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Universal's WOMEN IN DANGER set

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#1 of 10 John Morgan

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Posted June 11 2012 - 09:35 AM

Just received this TCM Vault Collection for these 1950s Thrillers. They were touted on the TCM Vault site as being newly remastered. I just had time to scan the titles, and I think it is a mixed bag. WOMAN IN HIDING (1950) looks gorgeous and have no qualms with it. The black and white photography is very crisp with great contrast. FEMALE ON THE BEACH (1955) looks good, but is 1:33 aspect ratio. Being 1955, wouldn’t this be wide screen? THE UNGUARDED MOMENT (1956) is the only color film, and it looks horrible. It is letterboxed, but within the 1:33 screen. The color and transfer must be years old with faded color, smeary picture and little detail. THE PRICE OF FEAR (1956) is anamorphic and looks okay. Like Universal’s 1959 BACK STREET (1961), THE UNGUARDED MOMENT just seems like an old transfer. At least BACK STREET was anamorphic, but the color and look was very disappointing to me.

#2 of 10 JoHud



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Posted June 11 2012 - 10:05 AM

I haven't gotten around to watching these, but I'm starting to dislike the standard packaging styles of these. It's tolerable for use at home, but the front discs always get knocked loose on the front and scuffed on those plastic depressors. Might be bad luck on my part, but the last 3 TCM sets had this problem. Also not liking the news on The Unguarded Moment. Non-anamorphic letterboxed transfer? Lame.

#3 of 10 John Morgan

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Posted June 11 2012 - 10:16 AM

Yeah Joe, both lower (outside) discs dislodged in transit and were floating around loose. No damage I can perceive, but what a lousy housing these cases are. And those little plastic fingers at the bottom seem to break off fairly easily.

#4 of 10 Matt Hough

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Posted June 11 2012 - 02:10 PM

Very disappointing that the one film in this set I really wanted - Female on the Beach - was not given a proper transfer in its OAR.

#5 of 10 ahollis



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Posted June 11 2012 - 03:01 PM

Originally Posted by MattH. 

Very disappointing that the one film in this set I really wanted - Female on the Beach - was not given a proper transfer in its OAR.

Same here.  Female on the Beach started filming in December 1954 and is listed in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films as the OAR at 2.0,

What happened to this set?  It seems that it was just thrown together like those PD sets sold for $9.99 at Best Buy.

I wish I had waited to order this, but I just received an email Friday that it is on it's way.  Return might be in the future.

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

#6 of 10 mdnitoil


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Posted June 12 2012 - 01:08 AM

I'd consider returning it, but then that begs the question of what exactly I'd be holding out for. The Blu release? Fat chance. The DVD reissue? Good luck with that. I suspect I'll just end up keeping the thing.

#7 of 10 Roger Rollins

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Posted June 12 2012 - 02:05 AM

TCM made a huge misstep with this bungled release. I recorded "Female On The Beach" on my TiVO late last year, when it ran on Cinemax in HD with titles at 1.66, and the rest of the film at 1.77. Maybe this was just a sloppy error on their part, because someone involved had to have been aware that this film is most definitely meant for widescreen, not 1.33. Adding insult to injury, using an old, 4x3 non-anamorphic master for "The Unguarded Moment" at this point in time is beyond ridiculous, and somewhat shocking. This isn't 1997. What a shame.

#8 of 10 Chuck Pennington

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Posted June 12 2012 - 08:56 AM


#9 of 10 JoHud



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Posted June 12 2012 - 09:46 AM

Open matte transfers are unfortunately a common occurrence with some of these Universal DVD releases. At least it is open matte instead of a Pan & Scan. It looks like a similar case with the release of There's Always Tomorrow in the Barbara Stanwyck set; one where it's clear that Universal has both widescreen and fullframe transfers for the film, but just didn't care about OAR and just gave the Stanwyck set the fullframe transfer. Universal could have very well had a widescreen transfer of Female on the Beach but, for whatever reason, submitted the fullscreen one instead. I do get the feeling that Universal Home Video really just doesn't care and randomly selects SD transfers and puts them on the disc. It was an issue with the The Ghost Breakers in the recent Bob Hope set as well with a noticeably inferior transfer being included. A shame because their TCM line generally had good quality control up until the Douglas Sirk set came around. Also their MOD product tends to be of high quality for some reason. I agree with Scott that those 2 films are not likely ever to be released in better quality/correct aspect ratio titles for a very long time, so I'm just happy to have those movies in their imperfect state. The Unguarded Moment, however, is the real disappointment in both aspect ratio and transfer quality. It looks like it's from an entirely different home video generation.

#10 of 10 Robin9



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Posted June 23 2012 - 11:45 PM

Like everyone else, I'd have preferred Female On The Beach to have been presented in its correct aspect ratio, but when I watched it last night it wasn't so obviously wrong that it I didn't enjoy it. The picture quality is really good. Let's hope that TCM/Universal do better with their next box set - whatever that will be.

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