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A few words about...™ The Court-martial of Billy Mitchell -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About Paramount

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#1 of 20 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted August 07 2013 - 09:02 AM

Otto Preminger's 1955 The Court-martial of Billy Mitchell, has held up decently over the decades.  While it's no classic, it's an interesting example of an early-ish CinemaScope production, combined with Warner Bros.' every-lovely WarnerColor process.

 

Fortunately, here printer functions have been short cut here, as opposed to some later WC productions.  They've been handled nicely.

 

Color looks below acceptable, as fade has reared its ugly head, but the Blu-ray is serviceable, and might have been brought back, if a few elements were available.

 

Minus density, the every-looming problem we see constantly with Olive releases, with few exceptions, is back here, and in spades.  There are some bits of neg dirt through which one could drive a decent sized Buick.  Not good.

 

Audio is fine, but only monaural.  Apparently the original stereo has deteriorated or masters re-used for newer productions.

 

An nice production, especially for Cooper fans.

 

Image - 2.25

 

Audio - 3

 

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 20 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted August 07 2013 - 09:22 AM

One of the more disappointing Olive releases.  IMO, it was worse than either The Quiet Man or McClintock.


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#3 of 20 OFFLINE   Lromero1396

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Posted August 07 2013 - 09:25 AM

Otto Preminger's 1955 The Court-martial of Billy Mitchell, has held up decently over the decades.  While it's no classic, it's an interesting example of an early-ish CinemaScope production, combined with Warner Bros.' every-lovely WarnerColor process.

 

Fortunately, here printer functions have been short cut here, as opposed to some later WC productions.  They've been handled nicely.

 

Color looks below acceptable, as fade has reared its ugly head, but the Blu-ray is serviceable, and might have been brought back, if a few elements were available.

 

Minus density, the every-looming problem we see constantly with Olive releases, with few exceptions, is back here, and in spades.  There are some bits of neg dirt through which one could drive a decent sized Buick.  Not good.

 

Audio is fine, but only monaural.  Apparently the original stereo has deteriorated or masters re-used for newer productions.

 

An nice production, especially for Cooper fans.

 

Image - 2.25

 

Audio - 3

 

RAH

This release to my eyes looks abysmal. By the way, I know Warner erased all of its 4-track masters and had to go to mag-striped prints in the Library of Congress for a number of titles during restoration including A Star is Born. Olive was probably too lazy to go to said archives to get a 4-track. Heck, they don't even bother to give us information as to what audio and visual elements these BDs are sourced from. For not providing original audio or an explanation as to its whereabouts, Olive's release is a fail in my opinion.


Edited by Lromero1396, August 07 2013 - 09:26 AM.


#4 of 20 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted August 07 2013 - 09:27 AM

One of the more disappointing Olive releases.  IMO, it was worse than either The Quiet Man or McClintock.

 

All poor, but for very different reasons.  Early Eastman, which should have been correctible for color, and which certainly could have been digitally cleaned, vs. poorly executed 3-strip Technicolor, vs. a public domain release, using a print as a source.

 

I wish Olive could get it's act together.  Release fewer films, but do it correctly.  They have some wonderful titles under license.

 

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


#5 of 20 OFFLINE   Reed Grele

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Posted August 07 2013 - 03:08 PM

Doesn't sound like this would be worth the upgrade from my old DVD. Shame really. It's one of my favorites.



#6 of 20 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted August 07 2013 - 05:27 PM

Doesn't sound like this would be worth the upgrade from my old DVD. Shame really. It's one of my favorites.

It is an improvement over the Artisan DVD released back in 2003.  It just could've been better as RAH has noted.


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#7 of 20 OFFLINE   Reed Grele

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Posted August 07 2013 - 08:40 PM

Just had a look at the screen caps over at the Beaver. Not as bad as I had imagined it to be. Perhaps if I ever see it on sale for at least 50% off (or more) on Amazon, or some other place, I'll pull the trigger.

 

For now, my old laserdisc or DVD will have to suffice.



#8 of 20 OFFLINE   ROclockCK

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Posted August 07 2013 - 09:26 PM

This title has been in and out of my cart so often over the past few days. Now it's out again. And probably for good.

 

Although I've enjoyed most of Olive's B&W titles...warts and all...this label has mostly been is a basket case with colour. Twilight's Last Gleaming, Sands of the Kalihari, and Assault on a Queen are the only reasonably good ones that pop into mind.



#9 of 20 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted August 08 2013 - 07:23 AM

This title has been in and out of my cart so often over the past few days. Now it's out again. And probably for good.

 

Although I've enjoyed most of Olive's B&W titles...warts and all...this label has mostly been is a basket case with colour. Twilight's Last Gleaming, Sands of the Kalihari, and Assault on a Queen are the only reasonably good ones that pop into mind.

 

It's a worthy film, and I'm told that the studio may not have the requisite elements to make things proper, so it is what it is.  The title transferred ownership.

 

Might be best to grab what's available.

 

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 20 OFFLINE   JoHud

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Posted August 08 2013 - 09:26 AM

Doesn't sound like this would be worth the upgrade from my old DVD. Shame really. It's one of my favorites.

 

Even the worst Olive transfer would be an improvement over that particular Artisan DVD.  A very low bar that Olive's easily surpasses.  This film in particular just needed more cleanup and polish to get a higher grade and I agree with RAH's score,  I also suspect that nothing short of a full restoration or superior secondary elements would have gotten this particular film to have grade-A video quality.



#11 of 20 OFFLINE   Professor Echo

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Posted August 08 2013 - 10:25 AM

I wish Olive could get it's act together.  Release fewer films, but do it correctly.  They have some wonderful titles under license.

