'The Running Man: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Laurence Harvey, Lee Remick, Alan Bates, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1963) 2019 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: Rex Black (Laurence Harvey, 'Walk On The Wild Side') has successfully faked his death in a plane crash and escaped to sunny Málaga under a new identity, waiting for his wife Stella (Lee Remick, 'Anatomy Of A Murder') to arrive with £50,000 of life insurance money.
It's the start of a blissful, trouble-free new life for the couple until Stephen (Alan Bates, Gosford Park), the insurance agent in charge of investigating Rex's death, suddenly arrives in town.
Is he just holidaying in Spain, as he claims, or is he on assignment to foil Rex's scheme?
Blu-ray Verdict: Over a decade after redefining the thriller with 'The Third Man', director Carol Reed returned to the genre with 'The Running Man'.
Reuniting with that film's cinematographer Robert Krasker (BAFTA-nominated for his work here), Reed goes in the opposite direction visually, framing the twisty plot in sun-kissed widescreen color.
Sailing to the film after experiencing his own mutiny on Mutiny on the Bounty, director Carol Reed (who got $200,000 for leaving the Bounty) steps out of the Film Noir shadows with cinematographer Robert Krasker for an elegant sunset thriller.
Filmed on location, Reed and Krasker give the Black's holiday a dusty/sand appearance, which slowly grates into the movie an atmosphere of sinister mind-games behind the warm holiday snaps brightness.
Touring the side streets and towns with the trio, Reed stylishly use the cramped streets and the locals going about their daily lives to frame Rex and Maddux narrowly looking over each others shoulders.
Giving a Noir mood via opening with an extended flashback, John Mortimer (who wrote 'Buddy Lake is Missing') gives this Shelley Smith adaptation an extremely strong Patricia Highsmith flavor (minus her homoerotic overtones!)
Slithering round each other like vipers, Mortimer centers this running man on the deep mistrust between Rex and Maddux, where the smiles of the pretty boys barely hides their desire to stamp the other out, and always keeping their guard up.
Whilst the ending has an ill-fitting light atmosphere, Mortimer builds up the cracks in the Black's marriage from Rex's rogue charms, and sharply changes Stella's perspective of "holiday guest" Maddux.
Catching the eye of every man when sunbathing on her holiday, Lee Remick gives a great performance as Stella. Partners in crime with Rex, Remick makes Stella standout as the only woman in the trio with a subtle softening, from being on edge at the mere sight of Maddux, to showing warmth to both of them.
Entering as the outsider, Alan Bates relishes in making every glance or twitch of Maddux suggest that he might be about to stop the Black's in their tracks.
Playing games to keep everyone off his tracks, Laurence Harvey gives a fantastic performance as Rex, thanks to Harvey making Rex's poor attempts to hold a fake Aussie accent separate the charismatic cad, with the murky, calculating running man.
In closing, the music used throughout the film is perfect, the scenery stunning, and the acting by this fine cast is great too; though the only truly strong role belonged to Lee Remick (although Laurence Harvey was rather good too), in my humble opinion. This is a Full Screen Presentation (4:3) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via a brand new Blu-ray (1080p) HD presentation and comes with the Special Features of:
2K restoration of the film by Sony Pictures
High Definition (1080p) Blu-Ray presentation
Original uncompressed mono audio
Isolated music and effects track
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Audio commentary by Peter William Evans, author of British Film-Makers: Carol Reed
On The Trail Of The Running Man, all-new featurette with crew members such as script supervisor Angela Allen and assistant director Kits Browning
Lee Remick at the National Film Theatre, an audio-only recording of the actor's appearance at the NFT in 1970
Reversible sleeve featuring original artwork
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Barry Forshaw