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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Black Sunday

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Scott Kimball, Oct 8, 2003.

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  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]


    Black Sunday

    Studio: Paramount

    Year: 1977

    Rated: R

    Length: 143 minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, Anamorphic

    Audio: English DD 5.1, Restored English Mono, French Mono

    Subtitles: English


    Release Date: October 14, 2003




    Black Sunday is the gripping story of a terrorist group, known as Black September, attempting to blow up a blimp at the Superbowl. In attendance are some 80,000 people, including the President of the United States. “Dahlia” (Marthe Keller) is the mastermind of this plot, with an impressive Bruce Dern along to assist as troubled Vietnam Vet Michael Lander.

    Attempting to foil the plot are Israeli commando David Kabakov (Robert Shaw) who stumbled onto information about the attack during a raid, and Sam Corley (Fritz Weaver), an FBI agent.

    We aren’t subjected to the cliched incompetent government agents, here. These guys work together and think for themselves. We watch as they discover clues and interrogate suspects, and we cheer them on, because we already know the answers. The focus shifts back and forth, giving the viewer omniscient status over terrorists and agents alike. This works to great effect, substituting suspense and awe for mystery.

    The film begins slowly, and ramps up the tension gradually. We finally realize how cold and calculating Dern’s character is when he unnecessarily kills an innocent man during a test of a new bomb design. This scene is one of the most memorable moments of cinema from the late 70’s, as is the finale - when a helicopter chases the explosives-laden blimp over the capacity crowd at the Super Bowl.

    Based on a book by Thomas Harris, which in turn is inspired by the terrorist events surrounding the 1972 Olympics in Munich, the film is adeptly directed by John Frankenheimer with excellent performances by Shaw and Dern, and a nice musical score by John Williams.

    The Video
    Black Sunday is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is anamorphically enhanced. The source material is as close to pristine for an unrestored print more than 25 years old as you could ever expect to find. The picture is reasonably sharp for filmstock of this era, and there is no evidence of artificial sharpening. Fine grain is abundantly present, getting courser in some darker scenes, as from the original elements. The picture is bright, with generally good shadow detail, though detail occasionally suffers in the night photography. Colors are somewhat muted, but are rendered reasonably accurately.


    The Audio
    Included are a Dolby Digital 5.1 remix, and a restored English mono soundtrack. The 5.1 remix adds significant spaciousness to the film, especially the bulk of the last act with crowd noise at the Superbowl. LFE is used to decent effect for explosions and music. This is not an aggressive remix, which is a good thing. Surround and LFE information are not up to modern standards - but coming from a mono source, they sound pretty nice. The 5.1 remix, for those interested, gives just enough to modernize the soundtrack without coming off as gimmicky.

    The restored English mono track sounds very nice. There is good, wide frequency response, and very little in the way of unwanted noise. Sounds are pinned front and center, where they belong.

    Special Features:
    There are no special features. This is a bare-bones catalog release.

    Final Thoughts:
    I had never seen Black Sunday, except as modified for television. The film really needs a wide frame, and it was a treat to see it as it was intended, for the first time. It looks and sounds wonderful on this DVD from Paramount. This film has more relevance today than it did when it was made over 25 years ago.
     
  2. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Well-Known Member

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    Quality review, Scott. [​IMG]

    I received my copy today, but haven't spun the disc yet. Glad to hear the transfer and sound mixes are of high quality. It's a pretty good movie. Perhaps overlong, but with many exciting moments. Dern is at his best hear playing the crazed outsider yet again - no one does it like Brucey! [​IMG]

    Such a pity that Frankenheimer faded away before he could have contributed to this DVD, as I'm sure his comments would have been fascinating.

    Still a must-have for fans like me.


    Gordy
     
  3. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    This is my most anticipated Paramount catalog release--even above and beyond the Indiana Jones movies. And it's not just because the Superbowl being blown up includes the Dallas Cowboys, although that helps. [​IMG]

    One thing to appreciate is the amount of planning that went into the filming of the movie, since they were actually shooting on-location at Superbowl X. We see "Up With People" singing the National Anthem at the game while Robert Shaw is watching, then the camera pulls away from the full stadium as the group is leaving the field...pans...and you see in the distance the car driving the bomb towards its rendezvous with the blimp. Amazing.

    Can't wait 'til Tuesday.

    - Steve
     
  4. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Well-Known Member

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  5. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Well-Known Member

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    Good Review Scott. My copy is in the mail. Glad to hear the disc turned out good. This is a favorite of mine. I think its a criminally underrated film and one of the best from the 70's and Bruce Dern's greatest and most memorable performance.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Eric Paddon

    Eric Paddon Well-Known Member

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    Frankenheimer brilliantly got the footage he needed during Super Bowl X itself lending "Black Sunday" an authenticity that no other movie that uses a sporting event as a backdrop has ever matched since (think of how godawful cheap "Two Minute Warning" which came out the previous year is, not able to secure permission from the NFL to use the names of actual teams or to refer to the game as the Super Bowl). The shot of Shaw running down the stairs and across the sidelines to a production truck was elaborately planned during one timeout in the game and they had just one chance to get it right, and it paid off.