 

RAH

 

Olive seems to maintain a quantity over quality mentality which clashes in marked contrast to the typical Blu Ray-phile. They are releasing relatively unknown or neglected films in a format that at a glance seems to be more geared toward established classics. I imagine it's difficult for them to know which direction to go in given the inherent contradiction of trying to sell Blu Rays to a learned format fan base. Do we sacrifice a middling Blu of a perfectly entertaining, but more esoteric movie like FLAME OF BARBARY COAST in order to release a more expensively restored version of a pedigreed film like BILLY MITCHELL? Who makes that call?



#12 of 20 OFFLINE   John-Weller

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Posted August 08 2013 - 10:57 AM

I personally would rather have more films - so long as the negatives of the picture are age and print related, rather then DVNR and EE.



#13 of 20 OFFLINE   ROclockCK

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Posted August 08 2013 - 11:02 AM

Too often though, we've been left with a Hobson's choice* over a neglected film on Artisan DVD, versus a less-neglected version (but not by much) on Olive Blu-ray. Talk about sucking the joy out of any upcoming release announcements...I mean, I haven't stopped buying Olive titles, but I sure as heck search for the lowest possible pricepoint these days (typically ImportCDs).

 

And yes, I'll probably break down and pick up this one too, simply because I want to see the film again. But gee, what a 'cauliflower instead of asparagus' feeling when I open those Olive cases lately.

 

* not to be confused with HTF's John Hodson. ;) 


Edited by ROclockCK, August 08 2013 - 11:09 AM.


#14 of 20 OFFLINE   John-Weller

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Posted August 08 2013 - 11:33 AM

I treat it as though I was watching archival screenings from used theatrical prints. Luck of the draw, but there you go.

 

Universal bugs me far more as they mess with the picture and these messed transfers then go to Shout.



#15 of 20 OFFLINE   John-Weller

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Posted August 08 2013 - 11:47 AM

Mind you, I think the sound on Olive's Colossus of New York is out-of-sync...



#16 of 20 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted August 08 2013 - 11:58 AM

Even the worst Olive transfer would be an improvement over that particular Artisan DVD.  A very low bar that Olive's easily surpasses.  This film in particular just needed more cleanup and polish to get a higher grade and I agree with RAH's score,  I also suspect that nothing short of a full restoration or superior secondary elements would have gotten this particular film to have grade-A video quality.

 

Correct.  If possible.  And in fairness to Olive and Paramount, that possibility may not exist.

 

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


#17 of 20 OFFLINE   kingofthejungle

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Posted August 08 2013 - 12:18 PM

Olive seems to maintain a quantity over quality mentality which clashes in marked contrast to the typical Blu Ray-phile. They are releasing relatively unknown or neglected films in a format that at a glance seems to be more geared toward established classics. I imagine it's difficult for them to know which direction to go in given the inherent contradiction of trying to sell Blu Rays to a learned format fan base. Do we sacrifice a middling Blu of a perfectly entertaining, but more esoteric movie like FLAME OF BARBARY COAST in order to release a more expensively restored version of a pedigreed film like BILLY MITCHELL? Who makes that call?

It's bet that, given the enduring fan base the Duke seems to have, FLAME OF THE BARBARY COAST will sell more copies than BILLY MITCHELL. This is the problem with releasing fewer titles - who decides what to release? Cinephiles might prefer something like CHINA GATE, while there may just be more of a market for a wacky Sci-Fi title like THE ATOMIC CITY. The breadth of films Olive chooses to release is what makes the label great, IMO.I see what Olive is doing more comparable to the Warner Archive than Twilight Time - or kind of a mixture of the two models. They offer generally competent transfers of the available elements with little to no clean-up for the people interested in owning the title, and make it available on a factory Blu-Ray rather than DVD-R at only slightly greater cost. I don't see anything wrong with that. As, John Weller points out, an Olive Blu-Ray generally looks like a print one might see at a repertory theater. It would be nice if everything could be restored and pristine looking, but as people love to point out, the catalog Blu-Ray market just doesn't seem to support that. I'd much rather have crisp, but unrestored Blu-Rays of RAMROD and HELL'S HALF ACRE than not have them available at all (or even settling for an unrestored DVD-R).

#18 of 20 OFFLINE   Professor Echo

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Posted August 08 2013 - 12:41 PM

*
POPULAR

I grew up watching all sorts of FILM elements and have quite an affection for the experience of watching FILM without expectations that it look pristine 100% of the time. If that's a person's sole criteria for the Blu Ray format, fine, but I am disappointed enough in life without imposing inordinate restrictions on something that is supposed to be giving me pleasure. What's important to me is that it looks like film and not video. If there are film source related issues and they are not excessive, it ordinarily does not bother me.

#19 of 20 OFFLINE   Robin9

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Posted August 09 2013 - 09:52 AM

This title has been in and out of my cart so often over the past few days. Now it's out again. And probably for good.

 

Although I've enjoyed most of Olive's B&W titles...warts and all...this label has mostly been is a basket case with colour. Twilight's Last Gleaming, Sands of the Kalihari, and Assault on a Queen are the only reasonably good ones that pop into mind.

 

Most of my Olive Film titles are black and white movies but Innocent Bystanders, Who's Got The Action? and Boeing Boeing all have pretty good color. The Trap is not perfect but it's not bad either. 



#20 of 20 OFFLINE   haineshisway

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Posted August 09 2013 - 10:53 AM

Olive may not contractually have the right to alter the master that they are handed, nor may it be financially feasible even if they do have the right, given they are paying a licensing fee and authoring fees and not selling many of these older films.  It's reality.  Paramount doesn't have the program that Sony does, where Grover has the budget to do the work that needs to be done.  So, Olive is only going to get what Paramount has laying around - and a lot of what they have laying around is not up to today's standards.







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