Jump to content



Sign up for a free account to remove the pop-up ads

Signing up for an account is fast and free. As a member you can join in the conversation, enter contests and remove the pop-up ads that guests get. Click here to create your free account.

Photo
Blu-ray Reviews

Le Mans Blu-ray



  • You cannot start a new topic
  • Please log in to reply
11 replies to this topic

#1 of 12 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

Matt Hough

    Executive Producer



  • 12,325 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 24 2006
  • LocationCharlotte, NC

Posted May 10 2011 - 09:33 AM

Posted Image


Le Mans (Blu-ray)
Directed by  Lee H. Katzin

Studio: CBS/Paramount
Year: 1971
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1   1080p   VC-1 codec  Running Time: 108 minutes
Rating: G
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 English; 1.0 English, French, Spanish, others
Subtitles:  SDH, French, German, others


Region:  no designation
MSRP:  $ 24.99



Release Date: May 24, 2011

Review Date: May 10, 2011



The Film

3.5/5


In the 1960s, three American film actors were notable participants in high speed racing: James Garner, Paul Newman, and Steve McQueen. As it happens, each of them got to star in a movie about racing: Grand Prix (detailing an entire season on the Grand Prix circuit) for Garner, Winning (taking place at the Indianapolis 500) for Newman, and Le Mans for McQueen. McQueen’s entry came last and is in many ways the best and certainly the most unique. The plot of the film has been cut to a bare minimum (gone are the lengthy melodramatic plots for the stars and co-stars in the other two films) in order to focus on the film’s raison d’etre: the twenty-four hours of Le Mans. Everything and everyone apart from that grueling race are considered excess baggage.


The 38th running of Le Mans has attracted its usual international field, but as usual the teams representing Porsche and Ferrari are considered the favorites. The lead Porsche team is led by Michael Delaney (Steve McQueen), returning to Le Mans a year after an especially bad accident during the race. The wife (Elga Andersen) of a driver killed in the same accident is also in attendance and seems especially drawn to Michael. His chief competition comes from Ferrari’s Erich Stahler (Siegfried Rauch). But races, just like life, never go quite as one might plan, and several developments during the race seem to put Michael’s car out of serious contention.


Though the film plays quite smoothly and is quite unusually constructed, there was constant turmoil behind the scenes of its making including the sacking of director John Sturges during production and his replacement by Lee H. Katzin who receives sole screen credit. Gone are all of the romantic and bombastic complications from previous racing films, the spare dialogue and limited characterizations all a result of no script being written prior to filming the race. Harry Kleiner receives screen credit as the scriptwriter, but the story could fit in a thimble, and the race’s results were pieced together from available footage (over a million feet of film) shot during the actual race and the scenes staged and shot afterwards with the actors. Whether it’s Sturges or Katzin who’s responsible for the superb, astonishing multi-tiered views of the race, it’s unclear, but watching Le Mans is akin to getting every possible best seat for the race: in the stands, in the car, both behind and in front of the car, above from a bird’s eye view, and below car level almost on the pavement. The points of view are constantly switched to maximize the race’s torturous and taxing ordeal. Sound is also used quite creatively in either amplifying the roar or silencing it to hear the adrenaline-fueled heartbeats of the drivers. Slow motion, replays of events from multiple viewpoints, and other camera tricks help make the perils of the sport painfully obvious.


On the story front, however, even the little blips of character we get are somewhat distracting. We don’t know exactly what the nature of the relationship between Michael and Lisa is, and their lack of real chemistry anyway makes it something of a moot point, but its very presence makes us either want to know more or wish it had been discarded altogether. Information about the relationships between the two-man teams participating in the race could have been strengthened (we know nothing about the head of the rival Porsche team headed by Christopher Waite’s Larry Wilson) though there does seem to be team spirit present and respect between the rival drivers though, again, nothing overt is revealed, just a nod of a head or a quiet word spoken in the pit areas to give us any information about these zealous, death-defying athletes. Consequently, performances don’t amount to much in terms of dramatic impact. McQueen did much of his own driving and looks completely in control behind the wheel. David Townsend as the owner of the Porsche racing group has a half dozen lines but seems committed to his teams and his desire for their victory.



