Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 24th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: UK, 1963
Director: Ken Hughes
Writer: Ken Hughes (from his TV-play “Sammy”)
Cast: Anthony Newley, Julia Foster, Robert Stephens, Warren Mitchell, Roy Kinnear, Harry Baird, June Cunningham
BluRay released: November 14th, 2016
Approximate running time: 107 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.75:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 12 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Studiocanal
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £22.99 (UK)
The well-constructed narrative follows the exploits of Sammy Lee whose gambling addiction puts him in harm’s way. The arch of this film’s narrative follows Sammy over course of five hours as he tries to raise the money he needs to keep the thugs the bookie sent after him from beating him to a pulp. Without giving away more about the point, the film’s ending is superbly realized.
Besides the well-defined main character, another strength of this film is the way its uses its locations. The film’s visuals have a Film Noir like quality and they perfectly capture the essence of Sammy Lee’s World. Key moments include, a scene where Sammy Lee is first confronted by the thugs sent to teach him a lesson and the scene where Sammy Lee reconnects with a woman from his past.
Performance wise the entire cast are all very good in their respective roles. With this film’s standout performance being Anthony Newley (David Lean’s Oliver Twist, Doctor Dolittle) who delivers a captivating performance in the role of Sammy Lee. Another performance of note includes, Julia Foster (The Girl-Getters, Lewis Gilbert’s Alfie) in the role of Patsy, the woman from Sammy Lee’s past who gets a job at the strip tease bar he works at. She delivers a remarkable performance for a character that in lesser hands might have had the resonance. Overall The Small World of Sammy Lee is an extraordinary melodrama that has languished in obscurity for far too long.
The Small World of Sammy Lee comes on a 50 GB dual layer (39 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The transfer for this release has been sourced from a brand new 2k restoration. The source use for this transfer looks excellent, details look crisp, black and contrast levels remain solid throughout. Grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English and removable English SDH subtitles have also been included. Dialog is always clear, everything sounds balanced and there are no issues with distortion or background noise. Range and depth there are no issues and the film’s score sounds robust throughout.
Extras for this release include, a locations featurette with film historian Richard Dacre (14 minutes 57 seconds), an interview with actress Julia Foster (9 minutes 10 seconds) and an interview with filmmaker Mike Hodges (10 minutes 30 seconds).
Topics discussed in the interview with Julia Foster include, her audition, developing her character, Ken Hughes and her thoughts about working with him, Anthony Newley, his performance and her thoughts about the character Sammy Lee and how this film was an important stepping stone for her career.
Topics discussed in the interview with Mike Hodges include, the importance of the locations featured in the film and how the locations have changed since this film was made, Ken Hughes, Anthony Newley and his thoughts about the film.
Overall The Small World of Sammy Lee gets a solid release from StudioCanal.
Note: This film is also being released by Studiocanal on DVD.