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TCM/Sony: The Lady From Shanghai (Blu-ray/DVD combo)

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#61 of 207 OFFLINE   lark144

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Posted January 31 2014 - 08:02 AM

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I sampled THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI yesterday. I've seen this film maybe a dozen times in 35mm over the years, so I was looking for problem areas, especially the scenes on the ship, and also the hill in Acapulco, which in one shot has heavy grain, but it has always looked that way. Needless to say, I ended up watching almost the entire film. Bottom line, I feel that I'm looking at this film for the first time. Except for the one aforementioned shot in Acapulco, all the opticals had wonderful clarity. I also was very impressed in how the close-up back projection shots were integrated into the location footage. Really amazing the wonderful work that was done on this film! I could see not the trace of a shimmer or aliasing anywhere. In other words, there are no compression artifacts that I could see. For me, this may be one of the finest Sony/Columbia image harvests, as it aids one in seeing the specifics of Welles' compositions & camera style within the re-editing by Columbia executives. In other words, there are two LADY FROM SHANGHAIS, Orson Welles' & Harry Cohn's, and for the first time one is able to clearly see Welles' vision within the butchered editing and ellipses. Also, because of the clarity and purity of the images, one is able to see how radical Welles' filming and conception of THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI was. Although this is considered one of the greatest film noirs, THE LADY FROM  SHANGHAI is, in many respects, closer to DR. STRANGELOVE or ALPHAVILLE in its dissonant use of sound and image, simultaneously post-modern yet strikingly romantic, than say, OUT OF THE PAST.

 

I love this Blu ray & I will be watching it again & again. I also thought the sound was wonderful, very clear and with remarkable presence, both belying and yet respecting the analog source material. Now I must say that my screen is only 32 inches though I watch it from a distance of 4 & 1/2 feet, living as I do in a small apartment in Manhattan. Also, my sound system is very low end and basic. So you may wish to wait for a more nuanced review from someone who has watched this with a projector before buying. But these are my thoughts for what they are worth.

 

As far as the DVD case is concerned, that didn't really bother me. I'm more interested in what is inside, that is, the picture & sound. Of course, it would have been nice if the sound was lossless instead of lossy, and the disc dual instead of single, but as far as watching this Blu ray on my system is concerned, I couldn't tell the difference. I thought it looked and sounded wonderful. I also checked the DVD, which has the same extras as the Blu-ray. In other words, no Eddie Mueller commentary.


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#62 of 207 OFFLINE   JoHud

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Posted January 31 2014 - 08:26 AM

I love this Blu ray & I will be watching it again & again. I also thought the sound was wonderful, very clear and with remarkable presence, both belying and yet respecting the analog source material. Now I must say that my screen is only 32 inches though I watch it from a distance of 4 & 1/2 feet, living as I do in a small apartment in Manhattan. Also, my sound system is very low end and basic. So you may wish to wait for a more nuanced review from someone who has watched this with a projector before buying. But these are my thoughts for what they are worth.

 

I feel the same way about it.  It looked great and sounded great on my 50" screen.  However, I agree that a more nuanced projector-viewing review might be in order.  I'm not one to take DVD Beaver as the gospel, but there still might be something to it and hopefully Robert Harris is planning to review this disc in the future.

 

The DVD case is still an odd issue, though.  I'm getting the impression that TCM has very recently, within the past 6 months, has taken more budgetary steps toward its TCM Vault Collection line.  As I said before, their blu-ray release of The Iron Petticoat over a year ago used a standard blu-ray case housing both the blu-ray and DVD.  Also their most recent DVD set, The Randolph Scott Collection, is the first TCM Vault set in recent memory that put 4 films on 2 discs yet they still priced the collection as if it was a 4 disc set.  It broke their longstanding tradition of giving each film its own disc.  Perhaps the TCM Vault line is getting its budget cut?  Hopefully not and it's something that the TCM Vault crew can fix in the future.

 

At least the discs is housed in such a way that I can place it alongside my other TCM Vault sets.


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#63 of 207 OFFLINE   haineshisway

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Posted January 31 2014 - 09:52 AM

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is in a DVD case - did people get upset about that?


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#64 of 207 OFFLINE   Yorkshire

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Posted January 31 2014 - 10:09 AM

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is in a DVD case - did people get upset about that?

