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HTF REVIEW: "Giant"



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#1 of 31 StuartGalbraith

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Posted June 11 2003 - 07:03 PM

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DVD Review – Giant
Director, George Stevens; Producers, Henry Ginsberg and George Stevens; Screenplay, Fred Guiol and Ivan Moffat, based on the book by Edna Ferber; Director of Photography, William C. Mellor; Art Director, Boris Leven; Editor, William Hornbeck; Music, Dimitri Tiomkin.
Cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Carroll Baker, Jane Withers, Chill Wills, Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Hopper, Sal Mineo, Rod Taylor, Judith Evelyn, Earl Holliman, Robert Nichols, Paul Fix, Elsa Cardenas, Victor Millan.
A Giant Production for Warner Bros. A Warner Bros. Release. WarnerColor. 1.66:1. 201 minutes plus exit music. No MPAA Rating. Released November 24, 1956.

DVD: Released by Warner Home Video. Street Date June 10, 2003. $26.99
1.66:1 / flat
(English) Dolby Surround, (French) Dolby Digital Mono
Special Features: Audio commentary by film critic Stephen Farber, screenwriter Ivan Moffat, and George Stevens, Jr.; Documentary – George Stevens: Filmmakers Who Knew Him; Documentary – Memories of Giant; Documentary – Return to Giant; New York Premiere TV Special; Hollywood Premiere featurette; Project Kick-Off newsreel excerpt; “Behind the Cameras” segments; original and reissue trailers (4); production stills and documents.

Reviewed by Stuart Galbraith IV

An excellent melodrama incorporating a message promoting racial equality, Giant is '50s Hollywood storytelling at its most confident. Covering about 25 years from roughly 1930 to 1955, it follows several generations of cattle- and oilmen, their wives, children, and laborers. At its center is the relationship between Leslie Benedict (Elizabeth Taylor), her traditional Texan husband, Bick (Rock Hudson), and an eccentric hired hand, Jett Rink (James Dean), who regards them with equal measures of envy and contempt.

The picture was directed and co-produced by George Stevens, the former cameraman who had helmed both A Place in the Sun (1951) and Shane (1953), two of the most popular and celebrated films of the 1950s. With Giant, Stevens reached the pinnacle of his career, creating a memorable film that has become equally famous for its teaming of Taylor and Hudson, and as the final film of James Dean, who died in a car accident near the end of production. Stevens was a meticulous producer, a fine actor's director, and a superb, subtle editor, and it's in those areas where Giant most shines.

The Taylor-Hudson-Dean angle had always been played up in the past, as well it might, and with this new DVD release both Warners and Stevens' son, George, Jr., emphasize the picture's then-groundbreaking frankness about white bigotry against Mexican laborers, even by Bick and Jett. (“Down here we don't make a fuss over those people,” Bick says early on.) Though other pictures have since dealt with this issue in greater depth, this aspect of the film is still quite powerful (and, sadly, surprisingly relevant) for what is generally remembered as an epic romantic melodrama/modern Western.

Yet despite this seemingly unflattering component, most Texans embraced Giant and the picture even came to be regarded as the “national film of Texas.” Certainly Giant is equally a celebratory, even myth-making Western about Texas' 20th century pioneers (though it also has a darker, Booth Tarkington-like backbone). Nearly 50 years after it was released, Giant has very nearly become a legend itself.

How is the Transfer?
Controversial. Giant was produced well into the wide screen revolution of the 1950s. Director Stevens reportedly hated CinemaScope, and his method of exhaustive coverage (shooting scenes in their entirety from every conceivable angle and “directing” in the editing room) probably precluded the use of a more expensive process like VistaVision, which would have been perfect for Giant. Instead, Stevens shot the film in standard 35mm for 1.66:1 cropping in movie houses.

I've not seen the briefly-released Canadian DVD, which had a low bit-rate, crammed the movie onto a single-sided disc, but which was enhanced for 16:9 televisions (with a 1.77:1 aspect ratio). According to some reports, George Stevens, Jr. was dissatisfied with this DVD and had it withdrawn. (The Stevens estate appears to share ownership of the picture with Warner Bros.) In any case Warner's new DVD is matted to 1.66:1, spread over two sides but without a 16:9 enhancement. A second, one-sided disc holds the majority of special features.

