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Mr Paul B Harriss

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Smiley's People [1982] [DVD]
Smiley's People [1982] [DVD]
Offered by Discs4all
Price: £4.74

21 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Guinness Extra Cold, 11 Aug. 2004
This review is from: Smiley's People [1982] [DVD] (DVD)
After the well-paced tension of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, this comes as a huge disappointment.
Sir Alec is is effortless as George Smiley (perhaps, as is revealed in the interviews with writer and director, because the novel was re-drafted after le Carre saw rushes of T,T,S,S, to make the Smiley of Smileys People match the character as Guinness had interpreted and transformed him in the first serial).
While Guinness's performance is outstanding, some of those around him are terrible. Abysmal over-the-top performances by Barry Foster (as Saul Enderby) and Bill Patterson grate. In Tinker, Tailor, Michael Jayston played Peter Gwillem - calm, calculating menace with dry wit - his replacement is a wet public schoolboy in comparison. But most bizarre of all is the transformation of Toby Esterhase (played by Bernard Hepton in both serials) from calculating upper class Brit to hyperactive, sexually ambiguous Austro-Hungarian refugee with a peculiar accent. Michael Lonsdale's Grigoriev is far too weak and gives in to questioning without the even the threat of thumbscrews, electric shocks or toenails being pulled out, but this is a fault of the script rather than his performance which is one of the better ones. As in Tinker, Tailor, there is always the prospect that Beryl Reid will upstage Sir Alec and the tension between them brings out an exceptional performances from both of them in the scene where they are together.
The story starts strongly - particularly in the first two episodes - then starts to slip. There are too many shots of George driving about like an OAP on a Sunday jaunt in the country. His visit to West Germany in the late 80s is particularly fascinating, though, with a glimpse of the counter-culture that spawned the Bader-Meinhof and Rote Armee Fraktion while we also see the rest of the Westies working hard and enjoying the Wirtschaftswunder that the UK could only envy.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 19, 2009 12:46 PM GMT


Brass: The Complete First Series [DVD] [1983]
Brass: The Complete First Series [DVD] [1983]
Dvd ~ Timothy West
Offered by Ocelotbooks
Price: £28.80

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 Carat Brass, 9 Aug. 2004
I've waiting for Brass to appear on VHS or DVD while the last few years and now it's available. And I'm not disappointed.
After twenty-odd years it is still fresh and original even if some of the more contemporary and topical references might be lost on a younger audience - such as Young Scargill, Anthony Blunt, Brideshead Revisited (which was on TV about then)- much as a bribe in the amount of an "Archer" (£2,000) as coined by Alan B'stard in "The New Statesman", might go over their heads.
The comedic references come thick and fast and this is a series which will yield fresh laughs through a repeat viewing as one picks up on subtleties which might have been missed the first time round. Parodies of the characters and storylines in "When the boat comes in", "The Citadel" and others are wonderfully understated - the scriptwriting is absolutely First Class. Reading the other reviews of the series shows how other viewers have picked up different nuances and references.
I am now anxiously awaiting the second series -"Father, it's snowing - it's the start of the eviction season".
This is a must for anyone who enjoys Monty Python's professional Yorkshiremen sketch translated from White Rose to Red Rose country.
My only quibble might be the PG rating - not every episode makes entirely suitable viewing for my ten year old son.


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