A Few Words About A few words about... The Searchers -- in SD (Some potential bad news See Post #139)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Robert Harris, May 24, 2006.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I received a back-breaking package today from Warner Home Video.

    And there isn't just a single gem amongst them, but a dozen.

    This is probably the most important group of films, related and unrelated to be released in such a short window. I'll have to take my time to try to get through them, as some of the great films of all time are included.

    One film however, shines above the others, and not simply because it is one of the greatest films ever produced.

    The new DVD of The Searchers is miraculously beautiful. Nothing more needs to be said. Introduced by Patrick Wayne in an elegant and warm manner, the film will speak volumes by itself.

    The new master was created by digitally recompositing the original VistaVision 35/8 separation masters via Warner's Ultra resolution process. The process works beautifully with resolution and color at or near perfection, with a couple of anomalies: some rather odd flesh tones in the indoor sequences, which may be caused by any number of production or post-production based problems, and some scenes obviously shot day for night, which could be graded a bit darker.

    Seeing the film as sharp and brilliant as it appears on the DVD, one of the film's production flubs also comes through with even greater resolution. Early in the film, as Ethan and his group head out into the desert, the body of a "dead" Indian is shown, being uncovered beneath a huge flat rock.

    As the rock is lifted, one can now easily see the stunt man playing the "dead" individual take a deep breath...

    and hold it.

    And when the HD version arrives sometime in the future, with six times the image resolution, and a few
    corrections ...

    WoW!

    RAH
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    That's what I want to hear about one of my all-time favorite films.[​IMG]



    Crawdaddy
     
  3. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    That's great news. I would also love if someone in the loop could sneak a peak at "The Long Voyage Home". That film features the most strikingly beautiful Gregg Toland cinematography next to that film about the newspaper guy.
     
  4. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Specifically because of Mr. Toland's work on The Long Voyage Home, I took a peek.

    I'm very, very pleased. There is some light wear on the element, but generally everything is quite beautiful. There are many dark shots in the film, some with water glistening off cobble stones, which reminds me of The Informer, which I also need to check.

    I'm hopeful that Mr. Toland would be pleased. Warner has done right by his work.

    The single point that I don't like is the use of the color Castle Rock logo, which would be much more pleasing and appropriate in black and white.

    RAH
     
  5. PaulP

    PaulP Producer

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    What's the point of using anachronistic logos in front of old films anyway?
     
  6. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Amen; am eagerly anticipating a portmanteau sized box winging its way cross the Pond. My releases of the year, and it's only May...
     
  7. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    can't wait to see these
     
  8. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    a shame this title is no longer going to be day and date on HD.
    This, and Batman Begins, and the Dirty Dozen were all considerations when I bought my player- much earlier than I was anticipating.

    jokes on me, I guess, as I have the player and still won't be able to pick it up (in HD).

    oh well, I'll have to live vicariously thru you folks for a while [​IMG]
    (sigh)
     
  9. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Producer

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    Wow, thanks for the review, Robert. The Searchers is one of those films that deserves to have all the best on DVD. I didn't think the previous DVD was all that bad, but I'm glad to hear the new one is so good. Will be picking this up for sure.
     
  10. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    Paul, I hear you. Looks like Warner Bros. will be individually releasing the titles in the Ford/Wayne set. I'll have to compare pricing against the box set vs. individual titles to find the best fit, as I am absolutely, positively picking up The Searchers when it is released on HD DVD.

    (Very happy to hear that it turned out so well, Mr. Harris.)

    - Walter.
     
  11. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I should point out that within the two boxed sets making up the Ford / Wayne packaged, only two films have not been remastered -- She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and They Were Expendable.

    Stagecoach has been re-transferred from the UCLA restoration, and has undergone further digital cleanup, and The Long Voyage Home is the long, ie. 105 minute version of the film.

    Having 13 John Ford films released concurrently is a major event.

    RAH
     
  12. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    Well, guess that settles that. [​IMG] ( And thanks again for the info.)

    - Walter.
     
  13. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    I don't know. But Castle Rock? A company that didn't even exist when this movie came out?

    I hate logo replacement with all my heart, especially when it replaces the original logo.

