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A Sneak Peek at The Agatha Christie Mystery Collection


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#1 of 14 OFFLINE   haineshisway

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Posted December 14 2013 - 04:18 PM

I recently got this set from Spain (it was announced for Italy but was delayed there and elsewhere - it's also been announced in Japan and the UK but for certain territories certain films seem to be missing from the set - the Spain includes four films that were in the previously released overseas DVD set), and I've watched the first two films, Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile.

 

I'm afraid for those two films it's a fail.  Orient seems to at least be a newer transfer than the one Studio Canal did for the overseas four film set on DVD - cleaner and decent detail but with color that's just not right.  The Paramount DVD has perfect color - a couple of the scenes in the Blu are so off in terms of color timing it's really not good.  Unsworth shot the film with really heavy diffusion so one must account for that, which I do, but the off color is really a shame.  Obviously Paramount has an element with the proper timing and Studio Canal doesn't have the timing notes or didn't use them.  There are also some real odd things afoot here - a mystery worthy of Miss Christie: According to someone on this forum, Albert Finney's name seems to be missing from the end credits (I didn't notice it and haven't gone back to look, but I believe him) and Colin Blakely's name is misspelled in the front credits - both are correct on the Paramount DVD.   One wonders exactly how something like this could have happened.

 

Nile is an older transfer and looks it - no real detail at all, although obviously a bit more than the DVD.  But very substandard for a Blu-ray and again color that's a bit too yellow and a transfer that does no justice at all to Jack Cardiff's spectacular photography.   It should look amazing - it looks okay at best, slightly better than the DVD but detail is almost completely lacking

 

I'm expecting Mirror Crack'd and Evil Under the Sun to be the older transfers, too - if they begin with the older Canal logo they will be - that's how Nile begins.

 


#2 of 14 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted December 14 2013 - 07:16 PM

How terribly disappointing! I absolutely adore three of the four films in this set (The Mirror Crack'd is the weak link though it has some compensations), and they were so lavishly produced that the Blu-rays need to be great to reflect all the effort put into making these top quality productions.

 

I was irritated reading the other day that there will be a new movie version of Murder on the Orient Express. It doesn't need remaking. The 1974 version was superb in every respect, and you'll never be able to duplicate that classy cast, that unforgettable score, and the entire ace production. (Two TV remakes certainly didn't measure up to it.) Why do this one again instead of selecting one of Mrs. Christie's other masterpieces to make a first class production of?



#3 of 14 OFFLINE   JohnMor

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Posted December 14 2013 - 08:48 PM

Very disappointing.  I love all four films.  My favorite may be Evil Under the Sun,  Certainly not the best film of the lot, but one I get a huge kick out of, due mostly to Maggie Smith, Majorca and the Cole Porter music.


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#4 of 14 OFFLINE   JoeDoakes

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Posted December 14 2013 - 09:06 PM

Given that Paramount released Orient in the U.S. and Warner released the Ustinov films, any chance that Warner will do a quality combined package here?



#5 of 14 OFFLINE   haineshisway

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Posted December 15 2013 - 01:00 AM

It would be very nice if Paramount could do a new scan off whatever element was used for their DVD - great color and a fresh scan would look great.  One wonders exactly what Studio Canal has, and what the US studios have.



#6 of 14 OFFLINE   Bob Cashill

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Posted December 15 2013 - 06:44 AM

I have it from Italy but haven't watched it; sorry to hear.



#7 of 14 OFFLINE   Erik_H

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Posted December 15 2013 - 10:00 AM

I'm the forum member mentioned in Bruce's posting who noticed the absence of Finney in the "Orient Express" end credits. The lead actors were billed in alphabetical order after Finney; the end credits begin with Lauren Bacall.  I didn't notice the Colin Blakely typo in the opening credits before, but just took another look --- Colin Blankey (?!).  At least his last name was spelled correctly in the end credits...  If memory serves, typos in the "Frenzy" credits prompted a delay in the release of the Hitchcock Blu Ray set last year so corrections could be made; I wouldn't be surprised if subsequent releases of the Blu Ray of "Orient Express" will have these errors corrected. 

 

I didn't notice the color issues as much as Bruce did, although I wasn't expecting spectacular visual quality as "Orient Express" always had a "soft" look due to usage of diffusion lenses.  Also, I found that the two weaker films in the four disc collection,"Evil Under the Sun" and "The Mirror Crack'd", looked superior to "Orient Express" and "Death on the Nile."



#8 of 14 OFFLINE   haineshisway

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Posted December 15 2013 - 05:57 PM

Whatever source Paramount used for their DVD release (they hold the rights for the US, not Studio Canal), the credits are completely correct there - that's why I said it makes you wonder just what Studio Canal is using as a source.



#9 of 14 OFFLINE   BIANCO2NERO

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Posted December 16 2013 - 01:08 AM

I have the Italian set - I agree that the colours are definitely a little bit off on Orient, which is a shame, as the encoding seems otherwise a fairly good one that copes well with Unsworth's celebrated use of fog filters. As for the titles, either they have been recreated digitially (ala Frenzy), or the European titles (it was a British production made by EMI andCcanal now holds the rights to that library) were different from the US ones delivered to Paramount. I completely disagree about Nile though - on the Blu i am looking at the colours are bold and bright and the image is very sharp indeed. Personally I think Cardiff's work is very well represented here - and yes, I did see this at the cinema in 1978.