 

No, but I get upset by The Child Catcher every time I see him.

 

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#65 of 207 ONLINE   Mark Walker

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Posted January 31 2014 - 11:40 AM

I moved the TCM Blu-ray combo to a three disc Blu-ray case and trimmed off the top and bottom.  It looks fine.


Paramount, please release DRAGONSLAYER on Blu-ray

Dragonslayer_1981HTF_zps4e370848.jpg

 

 

Vermithrax Pejorative deserves to be seen in high-def.


#66 of 207 OFFLINE   Mark Cappelletty

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Posted January 31 2014 - 12:11 PM

At least you guys have your discs-- mine is still in limbo (and calling TCM's Customer Service is good only if you want to drive yourself to drink).  Who's handling this? Screen Archives?  ;)



#67 of 207 OFFLINE   Peter Neski

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Posted January 31 2014 - 12:24 PM

Apocalypse Now is really in a DVD case ,I don't like these dvd size cases, I thought the "Lady" BR looks excellent ,maybe it could be better ,but

we will have to wait years



#68 of 207 ONLINE   Worth

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Posted January 31 2014 - 12:47 PM

I thought the "Lady" BR looks excellent ,maybe it could be better ,but we will have to wait years.

 

Maybe not. There's an Italian release slated for the end of March.


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#69 of 207 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted January 31 2014 - 02:25 PM

I sampled this BD this morning and thought it looked pretty good.  I'll try to watch the whole disc in the next week.


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#70 of 207 OFFLINE   David_B_K

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Posted January 31 2014 - 03:59 PM

Mine was waiting in my mailbox. It'll be the Friday Night Movie tonight!

---EDIT---

I thought it looked great. Lots of detail, deep blacks, very stable. The sound was very robust as well.

#71 of 207 OFFLINE   haineshisway

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Posted February 05 2014 - 09:14 PM

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After reading how the usual suspects elsewhere were up in arms about the horrid treatment of this transfer by TCM, with people canceling their orders left and right because they'd seen something about bit rates and encodes and lossy sound, I prepared myself for the debacle.  As you've already read above, there is no debacle.  These people are so hopeless - they don't have the disc, and they base everything they do on what they READ.  I mean, if you put this transfer in front of these people, told them it was lossless sound, the best encode and the highest bitrate they'd be over the moon.  Because let me tell you no one would be able to tell one iota of difference between lossy and lossless sound in a blind test from a film from that era.  NO ONE.  This is a beautiful transfer of a beautiful job by Grover Crisp.  Should it have been more bits and different encodes - I don't know and I don't care because what they delivered is a wonderful product that no one should hesitate buying.  This film has never looked this good - it is wall-to-wall multi-pass opticals (I'm glad the term I've been using here for so long has seeped into the vocabulary of the reviewers) but despite that, the visuals are beautiful, as is the contrast.  Yes, there are shots that are soft because the focus is off - it happens ALL the time and people always go berserk - it wasn't the same back in those days, they didn't have computers and CGI and fakery - if the focus was off the focus was off, and they either lived with it or reshot.  The Manchurian Candidate's most important monologue is completely out of focus.  Doesn't hurt the scene at all.  They did what they had to do in the old days - if they had a shot and decided it should be closer, they didn't go spend $100,000 to reshoot it - they optically zoomed in and that was that and moviegoers did not notice or care.

 

I'm watching on a 55-inch Samsung, since that seems to be important to people - it looks great and kudos to all involved.  


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#72 of 207 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted February 06 2014 - 01:54 AM

Yeah, I watched the entire disc the other day and thought it looked wonderful.  I'm very happy with this purchase.


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#73 of 207 OFFLINE   Charles Smith

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Posted February 06 2014 - 04:48 AM

Sold.



#74 of 207 OFFLINE   mikeyhitchfan

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Posted February 06 2014 - 08:20 AM

Same here. I had cancelled but then ordered it again. It looks very nice despite any technical nit picks about bit rate and all. Proud to have another Orson Welles film on blu-ray!