This matters little to those watching the film on standard televisions, but on widescreen sets Giant looks pretty darn small and never very sharp. The picture was definitely shot for 1.66:1 release, insofar as the opening titles get chopped off considerably at 1.77:1. However, in watching the picture both zoomed in and out, Stevens' compositions almost never suffer at 1.77:1. A careful 16:9 transfer with very slight black bars on the sides would have solved the problem or, except for the titles, simple framing adjustments by the Telecine operator (perhaps under the supervision of Stevens, Jr.) using a 1.77:1 ratio would have worked, too. As it is, on 16:9 TVs anyway, the film is an uncomfortable viewing experience no matter which route one takes.

Moreover, the ugly WarnerColor and Stevens' frequent use of long dissolves and grainy process shots, combined with perhaps too much printing off the original negative (a sad but common fate among popular color movies of 1950s) give the film a washed-out, generally soft, and less-than-pristine look. (The deep red velvet wallpaper interiors, the whirling dust storms, the many shots through screen doors, etc., couldn't have helped matters.) For instance, there's some sort of damage for several minutes in the form of shadowing vertical lines around the 40-minute mark of Side 1. The soundtrack, remixed for stereo surround, is also rather thin and unimpressive.

Special Features

If you count the audio commentary, the DVD of Giant will keep its most ardent fans busy for something like 10 hours. Many of the special features are carry-overs from earlier laserdisc releases.

“George Stevens: Filmmakers Who Knew Him” uses outtakes from the 1985 documentary George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey and features interviews with several long-deceased filmmakers, including Frank Capra, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and Fred Zinnemann, all discussing Stevens and his impact on American cinema.

“Memories of Giant” is a 51-minute talking heads documentary from 1998, with surviving cast members (with the notable exception of Elizabeth Taylor) reminiscing about the film's production. There’s not a lot of information in this leisurely production, but the anecdotes are warmly told and generally interesting. Rock Hudson appears in footage also shot for the 1985 Stevens show.

Both “Memories of Giant” and the 55-minute “Return to Giant” feature home movies taken by actress Jane Withers, who comes off as the genial mother hen during the production. “Return to Giant,” is the better documentary, concentrating on the invasion of tiny Marfa, Texas by the Giant cast and crew. It features a wider range of interviews (including many locals) and more behind-the-scenes information. As a portrait of a massive production working outside the confines of Hollywood, the program, from 1996, is excellent. Both this and “Return to Giant,” incidentally, are amusing for the emotional but utterly conflicting accounts of how the production learned of Dean's untimely death.

A kinescope from the long-defunct DuMont Network is the source for “New York Premiere,” a half-hour live program hosted by Chill Wills and a tiara-wearing Jayne Meadows. It is interesting mostly as a document of its era, and features brief interviews with studio head Jack Warner, composer Dimitri Tiomkin, and various celebrities. Oddly, this segment is presented in 1.33:1 format with 16:9 enhancement.

Even more odd is “Giant Premiere,” which is enhanced with a ratio of 1.77:1. Where this footage comes from is anyone’s guess, but it includes star-studded B&W footage from both the New York and Hollywood premieres. A 34-second excerpt from a Warner-Pathe newsreel shows the “Giant Stars Are Off to Texas.”

Also featured are two six-minute excerpts from “Warner Bros. Presents,” a mid-1950s anthology series in the manner of “Disneyland.” Hosted by Gig Young, the first of these infomercial-like segments (known as “Behind the Cameras”) show the cast and crew on location in Texas (some of which is obviously staged) while the second segment features an interview (likewise scripted) with Tiomkin. Oddly, the notorious “Behind the Cameras” interview with James Dean (in his Giant costume) touting the benefits of driving safely is not included.

If that weren’t enough, there's a feature length audio commentary, a short introduction to the film (without spoilers) by the ubiquitous George Stevens, Jr., a still gallery and archival production notes. An original and three reissue trailers in varying condition sell the same film zeroing in on elements of interest to that particular time, such as the 1963 reissue, which is clearly cashing in the publicity surrounding Taylor and Cleopatra.

