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    Bus Stop Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Fox

    Jul 26 2013 01:48 PM | Matt Hough in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    After completing The Seven Year Itch, Marilyn Monroe left Hollywood and went to study acting in New York with Lee and Paula Strasberg at the famous Actors Studio. What she learned there figured importantly in all of her subsequent film performances (due in part to Paula Strasberg’s becoming her on-set acting coach in her remaining films), but her in-depth character work is nowhere more in evidence than it is in Joshua Logan’s Bus Stop. And in the company of acting heavyweights like Eileen Heckart and Arthur O’Connell and with appealing newcomers like Don Murray and Hope Lange by her side, Marilyn’s work here ranks among her greatest performances.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Fox
    • Distributed By: N/A
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1
    • Audio: English 4.0 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 1.0 DD (Mono), Other
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
    • Rating: Not Rated
    • Run Time: 1 Hr. 34 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray
    • Case Type: keep case
    • Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
    • Region: A
    • Release Date: 07/30/2013
    • MSRP: $24.99

    The Production Rating: 4/5

    Rip-roaring, talented Montana ranch-owning cowboy Beauregard 'Bo' Decker (Don Murray) arrives in Phoenix to participate in the rodeo. His surrogate father and best friend Virgil Blessing (Arthur O'Connell) suggests on the bus trip down that he might want to start looking for a suitable girl for a wife, suggesting that virginal Elma Duckworth (Hope Lange) whom they meet at the bus stop might make a fitting candidate. But she’s not the “angel” Bo is seeking; instead, he flips for bar singer Cherie (Marilyn Monroe), an Ozarks chippie who’s been around the block a few times. Despite manhandling Cherie (who has her own dreams of Hollywood stardom) into getting on the bus back to Montana with him, she refuses to marry him, and when the bus is forced to stop at the bus stop café due to inclement weather, their relationship plays itself out in a series of confrontations.

    George Axelrod’s screenplay takes William Inge’s Broadway play (which takes place completely in the bus stop on the way back to Montana) and opens it out by providing the visual foreplay between Bo and Cherie in Phoenix allowing us to see much more clearly how these two birdbrained protagonists are clearly meant for each other. (In the play, the ending seems a bit abrupt, but in the film, we understand their motivations much more clearly so that the ending rings truer.) Some secondary characters from the play are dropped along the way, but the central characters all remain at the forefront of the action, and the movie’s script for a change becomes preferable to the stage version in terms of the central story. By allowing us to see events in Phoenix, director Joshua Logan gets to include Bo’s stunning successes at the rodeo (winning four events, and he would have won the fifth had Cherie not panicked about their impending marriage and distracted him from his steer rustling event) as well as present one of Monroe’s most famous musical numbers: Cherie’s pathetically vulnerable rendition of Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer’s “That Old Black Magic” as Cherie attempts to stay on pitch, change her own light cues via footswitches, and dazzle her audience with her innocently seductive allure. And as the virginal Bo comes of age and realizes his limitations, so, too, does Cherie see the real man behind the bluster and sass.

    There was nothing wrong with Marilyn Monroe as an actress before she enrolled in the Actors Studio, but there is no denying that she shows a richer, deeper approach to characterization with this performance. While some may note her Ozark accent shifting a bit from time to time, the earnestness of her work is palpable and very appealing. Don Murray makes a stunning introduction to films here as the rowdy, over-confident cowboy Bo, and his growing up before our eyes is a wonderful acting achievement. Arthur O’Connell offers another of his solid, reliable cohort characters, and Eileen Heckart as the waitress Vera is his female equivalent for Cherie. Robert Bray holds his own as the tough bus driver who backs down from no one, and Betty Field as the café owner Grace has a fetching, no nonsense way about her that’s most engaging.

    Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA

    The film has been framed for this home video release at 2.55:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Sharpness is quite good for most of the film, but the DeLuxe color is variable and veers toward brown. Skin tones for most of the characters seem to bit too brown (apart from Monroe who has used a white rice makeup to make Cherie almost ghost-like), and contrast varies sometimes to a distracting extent. Black levels are acceptable throughout. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.

    Audio Rating: 4/5

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 sound mix is typical of Fox’s stereo productions of the Cinemascope era. There is directionalized dialogue throughout which most of the time is nicely discernible but occasionally can get drowned out a bit with overly loud extraneous sound effects and music. There is some use of the rear channels, mostly for ambiance and with the echoes of the music. There isn’t a lot of bass present in the mix; the Four Lads singing “The Bus Stop Song” composed for the film seems a bit bass-lite.

