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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Bluff Poker" )

 

directed by Ronald Neame
USA 1980

 

Miles Kendig knows too much. One of the CIA’s top international operatives, he suddenly finds himself relegated to a desk job in an agency power play. Unwilling to go quietly, Kendig, with the aid of a chic Viennese widow, puts himself back in the game by writing a memoir exposing the innermost secrets of every major intelligence agency in the world. The CIA wants Kendig dead, but he refuses to cooperate—he’s having too much fun. Based on Brian Garfield’s best-selling novel, and starring the inimitable comic team of Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson, Ronald Neame’s Hopscotch is a smart and stylish tale of international intrigue and a cat-and-mouse comedy.

***

 

"Hopscotch" is a shaggy-dog thriller that never really thrills us very much, but leaves a nice feeling when it's over. That's partly because of the way Walter Matthau fools around with dialogue until he wears it well, and partly because the movie's shot at a measured, civilized, whimsical pace. It's a strange thing to say about a thriller, but "Hopscotch" is . . . pleasant.

The movie's based on a best seller by Brian Garfield, the author of Death Wish, and his hero once again is a guy who single-handedly takes on the establishment. But while the Charles Bronson character in "
Death Wish" hunts down and kills muggers, the Matthau character in "Hopscotch" mostly wants to toy with his enemies - to frustrate them with his superior cunning.

Excerpt of review from Roger Ebert located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 26th, 1980 (New York)

 

Reviews                                                                   More Reviews                                                                 DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

The Criterion Collection (Spine # 163) - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT  

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

   

  

Distribution

The Criterion Collection  - Spine # 163

Region 0 - NTSC

Criterion  - Spine # 163

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Runtime 1:45:24 1:45:18.020
Video

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.12 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.42:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 44,611,398,934 bytes

Feature: 31,064,002,560 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate

Bitrate Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0)

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

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: The Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Video introduction featuring interviews with director Ronald Neame and novelist and screenwriter Brian Garfield (21:50)
• Original theatrical trailer and teaser
• The original television audio track, remixed for family viewing, presented as an alternate audio track

DVD Release Date: August 20th, 2002
Keep Case

Chapters 14

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

 

2.42:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 44,611,398,934 bytes

Feature: 31,064,002,560 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

Interviews from 2002 with director Ronald Neame and writer Brian Garfield (22:00)
Walter Matthau in a 1980 appearance on The Dick Cavett Show (21:55)
Trailer and teaser (2:56 + 1:37)
Optional broadcast television audio track for family viewing
PLUS: An essay by critic Glenn Kenny

 

Blu-ray Release Date: August 15th, 2017
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 13

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Comments

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

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A'  Blu-ray - July 2017: This Criterion transfer is described as a 'new 2K digital restoration'. It's on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate. It looks decidedly different from their own DVD from 2002. Colors shift and the new 1080P is greener, whites are brighter, colors better separated, and there is slightly more information in the, much wider, 2.42:1 frame. Grain is wonderfully rich and thick. Detail significantly rises but thee is little depth in the heavy film-like presentation.

The uncompressed linear PCM, mono, sound (24-bit) is strong with the film's effects; cars, planes, helicopters etc. The score is uncredited to Ian Fraser, who had composed mostly for television aside from Hopscotch. It sounds fine, switching moods from a lighter tone to more rapid in the chase sequences. There is also an option of the television score (in lossy Dolby) where obscenities are replaced, which may be more appropriate for young viewers or of interest to those curious about broadcast standards at the time of the film's release. Of course, the Criterion has optional English (SDH) subtitles and their Blu-ray disc is region 'A'-locked.

Criterion duplicate the DVD extras (see below) adding a 22-minute segment of The Dick Cavett Show with Walter Matthau from 1980. The package includes a liner notes booklet with an essay by Glenn Kenny.

This is a fun, enjoyable, adventure - Matthau is great - the plot at times is riveting - certainly coy. The Criterion Blu-ray release is a marked improvement on the SD in terms of a/v and an added extra piece plus a hefty nostalgia factor. Certainly recommended!

***

ON THE DVD: I can remember that when Ronald Neame's "Hopscotch" was first announced for release by the Criterion Collection, the internet communities that kept track of such things met it with a decidedly unenthusiastic response. Well, that's not exactly true. Instead they screamed bloody murder. I was more than a bit dumbfounded by this at the time. Having only seen a few Neame films, I had a generally warm opinion of his work and even regarded "The Horse's Mouth" as brilliant. Additionally, the film stars the incomparable Walter Matthau. Where could it go wrong, I wondered? While, sadly my expectations came up short. It's not a particularly good movie. But neither is it the monstrosity that certain hyperbolic parties made it out to be. It's a fun enough film if you're in the right mood, but it'll never be mistaken for cinematic art.

Hopscotch’s anamorphic transfers looks surprisingly good for its age and date of production. To be sure, it’s far from perfect but it does have a high degree of clarity. However, there is some inconsistency in the grain. On one extreme appearances can sometimes look slightly glossy, but other scenes can have a slight amount of noise. There’s also a number of noticeable instances of damage, but on the whole there isn’t much to complain about here.

As per Criterion policy of the day, the disc comes with a competent, but uninspiring English language Dolby Digital 1.0 track. There really are no problems to speak of (dialogue is clear, no background noises), but just don't expect to be wowed by it. Optional English subtitles are also included.

Aside from another one of their famous booklets, the disc's main extra is an introduction to the film by Neame and Brian Garfield, the author of the book that the film was based on. Both obviously have a great deal to say about the film, and anyone interested in "Hopscotch" will surely enjoy the introduction as well. Aside from a pair of trailers, the only other extra is the TV, audio, edit of the film. If curse words offend you, then this cut is for you.

Overall, this is not one of Criterion's strongest releases, but it's far from the apocalyptic auguring of Criterion's greatness that many predicted it would be. Those interested may want to check it out.

  - Brian Montgomery

 



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Distribution

The Criterion Collection  - Spine # 163

Region 0 - NTSC

Criterion  - Spine # 163

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 




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