Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 23rd, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1973
Director: Jack Gold
Writer: Jack Gold
Cast: Elliott Gould, Trevor Howard, Joseph Bova, Edward Grover, John Lehne, James Noble, Lyndon Brook, Michael Lombard, Kay Tornborg, Joy Garrett, John Stewart
DVD released: November 23rd, 2010
Approximate running time: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Scorpion Releasing
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: An American scientist narrowly survives a deadly car crash in East Germany. After the crash he is brought to a secluded location by the Russians, who want to interrogate him. In order to do this they are forced to rebuild most of the scientists body with metal implants. When the Americans discover that the scientist is still alive. They force the Russians to release the scientist. Once in the hands of the Americans the scientist is kept under surveillance, while they look into his claim that he is who he says he is.
Who?, was written and directed by Jack Gold (The Medusa Touch). The screenplay was adapted from Algis Budrys Sci-Fi novel titled ‘Who?’. The score for Who?, was composed by John Cameron, who’s other notable scores include Psychomania and A Touch of Class. Two alternate titles that this film is also known by include Robo Man and The Man with the Steel Mask.
When looked at today, some of this film’s content feels dated. And while the Cold war between the U.S and the U.S.S.R. has long since ended. The fear that the Cold War breed is something that most viewers can identify with. On the other hand this film’s more Sci-Fi based aspects are were this film looks most dated. Most of this can be attributed to the film’s primitive special effects make-up.
The biggest difference between the novel and the film are their structures. The novel starts off from Lucas Martino’s point of view (the scientist who is turned into a mechanical man), until the latter part of the novel were the point of view is shifted towards the Soviet Union’s point of view. Also the novel explores Lucas Martino’s past more than the film does. The film takes a more linear structure that incorporates the Soviet Union’s point of view and other events from Lucas Martino’s life via flashbacks.
At the heart of this film is a story about identity. The evolution of the plot is intricately laid out in such a way that the true identity of who the mechanical man. Is not revealed until the film’s conclusion. The most enduring aspect of this film are the characters who come in contact with and were part of Lucas Martino’s life. Without them it would be difficult to gauge him since his emotions are limited once he is a mechanical man and in the flashback scenes they are done via his POV.
Even though this film does at times fall into the thriller genre. There are only a handful of scenes in which any danger presents itself. This film is more of a mystery film that is deeply rooted in character. Performance wise the cast are all very good in their respective roles with the standout performance coming from Trevor Howard (The Third Man), in the role of a Russian Colonel. Another performance of note is Elliot Gould (The Long Goodbye), in the role Sean Rogers the FBI agent given the task of determining if the mechanical man is really Lucas Martino.
Scorpion Releasing presents Who? in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. Before the film there is a disclaimer that explains that even though this transfer was sourced from the film’s original negative. There are some imperfections that are inherent to the source and that they hope that this does not detract from anyone’s viewing experience. In all this is a very good transfer that boasts strong color reproduction and details look sharp throughout. There are no problems with compression or edge enhancement.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. The audio sounds clear and balanced throughout.
Extras for this release include interview with actor Edward Grover titled ‘The Megaton Mind’ (25 minutes 30 seconds – 4:3 full frame), a scene specific audio commentary with actor Elliot Gould and a audio commentary with director Jack Gold and moderator Tony Sloman. Topics covered in the scene specific commentary with Elliot Gould include the cast, special effects and stunts. Even though some of these topics are also covered in the audio commentary with Jack Gold. These topics are explored more in depth on the audio commentary. Also the audio commentary with Jack Gold covers the more technical aspects of the production. Also included with this release are trailers for Voyager, Super Spook, Were the Boys are ’84’, Sextette, The Last Grenade, The Internecine Project, Nothing but the Night and Power Play. Overall Who? gets a solid DVD release from Scorpion Releasing.