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DVD Reviews

HTF DVD REVIEW: The Barbara Stanwyck Collection



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#1 of 18 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted May 03 2010 - 02:48 PM

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The Barbara Stanwyck Collection
Universal Backlot Series
 
 
INTERNES CAN’T TAKE MONEY
Studio: Universal (Original Theatrical Release by Paramount)
Original Release: 1937
Length: 1 hour 19 mins
Genre: Melodrama
 
Starring: Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea
Directed By: Alfred Santell
 
 
 
THE GREAT MAN’S LADY
Studio: Universal (Original Theatrical Release by Paramount)
Original Release: 1942
Length: 1 hour 31 mins
Genre: Historic Drama
 
Starring: Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea
Directed By: Wiliam Wellman
 
 
THE BRIDE WORE BOOTS
Studio: Universal (Original Theatrical Release by Paramount)
Original Release: 1946
Length: 1 hour 27 mins
Genre: Marriage Comedy
 
Starring: Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Cummings
Directed By: Irving Pichel
 
 
THE LADY GAMBLES
Studio: Universal
Original Release: 1949
Length: 1 hour 39 mins
Genre:  Gambling Drama
 
Starring: Barbara Stanwyck and  Robert Preston
Directed By: Michael Gordon
 
 
ALL I DESIRE
Studio: Universal 
Original Release: 1953
Length: 1 hour 28 mins
Genre: Melodrama
 
Starring: Barbara Stanwyck and Richard Carlson
Directed By: Douglas Sirk
 
 
THERE’S ALWAYS TOMORROW
Studio: Universal 
Original Release: 1956
Length: 1 hour 21 mins
Genre:   Infidelity Drama
 
Starring: Barbara Stanwyck and  Fred MacMurray
Directed By: Douglas Sirk
 
 
ALL FILMS
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 (Even THERE’S ALWAYS TOMORROW, which is not the proper aspect ratio)
Color/B&W: Black & White 
Audio:   English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Subtitles: English SDH Only
Rating:  Not Rated (Appropriate for all ages)
 
Release Date: April 27, 2010
 
Rating: 3     
 
 
Universal continues its “Backlot Series” with a sextet of pictures starring Barbara Stanwyck, including three originally released by Paramount.   Fans of Barbara Stanwyck will certainly enjoy seeing the first five films in this collection, as they are presented in very nice black and white prints with effective mono soundtracks. If anything, this collection is a great way to see a 20 year period of Stanwyck’s career, including several films that come in between the bigger pictures for which she is better known. 
 
Unfortunately, I must also note that the sixth picture in the collection, There’s Always Tomorrow, has not been presented here in its proper 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Instead, a fairly soft and muddy full frame version has been included here.   What makes this truly mystifying is that there have been two DVD releases of this title in other regions that have used a perfectly good widescreen print. I have no explanation as to the reason for this problem, but I don’t dare let it pass without risk of sending the film’s fans into a purchase without knowing what they are getting. I must also note that while all the films are chaptered, none of them has a chapter menu, which is something that really tends to cause irritation for me. 
 
That said, I must also say that the collection does have five films that are perfectly presentable, and the purchase may be worth it for those five films alone.  Beyond the films, the only extras present here are trailers for The Great Man’s Lady and All I Desire.
 
 
VIDEO QUALITY   3/5 (for the first 5 films),   1/5 (for There’s Always Tomorrow)
The Barbara Stanwyck Collection is presented in clean black and white prints in the full frame 1.33:1 ratio for the first five films, and then a softer and muddier 1.33:1 cropped print for There’s Always Tomorrow. I have read online that this print may have been one used for television broadcasts, but I am at a loss to explain why this was used for the Collection rather than the superior 1.85:1 transfer available elsewhere.
 
AUDIO QUALITY 3 /5
All six films in The Barbara Stanwyck Colletion are presented in an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono mix that presents the dialogue and music in a pretty clear and clean manner.  
 
 
 
SPECIAL FEATURES  1/5
The only special features included here are two full-frame trailers, one for The Great Man’s Lady (2:15),and the other for All I Desire (1:06). Given the wealth of material about Barbara Stanwyck and Douglas Sirk available, one would think they could have included something else here, even an introduction somewhere. As it is, the only notes or added thoughts are a few jottings on the DVD packaging.
 
