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The Deadly Affair [Blu-ray]
(Sidney Lumet, 1966)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Sidney Lumet Film Productions
Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 37,447,596,126 bytes
Feature Size: 31,940,275,776 bytes
Video Bitrate: 35.01 Mbps
Case: Transparent Blu-ray case
Release date: August 28th, 2017
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary and Lectures:
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
English (SDH), none
• Audio commentary by Michael Brooke + author and horror
historian Johnny Mains
• Lumet's London (4:03) - the London locations of The Deadly Affair explored
• Original theatrical trailer (2:33)
• Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
• Limited edition exclusive booklet featuring newly commissioned writing by Thirza Wakefield , an overview of contemporary critical responses, and historic articles on the film
• Limited Dual Format Edition of 3,000 copies
Description:Based on John le Carré's first novel, Call for the Dead (which introduced spymaster George Smiley), The Deadly Affair sees an ageing British secret agent (James Mason) set out to uncover the truth behind a government employee's apparent suicide. Eschewing the glamour of the era’s Bond thrillers, Lumet's chilling and intelligent take on the spy drama presents a palpable and darkly sinister picture of Cold War intrigue. The exemplary cast also includes Maximilian Schell, Harriet Andersson, Harry Andrews, Roy Kinnear and Lynn Redgrave.
John LeCarre's Call for the Dead was the basis for this gloomy, complex spy story. James Mason plays a British secret agent puzzled by the sudden suicide of Foreign Office higher-up Robert Flemyng. Mason had worked on Flemyng's security clearance himself, and can't fathom what personality quirk he might have missed. The agent suspects that the dead man's wife (Simone Signoret), a concentration camp survivor, may hold the answer to Flemyng's despair, but the Foreign Office wants Mason to drop the case. Mason hires retiring Inspector Harry Andrews to do some private detective work. What Mason and Andrews find out is more insidious than they've imagined; worse, Mason is saddled with a new dilemma--his wife (Harriet Andersson) has been unfaithful with a colleague (Maximillian Schell).
Director Lumet brings his American beady eye to the seedy English locations and makes the most of his special cast. While attending to the moody, doomy atmosphere, he ensures that are enough spy thrills and suspense too, as security officer Dobbs investigates the suspicious circumstances behind the apparent suicide of a high-ranking colleague Samuel Fennan (Robert Flemyng) from the Foreign Office, a man he has just shared a friendly chat with.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Deadly Affair arrives on Blu-ray from Indicator out of the UK. The image quality shows a pleasing layer of grain and the contrast is impeccably layered. This is dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate. It is neither glossy nor pristinely sharp but shows Lumet's intentional dark, grey visuals (he wanted to film in in black and white). Lumet described as 'colorless color' - using a process called 'flashing' as described by Michael Brooke in the commentary. There are some splashes of red (phones, roses etc.) that tend to stand out as being HD. I would guess the 1.85:1 image is extremely accurate. It looks very clean, consistent and film-like. This Blu-ray offers a rewarding and authentic dour presentation in 1080P.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The audio is transferred via a linear PCM authentically mono at 1152 kbps (24-bit). There is modest depth in the infrequent effects. The film's music is notable for the score by Quincy Jones (The Anderson Tapes, The Getaway, The Slender Thread, The Pawnbroker, In the Heat of the Night, They Call Me Mr. Tibbs) and a 'theme' (Who Needs Forever) credited as being sung by Astrud Gilberto (Girl From Ipanema). It supports the film gently with a jazzy, Bosa-Nova, edge that is cited later as 'dating' the film. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE - playable world-wide.
NOTE: Harriet Andersson's voice was partially dubbed. As Michael Brooke tell us in our FB Group: " It seems to have been a mixture (of DUB and her own voice) - she was cast at the absolute last minute after Candice Bergen had to drop out (due to overrunning on 'The Sand Pebbles') and there were definite linguistic issues as Andersson had never acted in English before. From what I can see, it appears to be her own voice in sync-sound for the big emotional close-ups, but I'm pretty sure she's dubbed in the less important material, and possibly by someone else."
Audio commentary by Michael Brooke + author and horror historian Johnny Mains and it's extremely informative. Mains has a Scottish accent that can be difficult to interpret at times but the conversation between them is filled with details of the production, cast, Lumet, the locations, screenwriter Paul Dehn (who is credited with the screenplays for Goldfinger, The Night of the Generals, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold etc.) and much more. I thought it was excellent. Also, other options to listen to while the film runs is a 40-minute The John Player Lecture with James Mason from 1967. It is an archival audio recording of an interview conducted by Leslie Hardcastle at the National Film Theatre, London. Another included is the 1.5-hour Guardian Lecture with Sidney Lumet from 1983. Another archival audio recording of an interview conducted by Derek Malcolm at the National Film Theatre, London and it is quite good. We also get A New Kind of Spy which has David Kipen commenting on screenwriter Paul Dehn who adapted le Carré's novel for this film. It is from 2017 and runs 17-minutes. Take One and Move On is a new interview with camera operator Brian West running just under 5-minute. Lumet's London spends 4-minute identifying the London locations of The Deadly Affair. There is also an original theatrical trailer, an image gallery with on-set and promotional photography plus the package has a limited edition exclusive booklet featuring newly commissioned writing by Thirza Wakefield, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and historic articles on the film. Being dual format a DVD is included and this edition is limited to 3,000 copies.
August 18th, 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 3500 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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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