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

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The Egyptian is an odd film.


    Following the success of Henry Koster's The Robe, Fox's first CinemaScope film released in the fall of 1953, the format blossomed. The Robe was followed by its sequel, Demetrius and the Gladiators (June, 1954), and The Egyptian, just a couple of months later.


    With the production in the hands of director Michael Curtiz, a score shared by Alfred Newman and Bernard Hermann, Darryl F. Zanuck personally producing, and cinematography by the great Leon Shamroy, one can only surmise how the film ended up as it did. I suggest the notes authored by Julie Kirgo, which comes with the new Twilight Time Blu-ray.


    While there were only four CinemaScope productions released in 1953, the following year saw M-G-M, WB, Universal and Disney join the fray with over 35 productions, including some stunners -- Brigadoon, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, A Star is Born, There's No Business Like Show Business and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.


    From a purely archival perspective, these early 'scope productions are a two-edged blade. Many were printed from their original negatives in a time that early separation masters yielded less than stellar quality. Because of the mass printings, original elements such as those for The Robe, create a difficult job toward restoration. Those printed via Technicolor's dye transfer process have survived in better condition.


    Printer functions were generally a rather bumpy mess, meaning that fades and dissolves now appear problematic.


    There is an absolute that also comes into play here. The more successful the film, the worse the quality of surviving elements.


    And this is a huge help to The Egyptian, which is retrospect, with the exception of any scenes in which Bella Darvi appears, is a more than decent film. Beautifully produced on a huge budget, with a terrific cast, inclusive of many of Fox's stock company. As NY Times critic Bosley Crowther put it, [The Egyptian] "glistens with archaeological scenery, rumbles with a sense of human woe - and moves at the pace of a death march across the Roxy's broad CinemaScope screen." Ouch!


    The importance to us today, is to appreciate the early use of wide screen cinematography and the CinemaScope process.


    And this is where Twilight Time, which has arrived on the scene to distribute films (both standard def as well as Blu-ray), comes into play. Without their desire to bring films to the home theater audience in special, limited editions, we'd not be seeing the likes of The Eqyptian.


    The point must also be made that this is no low-budget Blu-ray affair. The Egyptian has been lovingly taken from original elements by Fox's Schawn Belston and his team. The final result is a full studio level release, with terrific dimensional audio, and an image harvested from what appears to be either the OCN or an IP, that has captured the grain structure and generally, the colors of the original. I'm seeing just the slightest bit of fade, which should go unnoticed, in the thinnest areas of the negative, with shadows yielding just the slight bit toward blue. Not a problem. Clean-up of the image has been meticulous, and the final presentation, a thrill to see on a large screen.


    With that slight exception, color on The Eqyptian is staggeringly beautiful film for 1954, which was the beginning of the Eastman Color era. Many (non-scope) productions were still using three-strip Technicolor.


    The bottom line here is that thanks to the resolve of Twilight Time, The Egyptian is now available in a very limited release of 3,000 units. They are not going to be around long.


    Please support Twilight Time's efforts, as there are hundreds of films out there that can use their interest.


    Recommended as a film, but...


    Highly Recommended as a Blu-ray disc. A beautiful presentation.


    RAH
     
  2. Paul Penna

    Paul Penna Well-Known Member

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    Well, you convinced me. Thanks!
     
  3. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    I'd never seen the film, but I've already thrilled to an all too brief once-through hitting chapter stops, dropping my jaw in awe of scenery, people, picture quality, the score, etc., and to say I was relieved to have pre-ordered this one would be an understatement of the highest order. I now look forward to an evening dedicated to a proper viewing with all the more interest and anticipation.
     
