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A few words about...™ Nothing Sacred -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#1 of 26 Robert Harris

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Posted December 04 2011 - 01:34 PM

Like the 1932 A Farewell to Arms, also from Kino, William Wellman's Nothing Sacred is from an original print, and that print is in beautiful condition.

To my eye, the print actually comes off very well in transfer, as the original early three-strip Technicolor tones are reasonably accurately portrayed.  Anyone who believes that early three-strip looked like modern Blu-rays of Gone with the Wind or Wizard of Oz will be quite surprised.


The film is great comedy of the era, holds up beautifully today, and comes across beautifully on this Blu-ray.


AFAIK, the original negatives survive, and should be owned by Disney, but as the film has fallen into the public domain, I doubt that we'll see any activity from that source.  A pity, as those original negatives could serve as a gorgeous Technicolor master for an MPI style, ultra-rez image harvest.


A quality comedy from a classic era on a high end Blu-ray.


Recommended.


RAH


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#2 of 26 flixyflox

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Posted December 04 2011 - 02:56 PM

Robert I wish I could point to a link about this but I recall some web correspondence around three years ago about a new restoration being completed, by Sony from the three strip negs of the Disney elements for Nothing Sacred. As we all remember the last "legit" DVD of it from Lumivision was superior to all the existing PD versions but it suffered from three strip shrinkage- related "fringing" throughout the second reel. Maybe I am remembering instead a discussion about the other Selznick/Wellman Techni title Star is Born which is of course slated for Blu Ray next year?

#3 of 26 John Morgan

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Posted December 04 2011 - 03:01 PM

Scott MacQueen did an outstanding and beautiful restoration of this title some years back for Disney. I think in another thread on this film, there was a link to an article that described all that went into the restoration. I was lucky to see it in 35mm. Here is the link: http://digitalconten...rson_restoring/

#4 of 26 mark brown

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Posted December 05 2011 - 01:08 AM

Bob: This is off-subject other than reference to AFA "Disney" elements, but I understand Disney also has the elements of the third Camera 65 or Ultra Panavision production called "The Big Fisherman" which has had little if any play since its release. It is not supposed to be a very good picture. In any event, what are their plans for elements such as these? Time for another niche company to come to the rescue? mdb ps: What is the story on the french "Exodus" set for release early next year?

#5 of 26 Lord Dalek

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Posted December 05 2011 - 01:26 AM



Originally Posted by mark brown 

Bob: This is off-subject other than reference to AFA "Disney" elements, but I understand Disney also has the elements of the third Camera 65 or Ultra Panavision production called "The Big Fisherman" which has had little if any play since its release. It is not supposed to be a very good picture. In any event, what are their plans for elements such as these? Time for another niche company to come to the rescue? mdb
ps: What is the story on the french "Exodus" set for release early next year?


The Big Fisherman was made in Super Panavision 70, not Camera 65/Ultra Panavision.




#6 of 26 Robert Harris

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Posted December 05 2011 - 02:11 AM



Originally Posted by mark brown 

Bob: This is off-subject other than reference to AFA "Disney" elements, but I understand Disney also has the elements of the third Camera 65 or Ultra Panavision production called "The Big Fisherman" which has had little if any play since its release. It is not supposed to be a very good picture. In any event, what are their plans for elements such as these? Time for another niche company to come to the rescue? mdb
ps: What is the story on the french "Exodus" set for release early next year?


Nary a clue on either.  I can't see Big Fisherman selling.  Exodus should be nicely faded and chemically damaged, if at all like other 1960 tech productions, and it's a stinker besides.


Some interesting acting, if one can take every actor using a different mode of the craft, beautifully photographed, poorly directed.  As opposed to not standing the test of time, Exodus was never a good film.


RAH



"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#7 of 26 jaaguir

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Posted December 05 2011 - 05:15 AM

So there's good news (a good release), and bad news (as in "it could have been better if the owner cared").

To my eye, the print actually comes off very well in transfer, as the original early three-strip Technicolor tones are reasonably accurately portrayed.  Anyone who believes that early three-strip looked like modern Blu-rays of Gone with the Wind or Wizard of Oz will be quite surprised.

This has me very intrigued now. Anxiously waiting for my pre-order to arrive.

#8 of 26 Will Krupp

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Posted December 15 2011 - 02:29 AM



Originally Posted by jaaguir 

So there's good news (a good release), and bad news (as in "it could have been better if the owner cared").
This has me very intrigued now. Anxiously waiting for my pre-order to arrive.



