The Mind Benders (1963)
|Year Of Production||1963|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Basil Dearden|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.66:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.66:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Professor Sharpey is en route to a lecture when he mysteriously jumps from the train to his death. His associate Hart (Michael Bryant) is unable to prevent his leap of death despite a glaring continuity error (after the jump, the body is on the wrong side of the tracks). Hart discovers that Sharpey's briefcase contains a considerable sum of money, and he has been followed by Major Hall of MI5 (John Clements), who suspects Sharpey of selling secrets to the enemy.
It turns out that Sharpey and his two associates had been working on 'isolation' experiments, what we would now call sensory deprivation. Both of his associates, Hart and Longman (Dirk Bogarde), had left the project when they felt the effects of long-term isolation. In order to demonstrate that Sharpey was behaving erratically due to the experiment and not because he was a traitor, Longman agrees to undertake the isolation again. After eight hours Hall recognises Longman's behaviour as that of a subject who has been prepared for brainwashing, and he persuades a reluctant Hart to brainwash Longman, a decision that will have far-reaching effects on Longman and his relationship with his wife Oonagh (Mary Ure).
This is an intelligent film about what was then a new subject, and the opening credits refer to recent experimentation in the field as being the basis for the screenplay. While this is essentially a science fiction film, it differs from a lot of films in this genre at the time in using the science fiction as the basis for an emotional story, much like a lot of science fictional writings of the 1960s. The experiments are shown in great detail, but the meat of the story is the relationship between the characters, particularly Longman and his wife. The film actually comes across as quite believable, thanks to good performances from the ensemble cast (also including Geoffrey Keen, Wendy Craig and a young Edward Fox), a sensible script by James Kennaway and undemonstrative direction from Basil Dearden.
This is a fascinating film of its era, and is worth the cost of the disc alone. It comes paired with And Soon the Darkness on the same disc, which is reviewed separately.
The film is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
This is a nicely sharp black and white transfer with a good level of detail. The print material looks like it was in good condition, possibly a first generation print. Contrast and shadow detail are fine. Blacks and whites are generally pure, though this could not be said of the several pieces of inserted stock footage, where blacks tend to have a white sheen to them.
There are a few mild instances of aliasing, and edge enhancement is visible throughout, for example at 6:42 and 7:12. Otherwise the transfer is free of film to video or MPEG artefacts.
There are numerous small white spots and flecks visible, but I did not find myself overly distracted by them.
No subtitles are provided.
The film is contained wholly on one layer of this dual-layer disc, with the other feature on the other layer.
The sole audio track is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.
This is a very good audio transfer, with clear dialogue, no noticeable hiss or distortion, and relatively lifelike sounds (taking into account the age of the original mono recording). It is certainly all that the film needs to be presented effectively.
The music score is by Georges Auric, the French composer of Les Six who wrote a lot of film scores. This is a fine score, with non-intrusive music complementing the action and adding to the tension. There is also a brief excerpt of the finale of Brahms' Symphony No. 1 presumably conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent as is mentioned in the film.
|Surround Channel Use|
No extras, apart from the additional feature.
The only extra on the US Region 1 release from Anchor Bay is an original trailer. Not enough in my opinion to sway the potential purchaser.
An interesting and mostly engrossing film.
The video quality is good.
The audio quality is good.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||Main: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175|