Search - Van der Valk Mysteries, Set 1 on DVD

Van der Valk Mysteries, Set 1
Van der Valk Mysteries Set 1
Actor: Barry Foster
Genres: Television, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2009     5hr 6min


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Movie Details

Actor: Barry Foster
Genres: Television, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Drama, Classic TV, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Acorn Media
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen
DVD Release Date: 10/06/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 5hr 6min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Cult Classic Finally Released on DVD
Stephanie DePue | Carolina Beach, NC USA | 08/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Van Der Valk,"a classic cult British mystery television series, set on the streets of Amsterdam in the early 1970's, has finally been released on DVD. The series, a police procedural that stars Barry Foster (Bob Rusk in Alfred Hitchcock's "Frenzy,"Alfred Hitchcock The Masterpiece Collection - Frenzy / Family Plot / AFI Salute to Alfred Hitchcock plus other extras Bonus Disc (DVD);Smiley's People, Ryan's Daughter , and The Sweeney - The Complete First Series), plays the title character, based on the novels of Edgar Award-winning British mystery author Nicolas Freeling. The entertainment was made by Thames Television for Britain's ITV (Independent Television stations); debuted in the U.K. in 1972, and ran for five seasons. It was broadcast in the United States on PBS (Public Television stations) in the 1990s. Set 1 is a 2 DVD box set that runs approximately 306 minutes; it includes all six episodes from Series 1 and an interview with the series' creator, Freeling. Unfortunately, as the cast speaks in a mixture of accents, some Dutch, some English, and Foster in best cockney, playing his character as one of the lads, the production does not offer subtitles.

The series was shot largely on location in the charming old city of Amsterdam, all cobblestones and canals; however, neither the visual nor the sound quality is up to what we might expect today. Production values are also lower than we might expect with a similar entertainment today - and there are no guest stars. The dramas are gritty, and make full use of their setting, the peculiarities of the Dutch character, and their time. Van Der Valk smokes like a chimney, drinks hard --doing both in the actual station house -- and is out and about, driving a police car after having had a few drinks, with, of course, no seat belts. It's definitely the 1970's, grass cloth walls, caftans, KLM calendars wherever you look, all brown outfits: the real 1970s, not the Life on Mars: The Complete Series 1970s.

The catchy theme song by Dutchman Jack Trombey was commercially released as "Eye Level:" it became a Top 40 Hit, and sold millions of copies worldwide. To my ear, it strongly echoes the music you could then hear in Amsterdam, played by organs in the streets: I actually visited that city twice in the late 60's, early 70's, during the years of my English exile, and can still hear the notes.

Foster portrays Van Der Valk in a counter-intuitive way: he's not the character we would expect from the Dutch stereotypes we carry, such as phlegmatic, pragmatic: his policeman is excitable, free-wheeling, and rebellious. The policeman has, in fact, been called a Dutch "Columbo." However, the author Freeling (born Nicolas Davidson in London, England in 1927), had Dutch-German blood through his mother, and lived most of his life in continental Europe, in France; he also frequently went to Amsterdam to research its goings on, so let's assume he knew what he was doing. He published 37 books in all, and won the three most prestigious mystery writers awards, the Edgar of the Mystery Writers of America; the Gold Dagger of the Crime Writers' Association, and France's Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere. Unfortunately for us all, he grew tired of his Dutch creation, and killed Van Der Valk off, just as this series was airing, in 1972.

The episodes are:
1. One Herring's Not Enough. A sculptor/art school teacher walks in to confess killing his wife and her young lover, but there's no sign of such a crime.
2. Destroying Angel. An unknown man living above a seedy bar is poisoned to death. Commisaris Van Der Valk considers it a woman's crime, and suspects one of the sex workers in the brothel next door.
3. Blue Notes. A world-famous Dutch violinist returns to Amsterdam for a rare performance. Someone smashes his Stradivarius, and then he ends up dead.
4. Elected Silence. The daughter of a controversial right-wing journalist disappears; where's the ransom note. What's going on?
5. Thicker than Water. A well-to-do young Englishman shows up dead in an Amsterdam canal, and his powerful mother doesn't seem to care. The dead man's trail leads Van Der Valk through the city's seamiest gay, transvestite, and sado-masochistic bars.
6. The Adventurer. A fatal accident; the dead man, a Lebanese, is carrying a gun and a picture of an anonymous local stonemason. The commisaris is troubled.

Now listen, I initially saw this series during the years of my English exile; it was great company for me. And I loved it: and I loved the underlying Freeling books. I believe I read every one of them, up to the 1972 work in which the author killed off his best-loved character. So don't try to argue with my opinion on this.
Great series finally gets its due
Kenneth M. Pizzi | San Mateo, CA United States | 09/30/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Van der Valk is truly an absorbing and entertaining detective drama that featured the late talented actor Barry Foster (Alfred Hitchcock's, Frenzy) as Commissaris Piet Van Der Valk of the Amsterdam Police. With an catchy opening theme called "Eye Level," the series was not only shot on location around quaint Amsterdam and its canals, but was filled with a number of engaging stories involving murder, kidnapping, blackmail, illicit drugs, and prostitution with many elite, high-profile suspects.