  4. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Well-Known Member

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    Love this film and transfer. the ONLY problem I found is that some of the day for night scenes are not correct. this is now the THIRD widescreen transfer of this film (laserdisc, later Fox movie channel version and now this) and none of them have the door for night scenes in the same place and none are correct. IN the current transfer, Sinuhe goes into the valley of the kings to bury his parents. the follwoing events happen. 1. he meets the grave robber, played by John Carradine. He and Sinuhe bury the parents. 2. Jean Simmons arrives looking for Sinuhe, She has food. They apparently make love during the end of this scene. 3. they both return to Thebes. IN the original film, both event one and two happen at night. When Simmons arrive, carradine says lets hide in the shadows. In this dvd there are no shadows to hide behind, it looks like its noon with bright sunlight and very short shadows. Also, in the original film, Simmons talks to Sinuhe and then gives herself to him. thisis implied by the passage of time, the scene beginning in the night and the return to thebes happening the next morning. None of this is correct on this disc. The scene of the death of Merit happens in early morning in the original, because the God Aton is just rising. In this transfer it seems to happen almost in the night, it is so dark. I Have never in any print or vid transfer seen the scene dark like this.
     
  5. moovtune

    moovtune Well-Known Member

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    I was confused about that burial scene as well - John Carradine asks why Sinuhe is there and that no one comes there at night - but the sky was blue and everything was bright and clear - and as you mentioned there was no shadows to hide in.
     
  6. marsnkc

    marsnkc Well-Known Member

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    A couple of years ago, I imported a DVD of this only because I was curious to see why Brando got cold feet and dropped out of the project. He was right, and the part suits Purdom much better. The latter's performance is another reminder of how underrated an actor he was. I was also impressed by Michael Wilding, who exceeded my expectations on this first time of seeing him. It ain't Citizen Kane, but I enjoyed it enough to warrant getting the BD, which I hope is still available. I'd love to see Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef (which I believe was the first Cinemascope film made, but released after The Robe) get the Twilight Time treatment on BD.
     
  7. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Well-Known Member
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    No, actually How to Marry a Millionaire was made first but released after The Robe.
     
  8. marsnkc

    marsnkc Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Matt. It'll give me great satisfaction to contradict my friend, who considers himself an oracle on all things film. (I'm typing this with the same trembling fingers that hit the expensive 'purchase' button on the BD).
     
  9. ahollis

    ahollis Well-Known Member

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    Common misconception. !2 Mile-Reef was advertised as the first CinemaScope film that was filmed underwater, over the years the underwater part kind of went missing. Also any list of 1953 CinemaScope film listed alphabetically has this one first. Another mis-lead.

    While I would love to see Beneath the 12-Mile Reef on a Blu, I think this has fallen out of copyright. I have a widescreen laserdisc of the film that I recall was not released by Fox.
     
  10. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Well-Known Member

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  11. marsnkc

    marsnkc Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Will. In the time-honored tradition of closing the door after the horse has bolted, I checked out the Cinemascope entry on Wikipedia after I posted. It says that the Chretien lenses (which apparently were adapter lenses that had optical issues, not the least of which was a requirement for two operators on the camera) underwent three stages of refinement by Bausch and Lomb, the final one resulting in a combined anamorphic and prime lens. Allen - I was only too well aware that 12-Mile Reef had fallen into public domain hell. I tossed the first pan and scan atrocity that I fell victim to a few years ago, after a bit of researching lead me to a proper widescreen DVD from www.slingshotdvd.com ($14.95). It starts with a 'Lumivision' logo, the company I believe produced the laserdisc you refer to. The box makes no reference to Lumivision (out of business?), but the opening scenes look very much like a laserdisc image, leading me to think it was a straight harvest. However, the image improves dramatically as it goes along (watched on a 22" tube in my bedroom, so caveat emptor!) and looks more DVD-like than laserdisc. Anyway, I'm a sucker for hard-hat diving movies, so a very lucky find, considering. (First time for me seeing Terry Moore. With all due respect to relatives and fans, I can't see the appeal she had to five husbands and Howard Hughes. I would have switched her with the far more attractive sister to Wagner).
     
  12. ShowsOn

    ShowsOn Well-Known Member

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    The Egyptian was the first film entirely shot with Bausch & Lomb's Type II lenses, although some of the Type II lenses were used on Broken Lance (1954).
     