Parting Thoughts

Giant is an excellent film given a problematic transfer. Fans of the picture will be enthralled by the myriad extras, however, and the film itself is not to be missed.



(A note to readers: This will hopefully be my last review to run after the DVD's street date. We're still transitioning here, and hope to be back in synch with the general release schedule shortly -- SG4)


#2 of 31 oscar_merkx

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Posted June 11 2003 - 07:12 PM

thanks for the review. I will most likely to get this one anyway, just for the classic film that it is

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#3 of 31 Malcolm R

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Posted June 12 2003 - 01:56 AM

Very nice review! Posted Image

I'll probably pick this up if I find a good price.
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#4 of 31 BrianP

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Posted June 12 2003 - 04:14 AM

I am getting it to replace the Canadian copy I previously owned. I was hoping for at least a much better video transfer. Maybe they will get it right on the next release.

#5 of 31 Gordon McMurphy

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Posted June 12 2003 - 08:26 AM

Pixelation in chapter 42 (side 2) ARGH! Posted Image

Returned disc.

The same problem occurred on side 2 of Dances With Wolves last week. Posted Image

I have been collecting DVDs for 4 years now, and these have the only faulty discs I have ever acquired! Posted Image

I guess that my number finally came up! Posted Image


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#6 of 31 Doug Schiller

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Posted June 12 2003 - 09:22 AM

Just a fantastic review Stuart. Keep up the great work.
This covers everything the DVDFile review failed to deliver.
An important film like this deserves the detail and scrutiny in your review.

Sadly, I'm passing on Giant until a 16x9 version is released (maybe another region).

Doug

#7 of 31 AlanP

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Posted June 12 2003 - 12:20 PM

Did anyone realize, Lauren Bacall and Grace Kelly
were first choices the lead ??
And Rock requested Liz !!!!!!!!


#8 of 31 Michael_Yang

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Posted June 12 2003 - 08:11 PM

I nees some screenshot.Posted Image

But it is very good!Posted Image
Favorite DVD this week:American Wedding Gift Set

#9 of 31 Joel Vardy

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Posted June 13 2003 - 02:36 AM

Stuart, any ideas as to the conspicuous absence of Elizabeth Taylor in the extras? Her views on her performance (which I found excellent Posted Image ) and her on/off relationships/collaborations with Stevens, Dean and Hudson have been sources of speculation that she could help clear up. She must have strong feelings on the two classics she made with Stevens and the impact of Dean's off-screen behavior to affect his on-screen performance.

Joel

#10 of 31 Arnie G

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Posted June 13 2003 - 08:13 AM

Maybe Liz wanted more $ than they were willing to pay.Posted Image
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#11 of 31 Bill Burns

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Posted June 13 2003 - 10:25 PM

Stuart wrote:
Quote:
Director Stevens reportedly hated CinemaScope ...

Are you sure about that report? If that's correct, I'd like to discover precisely why he "hated" it -- I haven't researched Stevens in any depth, but it's noteworthy that his last film of the 50's, The Diary of Anne Frank, was in fact shot in CinemaScope at 2.35:1, and for one of his last great labors of love in cinema*, The Greatest Story Ever Told, he chose to shoot in Ultra Panavision 70, which plays out quite a bit wider than even early CinemaScope on the screen: 2.75:1. Perhaps he simply hated CinemaScope's lenses, with their middle-frame distortions and tricky panning/tracking/dollying limitations, also distortion related (all of which improved with time, and were essentially perfected in the days of Panavision).

Werner Herzog has said he'll "never shoot in scope" because he doesn't imagine film images on that sort of canvas -- but for Stevens to favor CinemaScope in '59 (the magnetic/optical sound days when lenses were quite a bit better) and then one of the two widest processes ever used for his mammoth biblical epic (the other is the same process under another name and, it seems, different camera construction: MGM Camera 65, which became Ultra Panavision 70: for more info, see The Widescreen Museum; MGM Camera 65 is credited at 2.76:1, Ultra Panavision 70 at 2.75:1, but the exhaustive info of that site suggests this is simply a choice in how the frame's dimensions are approximated, rather than any change in the 65mm, 1.25x anamorphic optical spec, or the magnetic soundtrack), I'm inclined to think any objections he had were to CinemaScope distortions, rather than wide frames ... unless he changed his mind over the years, certainly a perogative of great directors.

