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Smiley's People: BD Review

Aug 7th, 2013

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it's truly one of the great British telefilms of all time, but is this Smiley's People high-def bump worth the upgrade...?

Acorn Media / 324 Minutes / 1982 / Unrated / Street Date: August 6, 2013

George Smiley (Alec Guinness) in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a man with a mission; in Smiley's People, he's a man nearly hell-bent on out-thinking his nemesis. The tete-a-tete between Georgie and Karla (Patrick Stewart) which informed many of the character's adventures through John Le Carre's novels comes to gale force completion in Smiley's People, with a sensationally satisfying finale that astonishes nobly and properly.

Things get rolling when George - again in retirement - hears from a fellow by the name of Vladimir (Curt Jurgens), who informs Smiley of a widow of a friend of his who is having serious immigration issues trying to get her daughter out of Russia. This, of course, seems too tangential and inappropriate of a task for a super-spy like Smiley, but when Vladimir ends up dead, and Smiley figures out how it happened, the cat-and-mouse game begins.

And it's all about Karla. The fact that the biggest, most dangerous Soviet spy out there was never formally nabbed by The Circus (British Secret Service) has remained a huge cross for Smiley to bear: He wants to take this guy down. Such is the drama at the center of Smiley's People. Almost a vigilante working outside The Circus, Smiley truly has to take unique initiative to stay above water here, and watching Alec Guinness do so is even more of a palpable, well-thought-out viewer experience than Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Steady, smart, and emotionally reverberant, Smiley's People is ace TV entertainment, a telefilm that hits all the right notes. But is it worth the upgrade to Blu-ray? Let’s check it out…

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