A Few Words About A few words about...™ The Diary of Anne Frank -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Jun 13, 2009.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    George Stevens is a member of that pantheon of American filmmakers whose roots are found in our very early film industry. According to Imdb, Mr. Stevens began his career in the industry in 1915 as an actor, and made a move to cinematography in 1923, working in that capacity until 1930, when he segued into direction. As a cinematographer he was responsible for many of the classic Laurel & Hardy shorts.

    Thereafter, he honed his directing skills at RKO, working with Katharine Hepburn on the 1935 Alice Adams and Astaire & Rogers in the 1936 musical Swing Time. By 1939 it became apparent that he could direct any genre from adventure (Gunga Din), to drama (Penny Serenade), and romantic comedy (Woman of the Year).

    Many fans of the cinema think of him today for his later classics, A Place in the Sun, Giant and Shane.

    But it is another film, The Diary of Anne Frank, finally released on Blu-ray by Fox, for which he will be remembered for taking the difficult, ultimately heart-breaking story of a young girl forced to hide from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic during World War II, and bringing it to the screen.

    As an ensemble piece, I (possibly strangely) relate TDoAF to Hitchcock's Lifeboat. Both films are extremely self-contained and restricted, and work well within those parameters.

    Presented on Blu-ray in its original roadshow CinemaScope form, Fox has done a commendable job of harvesting the full texture of cinematographer William C. Mellor's black & white cinematography, and creating a final product that continues to look like film. Alfred Newman's brilliant score also makes a quality transition to both 5.1 DTS HD as well as the original stereo 4-track.

    The Diary of Anne Frank was honored with eight Academy Award nominations in 1960, and won for Best Cinematography, Art Direction, and Actress in a Supporting Role (Shelley Winters). Its nominations were for Best Picture, Costume Design (black & white), Music, Director and Actor in a Supporting Role (Ed Wynn).

    Mr. Stevens' abilities as an "actor's director" are very much in evidence in this difficult drama.

    Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. blimey

    blimey Extra

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    Great news indeed!!

    My question from another Few Words thread is answered here! Thanks Mr. Harris!

    Blissful to receive Dr. Strangelove, The Seventh Seal and The Diary of Anne Frank in one day.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Douglas R

    Douglas R Cinematographer

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    Unfortunately though, it is not presented in its original roadshow form because, as with the DVD, the End of Act I and Intermission, which includes Alfred Newman's music is missing. That's a big disappointment.
     
  4. BillyFeldman

    BillyFeldman Supporting Actor

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    And there seems to be some discrepancies or differences of opinion between this and the official HTF review by Matt.
     
  5. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Screenwriter

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    That's not how I see it. Matt does mention some speckles and "flashing" in the film element, as well as focusing limitations of early CinemaScope lenses, but also points out that the transfer doesn't suffer from any DNR, and he in fact praises the black-levels and shadow detail as being "quite good". He doesn't find any fault in the transfer at all, rather he notes image-quality limitations inherent in the source material. If you've read many of Robert's "A few words about..."s, you'd realize that he praises transfers that accurately recreate the look of the original film itself. If the original film has "limitations" built in due to certain filming techniques (i.e., having been filmed with early CinemaScope lenses), these "issues" will not be held against the Blu-ray, since those "issues" would have been inherent to the film since day one.

    Vincent
     
  6. Paul Arnette

    Paul Arnette Cinematographer

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    Yes, I would expect that to be true of RAH's reviews; however I admit to still being confused as to the difference between 'Extremely Highly Recommended', 'Highly Recommended', and 'Recommended'. They all seem so arbitrary to me.

    Typically, when I read something is 'Recommended' by Robert, it seems to indicate that that there is some reservation regarding the release although I am never really clear what it is.
     
  7. BillyFeldman

    BillyFeldman Supporting Actor

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    I've read plenty of these A Few Words About trademark things. I've agreed with some, not with others. And so it goes. Sometimes I've actually agreed with the official review, sometimes not. And so it goes. Sometimes I've agreed with neither. And so it goes. I do understand about "issues" that are inherent to a particular film since day one - sometimes those issues are correct, sometimes they are not. And so it goes. Or at least that has been my experience while perusing these threads.
     
  8. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    The funny thing is, according to Panavision, Fox tested some early Panavision lenses for this film, but ultimately decided to stick with using Bausch & Lomb Type II lenses, where by this stage were nearly 5 years old. There must've been contractual reasons why Fox stuck with inferior leses, because early Panavision lenses were far better in pure technical terms.

    Apparently Stevens didn't want to shoot it in CinemaScope at all, but of course he had to. In fact Stevens was one director who made many derogatory comments about the widescreen revolution. In mid-1953 when Fox was working on its first CinemaScope releases, Stevens stated: "Unless we come to our senses, we'll end up with a magnificently huge screen, no picture, and no audience."
     
  9. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Mr. Stevens' wisdom is still on track today.
     
  10. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I don't see how you can say that when the 2009 box office receipts are way up despite people of today having the ability to watch new films on video or on demand by waiting just a few months.
     
  11. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Referring to the number of mindless films on huge screens.
     
  12. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Well, they had their share of mindless films on the screens back in Stevens day too.






    Crawdaddy
     
  13. john a hunter

    john a hunter Supporting Actor

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    And one sterling example would be Stevens own "Greatest Story ever told." Magnificent to look at and as empty as a drum.
     
  14. OliverK

    OliverK Cinematographer

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    And shot in megawide Ultra Panavision 70 - it is ironic that Stevens would make a 180° turn and shoot in that format when he even thought of Scope as too wide.

    Big actors in minor roles pop up throughout the movie (John Wayne anyone?) and imo distract from the story, but the cinematography is indeed stunning and to me it makes the movie watchable in an appropriate setting.
     
  15. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    Apparently Stevens started shooting the Greatest Story Ever Told in 3 strip Cinerama, but Stevens got frustrated with it after a week and switched to Ultra Panavision.

    According to Sidney Lumet, another CinemaScope / Panavision hater, Stevens spent four months trying to convince Fox to let him shoot The Diary of Anne Frank in a format other than CinemaScope. Perhaps that is why Panavision lenses were tested at Steven's request, yet Fox finally over-ruled him and insisted on using Bausch & Lomb lenses that Fox was contractually obliged to use?

    Robert Aldrich managed to have two films released in the 1960s by Fox that weren't shot in CinemaScope or Panavision, Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte, and Flight of the Phoenix, and again, he is a director who hated anamorphic widescreen, not just because of the shape, but the way it effectively reduced depth of field.
     
  16. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    I think I'll finally upgrade from LD of Diary Of..... . I think I'll wait till they drop the price some months from now though.
     
  17. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

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    I watched this last night - rented it through Netflix.

    All in all, the PQ was solid - no DNR issues thankfully. However, there was some minor edge enhancement throughout much of the movie most noticeable again lighter backgrounds. Also, I noticed some pulsating effects early on, but seemed to go away.

    Definitely a classic. When I used to be a teacher, we read the play which was in the textbook. After the entire unit was completed, we watched the film on good ole' pan & scan VHS in those days. From a teacher perspective, it was a great end-of-the-year capper in June (90+ degree temps in classroom) and the students generally liked it.
     
  18. sestamuch

    sestamuch Stunt Coordinator

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    I may pick it up also down the road.
     
  19. BillyFeldman

    BillyFeldman Supporting Actor

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    I have to say I was not that thrilled with the quality of the Blu-Ray in terms of image presentation. Nothing horribly wrong with it, but not top-notch, IMO. Perhaps it's the best they could do, but every time we hear that, later we get better. For now, I guess, it will do.
     

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