Billion Dollar Brain [DVD]
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Directed by Ken Russell, this film is the last in a trio of espionage thrillers based on the novels by Len Deighton (it was preceded by 'The Ipcress File' and 'Funeral in Berlin') starring Michael Caine as antihero Harry Palmer, who, having left the Secret Service, is now working as a private eye. He is soon sucked into a web of conspiracy involving a far-right American billionaire, General Midwinter (Ed Begley), who plans to wipe out the Communist threat in Latvia using his highly sophisticated computer system.
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Top Customer Reviews
A few comments on the review below:
"To solve the problem the studio has simply cut out a long sequence which is a disgraceful butchering of a director's work and alters the meaning of a scene from an exhuberant one to a more subdued one. Fans of this film are not going to like it."
I don't think it's a long sequence. It is a matter of seconds, and in my opinion does not affect the film irrespective of whether you are new to the film or familiar with the cut scene. Basically, Harry Palmer walks into the Latvian house and the Beatles are on TV playing Hard Day's Night. He moves into a room where Newbigen's "cousins" are and the film is neatly edited at that point so it looks like a flawless segue. I also don't agree that it alters the meaning of the scene - the only relevance is when Palmer leaves the room and is asked if he has any Beatles records. I suppose the scene helped place the film in terms of musical and social context - Beatles the rage and subersive in the Eastern bloc. Overall, I would rather have the film on DVD with the scene missing than not having it on DVD at all.
As for why the studio would release it, presumably Michael Jackson was asking too much for the rights to that music.
As for the quality of the print, it is 10x clearer and sharper than the digital satellite signal on MGM channel. And I hate films not being shown in their proper aspect ratio so having it in 2.Read more ›
Michael Caine is agent Harry Palmer, who meets up with an old colleague on the Streets of Helsinki - that's Karl Malden as Leo Newbigen. Guy Doleman is great as the cunning head of Intelligence, Colonel Ross, with the stunning Francoise Dorleac as the Femme Fatale. Ed Begley is the barking American Oil Billionaire Midwinter, with a General Patton fixation. The finest supporting actor though is Oscar Homolka as Colonel Stok, reprising his role from Funeral in Berlin.
The plot is pure Sixties. Using a super computer, a power mad Texan plans to start World War Three. On the other hand, perhaps it's not that dated!
One minor niggle, a few seconds of a scene in Latvia, where a "Hard Day's Night" was playing on a gramophone with the Red Army singing on TV, has been removed. This is probably due to copyright problems, although I have taped it from the TV with it included. Daft innit!
Anyway, great movie, enjoy.
MGM/UA's DVD boasts a good transfer, although it's worth that noting a 32-second sequence featuring some black marketeers who have The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night playing on a record player has had to be cut because of licensing problems. There are also sadly no extras at all. Sadly Kino's US Region A-locked Blu-ray also is missing the far-too-expensive-to-license scene but does at least have a theatrical trailer as an extra, though it's missing the original captions. Picture quality on the widescreen Blu-ray is decent but not outstanding.
Dorleac can be seen in all it's glory. Rumours that MGM
had several times in the past come close to releasing
this film can now come to rest -- it's here! Despite the
fact that the studio had to omit 15 seconds of a scene
(due to the fact that someone was playing a Beatles record
in the background), the cut doesn't detract from the story
From beginning to end the story is captivating as the
mystery of Michael Cain's assignment begins to unfold.
Can he trust his friend Karl Malden? Can he trust the
beautiful Francoise Dorleac? Can he penetrate Ed Bagely's
organization to prevent a third world war from taking
place? Time is running out and this beautifully
re-mastered print (in the letterbox format) really helps
brings the story to life.
While the DVD lacks any special extras
(no trailers, no interviews, no featurettes, etc.)
it does come with a variety of soundtracks
(English, German, French, Italian,and Spanish).
Also, one has a choice of subtitles (French,
Dutch, Norwegian, and Greek).
Now, at last, fans of Ms. Dorleac can own her final
film performace and can once again witness the magic
she had on film. Truly she was headed for international
fame when tragedy struck in June 1967. Now, MGM has
shared with us her final moment of screen glory.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not at all the same as the first two Harry Palmer films, kind of half spy half acid trip but definitely not boring!Published 2 months ago by DJ
A truly awful film - & a massive disappointment in the wake of Funeral In Berlin, one of the best British espionage films ever. Read morePublished 12 months ago by R. Rooksby