a young boy on a bicycle, an otherwise unobtrusive figure of innocence playing in the streets, tails their taxi and makes lazy figure-eights outside their home, a lone building jutting out of the rubble and ruins of their sector of the city. Bettina is nervous and agitated and a night on the town does nothing to ease her disposition; she slips out for a surreptitious meeting that only jangles her nerves more. Susanne finally sees the mystery man on a day trip to East Berlin. As they settle in for tea at a café, the figure (guided by the boy on a bicycle, keeping up his dogged surveillance) steps into the room and over to their table like an old friend. James Mason is the smoothly shady and romantically sinister Ivo Kern, an acquaintance - and surely much more - of Bettina. Susanne is instantly fascinated and an odd kind of courtship begins between the impressionable but headstrong young woman and the older man with an ulterior motive, one that inevitably draws her into the political intrigue of citizens fleeing the East for the West and the espionage by agents no better than mercenary thugs attempting to staunch the flow. "He's not the government and neither am I," the weary skeptic Ivo confesses to Bettina after she's snatched from the streets of West Berlin by an East German agent. "He's just a gangster trying to get what he can."

Excerpt from the TCM located HERE

 

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

The Man Between gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Studio Canal.  It's dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate for the 1-hour 40-minute feature. The 1080P image looks marvelous supporting solid contrast with plenty of lush grain texture and some depth in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio.  It's very clean showcasing impressive shadow detail and artistic skewed angle shots. There are few flaws with the rendering. The softness is consistent and appears inherent in the source. This Blu-ray probably looks very similar to the theatrical version of the film The Man Between. I was very pleased with the video presentation.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Typically flat, linear PCM 2.0 channel, mono, track at 2304 kbps (24-bit) - that sounds reasonably passive. The suspense-inducing score is by John Addison (A Taste of Honey, The Honey Pot, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Strange Invaders) and subtly augments the film's budding mysteries and tension. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

Some solid extras. Studio Canal include a 10-minute interview with Claire Bloom who discusses her recollections of the production. Carol Reed: A Gentle Eye runs shy of 3/4 of an hour and is an excellent examination of the great director's style citing numerous examples with input from John Boorman and others. Very worthwhile! There is also a BFI Audio piece with James Mason from 1967 running 42-minutes.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Once again Carol Reed's films deliver upon their promise of greatness. The Man Between of course will evoke The Third Man for the location and style. Mason is grand and the entire film has a brilliantly building pace.  The Studio Canal Blu-ray provides an excellent a/v presentation with very appreciated supplements. I would easily state this is a 'don't hesitate' category for lovers of the genre and vintage films in general. Strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

January 20th, 2017

 


 

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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Gary W. Tooze

 

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