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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guinness still reigns in the role he defined.
Le Carre requires an expansive approach to translating his tales into film. These two BBC efforts benefit from the several hours devoted to unfolding each of the stories. And very successful efforts they are. Guinness's understated subtlety and that rich, expressive voice capture Smiley to the fingertips (e.g., the occasional displacement behavior of briefly removing...
Published on 25 Mar 2012 by James Connelly

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171 of 179 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars could do with a remaster on BluRay!
I'd personally rate these two 6-part serials as some of the best drama the BBC *ever* produced. The acting and direction is outstanding, BAFTA-winning stuff. Alec Guinness is superb, but there's over a dozen other cast members with hardly a duff performance between them - Beryl Reid for instance is excellent. The stories themselves are great, with complex plots that knit...
Published on 18 Sep 2011 by feline1


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171 of 179 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars could do with a remaster on BluRay!, 18 Sep 2011
By 
feline1 (Brighton, Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy / Smiley's People Double Pack [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
I'd personally rate these two 6-part serials as some of the best drama the BBC *ever* produced. The acting and direction is outstanding, BAFTA-winning stuff. Alec Guinness is superb, but there's over a dozen other cast members with hardly a duff performance between them - Beryl Reid for instance is excellent. The stories themselves are great, with complex plots that knit together perfectly by the final episodes, and really repay repeated watching on DVD (heaven knows how viewers kept up when this was originally broadcast once episode per week! If you missed one you'd be stuffed!)

As other reviewers have noted, however, this "box set" is simply the BBC's existing DVD releases from 2003/2004 put in a new carboard box. The sound and picture quality really are a bit mediocre at times. Given that this is one of the jewels in the crown of the BBC's output, and there's interest from the film version, you'd think one of the suits at BBC Enterprises would see fit to have this material remastered. The sound could definately benefit from a clean-up with modern techniques... the picture was all shot on 16 mm film, so it's not capable of being "high definition" resolution, but other releases have shown that nonetheless, the superior compression codecs on BluRay make 16 mm film look considerably better than MPEG munging imparted by DVD (particularly if the original film negatives are still available...?)

Considering the BBC regular undertake this kind of remastering work for dodgy old episodes of Doctor Who, you'd think they'd make the effort for this!

So - 5 stars for the content, but only 3 for this repackaging, which smacks of the BBC trying to just flog a few quid out of their back catalogue without giving it the artistic respect it deserves.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guinness still reigns in the role he defined., 25 Mar 2012
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This review is from: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy / Smiley's People Double Pack [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
Le Carre requires an expansive approach to translating his tales into film. These two BBC efforts benefit from the several hours devoted to unfolding each of the stories. And very successful efforts they are. Guinness's understated subtlety and that rich, expressive voice capture Smiley to the fingertips (e.g., the occasional displacement behavior of briefly removing his spectacles and fiddling with them and similar quiet "business" or even a smile or a glance that can ever-so-occasionally and ever-so-fleetingly remind you of Colonel Nicholson in "Bridge on the River Kwai" or even [yes, believe it or not] "Dutch" Holland in "The Lavender Hill Mob" [the smile that Smiley give to Peter Guillam when he first sends him to the Circus to surreptitiously retrieve certain tell-tale documents]). The supporting cast is well chosen all around (especially, Ian Richardson, who allows the inner demons of Bill Haydon to peek out from behind the mask of weary irony; Michael Jayston as Peter Guillam; and Hywel Bennett as Ricki Tarr). The settings are moody, suitably moist and overcast, and they give a feel of the texture of the London in that era. Whatever the merits of the recent "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" movie of 2011 (Gary Oldman, principally) or demerits (trying to tell a complex tale about many personalities in a couple of hours), it just cannot rival the expansive, unhurried BBC unfolding. (SPOILER ALERT: Perhaps the most impairing departure driven by commercial film's time constraint is the handling of the Spy's fate: i.e., dubiously substituting the long-distance sniper-shooting death at the end of the story for the up-close-and-personal broken neck shown in the TV film and implied in the novel). You have to wonder how many viewers of the recent movie who had not yet read the novel could actually follow so compressed a script as the 2011 film used.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Power of Visual Excellence, Majesty and Genius, 4 Jan 2012
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This review is from: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy / Smiley's People Double Pack [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
I saw this TV programme back in the 1970's and was impressed then, but watching again this time on DVD made the programme (and the books - which I read before seeing these progammes), all the more incredible. Actually to my mind you really need to watch both progammes: "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy & Smiley's People," to ascertain how these (fictional) Spies were involved in their machinations - that was part and parcel of the "Cold War."
The most relevant feature of this DVD is, the marvellous, glorious acting of Sir Alec Guiness - he brings John Le Carre's character of George Smiley to life. If these programme are new to you, or you weren't born in the 1970/1980's you are best advised to watch them especially for the very fine dramatic acting of Sir Alec Guiness, and the other associated great actors of this time period. If like me you like Espionage type thrillers (with very complex/convulted plots) this is the film for you. Its very dated time period is its key element - capturing a time of our pasts who great relevance to the contemporary world - because don't forget Spies work for goverments.
Good films to me are about showing you an alternative time periods - because the past is important. If spies and government plots interest you, then this is the DVD for you, because DVD's can be watched over-and-over again - without being boring. In my opinion this DVD is 20 out of 10 - truly magnificent. Seemleesly superb great acting - always watchable, and always engaging. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy & Smiley's People - brilliant, exciting, interesting and enticing - buy this DVD now!Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley's People Double Pack [DVD] [1979]
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reprise on an old favourite, 19 Sep 2011
By 
J. B. WOMERSLEY "Oldgit" (Bingley, W.Yorks, GB) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy / Smiley's People Double Pack [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
I bought this copy in DVD as a replacement for a tape recording made some several years ago. The quality of reproduction is so very much better and the original suspense is still there even after some thirty years. Well worth the investment. I'm also looking forward to the new version just released to cinemas. The reviews are splendid.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother with the remake!, 21 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy / Smiley's People Double Pack [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
When you have perfection, it can't be bettered. Frankly, I don't know why anyone would bother with the remake of "Tinker Tailor".

