McVicar (1980)

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Released 11-Oct-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1980
Running Time 107:41
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (55:37) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Tom Clegg

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Roger Daltrey
Adam Faith
Cheryl Campbell
Billy Murray
Georgina Hale
Steven Berkoff
Brian Hall
Peter Jonfield
Matthew Scurfield
Leonard Gregory
Joe Turner
Jeremy Blake
Terence Stuart
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Russ Ballard
Billy Nicholls
Jeff Wayne

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I am a fan of the music of The Who. What's that got to do with anything, I hear you scream...Well, this film was produced by The Who Films Inc and they are all credited as musical consultants. Also, their lead singer, Roger Daltrey, stars in the film as John McVicar, the McVicar of the title. So, that would make this a rock star vanity project then, nothing more than an extended video clip? No, in fact this is a serious film of quite good quality, based around a very good performance by Daltrey.

    John McVicar is a real person, a small-time violent criminal in England who was involved in a break-out from an English prison. He wrote a book about his life, and this film is based on that book. He also co-wrote the screenplay. At the beginning of the film, it indicates that the prison break-out is factual but some of the other characters and situations were fictionalised. The story begins with McVicar out on parole part way through an 8 year jail sentence. When he is caught committing another crime , he is sentenced to another 15 years on top of the 8, meaning he will probably be in jail for more than 20 years. He is transferred to another higher security jail, becoming involved in various misdemeanours and riots. One recognisable face amongst the other prisoners is Brian Hall (Terry the chef from Fawlty Towers) as Terry Stokes.

    Becoming sick of their incarceration, McVicar and another prisoner Wally Probyn (Adam Faith, 60s pop idol), devise a way to tunnel out of the jail. After much work, and daily risk of exposure, they manage to get out onto the roof of the prison. From there McVicar escapes and goes on the run. The rest of the film follows his attempts to evade recapture.

    The film is a fairly straightforward telling of the story but is interesting and entertaining nonetheless. The soundtrack is punctuated with songs sung by Roger Daltrey, but not actually credited to The Who, although the style is quite similar. There is a lot of swearing in this film and anyone who has difficulty with the 'c' word should avoid it, as it appears regularly.

    So, a low-key but entertaining true story of an English prison break featuring Roger Daltrey both as an actor and a singer. Certainly of interest to fans of The Who.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is good.

    The feature is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is most likely the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. There was some light grain throughout. The shadow detail was pretty good for a film of this age, and most dark scenes included the expected level of detail.

    The colour was generally good, however the movie had quite a dull colour scheme due to the subject matter and the north England locations. Also, there were some scenes such as at 100:00 where light colours included some colour bleeding.

    There were a few artefacts to be seen including occasional specks, some moire on a TV screen at 15:53, some minor edge enhancement and some minor aliasing such as at 6:29 on a grille, 8:17 on a wire roof, 97:15 on a jacket and 107:20 on a suit. I would not consider any of these artefacts to be particularly distracting.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read but a little small.

    The layer change occurs at 55:37 and is well hidden.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is very good and in the original stereo.

    This DVD contains one audio option, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was generally clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync, although the subtitles occasionally came in handy, especially for some difficult accents.

    The songs used in this film are by Russ Ballard, Billy Nicholls & Jeff Wayne and are performed by Roger Daltrey in most cases. As I mentioned earlier they are not credited to The Who, however, the style is quite similar. The songs come up very well from a sound quality perspective.

    The surround speakers were not used.

    The subwoofer added bass to the music, but this is a result of my amp's bass management.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use




    The menu included stills, and the ability to select scenes and subtitles.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    To date, this film has only been released in Region 4.


    A entertaining and reasonably well made film based on the life of John McVicar, an English criminal starring Roger Daltrey, lead singer of The Who.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is good.

    The disc has no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, November 15, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

Other Reviews NONE
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