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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 December 2014
Hunting around for some new films to watch over the festive period, I ran my eye down some filmographies of various stars I've enjoyed watching in the past. Stanley Baker, of Zulu fame, was one of those, and I came up with this, which I'd never heard of, much less seen. It's really very good. Baker stars alongside Peter Cushing, ably supported by a small but strong cast including the likes of Nigel Green (also of Zulu fame), Eric Portman, and an uncredited Brian Wilde (later much better known for Mr Barrowclough in Porridge, and Foggy Dewhurst in Last of the Summer Wine).

Baker plays Joe Newman; until he left Germany, aged 9 with his mother, Joachim Deutsch; the son of Kurt Deutsch, a German officer who Joe believes died 20 years earlier. When he receives a phone call that tells him his father is alive, he arrives in Bavaria, only to find his father's funeral has taken place a few days previously... Of the plot (and plot really is the appropriate word here!), I shall say no more except to state the obvious - as with any thriller, very little is what it seems to be...

Based on a 1959 ITV serial, this film has an excellent story, with several twists & turns, that is well handled by the director & cast, is wholly believable, and has a very decent ending too. It's not an action-packed thriller, by any means, but it's none the worse for that. When the biggest criticism I can find to make is that Niall MacGinnis' Irish brogue is ever-present under his German accent, you can take it as read that you've the opportunity to pick up a top-notch film for very few pennies indeed!
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on 4 July 2013
Gripping

The picture and sound quality are excellent. The film is black and white. The only thing that spoils it (for me) is that it is severely "letterboxed" (Please note: I am writing what I see, not anything about aspect ratio and I do not imply that the aspect ratio is "wrong". I hope you will appreciate that I am trying to give a balanced and helpful view of the product, not only a synopsis of the film.). This, at times, can make the viewing confusing, as there are some scenes where the view is even "shorter". However, the quality of the film, itself, more than makes up for this.

From the outset, the drama moves very quickly and it is essential to pay close attention, otherwise you may miss something.

Stanley Baker is absolutely superb as a man who has been summoned by his father, who was supposed to have died some years previously. He is an "ordinary" man; a jazz musician and composer, so not experienced in investigations or subterfuge.

Full of "red herrings", which deliberately confuse the viewer; you don't know who is doing what or why! The only person to be trusted is Joe Newman (Stanley Baker). He wants to find out what happened to his father and if he is still alive.

The problem is that, seemingly, nobody can be trusted! Joe is confused, on his own and away from home. Will he find out what is actually happening and why he has been summoned by a man he believes is dead?

You will have to find out! I watched the film "on the edge of my chair". The settings and music are very atmospheric and the acting is excellent; only to be expected of Stanley Baker, Peter Cushing and Eric Portman, to name but three of the superb cast!

I was not disappointed! I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did!
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If I feel negative thoughts about a film I do try and qualify any such remarks. Something about this long unseen, nay, forgotten, film just didn't quite click with me. The B/W Widescreen print (2.35.1) is excellent, tho I found the sound levels a bit annoying-the dialogue level is fine and then the music thunders in and makes the walls shake (well the earth moved for me so to speak). The plot is good and mysterious, and there are twists and turns galore. So, what is not to like. Here and I make no excuse, my remarks are purely personal... If you are going to play "an arrogant Bully" as Baker is referred to (and he is) you need to have the persona of a Lee Marvin, and here Baker is just a stone faced brute which is odd as his character is a Jazz Pianist, and we all know they aren't stone faced brutes. Baker fans, of which I am usually one, will no doubt love his performence. Mai Zetterling is utterly wasted, but The support actors do well with what they are given (Portman/Green/McGinnis/Cushing etc.), and Georgina Ward makes a good fist of her character. I wanted to like this more than I did and can't truly put my finger on the reason for negativity. Maybe it was the direction. Anyway-I suspect I am in the minority here. It's a great opportunity to see a long forgotten film, in good nick, and a fair price (just). If in doubt from my remarks-get the DVD and see for yourself.
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on 6 July 2013
This review refers to the Network release.