If anyone has further info on this, I'd of course find it interesting. As to Giant -- I have it loaded up, but haven't watched it yet. I saw it during its last theatrical re-release, which was a wonderful experience for the quality of the film itself, but not for its condition, which was strictly mediocre (it felt like one of those "give it a bath and a new interpositive and it's restored" jobs). I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless. Once I've watched the DVD I'll post a few thoughts on the transfer (I've already vocalized my dismay that it is not windowboxed and enhanced, which would increase resolution without losing picture information that should be retained at the top and bottom of the frame -- you don't have to make a 1.66:1 film into a 1.78:1 film to enhance it, after all, and you shouldn't; you simply windowbox it, and I hope WB and MGM will soon take the cue of Disney, Anchor Bay, Paramount, and other companies and studios and enhance their 1.66:1 product, thus taking full advantage of the DVD spec).

* His final film was 1970's The Only Game in Town, a flat picture designed for 1.85:1 matting, according to the IMDB.

“That line was screwy.”

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Warner Bros.' Breakdowns of 1938

#12 of 31 Colin Jacobson

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Posted June 14 2003 - 04:14 AM

Quote:
it's noteworthy that his last film of the 50's, The Diary of Anne Frank, was in fact shot in CinemaScope at 2.35:1, and for one of his last great labors of love in cinema*, The Greatest Story Ever Told, he chose to shoot in Ultra Panavision 70, which plays out quite a bit wider than even early CinemaScope on the screen: 2.75:1.


I don't know why he went wide for Story, but according the GS Jr., his dad used widescreen for Frank because Fox pushed him to do so...
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#13 of 31 Bill Burns

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Posted June 15 2003 - 08:59 AM

Woo boy. Okay, suddenly I'm Warner Bros.' best friend, because I find this transfer to be fantastic.

Please read on, don't roll your eyes and scoff Posted Image, as I'll attempt to explain myself in as much detail as possible. First of all, I'm watching this on a flat, anamorphic-enabled 32" Wega through component cables. The player's a Sony carousel. Avia has been used to calibrate the television precisely, and this includes the very risky (intended for professional and the manufacturer's use only -- you could damage your set if you don't know what you're doing) SM, where I completely eliminated red push (by a single on off toggle, interestingly, and not by use of any saturation or "red gun" controls), fixed geometry, minimized overscan, etc.. Sharpness, in the UM, was precisely set to maximize bandwidth (all patches uniformly white in Avia's sharpness chart) but eliminate edge enhancement (no ringing or haloing on either curved or straight lines, vertical and horizontal). These dual parameters required a low, but not completely "off," setting.

Now, my viewing equipment clarified (my distance from the set was generally around seven or eight feet, but I sat as close as two or three feet to examine certain scenes in freeze frame, and the room itself was completely dark), here's what I see in Giant: an exemplary transfer of a problem set of elements. I'll further clarify: as mentioned in an earlier post (one which I believe is on the other Giant review thread floating about), all optical shots fair worse than shots that both begin and end in hard cuts. These optical fades result in multi-generation elements (how many generations, I don't know), and when you successively remove an element, generation after generation, from the original camera negative, you increase both grain structure and contrast. Robert Harris has explained this elsewhere, and those of us with large silent film collections are well aware of this phenomenon, as such films are often taken from single surviving sources many times removed from the camera negative. Comparing the transfer of Son of the Sheik on either Image's or Kino's edition with a brief clip from the film contained in one of the Image disc supplements (a vintage newsreel, I believe) illustrates the problem: the clip was clearly sourced from either the negative or a dupe negative, as it looks fantastic -- sharp, with beautiful grain structure and stable contrast. The film transfer on the DVD, however, is not only damaged with cuts and scratches, but positively glows, in some shots, with auroras of contrast around certain edges. This isn't edge enhancement: it's a build up of contrast that causes what's known as "blooming."