    Special Features: 1/5

    Theatrical Trailer (2:25, SD)

    Marilyn Monroe Trailers (SD): Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Niagara, River of No Return, The Seven Year Itch, There’s No Business Like Show Business, all of which are now available on Blu-ray.

    Overall Rating: 4/5

    In one of her greatest and most famous performances, Marilyn Monroe shines in Bus Stop. While it’s deeply regrettable that Fox didn’t see fit to honor this film with some bonus features which celebrate one of their most valuable stars, Bus Stop on Blu-ray offers good picture and sound at least. Recommended!

    Reviewed by: Matt Hough
    Support HTF when you buy this title:



    18 Comments

    Thanks for the review, Matt and for reading the play before watching the film. I find dimensions in the play and in Cherie that are lost in the translation, and yet the film has so much to offer it doesn't really matter.

     

    There's so much to be said about BUS STOP you'd think Fox would have assigned a commentary to some knowledgeable trivia expert and film historian. A commentary is sorely missing.

    Bus Stop Blu-ray Review

    eb485d6cd5dc95805d9373963e63606b.jpg

    Studio: Fox

    Distributed By: N/A

    Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

    Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1

    Audio: English 4.0 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 1.0 DD (Mono), Other

    Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

    Rating: Not Rated

    Run Time: 1 Hr. 34 Min.

    Package Includes: Blu-ray

    keep case

    Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

    Region: A

    Release Date: 07/30/2013

    MSRP: $24.99

    Video Rating: 4/5  3D Rating: NA

    The film has been framed for this home video release at 2.55:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Sharpness is quite good for most of the film, but the DeLuxe color is variable and veers toward brown. Skin tones for most of the characters seem to bit too brown (apart from Monroe who has used a white rice makeup to make Cherie almost ghost-like), and contrast varies sometimes to a distracting extent. Black levels are acceptable throughout. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.

    Audio Rating: 4/5

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 sound mix is typical of Fox’s stereo productions of the Cinemascope era. There is directionalized dialogue throughout which most of the time is nicely discernible but occasionally can get drowned out a bit with overly loud extraneous sound effects and music. There is some use of the rear channels, mostly for ambiance and with the echoes of the music. There isn’t a lot of bass present in the mix; the Four Lads singing “The Bus Stop Song” composed for the film seems a bit bass-lite.
     

     

    Thanks for this review (and all your others as well).  While I don't really care about reviews of the film itself, since in most cases I'm buying the Blu-ray because I'm already very familiar with the movie and already like the film. However, your technical reviews of a film's video and audio quality IS very important to me.

     

    Since in practically all cases, I probably already have the film on DVD, it's important for me to know if upgrading to Blu-ray will REALLY result in a meaningful improvement over the DVD.  In too many cases, I've been disappointed.  It seems as though, that in some cases, they have simply used the same source to make their Blu-ray and didn't really care whether it looked better or not.  Those are the cases I'd like to avoid when I can. :)

    They should have included the TV version at least the first two episodes....

    Photo
    classicmovieguy
    Jul 28 2013 02:23 PM

    Or maybe even some clips from the live TV performance from the Broadway cast.  It has been said that Monroe's performance was heavily influenced by Kim Stanley.

    Blu ray.com and DVD Beaver have posted reviews with some more screenshots as well.

     

    http://www.blu-ray.c...y/72428/#Review

     

    http://www.blu-ray.c...28/#Screenshots

     

    http://www.dvdbeaver...top_blu-ray.htm

     

    Has anyone seen Niagara or Bus Stop in stores with good pricing? I recall last Summer that several of the MM titles could be found for around $9.99.

     

    ***Update.. I stopped at Wally and Costco today. No dice on either title. Neither of the stores had them in stock..

    Someone on Amazon commented that the sound was bad on the  "Bus Stop" Blu-ray.  They said that they had to turn their receiver volume up to 60 or something to get good sound.  Does anyone have comments on this?

    Someone on Amazon commented that the sound was bad on the  "Bus Stop" Blu-ray.  They said that they had to turn their receiver volume up to 60 or something to get good sound.  Does anyone have comments on this?


    First of all, who are you going to listen to? "Some reviewer" from Amazon, or the official review in which you are posting? Secondly, so with the volume at "60", the sound was good? Okay then, just turn up the volume. My volume level isn't set the same for every movie. However, if the volume really was potted extremely low on this release, the reviewers would have mentioned it.
    Photo
    haineshisway
    Aug 07 2013 08:24 PM

    If the color is not accurate (I'll know tomorrow) then I'm not sure how a film can have a 4.5 video rating.  Certainly correct color is as important as sharpness and detail.  Without it, a transfer is a bit of a fail.

