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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 5 July 2009
I won't comment on the actual film as hopefully all readers here will already know how good it is. So restricting myself to a Blu Ray vs DVD (Network DVD 2 Disc version) comparison is the Blu Ray an improvement ? Well watching on a 50" Plasma and also on a 26" LCD the BD picture improvement over the DVD was clear from the start. Specifically the Blu Ray is far clearer, far less fuzzy with far more detail. In addition the DVD seems artificially too bright in comparison seemingly being flooded with white light. The Blu Ray also gives you a wider picture - by that I mean it has more of the image either side than the same scene on the DVD does. eg near the beginning of the film in the railway station or in the railway carriage you can see more of the station or the inside of the carriage. To do this review I did a side by side comparison of the DVD and Blu Ray and froze certain scenes and flicked between them. However the Blu Ray is of course not reference quality, does not have the 3D "pop factor" of modern films. But then you would not expect that. Nor has it had the attention lavished on it that say similarly aged films like Dr No or From Russia With Love have. Again not being as popular with the masses you again would not expect the same amount of money to have been spent on the remastering process. What you can say for sure is the film has never looked better since the original cinema release. It is a big step up from the DVD and if you enjoy the film well worth upgrading to. What perhaps is a disappointment is none of the extras from the Network DVD have been carried over. A real shame. But as for me extras are not really that important I was still pleased with this Blu Ray.
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on 24 July 2009
The Ipcress File certainly has artistic merit for its camera angles and the framing of shots but for all the time the cameraman must have spent laying on the floor shooting the ceiling it doesn't become a distraction, though you are aware of it, and above all it's just a great 60's British yarn with a young Michael Caine at his best. The picture quality is very good for a 1965 film. I think we'e all guilty of expecting every Blu-Ray release to look so detailed and pristine that it's as if we are actually on the set seeing it with our own eyes...there is plenty of grain to be seen (a 60's patina, if you like)and some shots have a grainy haze apparent in the out of focus background areas but overall it looks very good. While it is mastered in 5.1 don't expect anything to actually happen around you. From what I can determine it's in glorious original centre mono with a bit of this bleeding into the rest of the channels to fill it out a bit. It's a 60's film...what do we expect? It sounds strong and clear. Die hard fans of the film should be thrilled to have it looking this good and newcomers will get to see a good movie that has been mastered to Blu-Ray at a standard that many old films can only aspire to.
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on 6 May 2004
In spite of the other reviewer who says this is the digital remasterd and wide screen version, it's not!
I still got the horrible Carlton 4:3 version. The picture quality and sound are really dreadfull, don't buy this one.
The picture for this DVD must be the US version of "The Ipcress File".
Amazon please change the picture of this DVD, it's not the one customers are getting!
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HALL OF FAMEon 13 August 2007
"Let's see," says Major Dalby, head of the Counter-Intelligence Bureau, as he reads Sergeant Harry Palmer's personnel file. "'Insubordinate. Insolent. A trickster. Perhaps with criminal tendencies.' Well, that last one may just be put to good use."

Harry Palmer (Michael Caine) has been sent to Dalby (Nigel Green) by Col. H. L. Ross (Guy Doleman) of Britain's Ministry of Defense. Scientists have gone missing, and the few who have shown up later seem to have been brain washed. They are no longer useful. Dalby's unit is charged with finding out what's going on. And Harry Palmer, like it or not, who loves to cook and loves the birds, who wears glasses, who is not impressed with authority, who can be a bit unreliable when he chooses to be, and who actually is a pretty good spy, is assigned to help break the case. Eventually he does, but not without a lot of pain and a fair amount of violence. Palmer can take it, but he can dish it out as well. He also has a shrewd, analytical mind. He's willing to gamble and sometimes he's off the mark. And all the while he has to deal with the bullying, condescending Dalby, "a passed-over major," as well as Col. Ross, who drips condescension like an ice cube on a hot day. Harry Palmer doesn't have it easy.

I think this is one of the better espionage movies made. It's not a spoof, like the Bond movies. Harry Palmer, based on the Len Deighton character (to whom Deighton never gave a name), as played by Caine is immensely likable because he takes the measure of the stuffed shirts and is amused by their pretensions. The character also works because as the story proceeds you realize that Palmer knows his job. The two secondary actors, Green and Doleman, bring a lot of depth to their roles and a lot of interest to the movie. Their attitudes are so imperviously superior it would be amusing except that they both wield quite a bit of power.

