Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Gregory Peck, Anne Heywood, Arthur Hill, Alan Dobie, Conrad Yama
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
When Nobel-winning scientist Hathaway (Peck) receives a strange letter, the last place he expects it to lead him is into Communist China â?" as a spy! Sent to decode a formula that could save millions, Hathaway has no idea... more »
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Seen an advance copy of this DVD and it's incredible
Darren Harrison | Washington D.C. | 11/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Arriving on DVD for the first time on Nov. 7 is the Gregory Peck movie "The Chairman." In it Peck plays a scientist who must travel to China to steal a top-secret formula. It's a fast-paced movie that manages to successfully balance post-cultural Revolution China politics, and the cultural divide between East and the West. The final moments as Peck's character attempts to flee over the Chinese border with Russia are filled with tension and excitement.
This release includes a rather unusual special feature. Running at 17:32 is a mini-version of the movie using deleted and alternate scenes. It's actually very well done and managed to touch on the majority of key plot points from the full running time version of 98 minutes.
There are also two deleted scenes taken from the International version of the movie. Neither adds much to the overall movie and parents should beware, the second deleted scene contains female nudity.
Arguably the lead special feature for "The Chairman" is an audio commentary conducted by film historians Eddie Friedfeld and Lee Pfeiffer. The two are obviously good friends (both being professors at NYU) and the commentary is very academic in tone, but still engaging. They begin by framing the movie in the context of the Cold War. Other key points in the commentary include discussions on the symbolism in the movie and standards of the spy genre. Included is a discussion of geopolitics specifically the tension between Russia and China as "The Chairman" sees the United States and Soviet Union join forces against the Chinese. They also commend the Jerry Goldsmith score and Pfeiffer (a well known and respected 007 fan) comments how the actress playing the Chinese stewardesses on the plane who just happens to be a spy also played a stewardess on a plane who just happened to be a spy in 1964's "Goldfinger."
These Nov. 7 releases from Fox contains trailers for several other movies, of varying quality. The trailers for "The Chairman" for example include not just the one for the feature, but also for "Our Man Flint," "In Like Flint," "The Quiller Memorandum," "Deadfall," "The Magus" and "Peeper." As might be expected however the trailers do show their age, and not always gracefully.
Also included is a quite in-depth collectible booklet.
Kaleidoscopic Cold War Epic
gobirds2 | New England | 01/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well it is not entirely an epic but it certainly is bizarre. This film has great potential as a somewhat conventional spy film with a few experimental eavesdropping gadgets thrown in for good measure. Yet director J. Lee Thompson puts his own distinctive stamp on it making it a frenzied and often unsettling kaleidoscopic affair. It is taut, suspenseful and often defies credibility and that is what makes it so much fun and very entertaining. Gregory Peck and Arthur Hill are as stoic as ever and it is good to see actress Anne Heywood show up in this film. One of the highlights of this film is Jerry Goldsmith's incredible score. It is amazing how he intuitively puts such great effort at times into modest production's that aspire or beg for some added dimension to enhance the film. In all this is a very interesting and entertaining look at China during the height of the Cold War era. Great packaging on this DVD by the way.
Not exactly a bomb but certainly no classic
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 12/11/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Chairman (aka The Most Dangerous Man in the World) starts off with an amazing photomontage title sequence by Paul Brown Constable dealing with overpopulation and the rise of the Red Guard in Mao's China accompanied by the increasingly strident tones of Jerry Goldsmith's superb score that sets the scene for a much better film than you get. Any hope of a serious political thriller is quickly lost as soon as Arthur Hill's cycloptic general turns up and it turns out the bug implanted in Gregory Peck's skull is also a bomb. What you get instead is a fairly glossy, fashionably cynical shot-on-location thriller that briefly touches on humanistic issues in a couple of scenes before getting back to the spy stuff that's neither James Bond nor John Le Carre but pure Hollywood hokum in the 60s mould. Ironically, although the producers harboured the notion of filming in China in a monumental fit of delusion, it was the Hong Kong and Taiwanese authorities that really objected to the subject matter (as either too defamatory or deferential to Mao as the prevailing mood would have it). J. Lee Thompson's direction is occasionally visually ambitious, but seems to have suffered in the editing, with several very obvious edits to alternate takes interrupting what were clearly intended as continuous camera moves. It's a shame that Fox's DVD is the US version, relegating the racier scenes to the extra features - who'd have thought there'd ever be a movie with Gregory Peck having his trousers undone by a naked woman on her knees?
Fox have done an excellent job on this DVD - aside from a good 2.35:1 transfer and trailer, it also includes two alternate scenes and a 17-minute promotional cutdown of the feature (clearly put together before the climax was shot and featuring Burt Kwouk's own voice - in the feature he's dubbed by Robert Rietty) that includes some deleted footage. There's also a historical audio commentary that could have benefitted from a little more time in the archives and a selection of trailers for other recent Fox titles such as The Quiller Memorandum, the Flint films and Deadfall."
Curious Film - Long Unavailable
EddieLove | NYC, USA | 10/07/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I can't think of another thriller where a living world leader was depicted onscreen, not using stock footage like Day of the Jackal or Hennessey, but by an actor. Perhaps that's why this film vanished for decades. (Or that may have been due to the hero's humanist impulses.) In any event, this is still worth watching and the picture looks great on the DVD.
The commentary track is the same guys as several of these 60s era thrillers and they do a good job. (Although a fair amount of time is taken up instructing us that Mao was a bad guy.) But they also seem to think the picture's scenes set in China are documentary evidence of the country at the time and not, in fact a Western entertainment's take on it. (As they tell us themselves -- some of this footage was shot in Scotland!)