#10 of 14 OFFLINE   haineshisway

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Posted December 18 2013 - 02:45 PM

I have the Italian set - I agree that the colours are definitely a little bit off on Orient, which is a shame, as the encoding seems otherwise a fairly good one that copes well with Unsworth's celebrated use of fog filters. As for the titles, either they have been recreated digitially (ala Frenzy), or the European titles (it was a British production made by EMI andCcanal now holds the rights to that library) were different from the US ones delivered to Paramount. I completely disagree about Nile though - on the Blu i am looking at the colours are bold and bright and the image is very sharp indeed. Personally I think Cardiff's work is very well represented here - and yes, I did see this at the cinema in 1978.

I had no problem with Orient Express in terms of transfer sharpness and detail - that's fine.  The color however is off and it's easy to tell just how off by running the Paramount DVD.  We'll have to agree to disagree on Nile - I think it's obvious it's an older transfer given it's the only film in the set to have the old Studio Canal logo - it's been smoothed over and there is almost no detail anywhere - and the color is definitely off.  You can find out how little detail there is and how off the color is by simply running the final two films in the set, which, overall, are the best transfers in terms of everything - sharpness, color, detail and contrast.  Both are new transfers, the color is gorgeous in each and each has great detail and looks exactly as it should.  Pity that The Mirror Crack'd is basically an awful movie that keeps the person who should be the lead, Angela Lansbury as Miss Marple, completely out of the mystery solving until the film's final ten minutes.  It's a huge mistake and kills the film.  Evil Under the Sun is spectacular-looking - great set design, beautiful photography by Christopher Challis, wonderful arrangements of Cole Porter songs by John Lanchberry, and a terrific cast (save for Sylvia Miles who seems to be recreating a high school performance), but the story isn't nearly as much fun as Orient Express or Nile.



#11 of 14 OFFLINE   BIANCO2NERO

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Posted December 20 2013 - 01:13 AM

I had no problem with Orient Express in terms of transfer sharpness and detail - that's fine.  The color however is off and it's easy to tell just how off by running the Paramount DVD.  We'll have to agree to disagree on Nile - I think it's obvious it's an older transfer given it's the only film in the set to have the old Studio Canal logo - it's been smoothed over and there is almost no detail anywhere - and the color is definitely off.  You can find out how little detail there is and how off the color is by simply running the final two films in the set, which, overall, are the best transfers in terms of everything - sharpness, color, detail and contrast.  Both are new transfers, the color is gorgeous in each and each has great detail and looks exactly as it should.  Pity that The Mirror Crack'd is basically an awful movie that keeps the person who should be the lead, Angela Lansbury as Miss Marple, completely out of the mystery solving until the film's final ten minutes.  It's a huge mistake and kills the film.  Evil Under the Sun is spectacular-looking - great set design, beautiful photography by Christopher Challis, wonderful arrangements of Cole Porter songs by John Lanchberry, and a terrific cast (save for Sylvia Miles who seems to be recreating a high school performance), but the story isn't nearly as much fun as Orient Express or Nile.

We are destined to disagree about Nile - as I say, it looks pretty much the way I remember it. Also, but I recognise that this ia minority view, Mirror Crack'd is one I have great fondness for because it is uses the film-with-a-film-within-a-film structure to guy the genre. The 'Murder at Midnight' mini-movie at the beginning, with its interruption, sets up the trategy very openly after all - but it does mean that the plot is sabotaged to a degree deliberately by having the traditional big explanation scene with all the suspects right at the beginning and then fading away at the end. I think it's a brave move after two ultra orthodox mysteries, but completely understand why someone looking for another such film would find it really disappointing, especially at it is quite campy at times. Evil Under the Sun in many ways, despite being a sort of remale of Nile with some of the same cast, is probably the best of them.



#12 of 14 OFFLINE   Mark-P

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Posted February 19 2014 - 07:59 PM

I just received the Italian set (it was the cheapest to import) and I'm very happy with the product. Murder on the Orient Express looks a bit diffused with slightly muted colors, but I assume that's the way it was filmed. I'm not as sensitive as Bruce is to color shifting, so it still looks fine to me. I was a little dissappointed that they didn't include the 5.1 remix that was prepared for the Paramount DVD of Orient Express, but purists will be happy that it's the original mono. I'll admit that I'm a fan of stereo remixes, but can't really complain in this case.



#13 of 14 OFFLINE   Felix Martinez

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Posted June 24 2014 - 04:46 AM

Would love to see Orient Express, Nile and Evil Under The Sun in a quality blu-ray set, or as individual releases. Still no word about a US release?
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#14 of 14 OFFLINE   Will Krupp

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Posted June 24 2014 - 05:53 AM

Would love to see Orient Express, Nile and Evil Under The Sun in a quality blu-ray set, or as individual releases. Still no word about a US release?

 

I want them SO much!






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