I was quite surprised to see the "photographed in Technicolor" credit on the dvdbeaver screen caps as this was not present on the Lumnivision DVD (where it was replaced by the generic "In Color" credit that was used since the film was sold to Film Classics in the 1940's and reissue prints were struck in Cinecolor.)  I had never seen that Technicolor credit on anything but the old black and white tv prints that used to play (ironic, to be sure.)  I THOUGHT the Lumnivision DVD was also based on the Selznick estate's nitrate print (or am I confusing that with the DVD of A STAR IS BORN?) but apparently this source is different.  The image looked more than a little blah on the screen caps but I'll wait to judge it when I see the disc in play.


I seem to remember (from that ancient article) that the restoration for the Disney sale decided against using the Selznick print as the basis for the restoration because of inherent problems with it.  I believe they only used it to re-create the missing/damaged green/magenta record.  I would LOVE to see that restoration in some form (the TOM SAWYER restoration from the same period looks fantastic but I have no idea of the state of its elements) but this will have to do until then.  Maybe it will be better than it looked in the caps.

The old DVD had problems (to be sure) but the colors looked great.  I don't expect vintage Technicolor material to look like GWTW on blu ray but I was hoping to see it look as good as other material from the same era.  Maybe it will, as stuff always seems to look better on my system than the beaver caps indicate.  I'm getting it either way.



#9 of 26 Robert Harris

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Posted December 15 2011 - 04:07 AM



Originally Posted by Will Krupp 

The old DVD had problems (to be sure) but the colors looked great.  I don't expect vintage Technicolor material to look like GWTW on blu ray but I was hoping to see it look as good as other material from the same era.  Maybe it will, as stuff always seems to look better on my system than the beaver caps indicate.  I'm getting it either way.


The Technicolor records are what they are, and are modified to represent the filmmaker's wishes.  Circa 1937, the general rule was to tone down color, as not to burn out the audience's eyes and have them running for the exits.


When harvesting an image from a print, one is (within certain confines) locked into the look of that print.  The original negatives would provide the full spectrum of data.


RAH


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#10 of 26 Mark-P

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Posted December 15 2011 - 08:08 AM

Can you say Natalie Kalmus? :)

Circa 1937, the general rule was to tone down color, as not to burn out the audience's eyes and have them running for the exits. RAH



#11 of 26 flixyflox

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Posted December 15 2011 - 10:04 AM

I had thought the Lumivision was released prior to the Disney three strip restoration, or at least was released entirely independently of it. It definitely wasn't reviewed or talked abou int terms of having anything to do with the Selznick vault print. Anyhow I had another look at it and I think it has a far more impressive color density than I can make out from Gary's caps of the Kino. I understand RH is talking about color palette decisions being "guided" by the color consutant and the whole cumbersome lighting paraphenalia for early 3 strip. But other titles of the early Techni era like the superb DVD of Bolesalwski's Garden of Allah (1936) with Dietrich and Boyer convey both pastel and fine gradation of color with deep black, high contrast and vibrant primaries especially at the red end. I also don't really think one can generalize too much about how Techni 3 strip should look, as Im sure RH would agree. By the forties different studios seemed to have a signature Technicolor style,most importantly MGM and the Freed Unit. AT this level of 3 strip artistry it all seems to depend on the director and with someone like MInnelli, you can get a masterpiece in pastel palette like Meet me in St Louis, with the year preceding probably the first true Freed unit musical ,Yolanda and the Thief which WB Archive has recently turned out in an eye popping DVD on demand. The first big musical number, "Will you Marry me" is like a crash course from Minnelli on the color spectrum in Western Art. The source for the Kino Nothing Sacred just looks to me like a blah print.

#12 of 26 Will Krupp

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Posted December 15 2011 - 10:23 AM



Originally Posted by flixyflox 

I had thought the Lumivision was released prior to the Disney three strip restoration, or at least was released entirely independently of it. It definitely wasn't reviewed or talked abou int terms of having anything to do with the Selznick vault print.



Yeah I double checked and it was the Image/Lumnivision STAR DVD that was made from the Selznick family print not NOTHING SACRED so I had it backwards.  The team restoring for Disney DID look at the Selznick estate's NOTHING SACRED print but decided it was too poor to be usable for their purposes (other than lifting the long missing Technicolor credit from the opening titles)


Sigh, i got so excited reading that article back in 2000 but had NO idea that I STILL wouldn't be able to see that restoration nearly a dozen years later.  GRRRRRR!


And off topic, but where the HELL is a commercial release of the UCLA BECKY SHARP already?


