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102 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classy and classic televsion - real value for money
This is truly classic light drama covering Reilly's career form the Russo-Japanese war to the rise of Stalin. The Reilly character is very charming (as are his numerous paramours) but treacherous and the story told in a compelling and serialised way. If you like good acting, realistic sets, and a good story free from all the agitating diversions in contemporary television...
Published on 1 May 2008 by W. Hutchinson

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic 1980s Spy series.
Based on the true accounts of the first professional spy, this 1980s series staring Sam Neil tells the various advantures of an Edwardian spy who was the first professional and often at odds to the establishment. Enjoyable and well produced, they have stood the test of time.
Published on 3 Oct. 2010 by Jenny Crossley


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102 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classy and classic televsion - real value for money, 1 May 2008
By 
W. Hutchinson "whutchin2" (Perth, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Reilly - Ace Of Spies [DVD] (DVD)
This is truly classic light drama covering Reilly's career form the Russo-Japanese war to the rise of Stalin. The Reilly character is very charming (as are his numerous paramours) but treacherous and the story told in a compelling and serialised way. If you like good acting, realistic sets, and a good story free from all the agitating diversions in contemporary television programmes then this is for you. It would not be made today as producers feel compelled to dumb down content with infantile background `mood' noises that grind on the nerves. I suspect this is to distract from the lack of content, or perhaps most programmes these days are made for children rather than those with adult tastes. Even though it was made in the 1980s, it is not really dated except for the lack of the negative distractions mentioned before. So if you want an easy to follow but classy story without the puerile distractions buy this series of DVDs - it is true value for money. The 3 DVDs have about six hours of content. I highly recommend them.
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ace television, 5 Feb. 2009
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This review is from: Reilly - Ace Of Spies [DVD] (DVD)
I watched the original series on TV when it first appeared and was very impressed. I have recently bought the series on DVD and have viewed it again and found that my original impressions were correct. One is at once captivated by the opening music which sets the tone for the whole experience. The story is not "hammed up" as so many modern TV series of supposed true events are. There are some minor inaccuracies in the detail of events and perhaps a few of the situations and characters have been changed a little in the interests of TV drama, however, the core of the story is faithfully told. The production has spared no expense in the settings and locations and all the actors are well suited to their roles; Sam Neil in particular is mesmerizing as Riley. What a pity that modern TV cannot provide us with such high calibre dramas as this one which was made in the golden age of television.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ace drama., 24 Feb. 2006
By 
Ms. Rebekah Williams "Rebekah Williams" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
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I was a wee girl of 12 when this series first aired on ITV, but I remember it well for two main reasons:
1) It made me fall in love with Sam Neill.
2) It made me fall in love with Shoshtakovich.
Probably due to not owning a VHS player in 1983, I only had one shot at soaking this all in at the time it was aired.
Imagine then, my immense chuffed-ness at discovering all 13 episodes were to be released in wondrous DVD box setted glory!
From its supremely evocative music - (persons of a certain age might remember Terry Wogan announcing Shoshtakovich on his radio show as the theme from 'Reilly - Ace of Mince Pies' tsk!) - through to the calibre of the cast, everything about 'Reilly' was and is, quality drama.
The costumes are works of art in themselves, and the London locations do a marvellous job doubling for pre-Perestroika Russia.
Even before 1985's much-praised 'Edge of Darkness' Troy Kennedy Martin showed flashes of brilliance in his adaption of Robin Bruce Lokhart's book for TV.
Kennedy Martin keeps his script taut and sharp and as such, we are not bogged down with the myriad convolutions of counter espionage.
In 'Anna'(episode 3) we even get to see a little of what drives Reilly. His explanation to his half-sister of a loveless relationship with his Father, and the disappointment of discovering his illigitemacy - fleshes the bones of this most elusive character.
Sam Neill's portrayal of Sidney Reilly is pretty near perfect. (Biased? Moi..) A soft spoken, consummate con-man - even the rare flash of rage is controlled, which makes his Reilly all the more memorable for being so minimalist.