While I've never seen the film elements themselves for Giant, I did see it's last theatrical re-release, and this DVD looks markedly better than what I saw in theatres. But when I say that, I'm referring to 99% of the shots that, once again, both begin and end in hard cuts. Shots that either open or close in fades are optically printed and manipulated, and in these shots edges often glow, not just on one side or the other, but in a complete halo around the character or object. This "spectral" glow looks particularly odd in some sequences, but it's uniform: examine any scene opening or closing with a fade, and to one degree or another (there may be a couple of exceptions, depending on lighting), it's there. Examine any scene that opens in a hard cut and closes in a hard cut, and it isn't.

Here are a few examples, from memory: at the beginning of the picture, look at the shot of Elizabeth Taylor on horseback as she turns from the car containing Rock and the man playing her father and rides off along the meadow. This is a gorgeous shot, and edges against the sky show no obvious edge enhancement or glow. Everything is crystal clear and exceedingly film-like. Look at most (possibly all) of the breakfast scene the following morning, particularly close-ups of Leslie (Taylor) and her father. Tremendous. Another example is the low-contrast first close-up we get of James Dean's character, which looks marvelous ... or, a bit earlier, the very brief close-up of the horse, framed at least partially against sky, after Rock and Elizabeth finish breakfast and walk outside at her parents' house. That brief shot of the horse would clearly show ringing if it had been added, and while I see the faintest amount below his nose (along his right side, which is screen left), this may be the natural interaction of stark contrasts -- it's by no means the sort of edge enhancement we usually discuss. From a normal distance, that shot looks grand.

Another example, later in the film: look at the beautiful master shot inside Rock's house, the one to which we cut after Chill Wills tells Elizabeth that she must raise the children to be whom they want to be, and she swears she will. Once we cut to the master, we see Chill and Elizabeth's backs at the window, Rock looking into a fireplace, and various other details in a darkly lit room. Note the wagon in the middle of the room, whose wheels are outlined, in part, against a brighter background (the carpeting). I see what might be the barest suggestion of an outline on one wheel, but otherwise ... outstanding. And sitting back more than a few feet, the scene is breathtaking for its color gradation and detail. Glorious.

But, again, look at most of the scenes that begin or end in a fade, and you'll see a clear glow from any viewing distance, often times around objects and people who aren't even framed against particularly dark or bright backgrounds. I was quickly able to whisper, under my breath, when a scene would end in a fade based not only on this glow, but on the reduction in overall color quality (detail and gradation) and resolution of the image, and also an increase in visible grain. I noted only a few shots with hard cut beginnings and endings that didn't look right, and I'd agree with another member of the forum that this is probably representative of material reclaimed from an inferior source (probably because of badly damaged segments in the primary source). One such shot is the oddly blurry image of Elizabeth on the porch early in the film mentioned in an earlier post (again on the alternate Giant thread); it's the only shot of its kind in the picture (the optical shots don't look nearly so blurry), and I'd guess it was either a 16mm blow-up or a problem with the interpositive created for this transfer, perhaps originating from a shrunken or otherwise damaged source for that segment. Rock's close-ups look fine, and they're intercut with Liz's bad stuff, so a third possibility (and this may be the most likely) is that a soft filter was placed on the scene for Liz, and while it registers badly and makes her material look blurry, they never went back in to fix it. The filmmakers did, however, avoid the use of such filters throughout the rest of her close-ups in the film. See close-ups of Kim Novak in Vertigo for an idea of what I'm describing.

The other segment (apart from a brief insert of a page with written text, which I presume may have been a poorly photographed pick-up) that looks oddly inferior occurs after Jet (James Dean) strikes oil (black gold, to reference the Beverly Hillbillies Posted Image). He drives up to the mansion shared by Leslie and Bick to tell them of his strike. All of this looks fine (excepting any fades which I don't specifically recall at the moment). When Jet is actually on the patio, however, he leans against a pole and tells Leslie how pretty she is. As he does this, in a sequence with a hard cut both at the beginning and end (after Bick punches him), the segment looks like it might be a 16mm blow up -- the colors seem undefined, resolution drops, and the framing feels a bit odd and tight. It also may be an insert from a later-generation 35mm source. Whatever the case, it's one of the few "hard cut" shots that don't look quite right. Aside from a bit of color fading here and there (pale skin tones in a few, but not many, brightly lit shots), all other hard cut shots look absolutely beautiful, and betray none of the spectral glow I believe we're mis-identifying as edge enhancement. Natural film grain, most evident in freeze frame, also demonstrates the care of this transfer, as it look nothing less than phenomenal in hard cut shots.

