X-Ray (2014/MPI/IFC Films
Blu-ray)/Escape From East
Berlin (1962 aka Tunnel
A Thief (1965/MGM/Warner
B-/C+/C+ Sound: B/C+/C+ Extras: C/C-/C Films: C/B-/C
From East Berlin
DVDs are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner
Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.
are three serious dramas that are ambitious, even intelligent and one
one of the all-too rare films dealing with Guantanamo Bay in the
Post-9/11 world finding a dark recycling after its association with
the Cold War. Kristen Stewart is an Army soldier assigned to go
there and take care of things, but the Muslim prisoners have all
kinds of issues with women and images of women, which leads to an
ugly, gross, even bizarre scene between she and an unusually readerly
prisoner (Payman Waadi) that probably should have ceased after said
is from there that the script gets into trouble, starting with this
idea that while contact has to continue because of her job
(delivering books and magazines to the prisoners), they then
eventually develop a relationship that I found highly unlikely and if
I somehow buy the premise that they are both toxic and dysfunctional
enough to have this happen with them it still never adds up.
portrayal of the Bay works and a subplot about sexual assault is
started up, but is never resolved in a way that is also troubling.
Yet, the film wants to have this sort-of friendship and all in all,
this becomes a missed opportunity and disappoints. I will also add
the acting is good and directing not bad, but we later learn in the
extras this is another release attempting the silly impossibility
that an apolitical tale can be made, especially of a subject like
this. It lands up being slightly left-of-center with little clue
about where it is going and what it has done. See it for yourself to
Original Theatrical Trailer and new Making Of featurette are the only
From East Berlin
(1962, aka Tunnel
underrated drama thriller by the underrated genre and Film Noir
filmmaker about a group of people trapped on the wrong (read
Stalinist communist/oppressive side of Germany) who happen to live
near a part of The Berlin Wall and the slow temptation of several of
them (after the husband one a woman dies almost making it across)
starts to slowly grow when possible opportunity starts to surface.
an opening with documentary footage of the building of the wall and
people being injured or killed by the East German government to 'keep
them in or else' brings us to life on the wrong side, grey, dreary,
unhappy, but with good people we get to meet while we follow the
story. Don Murray plays a good friend of the man who died trying to
make it and starts to feel maybe it is time to try if he can since
his friend died so spectacularly and was so close.
atmosphere is thick, the script really well written, the cast (also
including Christine Kaufmann, Horst Janson and soon-to-be big TV star
Werner Klemperer) are all convincing as we slowly try to figure out
if anyone will accidentally or purposely give away the escape plot to
the ever-present soldiers at the border who are always ready to
harass and shoot-to-kill. This can be brutal, yet also suspenseful
and realistic, which is great and solid filmmaking from Siodmak,
whose original The
is a Noir classic and Spiral
are still talked about to this day.
is the 89-minutes-long version, though a 94 minutes cut allegedly
exists. It still works well here and is recommended.
Original Theatrical Trailer is the only extra.
have worked well, a heist film with international sensation Alain
Delon with rising, dynamic, sexy Ann-Margret as his 'woman' and Jack
Palance as the man who pushes him into the big criminal plot who
happens to be his brother. Van Heflin is the cop after all of them
and this does have some energy and good pacing thanks to directing by
Nelson (best known for his action directing on ITC British TV
classics like Secret
(reviewed elsewhere on this site) among others) and Zekial Marko (who
wrote the novel this film is based on) adapted it into the screenplay
complete with Jazz/Beat dialogue from the era.
we're supposed to believe Delon and Palance are from Mexico,
Ann-Margret's beauty is downplayed for the drama (though she can act)
and despite being a good-looking film, the plotting tends to stumble
between bad moments, flat ones, forgettable ones and one too many
that ring false, more frustrating when you see what does work. Marko
has a knack for realism with clever twists (he wrote the original
script for the still-enduring Zombie episode of Kolchak:
The Night Stalker)
and his talent makes this more bearable, but it is just not that
great or as realized as it should have been.
Original Theatrical Trailer and vintage Making Of promo film are the
1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on
is a little darkened in a cliched way for the genre, but it is the
best performer here, though the black & white, anamorphically
enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Berlin
(despite some detail issues) and the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1
image Panavision-shot image on Thief
look good too.
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Camp
is its well mixed and presented throughout with a decent soundfield
throughout that makes it more bearable. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0
Mono on the DVDs show their age and don't sound bad, but could sound
a little better with some restoration work.
order either of the Warner Archive DVDs, Escape
From East Berlin
go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases