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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Some Like It Hot Collector's Edition



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#1 of 10 Cameron Yee

Cameron Yee

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Posted July 17 2006 - 12:05 PM

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Collector's Edition

Note: Special features in green font are carryovers from the 2001 Special Edition.


Release Date: July 18, 2006
Studio: MGM Studios
Year: 1959
Rating: NR
Running Time: 2h02m
Video: 1.66:1 anamorphic (special features 1.33:1 standard)
Audio: English DD5.1, English DD Mono, French DD2.0 (special features DD2.0)
Subtitles: English, French
TV-Generated Closed Captions: English
Menus: Animated and non-animated with some transitions
Packaging/Materials: Double disc keepcase with cardstock slipcover; eight-page collectible booklet and four collectible postcards
MSRP: $24.96



The Feature: 5/5
We all have our weaknesses. For sax player Joe (Tony Curtis) it's gambling and for ukulele strummer Sugar (Marilyn Monroe) it's alcohol and sax players (lucky Joe). And for bass fiddle plucker Jerry (Jack Lemmon) it looks like women - in particular Sugar. But as it turns out Jerry's weakness is going along with Joe's schemes - first betting their overcoats in a dog race (and losing them) then dressing up as women to hide from gangsters after witnessing them in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Despite the gruesome setup for this Hollywood farce, "Some Like It Hot" is considered one of the funniest films of all time, and though it won't bust guts by today's standards it is consistently entertaining, holding up well after almost 50 years. It's also a great look at legendary actors in top form - most notably Monroe with her signature, seductive innocence (paired with a couple of mind boggling dresses) and Lemmon with his impeccable comedic timing and delivery (also paired with dresses). And the movie features one of the best closing punch lines in film. Though it's true "Nobody's perfect!" "Some Like It Hot" shows some movies certainly can be.


Video Quality: 3/5
Dust and dirt specks are visible at times, but overall the picture is surprisingly clean for its age. Black levels are solid, with a pleasing range of contrast in the black and white images. Broad areas of compression noise are evident in a few instances, distracting from the scenes. The picture shows no signs of edge enhancement, and though it is generally clear and sharp there are a few moments of softness. Unfortunately I was not able to get a copy of the previous edition to do a comparison.


Audio Quality: 3/5
The center channel dominates the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track with very minor use of the other channels, almost to the point of being unnoticeable. In fact it wasn't until I sampled certain scenes on a second system that I was able to hear traces of ambient sound effects (during the train scenes). This is not a bad thing - better this than a "modernization" that would ultimately seem out of character for the film. Purists will likely appreciate the inclusion of the mono track, but I found it to be harsh sounding, sometimes sounding clipped in the musical sequences. By comparison the 5.1 is smoother, more balanced and natural, with dialogue consistently clear and intelligible.


Special Features (Packaging): 3.5/5

  • Eight-page booklet and postcards: The booklet provides basic narrative about the film and its production and a Wilder filmography, with several production and publicity images. The postcards are of a theatrical poster and caricatures of Curtis, Lemmon and Monroe. I'm a bit of a postcard and illustration collector, so I appreciated the cards.



Special Features (Disc One): 4/5

  • Audio commentary featuring interviews with Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Paul Diamond, Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandell: Diamond, Ganz and Mandell take the lead in the commentary, offering insightful analysis of the film from a writer's perspective and some interesting background details. Obviously fans of the film, the trio sometimes just enjoy watching it, but they never digress for long and their enthusiasm for the movie is infectious.

    The integrated interviews with Curtis and Lemmon sound like the same ones used in the documentaries, which might seem like a bit of a cheat to recycle them, but ultimately the information in context with the onscreen images proves to be effective.



Special Features (Disc Two): 4/5

  • The Making of "Some Like It Hot" Documentary (25m45s): Explores the making of the film using past interviews with the two male leads and Director Billy Wilder and a recent interview with I.A.L. Diamond's widow, Barbara Diamond. The piece includes candid stories about the difficulties working with Monroe, the background of the film's famous closing line and audience reaction to initial previews. The documentary's narrator is pretty lackluster, but fortunately he only provides voice over at the beginning and end, letting the interviews do most of the work. Though not particularly in-depth or exhaustive, the documentary has some significant, interesting anecdotes about the film's production.

  • The Legacy of "Some Like It Hot" Documentary (20m21s): Includes everyone from Director Curtis Hanson ("L.A. Confidential") to Hugh Hefner chiming in on the significance and lasting impact of the film on the entertainment industry, with some short detours discussing Monroe (this time in a more positive light) and working with Billy Wilder.