This is a movie that I can watch many times and still enjoy for its style and story-telling prowess. Furie throws in some directorial flourishes common then that now seem a bit dated, but that's a minor quibble for a well made and well acted movie. The DVD transfer is just fine.
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on 31 January 2006
Although conceived and produced by Harry Salzman and scored by John Barry, this is a film which deliberately positions itself miles away from the up until this time familiar James Bond espionage ethos. Palmer is a short sighted, class-ridden, form-signing petty criminal, co-opted into the spy service to avoid a year in jail. He lives in a bedsit and wakes up with an alarm call and not a stunning sexual conquest. Unlike Bond too, he operates in an environment which is recognisable and totally believable: big echoing offices ruled by 'passed over Majors', where filling out forms is as important as tedious leg work and the idea of a Aston Martin as a company car would be ridiculous. The glamorous stereotypes of 007 have been replaced by the grinding, self effacing reality of the civil service. In short Ipcress has roots in the contemporary wave of 60's kitchen-sink drama, and not garish Bond fantasies.
This is a film taking a fresh look at what has passed for a spy thriller before. It's fitting then that a lot of the imagery revolves around sight and seeing. Palmer's glasses are an obvious symbol of imperfect vision (exemplified by a couple of 'blurred vision' special effects in the film). The camera in turn plays avant garde tricks on the viewer, shooting alternately through the crowded window of a phone booth, through glasses, ornaments and other objects and so on. This is a film in which vision, or *comprehension* - deciphering 'Ipcress' or identifying 'Albania' as really London, for instance - is finally of paramount importance. Palmer has to both see, then understand, the web that surrounds him before he identifies the traitor. At the most basic level this 'knowing' extends to his own self, through the psychological trauma he undergoes.
Class, too, is an important element. Whereas the public school educated Bond would be at home conversing with Palmer's superiors, Palmer is the working class staff man, insubordinate perhaps and cocky, but one who ultimately knows his place. Even the main villain is fairly aristocratic. This makes Palmer's final choice of shot all the more relishable. In the class-ridden snobbery of the secret service it proves to be one of the elite who is suspect and must be killed. Palmer is the better man - and not just morally either: his appreciation of Mozart ('proper' Mozart, too, not the appalling bandstand variety pushed on him by Daulby) and fine cooking, marks him out as a man of taste, in contrast to the surrounding snobbery and elitism.
This theme of class, as well as the locations chosen for 'The Ipcress File' mark it out as a very British spy film - possibly the best one ever in contrast to the Bond cycle, which represented an attempt to create a deliberate trans-Atlantic product. One parallel serves to illustrate this difference: Bond has an American agent friend (Felix Leiter), an occasional minor character in the series. In contrast Palmer shoots an American agent dead by mistake and they tail him in revenge, while another dies in his flat. There is no camaraderie here, and the snug special relationship is nowhere in sight.
Over the years 'The Ipcress File' has lost none of its edge (with the possible exception of the dated 60's psychedelia which confronts Palmer in his torture chair) or punch. Utterly compulsive as a spy drama, it remains one of Caine and Furie's best films, an example of a contemporary fresh approach that still remains a classic.
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on 20 November 2008
I'm sure that most people reading this will be fairly familiar with this terrific film, and will mostly want to know how this Hi-Def debut compares to the previous DVD versions. So, to business...

First and foremost, the film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is 16:9 enhanced. Whilst I can't speak for the recent Network DVD re-issue, comparing it to the old widescreen Carlton DVD the difference in quality is remarkable.

Detail is infinitely improved with much more fine texture being visible (especially on people's skin). Contrast is accurately reproduced, with no discernible clipping of the white areas of the image, and a decent enough if slightly limited range of detail in the darker areas (although this may just be my TV).

Colors are much more accurate than the previous DVD (on which the overall image, and skin tones in particular, suffered from a queasy yellow tint). On this release, skin tones are accurate and natural, and the overall image reproduces the photographic style of the film perfectly.

One of the most striking differences is how much less dirt and grain are apparent in the image (for an example, look at the interior shot from the car driving through the station entrance at the beginning of the film). Whether this is the natural result of using a better film element or through artificial grain and noise reduction I am not sure, but I certainly did not detect any unsightly digital smearing or other artefacts (including, thankfully, edge enhancement).

I have certainly never seen this film look better, and would definitely recommend it to those looking for an upgrade over their old copy. As far as the Network release is concerned, I remember reading about some sync issues that people were complaining about. Those certainly are not in evidence here.

Sound-wise, the track provided here is of excellent quality with a full dynamic range and excellent clarity. I can't really review the 5.1 remix as I don't have a surround sound set up, although quite what they could (or should) do with a strictly mono film is questionable.

