A Few Words About A few words about... Oklahoma!

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Robert Harris, Oct 28, 2005.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    What a beautifully produced musical, using the 30fps Todd-AO system to full advantage.

    Some work has been done here since the last time we visited the film, mostly in toning down the yellow highlights in the whites -- this due to the faded original negative.

    The image, while soft, is satisfactory, but won't win any awards for resolution.

    The main title sequence is an abortive mess and far below studio standards.

    The film is supposed to begin with something known as an "Overture."

    What this means is that music is heard while the screen is black.

    Now let's be honest. We know that there are some idiots out there in home video land. These are the same people who call tech support at computer companies because they can't get their computer to load, but haven't yet plugged it in.

    The "Overture" thing was something that I thought we had addressed a decade and a half ago.

    Its easy.

    Start your music.

    Fade up a simple title which says something like "Overture."

    Leave it on screen for ten seconds for the slow readers.

    Fade it to black.

    Not the case with Oklahoma!

    We're back to "OVERTURE" sitting on screen continuously.

    We should then, if memory serves, hit a title which reads something like "A Magna Production"

    This fades out and is replaced by the opening credits.

    Not here.

    The Magna title has been removed, and in its place is a credit to The Samuel Goldwyn Company.

    The Samuel Goldwyn Company, to the best of my knowledge, had absolutely nothing to do with the production of this film. I believe they hold distribution rights. An appropriate credit, if at the head end, and done with any elegance whatsoever, might have read "The Samuel Goldwyn Company presents" in Oklahoma typeface to match the credits...

    leading into the original Magna credit, and then on to the main titles.

    But things are even worse.

    Because of fading and color correction the main titles look totally abysmal -- a wretched gold surrounding a wretched red.

    This is followed by an equally abysmal Todd-AO credit, again in a sort of ochre. Not pretty.

    And this wouldn't have looked quite as bad had Fox not added the title "OVERTURE" in the very same Oklahoma typography...

    but in proper brilliant red with glorious gold.

    which makes the actual credits look as horrific as they do.

    I'm not one for changing credits.

    Universal, for the restorations of Rear Window and "Vertigo" agreed with the propriety of returning the original Paramount credits to their former places. They recently restored the Paramount logo to Psycho.

    Paramount was the company behind the production and distribution of these films.

    Universal added their credit to the head end before the film proper begins, which is totally appropriate.

    Not so with the Goldwyn credit, replacing Magna.

    The 35mm version is also included in this release, along with a myriad of extras.

    If only they had done right by the Todd-AO version.

    Yet another terrific classic film, which needs to be redone.

    The bottom line here is that the 35mm CinemaScope version looks sharper, with higher resolution than the Todd-AO version, and it shouldn't. The audio on both version is superb. The Todd-Ao extras are a treat.

    Another superb extra is a short discussion regarding the difference between CinemaScope and Todd-AO, with a brief history of the process, inclusive of a visit to Curator Martin Hart of The Widescreen Museum.

    There's an imbalance here, with the extras taking precedence over the main attraction as far as quality.

    And if the classics division of one of the studios had an executive brave enough and with enough forsight, the film could be released in theatres in Todd-AO as a special attraction, rather than as an out of focus home video.

    Recommneded reluctantly.

    RAH
     
  2. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    That's disappointing, but how did the soundtrack fair?
     
  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    It appears that they didn't do damage to the track.

    RAH
     
  4. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    I'll buy it but too bad it's not what we had hoped for. One of my favorite musicals too. [​IMG]
     
  5. Paul Borges

    Paul Borges Stunt Coordinator

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    How's the cinemascope version look?
     
  6. Jo_C

    Jo_C Second Unit

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  7. Will Ryan

    Will Ryan Agent

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    Presently FOX and the R&H estate are working on restorations on both versions of OKLAHOMA. I’m sure Mr. Harris knows about these.
     
  8. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I have no problem with a distribution logo, appropriately placed and in sync with other titles in the film. I do have a problem with removing the original credits.

    Regarding the distribution, I somehow had recalled RKO being set as the original distributor (leaders of original prints have RKO markings) and Fox taking over said distribution as RKO was ceasing to operate.

    RAH
     
  9. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    30 fps Todd-AO is simply the best format ever used for theatrical exhibitions, as far as I am concerned. I wish that the two films actually shot in it would get a treatment reflecting the glorious source.
     
  10. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    That's how I understood it.




    Crawdaddy
     
  11. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    How is 30 fps film handled on video?
     
  12. Jo_C

    Jo_C Second Unit

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    I see the point, Mr. Crawford, with RKO ceasing as a production company around the time "Oklahoma" was in early release.

    So how did Goldwyn/MGM get involved with the acquisition of the theatrical/television rights? And how did CBS get involved with their acquisition of the video rights in the first place? Does the CBS/Fox logo appear on the new DVD set?
     
  13. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    Film at 30 frames per second, when transferred to video at 30 frames per second/2-to-1 interlace, naturally becomes what is termed "30psf" for progressive-segmented-frame. In order to do anything else with it you'd need some kind of post-processing. Of course NTSC formatting will slow it down by 1/1000, but that's negligible.
     
  14. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    I've never seen 30 fps film presented on video before (at least I don't think I have)....must look interesting.
     
  15. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    It's wonderful. The sense of realism, of "you are there" is so much stronger than with 24fps, with or without the 2-3 judder of NTSC presentations. Even with the video processors [e.g. in Pioneer Elite plasma sets] which do reverse pulldown and upshuttering to 72 Hz, 24fps film can't touch 30. Even with the awful older DVD, the opening scene made me feel like I was there -- of course, the "there" seemed to be an alien planet! [This on TedD's constant-height Cinemascope screen.] It's what NHK calles "telepresence".
    Aside from OKLAHOMA and AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS, 30fps film is rare, mostly some 16mm stuff shot in the 80s specifically for video transfer. Let's not talk about 60fps ShowScan -- to be blunt it makes many people sick.
     
  16. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I should make mention of the fact that the Todd-AO shorts are included with Oklahoma!, and are virtually worth the price of admission alone.

    Also, to respond to a couple of other questions:

    1. The audio on Oklahoma! is superb.

    2. The 35mm CinemaScope version looks superior to the Todd-Ao, which appears overly soft and out of focus. Color is fine on both.

    RAH
     
  17. Paul Linfesty

    Paul Linfesty Stunt Coordinator

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    Is the Todd-AO image better, the same, or worse than the last DVD release of the film?
     
  18. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The Todd image is better, especially colorwise.

    RAH
     
  19. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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    It's deja vu all over again. [​IMG]

    When are the studios going to learn how to transfer 65mm to video using equipment that can take advantage of it's inherent higher resolution?

    Are they waiting until the 65 mm negatives become unusable?

    The previous 65mm Oklahoma was a total and complete disaster on any screen larger that 40" or so. This one sounds like only a partial disaster.

    At least we'll have the CinemaScope version that hopefully will look good on a large screen.

    This is not what I was hoping to hear.

    Ted
     
  20. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    "So what's the trick, then?"

    The "trick" isn't to transfer in 65 or 70mm at all.

    RAH
     

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