The cast is like a who's-who of the British acting profession, the way it is shot is compelling and yet understated. It grips you from start to finish and when it's over, you just wish it wasn't. I have seen the remake (was dragged along by the boyfriend who fell asleep). I decided to go with an open mind and not compare it with this (and had the good grace to remain awake). However, I didn't even think that worked as a film on its own merits (too many things unexplained which, if you hadn't seen the original, would have confused).

Go for this one EVERY time. I could watch it over and over.
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69 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new in this double pack, 6 Sep 2011
By 
Sean Greenwood "Cinephile" (United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy / Smiley's People Double Pack [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
Just a quick note for the curious: This is simply a boxed set of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy : Complete BBC Series [DVD] [1979] and Smiley's People [1982] [DVD] in those exact editions and cases (see the scan of the back of the slipbox for proof) from 2003 and 2004, respectively. There is nothing new here except the cardboard slipbox. A shame that the BBC didn't see fit to at least produce new packaging for this release, let alone new discs, remastered presentations or new extras.

At least the price is right.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great series which deserves more BBC respect, 17 Nov 2011
By 
RR Waller "ISeneca" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy / Smiley's People Double Pack [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
I agree with other reviewers who have commented on the packaging and presentation of this double-set; it should have had a little more time spent on presenting it properly, rather than the feeling of cheapness it exudes.

These are two classic serials and the quality of the DVDs reflects the times in which they are made, not the quality modern audiences expect. There are many classic films, television programmes and audio recordings which have been digitally remastered to improve the quality and these deserved that treatment; although the graininess and older video quality do seem to suit the world of the stories, I doubt it was a deliberate stylistic choice not to re-master. The novels are classics of the genre and the BBC's original choice to make the serials was inspired, so much so that it has spawned a modern cinema version playing to large houses.

Two great serials which deserved better treatment at the hands of the advertising people and technicians to bring them up to today's market standard. Having written all of that, in the absence of anything better, I'd buy them.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All time classic spy tales, 23 Oct 2011
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This review is from: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy / Smiley's People Double Pack [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
The late '70s/early '80s BBC productions of Le Carre's great espionage diptych of Tinker Tailor/Smiley's People are really without peer, amongst dramatized spy stories. Alec Guinness is at the height of his powers as Smiley and the tales unfold with the implacable force of Greek tragedy. They capture the dismal art of espionage with with a clear, harsh eye. Absolutely everything in Smiley's world is dingy and cold and depressing; much as one would assume it to be in reality. Consider how tatty and threadbare the Circus looks. Perfect. Every scene seems like it was expunged of anything warm or happy or glamorous. And that's as it should be. I haven't seen the new Tinker movie yet (not released in the US until next month), and I'm sure it's quite good. But it cannot be better than the original. Not possible. The caveat with these DVDs, though, is technical. I assume the shows were shot on 16mm. A crime that it wasn't done on 35mm. And these are dark, grainy, ugly transfers. I hope some day the BBC will remaster them and release something better looking. Still, I'm delighted to find these great shows at such a great price here at Amazon UK.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amadaz' Return of the Cold War Warrior', 16 Aug 2011
This review is from: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy / Smiley's People Double Pack [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
Long before he wrote 'The Constant Gardner' writer John Le Carre was celebrated by the British public for his compelling cold war novels. Many people were first introduced to his central character, 'George Smiley'(played by Sir alec Guinnes) and his sworn enemy 'Karla'(played by Patrick Stewart), through the excellent 1970's BBC drama productions of his consecutive novels. Through 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' and 'Smiley's People', Le Carre draws us into a world where the ordinary and the mundane conceal the lethal reality of the cold war spys. There is action but much of the best parts of the storyline is told through a carefully crafted, slow burn of forboding music and rainy London landscapes. At times intense and gripping, always drawing the viewer ever more deeply in .... BE WARNED these story's are addictive (In my opinion the DVD boxset is great value and I'm going to get myself the set for Christmas!).
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tinker Tailor DVD contains SPOILERS!, 21 Oct 2011
By 
Kenneth F. Mcara "Kenneth F. McAra" (Dundee, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy / Smiley's People Double Pack [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (TTSS) is a fantastic series and a great adaptation of the book. However, if you are intending watching this and then following it up with the concluding Smiley's People then don't watch the documentary on TTSS Disc 2 before you do. It shows - in detail - the conclusion of the second series, thereby (potentially) spoiling it for those who will watch on.

I've now seen the new film of TTSS and was impressed. It managed to distill/streamline the events of the novel without ever making it feel rushed, and is more than a slavish copy of either the book or this series.
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