A Few Words About A few words about...™ Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid -- in Blu-Ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, May 10, 2008.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    George Roy Hill's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was brilliant filmmaking in 1969 and remains brilliant today.

    The performances by Mr. Newman and Mr. Redford are sharply honed and up to date in every way. Likewise the screenplay by William Goldman remains remarkably textured, working a thin line between the old western genre and the modern buddy film.

    Butch Cassidy has stood the test of time.

    But like any extremely popular film four decades old, it is physically a bit frayed around the edges.

    Once parts of the original negative are damaged or gone, there is nothing to be done but to rely on preservation elements produced at the time. But the truth about those elements is that normally they were vaulted without a care -- literally never examined or tested to see if they would answer back in case of a problem. I'm not referring to Fox here. I'm referring to the industry.

    And there are some problems.

    Those among you who fit into the nit-picker category will note dupe sections, which appear derived from separation masters. They have a bit of flicker, some discoloration at the bottom of the frame, occasional dirt and other assorted discoloration anomalies.

    Grain haters will also have a field day, as Butch was (I believe) photographed on Eastman 5254, the same stock as Bullitt and all of the films of the early '70s. It has a magnificent grain structure, and wonderful color characteristics. This is actually one of my favorite film stocks.

    The audio, both in 5.1 stereo as well as the original mono seem crisp and clean, especially as derived from the DTS HD Master tracks.

    The truth, which is the bottom line, is that nit-picking is not in order here, as the surviving elements are what they are, and no amount of work, investment or complaining is going to change a thing.

    Great films do not age well from a purely physical perspective, while poorly received films seem to age beautifully.

    I tend to look at it this way, which is a perspective that I suggest.

    As a four decade old production, Butch Cassidy still seems fresh and vibrant to both those revisiting its charms as well as those who have never seen it. This is one of those films that appears that it could have been made yesterday. But here's the perspective that seems to put things in their place.

    Go back an equal number of years from 1969, and one is just reaching the dawn of sound -- orthochromatic black & white negatives, along with people speaking into flower vases. With the exception of Mr. Mamoulian's work, a pretty difficult transitional era.

    I can easily accept this wonderful film for what it is, and where today's elements allow it to be taken.

    I'm certain that a full 90% of viewers will never notice anything amiss here, which is why I suggest to the nit-pickers...

    relax, allow yourselves to be taken back to the wonderful war years of the Nixon administration, and take in Butch Cassidy for what it still is -- one of most entertaining films ever created.

    There are no caveats here.

    Fox Home Video's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in Blu-Ray comes Extremely Highly Recommended. This is one not to be missed!

    RAH
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    RAH,
    Besides the film element problem you've noted, does this BRD have any other problems regarding color or film grain issues that didn't appear during the original theatrical run that those of us who were fortunate enough to view back then? I call them "issues" for lack of a better word, but of course, they weren't, but just the way the movie was chosen to be filmed by its great director and cinematographer.
     
  3. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    Would you care to elaborate a little on the 5.1 track? I'm curious how it was derived. I know that Chace created a simulated stereo track in the 80s for the home video release, but the first DVD opted for the original mono sound, and the more recent DVD added a stereo track (probably the Chace track, but I don't know for sure, I only have the first DVD)
     
  4. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The film looks as it did in 1969 with the exception of the dupe sections. A very nice transfer.
     
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    That's what I thought. There are too many reviewers posting critical comments in their reviews that either haven't watch the film they're reviewing in the movie theater or don't watch enough film on the big screen to begin with in order to grasp an understanding about film grain and filmmakers choices regarding color schemes in the filming of their movies.
     
  6. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Hear, hear! [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Ain't this true! (And a much more general truth in real life anyway, also known as the Humpty-Dumpty paradigm!).


    Thanks a lot RAH, once more! [​IMG]


    Cees
     
  7. Danny_N

    Danny_N Second Unit

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    Ain't that the truth. It also comes down to just being lazy and not doing their job properly as a reviewer (paid or unpaid). It's a shame though that these so called reviewers do influence people's buying habits.

