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    Marty Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Kino

    Jul 09 2014 01:41 PM | Matt Hough in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    Paddy Chayefsky’s Marty, a slice of Bronx-Italian life, had its first incarnation in 1953 as a live broadcast on the Goodyear Television Playhouse. Two years later, expanded by about a half hour, the teleplay became the Oscar-winning Marty directed for the screen by its original television director Delbert Mann. Both productions capture beautifully the hearts and souls of two lonely people who find one another one fateful night (each production has its own strengths and weaknesses), and the simple story and honest performances once again capture the attention just through the beauty of its ethnic language and a modest, unadorned presentation.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Kino
    • Distributed By: N/A
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
    • Subtitles: None
    • Rating: Not Rated
    • Run Time: 1 Hr. 34 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray
    • Case Type: keep case
    • Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)
    • Region: A
    • Release Date: 07/29/2014
    • MSRP: $29.95

    The Production Rating: 4.5/5

    Bronx butcher Marty Piletti (Ernest Borgnine) is constantly harangued by his family, friends, and even customers about why at age thirty-four he’s still single. Trouble is, Marty has absolutely no luck with women and is about at the stage where he’s tired of looking and enduring heartache week after week. A final plea from his outspoken widowed mother (Esther Minciotti) sends him in his blue serge suit to the Stardust Ballroom where he meets high school chemistry teacher Clara (Betsy Blair) who’s had similar bad luck with blind dates and indifference from men. The two have an instant rapport and as the evening stretches into the morning hours, Marty is convinced he’s found a nice girl who feels similarly about him. But a brief meeting between his mother and Clara leaves Mrs. Piletti unimpressed (along with warnings from her belligerent sister Catherine – Augusta Ciolli – that Marty’s new wife will have no use for a live-in mother-in-law), and Marty’s friends, particularly Marty’s similarly single best friend Angie (Joe Mantell), think Marty can do better.

    In expanding his teleplay for the big screen, Paddy Chayefsky retains every scene from his TV version but adds interesting backstory for Clara (we even meet her parents in a crucial scene that’s sometimes omitted from prints of the movie; it is present in this release) along with exploring a bit of Marty’s friend Angie’s obvious jealousy that Marty has finally found a special someone while he’s still looking and also offering a bit more of the subplot involving Aunt Catherine and her uneasy relationship with her daughter-in-law-now-a-new-mother (Karen Steele) and her son (Jerry Paris) who feels acres of Catholic guilt for asking his mother to leave his home. All of these additions don’t feel like padding at all but give breadth to the domestic drama unfolding for Marty, his friends, his family, and the girl who, he hopes, will one day be a part of it all. (The conflict with the mother who’s urging him to marry one minute and imploring him to ditch a perfectly nice girl the next because she’s not gorgeous or Italian does seem a trifle manufactured and phony, but it’s really the only misstep in Chayefsky’s script and it happens in both the TV and movie versions.) Delbert Mann’s direction doesn’t push for effects but keeps the focus clearly on Marty and Clara for a large part of the film as Marty’s motormouth just won’t stop yapping (finally, he's found someone he’s willing and eager to talk to about anything and everything) and Clara’s sweet smiles at his clumsiness and puppy dog-eagerness (which tell us mounds about her personality and character). And in one priceless moment, the lonely Angie, searching for Marty who’s otherwise occupied, eavesdrops on two gossipy older ladies and almost seems ready to sit down with them and dish the dirt.

    While Ernest Borgnine is tremendously earnest and forthright as the title character, he doesn’t quite capture the same amount of deep-seated angst about his miserable single life and the repeated rejections that Rod Steiger imbued into his TV performance. He plays it a bit lighter and more chatty which seems right for the film but less dramatically heavy (though at the time, the impact of Borgnine’s sweet-natured performance was dynamic due to a series of sadistic supporting performances which had preceded this one). On the other hand, Chayefsky’s expansion of the screenplay means much more depth in the role of Clara, and Betsy Blair handles the part with aplomb and great sympathy. A scene late in the film as she sits with her parents silently weeping while waiting for a phone that doesn’t ring is one of the most devastating images in the entire film. Three actors repeat their TV performances in the movie version: Joe Mantell’s Angie, Esther Minciotti as Mama Piletti, and Augusta Ciolli as Aunt Catherine, and they all build splendidly on the performances they gave two years previously making the most of their additional dialogue and screen time. Karen Steele and Jerry Paris as the young marrieds are just fine.

