Much has been written of Kneale's groundbreaking TV series, and its celluloid counterpart. The plot, involving the forces unleashed in the wake of the discovery of an alien ship at an archaeological dig, has been well documented. The themes are what sell this production: racism and magic versus reason. Although broadcast live in 1958/9 by the BBC, there are generous amounts of pre-filmed location sequences throughout the 178 minute running time. The director, Rudolph Cartier, really pushes the resources he has and keeps things moving: similarly, Kneales script is fluid, witty and exciting. All this contributes to a great sense of atmosphere. Cartier selects his cast well: most notable are Andre Morrell as Quatermass ( the best, along with John Mills, in the role, because he portrays not only a scientist but a warm, believable, humorous man) and Cec Linder (Felix Leiter in Goldfinger) as Matthew Roney. Linder's droll, laconic performance, and Canadian tones, combined with Cartier's clever use of cinema actors with subtle reputations enable the "Pit" to storm ahead of its contemporaries. This DVD release, by Revelation Films, comes from the compilation master loaned by the BBC for their previous VHS release. For all that, the quality of both picture and sound is superb, and markedly superior to my old tape version. Although edited from episodic to movie format, little is missing bar short scenes in episodes one and five. There are no extras on the disc bar chapter access but the running time and quality of the material make this an essential buy for both those interested in science fiction or TV drama.
Five stars for content, four for the DVD release