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The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

An end of career spy takes on one last assignment behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany that turns out to be far different than what he was told it would be in this complex, layered spy thriller based on the John le Carre novel from director Martin Ritt starring Richard Burton.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold Packshot (Eureka Entertainment)This adaptation of the John Le Carre novel The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by director Martin Ritt (The Great White Hope, The Molly Maguires) stars Richard Burton as end-of-career British agent Alec Leamas who is brought in from the cold (meaning, he is called in from the field). Rather than go into retirement, Lemas accepts one last assignment undercover in East Germany. To make his undercover assignment work, he has to spend time going on an alcoholic bender, getting himself arrested, spending time in prison, disgraced, and ingratiating himself with communists in Britain, including a beautiful librarian (Claire Bloom). Leamas is finally accepted into the world of East German espionage, but as he is he realizes the assignment is not what he was told it was.

The film is cold, calculating, and filled with double-crosses. This is not the 007 action thriller that people were perhaps expecting at the time. Spy is much more layered with depth of character and almost noir cinematography. Although it was not filmed in East Germany at all, the locations of Ireland and England fill in brilliantly thanks to the superb camera work, lighting, and set design. The performances by Burton and Bloom, who had previously in their lives been romantically involved, are also excellent.

The Video

Eureka’s presentation of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is from a restored high-definition digital transfer in 1.66:1 AVC 1080p. The black and white cinematography looks beautiful even if the blacks don’t get inky, there is wide detail extension in shadows and good contrast. Nothing looks blown out in the whites. There are some visible scratches and tramlines that one can see still in this restoration. The upper right corner shows a lot of faint diagonal scratching nearly straight through the film.

The Audio

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold comes with a LPCM 2.0 stereo mix that is very good and presenting the jazz score by Sol Kaplan and the dialogue. Everything sounds clean, full, well-balanced, and there are good dynamics.

The Supplements

There’s a well-rounded collection of bonus features including a good, detailed audio commentary and video essay plus a collector’s booklet with essay.

  • Commentary by Adrian Martin
  • Cold Light, Video Essay by David Cairns (1080p; 00:22:21)
  • Trailer (1080p)
  • 48-page collector’s booklet featuring essay, Circus Squared: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by Richard Combs; a number of archival pieces and imagery.

The Final Assessment

This is a great film with a solid transfer from the Masters of Cinema series.


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  • Salem Films Limited | Eureka Entertainment
  • Director: Martin Ritt
  • Written By: John le Carré (novel) | Paul Dehn (screenplay) | Guy Trosper (screenplay)
  • Run Time: 112 Mins.
  • Street Date: 17 May 2021
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: English LPCM 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: English SDH
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