A Few Words About A few words about...™ To Catch a Thief -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Lovers of the cinema, especially aficionados of the work of Alfred Hitchcock, are especially fortunate that To Catch a Thief, probably the singularly most beautiful film in the Hitchcock Canon, was shot on the earliest incarnation of Kodak's 5248 emulsion...

    and in VistaVision.

    Because of the early 5248 stock, dye fade is far less a problem that several years later, and as to VistaVision.

    Just take a look.

    The color, densities and sheer brilliance of image as captured by cinematographer Robert Burks is once again as astounding as it was in 1955.

    Decades ago, before there was that thing called "home video," I had a 16mm dye transfer print of TCaT, and the overall look and textures of this new Blu-ray from Paramount reasonably accurately mimic that print, down to the rather odd cyan-green day-for-night shots, which are correct.

    Grain on this release is virtually nonexistent. Jeff Wells over at Hollywood-Elsewhere will love it. The image, aside from a couple of bumpy dissolves, is extremely stable. Main Title sequence should have more of a gold metallic look to the lettering, but we'll excuse that.

    I've mentioned before that I'm extremely jealous of those seeing certain films for the first time. You can only do it once.
    And this is one of those times. Have I spoken of color?

    Wait until you see the final gala sequence. And keep in mind that this is only the second generation Kodak tri-pack negative stock, replacing 5247 -- the first 5247. Kodak has an odd way of using the same numbers of totally different stocks.

    I'll leave it to the HTF reviewer to give you a few details as to plot, but suffice to say that Paramount has pulled a rabbit out of a hat with this one. I believe the image harvest was performed several years ago, and previously used for the SD version, but no matter.

    To Catch a Thief on Blu-ray is about as stunning as a Blu-ray from this (or any) era will get. Barred none.

    Stars?

    Image 4 1/2
    Audio 5

    One of the great classics of the '50s, and prime Hitchcock.

    Very Highly Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. lukejosephchung

    lukejosephchung Screenwriter

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    Have this one on pre-order status from Amazon, Robert...your highly positive analysis of this Hitchcock classic's latest home theater incarnation has me waiting impatiently for my copy to arrive!!!
     
  3. benbess

    benbess Cinematographer

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    Wow! Can't wait!
     
  4. haineshisway

    haineshisway Producer

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    I, too, had a 16mm IB print (literally brand new when I bought it), and if this Blu-ray's color is accurate to that, I shall be doing a jig in jig time. One of the most beautiful color films. I wasn't crazy about the last DVD release, but I'm hoping this little preview bodes well for the Blu.
     
  5. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Interesting, that looking at Mr. Grant's skin tones, which in this film are quite tanned, I was thinking that he was possibly looking a bit dark, but then in comparison to the other actors, everything was in sync.

    With the exception of the main title sequence lettering, I believe you'll be very pleased.

    The overall resolution is amazing.
     
  6. Jacksmyname

    Jacksmyname Second Unit

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    I placed my pre-order as soon as it was up on Amazon.
    This is another favorite of mine, the color being one of the reasons.
    Thanks for the review, Robert.
     
  7. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    This is one of my favorite "Hitchcock-lites," in that it's more light and fun than heavy and dramatic, and it's one of the rare whodunits in his canon which also makes it special.

    I haven't been disappointed with any of the VistaVision Blu-rays that we've had so far, and I'm expecting to love this one just as much.
     
  8. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Looking forward to picking this one up.
     
  9. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    How rewarding, finally getting some great Hitchcock on Blu-ray. Just don't stop now -- I want all of those Paramounts! (And more.)
     
  10. haineshisway

    haineshisway Producer

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    Cannot wait! And yes, Grant is incredibly tan in this film - always was that way.
     
  11. marsnkc

    marsnkc Supporting Actor

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    Thanks, Robert. This one falls into the 'magical' category for me, so thrilled with the review.
     
  12. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    [​IMG]
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    I don't need encouragement to buy Hitchcock all over again in the new medium.
    Watching To Catch a Thief cheers me up. I'm glad that it's not a convoluted or "serious" film like Rear Window and Vertigo. But it's not as fluffy as some critics think, either. It is every bit as good as Rear Window but in a different way. The prints I've seen projected over the years have been old and tattered, but not so much that the film couldn't work its spell over me. If the new Blu-ray is anything like North By Northwest I'm going to be very pleased indeed. So far as I'm concerned, this is the second time Hitchcock made a perfect film.
    I'm glad to read a confirmation that the cyan-green day-for-night shots are correct. After years and years of watching the day-for-night shots blue, I had some trouble adjusting to the new color on the remastered DVD. But if you're certain that's how it's supposed to be, perhaps my mind will stop resisting it now.
    There's a lot of process in To Catch A Thief. How are these shots? The backgrounds get a little dim in North By Northwest sometimes. Especially in the cab scenes. Never shaky though.
    But this is 35mm film. Shouldn't there be some film grain?
    Wasn't the lettering correct color in the standard DVD?
    This six-sheet should fill your entire browser window:
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Rear projection process shots are fine, and look as they always did. Some of the matte shots look a bit like what they are, especially in VVLA. This would have been lessened a bit in the 35mm dye transfer reductions, but it's fine.

    A few shots did stand out in the final sequence, in which Mr. Grant is in MS, and color is quite normal. I have no way of checking this for match to original, but it does stand out as odd.

    RAH
     
  14. haineshisway

    haineshisway Producer

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    An image from the original VV negative would yield little visible grain. That was the point.
     
  15. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    How very exciting to get another Hitchcock VistaVision release. Any idea of what element was scanned (8-perf?) and at what resolution?
    Speaking of day-for-night, this is one element of vintage filmmaking that drives me nuts. Whenever I see it I point at the screen and scream "Day-For-Night!" I realize it was a necessity as nighttime shooting was near impossible in those days, but man, the shadows on the ground which were obviously from direct sunlight and the clouds were completely visible in the sky (you can't see clouds at night). I really hate day-for-night (the process, not the wonderful Truffaut film)
     
  16. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    I realized he wasn't referring to DNR moments after I posted, but thank you for pointing out the point and please excuse the question.
    .
     
  17. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I believe the element was an 8 perf interpositive. Probably scanned at 2k.

    RAH
     
  18. DavidJ

    DavidJ Producer
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    Reading this thread has me giddy in anticipation of this release.
     
  19. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    Day for night is generally trying to replicate the look of a full moon on a clear night. The moon, being almost exactly the same size in the sky as the sun, casts shadows that are almost identical (though clearly darker), and clouds are clearly visible at night during a full moon. Good day for night can be VERY convincing.
    Doug
     
  20. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    Day-for-night is most convincing when as little sky is shown as possible. Or no sky at all. The worst day-for-night I've seen is in THE SCARECROW OF ROMNEY MARSH, and that was made by people who know how and who did day-for-night better in other films. Either no effort is made to "trick" the camera or the digital scan sees right through it and nobody knew how to adjust in post. Big sunny skies in the night scenes. The dark is bright as day with shadow lines that look drawn by a pencil.
    But day-for-night shouldn't be a problem with TO CATCH A THIEF Blu-ray.
     

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