Those expecting a crime drama on the order of "Mannix" or the popular UK series "The Professionals" are likely to be disappointed. Van der Valk is a detective drama similar to the popular series "Columbo" here in the US or "Bergerac" in the UK. But unlike Peter Falk's exasperating detective from the LAPD, Foster's character has a certain appeal: a cynical and hardened yet sophisticated cop with a taste for fine wines, classical music, and quoting Baudelaire.

Supporting cast is also excellent with Susan Travers as Van der Valk's wife, Arlette, and Michael Latimer as Inspector Johnny Kroon, Van der Valk's rookie detective-in-training clearly recalling the chemistry between Karl Malden and Michael Douglas in the popular "Streets of San Francisco." Fans of British television will also recognize other popular actors as guest stars such as Paul Eddington (Yes,Minister!) and Shane Briant (Hammer Films' "Straight On Till Morning").

The only disappointment with this set is that is is not the complete first season of 13 episodes--only the first six are included in this set. Like so many other classic television series on DVD, Acorn Media has decided to take a more profitable and expedient route by issuing only half of Season One. Those with multi-regional dvd players that can play PAL-encoded discs can purchase the complete series collection of Van Der Valk on Network DVD from Amazon's UK site for around $50-$60 US dollars--perhaps a more cost effective alternative."
Harold Wolf | Wells, IN United States | 09/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I was expecting that "Old Amsterdam" would be Victorian, like many British mystery series available on DVD. No so here, it's 1972 in the "Old city" portion of Amsterdam complete with narrow streets, five-story buildings just off the canal, quaint bridges, and yes, the steamy life where drugs and sex are aren't free but frequent. The series was first aired, also in 1972, so at the time it was a modern police mystery series. Now, sit back and enjoy the 70s done as finely as Delft china.

Based on novels by Nicolas Freeling which include surprise unanticipated endings much in the style of Henry James. But Henry James wrote Victorian romance. Romance is far from the activity of this section of old Amsterdam. I've been there.

Those who like the lovely street scenes of the beautiful old city, will likely pick up on a lot of Dutch art reproductions hanging on interior wall views. It seems the Dutch painter Van Gogh is the most popular. Perhaps the art master to know in 1972? You'll find Van der Valk's police investigation methods are often as crass as the inner city lowlife he searches out between the cracks in the cobblestone.

No subtitles, but hardly needed. Don't expect action like today's police tales, remember this was state-of-the-art police mystery in 1972, when manual typewriters and gray phones with wires attached were police regulation perfect.

episode (51 min. each) details:
1 One Herring's Not Enough
-----It's a confessed multiple murder minus bodies, blood, or other evidence. Yet the professing suspect offers enough suspicion for the investigation to proceed. Torpedo-cigar and beer toting Van der Valk is on the job.

2 Destroying Angel
-----A murder investigation begins prior to the victim's death. Poisioning appears possible rather than liver disease. By whom? Is the victim's brothel "home" a clue? Includes such wonderful scenes of the interior of an old Amsterdam bookstore.

3 Blue Notes
-----Piet (Pete) Van der Valk receives several blue notes suggesting a visiting violinist will be "executed", not killed. He, Piet, fails to take the threats seriously till the Stradivarius is crushed. Then follows the performer's death and the search for the "executioner" begins in earnest.

4 Elected Silence
-----An abandoned funeral hearse also contains a warning or tip of something to happen to a controversial journalist's family. The writer has a threatening tape, a missing alcoholic 19-year-old daughter, and is less than cooperative. Much is yet to be uncovered, and it gets all but a bit personal for Piet.

5 Thicker Than Water
-----A rich playboy is brought up from the muck of the canal by the dredging machine. He's found to be British, stabbed, and causing a sensation for everyone but the man's mother who could care less. Van der Valk and Inspecteur Kroom try to find out why while learning to spell t-r-a-n-s-v-e-s-t-i-t-e.

6 The Adventurer
-----The accident of a rented auto leaves one man dead and a run-away driver with a false address. The dead man carried a gun and photo of a local stone carver. the artisan is less than cooperative and concerned. Piet's instinctive police nose pushes him to discover why.

Van der Valk's wife (played by Susan Travers) is a beautiful, dead-ringer duplicate of Jaclyn Smith. She's not used nearly enough in the story. Such a waste of a petty face."
Remember, this is 70's TV!!!!
C. J. | in PA | 04/25/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I just started watching this series and liked it, however it is a little dated, after all, this was done in the seventies. But that in mind, this is quite good, I had never heard of Freeling until now, but I will now look for his books. Amsterdam just does not normally come to mind these days as a setting for a crime drama, but this is different enough to be intriguing!
Anyone that saw Barry Foster in "Frenzy" though surely got to appreciate him (or hate the character)I think I will enjoy this series and continue with it. One just has to remember, totally different from the Rock'em, Sock'em stuff of today!!!"