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A Few Words About A few words about...™ David Lean Directs Noel Coward -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Mar 31, 2012.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Criterion'shttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006ML50RE/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=afewwordsabout-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B006ML50REhttp://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=afewwordsabout-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B006ML50RE
     
  2. John Hodson

    John Hodson Well-Known Member

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    There's a fascinating piece on the BFI website regarding the restoration of This Happy Breed, but also encompassing the other titles which were restored for the 2008 David Lean centenary - see here.
     
  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The BFI did a beautiful job on these films. I do love the before and after images on the site. As always, they're basically worthless. I don't like providing them.

    The way around mold (sorry, mould) is simple, if one can get over the need to use the original negatives, which in the case of three-strip, make very little difference. Because of the quality of current fine grain stocks, one can go from mouldy original negative to a new wet-gate fine grain master, comp the masters, and be rid of the mold problem.

    The difference between a 4k scan from the original and the fgm, comped and screened in 2k is almost imperceptible. On film, it would be transparent.

    RAH
     
  4. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Premium
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    I know it is considered a lesser film, but I have loved Blithe Spirit since first seeing it about 15 years ago shortly after seeing the play performed live.
    The previous DVD left much to be desired. The new Blu-ray is such a giant leap in quality; I am trilled.
    I had the previous Criterion DVD of Brief Encounter and look forward to revisiting it on BD.
    The other two films are new to me and seeing Coward acting on film will be interesting.
    The behind the scenes of him available on the BD for Blithe Spirit was certainly interesting.
    Thanks, as always, for the review RAH.
     
  5. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    Can't wait to get my hands on this box-set.
    Blithe Spirit is not a lesser film.
    Just a different kind of story being told than their other collaborations, but no less accomplished.
    I love the color, the locations, and the slice-of-life depicted in This Happy Breed. David Lean is so good with faces. He always strikes just the right tone. Each film is different, and he finds the right tone for each of them.
    Most of you want to see how Great Expectations, Oliver Twist and Hobson's Choice look on Blu-ray, but I'm more interested in the David Lean films that haven't been released at all in the USA. The Passionate Friends (1949), Madeleine (1950) and Breaking the Sound Barrier (1952) are long, long, long overdue. The British DVDs are okay, even at the higher PAL pitch, and the films are no less great than the titles collected in this box-set.
     
  6. John Morgan

    John Morgan Well-Known Member

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    Wasn't SUDAN (1945), a Universal film filmed here and the last of the Montez/Hall TechniColor specialties?
    Great overview of these great British films. I look forward to seeing them.
     
  7. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Universal back lot and Mexico.

    RAH
     
  8. SeanAx

    SeanAx Well-Known Member

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    I watched all four films in the set, two of them my very first time seeing them. "Blithe Spirit" is the least of the films, and perhaps a less-than-perfect match between director and material, but it's a perfectly snappy and witty production and I call it "the least" in comparison to the great ambition and depth of the other four films. Watching them in order, however, offers a front-row seat to David Lean's growth as an intelligent, talented, driven director proving himself to the industry to (in "Brief Encounter") an expressive artist in his own right, reshaping the raw material of a Noel Coward one-act play into a David Lean film, defined by Lean's sensibility and as expressive a portrayal of the pain of a love affair beset by guilt and self-recrimination and the inevitable end before it has really begun. What I love so much about watching this progression is seeing the other side of the portrait of British restraint and self-sacrifice that is so admirable in the first films, which becomes in "Brief Encounter" an obstacle to expressing their yearning and desire for something more. There is nothing with that depth of emotion and disappointment in the earlier films.

    The films are beautifully mastered, of course, but as a set it is even greater than the sum of its parts. This is the birth and development of a director who becomes one of the great British filmmakers over the course of this unique collaboration.
     
  9. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    One of the most thoughtful posts to hit HTF.

    If you take a quick look back, you'll find DL honing his skills as an editor on some very fine films. Before that, he was shaping newsreels.

    RAH
     
  10. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Well-Known Member

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    I have to ask, what is this in reference to? I've never heard of a 1942 Queen Victoria production. Was this an unfinished epic or are you maybe talking about 60 GLORIOUS YEARS? That was released in both the UK and the US in 1938.

    While I enjoy the Carlton UK DVD of Blithe Spirit, I am positively panting to see a good, non-PAL version (the colors look quite good on the Carlton but the pitch of Rex Harrison's voice is so obviously manipulated it's maddening) as I've always loved it (and the ancient, rickety region 1 release was appalling in every way.)

    I just wish they were available separately as I just can't afford the big box right now.
     
  11. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I occasionally confuse my UK and US releases. You're quite correct about Sixty Glorious Years (1938). There were two Victoria films, Victoria the Great, released in October of 1937, and Sixty Glorious Years, aka Queen of Destiny. Both starred Anna Neagle and Anton Walbrook. AFAIK, neither was terribly good. In 1942 they were combined and released to the lucky American public as Queen Victoria, which to confuse things even further, may also have been known as Queen of Destiny.

    Paging Leonard Maltin!

