74 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2009
It should be noted that this blu-ray is not in 4:3 but formatted for 16:9 televisions. The aspect ratio for this movie is 2.35:1. A lot of people are misled on this point because Amazon.co.uk incorrectly listed it as 1.33:1. The reviewers on the uk site correctly points out the error. If you visit blu-ray.com there is a review of the movie along with screen shots that show its correct aspect ratio. I hope this was helpful. The "The Ipcress File" is one good movie. It should be noted that this is a region free disc meaning it will play on American NTSC players and televisions.
45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Magnificently directed by Sidney Furie, this terrific thriller has one of Michael Caine's most memorable performances, and a sensational score by John Barry.
Caine's Harry Palmer is a marvelous character...an anti-Bond...a guy in a dull job who suddenly finds himself in extraordinary circumstances. He has his quirks...he goes against authority, has his sharp wit, his gourmet food, and "that look" behind the horn rimmed glasses.
The plot revolves around a "brain drain" of scientists in England, and has spies, the CIA, and all the usual suspects...which in this case are a little harder to predict.
With brilliant writing (Bill Canaway/James Doran), superb cinematography (Otto Heller), and some good character actors (I love Alice the office lady...an anti-Ms. Moneypenny !) this is a film that will keep you interested for many viewings...suspenseful, amusing, and you'll just be wild about Harry.
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2005
Len Deighton's first novel presents the micro-detail workings of a nameless espionage agent's workaday world. The protagonist is as far removed from the glamour world of James Bond as you can get -- in fact, it's the polar opposite. The film IS a departure from Deighton's novel but what is here works well.
The entire cast is very good. The story moves along at a leisurely but good pace. The cinematography takes on a persona of its own that bears well under repeated viewing. John Barry's score is one of his best and quite different in tone from his Bond scores. Production values are top notch. And it's quite surprising when you realize this film's producer is Harry Saltzman -- one of the co-producers of the Bond series! In fact, Saltzman brought along some of the Bond crew to work on "The Ipcress File".
This is Michael Caine's first starring role in film. Saltzman tapped Caine after seeing his excellent performance in "Zulu". Caine does a yeoman job of portraying the novel's spy with no name as Harry Palmer, complete with deadpan, wry humor.
On DVD, the film is presented in its intended original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The image looks quite good. The sound is the original clear mono. There is commentary by director Sidney J. Furie and editor Peter Hunt. Anchor Bay is to be congratulated for making this film available on disc. Which brings us to a sore subject
"The Ipcress File" is currently out of print in the US. The film is slated to be screened in Washington, DC. Maybe there's some renewed interest in the film which might lead to a remastered edition on DVD? Who knows who owns the copyright? ITM, try vising your local library or rental outlet to see this film.
IMHO, it's an excellent film -- filled with believable characters and situations and enough plot twists to keep you wondering what the heck's going on. A keeper.
[2012: Now available on a region-free Blu-ray import.]
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2002
Michael Caine's Harry Palmer -- the character is nameless in the Len Deighton novels; as he is also the first-person narrator, this works, but for this film, (third-person all the way) it was felt that he needed a name -- is just as escapist a fantasy as Connery's Bond, but in a different manner. Deliberately deglamorised and *presented* as just a relatively ordinary man, if of a somewhat dubious moral character, doing his best to keep out of trouble, Palmer nonetheless is, underneath, a bit more.
Blackmailed into espionage with the threat of well-earned prison time, Palmer is a useful foot-soldier in the sordid, quiet war of espionage and counter-espionage, set to unmask a traitor -- but who *is* the traitor -- is there anyone at all that he can trust?
Michael Caine (this was the first film in which i had seen him) inhabits the role of Harry Palmer and makes it totally his, a man of contradictions -- a working class man, but one who genuinely loves and appreciates the finer things, unlike Fleming's (and, to some extent, the Bond movies') Bond, an amoral thug who apes the manners and tastes of his betters.
The apparently-realistic dreary grey London streets and settings add to this film's apparently-realistic approach, all the better to persuade the viewer to suspend his disbelief and accept the rather complex plot, especially when we get to the brainwashing parts...
First of three films, this was a series that *could* have rivalled Bond but fizzled out in the end.
All three, however, are well worth your time.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2002
This is the spy game at its core: Nasty, dull footwork with the occasional killing or double-cross, where life is cheap and wages are low. Michael Caine takes the character from Len Deighton's novels -- a middle-class [wise-guy] who uses his wits more times than his gun -- and nails it perfectly. It also keeps you guessing until the end, which is better than 95% of the stuff now running at local theatres. The DVD is great in showing the wide-screen version; the shot composition by director Sidney J. Furie is absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, Furie's problems with the producer (Furie was fired after finishing the film shoot) must still cloud his thinking, because his commentary track banks heavily on negative comments. Film editor Peter Hunt's comments, meanwhile, provide plenty of good inside tales about the film. (He also manages to prod Furie into some of his better moments.)
