A Murder Of Quality (British Telefilm)
Sound: C+ Extras: C- Telefilm: C+
John Le Carré has been one of the most important writers
of Spy & Espionage fiction since The Cold War. In all this, he even created George Smiley and featured him in
several books. Denholm Elliott was cast
as George Smiley in A Murder Of Quality (1991) for a British TV movie in
which the former Spy takes on a personal case of “will he kill me” for a female
friend who is married. When he answers
the call, she is dead.
When he starts to investigate, the husband naturally has
the best alibi and he uncovers more than he either wanted to or hoped to. Previous Le Carré adaptations include The
Spy Who Came In From The Cold, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Smiley’s
People (all reviewed elsewhere on this site), the problematic Sean
Connery/Michelle Pfeiffer version of The Russia House and The Tailor
Of Panama. Those were all
explicitly Spy tales, though not all with Smiley. Having not read the book, this is just too far off the beaten
path and comes across as more of a movie-of-the-week mystery than some
suspenseful thriller. Instead, it feels
like something inspired by Murder, She Wrote, if a bit more
literate. It feels light years away
from anything involving later Smiley stories or Alec Guinness. Elliott is simply miscast in the role. Joss Ackland, Glenda Jackson, Billie
Whitelaw and a then-barely-known and young Christian Bale also star, but only
have so much to do.
The full frame 1.33 X 1 image was shot by Denis Crossan
and is professional and competent at best, while the print supplied is in good
shape. Detail is limited only because
the DVD can only capture so much detail and there are more dark shots than not. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is simple and
has no surround information whatsoever.
The few text extras are included are Le Carré bibliography and slightly
dated filmography of the actors. For
fans and completists only.
- Nicholas Sheffo