A Few Words About A few words about...™ Drums Along the Mohawk -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Everyone with a bent toward film history is aware that 1939 was a golden year in the history of the cinema.  It was a year that three-strip Technicolor came to the fore.

    Twilight Time's release of the Blu-ray is as good as it's going to get.  With the original elements junked, we have what we have, and the work performed by Fox in digitally affecting what they did have was a last ditch effort to save the films.  Ain't no more to be done.

    The color of the Blu-ray accurately reflects the work digital work done c. 2006, and properly represents the data captured and taken back to film.

    That said, the original cinematography by Bert Glennon and Ray Rennahan is but a shadow of it's original glory.

    The color is there, but heavily affected by an Eastman Color intermediate and poorly performed duping.  Shadow detail is nonexistent. Fortunately, resolution holds rather well.  Facial highlights are nil, and night scenes are almost non-existant.

    But it is what it is.

    And as a superbly crafted John Ford production, and his first in Technicolor, I'm pleased to have it is good as it is.  He would not return to Technicolor for an entire decade, for Three Godfather in 1948, and would only use the process four times thereafter.  The final time with the great Freddie Young at the camera for his remake of Red Dust.

    Image - 3

    Audio - 4

    My complaints about color, densities and lack of shadow detail should not keep anyone from purchasing this disc.  As noted, it's as good as it will get, and thus, is...

    Recommended

    RAH

     
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  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    God, I'm glad you're the expert and I'm not, as I thought it was beautiful without any blemishes that were apparent to me.
     
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  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Not a blemish in sight. Very clean, and a nice job. Problem, which cannot be fixed, is contrast / shadow detail.RAH
     
  4. John Hermes

    John Hermes Screenwriter

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    I agree about the shadow detail. I have the Soul Media BD from Europe and was hoping for better detail in the dark areas but, alas, the TT looks about the same. It's nice in a lot of other respects though.
     
  5. ahollis

    ahollis Producer

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    I agree with Crawdaddy. I was so impressed with the transfer. One because of your educating me on Fox junking their three strip negatives. And being overwhelmed by the color of this transfer. I showed this to friends the other night and all they talked about was it was gorgeous and very entertaining. My score on image would be higher, but I am no where near the expert you are so I bow to you.
     
  6. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Appreciated. What you need is a means of seeing an original for comparison. Quite certain you'd be shocked.For the record, an immense amount of labor went into creating, what you're currently seeing. The before and after of this digital effort from the extant elements is almost as much of a difference as between this and an original print.The prints struck during that era were remarkable for their textures and beauty, and were actually four-strip.RAH
     
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  7. ROclockCK

    ROclockCK Screenwriter
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    Alas, this jibes with my residual memory of an IB print I saw over 40 years ago. DATM on Blu-ray certainly wasn't that. Nevertheless, I have no qualms about holding some scorecards up high here for 'performance' plus 'degree of difficulty'. I thought this was a superb recovery job, given the challenges faced by Belston and his team. I mean, if this is the best that DATM ever will be - ever can be - then I have no beef with Fox and TT's treatment of this classic. A very satisfying home video experience.

    Sidebar questions Mr. Harris: even working from pristine Technicolor negatives* (purely theoretical in this case), aren't all Technicolor video transfers, at best, merely a simulation of how light passed through those imbibed dyes? A running trade-off approximating the Technicolor 'look'? Is there such a thing as a reference standard for the presentation of Technicolor on video? Or does it always just come down to the accumulative experience, observation, and taste of the colorist?

    * Heck, over the years, I've even seen variances between 35mm/35mm and 35mm/16mm IB prints of the same movie...some denser, some less so...some more vibrant, some less so. I mean, other than the Studio's vault reference copy, were IB prints ever perfect in the reel world?
     
  8. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Are you saying that there is no difference between those BD transfers?
     
  9. John Hermes

    John Hermes Screenwriter

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    The TT might be a touch better but they're about the same to my eye. One big difference is the sound. On the Soul Media BD, the sound was really screwed up, sounding out-of-phase. The included DVD sounded the same. I watched the TT Drums last night on my projector. I have nothing to really complain about considering what we know about the original elements. It just has a bit of a dupey look to me with not enough black detail. I transfer home movies and the blacks remind me of 1950s Kodachrome shot in situations with a lot of UV light, as at high altitude. The shadows tend to go black with little detail.
     
  10. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Thank you.
     
  11. Nick Beal

    Nick Beal Auditioning

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    I would really like some clarification about the sound on DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK. I have owned
    both the Danish and the Spanish Blu-Rays and have found the sound on both to be horribly distorted.
    I initially returned the Danish disc because I thought it was faulty, but the replacement and the Spanish disc were both equally bad. Can I purchase the Twilight Time release secure in the knowledge that the audio has now been sorted?
     
  12. John Hermes

    John Hermes Screenwriter

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    I have the Danish BD too and know the problem with the audio.. The sound on the TT is fine, don't worry about it.
     
  13. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    I thought, originally(haha) that moving up to a region-free BD player would solve all these problems trying to figure out which "market" had the best version of a movie. I merely bought into a region-free BD player cause of the appalling lack of US releases compared to "over there". You would think "worldwide 1080P" would solve these issues. Boy was I wrong...

    This is one movie I'm glad I didn't just assume the European market version was better...just because.

    Sadly, outside of this forum, this movie is "review neglected"...which isn't helping.
     
  14. JoeDoakes

    JoeDoakes Cinematographer
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    I noticed that you left off your "real" name on your profile. By chance, does it start with a "S" or a "L"?
     
  15. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Of course. But we can come very close in representing the look of those prints. As long as ISF is involved on the consumer side.RAH
     
  16. ahollis

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    I know this is just a personal observation but I started in the Exhibition Industry when carbon arc projectors were still well in use. I went trough the switch to Xenon bulbs and noticed a distinct difference in color on the screen with the lamps. I know this was the 70's and there were different film stocks being used but the brilliance of color just was not there. Again this was just a personal observation. I miss the pure white light from a carbon arc, but realize the film business had to have the Xenon bulbs to survive.
     
  17. haineshisway

    haineshisway Producer

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    I've said this repeatedly but it's not something folks really understand or even want to know about. Films were color-timed for carbon arc projection all the way up until the switch. I have a friend here in LA who runs 35mm IB Tech prints all the time and I won't go because they look terrible with his Xenon bulb - yellow and with no Technicolor panache. One can still see color that pops in films after the switch because they began color timing the prints for Xenon. But I loved the look of color films when projected by carbon arc light - prints timed for that light source were amazing.
     
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  18. ahollis

    ahollis Producer

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    Absolutely.
     
  19. Bryan^H

    Bryan^H Producer

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    Thank you Robert. I've been waiting for your thoughts on this. Now I will purchase it. :)
     
  20. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    I have little experience in this compared to you folks, but last month at Jack Theakston's "Capitolfest" in Rome, NY, I made every effort to appreciate and get the "look" of the carbon-arc-illuminated prints into my head. Most everything we watched there was black and white, and it was all beautiful. But we were also treated to Nothing Sacred, the color and texture of which are practically indescribable.
     

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