    Since I have the original telecast of this particular SB, I have always searched in vain for a glimpse of Shaw on the sidelines, but alas no luck.
     
  7. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Well-Known Member

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    on a semi-related note, if you enjoy this movie, you may enjoy the documentary the kid stays in the picture.

    it's the story of robert evans, the guy who produced this movie, along with other notables like chinatown, marathon man, urban cowboy, etc.

    it's a wonderful look inside the hollywood machine.
     
  8. Yumbo

    Yumbo Well-Known Member

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    looking forward to this as well...too many DVDs!
     
  9. Shane_Anthony

    Shane_Anthony Well-Known Member

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    I love this film also!!

    That scene in the barn when Bruce Dern tries out his sadistic plot to see if the "nails" will work was very effective!

    Robert Shaw(RIP) was one of my all time favourite actors

    As others have said too bad John passed away would have loved to have a commentary from him!

    PS Thanks Scott for the review looking forward to the purchase
     
  10. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    Steve's mini-review: Good blimp movie. It's a blast! Recommended.

    And that's why I'm not an HTF dvd reviewer folks! [​IMG]

    Good movie, looking forward to seeing it in widescreen for the first time.[​IMG]
     
  11. Dan Rudolph

    Dan Rudolph Well-Known Member

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    The Sum of All Fears managed t make the football game look pretty good without NFL involvement. Spekaign of which, Sum of All Fears seems to have been inspired by this movie or its source novel. The novel did deal with a terrorist attack against the Super Bowl.
     
  12. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Well-Known Member

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    I'm happy Paramount did not keep this film in the vault because of the terrorist theme. It is too bad that Frankenheimer died before he could contribute to this DVD. Another Laserdisc goes into retirement. [​IMG]
     
  13. GerardoHP

    GerardoHP Well-Known Member

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    Great film. Can't wait to own...
     
  14. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Well-Known Member

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    Mine just shipped from DDD. I had the LD, but it was chapter-stop-free. Some great stories about the making of the film are in a Charles Champlin book about Frankenheimer. Apparently the much inferior "Two Minute Warning" stole a lot of the film's thunder and it wasn't the hit everyone thought it would be. It was Frankenheimer's last "A" picture for quite some time.

    Speaking of Frankenheimer, when's anyone going to release the extremely underrated "52 Pick-Up"?
     
  15. Terry H

    Terry H Well-Known Member

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    For only $6 I couldn't pass this up. The book Black Sunday was written by Thomas Harris who also wroteThe Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, a couple of other titles you may recall. [​IMG]
     
  16. EdwardKarlinski

    EdwardKarlinski Well-Known Member

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    In Fact, Black Sunday was the first novel by Thomas Harris. Harris has only written four novels. His remaining three are Red Dragon, The Silence Of The Lambs, and Hannibal. It is great to see the film finally on DVD. It is a great little thriller with surprising relevance today. Further, unlike The Sum Of All Fears, the film is not a sellout. Tom Clancy sold out by allowing the Arab Moslem terrorists in The Sum Of All Fears to be turned into neo-nazis by the gutless cowards at Paramount. Given that Black Sunday is a Paramount release, I am surprised that it ever saw the light of day.
     
  17. Scott Bigbee

    Scott Bigbee Member

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    Jerry Ziesmer was the First A.D. on Black Sunday and writes about it in his book -- Ready When You Are Mr Coppola, Mr Spielberg, Mr Crowe.

    It's a fascinating book with great stories behind Black Sunday, Apocalypse Now, Jerry Maguire among others.
     
  18. Neil S. Bulk

    Neil S. Bulk Well-Known Member

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    This is the way all DVD's should be done.

    The anamorphic picture is up to Paramounts usual high standards.

    There is a new 5.1 re-mix on this disc.

    The original mono track is on here as well (for people like me who want the film as it was originally presented)

    It's dual layered.

    It's a static menu, not a fancy motion menu.

    With shipping included, this disc cost me $9.89, and it even had an insert, listing the chapter stops. If every DVD came out this way, I'd have nothing to complain about.

    Thank you Paramount!

    Neil
     
  19. Fredric

    Fredric Well-Known Member

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    Black Sunday looks great. Got my DDD shipment early on Saturday. I believe Anchor Bay has the rights to release 52 Pick-Up on DVD. I've already sent them a note, which also requests a commentary track with Scheider, Margaret, Glover and Williams [​IMG] I can dream, can't I? I'd also like to see Grand Prix with all pertinent docs on it. Dead-Bang and Year of the Gun also need to be re-released in their OARs!!!

    Then there's The Fixer, All Fall Down, I Walk the Line, 99 & 44/100% Dead, The Fourth War, Against the Wall, The Burning Season, George Wallace---A LOT of Frankenheimer that needs to come out!
     
  20. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Well-Known Member

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