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A few words about...™ Smiley's People (1982 BBC) -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#1 of 5 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted July 04 2013 - 08:18 AM

Two late and great vehicles from the Alec Guinness pantheon of roles, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979) and Smiley's People (1982) have been released via Acorn, an entity that for a number of years has been the major purveyor of some of the finest broadcast productions from the UK.


Much of the early material was shot, edited and broadcast on videotape, and today, far too much has either been lost or is only available in problematic dubs of original 2" quads.


In many cases, productions shot on film (generally 16mm) have their own problems, especially as some haven't been scanned on the most modern of equipment.


Tinker, Tailor, was to my eye, problematic.


Smiley's People, far less so, and on the whole, an acceptable viewing experience.


Shot on 16, and with the requisite 16 grain structure, I'm wondering if what I'm seeing here is more video noise than grain.  But, regardless, sit back a decent distance from the screen, especially in projection, and the rewards to be found here, as we witness the continuing exploits of retired spy George Smiley, are well worth the price of admission.


Now if we could get Sir Alec's incomparable Ealing work out on Blu-ray from the current rightsholder...


Image - 3


Audio - 4






Note:  As full disclosure, I am a stockholder in Acorn's parent company, RLJ, which also controls Image Entertainment.  My comments in regard to their products remain strangely untainted.

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence

#2 of 5 OFFLINE   Jacksmyname


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Posted July 04 2013 - 03:08 PM

Thanks for this review, Robert. I'm a big fan of these British productions, and Mr. Guiness is always a treat.

#3 of 5 OFFLINE   Ray H

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Posted July 04 2013 - 03:16 PM

Thanks, Robert! I love the Tinker Tailor miniseries and watched it for the first time about a decade ago. I got around to reading the Karla trilogy last year, but I have yet to watch the Smiley's People miniseries. I'll likely pick it up on Blu-ray and give it a spin then.

Edited by Ray H, July 04 2013 - 03:17 PM.

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#4 of 5 OFFLINE   McCrutchy


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Posted July 04 2013 - 07:00 PM

I really hope that the BBC will go back to the film elements and do new scans for both of the Smiley tales, the US set of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is especially avoidable for those who know the series in the original seven parts it was broadcast in by the BBC, since it is the six-part US version, and this set, unfortunately, doesn't seem too much better quality-wise.

#5 of 5 OFFLINE   theonemacduff


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Posted July 04 2013 - 09:58 PM

It's kind of odd that Tinker, Tailor should be problematic. On the BBC blu of Pride and Prejudice, there was an interesting extra wherein we were told that the technical limitations  which previously had made going back to the original negatives impossible had been overcome, and that not only was the result the excellent disc we were watching, but that we should expect more vintage "shot on 16 or Super-16" shows to be given equally good treatment. Of course, that was expressed as a hope, rather than a fact, so it's probably to be expected that anticipated sales vs costs are still the drivers here, rather than, say, a committment to pulling the best out of the original materials. 

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