#13 of 26 Brianruns10

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Posted December 16 2011 - 03:44 AM

To second RH, the colours are correct, and the toned down look, which occasionally looks almost like it could be two-color tech, rather than three, was a conscious artistic and marketing decision. Up to this point, Technicolor was very much the talking dog...it did not matter what it said, simply that it said anything at all. And during the first color boom of 1929-1930, you had a wave of garish spectacle pieces which increasingly counted on the spectacle of Colour! Singing! Dancing! to make up for awful scripting and wooden acting. Combined with the Depression hitting Hollywood in 32-34, and the Technicolor boom went bust. Then, when they debuted three-strip technicolor, initially the lesson was not learned. Again, you had rather garish films being made, with little sense of HOW to use the effect, only that the effect must be present always. Early examples almost produce a sensory overload of red cheeks and lips and a blinding rainbow. It was small wonder the most skilled artisans in the industry largely shirked Technicolor, because it seemed to them gimmickry, and a perversion of their art. Not to mention many actresses were wary of appearing on camera in colour. So with Nothing Sacred, David O Selznik attempted to de-emphasize the use of colour, to make it secondary to the story. It is very much a test in making the colour serve the picture, to not distract from it, and so they dialed it back, to a rather lovely effect I think. And in that regard Nothing Sacred ought to get some credit for establishing colors legitimacy, not merely as a gimmick like 3D, but a real tool for storytelling

#14 of 26 Will Krupp

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Posted December 16 2011 - 11:09 AM



Originally Posted by Brianruns10 

To second RH, the colours are correct, and the toned down look, which occasionally looks almost like it could be two-color tech, rather than three, was a conscious artistic and marketing decision.


Have you viewed the blu-ray and are you actually referring to it in terms of the correct color? The reason I ask is two-fold....firstly, Kalmus and company did NOT consciously ever want "New Technicolor" to resemble the old two color system (what would be the point?) and secondly, NOTHING SACRED was re-released in two-color Cinecolor in the late 1940's and many of the PD prints that have been floating around over the years are from those reissue prints.

Selznick and his art designers DID battle Natalie Kalmus to create the beauty of GARDEN OF ALLAH (which is beautiful without being dull) and I don't think anyone is disputing RAH's claim that 1930's Technicolor was toned down, but nothing will make me believe that anyone would have made the artistic decision to make any 3-strip production look like 2-color.


I also think that TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE was really the production that established the legitimacy of color.



#15 of 26 Robert Harris

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Posted December 16 2011 - 11:42 AM



Originally Posted by Will Krupp 


Have you viewed the blu-ray and are you actually referring to it in terms of the correct color? The reason I ask is two-fold....firstly, Kalmus and company did NOT consciously ever want "New Technicolor" to resemble the old two color system (what would be the point?) and secondly, NOTHING SACRED was re-released in two-color Cinecolor in the late 1940's and many of the PD prints that have been floating around over the years are from those reissue prints.

Selznick and his art designers DID battle Natalie Kalmus to create the beauty of GARDEN OF ALLAH (which is beautiful without being dull) and I don't think anyone is disputing RAH's claim that 1930's Technicolor was toned down, but nothing will make me believe that anyone would have made the artistic decision to make any 3-strip production look like 2-color.


I also think that TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE was really the production that established the legitimacy of color.


I believe what Brian may be referring to, is that there are a handful of shots, that either because of the original look, or by transfer methodology, do have a bit of a two color look to them, but generally the film looks as it should.  I had a 35 nitrate from 1937 years ago, that I  donated to MOMA.


The film actually looks much like Little Princess.


RAH



"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#16 of 26 flixyflox

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Posted December 16 2011 - 12:09 PM

Robert I've no doubt this was the case. But still, comparing four of the first Selznick 3 strip features - Becky Sharp, Garden of Allah, Nothing Sacred and Star is Born: The differences in palette and saturation are very distinctive. Becky has a scheme seemingly dictated by costume research and design and Mamoulian appears to be composing the images in "Artistic" tableaux styles. It's interesting to see if not entirely successful especially as the first 3 strip feature. THe Boleslawski (Allah) has a far more high contrast strong saturation image which plays off large blocks of off white and black with smaller areas of primaries. And the 37 Star is Born seems to be the first of these to actually reach out into "naturalism" at least on the color specturm, as a mixture of soundstage and open air shooting. ON that subject Brian I agree open air shooting was the turning point to open up the full possible spectrum with easier management of natural and reflected light . Along with Paramount's Trail of the Lonesome Pine, Fox' Ramona (also 36) both exploit ouddoor shooting to great effect.

