Directed by Michael Crichton, Pursuit, a 1972 made-for-TV thriller, was based on his novel Binary. A highly atmospheric story, it’s just a few days before the President of the United States is set to address the Republican national convention in San Diego. Federal agent Steven Graves (Ben Gazzara, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie) must find and apprehend James Wright (E.G. Marshall) a wealthy and dangerous radical who is suspected of having stolen sensitive government information. Concerned the government doesn’t have enough evidence to put him away, Graves asks for more time. He’s given twelve hours.
While following Wright across San Diego, Martin Sheen (The Subject Was Roses), turns up in the small role of Timothy Drew, a former army officer with a background in computers. Drew helped Wright access sensitive government information. Under further questioning, Drew admits that the information includes the necessary details for the transfer of a chemical agent, but also the psychological profile of a government agent named Graves.
The pentagon confirms that ‘binary 75/76’ is a code name for a highly lethal nerve gas, and that 500 pounds of it has been stolen. Followed to a hotel in the heart of the city, Wright has assembled a device that can launch two bombs simultaneously. After meticulously hooking the device up, Green exits the room and surrenders. Fully aware he’s being monitored, Wright than announces that the bombs are set to detonate just as the President arrives at the convention, any attempts to enter the hotel room and cut the power on the devices will simply unleash early hell on the city.
Michael Crichton directed seven films throughout his career and while most point to Coma as his best work behind the camera, it’s surprising that Pursuit doesn’t get more consideration. Watching it for the first time just a few days ago, Pursuit looks and feels relevant. A rare feat for a 1970’s television movie. Like other Crichton works, the attention to detail is impressive and the increasing tension as the clock winds down, feels authentic.
Ben Gazzara’s brilliant, and occasionally hotheaded Graves and E.G. Marshall’s dignified psychotic James Wright, are joined by a supporting cast that includes Martin Sheen, William Windom and Joseph Wiseman. The resulting drama feels all too realistic, forty-seven years after the film first aired.
Sourced from a new 2K remaster, Pursuit has been presented in 1.34:1/1080p courtesy of Kino Lorber. The transfer is truly stunning throughout, with only the smallest of issues to pick out. When the archival convention footage is used, there’s some fluctuation in density, but that’s a byproduct of the source and only lasts a few seconds. Otherwise, Depth and close-ups are strong and overall image stability is excellent. Colors are pleasing and I noticed just a couple of tiny white specks on the image. It was nothing that affected the overall viewing experience.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is straightforward but provides a clean and stable listening experience. The dialogue is clean, clear and concise throughout. Jerry Goldsmith’s score sounds fine, just don’t expect much oomph. There are no hisses, crackles, or pops to report.
English SDH subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Audio Commentary with Film Historian Lee Gambin and Artist/Writer Tristan Jones
Movie title: Pursuit (TV)
Director(s): Michael Crichton
Actor(s): Ben Gazzara, E.G. Marshall, Martin Sheen, William Windom, Joseph Wiseman, Jim McMullan
Genre: Drama, Thriller