    Warner just tacked their new logo onto "The Nun's Story," with the As Time Goes By fanfare replacing the bells at the beginning.
     
  14. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    Absolutely and along with Young Mr Lincoln & R2 The Prisoner of Shark Island makes 15 in my case
     
  15. Doug Bull

    Doug Bull Advanced Member

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    I can't wait now to recieve THE SEARCHERS, which is my second best Western of all time. ( alright, while it might not be as good, HTWWW is still my all time favourite for other reasons)

    LONG VOYAGE HOME was in the United Artists ( Australia ) vaults, when I worked there during the Fifties.
    I sadly remember seeing it junked.
    All prints,trailers & Merchandise ended up being destroyed at the local rubbish dump.
    If memory serves, I think that others in that clean out included Disney's Victory Through Airpower, Donat's Count of Monte Christo, Jane Russell's Fuzzy Pink Night Gown(the film, not the gown itself:) Ameche's Sleep My Love, Cooper's Along Came Jones and The Marx Bros' Love Happy, among many others.
    The Films were wound onto plastic cores and then chopped up with an Axe.
    The printed merchandise was burnt and buried.
    What a damn Shame!

    At least, like THE LONG VOYAGE HOME, we still get to see some of these wonderful titles on DVD, but after all this time, I still feel sickened by that total destruction.
     
  16. RickER

    RickER Producer

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    I watched a PBS HD Doc on John Wayne and John Ford a week or two ago. American Masters? or something to that sort. Anyway, the clips from The Searchers and She Wore A Yellow Ribbon were WONDERFUL looking on broadcast HD. On the other hand the clips from The Quiet Man were god-awful as the current DVD, even worse blown up on the HD image. Sure can tell Warners work stands head and shoulders above most. However, i have been on the fence about buying the box set when it comes out. But i sure will be all over The Searchers!
     
  17. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    yes it's a shame Artisan wasn't allowed to touch decent elements for Quiet Man, because I've spoken with people there that really wanted to present a better DVD, maybe we'll sometime get a decent transfer from Paramount (that's the studio rights reverted to, correct), on the other hand, we're still waiting for African Queen and Wings from them.

    I too saw the American Masters documentary and the Searchers caused my jaw to drop. I was priveleged enough to see one of the last public screenings of the Searchers on 35mm, at the Arclight in summer 2004, just before Warners pulled all prints in anticipation of this release. It was the the best available print, but the print was worn, the color was inconsistent and the density varied from reel to reel, and it was still a completely stunning experience that made me long to see it Vista Vision. It's my sincere hope that Randy Habercamp and the Academy will get together with WB and strike a new Vista Vision print (or a 70mm print if they can't do Vista Vision, though I'm told at least Disney still has facilities for it) to screen at the Samuel Goldwyn for the Gold Standard series. However sometimes a restored film print lags behind the DVD release, Sunrise for instance, was about 15 months after the restored DVD. Robert, do you know how a photochemical restoration is proceeding for the VistaVision elements? And can the Samuel Goldwyn run films in Vista Vision? I know they've run odd format films before (the king and I) and I've been told their screen is sized for dimension 160, I got to see Cleopatra there, in 70mm, and large format looks fantastic.

    In the meantime I can't wait to get my hands on these dvds!

    Adam
     
  18. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Yeah, the Informer was beautifully shot, too. It's kind of depressing to think about what might have been if both Joseph August and Gregg Toland had not passed away so early. They died almost exactly a year apart in 1947 (August - age 57) and 1948 (Toland - age 44).

    August's last three films were "The Devil and Daniel Webster", "They Were Expendable" and "Portrait of Jennie" (which I believe was completed by Lee Garmes - no slouch with a camera and bank of lights himself). He was clearly at the peak of his abilities.

    Regards,
     
  19. JohnPM

    JohnPM Second Unit

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  20. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The American Masters documentary on the relationship between Ford and Wayne, which is located on disc 2 of the new Stagecoach DVD, is the perfect example of a quality, intelligent documentary on film, and the antithesis of the sort of material which is ground out by Bouzereau and this staff.

    RAH
     

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