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

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The number three Hitchcock film recently released via MGM and Fox is one that I would rate as B level Hitchcock.


    Which in the case of anything Hitchcock is not too shabby. Every film cannot be a North by Northwest or Rear Window.


    Out of fifty-some films, inclusive of war product, there are a solid forty that would be welcome on Blu-ray. This would not be an easy statement for most other filmmakers.


    Like the other two films in this release pattern, Notorious and Rebecca, Spellbound looks very nice, with no glaring problems. A bit of rub during the opening title sequence, for which I'm surprised an alternate was not used, but aside from that the film is generally trouble free.


    Black & white cinematography by George Barnes is exemplary, as would be expected. The film has comfortable levels of black, and shadow detail looks proper. The image appears to have been taken from an original fine grain master. There are many dupe fine grain masters out there, not necessarily on this title, but you want to stay original. Some people don't bother to check, innocently looking at a fine grain and thinking something like...


    "Oh, a fine grain..."


    Audio is well purposed, clear, and comes in as uncompressed.


    Also, much like Rebecca and Notorious, a quality selection of extras is offered, which is unusual for a budget-priced Blu-ray.


    The dozen pre-WB American produced Hitchcock films are controlled by a number of entities. Rebecca, Spellbound, Notorious and Paradine Case by ABC/Disney -- one more title to go on this list, and the original long version would be the go-to.


    Foreign Correspondent and Under Capricorn are non-studio holdings.


    Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Suspicion are RKO product, controlled by WB via Turner.


    Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt and Rope are with Universal.


    Lifeboat is Fox.


    If we can get these out on Blu, we can then begin to fret over the UK productions.


    During the penultimate scene in the film, Leo G. Carroll turns a revolver on himself and fires.

    The hand and firearm were large, and created to enable proper perspective. The shot, albeit relatively short, looks like what it is, probably a wooden or clay prop. The interesting addition were two frames of orange-red hand tinted as the gun fires. A very nice "Hitchcock" touch.



    Recommended.


    RAH
     
  2. Howard Tom

    Howard Tom Agent

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    Lifeboat is getting a Blu-ray release as part of Eureka Video's Masters of Cinema series, though it will likely be region B.
     
  3. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Screenwriter

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    Mr. Harris, was Foreign Correspondent just licensed to WB for the DVD release? What made them license that particular title? The DVD looked very good so it's nice to know the elements are in good shape.
     
  4. Derrick King

    Derrick King Supporting Actor

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    Will, WB had licensed FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, along with a number of other titles, including STAGECOACH, from The Caidin Trust and when the deal expired they didn't renew it. So, Criterion stepped up and got them. (FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT is currently available on Criterion's Hulu + channel.)
     
  5. ShellOilJunior

    ShellOilJunior Stunt Coordinator

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    Let's hope all those titles get eventual blu-ray releases (Although I'm not particularly fond of The Paradine Case or Under Capricorn).
     
  6. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    I like The Paradine Case though I'll admit its slow pace makes it a Hitchcock that not many people tend to like. I think Under Capricorn is his weakest film of the post war period.
     
  7. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Screenwriter
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    The main problem with The Paradine Case is the miscasting of the leading roles, especially Gregory Peck. David Selznick originally bought the property around 1934 with idea of starring Greta Garbo and Ronald Colman. Now *that's* the movie I'd like to see!
     
  8. ShellOilJunior

    ShellOilJunior Stunt Coordinator

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    Agreed there. I felt Under Capricorn was just.....dull. Ingrid Bergman and Joe Cotten yet the picture isn't terribly exciting. If I recall, the picture sank Hitch's production company at the time.
     
  9. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Properly presented, UC is gorgeous Technicolor, and the cinematographic experimentation from Rope a lead in.


    RAH
     
  10. Powell&Pressburger

    Powell&Pressburger Screenwriter

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    Not to bring up other Hitchcock films, but I really would love to see ROPE in HD and The Trouble With Harry! (of course Vertigo that is a given)
     
  11. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Oddly enough, I watched a HD broadcast of The Trouble With Harry last night; it was a true VistaVision delight...
     
  12. benbess

    benbess Cinematographer

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    Wasn't Cardiff responsible for UC camera work? It's slow, but beautifully shot. They are slow films, and seriously flawed, but I think Paradine and Capricorn both deserve the blu-ray treatment....
     
  13. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    Robert, in reference to your remark about the artificial nature of the climactic scene: even as 15 year-old, I could see it. However, it didn't prevent it from giving me the willies, it was still effective.
     
  14. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    Foreign Correspondent is coming from Criterion as mentioned above. The question is simply when.
     
  15. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    I think Rope preceded Under Capricorn. It was the long takes in Rope that Hitchcock experimented with again in Under Capricorn much to Bergman's dismay and disapproval.
     
  16. flixyflox

    flixyflox Auditioning

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    For other region possibilities: Lifeboat is getting a dual DVD/BD release from Masters of CInema in June, Region B only. Under Capricorn (which I love) is owned by Universal in Continental Europe which is probably the only chance it has of seeing BD light of day. I bought a French DVD of it years ago in Pais for under 10 USD. Far superior to the old Image LD and DVDs - the color print used for transfer is nice but looks nothing like 40s Technicolor. It appears to me to be from a good Eastman reissue print. It certainly does justice to Cardiff's four and eight minute cranes and long takes. Hitch's use of long takes is really more expressive than Rope as here the takes seem to be designed to travel around the house revealing its and its inhabitant's secret lives. So the takes carry a narratively expressive power, rather than Rope's "real time" experiment. (Which is still pretty groundbreaking.) Paradine Case in the long version would be a gift - does a complete print even exist?
     
  17. benbess

    benbess Cinematographer

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    I wonder if the full three strip negative of UC survived the changes of ownership after Hitch's company went belly up...
     
  18. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    Playing the Astor on Times Square. [​IMG]
     
  19. DavidJ

    DavidJ Producer
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    What? How did I miss this? Where would I find info on this?
     
  20. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    It's been known since the Stagecoach release was revealed that Criterion got a few other titles from the same Caidin Trust deal, namely:


    Foreign Correspondent (1940)

    History is Made at Night (1937)

    I Married a Witch (1942)

    The Long Voyage Home (1940)

    To Be or Not to Be (1942)


    These are all currently on Criterion's Hulu channel. When they make it out on DVD/BD is anyone's guess, but one would presume that Foreign Correspondent is the most prominent of the 5 titles above because of its director.
     

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