At last, a quality release of The Man Who Finally Died! The picture quality is excellent! Having struggled by with a poorly recorded copy for many years I found myself spotting things I had never appreciated before.

I must confess I am biased about this film because not only is it one of my favourites, but it also stars a fistful of my favourite actors too. Stanley Baker gives yet another powerful performance as the German-born central character, Joe Newman. Newman has lived in England since he was a boy but is lured back to Bavaria by a telephone call claiming that his father, who he believed to have been dead for 20 years, is still alive. Newman investigates but comes up against a local doctor, the police and a seemingly duplicitous widow. His persistence pays off but not in the way he was expecting!

The cast is first rate. Here are just a few of the familiar names and faces that lift this from being a fair mystery story to a really enjoyable, superbly acted drama.

Stanley Baker I have already mentioned. Having hunted down many of his film and television appearances I have yet to see him deliver anything but strong believable characters. He is on top form here.

Peter Cushing: a favourite since my youth when I became a Hammer film fan. This is a mile away from Hammer and he demonstrates his versatility with a performance that keeps you guessing about his integrity throughout.

Eric Portman plays the intimidating, cigar chomping Inspector Hoffmeister (whatever happened to Hoffmeister lager?).

Nigel Green plays the hulking Sgt Hirsch. Green was one of our great unsung character actors. Like Stanley Baker he never put a foot wrong; and also like Stanley Baker he met an untimely end. A great shame! He was a wonderful actor. See Zulu, The Ipcress File, Tobruk and the tongue in cheek Deadlier than the Male. And catch him in an episode of Jason King called "As Easy as ABC". He and Michael Bates make a great pair of gentlemanly villains.

Niall MacGinnis plays the shady insurance agent who helps Newman dig deeper into the mystery, managing always to be in the right place at the right time. Niall MacGinnis gave many memorable performances, including a standout role as the villain in Night of the Demon. Here his soft Irish brogue cuts through a rather thin German accent.

Two other familiar faces who deliver the goods in smaller roles are Alfred Burke and dear old Brian Wilde. Newcomer Georgina Ward is very convincing in a pivotal role. What a shame she only had a 10 year career after a performance like this!

But he hasn't mentioned Mai Zetterling I hear you say! Well, I found her to be quite average in this role. Perhaps it was the company she was in. This doesn't, however, detract from the film in any way.

Anyway, if you like these black and white classics from the early 60s this is one of the best. The picture as I say is first class; it looked good on my 40inch LG TV. The sound is pretty good too. The score is generally good and the harpsichord music is very atmospheric. The extras only stretch to a few stills from the film you have just watched. Not spectacular.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 November 2015
The Man Who Finally Died is a brilliant espionage thriller which stars two brilliant actors, I mean anything with Stanley Baker(Zulu) and the legend Peter Cushing(Captain Clegg) in ticks my box every time. The dvd picture quality is very good so a Blu-ray release is a must.

There are some negatives, there are no subtitles plus not many bonus features. You do get Image Gallery, Original Press Brochure PDF.

The picture is in 2:33:1 B&W. The sound is in Mono English, plus the DVD is region 2.
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on 16 January 2015
a lot of films like this one are often left on the shelves of stores as not having the critical acclaim of some others at that time (1960s) in the case of.this film it would be a big mistake.for a start it isnt like the films of today that normally sign the film stars first then scratch around for a story,making sure the special effects firms come up with 50% of the film time.
in *the Man who finally Died* they have a story line first then contact out the parts for the actors.anything with Stanley Baker in it is very good,they always took a lot of trouble to set the scene,i know a lot was filmed in london but that is done skilfully.Peter Cushing another reason to buy this film,he always gave a 100%..so to sum up i have enjoyed watching it several times and still get a lot of pleasure from it.
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on 14 July 2015
Well-packaged and delivered in a very timely fashion!

