Blu-ray Review: The Wilby Conspiracy Kino Lorber / 1975 / 105 min / Rated PG / Feb 06, 2018

In Blu-Ray’s by Rebecca WrightLeave a Comment

Set in South Africa when Apartheid was the rule of law, The Wilby Conspiracy stars Sidney Poitier as a revolutionary, and Michael Caine as a mining engineer, on the run from the South African military police. Directed by Ralph Nelson (Lillies of the Field) the film is based on the novel of the same name by Peter Driscoll. While the movie removed many of the political themes present in the novel, it was still one of the first Hollywood productions to present an anti-apartheid message.

Newly freed after a decade in a Cape Town prison, Shack Twala is eager to get out of town. Shack’s lawyer Rina (Prunella Gee) and her lover, Jim (Michael Caine, Interstellar) suggest they drive by her house for a glass of celebratory champagne first. On the way, their car is stopped at a barricade, where Twala is ordered out of the vehicle by police because he doesn’t have a pass card. Despite Rina’s attempts to explain her clients recent prison release, cops eagerly harassment him, causing Jim to violently lash out. With Jim and Shack facing arrest for assaulting the police, their only option is to run. It won’t be easy though, with Major Horn (Nicol Williamson) of the South African Bureau of State Security, determined to catch them.

Unsure what to do, Jim reluctantly agrees with Shack’s plan to make their way to Johannesburg, where Shack has a friend who can help them get across the border to freedom in Botswana. Along the way, the pair will grab a small fortune in diamonds, needed to help the African National Congress. Despite the apparent seriousness of the Wilby Conspiracy, the film plays out like a strangely traditional chase film once the two men are on the run. Anyone familiar with Sydney Poitier’s filmography will likely draw parallels to his 1958 film, The Defiant Ones, with Tony Curtis.

While the story sometimes lags, it’s the performances that make The Wilby Conspiracy work watching. As usual, Poitier commands the screen, doing his best to convey Shack’s suffering, even as the script soft pedals it. Michael Caine) delivers a strong performance as a white man of privilege, thrown into a situation we watch him slowly come to understand. The real standout is Nicol Williamson as Major Horn. He represents everything that was truly evil about Apartheid in South Africa. There’s nothing redeemable about his character. The great Rutger Hauer has an all-time brief role as Rina’s estranged husband Blane, but it’s always nice to see him show up on screen. As I’ve written often, it’s always nice to add another Sidney Poitier title to the Blu-ray library, and The Wilby Conspiracy is no exception.

Presented in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio, it looks like this transfer was sourced from an older master, denying it the kind of depth available via newer materials. Despite that, the source is in good shape with no major imperfections. Detail is a bit soft throughout, but colors are good, and contrast exhibits consistently strong black levels.

The 2.0 DTS-HD MA soundtrack handles the material quite well. Dialogue exchanges, which include various accents, come across clean, concise, and clear. No distortion is apparently, Score and music cues are limited, but what there is, along with necessary sound effects are handled aptly.

English SDH subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:15)

Movie title: The Wilby Conspiracy (1975)

Director(s): Ralph Nelson

Actor(s): Sidney Poitier , Michael Caine , Nicol Williamson , Saeed Jaffrey , Persis Khambatta, Rutger Hauer

Genre: Drama, Thriller

  • Movie
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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