A Few Words About A few words about...™ The Best Years of Our Lives -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I can't recall anyone with whom I've ever discussed William Wyler's epic The Best Years of Our Lives, who has not immediately mentioned either Fredric March's homecoming, or the wedding sequence at the end.  Both are magnificent amalgams of direction, acting and cinematography, with a bit of music thrown in.

    The selection of Gregg Toland (Song of the South) as cinematographer was, I presume, just another studio assignment, as one of the top Goldwyn DPs.  His use of deep focus (you hear about that all the time re: Citizen Kane) is absolute perfection here.

    I'm not going to say much about this film, except to tell those you have never experienced it, that it's one of the greatest films ever made.  A perfect, sentimental, realistic, heart-warming, and anger-inducing production.

    What WB has performed with the elements I find amazing.  A bit dupey in a handful of shots, as the image is derived from a least one fine grain master.  The original negative was, I believe, lost in shipment decades ago.

    Black levels look perfect, shadow detail, grain structure and resolution are all fine.

    This isn't a film to consider for purchase.  This is one to just add to your library, especially for $14.

    The Best Years of Our Lives is going to be the buy of the year on Blu-ray.

    Did I mention that this won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1946?

    For those who might have any doubts about a purchase, it also won Best Music, Sound Recording, Film Editing, Acting, Supporting Actor, Writing and Directing.

    Image - 4.5

    Audio - 5

    Very Highly Recommended.

    RAH

     
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  2. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    How many more Wyler's are there to go?

    Are there any that "can't" be done?
     
  3. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    Primarily asking about Jezebel.

    Where the hell is that one?
     
  4. JohnMor

    JohnMor Producer
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    Preordered. And patiently awaiting release date...
     
  5. atcolomb

    atcolomb Second Unit

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    One of the best American films ever made. Having the two laserdisc releases and the two dvd releases i will buy this for sure but not happy that more extras were put on it. With an important film like this no commentary or something new to say about this movie?
     
  6. jim_falconer

    jim_falconer Supporting Actor

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    I was floored by this film's greatness the first time I watched it. 3 hours went by like 3 minutes. Since that time, I've probably seen it at least a half dozen more times, and am always immediately drawn into the fine performances, especially Dana Andrews ("okay chum"). No need to say, I am ecstatic that this film has finally found it's way to HD, and can not wait to see it again!
     
  7. Richard Gallagher

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    It's worth mentioning that Harold Russell, who won the Best Supporting Actor award, didn't appear in another film until 1980 (Inside Moves). William Wyler reportedly advised him to go to college because there weren't many roles in Hollywood for an actor who had no hands. I'm looking forward to receiving it on Tuesday.
     
  8. Carabimero

    Carabimero Cinematographer
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    This is my all-time favorite movie. I never get tired of watching it. I could watch it tonight and watch it again tomorrow. The scenes never play stale. Tuesday can't come soon enough.
     
  9. dana martin

    dana martin Cinematographer

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    well looking around , found something, but not to sure of how good the release is, looking for a review http://periscopefilm.com/the-memphis-belle-bluray/
     
  10. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    There is only so much that can be done with Memphis Belle in HD. It was shot on 16mm Kodachrome. Going back to original elements would be helpful. I'd read reviews before purchasing any PD WWII documentaries.

    RAH
     
  11. dana martin

    dana martin Cinematographer

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    that is what I was doing trying to find an actual review of the BD, of course amazon is no help, if I can find anything more on the release I will let all know
     
  12. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    My comment (MB notwithstanding for obvious reasons. Same thing for Thunderbolt) regarding Wyler is this...

    All of his movies are gorgeous to look at. Jezebel started Bette Davis' career.

    Really? Too much to ask for that one?
     
  13. JohnMor

    JohnMor Producer
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    Well, I wouldn't really say it started Bette's career. She already had Of Human Bondage, The Petrified Forest and an Oscar under her belt when she did Jezebel. But it certainly cemented it with a second Oscar.
     
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  14. Mark VH

    Mark VH Stunt Coordinator

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    RAH, Gary Tooze's DVD Beaver review mentions some significant cropping in the transfer, with screen caps that confirm it. Naturally, Jeff Wells has picked up on this, and though I don't often advocate for listening to Wells on, well, anything, I find it disconcerting that WB would issue this cropped (not to mention the lack of attention this received in the extras department). Can you comment on the framing issues (or lack thereof, if that's the way you see it)?
     
  15. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Maybe it would be better to say that Jezebel started Bette Davis' STAR career. Even she admitted that Jezebel was the first real indication that she could be both a highly regarded actress and a top box-office draw to rank with Hollywood's other top stars. 1938, the year of the film, was the first time her name appeared in the list of Top Ten Box-Office Champions.
     
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  16. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    Of Human Bondage isn't Wyler...and it is on Blu already(no matter what one thinks of its quality...)

    But...Davis is a mere "visual toy*" compared to her turn in Jezebel.

    *Which is saying a lot. No other actress could have pulled the role off.
     
  17. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I noted no "cropping."1.37 films have normal negative frame lines, with heavier lines added for projection prints. This sets up the vertical axis for home video. There is more room, both left and right, than is needed. Therefore there is horizontal cropping.That cropping can move a mm or two in either direction. WB is neither destroying Mr. Toland's work, nor taking away Blu-ray real estate. As I've said in the past, these films were normally projected as trapezoidal.RAH
     
  18. rsmithjr

    rsmithjr Screenwriter

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    The Best Years of Our Lives is a film that increases in value to me every time I see it. Like a few other films, I always see something more in it.

    I have taken many people to see it at the Stanford in 35mm every time it plays. So many scenes come to mind as memorable, but the scene with the junked planes has to be one of the greats. An enormous comment about the material and human cost of war, with a note of optimism about redemption.

    Of course, the wedding scene at the end--mentioned by RAH--is the perfect example of the emotional power of deep focus photography. By comparison, the famous scenes in Citizen Kane seem a bit contrived. [I am a big fan so please don't misunderstand this comment, it is more a compliment to Best Years than a criticism of Kane.]

    Blu-ray is hopefully on its way.
     
  19. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I'm always astounded by the audio design in the sequence in the nose of the plane in the junkyard sequence. Just magnificent.

    RAH
     
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  20. Mark VH

    Mark VH Stunt Coordinator

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    That's great to know, thanks much for the reply. Can't wait to pick this up, as it's one of my very favorite films.
     

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