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Rebecca Criterion vs. Bluray and other releases.


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#1 of 10 Intaglio

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Posted February 04 2013 - 11:01 AM

Hello, I was just wondering if anyone here still prefers the Rebecca Criterion to some of the other recent releases (MGM's Premiere Collection, the recent Bluray, the original Anchor Bay DVD from the 90s). I know many believe that Bluray clearly offers the best transfer (would anyone care to disagree?) but what about special features? For example, do some people still prefer the Richard Schickel commentary on the Blu to the Leonard J. Leff track on the Criterion? Also, I came across these posts in Robert Harris' "A Few Words About..." posting for the Rebecca Bluray...

Dear Mr. Harris: The 'Rebecca' title card is not the original title card but the pre-title replacement. The final title looked like the hand written script that was advertised on all of the poster art. Also, the isolated music cue that follows Maxim and the second Mrs. DeWinter's arrival to Manderly is the wrong cue - NOT the cue used when watching the film with dialogue and effects. These oversights disappoint, but have to agree the overall image quality is superb.

Disney has nothing to do with the release of Rebecca. It is a title currently owned under the MGM/Fox banner. Years ago - either 1997 or 98, Anchor Bay Home Video released a beautiful DVD of Rebecca with the original title sequence in tact. However, when the distribution rights were handed over to Criterion in 1999 this newer minting (with the altered credits and wrong isolated music cue) was released instead. I have no idea where Criterion obtained their materials from and a well composed letter of inquiry sent by me to them received ZERO feedback so your guess is as good as mine. Aside: Criterion also windowboxed the title credits so that you had a black outline around the entire image. Dumb. Thankfully, MGM/Fox corrected this latter oversight on their Blu-ray but they did not bother to review the altered credits or the mistakenly inserted music cue on the isolated track, so the transfer we have of Rebecca today ports over these two glaring mistakes. Since, Rebecca is unlikely to get re-issued on Blu, we're stuck with this version. Not for me, thanks. I prefer the original 'hand written' script to the rather 'stately' old English calligraphy.

I was surprised to learn about these factors as I had always assumed, based on positive worth of mouth, that Criterion's release of Rebecca was pretty stellar. I would just like to get a sense of what people's thoughts on are the best way to experience this film, the merits and arguable faults of Criterion's release, etc. Any thoughts? Is Criterion's release still supreme at least as far as supplemental content is concerned?

#2 of 10 Matt Hough

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Posted February 04 2013 - 02:14 PM

I certainly didn't care for the Schickel commentary on the Blu-ray. Most of his commentaries usually leave me either indifferent or angry. As he didn't really like Rebecca very much, I was at a loss as to why he was chosen to DO the commentary. The Criterion one is undoubtedly superior.

#3 of 10 Intaglio

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Posted February 04 2013 - 03:36 PM

I certainly didn't care for the Schickel commentary on the Blu-ray. Most of his commentaries usually leave me either indifferent or angry. As he didn't really like Rebecca very much, I was at a loss as to why he was chosen to DO the commentary. The Criterion one is undoubtedly superior.

Thanks for the reply. I wish the Rebecca Criterion was still readily available. I wonder if there any chance Criterion might retrieve again the rights in the future.

#4 of 10 Matt Hough

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Posted February 04 2013 - 11:58 PM

Thanks for the reply. I wish the Rebecca Criterion was still readily available. I wonder if there any chance Criterion might retrieve again the rights in the future.

I kind of doubt it, but who knows? Stranger things have happened.

#5 of 10 Dick

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Posted February 05 2013 - 04:18 AM

I certainly didn't care for the Schickel commentary on the Blu-ray. Most of his commentaries usually leave me either indifferent or angry. As he didn't really like Rebecca very much, I was at a loss as to why he was chosen to DO the commentary. The Criterion one is undoubtedly superior.

I don't care for ANY of the Schickel commentaries. When I see that a Blu-ray release includes one of them, I sigh. The guy just comes across as a rather whiny historian-wanna-be. I know he's written a bunch of biographical books (including The Disney Version, which I admit opened my eyes to a few fairly scary implications regarding audioanimatronics), but his droning commentaries seem shallow when compared to those of true film history commentators such as Drew Casper, Rudy Behlmer or Tom Weaver. When his are the only commentary tracks included on Clint Eastwood films, for example, I have to guess that Eastwood (if he even had a say in what was included on these discs) was so taken by this man's obvious reverence of him that he overlooked the fact that the commentary content was neither very informative nor objective.

