A Few Words About A few words about...™ Double Indemnity -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Apr 19, 2014.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    If one were a noir fan in 1944, and a new film entitled Double Indemnity was about to hit theatres, chances would have been that a brief perusal of the credits should have peaked one's interest.

    A film directed by Billy Wilder, who had been responsible for Ninotchka and Ball of Fire, based upon a novel by James M. Cain (The Postman Always Rings Twice, Mildred Pierce), and with a screenplay by Wilder and novelist Raymond Chandler...

    Seemed like a good use of one's time.

    70 years later, Double Indemnity is considered prime noir, one of the greatest of its kind.

    So it was with a bit of trepidation that I sampled Universal's new Blu-ray.  Already in release in the UK, would it be the same transfer, cleaned up a bit, possibly beyond repair?  Or might it be something new.

    I couldn't be more pleased to discover the Universal stepped to the fore here, bettering the UK release, with a new 4k image harvest from an archival fine grain master.

    Grain appears to have been left as it was -- free range, as it were.

    Black levels, shadow detail, resolution, are all superb.

    No need for a great many words.

    Everyone knows the film.  If not, grab this Blu-ray and remedy the situation.  Then invite your insurance agent out to dinner.

    Image - 5

    Audio - 5

    Highly Recommended.

    Almost forgot.  For fans of classic film scores, this one's by the great Miklos Rozsa.

    RAH

     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    It's next up on my viewing list for tomorrow morning. I might even sample the MOC BD release tomorrow while the Universal BD is fresh in mind.
     
  3. Oblivion138

    Oblivion138 Second Unit

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    Over the past two days, this disc has only come out of my player in order to spin the new Touch of Evil disc. Both are superb efforts from Universal. I also approached these releases with trepidation (at times nearing dread), almost certain that Universal would do what they so often do...recycle the same master, clean and sharpen it within an inch of its life, then press it to disc. Imagine my shock and delight at viewing these beautiful new 4K remasters. I hope it is an indication of more great releases to come.
     
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  4. Robin9

    Robin9 Cinematographer

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    Many thanks for your assessment.

    I already have the Eureka U. K. BRD and am quite pleased with it, but as this Universal disc is even better I'll buy that as well.

    I know many people grumble about the slow pace of films being released on Blu-ray, but in some respects we're living in exciting times.
     
  5. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    Thank you, Universal, and please keep up this kind of excellent work!
     
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  6. Craig Beam

    Craig Beam Screenwriter

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    I had no intention of buying this, since I own the MoC release... but clearly I'll have to.
     
  7. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Yes, the black levels and shadow detail are much better with the Universal release than the MOC which is even more striking due to how the movie was filmed with so much shadow and darkness a part of the film's mood.
     
  8. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    MOC did the best possible with an older master, which actually looks far better than it should.RAH
     
  9. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I'm not saying otherwise as I'm just stating my uneducated observations between the two discs.

    By the way, I tried listening to the audio commentary with Nick Redman and Lou Dobbs. Let's just say I gave up and will try again at a later time. I do agree with Mr. Dobbs on one thing, that blonde wig was a mistake to me. I imagine others will disagree and buy Wilder's assertion that the cheap wig signify her lack of character.
     
  10. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Another thing, people complain about the Oscars today, but how did Going My Way win best screenplay over Double Indemnity? Same can be argued about Best Picture and Director, but the quality of the screenplays aren't even in the same ballpark.
     
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  11. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    Maybe Academy voters of the 1940s were a bunch of sentimental saps? :rolleyes:
     
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  12. Powell&Pressburger

    Powell&Pressburger Screenwriter

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    RAH - Can you comment on the fluctuations / pulsations during the film such as the almost circular spots? Id assume that is water damage? I may be using incorrect terminology.I own the MOC and Universal releases. As good as the transfers are and I understand this is as good as we can get, not complaining but the picture quality is not flawless but this is one classic film I wish could be. It just goes to show how important film preservation need be.
     
  13. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Will try to take another look. Afaik, there is no original negative.

    RAH
     
  14. Richard Gallagher

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    I ordered both Double Indemnity and Touch of Evil yesterday. It's important to let Universal know that we will open our wallets when they do it right.

    Now if they would just re-visit The Sting and the flawed Hitchcock films with the same care.
     
  15. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Producer
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    I just ordered a copy of "Touch Of Evil" - was one of my favorites back in my film school days and I'd love to give it another look.

    A little embarassed to admit that I've never seen "Double Indemnity" (I think back when I was doing my Billy Wilder paper, that hadn't yet come out on DVD and was OOP in VHS, and I never doubled back to see it.) After hearing all the good reviews of the Blu, if it's not a blind purchase in the coming months, at the least it will get rental.
     
  16. Oblivion138

    Oblivion138 Second Unit

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    Amen to supporting Universal when they get it right. On other forums, I see so many people waiting for price drops. But if we're no more willing to pay more for beautiful 4K remasters than for recycled DVD-era masters slathered in DNR and EE, where's the incentive for Universal to keep doing right by their catalog? As someone who's been very critical of Universal's track record, I am very enthusiastic about these gorgeous new transfers for Double Indemnity and Touch of Evil. For me, there was no waiting.
     
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  17. Robin9

    Robin9 Cinematographer

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    I watched the U. K. BRD of The War Lord two days ago. Universal did that one properly as well. Maybe the tide has turned?
     
  18. Dave B Ferris

    Dave B Ferris Supporting Actor

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    If Double Indemnity was actually the *first* film noir, could one have already been a film noir fan, or would the fandom have been based on books/magazines?

    http://blog.cinemaautopsy.com/2008/10/09/notes-on-film-double-indemnity/
     
  19. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    The first noir I know of is "Stranger on the Third Floor" (1940) with Peter Lorre... which would be a wonderful choice for release on blu-ray.
     
  20. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    I love Double Indemnity... don't get me wrong. But the dialogue in the film isn't particularly easy on the actors. It's the sort of dialogue that gives a great impression printed on a page, but coming out of a person's mouth, it can sound kind of phoney. It's a credit to the actors in this film that it comes off so well, although Fred McMurray gets the worst of it.
     

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