    If the color is not accurate (I'll know tomorrow) then I'm not sure how a film can have a 4.5 video rating.  Certainly correct color is as important as sharpness and detail.  Without it, a transfer is a bit of a fail.

     

    Well, I didn't give it a 4.5; I gave it a 4/5. I know how much you loathe that brown look to color timing, so I wouldn't be surprised if it's a fail for you.

    With all due respect, I don't think its an issue of loathing but of accuracy. Did Bus Stop look this way when it was released theatrically or have the ravages of time taken hold and altered the current viewing experience for the rest of us? 

     

    Bus Stop appears to be suffering from less than remarkable color. Eastman monopack/color by DeLuxe...what can I say? Should Fox have color timed this puppy before letting it out of the kennel? Arguably, yes. It doesn't look terrible, as say Von Ryna's Express - a complete fail. But Bus Stop doesn't represent the very best that Fox is capable of. For that you turn to the review on Niagara. Working from less than stellar elements with no original 3-strip negatives on that feature Fox has proven it can take a sow's ear and reinvent it into the proverbial silk purse. 

     

    Bus Stop doesn't live up to its memory and that's a shame. The color is off - period. That's not a slight on Fox or the movie. It's just a fact of the current HD transfer. 

    With all due respect, I don't think its an issue of loathing but of accuracy. Did Bus Stop look this way when it was released theatrically or have the ravages of time taken hold and altered the current viewing experience for the rest of us? 

     

    Bus Stop appears to be suffering from less than remarkable color. Eastman monopack/color by DeLuxe...what can I say? Should Fox have color timed this puppy before letting it out of the kennel? Arguably, yes. It doesn't look terrible, as say Von Ryna's Express - a complete fail. But Bus Stop doesn't represent the very best that Fox is capable of. For that you turn to the review on Niagara. Working from less than stellar elements with no original 3-strip negatives on that feature Fox has proven it can take a sow's ear and reinvent it into the proverbial silk purse. 

     

    Bus Stop doesn't live up to its memory and that's a shame. The color is off - period. That's not a slight on Fox or the movie. It's just a fact of the current HD transfer. 

    I'm quite sure that Fox did use original elements for Niagara.  Niagara was not shot using nitrate film stock and thus its negatives were not tossed away.  And original Technicolor elements don't fade.  Comparisons with Bus Stop are a case of apples vs. oranges.

     

    Bus Stop was shot in fade-prone DeLuxe color using one of those notorious film stocks of the mid-fifties that have given Mr. Harris so many sleepless nights.  That it looks as good as it does should be a cause for celebration.  I just think back to all those horrible prints that used to run on television back in the sixties and seventies and sigh with relief that the film is once again watchable.

    Rob - nowhere in my previous comment did I even remotely suggest that original 3-strip Technicolor elements fade. But Fox did junk a lot of 3 strip Technicolor along with its nitrate purge in the mid-1970s.

     

    That's fact.

     

    If you have evidence that this isn't the case with Niagara in particular I'm willing to listen. But I'll call your attention to Leave Her To Heaven, State Fair (1945), The Black Swan and a host of other Technicolor Fox titles from the mid-40s and beyond for which NO surviving 3 strip elements remain because of this mid-70s purge.

     

    This too is fact! 

    Rob - nowhere in my previous comment did I even remotely suggest that original 3-strip Technicolor elements fade. But Fox did junk a lot of 3 strip Technicolor along with its nitrate purge in the mid-1970s.

     

    That's fact.

     

    If you have evidence that this isn't the case with Niagara in particular I'm willing to listen. But I'll call your attention to Leave Her To Heaven, State Fair (1945), The Black Swan and a host of other Technicolor Fox titles from the mid-40s and beyond for which NO surviving 3 strip elements remain because of this mid-70s purge.

     

    This too is fact! 

     

    Read Robert Harris' few words in the Blu-ray forum about Niagara to get more info on the original Technicolor elements for this film.

    Rob - nowhere in my previous comment did I even remotely suggest that original 3-strip Technicolor elements fade. But Fox did junk a lot of 3 strip Technicolor along with its nitrate purge in the mid-1970s.

     

    That's fact.

