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Bellman and True - Bellman and True(Blu Ray) [Powerhouse Films - 2019]

Released in 1987 by George Harrison’s Handmade Films, Bellman and True is the gritty, British, crime drama directed by Richard Loncraine (Brimstone and Treacle (1982) and Band of Brothers). The films stars Bernard Hill, who is most famous for his roles as Yosser Hughes in Boys from the Blackstuff and  Theoden in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This new Bluray from Powerhouse films features two different cuts of the movie, the original theatrical cut that runs for 114 minutes and the longer pre-release version that was screened at the film’s London premiere and ran for an extra 8 minutes.

Unemployed computer programmer Hiller (Bernard Hill) is hired to help bank robbers steal coded information from his former employers. He decides to take the money and run, and taking his stepson with him disappears, only to return when the money runs out. Upon his return, those he did the job for are still looking for him, mobster Salto (Richard Hope) and his henchman, Gort (Ken Bones) track them down and take them hostage, forcing Hiller to assist them in robbing the bank by disabling the alarm systems. This sets the film up nicely in a fairly typical style, however all of that is undone later on as the film takes a left field turn.

The theatrical cut of the film is disjointed and incoherent, with a lot of important exposition missing so it is really nice to see the film has been restored to its full glory, and now makes far greater sense with several key sequences restored to the print. Sadly, the new material is only available in standard definition, but it has to be said that it’s just nice to have those sequences restored and looking as good as they do. Bernard Hill is excellent as the downtrodden programmer, while Kieron O’Brien excels as his young stepson. Derek Newark is also good in his role as the Guv’nor, whilst Ken Bones makes an excellent bad guy. The film also features a tremendous electronic score from sonic wizard Colin “Full Circle” Towns.

Overall, Bellman and True is an unusual and underappreciated gem of British cinema, that must surely have now found its audience thanks to Powerhouse Films loving touch. The print looks great and whilst I mentioned that the restored sequences are only available in standard definition the drop in quality is not significant enough to detract from the viewing experience. This bluray release is limited to 3,000 copies and as well as both cuts of the film it features a wealth of bonus material including interviews with director Loncraine, star O’Brien, writer Desmond Lowden, composer Colin Towns and a cracking 32 page booklet that features loads of great facts about the film and its production. This is a really good package for a film making its first ever appearance on the bluray format.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Darren Charles
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