  • "Nostalgic Look Back" Documentary (31m13s): Leonard Maltin interviews Tony Curtis at the Formosa Café, a major Hollywood hangout back in the day. Curtis talks at length about his involvement with the film, offering some great anecdotes and behind-the-scenes stories.

  • "Memories from the Sweet Sues" Featurette (12m04s): Four of the Sweet Sues reunite and reminisce about being in the film. The most interesting part is one of the Sues, Sandra Warner, was the body double for Monroe in the publicity stills because Monroe was pregnant at the time.

  • Original Pressbook Gallery: Image gallery of the film's press packet, which includes material used for reproduction in print advertising.

  • Virtual Hall of Memories (21m04s): Multimedia (stills, video clips and music) presentation, framed within a computer animated hallway of portraits, focuses on each of the leads, the director and behind the scenes. Though presented in one continuous piece, chapter stops allow the user to skip to each section.

  • Previews: Original theatrical trailer, "The Princess Bride" Collector's Edition DVD, and "West Side Story" Special Edition DVD



Recap and Final Thoughts

The Feature: 5/5
Video Quality: 3/5
Audio Quality: 3/5
Special Features (Packaging): 3.5/5
Special Features (Disc One): 4/5
Special Features (Disc Two): 4/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4/5

Though picture quality could stand some improvement, my understanding is the previous releases were not anamorphic, making this the release to own for picture quality. Unfortunately the best special features are ones carried over from the previous special edition, making a decision to double dip contingent entirely on the anamorphic transfer (assuming there are no other improvements). True sticklers for video quality will likely want to wait for the high definition release.



Equipment: Toshiba 42" CRT RPTV fed a 1080i signal from an Oppo DV-971 DVD player. Audio evaluation is based on an Onkyo TX-SR575x 5.1 AVR running JBL S26 mains and surrounds, JBL S-Center, and SVS 20-39 PCi subwoofer.
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#2 of 10 widescreenforever

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Posted July 17 2006 - 12:12 PM

Good review,, you may want to upgrade the last page
( Special Features (Disc Two): 4/5 ) though as the 'text' runs into each other in different colors and levels.. ??

#3 of 10 Cameron Yee

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Posted July 17 2006 - 12:37 PM

I'm assuming you're using Internet Explorer?
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#4 of 10 Brian PB

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Posted July 17 2006 - 02:00 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by arthurJulius
Good review,, you may want to upgrade the last page
( Special Features (Disc Two): 4/5 ) though as the 'text' runs into each other in different colors and levels.. ??
Same problem here (using Internet Explorer)

#5 of 10 Cameron Yee

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Posted July 17 2006 - 04:06 PM

Quote:
you may want to upgrade the last page
Well, in the case of IE, it would be a downgrade Posted Image. Sorry, had to get that in Posted Image. It should be better now.
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#6 of 10 RobertSiegel

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Posted July 18 2006 - 04:46 AM

Thanks for the review Cameron. One question: Does the 5.1 track have actual stereo separation of sounds or musical instruments, or is is a similated stereo? It is possible that they had some or all of the music masters in stereo, I'd like to know if they did have them or if the disc sound is all simulated.

Classics on Blu-ray is what it is all about!


#7 of 10 Cameron Yee

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Posted July 18 2006 - 04:54 AM

If memory serves the 5.1 was stated as derived from the mono track - I can't recall if this is printed on the packaging or if it was in the press release. I'll rewatch the musical numbers to check for separation and I'll get back to you. It certainly didn't jump out at me when I viewed it the first time, for what it's worth.
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#8 of 10 Cameron Yee

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Posted July 18 2006 - 05:46 PM

So the packaging states "Newly created 5.1 from mono"

Playing back the music scenes I detected no signficant separation. The majority of the audio was firmly anchored in the center, with some minor support coming from the fronts and surrounds. It was actually so minor I had to put my head by the speakers to hear it. After sampling some other scenes I adjusted my review of the audio section slightly to reflect this.
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#9 of 10 RobertSiegel

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Posted July 19 2006 - 12:33 AM

Cameron, thanks for checking the separation (and great review). I didn't like the previous transfer at all, so I had only rented the movie, but seems like the time to buy it now.

Classics on Blu-ray is what it is all about!


#10 of 10 Cameron Yee

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Posted July 19 2006 - 01:58 AM

You're welcome!
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