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*** Official Warner Archive DVD Review Thread

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#1 of 278 OFFLINE   Ernest


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Posted March 26 2009 - 11:58 PM

I purchased Betrayed, Bhowani Junction and 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse which are all MGM titles. That would be great if the MGM titles are included in the WB Archives. Now if we can get Fox to start a similar service titles like the Egyptian, Esther and the King, King of the Kyber Rifles and Seven Cities of Gold would become available. The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Glenn Ford, Ingrid Thulin, Lee J Cobb) and Bhowani Junction (Ava Gardner & Stewart Granger) were shot in widescreen 2:40 x 1 and are released in anamorphic widescreen 16 x 9. The audio is 2 channel stereo. I just viewed a small portion of each DVD and the video I saw was excellent. Betrayed (Clark Gable, Lana Turner and Victor Mature) was shot in 1:33 x 1 and is presented in Full Screen with the audio in mono. Again I only viewed a small portion of the DVD and the video was excellent. This service is great and hopefully the next group released will include the Naked and the Dead, Dark of the Sun and PT 109. The DVD's were shipped via UPS and I received them 3 days after ordering.

#2 of 278 OFFLINE   Simon Howson

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Posted March 27 2009 - 12:55 AM

If you have a DVD drive, can you check if these two are dual layer discs (over 4.7 GB)? 4 Horseman is over 2.5 hours long, so it should really be on a dual layer disc. If it was on a single layer that would be just 4.2 Mbps, which I think is too low (It seems that recently Warner usually aim for about 6 Mbps.) I suspect that both of these films were prepared for regular DVD releases, I am sure Bohwani Junction was part of DVD Decision 2006, and I can recall Warner talking about the likelihood of releasing more Minnelli films during a chat. I would love if Fox did something like this too so we could get access to rarer CinemaScope films like Blue Denim, On the Threshold of Space, The Way to the Gold, and even a new transfer of Beneath the 12 Mile Reef would be great.

#3 of 278 OFFLINE   CineKarine


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Posted March 27 2009 - 01:08 AM

Great idea to have a thread to discuss the received DVDs. Thank you for sharing with us! Posted Image
Sing your worries away, smile, be kind and accentuate the positive!
DVD wish list: The Accused (48), Margie (46), I'll Get By (50), The Constant Nymph (43), The Voice of the Turtle (47), The Barretts of Wimpole Street (34), Her Twelve Men (54), The Lost Moment (47), I Walk Alone (48), The Glass...

#4 of 278 OFFLINE   Sergio A

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Posted March 27 2009 - 02:11 AM

4 HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE has already been released by WHV as a 'traditional' retail DVD as a region 2 in France and the review by Gary at DVD Beaver says it was dual-layered disc - but this is no guarantee that the 'on-demand' version in dual-layered as well of course. Feedback on all these releases is really welcome, thanks very much to all. Sergio

#5 of 278 OFFLINE   Bob Furmanek

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Posted March 27 2009 - 02:17 AM

BETRAYED was protected for Academy, but was composed and intended for widescreen presentation.

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#6 of 278 OFFLINE   felipenor


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Posted March 27 2009 - 02:35 AM

How is the artwork? Does it look like a regular dvd?

#7 of 278 OFFLINE   Chuck Pennington

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Posted March 27 2009 - 02:55 AM


VIDEO: The image is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen from a rather grainy and speckled element. Darker scenes, of which there are many, are rather murky with ill-defined contrast and compression blockiness. Exterior daylight scenes fare quite well with decent contrast and lighter grain, though the transfer never quite reaches beyond simply average even during its best moments. The encoding, however, introduces some major problems.

Aside from the disappointment of being an interlaced encode, there is some strange vertical strobing in many of the dark scenes with the infrared lights. The images below were captured using VLC in PNG format and then saved with the least amount of compression as JPEG files. The excessive color strobing seen here is NOT an artifact introduced in the screen capture process - the image actually looks like this at times. I also have not deinterlaced the images at all so you will see the combing in these captures (if you look for it - I tried to use frames with the least amount as my Sony BD player perfectly deinterlaces the image with no problems, as I'm sure many other DVD players can do as well).


We go from this highly problematic shot...
on to this acceptable one...

Overall, of the 5 titles I purchased, this release had the worst video quality. I would've given it a 2.75/5 if it weren't for the shoddy compression. The encoding is what really killed it as the flaws were distracting enough to draw my attention away from the film. 1.5/5

AUDIO: Though the packaging states mono, DREAM LOVER is presented in 2.0 Dolby Surround, and in some scenes is quite effective! I didn't have any problem with the soundtrack at all, save for it sounding a bit thin. The mixing is rather odd in that sometimes during the key flashback that plays over and over in the film there are some sound effects that are sometimes in the rear channel and sometimes in the front channels without any apparent rhyme or reason. The film was presented theatrically in Dolby Stereo, and that is the soundtrack on this DVD release.