It's also a treat to see Peter Egan before his incarnation as 'Ever Decreasing Circles' perfect Paul.
If you liked 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' 'Cambridge Spies' or even 'Another Country' - do yourself a favour...
Sit back, put these DVD's on and Ace them Reilly style.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great series. Worth repeated viewing., 13 April 2005
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Sam Neill is in his element as Sidney Reilly (Sigmund Rosenblum) during the Russian revolution. You are never sure whom he is spying for. He is a British spy that was responsible for gaining secrets that assured the Japanese success in their maritime war efforts with the Russians. He later became involved in the Bolshevik revolution. All the time he is making money and we are never sure whether he is just a British spy or a double agent or just out for himself.

Each episode brings him to a different location and/or time where he shows an extraordinary understanding of the political and economic situation that he is in.

A little added plus is where a psychic vividly predicts his death.

Original

Episode # Prod # Air Date Episode Title

____ _______ ________ ___________ ___________________________________________

1. 1- 1 5 Sep 83 An Affair with a Married Woman (90 min)

2. 1- 2 7 Sep 83 Prelude to War

3. 1- 3 14 Sep 83 The Visiting Fireman

4. 1- 4 21 Sep 83 Anna

5. 1- 5 28 Sep 83 Dreadnoughts and Crosses

6. 1- 6 5 Oct 83 Dreadnoughts and Doublecrosses

7. 1- 7 12 Oct 83 Gambit

8. 1- 8 19 Oct 83 Endgame

9. 1- 9 26 Oct 83 After Moscow

10. 1-10 2 Nov 83 The Trust

11. 1-11 9 Nov 83 The Last Journey

12. 1-12 16 Nov 83 Shutdown
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for long winter evenings, 8 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Reilly - Ace Of Spies [DVD] (DVD)
I didn't see much of this series when it was shown on TV as I was out and about and doing whatever young people do, although I do remember my parents watching it. Having watched all twelve episodes, I have to say that I wish there were more series of this quality on TV these days.

The series covers over two decades of the life of the spy Sidney Reilly, a figure with a shadowy past who involved himself in intrigues at the highest level in the early years of the 20th century. The novel "The Gadfly" (worth reading) purports to be based on his early life, although this is set in mid-19th century Italy rather than late-19th century Russia. Reilly is superbly portrayed by Sam Neill and watching him in this makes you regret that he never played James Bond.

There are twelve episodes in all - some of these are self-contained stories while other stories are spread over more episodes. The last episodes cover the period of the Russian Revolution up to Reilly's death in 1925.

There is something for everyone here - intrigue, action, romance, all intelligently worked together against a backdrop of real events and history. I was scurrying off to wikipedia after each episode to read up on the historical background.

