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A Few Words About A few words about...™ A Star is Born (1954) -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Jun 14, 2010.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    We all have my dear friend Ron to thank for what you're going to be seeing on the 22nd and thereafter on Warner's new Blu-ray of A Star is Born.


    Ron loved film, and tying in with the Academy to create a reconstructed version of one of director George Cukor's masterpieces was his passion. He took his role extremely seriously, leaving no avenues of which he became aware un-researched.


    Now, almost three decades after his work was completed, Warner Bros. has taken all of the surviving elements, placed them in a digital cauldron, and come up with a new Blu-ray, which with minor problems, is a magnificent rendering of the work performed in honor of Mr. Cukor, and which providentially, he was never able to see, having passed away shortly before the first screening of the reconstructed film.


    So what do we have here?


    The original four channel magnetic tracks sound tremendous in their uncompressed form.


    What survives of the original negative and other extant elements look magnificent for early 1954 Eastman color negative stock.


    Of all the classic films released in 2010, A Star is Born may be the most important from both an artistic as well as a historical perspective. Mr. Cukor's Star is Born is one of the most important, most magnificent, most incredibly acted film ever made in the one hundred year plus history of the motion picture.



    Most people think Judy Garland when they think of A Star is Born.


    I think James Mason, one of my favorite actors, who I had the honor to spend some time with in the early 1982. Seeing his work in this film once again, I am astounded.


    For those who have never experienced the film, now is your chance.


    The bottom line is very simple. For those who have seen it before, the experience that Mr. Haver created in 1983 at Radio City Music Hall and then at other venues, is herein majestically recreated.


    A Star is Born is one of the most important films of all time, brought to Blu-ray in almost perfect fashion. My only problem is the use of grain reduction for the main title sequence, which then cuts to 16mm blow-up footage. The cut leaves me thinking of chief Emeril Lagasse and his "bam!" The titles have no grain, and hang there like a lox, always slightly out of focus.


    I rate this release as Highly Recommended. Had grain reduction been used differently or with a lighter hand, the rating would have reached Very Highly Recommended.


    This one is a no brainer. Please purchase it. Add it to your Blu-ray library, support film restoration, and after viewing it raise a glass and salute the memory of Ron Haver.


    He deserves it.


    RAH
     
  2. Mark-P

    Mark-P Well-Known Member

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    I might not be able to wait for this to go on sale and pay full price. It's definitely an upgrade purchase for me.
     
  3. OliverK

    OliverK Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the review, Warner certainly is the studio to bring out the big titles!


    So the grain reduction only affects the title sequence?

    And I assume that this is now presented in a 2.55 aspect ratio ?
     
  4. snoopy28574

    snoopy28574 Well-Known Member

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    Never saw this one or know anything about it. Can't wait to see it.

     
  5. Mark-P

    Mark-P Well-Known Member

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    The original DVD was 2.55:1 so that is not a first on video.
     
  6. John Hodson

    John Hodson Well-Known Member

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    Fine call; I can't think of a film James Mason didn't illuminate simply by his presence. One of 'uddersfield's finest exports.
     
  7. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Well-Known Member
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    This film is about as definitive an example of a "star turn" as one could hope to find with respect to both Garland and Mason. For three hours, they are literally carrying the film on their backs individually or together with only three significant supporting roles (plus a lot of studio resources, a masterful director, and a top notch technical team) to help them along. Jack Carson was never better than in his supporting role in this film. His character seems to have wandered in from a Billy Wilder film, but he hits just the right cynical tone to give the film some bite and keep the melodrama from becoming overwhelming, at least until the last reel when it is supposed to be.


    The remastered SD DVD improves on its predecessor too, for what it is worth. The bitrate is high enough that the somewhat coarse grain looks about as filmlike as SD DVD can manage. Other than the instance that Robert pointed out at the beginning, a decent job is done of making the various generations and qualities of source elements sit well next to each other. Review is forthcoming and will quote some of the above.


    Regards,
     
  8. Arnie G

    Arnie G Well-Known Member

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    I ordered this yesterday. Another week of waiting!
     
  9. JohnRa

    JohnRa Well-Known Member

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    Mr. Harris, thanks for another fine review. I am looking forward to watching this again and showing it to some friends who have never seen it. I'm not sure who is in for the bigger treat.
     
  10. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    A Star is Born has been an interesting viewing, as it became my test subject after going through a lightning strike about two weeks ago.

    Piece by piece bits of electronics are being replaced. Several days ago, I was able to watch a few minutes MOS, as my power amp had fried. It sits at Crown, waiting to be examined. Now with Blu-ray player replaced (with an Oppo, thank you very much, and more on that later), I'm able to view things properly, although still tweaking both image and sound. Actually went though one sequence in which I hit sync problems, but after stopping, shutting down, etc. things moved more back into line.

    I find that with the OPPO, which comes packaged like an Apple product, I'm actually seeing a higher quality image than with the Denon 3800. Currently going via an HDMI switcher with a new processor hopefully arriving later in the week at the suggestion of home theater guru Al Griffin, whose opinion I trust greatly. Fortunately the speaker system came away unscathed.
     
  11. Michael Rogers

    Michael Rogers Well-Known Member

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    I will be getting this soon but I am wondering if it i still the version that replaces lost sequences with stills and audio or if they actually have found the footage?
     
  12. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    This is Ron Haver's reconstruction.
     
  13. BethHarrison

    BethHarrison Well-Known Member

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    I wish they used seamless branching so it was possible to watch the film without the still image segments. Personally I find them too jarring.
     
  14. benbess

    benbess Well-Known Member

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    I agree.
     
  15. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Well-Known Member

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    For those that can't wait until Tuesday, TCM will be showing the complete version on Saturday night.
     
  16. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Quote:


    No.
     
  17. RolandL

    RolandL Well-Known Member

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    Its the Ron Haver's version - http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=12836&contentTypeId=130&category=promo
     
  18. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Well-Known Member

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    I probably shouldn't have used the word "complete". I meant the same version that will be coming out next week, not the 2 1/2 hour version.

    Sorry for the confusion.
     
  19. OliverK

    OliverK Well-Known Member

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    Last I heard TCM airs in a 704x480i SD resolution so I would not really say that an SD TV airing should be presented as a viable alternative to a lavishly produced Blu-Ray.


    I think that studios would be better off to put movies on moratorium not only for packaged media sales but also for TV airings.
     
  20. RolandL

    RolandL Well-Known Member

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    Screen shots comparison of DVD vs. Blu-ray at http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film3/blu-ray_reviews51/a_star_is_born_blu-ray.htm


    Maybe its my monitor but I don't see much of a difference.
     

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