What is a pity is that ITV chose not to import the special features from the recent Network release onto this blu-ray, which is pretty bare. However, the very favorable asking price on amazon goes some way towards mediating this.
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on 27 February 2004
There appears to be considerable confusion over this Carlton release. I recently purchased the version shown above and can assure prospective buyers that this edition is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. In addition the picture has been digitally remastered and looks far sharper and colourful than any previous version you will have seen on television showings or, indeed, the R1 DVD. I guess the other reviews are referring to earlier versions released by Carlton in similar packaging. This new version can be identified because it says 'Digitally Remastered' on the front and mentions 16:9 and Letterbox on the back cover. The film itself is a marvellously enjoyable London-based thriller with a lot of familiar faces and a spine-tingling score by John Barry (one of his very best). Caine is excellent as the downmarket spy whose insolent, cheeky manner conceals a tough nut with a first class brain. He's supported by two marvellous character actors in Nigel Green and Guy Doleman who play his superiors (both of whom have agendas of their own). The only extra is the films original theatrical trailer but it doesn't really matter because the film's the thing and The Ipcress File is a cracking 60's movie. This is the version to go for. Don't miss it.
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on 24 March 2007
Harry Palmer, thankfully, is miles away from James Bond. Bond moves in a world of glamour and artificiality, whereas Palmer is down to earth and thoroughly believable. Special effects are eschewed, and everything that happens to Palmer is based on what could actually happen in real life.

The best two scenes are probably the brainwashing scene, where Palmer has to dig a nail into his flesh to hang on to his sanity, and the denouement at the end where he has to decide who the traitor really is - his immediate boss, or his overall boss (I won't give the ending away by divulging which one it is).

This Special Edition represents superb value for money, as not only does it contain a two disc version of the film, but also has poster reproductions and a paperback of the original novel.

There is absolutely nothing whatsoever wrong with the aspect ratio, which is 2.35:1, and the credits, etc., are there in their entirety. Aspect ratio problems are usually due to incorrect television settings, rather than anything being wrong with the dvd.

All in all this is an intriguing thriller, excellently presented, and represents a great saving on high street prices.
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on 23 October 2001
A particularly solid performance by Michael Caine with great supporting cast including the "passed over colonel" Dolby, played by Nigel Green. Based very loosely on the novel by Len Deighton, it retains the essential mix of anti-authoritive central character, black humour and suspense.
I enjoyed this film but just could not understand why it should be so poorly presented. My main complaint was that it is presented in 4:3 despite being originally filmed in the very wide Techniscope format.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 September 2013
On watching again this 1965 Sydney J Furie-directed, British 'spy thriller', which was based on Len Deighton's novel, I was struck by how slow-moving, (generally) subtle and atmospheric it is. These are traits that Tomas Alfredson tried (largely successfully, I think) to recapture in his 2011 version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and whilst Furie's film can also be compared with the early Bond films (albeit on a rather more intimate scale), I think its moody subtlety certainly puts it at least on a par with such films. The choice of 32-year old Canadian-born Furie (who had hitherto 'made his name' on 'horror cheapies' and Cliff Richard fluff) is all the more surprising for such subject matter, but his direction, together with cinematographer Otto Heller's evocative portrayal of 60s London and John Barry's brilliantly idiosyncratic soundtrack, add up to a totally compelling watch.

Of course, the film is also notable for Michael Caine's impressive turn as Sergeant Harry Palmer, a man with a shady (military) past, now working for the security services. Whilst Palmer's character largely encapsulates (what was to become) a trademark Caine persona - working class roots and an eye for the ladies - Deighton's spectacle-wearing creation is also imbued with (perhaps) more 'progressive' traits - listening to Mozart and an interest in cooking, to name but two. Over and above Caine's presence, however, where, for me, the film scores particularly well is in its depiction of the 'British Civil Service' working environment. Both Palmer's superiors, Guy Doleman's Colonel Ross and Nigel Green's Major Dalby are brilliant in their cool, understated authority (and indeed internal rivalry) and their ability to converse in indecipherable (code-based) 'civil service speak' - referring to their superiors as 'the people upstairs'. As Palmer is passed from Ross' 'jurisdiction' to Dalby's, and tasked with tracking down the suspected kidnapper of a leading British scientist (inventor of a proton-proton scattering device, no less), Furie's film becomes a case of 'who's double-crossing who'.

Thereafter, we have Palmer (often accompanied by Gordon Jackson's pragmatic Scot, Carswell) touring, often in his Zodiac, 'the sights' of London (Whitehall corridors, red phone boxes, back of the Albert Hall, Science Museum library, Kennington Park bandstand, duck pond in St James Park, etc), encountering scientist Radcliffe's assumed kidnapper Frank Gatliffe's 'Bluejay' and his 'henchman', the 'Bond-like villain', Oliver MacGreevy's 'Housemartin', before being himself (inexplicably) trailed by the CIA. Along the way, Palmer even has time to attempt to seduce Sue Lloyd's fellow 'agent', Jean Courtney, who he suspects is a 'Ross plant'. Furie's film is never less than an extremely stylish and atmospheric watch, with Heller's camerawork (featuring a mix of tilted, and low, angled shots) always notable and distinctive.

For me, Palmer's interrogation sequence towards the film's conclusion is a little long (and perhaps clichéd) - though it also calls to my mind (one of my favourites) scenes from Patrick McGooghan's The Prisoner. Nevertheless, the final showdown scene between Palmer, Ross and Dalby is undoubtedly a classic, bringing to an end one of the finest British films of this genre.
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