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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy / Smiley's People Double Pack [DVD] [1979]

4.6 out of 5 stars 385 customer reviews

Price: £5.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy / Smiley's People Double Pack [DVD] [1979]
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Product details

  • Actors: Alec Guinness
  • Directors: John Irvin, Simon Langton
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: 2entertain
  • DVD Release Date: 22 Aug. 2011
  • Run Time: 650 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (385 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005CW117C
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,575 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Double bill of BBC espionage drama mini-series based on the novels by John Le Carré and starring Alec Guinness as master spy George Smiley. In 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' (1979), Smiley has been in 'retirement' for some time, some say owing to his mishandling of the Czech scandal. However, the retiring superspy finds himself summoned back to the 'Circus' (British secret service) when it transpires that an enemy infiltrator is at work in the department. Smiley returns once again to his old department in 'Smiley's People' (1982) following the murder of his friend, General Vladimir, a Russian who once worked for British Intelligence. When it transpires that Vladimir was in fact a double agent, Smiley becomes engaged in a battle of wills with his old adversaries at the Moscow Centre.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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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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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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