January 30, 2009
An essential film from the golden year 1965, The Ipcress File was a side project by Bond veterans Harry Saltzman, Ken Adam, Peter Hunt, and composer John Barry. Michael Caine stars as a reluctant spy, who enjoys his hobbies as an audiophile and chef as much as he does resisting authority with dead-pan humor. His character, Harry Palmer, works as a low-paid service agent who becomes a pawn in a mole hunt. The combination of stylish cinematography by Otto Heller (Peeping Tom, Curse of the Mummy's Tomb), John Barry's score, and the quasi-sci fi nature of the film's use of electronic sounds and lighting as Brainwashing technology all combine to give The Ipcress File a wonderful Spy Vibe Style. Here is a short clip-piece that highlights the film's tone set by Barry and Heller. Both The Ipcress File and its first sequel Funeral In Berlin (1966) are currently out of print in the States. A region free Blu-ray and region 2 DVDs are available in the UK. Caine continued to bring the character back in other films in the series, but none were as dynamic or solid as the first two outings.
Great DVD/Blu-ray comparisons at DVDBeaver.
For More information, visit the Harry Palmer website.
This week's NETWORK Deal of the Week sees something special - not only is the deluxe version of The Ipcress File £12.99, but anyone who buys a set during this deal period will get a free quad poster of the limited edition theatrical release from 2006. This will be send under separate cover in a cardboard mailing tube (additional postage for non-UK orders) and is only available while stocks last. available to buy at the bargain price of
Multiple Oscar-winner Sir Michael Caine stars in the first leading role of his career as Harry Palmer, a stubbornly insolent sergeant working for the Ministry of Defence who is transferred to an elite counterintelligence unit.
A stylised and compelling Cold War spy movie, The Ipcress File won multiple awards and nominations on its theatrical release and is presented here in a digitally-remastered format with exclusive special features making this the definitive DVD release of this film.
Special features include:
• New exclusive interview with Sir Michael Caine
• New exclusive interview with production designer Sir Ken Adam
• Commentary with director Sidney Furie and film editor Peter Hunt
• The Ipcress File - Michael Caine Goes Stella - exclusive new comedy sketch starring Phil Cornwell
• 1969 documentary Candid Caine, featuring Sir Michael Caine talking frankly about his career
• Original theatrical trailer
• Original US radio commercials
• Stills gallery
• Original Len Deighton novel
• Soundtrack CD by composer John Barry, OBE
• Dual-sided IPCRESS FILE movie poster
• Introductory booklet written by Christopher Bray, author of Michael Caine:
A Class Act
US viewers, make sure your computer/player can play Region 2 DVDs. DVD Beaver has a good review comparison with the Region Free Blu-ray edition.
January 26, 2009
The AMC website is the place to go for updates on the new Prisoner project for TV. Lots of behind-the-scenes news from production and blogs by cast and crew (including Ian McKellen- the new #2). If that's not SPY VIBE enough, you can also watch all of the original episodes of The Prisoner with Patrick McGoohan on-line!
Check it out at AMC.
January 25, 2009
The 40% off sale at Network ended tonight. Thanks to the Double O Section blog for that reminder. I got my orders in for all of the Danger Man, Secret Agent, and Prisoner soundtracks. It's a great deal.
We've come a long way since I first started researching ITC shows and other Spy Fi cult classics. I remember writing to ITC sometime in the 70s and they mailed me a great packet of press sheets for all of their spy shows. Quite generous! Except for paperbacks and comics, it was pretty hard for a kid to track down things like music and memorabilia in the States. I joined the Six of One club and the 007 fan club, which did provide some interesting (and spy vibe cool!) magazines and newsletters. Sites like Network are one of the many great resources today.
January 19, 2009
The UK based shop Network is having a huge sale right now on DVDs and soundtracks, including many hard-to-find cult spy TV items. They have some great looking soundtrack collections (The Prisoner set especially), and a number of box sets like The Baron, Man in a Suitcase, Department S, The Champions, Gerry Anderson, and some cool looking documentaries. Sale ends soon. Make sure you can play PAL format discs (not a mission impossible for most computers).
Network sale at:
January 18, 2009
The second wave of 007 films have been announced for Blu-ray. Quantum of Solace will be released on March 24th, along with Goldfinger, Moonraker and The World is Not Enough. The "classic" titles are available for pre-order on Amazon as both a 3-disc set and as single discs. The "unofficial" Connery return to the role, Never Say Never Again, has also ben announced for a March 24th release. Seven Bond films made it to Blu-ray last year: Casino Royale, Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Thunderball, Live and Let Die, For Your Eyes Only, and Die Another Day. Bond has never looked better. I was literally giddy when I saw From Russia With Love (my first Blu-ray experience). The clarity of the format has made it really fun to rediscover these old favorites. I'm hoping to see On Her Majesty's Secret Service added to the list soon. If you're in the mood for 007, serious or campy, the Blu-ray assortment should have something for everyone.
January 17, 2009
January 14, 2009
George Markstein (story editor/Secret Agent, co-creator/The Prisoner, writer/The Odessa File), learned in the early 1960s about a "retirement home" where ex-spies and their secrets could be kept safe. With McGoohan's interest to "retire" Drake and take on individual-vs-society themes, their efforts gelled in the creation of The Prisoner. With backing from ITC, McGoohan was able to take the espionage genre to a new level. At the start of each of the 17 episodes of his new show, The Prisoner, an unnamed spy, resigns in anger. He is kidnapped and taken to a resort village, assigned a number, and is interrogated in fantastic and manipulative ways. His character echoed the rebellious counter culture of the times by championing the rights of the individual. The experience-weary mind of the ex-spy struggled to determine if his captors were a foreign power or indeed his own government. The program was cutting edge and quickly became a cult classic that blended Mod/Pop Art design and fashion with Sci Fi, political undertones, and surrealism.
As a ten-year-old, I watched The Prisoner very closely. My eyes danced from the screen to a typewriter on the floor, where I quickly transcribed the cast and crew credits, as well as a weekly synopsis. I bound my entries in a school report folder, along with clippings from TV Guide. Somehow it was my way of trying to understand the show and a way to celebrate McGoohan’s effect on me as an artist. It was also my first inspiration to research and write about pop culture. Just this past fall, I found my Prisoner binder. I dusted off the cover and sent it as a gift to my friend David Webb Peoples, who is currently working on a feature adaptation with director Christopher Nolan.
Patrick McGoohan set my senses afire in a different way than 007 or The Avengers (competing favorites in my childhood). His quick mind and critique of the world around him was visible in the stories and characters he chose. I respected that quality in him, and he inspired me to think and to question while enjoying a spy adventure at the same time. For those reasons I picked McGoohan as the person I most admired when I applied to boarding school as a kid. I stood proudly when my graduating class was reminded of this in our senior year. And I think fondly on Patrick McGoohan today. He will be missed.
Key episodes to revisit: (Danger Man/Secret Agent) Yesterday's Enemies, To Our Best Friend, (The Prisoner) The Arrival, Chimes of Big Ben, A, B and C, Many Happy Returns. Fans of LOST will enjoy the episode, Checkmate. My friend Steve Bissette's piece about McGoohan can be seen on his website (see links).