 
Subtitles are available in English.  
 
The other complaint  I must again note with this Collection is that while each film is chaptered, there is no chapter menu, which means unless you have an automatic resume feature on your player, you’ll be hunting through the movie to find where you left off. And good luck finding a scene of your choice.
 
 
IN THE END...
 
The Barbara Stanwyck Collection features presentations of five Barbara Stanwyck vehicles that her fans will enjoy seeing in one convenient package. But the sixth film in the bunch, There’s Always Tomorrow, is presented in such an inferior fashion that it may lower the attractiveness of the Collection for Stanwyck fans. I leave it to the viewers to decide for themselves. My instincts say that this will still be a purchase for many fans, if only on the strength of the first five films here.
 
Kevin Koster
May 3, 2010
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#2 of 18 ONLINE   Paul Penna

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Posted May 04 2010 - 04:44 AM

 Except for the incorrect AR, I found the transfer of There's Always Tomorrow more pleasing than you did. It didn't seem muddy to me, in fact the grayscale and contrast (via my JVC DLA-350HD) looked pretty good, from the bright desert scenes at the resort to the extensive high-contrast interiors. I agree that it could have been a bit crisper, but that didn't detract that much from my enjoyment of the visuals.

#3 of 18 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted May 04 2010 - 05:32 AM

I'm glad you enjoyed the transfer on the sixth film.  If you're okay with it, then I would think this Collection would be an instant keeper.

#4 of 18 OFFLINE   PaulaJ

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Posted June 03 2010 - 04:09 AM

Does anyone have an explanation as to how a pan and scan transfer of There's Always Tomorrow was used for this collection?  Especially since nice widescreen versions are available in France and England.


I guess Universal doing a replacement program for There's Always Tomorrow is not a possibility. :(


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#5 of 18 OFFLINE   Thomas T

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Posted June 03 2010 - 06:16 AM

Let's be accurate, it's not a pan and scan but a full frame transfer of THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW. Still in its incorrect theatrical aspect ratio, of course.


#6 of 18 OFFLINE   Livius

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Posted June 03 2010 - 06:44 AM

Has anyone actually done a comparison of Eureka's edition of There's Always Tomorrow to say for sure that the Uni release isn't P&S?


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#7 of 18 OFFLINE   Marcel H.

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Posted June 03 2010 - 07:29 AM

I can do one. Got both discs here.


Recently bought: Tracy & Hepburn the Definitive Coll., The Mountain, Rope of Sand, Taxi Driver (BD), Heroes of Telemark, Night of the Generals
Pre-Order: Knock on Any Door, The Outlaw Josey Wales (BD), The Man Who Would Be King (BD), Night Flight, The Hustler (BD)...
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#8 of 18 OFFLINE   Marcel H.

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Posted June 03 2010 - 07:50 AM

Okay, here are the scenes. Took'em with WinDVD and converted the files to jpg with gimp using a quality of 100%:


First: Universal
Second: Eureka




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Recently bought: Tracy & Hepburn the Definitive Coll., The Mountain, Rope of Sand, Taxi Driver (BD), Heroes of Telemark, Night of the Generals
Pre-Order: Knock on Any Door, The Outlaw Josey Wales (BD), The Man Who Would Be King (BD), Night Flight, The Hustler (BD)...
My Collection
 

#9 of 18 ONLINE   Paul Penna

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Posted June 03 2010 - 08:34 AM

You'll also see reel-change cues on the Universal There's Always Tomorrow, about 1/3 of the way down the right edge.


EDIT: Well, about half-way down:



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#10 of 18 OFFLINE   Dick

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Posted June 03 2010 - 12:08 PM

It is nothing new for studios to give us 1.33:1 or LB transfers of films that actually were filmed for 1.85:1 or 2.35:1, then turn around and give the UK anamorphic OAR. Universal has done this to us with COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT, ICEMAN; Disney has done it with many of their films under all monikers (Disney, Touchstone, Hollywood) such as ARACHNOPHOBIA, QUIZ SHOW, THE HORSE WHISPERER, A CIVIL ACTION, the HONEY, I...films, SIRENS, etc; Warner Bros screwed us on OUTLAND (which, while 2.35:1 in the U.S., was non-anamorphic), MGM had a field day giving us letterbox editions of BLACK STALLION, PIT AND THE PENDULUM, ANNIE HALL and dozens of others while giving the UK 16x9; Sony passed us over with MATILDA, ANATOMY OF A MURDER, THREE WORLDS OF GULLIVER and many more.... Europeans seem to demand quality releases and get them, while we Americans just keep buying the LB and pan and scan crap and encouraging more of the same. Hopefully, Blu-ray will remedy much of this deplorable practice.



