A Few Words About A few words about...™ The Court-martial of Billy Mitchell -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Aug 7, 2013.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Otto Preminger's 1955 The Court-martial of Billy Mitchell, has held up decently over the decades. While it's no classic, it's an interesting example of an early-ish CinemaScope production, combined with Warner Bros.' every-lovely WarnerColor process.

    Fortunately, here printer functions have been short cut here, as opposed to some later WC productions. They've been handled nicely.

    Color looks below acceptable, as fade has reared its ugly head, but the Blu-ray is serviceable, and might have been brought back, if a few elements were available.

    Minus density, the every-looming problem we see constantly with Olive releases, with few exceptions, is back here, and in spades. There are some bits of neg dirt through which one could drive a decent sized Buick. Not good.

    Audio is fine, but only monaural. Apparently the original stereo has deteriorated or masters re-used for newer productions.

    An nice production, especially for Cooper fans.

    Image - 2.25

    Audio - 3

    RAH
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    One of the more disappointing Olive releases. IMO, it was worse than either The Quiet Man or McClintock.
     
  3. Lromero1396

    Lromero1396 Supporting Actor

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    This release to my eyes looks abysmal. By the way, I know Warner erased all of its 4-track masters and had to go to mag-striped prints in the Library of Congress for a number of titles during restoration including A Star is Born. Olive was probably too lazy to go to said archives to get a 4-track. Heck, they don't even bother to give us information as to what audio and visual elements these BDs are sourced from. For not providing original audio or an explanation as to its whereabouts, Olive's release is a fail in my opinion.
     
  4. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    All poor, but for very different reasons. Early Eastman, which should have been correctible for color, and which certainly could have been digitally cleaned, vs. poorly executed 3-strip Technicolor, vs. a public domain release, using a print as a source.

    I wish Olive could get it's act together. Release fewer films, but do it correctly. They have some wonderful titles under license.

    RAH
     
  5. Reed Grele

    Reed Grele Screenwriter

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    Doesn't sound like this would be worth the upgrade from my old DVD. Shame really. It's one of my favorites.
     
  6. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    It is an improvement over the Artisan DVD released back in 2003. It just could've been better as RAH has noted.
     
  7. Reed Grele

    Reed Grele Screenwriter

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    Just had a look at the screen caps over at the Beaver. Not as bad as I had imagined it to be. Perhaps if I ever see it on sale for at least 50% off (or more) on Amazon, or some other place, I'll pull the trigger.

    For now, my old laserdisc or DVD will have to suffice.
     
  8. ROclockCK

    ROclockCK Screenwriter
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    This title has been in and out of my cart so often over the past few days. Now it's out again. And probably for good.

    Although I've enjoyed most of Olive's B&W titles...warts and all...this label has mostly been is a basket case with colour. Twilight's Last Gleaming, Sands of the Kalihari, and Assault on a Queen are the only reasonably good ones that pop into mind.
     
  9. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    It's a worthy film, and I'm told that the studio may not have the requisite elements to make things proper, so it is what it is. The title transferred ownership.

    Might be best to grab what's available.

    RAH
     
  10. JoHud

    JoHud Producer

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    Even the worst Olive transfer would be an improvement over that particular Artisan DVD. A very low bar that Olive's easily surpasses. This film in particular just needed more cleanup and polish to get a higher grade and I agree with RAH's score, I also suspect that nothing short of a full restoration or superior secondary elements would have gotten this particular film to have grade-A video quality.
     
  11. Professor Echo

    Professor Echo Screenwriter

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    Olive seems to maintain a quantity over quality mentality which clashes in marked contrast to the typical Blu Ray-phile. They are releasing relatively unknown or neglected films in a format that at a glance seems to be more geared toward established classics. I imagine it's difficult for them to know which direction to go in given the inherent contradiction of trying to sell Blu Rays to a learned format fan base. Do we sacrifice a middling Blu of a perfectly entertaining, but more esoteric movie like FLAME OF BARBARY COAST in order to release a more expensively restored version of a pedigreed film like BILLY MITCHELL? Who makes that call?
     
  12. John-Weller

    John-Weller Stunt Coordinator

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    I personally would rather have more films - so long as the negatives of the picture are age and print related, rather then DVNR and EE.
     
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  13. ROclockCK

    ROclockCK Screenwriter
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    Too often though, we've been left with a Hobson's choice* over a neglected film on Artisan DVD, versus a less-neglected version (but not by much) on Olive Blu-ray. Talk about sucking the joy out of any upcoming release announcements...I mean, I haven't stopped buying Olive titles, but I sure as heck search for the lowest possible pricepoint these days (typically ImportCDs).

    And yes, I'll probably break down and pick up this one too, simply because I want to see the film again. But gee, what a 'cauliflower instead of asparagus' feeling when I open those Olive cases lately.

    * not to be confused with HTF's John Hodson. ;)
     
  14. John-Weller

    John-Weller Stunt Coordinator

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    I treat it as though I was watching archival screenings from used theatrical prints. Luck of the draw, but there you go.

    Universal bugs me far more as they mess with the picture and these messed transfers then go to Shout.
     
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  15. John-Weller

    John-Weller Stunt Coordinator

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    Mind you, I think the sound on Olive's Colossus of New York is out-of-sync...
     
  16. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Correct. If possible. And in fairness to Olive and Paramount, that possibility may not exist.

    RAH
     
  17. kingofthejungle

    kingofthejungle Stunt Coordinator

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    It's bet that, given the enduring fan base the Duke seems to have, FLAME OF THE BARBARY COAST will sell more copies than BILLY MITCHELL. This is the problem with releasing fewer titles - who decides what to release? Cinephiles might prefer something like CHINA GATE, while there may just be more of a market for a wacky Sci-Fi title like THE ATOMIC CITY. The breadth of films Olive chooses to release is what makes the label great, IMO.I see what Olive is doing more comparable to the Warner Archive than Twilight Time - or kind of a mixture of the two models. They offer generally competent transfers of the available elements with little to no clean-up for the people interested in owning the title, and make it available on a factory Blu-Ray rather than DVD-R at only slightly greater cost. I don't see anything wrong with that. As, John Weller points out, an Olive Blu-Ray generally looks like a print one might see at a repertory theater. It would be nice if everything could be restored and pristine looking, but as people love to point out, the catalog Blu-Ray market just doesn't seem to support that. I'd much rather have crisp, but unrestored Blu-Rays of RAMROD and HELL'S HALF ACRE than not have them available at all (or even settling for an unrestored DVD-R).
     
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  18. Professor Echo

    Professor Echo Screenwriter

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    I grew up watching all sorts of FILM elements and have quite an affection for the experience of watching FILM without expectations that it look pristine 100% of the time. If that's a person's sole criteria for the Blu Ray format, fine, but I am disappointed enough in life without imposing inordinate restrictions on something that is supposed to be giving me pleasure. What's important to me is that it looks like film and not video. If there are film source related issues and they are not excessive, it ordinarily does not bother me.
     
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  19. Robin9

    Robin9 Cinematographer

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    Most of my Olive Film titles are black and white movies but Innocent Bystanders, Who's Got The Action? and Boeing Boeing all have pretty good color. The Trap is not perfect but it's not bad either.
     
  20. haineshisway

    haineshisway Producer

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    Olive may not contractually have the right to alter the master that they are handed, nor may it be financially feasible even if they do have the right, given they are paying a licensing fee and authoring fees and not selling many of these older films. It's reality. Paramount doesn't have the program that Sony does, where Grover has the budget to do the work that needs to be done. So, Olive is only going to get what Paramount has laying around - and a lot of what they have laying around is not up to today's standards.
     

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