#6 of 10 Rob_Ray

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Posted February 05 2013 - 04:40 AM

I don't care for ANY of the Schickel commentaries. When I see that a Blu-ray release includes one of them, I sigh. The guy just comes across as a rather whiny historian-wanna-be. I know he's written a bunch of biographical books (including The Disney Version, which I admit opened my eyes to a few fairly scary implications regarding audioanimatronics), but his droning commentaries seem shallow when compared to those of true film history commentators such as Drew Casper, Rudy Behlmer or Tom Weaver. When his are the only commentary tracks included on Clint Eastwood films, for example, I have to guess that Eastwood (if he even had a say in what was included on these discs) was so taken by this man's obvious reverence of him that he overlooked the fact that the commentary content was neither very informative nor objective.

I know Richard Schickel is one of the foremost film historian/critics around and we should all thank him for his unsurpassed work on such documentaries as The Men Who Made the Movies, but it seems as if he does these commentaries cold with no prep-work, relying on his admittedly vast knowledge of film to just sit down cold and ramble on while he watches the film, with his umms and ya-knows and his disparaging remarks about whatever film he's been assigned to watch. He always comes across like he'd rather be watching something else, which makes for an annoying commentary. His worst, for me, is Gentleman's Agreement.

#7 of 10 john a hunter

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Posted February 05 2013 - 08:28 AM

I know Richard Schickel is one of the foremost film historian/critics around and we should all thank him for his unsurpassed work on such documentaries as The Men Who Made the Movies, but it seems as if he does these commentaries cold with no prep-work, relying on his admittedly vast knowledge of film to just sit down cold and ramble on while he watches the film, with his umms and ya-knows and his disparaging remarks about whatever film he's been assigned to watch. He always comes across like he'd rather be watching something else, which makes for an annoying commentary. His worst, for me, is Gentleman's Agreement.

Well that's certainly true of his embrassingly bad track on the Big Trail as well.He should really refuse to make them when he does not have the time or inclination to do some research.

#8 of 10 Ray H

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Posted February 05 2013 - 05:53 PM

I agree with the assessment of Schickel's commentaries. He always gives a boring chat and sounds disgruntled. In general, I think the two releases complement one another. The Criterion and MGM/Fox both share: - Isolated Music and Effects Track - Screen tests for Margaret Sullavan and Vivian Leigh - 1938, 1941 & 1950 Radio Plays - Hitchcock/Truffaut interview - Trailers The Criterion has: - A better commentary by Leonard J. Leff - Extensive text and image supplements: essays, photo galleries, memos, deleted scene script excerpts, preview screening responses - Additional screen tests for Anne Baxter, Loretta Young, and Joan Fontaine - Lighting, makeup and costume tests - Academy Award footage - Archival audio interviews with Joan Fontaine and Judith Anderson The MGM/Fox has: - Richard Schickel commentary - "The Making of Rebecca" featurette (28 min) - "The Gothic World of Daphne Du Maurier" featurette (19 min) - Audio interview with Peter Bogdanovich Overall, the Criterion extras go into the nitty gritty aspects of the film's production, but the layout of the material harkens back to the days of laserdiscs.
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#9 of 10 Spencer Draper

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Posted February 06 2013 - 05:08 AM

Overall I preferred the look of the Criterion editions to their Premiere collection counterparts, now upgraded to BD. The MGM discs just seemed to be too filtered when held up against the Criterions which were mostly sourced from fine grain materials. The MGM discs of the British films are fantastic however. My biggest preference is Notorious where I 100% prefer the Criterion over the MGM DVD AND BD. Sure there are some cue marks, a little damage and slight cropping on the sides but it looks and plays stunningly-still my favorite B&W film to disc transfer. It feels more alive and 1946-like than the new transfer, something which I also felt for Rebecca and Spellbound respectively but to lesser degrees. The artwork is better, the extras are of a higher quality, and the transfers feel more filmic IMO. I only wish Criterion had been able to hold onto the rights. All the DVDs lack are PCM mono and the errors on Rebecca's titles and the repeated shot error in Spellbound to be addressed.

#10 of 10 Ray H

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Posted February 06 2013 - 05:15 AM

Whoops, mispost.
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