I am a sucker and buy classic films on Blu ray without waiting for reviews and some indication of quality or lack there of.
I dislike the trend of certain companies putting out Blu rays of public domain films from so-so “archival” 35mm prints when there are far better elements held by the companies that have chain of title ownership and usually the best materials whether original negative or fine grain. This release of THE STRANGER is a perfect, recent example.
The Blu Ray seems to have been made from an original, rejected print. Contrast was off, the soundtrack in some reels was so scratchy with noises, crackles, etc., it took me out of the film. It seems to be from a source that was cobbled together from more than one release print as certain reels had less sound problems, the picture’s density seemed to change with reel changes.
Anyway, I got out my old MGM DVD of this film and went through several sequences to compare. I played it through my Oppo onto a 103 inch screen. Obviously, MGM has a negative or a good fine grain because it looked and sounded much better without the bad sound and inconsistent picture. It was a bit less sharp being standard DVD and I suspect an old transfer. In fact, I doubt if MGM has even transferred it to High Def as it hasn’t played on their channel (that I am aware of). It was a title I was hoping Twilight Time would do since they have a deal now with MGM, but I am sure the blu ray release killed any chance of another Blu ray version coming out. And MGM seems to have a policy of licensing out their stuff both to Shout and Twilight Time and others. For me, the MGM version looks and sounds much better up-converted.
I feel the same way about the Kino releases from prints that are several steps down from standard DVD versions from owners that have chain of title and restored or transferred from better elements. I just feel that once a film comes out on Blu ray, the chance of a second release from better materials and a different company may be very low.