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Carol Reed
Laurence Harvey, Lee Remick, Alan Bates
Writing Credits:
John Mortimer

An Englishman with a grudge against an insurance company for a disallowed claim fakes his own death in order but an insurance investigator starts snooping around.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English LPCM Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 104 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 6/18/2019

• Audio Commentary with Film Historian Peter William Evans
• Isolated Music and Effects Track
• “On the Trail” Featurette
• “Lee Remick at the National Film Theatre” Featurette
• Image Gallery


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The Running Man [Blu-Ray] (1963)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 2, 2019)

Not to be confused with the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi/action film, 1963’s The Running Man provides a more real-world based tale. In need of cash, Rex Black (Laurence Harvey) takes extreme measures.

The pilot decides to fake his own death so his wife Stella (Lee Remick) can collect the insurance money. This appears to work, and after he thinks enough time passes, Rex meets up with Stella in Spain to begin a new, secretive life.

However, all does not go according to Rex’s plan. When insurance investigator Stephen Maddux (Alan Bates) shows up, Rex and Stella struggle to keep their scam alive.

With that plot synopsis, one might expect Man to provide a taut thriller in the style of Catch Me If You Can. One would expect incorrectly.

Not that Man lacks any of the standard characteristic of the cat and mouse tale implied, but those elements recede to the background much of the time. Instead, Man prefers more of a “love triangle” orientation, as Stephen pursues a romantic connection with the “widow” Stella.

This feels like a bad choice. While Man still musters occasional flashes of tension and drama, too much of it feels a bit sappy and lackluster.

Because of the emphasis on character melodrama, Man seems less than convincing when it does attempt darker elements. The movie goes down a few more traditional “thriller” paths at times, but these tend to seem like they come from a different film and they don’t land with the necessary impact.

All of this leaves Man as a disappointment. While not a genuinely bad movie, it lacks much purpose or thrust and it ends up as a somewhat dull exercise in genre material.

The Disc Grades: Picture C/ Audio C/ Bonus B

The Running Man appears in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a problematic presentation.

Print flaws caused the majority of the issues, as they pervaded the image. From start to finish, the movie suffered from lots of specks and marks. Some scenes seemed cleaner than others, but much of the film displayed issues.

Sharpness varied but usually seemed good. Though occasional bouts of mild softness emerged, the majority of the film exhibited fairly appealing delineation.

Colors tended to be fairly appealing, largely thanks to the fact so much of the film took place in sunny climes. The hues occasionally felt a little heavy, but they usually appeared bright and lively.

Blacks looked reasonably dark, and shadows were mostly smooth. Without all the print flaws, the movie would’ve looked good, but the pervasive defects made it a mess.

I found the monaural soundtrack of Running Man to feel adequate for its era. Speech remained intelligible, but the lines tended to sound reedy and edgy at times.

Effects were a little flat and they displayed mild distortion. Music also lacked much range and could seem slightly shrill. All together, this wound up as an inconsistent but acceptable mix for something from 1963.

As we shift to extras, we locate an audio commentary from film historian Peter William Evans. He presents a running, screen-specific view of story/characters, cast and performances, the source and its adaptation, locations, and related areas.

Though he occasionally touches on filmmaking topics, Evans mainly offers interpretation of the film. At times, he brings insights, but too much of the commentary feels like narration, as Evans often does little more than explain what we see.

Evans also gets some crucial details wrong, such as when he claims that Laurence Harvey shot The Manchurian Candidate after Running Man. The latter hit screens about 10 months after the former, so I guess it’s possible Running filmed before the production of Candidate, but this seems unlikely.

Even without goofs such as this, Evans simply fails to deliver a compelling commentary. He brings a fairly dull discussion without a lot of substance.

Another feature that runs alongside the film, Running Man can be viewed via an Isolated Music and Effects Track. Presented PCM monaural, this indeed presents the movie sans dialogue. I can’t say the option excites me, but perhaps others will enjoy it.

On the Trail of The Running Man goes for 24 minutes, 41 seconds and involves script supervisor Angela Allen, 2nd AD Kits Browning, production accountant Maurice Landsburger and draughtsman Tony Rimmington.

“Trail” examines director Carol Reed’s work, the source and its adaptation, locations, camerawork, props and notes from the set. As a coherent view of the production, “Trail” seems scattershot, but it includes enough useful information to deserve a look.

With Lee Remick at the National Film Theatre, we find an audio piece from October 1970. Like the commentary, this plays alongside the film, though it ends at the movie’s 45-minute, 47-second point.

In this discussion, Remick talks about various aspects of her career and her collaborators. She says precisely nothing about Running Man - I guess. The audio suffers from erratic quality so I couldn’t always pick up the questions or Remick’s entire responses, so it’s possible she mentions Running Man in passing, though I doubt it.

Overall, Remick offers good insights about her work and career. She seems pretty blunt, such as when she opines that Frank Sinatra didn’t actually like making movies. Despite the bad audio quality, the chat merits a listen.

Lastly, an Image Gallery provides 83 stills. These mix shots from the set and publicity elements, with a heavy emphasis on the latter. It becomes a decent compilation.

Despite the plot’s potential for cat and mouse drama, The Running Man feels awfully inert. It spends too much time on dreary romantic elements and fails to capitalize on the subject matter’s positives. The Blu-ray comes with flawed picture and audio as well as a generally informative set of supplements. Man becomes a forgettable tale.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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