    Thanks RAH for your review and confirming what a German comparision already told me: this is an excellent transfer.
     
  8. Dale MA

    Dale MA Screenwriter

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    Excellent news. Shame I have to wait until the UK release date in December to view it myself.
     
  9. Johannes S

    Johannes S Stunt Coordinator

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  10. Dale MA

    Dale MA Screenwriter

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    Interesting! I may indeed look into buying that. Thanks!
     
  11. Peter Neski

    Peter Neski Supporting Actor

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    I would want to know if the Blue Ray is worth getting,I like the dvd,but heard
    bad things about the Blue Ray mostly from someone who didn't know how the
    film looked,I liked the DVD ,but is it worth it?
     
  12. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The BD is, without a doubt, worth far more than the price of admission!
     
  13. Goko

    Goko Agent

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    Just to be fair, I saw Butch... in the movie theaters many a time when it was released and I have a tough time remembering anything beyond just the story. It would be pretty hard for a reviewer or anyone else for that matter to remember enough details of the presentation to make a fair comparison of the original theater run Vs the BR disc on older or even newer releases.
    I would guess that reviewers, on the whole, gear their reviews to the masses. They really don't care about nit-picking a release to death with details (keep the review short and sweet - thank you RAH) and are mostly concerned with simply describing PQ/AQ as good, average, or bad. That's OK by me.
    On another note - my worst pet peeve - are directors that alter their films from the theatrical presentations and serve them up on DVD SE without allowing viewing of the original presentation as part of the package, i.e Blade runner (since corrected) and Last of the Mohicans to name a few. Very irritating!!!
     
  14. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    In some situations I would agree with you. However, this groundbreaking film wasn't tough for me to remember and I watch 50 or so movies a year in the movie theater. There are certain films that stay with you due to the film techniques used in it that you never seen before and this film is one of those rare films.
     
  15. Goko

    Goko Agent

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    Point taken. I do vividly remember the 70mm theater presentations of films such as, FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, 2001, IT'S A MAD, MAD...WORLD, and others. Now THAT was going to the movies. [​IMG]
     
  16. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    While perhaps better suited for another thread (and yes I'm beating a dead horse)...


    I simply could not agree more. I still watch Last of the Mohicans on Laserdisc despite the technical superiority of the last DVD release because it (the LD) does not contain that awful revised ending.

    - Walter.
     
  17. Peter Neski

    Peter Neski Supporting Actor

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    Just got this ,and its was worth it,My only gripe is the fact that I have to
    hold on to all three versions :It dosn't have the Original Making of Doc.which is only on the First dvd
    Nor does it have th 1994 interviews which are on the two standard dvds.
    Plus theres another documentary not on it,while any extras are good start
    for fox
     
  18. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    just started watching this.
    haven't seen the movie since the first dvd came out.


    i noticed at least 2 odd jump cuts near the beginning.
    one right in the beginning after the guy in the saloon asks the boys to stay.
    as they are leaving the guy says, "how good are you kid" or something like that.

    then kid shoots his elt and pistols off of his hip and shoots the gun into the corner.

    there is an odd cut or 2 there right as he says "how good are you and
    another as the kid is shooting the gun.
    it looks like a missing frame or 2.

    same thing happens after the knife fight.
    what looks exactly like at least one missing frame.

    anyone else notice this.

    also i just switched to the mono track.
    during the Raindrops song the audio seemed much too boomy
    on the dts ma track.
     
  19. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    It's always been like that since I can remember.
     
  20. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Thanks again for the invaluable perspective RAH. I picked this up semi-blind (have seen the film, didn't check on technical reviews before purchase) and just read another site's "worst of 2008" that includes this release. So I was concerned about having bought a lemon and am glad you addressed it here. I'm looking forward to watching the film again.
     

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