Ice Station Zebra

Ice Station Zebra (1968)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Patrick McGoohan, Jim Brown, Tony Bill
Extras: Making Of Featurette, Trailer Gallery

A spy-thriller from the writings of Alistair MacLean, ’Ice Station Zebra’ is a classic film about secrets, spies, sabotage and the Cold War. After a Russian satellite crashes in the Antarctic its contents are taken into possession by the inhabitants of the small American weather station Zebra. Immediately the US and Russia both begin a race to reach the station before the other does in order to secure the highly sensitive material contained in the satellite in order to keep the upper hand in their struggle for political power.

Featuring a cast of great stars of the time, including Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Patrick McGoohan and Jim Brown, ’Ice Station Zebra’ contains everything a fan of classic spy thrillers could ask for. The elements are there, the chemistry and the plot with intriguing twists, though give today’s fast-paced movie fare, some may perceive the film as a bit too slow with its 150 minutes running length.

Warner Home Video presents a decent transfer of the movie here. It is not stellar and has not been restored much, though a clean-up pass has helped reduce speckles and scratches quite a bit, creating an image that is stable and generally free of distracting blemishes. Color balance is adequate, though a bit inconsistent at times, but never to the point of distraction. Black levels are good and solid, creating deep shadows that don’t break up. No compression artifacts are evident.

A newly remixed 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track graces the release that alleviates some of the technical limitations of the original mono track of the film, which is, interestingly, not included on the DVD. The audio is good with decent bass extension and dynamics, presenting a good bass roll-off at all times. Dialogue is still a bit harsh at times but always pleasing. Surround usage is very limited.

As extras the DVD contains a vintage making-of featurette which turns out to be a promo featurette from when the film was originally released in theaters.

’Ice Station Zebra’ is a great classic spy movie that fans will certainly devour. The DVD is adequate but somewhat unspectacular, but at the very least gives fans the chance to revisit this great movie in its full widescreen glory in a clean transfer.