Babes in Toyland/March Of The Wooden Soldiers, Best Release from Legend!?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by MarcoBiscotti, Jul 29, 2004.

  1. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Many public domain companies have released this as a bargain bin title and I'd like to know what the definitive version to own on disc is? I suspect that many are poorly done colorized transfers. What version should i pick up?
     
  2. Mark Oates

    Mark Oates Supporting Actor

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    I have the R2 Stonevision edition of this film. Although the print quality is poor (on a par with the old pre-restoration versions), it is passable and it isn't colorized.

    [​IMG]

    This is an unretouched screen grab
     
  3. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Thanks

    I'd really prefer to stick with a R1 though. If a proper remastered print was available elsewhere it would be a different story, but I don't want to import a cheap p.d. PAL disc of questionable quality because I'm sure we already have a plethora of those available.

    Anyone know what's considered "the best" here in R1?
     
  4. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    That screen grab is 'not bad' but do you know if there's anything available in R1 that's either on par or done up?
     
  5. Dick

    Dick Producer
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    This is perhaps the ONLY colorized film that actually looks pretty decent. I abhore colorization on principle, but unfortunately that is the only way to get an otherwise very nice copy of this movie. I know that simply turning the color down does not render an image exactly like that of an unretouched black and white image, but the sharpness and contrast are remarkably good, so it works pretty well. It'll do until something better comes along. Region 2 has all sorts of good Laurel and Hardy stuff that we don't yet have, but despite the tampering, the colorized version of MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS is the best one out there right now in any region.
     
  6. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    Actually, I think Laurel and Hardy would approve of the colorized version. It isn't garish, and it actually makes the movie better since it takes place in Mother Goose Land. In fact, it almost looks like early Technicolor. This is one of the few colorized films that I actually prefer to the black and white version (the other being the 1938 MGM version of A Christmas Carol.)
     
  7. Mark Oates

    Mark Oates Supporting Actor

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    As far as I can ascertain, there are only two editions of "Babes" available in R1 - the colorized GoodTimes and the monochrome Koch. Both the same company, different labels. I suspect the same is true of the R2 prints, so personally I'd blow $7 at Amazon and risk it. It won't break the bank.
     
  8. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Of Goodtimes and Koch than, would I be safe going with the latter (Koch)?
     
  9. Mark Oates

    Mark Oates Supporting Actor

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    Sorry, I should have said "blow $7 at Amazon on the Koch print". I think all the colorization on the L&H films was done at the same time on unrestored prints, so if the colorized shorts on the Collection are anything to go by, the GoodTimes version of "Babes" should look pretty nasty.
     
  10. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    If I remeber correctly that colorized version
    of TOYLAND is horrible -- mainly because of the
    constant background "flash" effect caused (I think)
    by the colorization process.

    I bought that colorized version years ago,
    regretred it, and ended up buying the foreign
    release.
     
  11. Dick

    Dick Producer
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    Hmm. Ron, I can't remember seeing this on the DVD I owned (I sold it and about 200 others a year ago). I was reluctantly impressed with it, actually.
     
  12. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    I had a rep from GoodTimes confirm the
    flashing problem a few years ago. He
    said it was unavoidable during the colorization.
     
  13. Richard Gallagher

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    There is finally an excellent DVD of "March of the Wooden Soldiers."

    http://www.amazon.com/March-Wooden-S...?ie=UTF8&s=dvd

    The B&W transfer is superb, head and shoulders above the other public domain issues. It even includes the original "Babes in Toyland" titles. There is also a colorized version on the disc, but you don't have to watch it! There are some extras, which I haven't really looked at yet other than some amusing vintage TV commercials for toys.

    I put up a link to Amazon but I'm pretty sure you can find a lower price elsewhere.
     
  14. Mark Y

    Mark Y Supporting Actor

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    Here's a brief history of colorizing L&H.

    "Way Out West" was the first L&H film to be colorized, back in 1983 or so. (In fact, I believe it was the first colorized film, period.)

    Shortly thereafter, Hal Roach Studios/Colorization Inc. (yes, that was their corporate name at the time, and "colorization" was their trademark) created colorized versions of two L&H shorts: "The Music Box" and "Helpmates." I personally have not been too impressed with any colorized movies in general...but in the outdoor scenes, I thought "The Music Box" actually looked pretty good. "Helpmates" turned out horrible, though (in my assessment). By the way...the colorized "Helpmates" has Film Classics titles...I never knew the original titles had been found until that short aired years later (in B&W) on AMC.