     

    If you have evidence that this isn't the case with Niagara in particular I'm willing to listen. But I'll call your attention to Leave Her To Heaven, State Fair (1945), The Black Swan and a host of other Technicolor Fox titles from the mid-40s and beyond for which NO surviving 3 strip elements remain because of this mid-70s purge.

     

    This too is fact! 

    My only point is that Fox did not have to surmount the same obstacles with "Niagara" that it did with "Bus Stop" so that it did not have to, in your words, "take a sow's ear and reinvent it into the proverbial silk purse".

     

    From Mr. Harris' "A Few Words About... Niagara":

     

    Henry Hathaway's 1952 (released 1953) Niagara, was produced during a period of great change in the industry, as three-strip Technicolor was beginning to wind down, and Eastman direct positive was beginning to take over.

     

    Fortunately for modern audiences, Fox's Niagara, which was shot on acetate stock, is a beautiful today as it was sixty years ago.  With surviving original elements, Fox's archival team, was able to create digital files that show off the production to its fullest potential.  And within that potential, Ms Monroe looks absolutely luminous...

     

    The color extracted from the original elements is astoundingly beautiful.  Grain structure has a very comfortable, velvety palette to it.

    Photo
    haineshisway
    Aug 19 2013 09:36 AM

    Finally watched Bus Stop.  I was expecting the worst despite the rating here, just from the description, so I was surprised that it looked as good as it did - yes, skin tones are off and contrast is a little light occasionally, but it's not a disaster or embarrassment like so many films I could name.  A few adjustments and it could have looked perfect, but even as it is it's certainly in the ballpark of what a 50s print would have looked like.

     

    I really like the movie a lot. 

     

    Niagara, of course, is a whole other beast, as it should be - it's stunning but Bus Stop, even if it was perfect, would never look like Niagara.

    Photo
    Mike Frezon
    Sep 21 2013 05:59 PM

    Well...tonight was our night to watch Bus Stop.  But I had to turn it off about five to ten minutes in.

     

    I am having a sync problem between the audio and video.  It's off by about a half second...but it's enough to be really noticeable and that's all I can concentrate on while I'm watching the film.  The audio is hitting ahead of the video.

     

    Since there's no mention of it here or in RAH's thread on the release (or anywhere else I can find)...I'm guessing it might be player specific.  I am using a Pioneer Elite 62 FD.  Maybe it's time for a firmware update?

    Well...tonight was our night to watch Bus Stop.  But I had to turn it off about five to ten minutes in.

     

    I am having a sync problem between the audio and video.  It's off by about a half second...but it's enough to be really noticeable and that's all I can concentrate on while I'm watching the film.  The audio is hitting ahead of the video.

     

    Since there's no mention of it here or in RAH's thread on the release (or anywhere else I can find)...I'm guessing it might be player specific.  I am using a Pioneer Elite 62 FD.  Maybe it's time for a firmware update?

     

    I certainly didn't have any issues with the audio on my copy, but does your player have an audio sync adjustment setting? Some do and some don't, and maybe your problem is the opposite of what your player provides, but if you haven't already check out to see if there is such an audio setting. Also, sometimes pausing the image or running it in a faster speed and then back to normal gets things adjusted.

    Photo
    Mike Frezon
    Oct 05 2013 08:53 PM

    Well...I had to do a firmware upgrade on my player today (a Pioneer Elite 62FD) in order to get a different film to play at all (The Hunger Games).

     

    But it did nothing to fix the audio sync problem in Bus Stop.

     

    So I decided to wade into the issue and did a fair amount of research on my gear today.  It turns out others have complained of audio sync issues with the 62FD.  But, it was recommended that maybe it was actually an issue with my receiver (Denon AVR-790).  So I went into its menu and disabled an "audio Sync" control and it made the issue for Bus Stop better.  Not perfect, mind you...but better.  Sometimes it was near perfect and then would drift in other scenes. I have never had audio sync issues on any other discs. 

     

    So, we'll see what happens from here.

     

    Back to Bus Stop.  Gorgeous looking film.  Sounded great.  It was quite entertaining, although I had a bit of a problem with the resolution between Monroe and Murray's characters.  Quite a nice ensemble of acting talent was assembled for this production. 

     

    I was stunned to watch the theatrical trailer afterwards and find that the other young lady on the bus was Hope Lange!!!  Wow!

     

    This was my first-ever viewing of the film and I enjoyed it quite a lot. 

     

    Hope_Lange_in_Bus_Stop_trailer.jpg

      • Osato likes this