The Man in the Glass Booth (1975)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 13-Apr-2005

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Interviews-Crew-Arthur Hiller (Director)
Featurette-Interview With Richard Pena (Director Of NYFF)
Trailer-American Film Theatre Trailer Gallery (10)
Notes-AFT Cinebill For The Man In The Glass Booth
Gallery-Photo-Stills
Gallery-Poster-2
Notes
Featurette-A Filmed Message From Producer Ely Landau
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 111:29 (Case: 117)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Arthur Hiller
Studio
Distributor
3DD
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Maximilian Schell
Lois Nettleton
Lawrence Pressman
Luther Adler
Lloyd Bochner
Robert H. Harris
Henry Brown
Norbert Schiller
Berry Kroeger
Leonardo Cimino
Connie Sawyer
Leonidas Ossetynski
David Nash
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Arthur Goldman (Maximilian Schell) is a wealthy New York businessman with an apartment overlooking Central Park. A Jew and survivor of the Nazi death camps, he is still haunted by visions he sees through his telescope of his aged father and an SS officer. The camp he was incarcerated in was run by Colonel Karl Adolf Dorff, who he says murdered his father. He also sees a blue Mercedes in the street, which he believes hides someone who is spying on him. His staff are nonplussed, especially his personal assistant Charlie (Lawrence Pressman), also a Jew. Goldman also spends much of his time amusing himself at his staff's expense, with his over-the-top Jewish style of humour.

    About halfway through the film things change dramatically. His home is invaded by Israeli secret agents who accuse him of being Dorff. They drug him and kidnap him to Israel, where he is put on trial for crimes against humanity. He is put in a glass booth for his protection, hence the title of the film. But is Goldman really Dorff?

    Another entry in the American Film Theater series, this seems to have been the only one which received a general cinema release, the other films being by subscription only, at least in America. This allowed Maximilian Schell to be nominated for an Oscar, though he did not win. The film was based on a 1967 play by Robert Shaw, the Irish actor (From Russia With Love, Jaws) who was also (though less widely) known as a writer. The story, or at least the second half of it, is obviously based on the story of Adolf Eichmann, kidnapped and tried by Israel in the early 1960s. The screenplay was penned by Edward Anhalt, and because of tampering with the play, Shaw requested his name not appear in the credits. Director Arthur Hiller wanted the intellectual play to have more emotion in it, which Anhalt duly provided, ruffling Shaw's feathers. Hiller claims after seeing the film Shaw withdrew his objections to the changes and wanted his name reinstated, but he is no longer around to confirm this. In any case, the point of the AFT was to preserve significant stage productions on film and rewriting the play is in direct opposition to that.

    While the subject matter sounds like it would make for an interesting film, it is derailed by several factors. Firstly, the decision to change the play and make it more emotional is unsuccessful, with the film now falling somewhere between the stools of an intellectual thriller and what purports to be an emotional Passion Play. Worse though is the performance of Maximilian Schell. He hams it up badly as both the Jewish caricature Goldman and the unrepentant Nazi Dorff, chewing up the scenery and engulfing his fellow actors in the process. It is a dismal performance which makes the character neither interesting nor sympathetic. The original stage play had Donald Pleasance in the role, and I for one think the film would have been a lot better had he been cast in it, with his ability to play subtly and ambiguously evil characters. Also in the cast are Lois Nettleton as the Israeli prosecutor, Luther Adler as the presiding judge and Lloyd Bochner as a psychiatrist.

    It also doesn't help matters that the Israeli courtroom looks like a film set, not like a real courtroom. This is one case where the limited budget of the series shows through. This is not one of the best in this series and seems quite dated.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio was 1.85:1.

    The source material was not in the best of condition, though it is better than the previous release in this series that I reviewed (Butley). The transfer is reasonable, not very sharp but better than VHS. There is enough detail for everything happening in the film to be clear. Colour is a little washed out for my liking.

    There are compression artefacts resulting in chroma noise and low level noise throughout. What should be solid backgrounds seem to pulse with compression artefacts. There are some film artefacts as well, mainly small flecks though occasional larger damage is visible. The frame is quite jumpy at times.

    While the disc is dual-layered, the film is contained wholly on one layer so there is no layer change. There are, as in all of the releases in this series, no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, reflecting the original audio mix.

    The audio is disappointing. There is audible hiss and distortion throughout. Much of this is distortion is sibilance. Often the end of lines seem clipped, which seems to be a result of faulty ADR work. I get the impression a lot of the film was post-synched, though lip sync is very good. There are also numerous pops and dropouts, for example at 25:30, 39:39 and 65:23. A line of dialogue has been replaced at 72:34.

    Otherwise, dialogue is sufficiently clear to enable most of the lines to be intelligible, though sometimes the rapid delivery (and Schell's yelling) make some words unclear. The audio level is low, so the volume needs to be cranked up.

    There is no music score, though we do hear a brief gramophone recording of a German marching song.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    The menu is animated with a brief snippet from the film, with some music that while it doesn't appear in the film seems to be the theme for the DVD series.

Interviews-Crew-Arthur Hiller (Director) (22:46)

    This interview with the director allows him to talk about how he became involved in the making of the film and the changes he made to the original story, as well as some artistic decisions made.

Featurette-Interview With Richard Peņa (Director Of NYFF) (20:42)

    This interview is not specifically about this film but was recorded in conjunction with a season of the AFT at the Lincoln Centre. He obviously knows the films well, as he has some sensible things to say about them and the project in general.

Trailer-American Film Theatre Trailer Gallery (25:46)

    Trailers for 10 of the films, in generally poor condition.

Notes-AFT Cinebill For The Man In The Glass Booth

    This comes from what was in effect a playbill for subscribers to the original screenings. It includes a note from the director and an account of the trial of Adolf Eichmann.

Gallery-Photo-Stills

    A handful of production stills.

Gallery-Poster

    A single screen showing two posters for the film.

Notes

    An article by Michael Feingold, critic from The Village Voice, about Robert Shaw's career. It contains one factual inaccuracy, stating that Shaw's wife Mary Ure died from cancer. She in fact died from a combination of barbiturates and whiskey, either accidentally or deliberately on the disastrous opening night of a play.

Featurette-A Filmed Message From Producer Ely Landau (6:13)

    Basically a filmed message to the subscribers to the series, looking back at the first season and attempting to drum up interest in renewals.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 release appears to be identical to both the US Region 1 and the UK Region 2.

Summary

    A flawed film which may be of some interest regardless.

    The video quality is average.

    The audio is disappointing.

    A reasonable extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
You've got it pegged - Swany