    Video Rating: 3.5/5 3D Rating: NA

    The film intended for a 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio is presented here in 1.33:1 (with windowboxed credits and opening scene). Apart from the scene at the ballroom when Marty and Clara dance and talk, the image does not appear to be zoomed in (but I state up front I’m no expert on these matters), and I did completely rewatch the film zoomed to 1.66:1 with no ill effects and with still an acceptable amount of headroom in the frame to spare (and it was a much more enjoyable experience in widescreen). While sharpness is generally fine, there are occasional shots that don’t match well with those which precede or follow them (an optical near the 19-minute mark really goes wonky). Grayscale is very good with black levels that aren’t inky but are much better than average and white levels that aren’t ever in danger of blooming. There are dust specks, some occasional scratches, and a little bit of print damage along the way, and Mrs. Piletti’s polka-dot dress quivers uneasily in a couple of shots. The film has been divided into 8 chapters.

    Audio Rating: 4/5

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound mix offers much better than average fidelity. With the dialogue being such an important feature of the soundtrack, it comes across clearly and cleanly and is never compromised by Roy Webb and George Bassman’s background music or the accompanying sound effects. And age-related problems like hiss, crackle, or flutter never pose much of a problem.

    Special Features: 1/5

    Theatrical Trailer (2:59, SD): Burt Lancaster (whose production company produced the film) introduces the movie to audiences.

    Overall Rating: 4/5

    Marty doesn’t get quite the pristine high definition presentation one might have wished for it, and a film this honored (the first American film ever to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes) certainly deserves some additional analysis and celebration with more developed and extensive bonus features. But despite the compromised aspect ratio, the film does look mostly quite nice, so fans of the film will have to decide for themselves if these compromises are serious enough not to add the film to their collections.

    Reviewed by: Matt Hough
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    • Adam Gregorich likes this


    41 Comments

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    Robert Crawford
    Jul 09 2014 02:13 PM

    No sale for me!

    I'd knock your overall rating down considering the compromised release of such an important film. What are the chances now of ever seeing MARTY in its correct aspect ratio? Even at 1.66, such as Kino used (also wrong) for Witness for the Prosecution, Marty probably would have looked better.

    No sale for me!


    Why? Matt just said that the composition looks great when matted to 1.66:1. That is exactly how I plan to view it when I receive my copy.
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    AnthonyClarke
    Jul 09 2014 04:21 PM

    No sale for me either.

    My projector doesn't offer matting and I can't physically matte the screen so I would have no choice but watch in the incorrect ratio. I have to do that with too many movies already .. I'll avoid until it's issued in (if) another market in correct ratio.

    I'm with you, fellas. We need to stop placating shoddy work, also to stop patronizing it with our hard earned dollars simply because there's nothing better being pumped out. Badly done is badly done - period. I can't tell you how many reviews I've read, as example, on the Fox Cinema Archive where non-anamorphic transfers of Cinemascope movies are getting a 3 out of 5 rating simply because they don't have 'too much edge effects' and the colors 'seem okay'. What?!?!

     

    Marty in 1.33:1 is just wrong - period. Zooming in isn't an option - or rather - shouldn't be considered acceptable. Send a message to the companies who violate - you haven't won any votes here!!!

      • Moe Dickstein, ThadK, ahollis and 4 others like this
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    ljgranberry
    Jul 09 2014 05:22 PM

    I'm with you, fellas. We need to stop placating shoddy work, also to stop patronizing it with our hard earned dollars simply because there's nothing better being pumped out. Badly done is badly done - period. I can't tell you how many reviews I've read, as example, on the Fox Cinema Archive where non-anamorphic transfers of Cinemascope movies are getting a 3 out of 5 rating simply because they don't have 'too much edge effects' and the colors 'seem okay'. What?!?!

     

    Marty in 1.33:1 is just wrong - period. Zooming in isn't an option - or rather - shouldn't be considered acceptable. Send a message to the companies who violate - you haven't won any votes here!!!

    This is why I almost exclusively buy from Criterion or Twilight Time, and even then always check reviews on this page and on DVD Talk.  Shoddy work is shoddy work.  The more you support companies that turn it out, the more it emboldens them to keep doing it.  MARTY should have been given stellar treatment.  Not only will I not buy this copy, I also won't rent it.

    Thanks for the review.

     

    I'll be waiting for a (hopefully) different European release.

    Oh no, now I need to cancel my order.   I hope this isn't a sign of things to come from Lorber Classics.   

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    AnthonyClarke
    Jul 09 2014 08:33 PM

    Since this has been letterboxed for the opening titles, it suggests that this release was made from a zoomed transfer of elements done originally for old pre-widescreen televisions.