For less than 50p an episode, quality entertainment doesn't come better value than this!
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful series on an Ace of Spies, 10 April 2003
By A Customer
Draw the curtains, dim the lights, and indulge in an atmospheric sketch of international wrangling in turn of century Europe. Emerging disappointed after an hour only because it is over already and you will have to wait a whole week for the next episode. This experience is shared by viewers of 'Reilly-Ace of Spies,' one of the classic TV series of the 1980s, now available on DVD.
'Ace of Spies' tells the story of master spy Sidney Reilly, British agent at the beginning of the last century, based on the biography of the same name by Robin Bruce Lockhart. Reilly, a cunning trickster and cold-blooded operator, is credited with changing the British secret service from a club of amateur gentleman spies into a ruthless professional espionage agency. Reilly was apparently the true-life model of James Bond. Besides a brave and clever agent also a murderer, cheat, and adulterer, he is a far more ambiguous figure than knight-in-shining armour 007. But this tension also makes the series far more appealing than Ian Fleming's ripping yarns.
The pilot episode finds Reilly (Sam Neill) on a mission in Baku, playing the great game for Central Asian oil. Arrested by the Russians, he escapes with Margaret, wife of the reverend Thomas. The death of Thomas under suspicious circumstances soon gives Reilly access to Margeret's inherited wealth. In 'Prelude to War', Reilly enriches himself by speculating on war between Russia and Japan, a conflict he helps bringing about by selling the Japanese a map of defenses of Port Arthur. In the next episode 'the visiting fireman', Reilly disguises himself as a worker in order to peruse designs for German weaponry from the Krupp arms factory. In 'Dreadnoughts and Doublecrosses', Reilly attempts to steal plan of Russian warships for the newly established British intelligence service. In 'Gambit' Reilly has to escape revolutionary Russia after being implicated in a plot to kill Lenin. From then on, Reilly's attempts to rid his native Russia of the hated Bolsheviks becomes the focus of the series. Reilly allies himself with the exiled Boris Savinkov, and both soon start to work together with the Trust, a secret organization aimed at overthrowing the communists. After the death of Savinkov, Reilly becomes wary of the Trust, suspecting it to be secretly controlled by Stalin. This prompts Reilly on his final mission, where only sacrifice can reveal the true nature of the Trust.
The opening of British and former Soviet archives has cleared up a great deal of the mystery surrounding Reilly. Books such as 'Ironmaze' by Gordon Brooke-Shepherd and 'On his Majesty's Secret Service, Sidney Reilly ST1' by Andrew Cook reveal Reilly as more of a scoundrel and less of a spy. Many of Reilly's most famous exploits turn out to be complete fabrications, invented by the man himself. Even 'Reilly's' highly recognizable theme tune is based on one of these inventions. Reilly managed to persuade his gullible audience that his early adventures formed the inspiration for the late nineteenth century novel 'the Gadfly'. The series is set to Shostakovich's tune 'Romance', taken from his score for the film of the book.
But bad history does not necessarily make bad television. Reilly was a success as an inveterate cheat precisely because he was good at spinning believable stories, most of which are far more credible than the average Hollywood espionage blockbuster. That Reilly was 'Ace of Lies' rather than 'Ace of Spies' makes him more odious, but not less intriguing. If the power of the series is such that it inspired Cook to do his research on the true Sidney Reilly, it may lead many others to do some background reading, and is certain to make good viewing.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Spy Series, 16 Dec. 2008
By 
Birmingham Book Reader (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Reilly - Ace Of Spies [DVD] (DVD)
Reilly Ace Of Spies is a true classic spy series. TV programmes are not made like this now which is a real shame. Sam Neil makes a super spy. Each programme is a fully contained story - which good acting and an interesting story line. Great direction, camera work and so much more.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic 1980s Spy series., 3 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Reilly - Ace Of Spies [DVD] (DVD)
Based on the true accounts of the first professional spy, this 1980s series staring Sam Neil tells the various advantures of an Edwardian spy who was the first professional and often at odds to the establishment. Enjoyable and well produced, they have stood the test of time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Recreation of A Bygone Era, 1 Nov. 2006
By 
Ian Millard - See all my reviews
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This very close to historical fact series must not be missed. It follows the adult life of one Sigmund Rosenbloom, probably the half-Jewish son of a Russian colonel's wife: his real father was never discovered but the child was brought up as if Russian, his notional father being a Russian colonel, so it is thought. Later taking the name Reilly, he was probably the most audacious agent of any secret service at the time or since, moving in high society as well as the docks and criminal quarters of the great cities of Europe and beyond. He also made a lot of money, not usually very honestly, by the way. Thanks to the persistence of the director and producer, the story was told on film 25 years after the idea was first mooted. It was shown on British TV around 1980.

The episodes dealing with the Russian Revolutions (the first, real, one in Spring 1917 and the Bolshevik coup d'etat or putsch in Autumn 1917) and the Russian Civil War (1919-1921/22) and thereafter are far better done than the earlier episodes, though those are also very entertaining and interesting. The later stories have that oft-shown-on-film (THe Missionary, The Hunt For Red October, etc) institution, the National Liberal Club off Whitehall standing duty for the Kremlin --- and very effectively too.

As others have noted, the haunting title music is from The Gadfly by Shostakovitch, not by one Harry Rabinovitch, as credited in the series (the incidental music seems to have been lifted from other Russian composers of the more romantic sort, including Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, if my ear listened clearly enough). Rabinovitch must have taken a leaf from the felonious damn cheek of Reilly himself! Oy veh!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than expected...., 21 Jun. 2011
By 
Aremess "AremessUK" (Littlehampton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Reilly - Ace Of Spies [DVD] (DVD)
I had been tempted to buy this series for some time only being put off by my indifference to Sam Neill's acting. When I finally took the plunge was I made to look the fool!!!

This is an excellent series that has not dated (it was made in the 80's). Sam Neill is a revelation to me in that he brought the main character alive. I was also appreciative of the fact that, whilst the story line through the series was continuous, each episode could be viewed without the need to re-look at the previous episode to understand events (modern series writers please note!!).

My only 'complaint' is the reference to "The World's First International Super Spy" in the title. The series doesn't need such wording.

Excellent viewing and highly recommended.
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