OVERALL: Well, at least this disc also came with a non-anamorphic widescreen trailer. Oh, and the movie is in anamorphic widescreen. Some of it looks okay. Sorry, not a lot of good words for this DVD, or for the movie. It was a blind purchase because I've recently been exploring some of McNichol's films.

#8 of 278 OFFLINE   Chuck Pennington

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Posted March 27 2009 - 03:16 AM



VIDEO: Another interlaced, 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation, though with a seemingly better encode than DREAM LOVER by a wide margin, even though the print used for the transfer is also less than optimal. And make no mistake, it is a print. There are cigarette marks (is that what they are called?) at the end of reels and a bit more dirt on display that one might expect from a studio DVD release. The image is very soft and sometimes appears to be out-of-focus, though this was a low budget independent film from 1970 so expectations must be held in check. Color is quite nice though variable as whites tend towards being slightly yellow or pink, often varying shot to shot. Contrast is quite strange as the sides of the image have a steep black level drop off while the center of the frame lacks contast and has blacks that waver from being slightly reddish or bluish in tone. Opticals, partically the opening titles, appear quite grimy. Still, there is an unprocessed and unrefined look to the transfer that suits the source and is quite watchable. Compression artifacts were not a problem, and even with its flaws I was quite pleased with the result, warts and all. Or maybe that's because I liked the film so much, I dunno. It was another blind purchase (as were all 5 of the titles I obtained), and one I was glad to discover. 2.5/5

AUDIO: Dolby Digital mono encoded at 192 kbps. Flat with slight hiss, though not sounding noisy like a typical optical track from a print might, the audio was neither so good or so bad that I look exception to it.

Again, the images below (save for the one noted) were not deinterlaced. And yes, the strange vertical color strobing seen a lot in DREAM LOVER is on the National General logo but rarely seen anywhere else in the movie.

The same shot deinterlaced...

OVERALL: I was glad to discover this rather unusual and dated film. The idea of a surrogate mother now isn't so radical, though this film takes things a bit further by having the father impregnate the surrogate the old fashioned way while the wife is in another next room. Talk about having faith in the strength of a marriage... I can understand that a film like this probably doesn't have a large market and so I'm grateful to have it on DVD in anamorphic widescreen even though it appears no effort was made to correct some of the color and contrast fluctuations in the print.

#9 of 278 OFFLINE   Chuck Pennington

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Posted March 27 2009 - 03:20 AM

Save for the substandard printing, yes. Even the face of the disc itself looks quite nice. It could be mistaken for a very, very good bootleg, as far as the disc and packaging goes. Do the actual movies look like regular DVDs? Well, that's up for debate on a per title basis....

#10 of 278 OFFLINE   Stephen PI

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Posted March 27 2009 - 03:31 AM

Are you certain about the audio on "4 Horsemen"? The audio was mastered in 5.1 on the laserdisc.
Steve Pickard

#11 of 278 OFFLINE   Jay E

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Posted March 27 2009 - 03:34 AM

Thanks for the reviews Chuck!

The Baby Maker is one of the films I was interested in buying (at a later date due to money restrictions). Barbara Hershey looks lovely in your screenshotsPosted Image

#12 of 278 OFFLINE   Chuck Pennington

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Posted March 27 2009 - 03:37 AM

I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though a print was used for the transfer, one with variable color and contrast at that. It has the look of still photos from that era, though without the extreme fading. I had hoped a trailer would be included and that it would be a progressive transfer, but still - don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth, or whatever that expression is - lol.

#13 of 278 OFFLINE   Joseph Bolus

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Posted March 27 2009 - 03:55 AM

Thanks for this thread ... It's very much appreciated! Posted Image

#14 of 278 OFFLINE   Jay E

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Posted March 27 2009 - 04:05 AM

Yes, it is for the more obscure films like this, where I really see the enormous benefits of this service. These are films that I never thought I would ever see or see again, and now I will have the ability to actually own them...it is a tremendous boom for us film fanatics!!! I just wish their pricing would come down some...but we will see. Thanks again for your detailed review. I look forward to any others you might be posting.

#15 of 278 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted March 27 2009 - 04:28 AM

Any member that wants to post their review comments regarding the PQ of any Warner Archive DVD release is welcome to do so in this thread.