    In 1986, the colorized versions of "Way Out West," "The Music Box" and "Helpmates" were included in the 90-minute syndicated "Laurel And Hardy Show." This show featured most of the Roach-era L&H talkies (which were not owned or controlled by another entity at the time) and also added "The Flying Deuces," "Utopia," the Oliver Hardy solo film "Zenobia" and a re-edited version of L&H's appearance on "This Is Your Life." For some reason, the shorts "Any Old Port," "Come Clean" and "The Live Ghost" were not included (I think those are the ones they skipped). They did include "Unaccustomed As We Are," but not (as I recall) "They Go Boom." "Way Out West" and "Helpmates" were only shown colorized, but "The Music Box" appeared twice, once colorized and once in black and white. (In the early 1990s, "The Laurel & Hardy Show" aired on Comedy Central in the US, and now, *all* the films were colorized. I don't know exactly when that was done, but otherwise it was the same as the 1986 package.) (These colorized versions also have been released on DVD in the UK. They originate from the TV tapes, so some are edited, and some shorts are not represented on the UK DVDs because they were not part of the TV package at the time.)

    The first colorized version of "Babes In Toyland" (aka "March Of The Wooden Soldiers") was released in 1991, and was done by the Samuel Goldwyn Company. (This film, along with "The Devil's Brother," "Bonnie Scotland" and "Pick A Star," was produced by Roach but today is under different ownership from the majority of the Roach sound L&H films.) The TV version also included a colorized version of the 1934 short "The Live Ghost," and I wonder why (and how) Samuel Goldwyn got their hands on that short. (It should be part of the current Hallmark/Artisan holdings.)

    The new Legend Films master is indeed a new version, although the opening and end titles have been taken from a different source than the rest of the film. The end title clearly originates from the 1991 colorized version. On the B&W version on the new DVD, it has a 1991 copyright for the colorized version.
     
  15. Richard Gallagher

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    Thanks for the interesting info.

    The Legend Films master is by far the best-looking print of this film I have ever seen.
     
  16. LaurenceGarvey

    LaurenceGarvey Second Unit

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    This has been discussed over on the L&H Newsgroup, where it's offered that the so-called "B&W" version from Legend is simply the colorized version with the color turned off. Bleccchhh.
     
  17. Paul Penna

    Paul Penna Supporting Actor

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    I went through my copy of the Legend disc in hopes of finding a "smoking gun" instance that would unequivocally demonstrate this to be the case. An example of what I'm talking about can be seen in the colorized versions of early Mickey Mouse cartoons once shown on the Disney Channel. In the original black and white, Mickey's pants are white. When colorizing, the pants were made red, in keeping with the color scheme eventually adopted. Of course, this changed the gamma of the pants, so that when de-colorized (as sometimes happened when these were shown in b/w on DC's "Ink & Paint Club"), the pants looked gray.

    I tried to find similar instances on the Legend disc, comparing the "b/w" version to a tape I had of the real b/w version. While I was not able to find any "smoking gun" so dramatically obvious, it was clear that something looked off with the Legend "b/w" version. There was a flattening of the gray scale in objects, such as a lack of modeling or chiaroscuro in faces that, in contrast (!) was present in the tape of the real black and white print. This was obvious in many other kinds of textures as well, such as the folds of cloth in costumes. It gives the whole image a kind of dull, washed-out appearance, objects looking more 2-D than sculpted. Faces looked as if covered in pancake makeup in comparison with their appearance in the real b/w.

    A shame, as in other respects, the print is quite crisp and hints at a reasonably nice gray scale if it hadn't been compromised by the overlay of color. So my strong suspicion is that this is, indeed, the colorized version without the color. Either that or they managed to screw it up some other way.
     
  18. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    It would be nice if the Legend Films rep that occasionally posts here would chime in and give an honest answer about this disc.

    Although I do not support colorization I bought this disc due to the assertion that the B&W version was "true B&W" and supposedly from a newly discovered print.

    Now I want to know if I have the genuine article or if I was misinformed.
     
  19. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    What are your eyes telling you?
     
  20. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    I would say that most likely it is the colorized version, but that is my opinion...especially since there is a copyright for that version on the end credits. Probably the same print.
     

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