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A few words about...™ The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#1 of 22 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted December 26 2012 - 10:36 AM

With few exceptions, Criterion is known for their quality, and not releasing a title until either the elements or the technology to make them shine are available.


Alfred Hitchcock's original 1934 The Man Who Knew Too Much is one of those titles.


Around 2006 I supplied them with an original nitrate 35mm print that had been struck directly from the camera negative. Great full sound (for 1934), and an image that portrayed the negative for what it was at that time -- well-printed.  Minus density dirt was the norm, along with occasional tears in the original printed through.  Every other reel had a cut through scratch at the far left of the frame, that would have necessitated a great deal of hand painting to eliminate.


So they waited.


And finally, with access to an original lavender at the BFI, they began testing.  2k scans of the lavender on a pin-registered scanner, which looked very nice.  But it was found that the element was too shrunken to go through safely.


So they waited.


They tested printing the lavender to a dupe neg, but the result wasn't as good as the earlier scans.


So they waited.


And finally, the BFI installed a wet-gate scanner with pin registration or sprockets, and the project moved forward.


The final result, as color corrected and digitally cleaned is quite superb.  The main title sequence is a bit soft, and actually to my eye, looks to be a dupe, but it is what it is.  Get into the body of the film, and things look and sound great.  A very nice gray scale is in place, with quality black levels.  The image is quite steady, and overall pleasing.


A great classic British Hitchcock production that should be in every serious collection.


Image - 4.25


Audio - 4.5


If only the Universal (two decades newer) re-make looks one-tenth as good.


Very Highly 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 22 OFFLINE   WadeM

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Posted December 26 2012 - 12:38 PM

I've been waiting for a quality release of this film forever. So glad that it's coming from Criterion.

#3 of 22 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted December 26 2012 - 01:29 PM

Originally Posted by WadeM 

I've been waiting for a quality release of this film forever. So glad that it's coming from Criterion.


Steer clear of all illegal versions from those who may be supporting terrorism through IP piracy.  That would include Amazon, Best Buy, Circuit City, Deep Discount, Barnes & Noble et al...


All support film piracy.


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


#4 of 22 OFFLINE   mikeyhitchfan

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Posted December 26 2012 - 03:11 PM

Great news and I really appreciate all the behind the scenes info! So, the wet gate process also allows for safe passage scanning of any film with perforation shrinkage in addition to filling in some scratches?



#5 of 22 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted December 27 2012 - 02:22 AM

Originally Posted by mikeyhitchfan 

Great news and I really appreciate all the behind the scenes info! So, the wet gate process also allows for safe passage scanning of any film with perforation shrinkage in addition to filling in some scratches?


Scanners with different movements and wet and dry gate are not always available concurrently.  For example, the 8k scanners for 65mm are currently dry only.


Most important point is to first select the scanner necessary to get job done safely.  For example, The Godfather was scanned non-pin-registered, dry.


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


#6 of 22 OFFLINE   RPMay

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Posted December 27 2012 - 03:07 AM

Why does the photo accompanying your review show James Stewart and Daniel Gelin from the remake?

#7 of 22 OFFLINE   WadeM

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Posted December 27 2012 - 12:25 PM

Steer clear of all illegal versions from those who may be supporting terrorism through IP piracy.  That would include Amazon, Best Buy, Circuit City, Deep Discount, Barnes & Noble et al... All support film piracy. RAH

That amazes me. I tried notifying Amazon once or twice of a bootleg that I saw and was surprised at the time that they didn't care. I've since realized that they will sell anything, legal or not. Luckily, it's Criterion to the rescue for this practically lost gem.

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Posted December 27 2012 - 01:27 PM

Why does the photo accompanying your review show James Stewart and Daniel Gelin from the remake?

My thoughts exactly! :confused:

#9 of 22 OFFLINE   DavidJ

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Posted December 27 2012 - 02:10 PM

Thanks for the "words" RAH. I'm glad to hear it was handled well, but with Criterion, I tend not to worry too much.

#10 of 22 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted December 27 2012 - 03:28 PM

Originally Posted by RPMay 

Why does the photo accompanying your review show James Stewart and Daniel Gelin from the remake?

