Review: A Cold War Spy Collection: The Glory Boys & The Contract DVD

STUDIO: Acorn Media | DIRECTOR: Michael Ferguson / Ian Toynton | CAST: Rod Steiger, Anthony Perkins, Joanna Lumley / Kevin McNally, Bernard Hepton, James Faulkner
RELEASE DATE: 5/25/2010 | PRICE: DVD $29.96
BONUSES: cast and author bios
SPECS: NR | 308 min. | Thriller | 4:3 fullscreen | Dolby Digital | no subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Gerald Seymour

Gerald Seymour

The 1980s revival was in full swing in 2010 — The A-Team movie, for example — and Acorn Media contributed to the wave by culling the best from Britain’s television archives, including a pair of solid movies based on the Cold War-themed spy novels of journalist-turned-novelist Gerald Seymour: The Glory Boys (1984) and The Contract (1988).

Broadcast in three parts in the U.S. a year or so after its British premiere, The Glory Boys stars Rod Steiger (In the Heat of the Night) as a Israeli nuclear scientist visiting London and Anthony Perkins (Psycho) as a former British agent brought out of retirement to protect Steiger from the joint Palestinian-IRA hit squad that wants him dead. The more well-known and action-oriented film of the two, The Glory Boys offers a pair of fine performances by its leading men and some genuine excitement after some initial slow-going.

There’s more of a “Cold War” feel in The Contract. This movie finds a retired British intelligence officer (Kevin McNally) called back into service to assist in the defection of a Soviet missile designer (Hans Canineberg) to the West after the Brits accidentally help the wrong man escape. Ultimately involving the defection of an entire family — the members of which aren’t entirely sure they want to betray their country — The Contract is the more tense and emotionally driven of the two films.

Both The Contract and The Glory Boys were broadcast as mini-series in their native England, but they play adequately as slightly overlong movies about a time that was on the verge of crumbling — just as the Berlin Wall did in the fall of 1989.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.