A few words about…™ The Odessa File — in Blu-ray

The difference seems to come down to the extras that Powerhouse adds to the mix, and they're worthwhile, elevating the film with some very serious material. 4 Stars

The UK publisher Powerhouse, is new to me.

But the fact that they’re distributing Blu-ray product thus far unavailable here in The Colonies, or simply passing beneath my radar, made examining their releases a necessity.

They seem to be publishing in both Region Free, as well as Region B locked.

I checked out a couple of their unlocked products.

The first was The Odessa File (1974).

Based upon the novel by by Frederick Forsyth, and directed by the great Ronald Neame, the film is okay entertainment, but with superb tech support.

Photographed by Oswald Morris, cut by Ralph Kemplen (Oliver!, Day of the Jackal, The African Queen), and with a score by a young composer named Andrew Lloyd Webber.

What was most important to me, was to find out if Powerhouse was releasing quality fare, or older masters and re-treads.

The answer is Quality.

As far as importing The Odessa File, I’d have zero problems.

Color, grain structure, shadow detail, all where they should be.

Having now discovered the previous Image Entertainment release (2012), the two seem to be based upon the same master.

The difference seems to come down to the extras that Powerhouse adds to the mix, and they’re worthwhile, elevating the film with some very serious material. To my eye, the best are set off in red.

INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES:
• 2K restoration
• Original mono audio
• The BFI Interview with Ronald Neame (2003, 67 mins): archival audio recording of the award-winning filmmaker in conversation with Matthew Sweet at London’s National Film Theatre
• The BFI Interview with Oswald Morris (2006, 62 mins): archival audio recording of the celebrated cinematographer in conversation with Anwar Brett at the National Film Theatre
• Safe But Real (2018, 3 mins): new and exclusive interview with stuntman Vic Armstrong
• Foreign Friends (2018, 7 mins): new and exclusive interview with continuity supervisor Elaine Schreyeck
• Super 8 version (17 mins): original cut-down home cinema presentation
• Original theatrical trailer
• Image gallery: promotional photography and publicity material
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive booklet with new essays by Carmen Gray and Keith Johnston, Ronald Neame on The Odessa File, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
• UK premiere on Blu-ray
• Limited Edition of 3,000 copies

Image – 5

Audio – 5 (monaural)

Upgrade from DVD – Absolutely.

Upgrade from previous Blu-ray – Worth it for the Neame and Morris interviews alone – Two Hours worth.

Pass / Fail – Pass

Recommended

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

20 Comments

  1. Nice to know that the newly discovered Powerhouse is striving for quality.
    And thanks for highlighting the supplements.
    Not for "The Odessa File", itself, but for the opportunity of viewing two BFI interviews with Ronald Neame and Oswald Morris, alone – with both clocking in each at over an hour – makes this a Must.

  2. I own several Powerhouse titles, and have to agree that they are mostly a quality affair. Was NOT however impressed by their release of Footsteps in the Fog – abysmal color and hints of edge enhancement. I understand, they are at the mercy of whatever master is provided to them, but especially because Sony did the remastering here, this one left me flat. Give Powerhouse super high marks however for their archival extras. Well worth the price of admission on any title!

  3. Powerhouse / Indicator are doing an incredible job, in my opinion. Their three Hammer sets are absolutely extraordinary, and are probably the jewels of my BD collection.

    Despite the decline in physical media, it's wonderful to see BD becoming an increasingly niche format, allowing for some new companies (such as Powerhouse and Arrow in the UK; Shout!, Severin and Vinegar Syndrome in the US) to release some truly exceptional titles.

  4. It's one of my favorite films, and yet it's not particularly special from any critic's view. But I guess it was one of those movies which made a big impression on me when I was at school. In its favour, it has oodles of atmosphere, an interesting pastiche score by Lloyd Webber (not long after Jesus Christ Superstar), and strong performances. The idea of brave individuals hunting down Nazi war criminals (which did indeed happen) is a wonderful premise for a movie, and one which I'm sure will get revisited by Hollywood again. The US one-sheet and UK quad poster art of Jon Voigt dodging the wheels of a Hamburg metro was certainly iconic at the time.

