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Name: TWILIGHT TIME
Number: TWILIGHT236-BR

EYE OF THE NEEDLE (1981) (BLU-RAY)
Starring:  Donald Sutherland, Ian Bannen, Kate Nelligan, Christopher Cazenove, Philip Martin Brown, Bill Nighy
Directed By:  Richard Marquand
Composed By:  Miklos Rozsa

“An ambitious, energetic thriller…and an extremely well-acted one. Suspenseful all the way…the story balances beautifully between romance and intrigue.”
– Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“Made with quiet competence, it will remind some viewers of the Hitchcock who made The Thirty-Nine Steps and Foreign Correspondent. Effective…deliberate… complex.”
– Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Based on Ken Follett’s best-seller, Eye of the Needle (1981) is a moody thriller set during the waning days of World War II and focusing on a ruthless Nazi spy (Donald Sutherland) operating covertly in England. Discovering vital information about the upcoming D-Day invasion, he plots a return to Germany, only to be stranded on an island off the coast of Scotland; there, his icy resolve is disturbed by an unexpected relationship with a woman (Kate Nelligan) living in isolation with her bitter disabled husband (Christopher Cazenove). Directed by Richard Marquand (Return of the Jedi), and featuring a superlative score by the legendary Miklós Rózsa, available on this Twilight Time release as an isolated track.

LANGUAGE: English
VIDEO: 1080p High Definition / 1.85:1
AUDIO: English 1.0 DTS-HD MA
SUBTITLES: English SDH
1981 / Color
112 MINUTES
RATED R

Special Features: Isolated Score Track / Audio Commentary with Music Historian Jon Burlingame and Film Historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman / Original Theatrical Trailer

Limited Edition of 3,000 Units

  
Reviews and Comments: (1)
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Posted by Mark Turner on August 11, 2017 1:50 AM
Author Ken Follett was making a name for himself long before the current crop of spy thriller authors came along. Along with a few other writers he took on the job of creating a believable world of spies in the tradition of Ian Fleming’s James Bond and the sales of their books led to those being created today. In 1976 he wrote the novel EYE OF THE NEEDLE and in 1981 it was made into a feature film. The movie didn’t do amazing box office but it did offer a well thought out slow burn spy thriller that takes place in WWII.

It’s shortly before D-Day and preparations are in order to launch an attack against Germany by the allied forces. Germany has been doing their best to infiltrate England and the find out when the attack will come and where it will come from. Inserted into the country their top spy, a ruthless assassin and sociopath, has discovered that a fake mockup has been created to divert the Germans. As he is about to be caught he escapes to a remote island and now must wait to be picked up by a U-boat.

The spy is Heinrich Faber (Donald Sutherland), known as “The Needle” because of his weapon of choice for assassination is a stiletto. When he arrives at the island he meets its only inhabitants, the disabled man of the house David (Christopher Cazenove), his wife Lucy (Kate Nelligan) and their young son Joe. Counting on their hospitality he stays with them a few days. In that short amount of time a romance between Faber and Lucy unfolds, two lonely people for different reasons brought together.

For Faber his life is one of solitude and the opportunity for a connection to another human being is rare at best. For Lucy we have a woman whose husband has withdrawn from the world due to the injury that left him disabled. We are presented with two people who should not have the affair that they do but because of the situations life has left them in they find one another.

David becomes suspicious of Faber and looks into just who he is and what he has with him. The result of his investigation is murder at the hands of Faber. When Lucy realizes what is going on it is left to her to stop this spy from contacted his U-boat and taking information with him that will cause England to lose the war. With her life and that of her young son in the way will she be up to the task at hand? And will the romance that came between the two prevent either from doing what they must?

The movie is a slow burn, a thriller that unspools the story at a pace that offers more story than action. It takes its time to place the characters in the right place, to maneuver them into emotional moments and to allow the viewer to get to know each of them before events occur. We understand why David is bitter, why Lucy is lonely and why Faber is determined to complete his mission. Life is messy and the intersecting of these three people shows how unpredictable it can be.

Director Richard Marquand has done a fantastic job of creating both the remote location of the small island with the remote feelings on hand in the characters. It is this combination that pulls us in to wonder what will happen, to hope for the best and to fear the worst. The fact that Faber at any moment could just kill all three people, including a young child, makes him one of the more dangerous characters seen on film. And yet we understand why Lucy is drawn to him due to her circumstances.

All of the actors involved give it their best. It isn’t a splashy movie but a subtle one and their performances match that subtlety. For me this was the second film I’d seen Nelligan in, the first being DRACULA. She does a great job here but for some reason never made it to mega-star status. She should have. Sutherland shows that his acting chops were not a fluke in and that he is incredibly talented.

As I said the movie did respectable business but was not a smash hit. Fortunately we have the chance to see it in pristine condition with this release from Twilight Time. The odds of finding a better looking edition of this movie are unlikely. Extras include an isolated score track, audio commentary with music historian Jon Burlingame and film historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman and the original theatrical trailer. As with all Twilight Time editions this one is limited to just 3,000 copies so fans will want to make sure they pick one up before they are gone.

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