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CALLAN, SET 1 (1970)

Edward Woodward , William Squire  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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CALLAN, SET 1 + CALLAN, SET 2 + The Equalizer: Season 1
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Product Details

  • Actors: Edward Woodward, William Squire
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: July 7, 2009
  • Run Time: 455 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001V7YZH0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,036 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

For an assassin, loyalty and treachery dictate life and death

In a BAFTA-winning performance, Edward Woodward (The Equalizer) stars as Callan, a brooding, conscience-stricken assassin for a shadowy British intelligence service so secret it doesn’t have a name.

With the Cold War grinding on, agents from the East and West engage in elaborate deceptions, both sides seeking temporary advantage in an endless struggle. No one plays this game better than Callan. His sharp eyes, steely will, and steady hand with a gun make him a valuable asset to his superior, called Hunter (William Squire, Anne of the Thousand Days). But Callan knows his usefulness could end at any moment--especially with the younger, ruthlessly ambitious agent Cross (Patrick Mower, Target) eager to advance. In this amoral world, where men and women serve only as means to another’s ends, Callan fully understands the consequences of failure, seizing each assignment as one more chance to survive.

DVD FEATURES INCLUDE Callan trivia and biography of Edward Woodward.

The murky world of espionage gets a fascinating and aggressively unheroic treatment in the British series Callan. Callan: Set 1 is actually the third season of this remarkable show from the late 1960s/early '70s; as it begins, agent and assassin David Callan (Edward Woodward) is recovering from being shot in the chest after killing his superior while under the effects of brainwashing. His new boss can’t afford to lose Callan--Callan’s skills are hard to find--but he worries that Callan might have lost his nerve. Callan demonstrates he can still be ruthless, but he suffers from pangs of conscience... and when faced with the grey morality of counterintelligence, makes sometimes futile attempts to balance out the scales of justice.

At first glance, Callan seems like simply a well-made, realistic spy story, in the vein of John le Carre’s intricate novels. But episode after episode subverts your expectations as Callan and his ambitious colleague Cross ruin the lives of innocent people in the name of national security. Callan is a fascinating creation; moody, bad-tempered, prone to treat his flunky/stoolpigeon Lonely (Russell Hunter) with a weird, almost homoerotic mix of possessiveness and abuse. In another actor’s hands, he might be downright unpleasant; but Woodward--who later starred in the series The Equalizer as well as movies like The Wicker Man and Breaker Morant--is a uniquely compelling actor, able to make cruelty and moral queasiness strangely magnetic. Whether he’s planting evidence to ruin a young woman’s engagement or trying to protect a racist politician from assassination, Callan comes across as simultaneously appalling and admirable. Oddly enough, starting with the third season enhances the program, adding to the hidden motives and secret histories. The supporting cast is uniformly superb, particularly Hunter as the squirrelly and aptly-named Lonely, who both loathes and desperately craves the approval of Callan. This series is essential viewing for anyone interested in the spy genre, but may be even more intriguing to people who don’t like tales of ridiculous secret agent derring-do--think of Callan as the anti-James-Bond. --Bret Fetzer

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
David CALLAN (Edward Woodward, The Equalizer) was blackmailed by a secret part of the British Security Services known as "The Section". They wanted his skills. He didn't like or want the job, but he had no choice, but he was good at it. This former soldier turned thief, was 'drafted' by "The Section".

The Section head, codename Hunter (William Squire), AKA Charlie, is cold, ruthless, needs Callan, and cares little about who gets killed. Concern is only the how, why, and if anyone finds out.

There's a nucleus of regular cast, but each episode (9 in this Set 1) is primarily a new suspense story involving espionage, murder, blackmail, and all those good black things. Callan is THE top agent (realism, no James Bond or Get Smart stuff here)--kills when ordered--is a deadly shot--with a tinge of conscious, fair play, and justice. It's a bit on the dark side, every man for himself. A collection of individuals in a dark world, void of trust. A climate where right and wrong have no definition. Sometimes Callan has to much personal emotion for his job of deceit and dirty-tricks. That makes for a fascinating character. Great character relationships throughout the series. Well, some relationships turn downright nasty. Callan even has feelings, though never shown, toward a dirty, criminal type, Lonely (Russell Hunter), who is occasional helpful, in all the bad ways of getting the job done.

The "Section's" colour code for files: RED= dangerous, priority, target death; YELLOW= occasional surveillance; BLUE= wrong party; WHITE= put out of action via prison, bankruptcy, mental home, etc. What colour is your file?