Purists may argue that "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold" is a bit more-realistic. "The Ipcress File," though, is entertaining -- and an excellent example of transferring a film to DVD.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 1999
Exciting, grimy and witty, this is the first and best of the trio of Len Deighton novels about the Harry Palmer character [in the novels, the character has no name, written in the first person]. Michael Caine is perfectly cast in the role. He plays a deceptively understated and devious agent for the bureaucratic British Secret Service, having accepted the job reluctantly to avoid going to jail, following some dodgy dealings whilst in the Army. Following the disappearance of several top scientists, Palmer is sent to another department to investigate, having replaced a previously assassinated agent. There is, however, more than meets the eye, and the true motives of Palmer's posting keeps you guessing up to the conclusion of the film. Very well acted and shot, it is the complete antithesis of all that is James Bond- and all the more attractive and realistic for it. John Barry wrote the music, which adds a chilling atmosphere throughout. A great depiction of not- so- swinging 60's London. Highly recommended.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
"Let's see," says Major Dalby, head of the Counter-Intelligence Bureau, as he reads Sergeant Harry Palmer's personnel file. "'Insubordinate. Insolent. A trickster. Perhaps with criminal tendencies.' Well, that last one may just be put to good use."
Harry Palmer (Michael Caine) has been sent to Dalby (Nigel Green) by Col. H. L. Ross (Guy Doleman) of Britain's Ministry of Defense. Scientists have gone missing, and the few who have shown up later seem to have been brain washed. They are no longer useful. Dalby's unit is charged with finding out what's going on. And Harry Palmer, like it or not, who loves to cook and loves the birds, who wears glasses, who is not impressed with authority, who can be a bit unreliable when he chooses to be, and who actually is a pretty good spy, is assigned to help break the case. Eventually he does, but not without a lot of pain and a fair amount of violence. Palmer can take it, but he can dish it out as well. He also has a shrewd, analytical mind. He's willing to gamble and sometimes he's off the mark. And all the while he has to deal with the bullying, condescending Dalby, "a passed-over major," as well as Col. Ross, who drips condescension like an ice cube on a hot day. Harry Palmer doesn't have it easy.
I think this is one of the better espionage movies made. It's not a spoof, like the Bond movies. Harry Palmer, based on the Len Deighton character (to whom Deighton never gave a name), as played by Caine is immensely likable because he takes the measure of the stuffed shirts and is amused by their pretensions. The character also works because as the story proceeds you realize that Palmer knows his job. The two secondary actors, Green and Doleman, bring a lot of depth to their roles and a lot of interest to the movie. Their attitudes are so imperviously superior it would be amusing except that they both wield quite a bit of power.
This is a movie that I can watch many times and still enjoy for its style and story-telling prowess. Furie throws in some directorial flourishes common then that now seem a bit dated, but that's a minor quibble for a well made and well acted movie. The DVD transfer is just fine.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2002
"The Ipcress File" is a gripping spy thriller that was a big hit back in 1966. This was the time when Michael Caine was a rising young star, and this movie was an excellent showcase for his talent. Visually, the movie is dated in spots, especially in its use of psychedelic colors and images in the brainwashing sequences. These images, along with Caine's character's wearing of thick-lensed, horn-rimmed eye glasses, were later parodied in spy spoofs, most notably in the Austin Powers series. Fortunately, the story is as engrossing as ever, and Caine's Harry Palmer remains one of the most indelible movie characters ever.
Harry Palmer is a shrewd, cocky, amoral Army sergeant who was busted in Germany for some illegal trading. Sensing his abilities, the British army has offered to keep him out of prison in exchange for his becoming a spy. It's the threat of prison that keeps the freedom-loving Harry in line. [This plot device has been used countless times since "The Ipcress File" was released, most recently in "XXX".] When a prominent British scientist is kidnapped, Harry's boss loans him out to another department. What our confident hero doesn't realize is that he's being used as bait. By whom and for what purpose is what keeps the suspense going right up to the movie's tense climax.
"The Ipcress File" is in the category of spy movies which, unlike James Bond films, portray the characters as participants in a dark, sinister and deadly serious game. In this game, only the hero can be trusted.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 1999
Ipcress doesn't disappoint - Caine carries off a remarkable performance as the Brit agent Palmer, rescuing his lines through inspired delivery and timing. The film's camerawork and composition are a sight to behold, provided an appreciation for frequently underlit scenes. Certainly a film with a (wry?) sense of humor - case in point: the exchange of words in the supermarket. If you won't consider purchasing Ipcress, do yourself a favor and rent it some night.
For those looking forward to the commentary (as I was) - the running commentary is subpar, perhaps the worst I've listened through yet. Neither of the gentlemen involved (Sidney Furie, Peter Hunt) can recall the plot sequences in the film very clearly and so spend quite a bit of time audibly guessing what will happen next. The track does reveal a few interesting tidbits, but it is unfortunate that most of these revelations find mention again and again.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I have always been a fan of Michael Caine since his intoduction in ZULU, and his brings Len Deighton's thinking man's James Bond to the screen with panache!!
Harry Palmer is minus the gizmos, the flash of Bond, he offers you instead a ex-con pressed into using his talents for the British spies. He is a gormet cook, cannot see too good without his coke bottle glasses, and poor Harry, caught between Ross, his former boss, and Dobly, his new boss, in a thinking man's game of cat and mouse.
Perfect droll British wit, with Caine alsolutely marvelous as Palmer. With good supporting work from Guy Doleman, Nigel Green(who was with Palmer in ZULU) and Gordon Jackson.
Followed by Funeral in Berlin (1966) and Billion Dollar Brain (1967), and later several Palmer movies for Showtime Network.