The Molly Maguires Studio: Paramount Year: 1970 Rated: PG Length: 124 minutes Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Restored Mono English Subtitles, Closed Captioned Special Features:None SRP: $14.99 US Release Date: April 27, 2004 In 1876 Pennsylvania, coal miners sometimes went to extremes to protect worker’s rights and a fair week’s wages. The Molly Maguires was a secret society within a secret society - a group of Irish immigrant coal miners who met mine owner’s exploitations with violence, intimidation and murder. Jack Kehoe (Sean Connery) is the leader of the Molly Maguires. He’s the bad guy that you want to root for, because the good guys here are corrupt - not to mention less likable. James McParlan (Richard Harris) is the Pinkerton detective assigned to infiltrate the Molly Maguires under deep cover. McParlan takes a liking to Kehoe, and must battle his own conscience. He must either betray the company he works for, or betray his new friend Kehoe. After experiencing first hand the daily routine of the mine workers, and the corruption they face as a matter of routine, he sympathizes with the Molly Maguires. He also realizes that they are as dangerous as the corruption that rules the mines. This film has among the most impressive period set design and costumes ever put to film. It exudes realism through and through. You’ll want to brush the coal dust off of yourself when you’re finished watching. Martin Ritt (Hud, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Stanley and Iris) directed this slow but sure-footed social drama in such a way that you are completely immersed in the period setting. Never are you sure who you should side with - all the characters have flaws. They are all right, and they are all wrong. Harris’s character is at the core of this split - and he rightly takes top billing for the film. All the performances are strong and believable. The film also stars Samantha Eggar, Frank Finlay and Anthony Zerbe. Paramount continues to impress me with their treatment of catalog titles - at least with respect to the transfers. While special features are nonexistent on this title, the transfer is topnotch. The video is anamorphically enhanced with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. While an occasional speck of dust or tiny scratch reveals the age of the film, it is remarkably clean. The image is detailed and sharp, with no obvious edge enhancement. Colors are wonderfully saturated and accurate. Contrast is good. My only complaint - and it is a minor one - is that black levels seem to be a bit inconsistent. All in all, this is a very fine transfer of another title from Paramount’s back catalog. The color, sharpness and fidelity make it easy to believe that the film was shot much more recently than 1970. This was a pleasure to watch. The audio comes to you in a nicely done Dolby Digital 5.1 remix, as well as a restored English monaural track. The mono track is clean with good frequency response. The 5.1 track adds a nice dimensional ambiance and opens up the front soundstage for the music. Paramount didn’t get carried away with directional effects. There is decent use of the LFE channel and some good ambiance from the surrounds - but the whole thing doesn’t come off sounding too “processed.” Either way, the soundtrack won’t disappoint. Special Features There are no special features. Final Thoughts The Molly Maguires is an impressive portrayal on the 1870’s - accurate to the smallest details. Even the window glass looks authentic for the period. This is a drama that is slow-moving at times, but also has periods of action and violence. It is a social commentary that is interesting - and entertaining - to watch. Paramount has delivered a solid transfer of an often overlooked classic. Recommended.