A Few Words About A few words about...™ Mrs. Miniver -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. Nick*Z

    Nick*Z Second Unit

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    I have to disagree about the WB archive being 'good' to Garson fans. While Mrs. Parkington, Madame Curie and Random Harvest have passable transfers, The Valley of Decision, and When Ladies Meet look as though they've been fed through a meat grinder. Ugly, murky prints with too much distortion, poor contrast levels and in some cases chroma bleeding. The audio on both also leaves much - VERY MUCH - to be desired. It would be nice to see Warner get off their lump and honor some of filmdom's finest stars in Blu-ray box sets - Garson being a primary example.

    In addition, am I the only one who cannot believe its 2013 and we still have NO definitive box set on Blu of Clark Gable - MGM's undisputed 'king' or Norma Shearer - MGM's proclaimed 'queen of the lot'?!?!? While there's been a trickle of titles on legit DVD and a flood of less than stellar junk pumped into the archive (Honky Tonk and Idiot's Delight are an abomination!) we don't have either of these iconic stars represented in hi-def (save Gable in GWTW). To exclude the latter would have been sacrilege!

    But Warner needs to stop being a repository for their own and other studio's vintage titles. They currently own the rights to their own library as well as the RKO, MGM, Selznick and most recently acquired Paramount libraries. And what of this has come to Blu-ray in the last 18 months?!?!? NOTHING! Okay, granted - I'm not pouring over the budgets to see what's feasible but I can guarantee you one thing - the studio is big enough - and moneyed enough - to give us at least two classic releases per month per year. So 24 titles in twelve months - fully restored (or to the best of their ability given the state of surviving elements, so on and so forth).

    You can point to titles like the recently released 'Ultimate Gangster' set, but I have to tell you - Warner didn't go back to original elements for these. The same imperfections plaguing their DVD releases are glaringly evident in 1080p. Same digital files bumped up to a hi-def signal doesn't cut it for me. It shouldn't for anyone else either. Especially when we're getting next to nothing coming down the pipe line from WB. It's time the studio became more aggressive and proactive in releasing titles.

    We need NEW rescanned transfers of ALL the Val Lewton horror classics - in time for Halloween. We need some of the more iconic musicals released to Blu: Calamity Jane, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Student Prince, For Me And My Gal, The Band Wagon. We need the Astaire/Rogers movies out on Blu. We need more Garson, and Gable and Crawford in Mildred Pierce in hi-def. Frankly, I can't believing Warner didn't jump on this latter title for Blu-ray. We need the rest of WB's Oscar winning best pictures out on Blu yesterday: The Great Ziegfeld, The Greatest Show on Earth, Around the World in Eighty Days, The Life of Emile Zola.

    We need WB to get aggressive on supporting the older classics. Personal opinion, of course, but I'd like to cast my vote for the following titles for consideration immediately: The Prisoner of Zenda (Ronald Colman version), Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939), The Women (1939), Random Harvest, The White Cliffs of Dover, The Valley of Decision, Mrs. Parkington, Cabin in the Sky, Marie Antoinette (Norma Shearer), Romeo & Juliet (Norma Shearer), The Broadway Melody (all of the movies in this franchise), Show Boat (both versions), A Night at the Opera, A Day at the Races, Bad Day At Black Rock, Bells Are Ringing, When Ladies Meet, A Woman's Face, Mildred Pierce, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Auntie Mame and Giant.

    These are just the tip of my iceberg but they give you a good idea of how much stuff is MIA currently and how deprived we all are for their absence from the collective consciousness. And the aforementioned ought to come to us in NEW hi-res scans - not regurgitated video files bumped up to a 1080p signal. Make the effort. Take the time. We're all counting on you!
     
  2. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    To be fair, we also got Gable in MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, but I certainly agree we need a great many more of his films on Blu-ray. And Crawford and Shearer and Garson and Garland.
     
  3. Keith Cobby

    Keith Cobby Screenwriter

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    We have also had Gable in The Tall Men (German blu-ray release) but otherwise I agree with Nick*Z. Warners have disappointed with the number of releases of older films and I do feel that they are waiting for burn-on-demand blu-ray to come through before offering more.
     
  4. lukejosephchung

    lukejosephchung Screenwriter

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    We're also getting a newly-minted 4k restoration of his signature movie, "Gone With The Wind" from Warner in the latter half of the year...I wouldn't call that chopped liver, despite the inevitable moans and cries about multiple dipping for this title...
     
  5. JoshZ

    JoshZ Second Unit

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    The way you word this implies that you think Warner is upconverting standard-def masters. The masters are true high definition. Not every title will need a new film scan just for the sake of doing one. If the scan and the master were done well the first time, they should be perfectly suitable for Blu-ray.

    Of course, if the master was inadequate the first time, then the film may deserve rescanning. I just hesitate to make a blanket demand that the studio rescan every frame of every film they own.

    (I also think it needs clarifying that Warner does not own the Paramount vintage catalog. Warner has merely signed a deal to distribute those titles on home video. Paramount still owns the movies.)
     
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  6. Lromero1396

    Lromero1396 Supporting Actor

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    Also keep in mind that Warner probably wants to handle the original elements as little as possible to reduce wear and tear on them. The only exceptions to this rule seem to be GWTW and TWOO. They're doing new 'restorations' on those every 3 or 4 years, right?
     