    So it would appear, sadly, that Kino could never have presented it in its proper aspect ratio .. not to good result, anyway.

    Another reason for letting this one go.

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    Robert Crawford
    Jul 09 2014 08:57 PM

    This is why I almost exclusively buy from Criterion or Twilight Time, and even then always check reviews on this page and on DVD Talk.  Shoddy work is shoddy work.  The more you support companies that turn it out, the more it emboldens them to keep doing it.  MARTY should have been given stellar treatment.  Not only will I not buy this copy, I also won't rent it.

    To be fair, both of those companies have released compromised films too.  This isn't about Kino, Criterion nor TT.  It's about getting it right or as close to right as possible.  This BD is derived from compromised film elements, plain and simple to understand for me.

      • Mark Cappelletty and DavidJ like this
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    Ronald Epstein
    Jul 09 2014 09:49 PM

    I cancelled my preorder a few weeks ago.

     

    Was hoping for a more positive review on the aspect ratio.

     

    However, the people I depend on have spoken and I am going

    to continue to boycott this title until it is released in its proper ratio.

    Thanks for the great review.

     

    Any chance of a screencap of the windowboxed credits?

     

    Cheers.

     

    Steve W

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    Keith Cobby
    Jul 10 2014 12:18 AM

    This film is a character study rather than a big widescreen historical epic so I don't think the AR is too egregious in this case. It wouldn't stop me buying it or enjoying the performances, though I doubt it would provide repeat viewing for many. If unsure it is worth a rental.

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    Robert Crawford
    Jul 10 2014 02:50 AM

    This film is a character study rather than a big widescreen historical epic so I don't think the AR is too egregious in this case. It wouldn't stop me buying it or enjoying the performances, though I doubt it would provide repeat viewing for many. If unsure it is worth a rental.

    You can apply any type of rationale to it, but it still doesn't make it right. 

     

    Other people can do what they want as it's their monies, but for myself and my monies, it's a no sale.

      • DavidJ, Will Krupp and ahollis like this

    "You can apply any type of rationale to it, but it still doesn't make it right."

     

    I think one point is that some people are starting to get a bit obsessed with this thinking that there's one aspect ratio, even when some films have been shown in different ratios (in the theatres) back in the days (often 1.66:1 and 1.85:1, but probably also 1.37:1 and 1.85:1 in some cases). Research is great, but you also have to keep an open mind.

     

    There are people who have now said maybe 10-15 times that they don't buy this release - or that they've cancelled the pre-order. It's their right as a consumer. But what's the next step? Mocking people who want to see the film in HD? Shouting boycott slogans? Saying Kino is s**t? Where does it end? The release is out there, whether people like it not. Rest (will people buy it, or will people like it) is out of our hands.

     

    So yes, I think we should add some rationalization to this discussion. You can enjoy Marty via Kino's release. Is it perfect? Hell no. But it's not "disaster" either.

      • ABaglivi and Keith Cobby like this

    Thanks for the great review.
     
    Any chance of a screencap of the windowboxed credits?
     
    Cheers.
     
    Steve W


    Sorry. I don't have the capability to do them.

    Research is great, but you also have to keep an open mind.

     

     

    Fuzzy thinking alert! Research is fundamental to informed debate.

     

     

    "I believe in an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out."

    (various attributions)

      • John Hodson and Will Krupp like this
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    Robert Crawford
    Jul 10 2014 05:14 AM

    "You can apply any type of rationale to it, but it still doesn't make it right."

     

    I think one point is that some people are starting to get a bit obsessed with this thinking that there's one aspect ratio, even when some films have been shown in different ratios (in the theatres) back in the days (often 1.66:1 and 1.85:1, but probably also 1.37:1 and 1.85:1 in some cases). Research is great, but you also have to keep an open mind.

     

    There are people who have now said maybe 10-15 times that they don't buy this release - or that they've cancelled the pre-order. It's their right as a consumer. But what's the next step? Mocking people who want to see the film in HD? Shouting boycott slogans? Saying Kino is s**t? Where does it end? The release is out there, whether people like it not. Rest (will people buy it, or will people like it) is out of our hands.

     

    So yes, I think we should add some rationalization to this discussion. You can enjoy Marty via Kino's release. Is it perfect? Hell no. But it's not "disaster" either.

    Everybody is welcome to think as they please regarding this issue.  And I don't appreciate the inference from you that those that believe in research and oppose your POV on this issue are not open minded.  Just respect those that oppose your POV and I'll do the same with you and any other person with a contrary POV from mine.

