Who? - Who?(Blu Ray) [Powerhouse Films - 2019]Who? Is a 1974 thriller starring Elliott Gould and Trevor Howard and directed by Jack Gold, the man most famous for directing John Hurt in the Quentin Crisp penned, The Naked Civil Servant (1975) and Aces High (1976) starring Malcolm McDowell and Christopher Plummer.
In this Cold War espionage thriller, American scientist Luca Martino (Joseph Bova) suffers life threatening injuries in a car accident whilst on a trip to East Germany. Some of the finest Doctors in Eastern Europe operate on him to save his life, however, Luca ends up more machine than man, many of his body parts are replaced with metal substitutes. At the film’s opening six months have passed and he is being returned across the border to the West, but is this man machine really Luca, or is he a spy attempting to access information about the various projects Luca has been working on for the US government?
Who? has a really great premise that doesn’t quite live up to its potential. The film’s budget is very low and Luca’s makeup/mask is atrocious, it reminds me of Woody Allen’s costume in his classic comedy Sleeper. The cast are decent, specifically Elliott Gould as FBI agent Sean Rogers who is tasked with assessing whether Luca really is who he says he is, and Trevor Howard who turns up as the East German Colonel Azarin replete with British accent, however it is Bova who steals the show with his performance, if only the costume was half as good as his acting? Who? is by no means a bad film, it’s quite enjoyable if I’m honest, it’s just that the premise deserves more. On a different note the score by John “Psychomania” Cameron is excellent and the cinematography looks fine for the most, although the colour balance seems off at times, not quite natural, and the print is not quite up to the same standard as some of the other Powerhouse releases, although to be fair the film probably looks better than it ever has. These issues aside it is still an enjoyable enough Cold War spy romp.
The disc features the usual selection of bonus material, interviews with the cast and crew, image gallery and so on, however this is augmented by a full commentary featuring director, jack Gold and a selected scenes commentary featuring Elliott Gould. There is also a really interesting piece about Algis Budrys, and his novel that the film was based on featuring Kim Newman that makes for a fascinating watch. Overall this is a fairly average film that works as an interesting curio of its time. Whilst it is not an essential release there is enough here to keep fans of this kind of cinema interested.Darren Charles