  7. Robin9

    Robin9 Cinematographer

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    I watched the Mrs. Miniver BRD last night. I hadn't seen the film for a very long time but hadn't been in the mood to watch it until yesterday.

    I was surprised at how good the disc was as the OCN has gone forever. I was very pleased.

    As for the film itself, every time I watch a movie directed by William Wyler the same thought crosses my mind: there has never been a better director. One or two are on the same level - David Lean, John Ford for example - but no-one was better.
     
  8. AnthonyClarke

    AnthonyClarke Screenwriter

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    How about Fellini, or Truffaut, or Bertolucci, or Visconti, or Michael Curtiz for that matter .... or Hitchcock!
    I like your enthusiasm (and I love Mrs Miniver) but your list is just a tad too exclusive.....
     
  9. davidmatychuk

    davidmatychuk Screenwriter

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    There has never been a more underrated director in the pantheon of great directors, I would say. Because he directed the 1959 "Ben-Hur", which is a movie that is not well regarded by most critics but remains a much-loved Academy-honoured classic, he probably loses points with some people.
     
  10. bruceames

    bruceames Supporting Actor

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    I have Mrs. Miniver in my 50 movie Warner Set. Haven't watched it yet, but enjoyed watching the great Greer Garson (I'm a fan, too) on my VHS copy back in the day. It's nice to know the BD transfer is top notch!
     
  11. AnthonyClarke

    AnthonyClarke Screenwriter

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    Yes, love Greer Garson. Bring us 'Random Harvest' now!
     
  12. classicmovieguy

    classicmovieguy Producer

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    I'm fascinated as to how "Sound of Music" would have emerged under his direction.
     
  13. bruceames

    bruceames Supporting Actor

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    One of my top three movies with her. The other two are Pride and Prejudice and Goodbye Mr. Chips.

    I wish she had been discovered by Hollywood earlier so that we'd have more movies from her, especially in younger days.
     
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  14. Robin9

    Robin9 Cinematographer

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    Sorry, just don't agree. Much as I like and admire the work done by Visconti, Curtiz and Hitchcock, they were no match for Wyler at consistently obtaining great performances from actors and consistently getting the most out of every scene.
     
  15. AnthonyClarke

    AnthonyClarke Screenwriter

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    Well, it's your right to disagree. But much as I love Wyler, esp The Big Country, we'll just have to agree to disagree ...Truffaut for instance seems to get the essence from everybody, including himself in his own few appearances in front of the camera. 'The Last Metro' is a great demonstration of verisimilitude for instance .. and Curtiz's Casablanca .....
     
  16. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    But he didn't want Julie Andrews, did he? Didn't he want Audrey Hepburn or Romy Schneider?
     
  17. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    It's his list! Some of those you listed aren't exactly among my all-time great directors. Each of us are different in which our lists will be different too.
     
  18. bujaki

    bujaki Screenwriter

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    I admire the directors on Robin9's list. I also admire the directors on Anthony's list.
    Perhaps we should make a distinction between great directors and favorite directors. The lists don't necessarily intersect and, as you said, Robert, the choices are quite personal.
     
  19. classicmovieguy

    classicmovieguy Producer

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    He also wanted to create more of a 'war story' during the film's third act, with tanks rumbling through the streets of Salzburg. The mind boggles.
     
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  20. Cineman

    Cineman Stunt Coordinator

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    What you describe is essentially a "theatrical" achievement, but not necessarily a "cinematic" one. I think the cinematic element is where Wyler's work falls short among the pantheon of great film directors. While inspiring great acting performances and squeezing out every conceivable nuance of a well-written script are much appreciated in a movie and on those points there might not have been a better director, those are really theatrical strengths and not really elements that make the grade or, often, even matter that much when it comes to a Great Movie in historical terms. For instance, I believe Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and Hitchcock's Psycho are Great Movies, greater cinematic achievements than anything Wyler directed, yet there is virtually nothing to talk about in terms of acting in 2001 and I don't believe Wyler would have allowed the camera to roll with a script as relatively thin as Psycho.

    IMO, the other two directors you mentioned initially, Lean and Ford, did direct movies of striking cinematic imagery and montage. So did some of the directors mentioned by others here. I would most definitely add Welles, Chaplin and Bergman to the list of directors whose cinematic contributions achieved greatness. Wyler's considerable contributions to movies wasn't primarily or notably rooted in a great cinematic experience but rather a great theatrical one that he managed to capture on film.

    I believe that is what has hurt him with the so-called Great Movie list makers over the years. I see that Wyler's name does not appear once on Sight&Sound's most recent list of 250 Greatest Movies. Even when the overview is narrowed to primarily American movies and directors, a Wyler movie does not show up until #37 (The Best Years of Our Lives) on AFI's first 100 Greatest Movies list (1997) and the only other Wyler movie on that list (Wuthering Heights) came in at #73. Then, after much discussion of that list over the next 10 years or so by people like..well like us...Wyler didn't fare any better in the more recent updated AFI list (2008) with The Best Years of Our Lives still sitting at #37 (when revisted and re-evaluated movies by Hitchcock, Ford and others moved up rather dramatically on that list), Wuthering Heights dropping off entirely and Ben-Hur barely making the list at #100...for what that's worth, of course.
     

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