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Quality of Universal releases

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#1 of 5 John Morgan

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Posted February 04 2011 - 10:54 AM

Some years ago, during the laser disc years, Universal seemed to really care and spend time releasing wonderful transfers of their catalog titles. I still think the laser of DRACULA (1931) is the best all round version we have on video. I also think the laser transfer of the technicolor Karloff film THE CLIMAX was superior on laser than DVD.

Saying that, I was very pleased with their newest Abbott and Costello set, as some of those films seem to have had upgraded transfers from the previous set, although ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, while sounding and looking better than ever, had the Realart replaced credit cards in a couple of places. And I think I read that their first film, ONE NIGHT IN THE TROPICS is missing the End Cast credit card.

But for some reason, the quality has fallen in recent years. Not only with their Blu Ray releases, but their general catalog titles.

The last Bob Hope set had a subpar transfer for THE GHOST BREAKERS that was far from the previous DVD release. And this last batch from TCM with MURDER, HE SAYS, and FEUDIN’, FUSSIN’, AND A-FIGHTIN’...well MURDER is fine, but the latter film is dupey, not sharp and looks like a 25 year old transfer. No way a 1948 Universal can look this bad with a current transfer. I don't know if the vault fire is at fault, but I think they should refrain from releasing things until they can at least have a good looking transfer. On the plus side, the TCM/Universal Deanna Durbin set and the horror set with MAD DOCTOR OF MARKET STREET, STRANGE CASE OF DR. Rx, etc, looked stunning. But it seems like a crap shoot as far as quality is concerned.

I really love the Universal library for their films as well as the pre 1948 Paramount films. I have hopes that we will see some great stuff on TCM as well as some releases on DVD. BUT, please Universal, take a bit more care with the presentation of some of these things you are releasing.

#2 of 5 Dick



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Posted February 04 2011 - 12:42 PM

You are right about the GHOST BREAKERS transfer in the recent Bob Hope set -- I was puzzled by this, as their previous single release (not that long ago) looked fine. Someone was sleeping at the switch. They can do better.

#3 of 5 Dan McW

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Posted February 04 2011 - 07:20 PM

TCM took some hits for recently airing a 16mm dupe print of LUCKY JORDAN:


#4 of 5 DeWilson



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Posted February 05 2011 - 05:49 AM

It all comes down to the fact Universal doesn't want to go back to the master negatives that are all safe and sound because of the cost. They don't see any value of seeking out the best prints,just what is handy.

The "Vault" fire only affected a working vault, not the master vault.

#5 of 5 ahollis



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Posted February 05 2011 - 02:40 PM

I did find that the print transfer got better for Feudin' Fusin' and A-Fightin' as the move went along.  It looked very washed out during the first reel but each reel there after was better.

"Get a director and a writer and leave them alone. That`s how the best pictures get made" - William "Wild Bill" Wellman