Video Quality

4.5/5


The film has been presented in its Panavision aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is offered in a 1080p transfer using the VC-1 codec. Some of the actual race footage isn’t quite as sharp and detailed as the material shot after the fact, but on the whole, the transfer looks excellent with a clear, clean, highly saturated color scheme. In fact, reds seem a bit too intense and sometimes bloom just a bit leading also to an occasionally rosy flesh tone. Overall, however, the flesh tones appear accurate and appealing. Details are exemplary: you can see every freckle, line, and wrinkle on McQueen’s face in close-up, and similar details in the fabrics of their racing suits and face protectors are equally well delineated. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.



Audio Quality

3.5/5


The film offers English audio mixes in DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 and 7.1. I spent most of the viewing time with the 7.1 mix which has been expertly crafted to maximize pans across and through the soundstage as the cars zoom around the course. There is a starling lack of bass in much of the mix, however, with it only becoming prominent during a couple of fiery crashes and even then seemingly a bit less than a more modern soundtrack would offer. Michel Legrand’s music score seems more front-centered than one might expect, but it’s nevertheless effective when it occurs.



Special Features

2/5


“Filming at Speed: The Making of the Movie Le Mans was obviously a half-hour special filmed for a cable channel hosted by Steve McQueen’s son Chad many years after the making of the movie. Guest commentators include the director Lee H. Katzin along with the film’s producer, production coordinator, and a stunt driver all recalling their experiences on the film. Presented in 480i, this runs 23 ¾ minutes.


The film’s theatrical trailer, in somewhat faded color and looking nothing at all like the beautiful feature presentation on the disc, runs 3 ¾ minutes in 1080p.



In Conclusion

3.5/5 (not an average)


Winning and Grand Prix laid on the melodramatic plotting a bit too ham-fistedly. Le Mans takes the opposite approach sacrificing involvement with the human side of the race in favor of presenting a more docudrama look at the arduous sport of high speed racing. All three films have their own merits, but Le Mans is clearly the odd man out of this threesome. Racing fans will likely enjoy its eccentric approach, and the Blu-ray is just about all one could wish in terms of video and audio.




Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC



#2 of 12 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

Nelson Au

    Executive Producer



  • 11,678 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 16 1999

Posted May 10 2011 - 04:56 PM

Thanks for the review Matt! I've been looking forward to this being a car racing fan. Of the 2 films, I can watch Grand Prix because it has a narrative, perhaps a very conventional one, but I think it's more watchable for me. And I love the unusual camera work and mounts used to film the racing action. It's more about the journey of the main 3 drivers for me. I admire McQueen's purer take on racing at Le Mans. There's some soap in this film too. I look forward to the blu version. And if I am not mistaken, both Grand Prix and Le Mans come out the same day.

#3 of 12 OFFLINE   Robin9

Robin9

    Screenwriter



  • 2,190 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 13 2006

Posted May 11 2011 - 04:27 AM

I had no idea that John Sturges was ever involved with this movie. What a pity this BRD does not have an "extra" explaining the politics behind his leaving the production and about who directed what.

#4 of 12 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

Matt Hough

    Executive Producer



  • 12,325 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 24 2006
  • LocationCharlotte, NC

Posted May 11 2011 - 08:31 AM



Originally Posted by Robin9 

I had no idea that John Sturges was ever involved with this movie. What a pity this BRD does not have an "extra" explaining the politics behind his leaving the production and about who directed what.



There is some information about this situation on the disc's bonus feature hosted by Chad McQueen, but, of course, there is no indication of what was shot by whom.




#5 of 12 OFFLINE   Robin9

Robin9

    Screenwriter



  • 2,190 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 13 2006

Posted May 12 2011 - 05:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MattH. 

There is some information about this situation on the disc's bonus feature hosted by Chad McQueen, but, of course, there is no indication of what was shot by whom.




Thank you. "Some information" is better than none (!) so I'll buy this BRD. I quite like the movie anyway.




#6 of 12 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

Nelson Au

    Executive Producer



  • 11,678 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 16 1999

Posted May 12 2011 - 07:42 AM

This release caught me by surprise. I didn't think it was coming for some time! So I was equally surprised to see Grand Prix released on the same day as Le Mans on BD at Amazon. Will there be a Grand Prix review too? I hope The Great Escape will follow soon!  McQueen and Sturges.