    Here is a pic of my US 2012 release all-region Blu-ray and 1978 Columbia 17-minute Super 8 cutdown:

    View attachment 49009

  5. Thank you again Mr. Harris for alerting me to a new release of a movie I very much enjoy (despite what my wife says) and assuring me that it is worth ordering from overseas. And I haven't even watched the Image Entertainment release I have yet. But based on your recommendation I've placed my order with Amazon.uk and very much look forward to receiving it. It will be a great September with two Frederick Forsyth movie upgrades — this and The Day of the Jackal from Arrow. In addition to the BFI interviews on the Odessa File release, I'm very much looking forward to the Super 8 version. I remember buying 8mm versions of movies and documentaries as a teenager in the 1960s and early 1970s. How I wish that I had been smart enough to have saved them.

  6. And to follow up, after checking out the Powerhouse / Indicator lineup, I've also ordered region free versions of Glenn Ford's The Big Heat (an upgrade) and Albert Finney's Gumshoe (a new film for me). I would have ordered an upgrade version of Walter Matthau's Charley Varrick as well but since it's out of print the $57 price was a little too steep to try to sneak into the house.

  7. Absolutely love this movie. I must budget for this soon as it's only so many copies available. This and The Day of the Jackal are a wonderful double feature, and that one is also getting a good Blu-ray this next month or so, right?

    I hate to agree with something bad about his movie, but I do remember the score being pretty bad. Though it's such a good movie otherwise I always overlook it easy enough.

  8. RJGT

    Thanks, Mike, I had missed that about Charley Varrick coming from Kino. Something more to look forward to.

    The U. K. Blu-ray disc of Charley Varrick is excellent. I assume this Kino disc comes from the same transfer. If so, you're in for a treat.

  9. John Maher_289910

    For me, the worst score ever written for a motion picture. If I were filthy with money, I would buy ownership of this film and have it re-scored! I do, however, love "Christmas Dream" which plays during the opening credit.

    I agree, John. The jazz-rock inspired music sequences are clunky, awkward and out-of-place. It was the pastiche Christmas Dream and German folk stuff which worked really well. It's not unlike Lloyd Webber to get the songs right but the motifs horribly wrong.

  10. Looking at all this makes me wish that Powerhouse establish a US base, like our good friends at Arrow Video, so we can get our hands on some of these titles without having to spend so much importing them here. A pipe dream, maybe, but one can hope, can't they?

  11. t1g3r5fan

    Looking at all this makes me wish that Powerhouse establish a US base, like our good friends at Arrow Video, so we can get our hands on some of these titles without having to spend so much importing them here. A pipe dream, maybe, but one can hope, can't they?

    It's usually cheaper to import Arrow titles from the UK than it is to buy the North American versions.

  12. Yes, the UK option looked very good and I pre-ordered it on Aug. 27. Nary a word about it being shipped from Amazon.co.uk since it was released Sept. 3 and they now show it as "Currently unavailable. We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock." Very disappointing, and it seems to almost be par-for-the-course on these limited editions from many producers and suppliers. Why can't they all be as good as Criterion?

  13. RJGT

    Yes, the UK option looked very good and I pre-ordered it on Aug. 27. Nary a word about it being shipped from Amazon.co.uk since it was released Sept. 3 and they now show it as "Currently unavailable. We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock." Very disappointing, and it seems to almost be par-for-the-course on these limited editions from many producers and suppliers. Why can't they all be as good as Criterion?

    Deep Discount has a fairly small selection
    https://www.deepdiscount.com/search?mod=AP&q=Powerhouse&ft=Blu-ray

    &
    https://www.deepdiscount.com/search?mod=AP&q=Indicator&ft=Blu-ray

    Odessa File is currently $25.84 but as of this writing in-stock …
    View attachment 50227

    The direct link for the UK site is http://www.powerhousefilms.co.uk/

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