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Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Jun 20, 2012.
All the Koch Media Westerns I have on Blu are Region A- and B-playable.
From what I've read in this topic about the quality of the Betty Grable films (or lack of it), maybe some of the "better" quality releases were originally prepped for a second Grable DVD box back in the day? It never happened, and now these are being issued in the MOD release range? Just a thought.
I've thought the same thing due to the widely differing quality of the Grable releases I've reviewed.
Always thought it odd that Fox released a Volume 2 for Alice Faye but ignored Betty Grable... this makes sense.
"Wabash Avenue" looks and sounds awful and definitely appears to be an old transfer.
I'm not all that happy with "That Lady In Ermine" either. The orange skin tones in most scenes and the crushed blacks are really off putting, although there are a couple of sequences where the gray scale and color does actually look OK.
The other Betty Grable titles generally do look better.
I have the German copy of THAT LADY IN ERMINE, which comes as a double feature with Lubitsch's CLUNY BROWN. It is a PAL transfer so must be different to the NTSC MOD. I believe it looks better. I will soon have four Fox MODS, three of which I do not think anyone has commented on. None are CinemaScope or Wide Screen.I will report when they arrive. Good to see websites are now offering the latest batch of MODs for order/pre-order. Although none of the upcoming Wide Screen transfers are anamorphic, I am thankful they are at least not panned-and-scanned.
Dare I say that as all currently manufactured TVs are now 16:9, Fox are being foolishly shortsighted by not spending the money to do HD 16:9 masters in PAL + NTSC for all of their Wide Screen titles while they still can. I don't think all would need major restoration. This would protect their investment on these titles for all future dvd, cinema and TV presentations. When square TVs are no longer remembered, viewers will be highly confused as to the reason for modifying the cinematography to fit a square-shaped screen. It reduces professional cinematography to that of an amateur and robs the viewer of the director's intent for every shot.
I recall watching THE MUSIC MAN once panned-amd-scanned on TV in the USA. A song which used a split screen had the re-formatted square frame anchored in the middle of the shot so that Shirley Jones was not seen and half the members of a Barbershop Quartet were in view. It was obvious that the person doing the panning/scanning had not seen the movie before and did not have a clue what to do. In the '90's directors (inc. Robert Wise) led a delegation to Washington DC to insist that modified movies be labelled as such on VHS covers as they were appalled at how their work was being presented for the Home Video market. What they would think of companies like Fox continuing to present their movies this way in this present age of Wide Screen monitors and anamorphic dvds / Blu Rays would be worth hearing. I guess they're counting on the fact that most of them are now dead.....
Will we ever see Wide Screen Anamorphic versions of "The Best Things in Life Are Free", "Boy On a Dolphin", "April Love", "Bernadine", "Beneath The Twelve Mile Reef", "New Faces", "Untamed" and other early CinemaScope productions?
I live in hope.
Thankfully a few Anamorphic DVDs & Blu-Ray discs of Fox Cinemascope films have been released in Europe. (although you have to put up with the annoying PAL speed up on the DVDs)
Though at this point, I'm left trying to be optimistic thinking "well, it could be worse." And sadly there are plenty of other botched FCA releases that make this edition of Wabash Avenue look good in comparison.
TCM HD showed a relatively nice Cinemascope print of BENEATH THE 12 MILE REEF and I made my own anamorphic copy. Since this is a public domain title it's unlikely Fox will ever release it, but I hope I'm wrong.
A bit disappointing, but far less annoying than a P&S'd CinemaScope title. In the case of Surf Party, the transfer was also rather good.
"Goodbye Charlie" is pan & scan per a review at DVD Talk. I have a vhs tape of it letterboxed from AMC years ago. I guess they couldn't be bothered to find that. Shameful.
Minnelli's big in Europe, maybe it will get a decent release over there.
Has anyone picked up any of the latest batch of Fox MODs (egs. PRINCESS OF THE NILE, THE GAMBLER FROM NATCHEZ)? Curious to hear of their image / sound quality.
Should the Fox MOD of KING OF THE KHYBER RIFLES be a disappointment, a pressed disc release has been announced in the UK. No word as to whether it will be 16:9 or LBX (like the Spanish and Australian releases). There is also a Portuguese release but I have not read a review of it. The Aussie dvd- now Out of Print- had some transfer problems but the copy I have looks good. The original 4-track magnetic stereo soundtrack has been converted to a mono track, however the Spanish version is in stereo.No website store has begun to list the FOX MOD version, but it will reportedly be in LBX (ie. non-anamorphic) Wide Screen. I am curious to learn more about the quality/specs of the(pricey) Portuguese and (reasonable) UK releases. What a pity Fox didn't produce a 3rd Tyrone Power set and then we would have had restored,stereo, 16:9 transfers of this and UNTAMED, another Henry King-Power collaboration.
I'm hoping the UK edition of "Khyber Rifles" is true anamorphic - although I have a strong feeling it will be the same letterboxed print licenced through Hollywood Classics.
I have chosen to order the LBX Spanish edition as it is in stereo and early CinemaScope movies had interesting, very "directional" stereo sound (ie. with characters on the extreme right and left of the screen having their dialogue coming from the speakers on those sides and "moving with them" as they moved across the screen). The Australian transfer looks good but the sound is mono. A reviewer at amazon has stated how great the Bernard Herrmann score sounds in stereo on the Spanish version. The MOD of UNTAMED is apparently mono (like the Spanish edition, and may be coming from the same master), a great pity considering the terrific Franz Waxman score composed for it (and released in stereo by Film Score Monthly). I have a feeling that the version of UNTAMED broadcast (in 16:9 2.35:1) on the Fox Classics channel here was in stereo.( I may be mistaken). Movies Unlimited lists it as 'Full Screen', but Oldies.com states that it is "4:3 Letterbox", which lines up with the information given by Lou Lumineck.
The Spanish titles are low-priced (about 8 Euros) and I can get one shipped here for about $17 all up, so getting the pressed Spanish edition in full stereo was a "no brainer" for me. I believe Lou wrote in his column that KING OF THE KHYBER RIFLES will be in "4:3 Letterbox" . I will be curious to see what the soundtrack will be.
I'd like to see Fox release THE BLACK WATCH, the 1929 John Ford movie with Victor McLaglen and Myrna Loy based on the same (semi-autobiographical) book that KHYBER RIFLES was based on. I have a very poor copy of this interesting early talkie.A British ancestor of mine was in the Bengal Mounted Rifles in India.
DVD Savant rates the Fox MOD of the excellent SONS AND LOVERS "much better than acceptable" in quality. Glad one worthy title got decent treatment: http://www.dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/s4198sons.html
I ordered that plus WELCOME HOME, SOLDIER BOYS, which I hear is another indifferent fullscreen transfer. Given its rarity I thought I'd give it a look, though.
WELCOME HOME SOLDIER BOYS is fullframe, and somewhat hazy to boot. However, it is a top rarity in the US, and a pretty good drama before an unfortunate Joe Solomon-like final act. It was advertised as "coming next week" in Seattle via a trailer preview in 1972, but never actually played.
Lou Lumineck mentioned the 1969 James Coburn movie HARD CONTRACT as coming out in the current batch of Fox MODs. I have not found any mention of it elsewhere. He also left it out of his list of releases given by date. Has anyone heard anything further about this title?
No, but it's probably just been pushed back. Hope it's anamorphic widescreen...