#16 of 278 OFFLINE   Chuck Pennington

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Posted March 27 2009 - 05:20 AM


VIDEO: This is the oldest film of the five I purchased from the Warner Archive and yet it has the best image quality! The image is framed at 1.33:1 and is impeccably clean with a grand grayscale, one that unfortunately shows up the limitations of the encoding. Many shadows and background elements "hold and shift", something I often see on independent DVD releases and some early studio efforts. I rarely see this kind of digital artifact on major studio releases, but it is here, albeit not to a severe degree. It can be glimpsed in the screen captures below, though it is easier to spot in motion. Aside from this being an interlaced transfer and the inadequate compression, I was quite pleased with this disc. Edges are sharp without appearing enhanced, and grain is quite fine and film-like. There are a few shots that appear to be dupes, with a sudden spike in grain and a slightly diffuse quality to them (the capture in the car below is an example), but overall the image quality is quite satisfactory. 3.75/5 (It would rate a solid 4.5 if it were progressively encoded with better compression).

AUDIO: Presented in its original mono (Dolby Digital 2.0 - 192 kbps), the film sounds as other films from the era do: a bit shrill and sharp, but quite distinct and intelligible. Surface noise was never a problem, and I didn't detect any distortion or optical track funkiness.

OVERALL: I'm pleased with the result, even if the fact that it is interlaced and features substandard encoding does give me pause. The theatrical trailer is also included, though not noted anywhere on the packaging or the Warner Archive website.

Again, I haven't deinterlaced these captures as I probably should've, so you'll see a bit of combing in all of them.


#17 of 278 OFFLINE   Andreas Wagner

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Posted March 27 2009 - 05:51 AM

I sincerely hope that they release the next batch of titles with progressively enhanced transfers. It does make a difference and - as Warner really wants to give us the best quality available when it comes to this Archive Collection -I hope they might at least consider it.

#18 of 278 OFFLINE   Chuck Pennington

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Posted March 27 2009 - 05:59 AM



VIDEO: Presented in an interlaced, 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, THE GRASSHOPPER is quite watchable with only minor flaws consistent with the vintage of the film. Like THE BABY MAKER, THE GRASSHOPPER is a 1970 National General release, but that is where the similarities end. While THE BABY MAKER is extremely soft with variable contrast and transferred from a somewhat iffy element, THE GRASSHOPPER is sharp with firmer contrast, more consistent color values, sporting moderate grain with very little dirt and damage. Even the National General logo looks better here than on the other release, only showing a slight hint of the vertical color strobing far more apparent on some of the other Warner Archive releases I've seen.
Dissolves and opticals appear grimy with thick grain, but that's the norm from what I've seen of films from this era. The last screen capture is one such example, probably the worst looking shot in the film. There is some macroblocking to be sure (check out the hood of the car in the screen capture), but the compression job is better than I anticipated at handling the grain structure after seeing less than ideal results on some other Warner Archive titles. There is so much activity and moving camera work on display that there doesn't seem to be much time to nitpick the limitations of the image quality. 3.5/5

AUDIO: There isn't much to report about this mono (DD 2.0 192 kbps) track: crisp-sounding music with low noise, lower in volume than I expected with no low end to speak of.

OVERALL: The film is far from perfect (it's entry in the Bad Movies We Love book is what prompted my purchase), but it is a lot of trashy fun. I imagine the film was quite bawdy for its time, though it would probably rank as a PG-13 today. The DVD from Warner Archive is satisfactory and better than I expected, though I do hope that progressive encoding as well as improved compression grace future releases.

Again, these captures have not been deinterlaced. Miss Bisset is in nearly every shot and scene!

#19 of 278 OFFLINE   Brandon Conway

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Posted March 27 2009 - 06:18 AM

Aside from the interlacing issues and the "cigarette burns", those captures look quite good, IMO.

"And now the reprimand, from an American critic. He reproaches me for using film as a sacred & lasting medium, like a painting or a book. He does not believe that filmmaking is an inferior art, but he believes, and quite rightly, that a reel goes quickly, that the public are looking above all for relaxation, that film is fragile and that it is pretentious to express the power of one's soul by such ephemeral and delicate means, that Charlie Chaplin's or Buster Keaton's first films can only be seen on very rare and badly spoiled prints. I add that the cinema is making daily progress and that eventually films that we consider marvelous today will soon be forgotten because of new dimensions & colour. This is true. But for 4 weeks this film [The Blood of a Poet] has been shown to audiences that have been so attentive, so eager & so warm, that I wonder after all there is not an anonymous public who are looking for more than relaxation in the cinema." - Jean Cocteau, 1932

#20 of 278 OFFLINE   Chuck Pennington

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Posted March 27 2009 - 06:38 AM

Much better than recording them off of television, for sure. And even if there were recorded from TV they wouldn't be in anamorphic widescreen and would probably have logos in the corner or something. Bottom line: The titles I got are better than the alternatives by a large margin (the alternatives being VHS releases from decades ago or a TV broadcast) - but still not up to the most basic standard studio releases.

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