#17 of 26 Brianruns10

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Posted December 16 2011 - 12:25 PM

Have you viewed the blu-ray and are you actually referring to it in terms of the correct color? The reason I ask is two-fold....firstly, Kalmus and company did NOT consciously ever want "New Technicolor" to resemble the old two color system (what would be the point?) and secondly, NOTHING SACRED was re-released in two-color Cinecolor in the late 1940's and many of the PD prints that have been floating around over the years are from those reissue prints.  Selznick and his art designers DID battle Natalie Kalmus to create the beauty of GARDEN OF ALLAH (which is beautiful without being dull) and I don't think anyone is disputing RAH's claim that 1930's Technicolor was toned down, but nothing will make me believe that anyone would have made the artistic decision to make any 3-strip production look like 2-color. I also think that TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE was really the production that established the legitimacy of color.

Yes I am referring to the blu-ray, and you will note in my post that I did not say, "Selznik et al tried to make it look like two color," merely that scenes have a toned down look that "occasionally looks almost like it could be two-color tech." There's a difference between the two statements. Never do I say they wanted it to look like two color. Rather I argue that they sought to dial back the saturated, almost hyperreal color palette, which was a frequent criticism of New Technicolor. Early examples from 33-35 are incredibly over the top in their color, and critics frequently jabbed at this point. Becky Sharp was mocked for the actors looking like they had "scarlet fever" and the film flopped. New Technicolor itself was largely a flop in its early years, save for its use on the Disney shorts of the period. Selznik was taking a big gamble using it for a drama, as it had primarily been for spectacle pieces, musicals, etc..a specialty thing like Imax or 3D. Everyone was suspicious of it: backers who blanched at having to add 25% to a film's budget for camera rental and Natalie Kalmus (horrors!); cinematographers hated the loss of depth of field, of chiaroscuro by having to literally flood the scenes with lights for a decent exposure; actors hated suffering in the heat of those lights, and actresses especially were concerned about being photographed in color. Selznik had to allay those concerns, and what they produced was a success in that respect: a film that for the first time used color in a subtle manner, that didn't make a show of it, that rendered it an element of the story, rather than a show unto itself. As for "Trail of the Lonesome Pine" it was important in that it was an outdoor location film, which proved Technicolor's massive camera could be practically used on a location shoot, but I would still hold that Nothing Sacred is the first to really attempt to integrate three-strip into the narrative. "Lonesome Pine" at the end of the day still falls into the category of being a spectacle type film...in this case it is making a spectacle of the fact that we're seeing color exteriors on actual locations.

#18 of 26 Will Krupp

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Posted December 16 2011 - 01:03 PM



Originally Posted by Brianruns10 
you will note in my post that I did not say, "Selznik et al tried to make it look like two color," merely that scenes have a toned down look that "occasionally looks almost like it could be two-color tech." There's a difference between the two statements. Never do I say they wanted it to look like two color.


Thank you for clarifying but, with all due respect, I hope you see that "the toned down look, which occasionally looks almost like it could be two-color tech, rather than three, was a conscious artistic and marketing decision" might at least give the impression that that is what you meant.  Again, thank you for clearing that up.


And thank you for clarifying that you have already viewed the blu-ray and your comments are based on that viewing.  You have an advantage over me as I haven't received it yet so all I have seen are the less than optimal screen caps (at least one of which, the shot of Lombard as the artist's model, was taken from a montage made up of faded optical dissolves and was an odd choice for a capture.)


I look forward to seeing it.


The irony of NOTHING SACRED advancing the use of color photography (on which we both agree) by making color less important than the story is that it was less of an artistic decision than the need to get a color film before the cameras to fulfill the contract with Technicolor that Selznick inherited from Pioneer Pictures via Jock Whitney.




#19 of 26 ahollis

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Posted December 17 2011 - 06:24 AM



Originally Posted by Will Krupp 

The irony of NOTHING SACRED advancing the use of color photography (on which we both agree) by making color less important than the story is that it was less of an artistic decision than the need to get a color film before the cameras to fulfill the contract with Technicolor that Selznick inherited from Pioneer Pictures via Jock Whitney.



Yep.  Those pesky contracts that other people sign and then you have to live up to.

Will - let us know what you think of the transfer.  This is on my wish list since I paid so much for The Egyptian (inside joke) LOL.


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


#20 of 26 Will Krupp

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Posted December 17 2011 - 06:39 AM



Originally Posted by ahollis 

This is on my wish list since I paid so much for The Egyptian (inside joke) LOL.



You CAD you!







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