So I give this transfer, on a scale of 1-5, a 4.5. It is beautifully, admirably true to its problematic source material (both for optical fades and general troubles at the Warner labs where the processing of colors are concerned {Warnercolor} -- no one should expect this to look like a Technicolor feature, because it never did), and looks not only film-like, but generally better than it did in theatres during its last re-release. Many scenes have a remarkable clarity and depth of detail. But not so anything beginning or ending in an optical fade (either to another scene or to black).

Why, then, a .5 reduction in rating? As film-like as this looks, yes, it would look a bit better were it carefully windowboxed within a 1.78:1 frame and anamorphically enhanced. Had this transfer been enhanced, I'd give it a perfect rating.

Now, many might say "they should digitally restore the film and fix those fades," but I'll pose a question here to which I have no firm answer (I appreciate both sides of the matter): while the film would play better if skin tones were fully restored from fading, and in the few shots where this seems to be an issue I'm sure all would agree, should contrast and grain problems resulting from limitations in optical printing technology at the time be fixed? If original audiences saw these fades looking much as they do today, is it proper to make them any smoother? Is this akin to reducing natural film grain fully intended by the filmmakers? It's difficult to believe a filmmaker would want contrasts to bloom and grain to increase for fades (whereas proper film grain is an artistic tool), so they probably aren't quite the same issue, but they share a similar question of "historical fidelity": if the process shots looked bad in theatres at the time of release, is it right to "improve" them without authorization to do so by the filmmakers? If the answer is "yes," then it becomes a cost issue, and fixing every optical in this film would be very expensive. Lowry could undoubtedly do wonders for it, but would it be worth the cost? Most scenes opening and closing with hard cuts look superb -- so are the fades really a tremendous issue, worthy of the cost? And if the answer to my first question is no, then of course the film shouldn't be touched (beyond correction of fading, print damage, and perhaps an increase in quality for any inserts made by WB to correct for massive frame damage).

I love this transfer, I love the film, and I highly recommend both. For my money, this disc is a bargain. The supplements are a great treat as well, particularly (I adore these sorts of things, and one was included by WB on their outstanding disc of Cukor's A Star is Born, as well) the live Dumont television broadcast from the film's New York premiere (which is oddly enhanced, as Stuart pointed out ... at 1.33:1! Come on, WB, you can enhance television, which is completely unnecessary and on good material would actually decrease resolution -- the Dumont broadcast is so fuzzy that I doubt we've lost anything tangible -- but you can't enhance the feature itself, which would benefit from it at 1.66:1? Sheesh. Posted Image Even the brief footage of the Hollywood premiere is enhanced, though this is cropped to fill a 16x9 frame, unlike the New York telecast).

Anyway, I consider the bonus disc alone worth the price of the set (premiere telecasts should accompany every film for which they survive), and the film disc itself is then the caramel center of this Tootsie Roll Pop (that's my last silly cultural reference in this post, I promise), beautifully, carefully transfered from problem elements. I very highly recommend Giant. Posted Image*

*I have no illusion that this recommendation will not prove controversial, but I make it wholeheartedly, nevertheless. I hope I've explained why in sufficient detail above.

“That line was screwy.”

- Outtake
Warner Bros.' Breakdowns of 1938

#14 of 31 Ken_McAlinden

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Posted June 16 2003 - 08:49 AM

The fades in Giant have always looked bad. I believe I saw a quote from Scott MacQueen on-line one time where he described it as "..a fine example of lousy state of the art dupes in the 50s".

There were two schools of thought about how to do optical fades in a manner which would look least jarring to audiences. One way was to cut in right when the fade starts and cut out immediately when it is over. The other is to extend the dupe section to the first cuts before and after the fade so that the fade itself seemed smoother. It's clear that the latter approach was favored with Giant. The fact that some of the fades come in between long takes makes it that much worse.

Knowing this is one thing, but I would still stop short of calling the Giant transfer "fantastic". Why? Because in an ill advised attempt to make the soft contrasty dupe sections sit better next to the rest of the footage, they have applied massive amounts of enhancement that, in fact, makes things look much worse.