Downside: no subtitles.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Set 1" is Season 3 June 24, 2009
In case there is any confusion, this set comprises the 9 episodes of Season 3, which is the first season to be filmed in color.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
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Exceptional drama from Thames Television from the late 60's-early 70's starring the late Edward Woodward, more familiar to us here in the States as the principal character in "The Equalizer" series that ran during the mid-80's. Woodward plays Callan, a spy for a secret arm of the British Secret Service, so secret in fact that the his boss, William Squire, is identified not by name but by his code, "Hunter." Callan, middle-aged and more comfortable discussing the rudiments of Napoleonic warfare and collecting toy soldiers and wargaming, is reluctantly the "top man" takes "all the dirty jobs" with an eye on his target and other on his ruthless colleagues--expertly played by the duplicitous Anthony Valentine as Toby Meres and the impulsive Patrick Mower as Cross--who are more likely to twist a knife in Callan's back than provide the necessary back up on a mission.

With that said, the episodes are tremendously entertaining if short on action by American standards. The scripts are superb, as the writers have clearly disposed of the "champagne and caviar" adventures of James Bond, but instead present a terribly complex but realistic portrait of cold war espionage in all of its ugliness--the deception, torture, duplicity, and divided loyalties that characterize spying at it's most ruthless. Supporting cast is also excellent with the late Russell Hunter as the not-so-bright Lonely, Callan's only friend, informant, and freelance accomplice in his nefarious deeds. The episodes are presented chronologically, so it's important to watch them in consecutive order--references are made to former characters and events in a consecutive timeline as Callan's cynicism towards the Section, his superiors, and his colleagues virtually reaches a boiling point at the close of Set 1.
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24 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Callan great; But packaging is misleading. November 22, 2009
Verified Purchase
Callan was a great series, but the packaging of this product is misleading. "Set 1" is too easily confused with "Series 1". If like me you have already purchased "Series 3" then you will be very upset that you now own two copies of "Series 3". I know the editorial review makes it clear, but when you are a fan you do not think you need to read such reviews... Ok, so next time I will whenever I consider purchasing a product packaged by Acorn Media. Mind you, I will probably not buy on principle.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Show December 11, 2011
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I highly recommend this show! Very dark and moody, but sometimes funny show with excellent acting, writing, fair picture, great theme music. Callan's boss, Hunter, played by William Squire,is great, very humorous without trying, although the character, Lonely, probably gets the most notice for humor. Although these episodes are somewhat stand-alone stories, there is some continuity lost from prior series, as I never saw the prior two series. I would sure like to get the first and second (B & W) series to get the whole story of Callan (with Set 1 being the Third Series) As with most British TV sets, it is rather expensive, but not disappointing in the least, even for the price. Edward Woodward is fine here, as always; very convincing as an extremely dangerous but sometimes nice killer/fixer. When Callan makes a threat it is not idle, even to fellow agents! I have yet to watch Set 2, but I am looking forward to it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Callan DVD
Published 1 month ago by Hedley W. Davies
1.0 out of 5 stars Ripped Off
10 years ago I purchased SET 3 of Callan and loved it ( 5 stars).The moment I saw set 1 and 2 on Amazon I purchased both. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Kay Bowling
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Excellent Series Without Equal
This truly is Edward Woodward's show and his talent, abilities and inspiration carry through the series. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Pen Name
5.0 out of 5 stars Young Woodward, Young Hitman
Watch and enjoy as you get to understand why Woodward is always an angry man. He dispenses death with his own understanding of justice for the innocent, even when it goes against... Read more
Published 15 months ago by halh
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Cold War British Spy Series
More action that the "Palfry of Westminister" series. Productions standards are on a par with British TV of the time (i.e. not high) but enjoyable none-the-less
Published 18 months ago by Virginia Yank
5.0 out of 5 stars Much Better Than McGoohan's 'Prisoner'
Glad I found out about the CALLAN series---fun TV espionage from the Len Deighton/John LeCarre school of dead drops and one time pads. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Crawford
5.0 out of 5 stars Callan Lives
I remember watching this show on a barely viewable UHF station as a kid. I loved the show. I believe that this show more accurately portrayed the spy games during the cold war... Read more
Published on September 13, 2011 by Carol S. Faber
5.0 out of 5 stars Sir Edward is Awesome
I had heard about this series from youtube and was very excited to order. Exactly what I expected. Great acting by all cast members but especially by Edward Woodward, he can... Read more
Published on June 8, 2010 by N. Weitz
4.0 out of 5 stars the best spy series ever and first antihero too
Edward Woodard was by anyones standard a great actor, in fact he was often called englands finest actor even , he one awards to prove it and his presence always added to a... Read more
Published on April 25, 2010 by Michael Dobey
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't Get Any Better
For years I remembered the lightbulb and signature tune for Callan, the series is even better than I remembered. Dynamic tension cleverly portrayed.
Published on April 13, 2010 by Vaino Keelmann
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