    RAH
     
  12. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Well-Known Member

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    Hahah....thank you, sir, for clearing that up. I had always heard that 60 GLORIOUS YEARS was only released as QUEEN of DESTINY in the US but I came across an old NY Times ad that proves it played Radio City Music Hall under its original name at Christmas 1938. I thought for a second that QUEEN VICTORIA was (horrors!) a Technicolor title I didn't know about!! Never knew about the re-issue so, thanks (and I've seen both and you're right.....they bring a whole new definition to the term "stodgy," though I never pass up a chance to see Anton Walbrook)
     
  13. williammossop

    williammossop New Member

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    To Robert Harris: Congrats!
    Re: The Big Country Blu-Ray.com mention:
    "Update 7/7/11: Noted film archivist and restorer Robert Harris has been in touch with me and is investigating what appears to be a slight anamorphic stretching on this transfer due to incorrect digital manipulation to remove anamorphosis."
    Thanks for bringing this to light, Mr. Harris; I noticed in the first moments after the main titles had ended that Greg Peck and Charlton Heston both looked 5'8" rather than 6'3". Returned my blu-rays TWICE to Columbia House and once to Amazon with emails and phonecalls.
    All of my communications resulted in the same responses (also one from 20th Home Video): "We've checked everything out and it is just fine" - then all went on to criticize my player, my TV and my ability to figure out the right aspect ratio.
    Hopefully, as with the distorted DVD of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (ten?) years ago, this problem will be corrected and the brilliant Big Country will reappear in a blu-ray that does it justice. Can you please let those in charge know that I am not an idiot? (At least in regard to this; former film editor who worked on Jaws, American Graffiti, The Sting and Godfather II.) Plus the one mentioned below.
    Nice review of the Lean films. I knew David - visited with him and Sandy off of the Appia Antica in Rome, etc., after working with him on the film editing of Ryan's Daughter. He was a huge fan of BC and Wyler - and Ford's The Quiet Man (another dismal DVD - any chance of its restoration?). (Also knew Merian Cooper well, and spent an afternoon with Wyler at his home off of Benedict Canyon Dr.)
    Am now a big fan of yours!
    "William Mossop"
     
  14. AdrianTurner

    AdrianTurner Banned

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    Well, by gummm!
     
  15. lark144

    lark144 Premium
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    For those of you who are interested in obtaining an excellent DVD of David Lean's THE SOUND BARRIER (or BREAKING THE SOUND BARRIER, as it's known in the US), it's available in an excellent transfer on a Lion's Gate set entitled THE WORLD WAR, along with THE CAPTIVE HEART, Joseph Losey's KING AND COUNTRY, which I think is one of his best films, & ANGELS ONE FIVE. For this viewer, all of the transfers, especially THE SOUND BARRIER & KING AND COUNTRY, look quite luminous and clean of all defects that I could find. I'm going to paste the link to Amazon below.
    http://www.amazon.com/World-War-Collection-Captive-Barrier/dp/B0015XHP4U/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid
    I also would like to put my two cents in and state that I've always loved BLITHE SPIRIT, and also do not consider the film a lesser Lean, but only a film possessing a different sensibility, a film that is very theatrical while at the same time being gloriously cinematic. Anyway, it contains possibly Margaret Rutherford's best performance on film, and what more does on need?
     
  16. SeanAx

    SeanAx Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the compliment, sir.

    This set encouraged to pull out my copy of Kevin Brownlow's biography of David Lean and browse a bit, and made me want to revisit those films he edited just before making the jump to the director's seat. "The 49th Parallel" and "One of Our Aircraft is Missing" are also classic British war dramas and I can't help but believe that Lean learned a thing or three about directing from working with Powell and Pressburger.

    FYI: I had the great pleasure to conversing with Mr. Brownlow last weekend at the American premiere of the uncut "Napoleon." It was quite the honor, as his book, "The Parade's Gone By," was my gateway to embracing silent cinema as a uniquely expressive period of filmmaking. But I digress...
     
  17. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    Having never seen any of these four films, I was able to pick up this set for a song and on a lark. I watched In Which We Serve tonight for the first time. Wow. What a treat of British filmmaking. It rises above its wartime propaganda roots into a real tour de force of script, characterization, and camera work. All of this coupled with an absolutely luminous transfer from Criterion made for a wonderful cinematic experience, and I'm really looking forward to watching the other three films that David Lean and Noel Coward collaborated on. Thanks Criterion!
     
  18. Doctorossi

    Doctorossi Well-Known Member

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    My copy (finally!) arrives today and I can't wait to verify the reports about the quality of this set with my own eyes and ears. :D
     
  19. Scott Calvert

    Scott Calvert Well-Known Member

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    Indeed these films look fantastic. There are still some noticeable age related defects particularly in the technicolor productions but the film transfers are great. Very sharp and if there is any digital BS going on, it's invisible.
    This and the BBS box are the current crown jewels of the Criterion Collection, IMO.
     
  20. Doctorossi

    Doctorossi Well-Known Member

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    I think I read that once- isn't that PKD? "Do Digital B's Go Invisible S?"
     

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