The shots that look bad and are not surrounding optical fades likely represent sections of the film element that were damaged and had to be replaced by dupe sections. That's why they look not unlike the process shots which were also from dupes.

I would love to hear more about the state of the elements at the time of the restoration and what kind of decisions had to be made from someone who knows. For instance, could that massive haloing in the dupe sections really be the result of some sort of film processing or was it all added in the video domain?

Regards,
Ken McAlinden
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#15 of 31 John Hodson

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Posted June 16 2003 - 09:25 AM

Quote:
Anyway, I consider the bonus disc alone worth the price of the set (premiere telecasts should accompany every film for which they survive), and the film disc itself is then the caramel center of this Tootsie Roll Pop (that's my last silly cultural reference in this post, I promise), beautifully, carefully transfered from problem elements. I very highly recommend Giant.

Sold! I was dithering until I read your post Bill Posted Image

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#16 of 31 Greg_S_H

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Posted June 16 2003 - 09:52 AM

Bill, I have to say that you've been a real asset to the HTF since you recently joined. I'd love for there to be some kind of HTF feature where you, Mr. Galbraith and Mr. Harris discuss these kinds of issues on a regular basis. I'd quickly be lost by most of it, but it'd be fascinating nonetheless. Posted Image

#17 of 31 Gary Miller

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Posted June 25 2003 - 03:55 PM

I loved that chaotic live TV broadcast of the Giant New York premiere. (There's not much you can do with the crappy picture quality of the kinescope, but cranking the brightness a bit will bring some of the stars out of the shadows). This is a great 1950's show business time capsule.

In moments of hilarious embarrassment, co-hosts Jayne Meadows and Chill Wills repeatedly call a Mr. Galway to the podium. It would have helped some if they knew who he was or what he looked like. Mr.Galway missed his 15 seconds of fame...he never showed up. Also, it must have done wonders for Jayne Meadows ego that Jack Warner calls her "Lana" and Mercedes McCambridge graciously acknowledges Miss Meadows accolades with a "thank you,Kate".

The DuMont network was on a respirator at this point. I believe they were gone by the end of 1956. Even for a news event, there clearly was no budget here. Chill Wills not only served as co-host but seemed to be producing this broadcast on the fly.

The few live shows produced today are so well choreographed that the "live" quality is not much more then a technicality. By contemporary standards this broadcast would be considered an awkward debacle. The only place you'll see anything this spontaneous today is on public access television.

#18 of 31 Juan M. Rico

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Posted June 25 2003 - 11:29 PM

Just wanted to add my two cents to this review, about the aspect ratio:

I have both DVDs, the Canadian version and the new 2 disc special edition.

The Canadian version, which is anamorphic, is indeed 1.66:1. I have done an actual measurement of the screen to verify this. When I played the new version (non anamorphic), I immediately noticed the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen where smaller that in the Canadian version: half the size. I measure again, and the ratio is more like 1.51:1.

I did a comparison, and there is more image in this new version, more noticeable at the bottom of the screen.

Maybe if any of you have both versions, can take a look at add your comments.

J

#19 of 31 Ken_McAlinden

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Posted June 26 2003 - 02:26 AM

Juan,
What kind of screen are you making your measurements on? Overscan can confuse the issue. For instance, a 16:9 frame watched letterboxed and downconverted on a 4:3 TV with 5% overscan on either side (pretty typical) will appear to be 1.60:1. A windowboxed 16:9 enhanced 1.66:1 frame will also appear to have a 1.60:1 ratio on the same display. A non-16:9 enhanced letterboxed 1.66:1 frame would measure to be around 1.49:1 on the same display.

Regards,
Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#20 of 31 Rain

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Posted June 26 2003 - 06:33 AM

Quote:
The Canadian version, which is anamorphic, is indeed 1.66:1.
I don't think so.

I have personally checked the overscan areas while this DVD was on and there are NO side bars.

Holding a measuring tape up to your TV screen will not yield accurate results.

Food for thought though: Widesreen Review, who use some sort of fancy-shmancy digital method to measure ARs, has posted an AR of 1.60:1 for the new DVD.

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