#7 of 12 ONLINE   lukejosephchung

lukejosephchung

    Screenwriter



  • 1,391 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 31 2007
  • Real Name:Luke J. Chung
  • LocationSan Francisco, CA., USA

Posted May 14 2011 - 04:29 AM

On an unrelated note, I can remember an episode of "The Ed Sullivan Show" where McQueen took Ed on a ride in his dune buggy and drove like a wild man on the beach. At the end of the drive, Ed had a sh*t-eating grin on his face and said..."That was a helluva ride!!!"

#8 of 12 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

Adam Gregorich

    Executive Producer



  • 15,036 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 20 1999
  • LocationThe Other Washington

Posted May 14 2011 - 06:50 AM



Originally Posted by Nelson Au [url=/forum/thread/311302/le-mans-blu-ray#post_3810832] McQueen and Sturges.


Yes, The Grand Prix review is being worked on as I type.




#9 of 12 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

Nelson Au

    Executive Producer



  • 11,678 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 16 1999

Posted May 14 2011 - 09:23 AM

Cool, thanks!

#10 of 12 OFFLINE   Cathy Stapleton

Cathy Stapleton

    Auditioning



  • 6 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 26 2004

Posted June 03 2011 - 08:19 AM

Does anyone know if the picture and/or sound quality of the new standard DVD of this is an improvement over the older standard DVD? I've got the older standard DVD, and am curious as to whether there would be any further incentive to upgrade, over the trailer, and featurette. I'm just not in the position to upgrade to Blu-ray yet.

#11 of 12 OFFLINE   iDarren

iDarren

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 77 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 13 2008

Posted September 24 2011 - 02:43 AM

I had no idea that John Sturges was ever involved with this movie. What a pity this BRD does not have an "extra" explaining the politics behind his leaving the production and about who directed what.

The film that bankrupted McQueen. As a motor racing enthusiast (he could have turned pro on the motor car circuit), Steve had long been dreaming of and planning to make the 'ultimate' car racing film. That movie was Le Mans. Steve's movie production company (Solar Productions) had made it's first film (Bullitt) in the late 60's, and it was a huge success. This put Steve in a position to make Le Mans. Solar got funding from CBS's movie wing Cinema Centre to the tune of 6 million dollars, and Steve was to be paid 750 thousand plus a percentage of the profits. They hired many of the BEST motor car racers in the world, and due to the success of Bullitt Steve also had virtually TOTAL control of the film. Unfortunately problems plagued the film from very early on in filming (in France). The director (John Sturges) wanted the film to be a love story, with the Le Mans race as the 'background', but Steve wanted it to be more 'race' focused. Also, a lot of the footage Sturges shot of the real Le Mans race turned out to be unusable, so big budget problems suddenly arose, as it was obvious the film was going to run over the planned cost. The script was also still unfinished. Steve's Solar vice president (Robert Relyea) had a panic attack during filming in front of one of the financiers (Cinema Centre) employees, who rushed back to the USA and told his bosses that the production was in big trouble. Cinema Centre swooped in on the production (they had not been involved in the filming process up till this point), and took over completely. They shut the production down for two weeks (even giving Robert Redford a call to see if he would replace McQueen). Cinema Centre considered shutting down the film completely, but eventually struck a deal with Steve in which he gave up his salary, his percentage of profits, and his control of the film, in order to 'get it finished'. Not long after this Sturges quit (due to his differences with Steve). They brought in a 'television' director to replace him. The film got finished 2 months later than planned and 1.5 million over budget. One driver lost a leg during production, and Steve was nearly killed twice. After Le Mans was released in the US, Steve went bankrupt, his main Solar partners left the company, and Solar as a 'real' production company had folded. Also, his marriage to Neile was collapsing. Le Mans did make money (19 million at the Box Office), but Steve never saw a cent of it. http://www.mcqueenon...om/lemanshv.htm



#12 of 12 OFFLINE   Robin9

Robin9

    Screenwriter



  • 2,190 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 13 2006

Posted September 26 2011 - 09:06 AM

Darren, thank you for that.





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Blu-ray Reviews

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users