The Thief

( 1 )

Overview

The picture quality on this DVD is so sharp, so rich, and so beautifully defined, that it's of demonstration quality -- what makes that even more startling is that The Thief is a release from the Wade Williams Collection, which, while it often has very good materials, seldom is capable of matching the preservation standards of, say, Warner Bros. or MGM/UA on their best-preserved films. Here they've done it, and the result is a treat for the eyes, and as fine a looking DVD as this reviewer has ever seen. All of ...
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Overview

The picture quality on this DVD is so sharp, so rich, and so beautifully defined, that it's of demonstration quality -- what makes that even more startling is that The Thief is a release from the Wade Williams Collection, which, while it often has very good materials, seldom is capable of matching the preservation standards of, say, Warner Bros. or MGM/UA on their best-preserved films. Here they've done it, and the result is a treat for the eyes, and as fine a looking DVD as this reviewer has ever seen. All of that is important, because The Thief is, essentially, a silent film -- well, not exactly; more properly, it's a sound film missing the one key ingredient that has been a part of virtually every feature film since 1929: dialogue. The viewer will hear every sound that they can hear in any other movie, except the human voice speaking. It's strange how quickly one gets used to this, incidentally -- after the first five minutes, it no longer seems so artificial, and after 20 minutes dialogue seems totally unnecessary. But without voices, any presentation of the movie has to work on all of the cylinders that it has, because it's missing that one key story-telling device. Even better, the soundtrack, including Herschel Burke Gilbert's Oscar-nominated score, is mastered cleanly, crisply, and at a better than decent volume -- the scene 20 minutes in when the compromised scientist (Ray Milland) begins to feel squeezed, the piano that joins the orchestra sounds close and loud; the fugue-like passage on the strings and horns, later joined by the brass, that comes in 48 minutes into the picture, as Milland's character leaves Washington, come off like a chamber orchestra CD playing on your sound system; ringing phones pierce the night and the silence; and every click of a lock or turn of a doorknob is presented loud and clear. This presentation looks and sounds a lot better than The Thief did in a showing at New York's Film Forum some six years or so ago, and it's well worth the $24.95 list prince to own it. The 10 chapter markers are adequate, and there are no special features -- the movie starts automatically, and the menu must be accessed manually.
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Special Features

Scene selections
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
The Thief is built on a gimmick - that the entire film is told sans dialogue - and one's reaction to it will likely depend on how interested one is in that gimmick. There's a justification for taking this approach, beyond the challenge of telling a film without dialogue: the main character is, in effect, isolated and incapable of actual communication. Because of the situation in which he finds himself, there is no one whom he can totally trust, no one to whom he can reveal himself - in other words, literally no one to whom he can talk, and filming the picture without dialogue metaphorically emphasizes this. Still, even with that justification, it is still a gimmick, and one must give director/co-writer Russell Rouse credit for taking up this challenge and for doing such an excellent job of meeting it. Rouse brilliantly finds ways of telling the story without sacrificing any tension, suspense, or emotional impact. working with cinematographer Sam Leavitt, whose noir-ish camerawork is nothing short of a marvel, he shapes and tells the story in a compelling and gripping manner. Yet, the end result is not totally satisfying: without dialogue, motivations and backstory remain murky and the characters undeveloped. Also, at times, the viewer's attention becomes focused more on "how will he work this part without dialogue" rather than on the story itself. Finally, when all is said and done, the story itself is none too original; it's been done before in many other spy films. Rouse is extremely fortunate to have Ray Milland as his star, for his performance is sensational; the depths that he reveals and the nuances he finds are a sheer delight. And Herschel Burke Gilbert's dramatic score is of inestimable help in telling the story.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/19/2002
  • UPC: 014381870626
  • Original Release: 1952
  • Rating:

  • Source: Image Entertainment
  • Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1)
  • Presentation: Black & White / Dolby 5.1 / Mono
  • Sound: Dolby Digital, monaural
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:26:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ray Milland Allan Fields
Rita Gam The Girl
Martin Gabel Mr. Bleek
Harry Bronson Harris
John McKutcheon Dr. Linstrum
Rex O'Malley Beal
Rita Vale Miss Philips
Joe Conlin Walters
Technical Credits
Russell Rouse Director, Screenwriter
Leon Chooluck Asst. Director
Maria P. Donovan Costumes/Costume Designer
Herschel Burke Gilbert Score Composer
Clarence Greene Producer, Screenwriter
Sam Leavitt Cinematographer
Harry M. Popkin Executive Producer
Chester Schaeffer Editor
Murray Waite Set Decoration/Design
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Scene Selections
1. Main Title; The Drop [6:33]
2. A Film Can to Cairo [9:05]
3. Too Close for Comfort [17:52]
4. The Big Squeeze [10:27]
5. Western Union [5:50]
6. Waiting for a Signal [15:52]
7. Three Books Tied With String [11:48]
8. On the Brink [2:51]
9. A Change of Heart [5:32]
10. End Credits [:27]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Also Available From Image Entertainment
      Brooklyn Gorilla
      She Demons
      Monster From Green Hill
      The Flying Saucer
      The Crawling Eye
   Begin Feature
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2010

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