Robert does not choose or load the photos for the splash page.  It has since been fixed.  Ironically we made exactly the same mistake flip-flopped when he did his few words about the Stewart-Day Man Who Knew Too Much post a while back.


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#11 of 22 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted December 29 2012 - 07:57 AM

Originally Posted by Robert Harris 


Steer clear of all illegal versions from those who may be supporting terrorism through IP piracy.  That would include Amazon, Best Buy, Circuit City, Deep Discount, Barnes & Noble et al...


All support film piracy.


RAH


Why is there a huge disclaimer at the start of films saying the FBI, FACT and other organizations will come after you if you pirate films if they never actually chase these people selling them. ?


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#12 of 22 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted December 29 2012 - 09:14 AM

Why is there a huge disclaimer at the start of films saying the FBI, FACT and other organizations will come after you if you pirate films if they never actually chase these people selling them. ?

The copyright status of many of these older films is murkier than modern films. Not because they aren't under copyright -- they are -- but because many of them had fallen into the public domains prior to new copyright laws that were applied retroactively. The Copyright Act 1911, Copyright Act 1956 and Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 all specified a 50 year copyright before films came into the public domain. This version of The Man Who Knew Too Much thus fell into the public domain in 1984. It remained in the public domain until 1995, when the UK adopted the European Union's harmonized copyright rules, which specified a copyright period of 70 years from the death of the last surviving recognized creator. All of Hitchcock's British films are thus again under copyright until at least 2050. The screenplay for this version of The Man Who Knew Too Much was written by Charles Bennett, who died in 1995. Therefore, the copyright for this film won't expire until 2065. It's thus possible that there were legal VHS releases during the public domain window. However, as the first DVDs didn't hit the market until 1996, any DVD or Blu-Ray releases should be considered piracy.

#13 of 22 ONLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted December 29 2012 - 02:39 PM

Just watched this tonight and was quite impressed with the picture quality - one of the best-looking 1930s transfers I've seen!


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#14 of 22 OFFLINE   Powell&Pressburger

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Posted January 15 2013 - 02:24 PM

Watched the film tonite for the first time ever on BLU. I really enjoyed it and it has a wonderful transfer. I enjoyed this film more than The 39 Steps, which has better leads. However Peter Lore makes up for that.

The restoration demo is better than I was expecting it to be but I wished for more, even if they had to get technical I love that info.

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#15 of 22 ONLINE   mikeyhitchfan

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Posted January 16 2013 - 05:00 AM

Nice job on the transfer! Looks better than The 39 Steps and equal to if not better than The Lady Vanishes. More Hitchcock, Criterion!!



#16 of 22 OFFLINE   Moe Dickstein

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Posted January 16 2013 - 10:30 AM

Watched all the extras on this last night, and eventually I'll look at the film too, which I kind of did under the commentary. What a great package and especially the step by step restoration demo. I'd really love to see someday like a 30 minute piece when they have a really juicy story that goes super in depth into each step of this process, something forensic but done in that style.
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#17 of 22 OFFLINE   Charles Smith

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Posted January 16 2013 - 10:32 AM

I'm trying to remember when I last watched this one.  At the Nuart, or some such, more than two decades ago?  Seriously.  Can't wait!



#18 of 22 ONLINE   TonyD

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Posted January 16 2013 - 01:33 PM

If you can find a copy in BEST BUY it can go home for $20 after the $5 coupon.
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#19 of 22 OFFLINE   Oblivion138

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Posted January 17 2013 - 03:36 PM

Just watched this one. In a word, beautiful. I've seen so many poor presentations of this film over the years, it was a delight to see it in such high quality.
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#20 of 22 OFFLINE   Osato

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Posted December 30 2013 - 06:41 AM

Watched this one and The 39 Steps last night. I enjoyed both of them and thought they looked great!

 

I do have a question about the overall look of both films. For 1930's films, I thought both looked amazing.

I did notice that the image tended to flicker a bit. It was most noticeable looking at the black part of the images. My thought was that this is as good as the film can possibly look, but I did wonder if there is a way that the black color possibly could've been rendered more stable.

 

I understand there is a bit of unknown for me in terms of picture on older films and how they should look. I'm not knocking the image at all, but was hoping someone could tell me exactly what I'm seeing too.

 

Thanks for posting!







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