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A Few Words About A few words about...™ The Big Country -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Jun 17, 2011.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I love William Wyler's The Big Country.

    IMHO, it's one of the finest western dramas ever created, and really demands to be seen on a huge screen.

    I saw it that way in 1958, have seen it many times since, and my opinion of it goes unabated.

    With that cast -- Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker, Charlton Heston, Burl Ives, Charles Bickford...

    that score by Jerome Moross...

    that cinematography in Technirama by Franz Planer...

    I wanted to restore it in the early '90s as the OCN was heavily faded. Had a nice chat with Mr. Peck regarding the audio, which is rumored to have been dubbed in stereo.

    Finally, it the was saved by The Academy Film Archive, substantially from the original negative, and they were able to coax decent color out of it, which was then bettered as data.

    The job they did is impeccable, with only a few shots (essentially dupes) having problems based upon the manufacture of the records.

    So, I wondered, what precisely was MGM thinking when they took one of the jewels of the UA crown, and made an exclusive deal with (no malice intended) Walmart to sell the Blu-ray exclusively for under $10?

    Hopefully, huge dollars were in place, as this would be akin to Fox making an exclusive deal for Cleopatra with Borders, a store brand which never did seem to understand that new releases came out on tuesdays.

    The Big Country took home a number of awards. The score was nominated for an Academy Award, and Burl Ives (who did a great deal more than sing Christmas songs) won Best Actor in a Supporting Role -- think "Big Daddy" on steroids. His performance is remarkable.

    There is a huge line drawn in the sand in this film, and the question always arises as to who really is the bad guy. I'd be interested in opinions.

    How does it look on Walmart Blu-ray?

    Generally, gorgeous. As it came from separations, the dupes, notably the main and ends, are a bit problematic, but get into the body of the film, and you'll be knocked out by the overriding clarity of the Technirama process. There does seem to be a problem with the image being overly stretched horizontally, but once this reaches the studio level, I presume replacement discs will be made available. For clarity's sake, original prints were desaturated, which means that what you'll be seeing on the Blu-ray are far "prettier" than in 1958. Mr. Moross' score is one of those things that dreams are made of, as is Mr. Planer's (Holiday, Letter from an Unknown Woman, Roman Holiday, Champion, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Nun's Story, Breakfast at Tiffany's) cinematography.

    The Big Country is $9.86 on line at Walmart. This is one of the "must owns."

    Once the distortion problem is licked, the disc will be Highly Recommended, as I presume there will be a replacement program in place.

    RAH
     
  2. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

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    Seems so odd to me that the studio releasing this would make a deal with a retailer for an exclusive and then the retailer doesn't even offer it at the store level.
    As soon as I can buy it somewhere else I will do just that, not because I have a bias against walmart, I don't but because it's ridiculous not to have it available in a store.
     
  3. ahollis

    ahollis Well-Known Member

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    Not sure what you mean about not offering it a store level. I purchased my copy at the local Wal-Mart and noticed there were six copies of it at the time. This was the day that it was released.
     
  4. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

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    Allan, there have been very few reports of it appearing in store, but if you go to the link at walmart.com and even ask in Store they will lookmin their own database and see the notation indicating it is not available instore. I can't buyit from walmart.com because my check card from a credit union doesn't work on wm.com
     
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I take it you haven't been to a Walmart to look for it?






    Crawdaddy
     
  6. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

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    Robert I'm not sure why you are asking that. In my post you just quoted I mention this. I've been to half a dozen walmarts, around were I live that's about it without driving 100 miles.
    Outside of you and Allan and someone over on dvdtalk I haven't heard of anyone who has bought it in store.
     
  7. Vern Dias

    Vern Dias Well-Known Member

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    Went to a local WalMart store (Southlake TX) to buy it, was told it was not available in stores, only online. I ordered it from WalMart online and it does look amazing. I noticed a total of one scene with significant registration errors which lasted all of maybe 5 seconds.

    This is a must have for any western fans out there, with good performances from all involved.

    Vern
     
  8. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Because your post wasn't clear to me that you actually went into a store to look for it.

    By the way, I preordered it from Walmart.com so I didn't buy it in a store nor have I been in a Walmart store recently. I just asked a simple question because I was curious that's all.
     
  9. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    That is strange, I don't have a big problem with these exclusive deals, but at least make it available in stores as well as online.
     
  10. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    Do I like this arrangement at all? No. Did I just order one to be sent to the store for pickup, thereby saving shipping? Yes.
     
  11. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

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    Hmm, I thought you mentioned you bought it in store in another topic, must have been someone else.
    I'll probably check with my c.u. To see why my card doesn't work on walmarts site. When I try I get a "verified by visa" thing at the end that won't go through.
     
  12. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Well-Known Member

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    Ever store in my area, save for one, had at least 2 copies in stock the morning it streeted. When I picked mine up later that day, I think I saw a total of 4 or 5 on the rack.
    It says online only, but there is no way a retailer is going to pay for an exclusive and then limit the ability of people to buy it, when their B&M stores are their biggest distribution asset.
     
  13. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Maybe, you're thinking of Walter Kittel because in the same thread that Walter mentioned buying it in a store, I again stated I preorderd my disc.
     
  14. RickER

    RickER Well-Known Member

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    I bought mine on release week, in store. They had 2 copies at the time. I do not know if they ever re-stocked after all the copies were gone. But, it was in store here.

    I only put it on long enough to check it out. Long movie, and i have so many things i need to watch!
     
  15. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I ordered on-line, as I did for Quigley, the entire cost coming in at under $12 shipped through the mail, and arriving four days later.

    An easy bargain.

    RAH
     
  16. gomezfan69

    gomezfan69 Well-Known Member

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    My Walmart put these out a week late (along with several other titles that were released on the same day), I just might go in and pick one up today.
     
  17. Phoebus

    Phoebus Well-Known Member

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    Not sure whether Walmart exports to Europe, nor whether the blu is region free..

    Thankfully the movie has also turned up on bluray in Germany - Amazon.de - "Weites Land".
     
  18. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Yeah, I watched that one too and thought it looked very good as well.

    RAH,

    By the way, during the opening credit sequence for The Big Country with the stagecoach and specifically with the sepia shots involving the wheels from the stagecoach. The BRD has it more black and white than the copper-like look from some previous viewings I've witnessed over the years. Do you know which is the correct look for that sequence?
     
  19. Rick Thompson

    Rick Thompson Well-Known Member

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    I'm old enough to have seen this film in theaters, and it was definitely copper. It made a big impression on my young eyes then -- "COOL!" thought I between bites of popcorn.

    Both VHS releases has it right. The DVD made it black and white (which I have become a broken record about in several other posts). The Blu makes it sepia, which is better than b/w but not the sharp look the copper gave it. It's a great transfer otherwise -- those vistas and colors really jump off the screen -- so I've decided not to let perfect be enemy of the excellent.
     
  20. Mark Booth

    Mark Booth Well-Known Member

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    I had never seen 'The Big Country' prior to getting the Blu-ray. I loved every minute of it and I'm pleased to have it in my collection.

    Damn fine presentation on Blu-ray, particularly for a movie that is only 2 years younger than me.

    Mark
     

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