Paramount Home Video
Cast: Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Oskar Werner
Based upon John Le Carré’s novel of the same name, ’The Spy Who Came In From The Cold’ is a post-war spy thriller filled with twists, plots and unexpected events. Combined with the stellar performances by Richard Burton, Claire Bloom and Oskar Werner, the film is a landmark of the genre, making sure nothing is what it seems.
Paramount Home Entertainment has prepared a widescreen transfer for the movie that is enhanced for 16×9 TV sets. The black and white image is absolutely stable meticulously clean without blemishes or defects. The contrast is perfectly balanced, with deep, solid blacks, good highlights and a wonderful gradient fall-off, bringing out the best of the film at all times. No edge-enhancement is evident and the compression is also without flaws.
’The Spy Who Came In From The Cold’ is presented in its original mono version, which has been cleaned up and restored, as well as a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital remix. It is good to see that finally Paramount is also starting to add improved audio on some of their catalog titles, as the new audio track definitely adds to the experience of the movie. Not overly aggressive, the surround channels are used to good effect, mostly to expand the sound stage and to create a livelier ambience. Dialogues are well-integrated and always understandable and the remix has also removed some of the harshness of the original sound elements by expanding the frequency response and dynamic range of the track.
Unfortunately no extras have been added to the release at all. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to have John Le Carré himself comment on the film or talk about the story in a brief featurette? Or how about bringing in actress Claire Bloom, who’s still actively working in feature film and TV productions, for some insight into the production and her work with Richard Burton? How about some piece on the history of the Berlin Wall, the separation of East and West Germany, the spies going back and forth, or the infamous Checkpoint Charlie, a hotspot of spy activity at the time. There is so much of interest in the topic of that film that it is a shame that Paramount once again dropped the ball completely. At least the price is right and with a low suggested retail price of $14.99 there should be no question in your mind to pick up this tight spy thriller as soon as you spot it.