#11 of 18 OFFLINE   Livius

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Posted June 03 2010 - 07:42 PM

Thanks for the screencaps Marcel. Looks like the R1 is zoomed open-matte then.


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#12 of 18 ONLINE   John Hodson

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Posted June 03 2010 - 10:24 PM

Originally Posted by Dick 

Europeans seem to demand quality releases and get them, while we Americans just keep buying the LB and pan and scan crap and encouraging more of the same. Hopefully, Blu-ray will remedy much of this deplorable practice.


There are many, many examples where European releases are inferior to their US counterparts; the grass isn't always greener...


Why Universal should supply Eureka with a decent OAR master of There's Always Tomorrow, then ignore the same themselves is just bizarre.


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#13 of 18 OFFLINE   PaulaJ

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Posted June 04 2010 - 05:53 AM

I'm working on a letter (of the snail mail variety) right now to Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment to complain about the inferior transfer for U.S. customers.  Not that I'll get an answer, or that Kornblau will care, or that Universal will undertake a replacement program, or that it will make any difference whatsoever -- but it will feel good to slip that letter through the mailbox slot. :)


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#14 of 18 OFFLINE   Dave B Ferris

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Posted June 04 2010 - 06:11 AM

If there were a petition accompanying the letter, I would gladly sign the petition.



#15 of 18 OFFLINE   Chuck Pennington

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Posted June 04 2010 - 06:47 AM


Good luck, but remember this: Universal is the same company I wrote to AND sent a DVD to about how their release of SWEET CHARITY on DVD was missing a minute and a half of a key scene. They e-mailed me stating that it was EVERY OTHER EDITION of the film that was wrong by including the scene, specifying the VHS, Laserdisc, and cable releases of being from a "longer, later roadshow version and not the original theatrical version, which is what is on our DVD." Anyone who knows their film history knows roadshows were BEFORE a general release, not after. Anyway, they refused to acknowledge their mistake, and I replied stating that I hoped they updated their masters so that when the film IS reissued again that the scene would be included.


Three years later the film aired on HDNET MOVIES. The scene was back in. Still no corrected DVD.

Originally Posted by PaulaJ 

I'm working on a letter (of the snail mail variety) right now to Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment to complain about the inferior transfer for U.S. customers.  Not that I'll get an answer, or that Kornblau will care, or that Universal will undertake a replacement program, or that it will make any difference whatsoever -- but it will feel good to slip that letter through the mailbox slot. :)





#16 of 18 OFFLINE   PaulaJ

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Posted June 04 2010 - 06:54 AM

Oh, I know my letter will result in a great big fat NOTHING.  But it still will make me feel good to send it. :)


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#17 of 18 OFFLINE   Richard--W

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Posted May 23 2011 - 06:50 PM

Resuscitating this thread to ask PaulaJ. if Universal responded to her letter regarding There's Always Tomorrow.

The Eureka edition from the U.K. is lovely and comes with a thick booklet filled with information.

But that 4% PAL speed up puts the film at too high a pitch when played in the USA.

People don't move quite that fast, and their voices should be lower.

It never kicks into hyper overdrive like some region 2's (Tiara Tahiti, for example) so it doesn't spoil the film for me, but still ... why isn't there a right and proper USA release of There's Always Tomorrow?


I hear there's a Korean port of the region 2 transfer which is in NTSC. So I'm looking for that because maybe it will be as good as the Korean port The Tarnished Angels, ported from the Carlotta DVD in France and in NTSC. The Korean DVD is actually sharper than the transfer TCM is selling.



#18 of 18 OFFLINE   PaulaJ

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Posted May 24 2011 - 04:17 AM



Resuscitating this thread to ask PaulaJ. if Universal responded to her letter regarding There's Always Tomorrow.



No.


PaulaJ