The movie itself is great – almost (but not quite) collapsing in on itself from the weight of the many plot-twists. One ore may have sunk it, and one or two things were a little hard to track, it's a clever and well-made suspense film.
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on 13 July 2013
i had waited years to see "the man who finally died" surface on dvd. any film that has actors like stanley baker and peter cushing included must be worth a look at least.
sadly, a look is just about all this film is worth as i was left feeling disappointed by the results. the plot had no sense of continuity, good actors are given poor material to work with, the direction is lacking any kind of inspiration and the ending did little to explain very much.
peter cushing, like a real trooper and typical professional, does his very best and is never unwatchable, even in rubbish like this! stanley baker chose some poor films to appear in after about 1961(with the exceptions of "zulu" and "sands of the kalahari") and this one is one of them.
the location work adds something, there's no question but it can't compensate for the film's shortcomings.
the picture and sound quality are both very good.
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on 8 July 2013
Or "The Film That Finally Ended". A rather sluggish effort that will not be considered the high point of any of it's participants careers. Good to see a decent anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer unlike some recent releases of British films of similar vintage which have been released panned and scanned. The strange thing about this movie is the number of well known actors in uncredited roles, Alfred Burke has as much screen time as Mai Zetterling for no credit, while perennial bit part player Ivor Salter also turns up and Mela White gets some practice for her much later Bergerac role by playing a hotel waitress/maid.
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on 7 October 2013
I am a long time fan of Stanley Baker but this is one of his more forgettable films.In the late 50s and early 60s, cinemas in the UK often changed their showings twice a week, only holding a film over if it did good box office. This picture was given a half weekly run on the ABC circuit in 1963 and was promptly withdrawn from circulation. In short - it bombed at the box office.It has remained unseen and largely forgotten for more than 40 years.
The storyline is convoluted. Joe Newman (Baker), a jazz musician in London, receives a call from Bavaria supposedly from the father reported dead 20 years earlier. Joe goes to Germany to investigate and to find/not find his father.. He encounters a conspiracy of silence involving a mysterious doctor(Peter Cushing); his father's wife (Mai Zetterling), a strident local policeman(Eric Portman), a beautiful refugee (Georgina Ward) and a 'two-faced' insurance investigator Niall McGuinness. Continuity is soon lost amongst verbal shouting matches between the actors,interments and exhumations in various cemeteries (Highgate Cemetery doubling for Stuttgart); mistaken identities; odd self-conscious allusions to the Holocaust and WW2; and a fake insurance scam. What starts as a missing person and insurance fraud tale ends up as a cliché ridden, Cold War 'spirit the old atomic scientist back behind the Iron Curtain' story. I suspect both the director and scriptwriter lost confidence in their production as it developed. In the last five minutes of the film, set on board a train speeding 'east - Professor Schiller, the old scientist, explains (largely to the camera and to stop the audience getting a headache from trying to think too hard) the central plot.This is that he has assumed Joe Newman's dad's identity (yes - the father really was dead all along) for a free life in the west. Niall McGuinness, now revealed as a dastardly Communist villain, is bent on kidnapping him back to the Soviet Union for nefarious scientific purposes. Baker finally gets wise to this, boards the train and after a very stylized fight,eventually rescues the old boy -sort of - and in the process reaches emotional closure (we think!!!) over the circumstances of his dad's demise.
The stark black and white photography is the best thing about the picture. A few decent location shots of Bavaria are displaced by stagy Twickenham studios interiors featuring poorly decorated 'MFI hotel rooms' and 'old Mittel Europa dark house' sets. The acting is wordy and wooden from Zetterling and Cushing,tends towards the melodramatic in the examples of Baker and Portman,and employs lots of contrivances such as the lead actors lighting cigarettes and promptly stubbing them out to enhance cinematic tension (it doesn't work - neither does the 'stateless glamour girl turn ' sub-plot by Ward).The music is often jarring and intrusive. The 'mystery within the mystery' is that well-known character actors such as Alfred Burke, Mela White, Ivor Salter and Brian Wilde remain uncredited even though they have speaking parts.
Over-written stories often make poorly structured, under-entertaining films. Such is the case here. An "interment too far" so to speak!!!!!
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