      • DavidJ, Will Krupp, ahollis and 1 other like this
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    Bob Furmanek
    Jul 10 2014 05:54 AM

    I think one point is that some people are starting to get a bit obsessed with this thinking that there's one aspect ratio, even when some films have been shown in different ratios (in the theatres) back in the days (often 1.66:1 and 1.85:1, but probably also 1.37:1 and 1.85:1 in some cases). Research is great, but you also have to keep an open mind.

     

    Our documented research has shown that once theaters switched to widescreen beginning in the summer of 1953 and throughout the year, they did not go back to 1.37:1 presentations.

     

    By 1955, the academy ratio was a dead format in theaters.

    And I don't appreciate the inference from you...

     

    Nice one, Robert.

    So is this movie cropped on the sides, or is there just extra information on the top and bottom?

    Right up front:  I buy a movie FOR THE MOVIE.  The technical aspects of the transfer come second.  I am not much for the tech aspects anyway.  Aspect ratio, etc. are not what I look for (although "pan and scan" was a disaster!!)  I want to see the movie.  Granted some movies that have been transferred to Blu-Ray have not lived up to the Blu-Ray quality that the Blu-Ray creators brag about.  Some are quite good (i.e. Lawrence of Arabia) and some are horrible.  NONE of the transfers will be perfect simply because the movie is being transferred to a different media.  I ordered "Marty" when it was first announced.  I liked the film and wanted it in my library.  I don't have the luxury of waiting until the studios decide to make a perfect transfer to some new future media.  I 'm approaching 70 so I want to enjoy the film. When I go to the local IMAX, I go to see a film and not to analyze the film's aspect ratio, etc.  I go to a movie to enjoy the story, acting, etc.  Considering what a movie costs at your local Cineplex, the cost of the Blu-Ray is a bargain.  Just enjoy the film for the story!!  ..and that's my "aspect ratio" on "Marty"!! ;)   

      • bruceames likes this
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    David Weicker
    Jul 10 2014 07:27 AM

    Our documented research has shown that once theaters switched to widescreen beginning in the summer of 1953 and throughout the year, they did not go back to 1.37:1 presentations.

    By 1955, the academy ratio was a dead format in theaters.


    Just to be logically accurate, the first statement does not prove the second statement.

    The first statement says that once they switched. It doesn't mean (or even imply) that all (or even most) theaters switched. Or when.

    Now I don't know what is true about the actual situation. But given the kind of financial burden the theaters would face, it might have taken a lot longer than a year and a half to switch over. Sure, New York and L.A. would move quickly, but there is a whole lot more to this country than just those two cities.

    If the movie is not cropped then I might reconsider ordering it.   Zooming to 1.66 would reduce the effective resolution (compared to it being framed at 1.66) about 20%, but it's still much better than any other version out there and not too likely they'll remaster this anytime soon, IMO.

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    Bob Furmanek
    Jul 10 2014 08:06 AM

    Major theaters began installing the new screens in the summer of 1953. A December 5, 1953 survey of 16,753 operating indoor domestic theaters showed that 80% of downtown theaters and 69% of neighborhood theaters had installed widescreens. In total, 58% of all U.S. theaters had gone widescreen by the end of 1953. The conversion was slow in the Southern and North central parts of the country and that’s why the films were still protected during photography for the standard Academy ratio.

     

    The use of various wide screen aspect ratios would continue for several more years but one thing was certain: 1.37:1 - the standard production and exhibition ratio since 1932 - was abandoned. In September 1954, Merle Chamberlin (Director of Projection at MGM) stated, "All of the studios are convinced that the old 3/4 picture is gone and the wider aspect ratio is here to stay."

     

    Robert A. Mitchell was a leading authority on all aspects of motion picture projection and technology. His monthly technical papers for International Projectionist led to the 1957 publication of “Manual of Practical Projection,” an essential book containing the very best of his extremely detailed articles.
     

    In June 1956, he stated the following: “The trend toward wider-than-normal theatre screens is now so well established that the conventional 4:3-proportioned screen has become a rarity. Only a few theatres have retained the normal screen when wide screens are used for CinemaScope projection, and almost none have changed back to the standard aspect ratio after giving non-anamorphic widescreen pictures a fair trial.”

     

    By September 1956, increasing demands from exhibitors for standardization would finally result in 1.85:1 becoming the accepted non-anamorphic industry standard for widescreen production in the United States.

     

    More information and documentation can be found in these two articles:

     

    http://www.3dfilmarc...r-of-widescreen

     

    http://www.3dfilmarc...n-documentation

      • Will Krupp and David Weicker like this