The Prisoner

‘Retro-Action!’: Volume 2 Blu-ray review

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The ITC stable produced some of the best remembered programmes of the 1960s and ‘70s, and this sampler collection showcases a remarkable series of restorations. The five episodes included on this Blu-ray were all filmed in 35mm, so fans will rejoice at the amazing picture quality on show here which is a true testament to Network Releasing’s ongoing and impressive raiding of the back catalogues.

The uninitiated will perhaps wonder what all the hullabaloo is about, but putting the technical aspects of the disc aside, the set includes some wonderfully kitsch action heroes. The Saint begins the set with Simon Templar (Roger Moore pre-Bond and fresh from duties on fellow ITC show The Persuaders! with Tony Curtis) rescuing Fallouda, the ex-king of Fedyra no-less, from a somewhat pointed gambling situation. Soon the Saint must escort the Queen, a bus driver’s daughter made good, in a race against time to sell her jewels. Directed by Roy Ward Baker (A Night To Remember), this is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the set.

Danger Man follows with Patrick McGoohan tailing an International extortionist and his English wife as they are exposed to a kidnapping plot, with the black and white noir feel revealing a swinging London at the height of its coolness.

The first episode of The Prisoner, again using London as a technicolour backdrop, is the next delight on the disc, which goes toe-to-toe with The Saint for pure coolness. McGoohan again shows a Steve McQueen like quality as he roars around the capital in his Lotus 7 before being gassed in his home in a mute opening and falling foul to the surreal aspects of his newly acquired moniker, Number Six.

The last two shows, whilst not as well known as the ones they follow, are still just as entertaining: John Gregson’s Gideon’s Way features a young John Hurt and is a more straight-forward police procedural affair, while Man In A Suitcase rounds out the set with John Glen (who went on to helm a decade’s worth of Bond films in the 1980s) in his directorial debut with a tale of espionage in East Germany.

This is the second of a three part Retro-Action! collection which is unquestionably to be recommended for die-hard and casual ITC fans alike, although presumably these selected episodes are a precursor to Blu-ray releases for the shows’ entire series.

Released on Blu-ray on Monday 28th February 2011 by Network Releasing.