really tough competition!) will not only mark the high-definition debut of Smiley's People in any region; it will also be the first time American viewers are able to see the additional hour of material cut from the original U.S. broadcast and all subsequent home video editions in this country! Like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy before it, Smiley's People was reconfigured from seven episodes (as broadcast in Britain) to six for transmission on PBS's Masterpiece Theater. Since it would have been impossible to just drop an entire episode of this highly-complex spy story, this was done by shedding footage here and there from every episode. In the case of Tinker, Tailor, I feel that the trims actually streamlined the storytelling and improved the miniseries. (I would actually recommend the U.S. version over the British one.) However, in the case of Smiley's People, I feel that essential material was excised (including some of the miniseries' best scenes), and strongly prefer the UK broadcast version. The Blu-ray will not reinstate the missing footage into the narrative, but it will include all 62 minutes of it as deleted scenes, which is almost as good. These are deleted scenes well worth watching, and a special feature which will truly enhance the viewing experience! The Blu-ray will also include all of the extras from Acorn's previous DVD edition: a 20-minute interview with le Carré and text-based features like production notes, biographies and a useful glossary of the author's sometimes confusing spy jargon. This all-star sequel finds George Smiley (the incomparable Alec Guinness) once again coming out of retirement to take on his old Soviet nemesis Karla (Patrick Stewart) in a final battle of wits spanning Europe. It was filmed on location in London, Paris, Hamburg, and Bern, and co-stars Bernard Hepton (The Contract), Vladek Sheybal (From Russia With Love), Eileen Atkins (the Avengers movie), Michael Gough (the real Avengers) Anthony Bate (Game, Set and Match), Ingrid Pitt (Jason King), Andy Bradford (Octopussy), Curd Jürgens (The Spy Who Loved Me) Michael Lonsdale (Moonraker), Michael Byrne (Saracen), Lucy Fleming (Cold Warrior—and, yes, that's Lucy Fleming as in niece of Ian, whose best scene can be found amongst that deleted material), and a scene-stealing Beryl Reid (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy). It's absolutely essential viewing, and this Blu-ray will be a requirement in any spy collection worth its salt! Retail is $59.99, but luckily Amazon has it for pre-order for much less. It streets on August 6.
The Tailor of Panama starring Pierce Brosnan and Geoffrey Rush. The film mines unusually (though naturally dark) comedic territory for le Carré, and does a damn fine job of it. (It's really the author's variation on Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana.) It also features my favorite Pierce Brosnan performance ever. Really, he's unmissable in this, making it a must for Bond fans as well as le Carré fans. The Blu-ray from Image will carry over all of the special features from Columbia's DVD, including a Boorman commentary track, an alternate ending with optional commentary, theatrical trailers, and the featurette "The Perfect Fit: A Conversation with Pierce Brosnan and Geoffrey Rush." Unfortunately, the Blu-ray utilizes the same slapdash cover art as the DVD instead of the film's fantastic illustrated poster, but that's to be expected these days. Retail is just $17.97, and you can pre-order it from Amazon for even less.