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

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Oct 27, 2013.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I have no idea where the original negative might be for Orson Welles' The Stranger, or if it even survives. The fact that what we have on Blu-ray is sourced from a used 35 print sends a message about film elements, but things could have been worse.

    The preservation efforts by the Library of Congress have allowed us to view a very decent of the film, usually seen in poor quality 16mm dupes.

    The result on Blu-ray is quite satisfying. A bit on the thin side, with a lack of full blacks, but quite attractive. A few splices, a bit of wear, but nothing untoward.

    Overall, a very acceptable representation of the film, understanding it's nitrate and public domain status.

    Absolutely worth viewing.

    Image - 2.5

    Audio - 4

    RAH
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I have this BD, but haven't found the time to watch it. This is probably the best by a large margin, we'll ever see it on home video so it was worth the purchase price for me. I just have to find enough time to view it in the coming weeks.
     
  3. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Well-Known Member

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    I have the MGM DVD and it seems to be from a better film source.Very clean and only looking off at dupe sections (dissolves and fades). Netflix used to have MGM's HD master up for streaming, but it's gone now.
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I'll try to make a day of it and watch that DVD along with this current BD.
     
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  5. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    It was wonderful seeing this in 35mm last spring at the Lafayette in the always-capable hands of Peter Apruzzese. As I recall, the print was very nearly perfect, with the exception of one camera shot which, each time we cut back to it, appeared very thin and as though inserted from a wholly different source.

    Upon arriving home, I spot-checked my MGM DVD to make sure I was still happy with it -- and I was! :) But I will check out this Blu-ray sometime.
     
  6. haineshisway

    haineshisway Well-Known Member

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    After the basically excellent review on the Beaver I knew I was in for trouble and the disc did not disappoint in that regard :) It is decent, but no more, IMO. Love the film and was hoping for better - I do have the MGM DVD so I'll compare and contrast.
     
  7. atcolomb

    atcolomb Well-Known Member

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    I did play both the MGM dvd and the blu-ray at the same time and switched between them to compare the image and the blu-ray is a big improvement over the MGM one but like Robert says this does show some wear but very happy this Welles film was released on blu-ray that looks good. Now i hope for Ambersons and Chimes at Midnight to go blu-ray too.
     
    Everett Stallings likes this.
  8. John Morgan

    John Morgan Well-Known Member

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    I am a sucker and buy classic films on Blu ray without waiting for reviews and some indication of quality or lack there of.
    I dislike the trend of certain companies putting out Blu rays of public domain films from so-so “archival” 35mm prints when there are far better elements held by the companies that have chain of title ownership and usually the best materials whether original negative or fine grain. This release of THE STRANGER is a perfect, recent example.
    The Blu Ray seems to have been made from an original, rejected print. Contrast was off, the soundtrack in some reels was so scratchy with noises, crackles, etc., it took me out of the film. It seems to be from a source that was cobbled together from more than one release print as certain reels had less sound problems, the picture’s density seemed to change with reel changes.
    Anyway, I got out my old MGM DVD of this film and went through several sequences to compare. I played it through my Oppo onto a 103 inch screen. Obviously, MGM has a negative or a good fine grain because it looked and sounded much better without the bad sound and inconsistent picture. It was a bit less sharp being standard DVD and I suspect an old transfer. In fact, I doubt if MGM has even transferred it to High Def as it hasn’t played on their channel (that I am aware of). It was a title I was hoping Twilight Time would do since they have a deal now with MGM, but I am sure the blu ray release killed any chance of another Blu ray version coming out. And MGM seems to have a policy of licensing out their stuff both to Shout and Twilight Time and others. For me, the MGM version looks and sounds much better up-converted.
    I feel the same way about the Kino releases from prints that are several steps down from standard DVD versions from owners that have chain of title and restored or transferred from better elements. I just feel that once a film comes out on Blu ray, the chance of a second release from better materials and a different company may be very low.
     
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  9. Eastmancolor

    Eastmancolor Well-Known Member

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    I agree with John Morgan that the MGM DVD, though slightly softer than the Kino Blu-ray, is made from vastly superior preprint elements and has excellent contrast.

    The Kino Blu-ray was made from a negative that was duped off of a worn nitrate print. And being a dupe, the contrast levels are a bit too harsh. Some scenes the image density is OK, others not so much.

    Lastly there's that awful emulsion scratch that pops in from time to time. And there's nothing worse in a dark movie than a white emulsion scratch running thru the image.

    Awful or bad? No. It's a decent transfer of a really mediocre film element. And you know you're in trouble when an old no-frills DVD bests a 2013 Blu-ray release.
     
  10. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    No frills should have nothing to do with the video presentation. Also, the MGM DVD isn't that old as it came out in 2007. I'm hoping to spare some time this week for me to do my own comparison between this BD and the MGM DVD. I will watch both discs in their entirety by watching the DVD first then followed by the BD while listening to its audio commentary.
     
  11. Doug Otte

    Doug Otte Well-Known Member

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    I began watching it last night, but it was late and I hope to finish it tonight. I was shocked at the poor quality of the print - lots of distracting marks, scratches, and a few missing frames. However, it's a wonderful film and I'm glad to have it.

    I thought I'd seen it in its entirety years ago on TV, but last night I realized I hadn't seen the first half-hour or so. As per usual with Welles, there are plenty of bravura shots that take the breath away.
     

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