  13. ahollis

    ahollis Well-Known Member

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    Your right it was Lumivision. I remember I also had The Lost World from them. I think that I read somewhere that they morphed into Slingshot when DVD started up. Not positive.


    I agree with you about Terry Moore also, but that was the times the movie Moguls were using their girlfriends in any movie they could.

    Edit:

    I am going to re-define my statement concerning Terry Moore. She is an accomplished actress that has given more than just several good performances, including the Oscar nominated role in Come Back, Little Sheba. I just agree that she is pretty wooden in 12 Mile Reef, but so was Robert Wagner. The star of the film was Cinemascope. The bit about the Moguls' girlfriends was really a dig ad Zanuck and Bella Darvi. However Mr. Hughes did help a lot of girlfriends along with their film roles and few actors too, or so the story goes.
     
  14. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Well-Known Member

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    ooh thanks for the tidbit Simon, I didn't know that about BROKEN LANCE!
     
  15. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Well-Known Member

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    I tried for years to track down the Lumivision DVD of Shirley Temple's LITTLE PRINCESS (as it was supposedly the only one transferred from a Technicolor nitrate print) but never could. Fox finally released an official version though (although I remember having to buy a box of other Shirley Temple DVD's I didn't want in order to get it) so it made the point moot.


    Speaking of Terry Moore, I can still remember her sexy son on "The Young & the Restless" years ago (I THINK that was the son she claimed was fathered by Howard Hughes but I can't be sure)
     
  16. ahollis

    ahollis Well-Known Member

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    Yep - Grant Cramer, also star of Hardbodies.and Killer Klowns From Outer Space.
     
  17. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Well-Known Member

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    OMG.....hahah HARDBODIES!! I had completely forgotten!
     
  18. marsnkc

    marsnkc Well-Known Member

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    Sad about Darvi. Such a stunner I had to check her out on Wiki. A brutal business for a woman, poor Angela Scoular the latest casualty.
     
  19. Professor Echo

    Professor Echo Well-Known Member

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    Don't want to stray too far OT and digress from RAH's most welcome enthusiasm for this release, but does anyone know if the 1:37 version of THE ROBE has ever been released? I hear there are slight differences between it and the scope version and I was hoping for it to be included on the Blu Ray.


    As for THE EGYPTIAN, the only reason I got into Blu Ray was to see vintage epics like this be recreated under the best possible conditions in my home. It's the most I've ever spent on a single movie (and even then split the cost with my brother) but it truly was one of those titles I had to have. Running a close second to grand historical epics are the 50's color, widescreen adventure and western films shot on location and I'm hoping some of those make it to Blu as well. Unfortunately many appear as glorified B pictures all these years later and most have never even surfaced on SD, so it's doubtful they will get any respect on Blu.


    And nice to see RAH offer some love for BRIGADOON, which is vastly underrated and, in my estimation, wrongly criticized for its staginess, but that's another topic for another time.
     
  20. ahollis

    ahollis Well-Known Member

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    I agree with you. Films such as The Egyptian is the main reason I got into Blu-ray also. It was How The West Was Won that forced me to buy my first Blu-ray player. I made a promise to myself that I would not buy any Blu-ray except for an upgrade for the big films. Over the years that has digressed especially since I bought Animal House on Blu two weeks ago. LOL Now I have The Robe, The Ten Commandments, Gone With the Wind, Doctor Zhivago, Bridge On The River Kwai, South Pacific, The Music Man, The Sound Of Music, Fiddler on The Roof, A Bridge Too Far, Battle of the Bulge, Where Eagles Dare, White Christmas and, well I guess everyone can see where I am going. I do enjoy the Blu on the epics and The Egyptian did not disapoint.

    And Prof - Fox had announced that the Flat version of The Robe was going to be an extra on the Blu, but ended up only putting scenes in as a point of referance.
     

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