#75 of 207 OFFLINE   lark144

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Posted February 06 2014 - 08:32 AM

Yeah, as Bruce states, much of the film set on the yacht is composed of lap dissolves that are superimposed one upon the other during Welles' voice over. This is different in style from say, Von Sternberg or George Stevens, who use the superimposition of one long held shot that very slowly changes into another. In The Lady From Shanghai, by contrast,  you have all these quick shots as in an Eisenstein montage except dissolving one onto the other with one long held image superimposed over all the other dissolves, the images linking visually and metaphorically with the sound track. In other words, very complex, multi-layered opticals, which become a kind of stylistic signature for the film. Already in The Lady From Shanghai, Welles' seems to be transforming his style from the long, deep focus takes of Citizen Kane & Ambersons to the crazy quilt montage of Othello, transforming time and space through the interaction of image and language.  (I never really noticed all this before, but this Blu-ray is so detailed and sharp that you clearly see all these specific elements, even if you're only watching the film for the story.)

 

Anyway, the amazing thing about this transfer is there seems to be little loss of detail during these passages. I suppose if one were to freeze the image and stare at it for a long time, one might discern a difference. But unlike say, GIANT, or even GUN CRAZY (yes, Bruce, I bit the bullet & bought the WILD SIDE box, & I'm very glad I did) one doesn't really notice any softness nor an uptick in grain. There's plenty of grain in this Blu ray, but it doesn't increase in a way that can be seen during the opticals, nor is there that sudden electronic, smeary look that happens during some Universal Blu-rays. It just looks like a beautiful luminous nitrate archival 35mm print.



#76 of 207 OFFLINE   WilliamMcK

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Posted February 06 2014 - 09:23 AM

When I turn off the 24fps control on my player... and play this disc in 60fps it looks TERRIFIC... so I'm happy!  But I am curious why in the 24fps mode I get the stop-and-start frame advance look?  There is only one other disc in my collection that has a similar problem (and like LFS when I revert to 60fps the problem is solved) and that's VCI's A CHRISTMAS CAROL/SCROOGE.  Is this because of the encode that was used?  Just curious.  It's annoying, but hardly a deal breaker when the picture is as gorgeous as SHANGHAI's.



#77 of 207 OFFLINE   Mark Cappelletty

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Posted February 06 2014 - 10:28 AM

FINALLY got mine. It looks great! I wish TCM had made more of an effort in the special-features department -- this is a film that cries out for a documentary on the making -- but it looks and sounds just fine to me.  Hoping some intrepid soul makes a custom Blu-Ray cover for it, however-- this is some ugly packaging. 


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#78 of 207 OFFLINE   rayman1701

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Posted February 06 2014 - 11:11 AM

FINALLY got mine. It looks great! I wish TCM had made more of an effort in the special-features department -- this is a film that cries out for a documentary on the making -- but it looks and sounds just fine to me.  Hoping some intrepid soul makes a custom Blu-Ray cover for it, however-- this is some ugly packaging.


+1

I thought this looked wonderful. But this one cries out for a custom cover, for a standard blu-ray sized case. To paraphrase, "that's some bad packing, Harry."

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#79 of 207 OFFLINE   Brandon Conway

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Posted February 06 2014 - 11:23 AM

Other message boards have pics of people getting a Criterion blu-ray case and cutting down the top/bottom of the cover art. It looks like it works pretty well.


Edited by Brandon Conway, February 06 2014 - 11:23 AM.

"And now the reprimand, from an American critic. He reproaches me for using film as a sacred & lasting medium, like a painting or a book. He does not believe that filmmaking is an inferior art, but he believes, and quite rightly, that a reel goes quickly, that the public are looking above all for relaxation, that film is fragile and that it is pretentious to express the power of one's soul by such ephemeral and delicate means, that Charlie Chaplin's or Buster Keaton's first films can only be seen on very rare and badly spoiled prints. I add that the cinema is making daily progress and that eventually films that we consider marvelous today will soon be forgotten because of new dimensions & colour. This is true. But for 4 weeks this film [The Blood of a Poet] has been shown to audiences that have been so attentive, so eager & so warm, that I wonder after all there is not an anonymous public who are looking for more than relaxation in the cinema." - Jean Cocteau, 1932


#80 of 207 OFFLINE   rayman1701

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Posted February 06 2014 - 11:34 AM

Other message boards have pics of people getting a Criterion blu-ray case and cutting down the top/bottom of the cover art. It looks like it works pretty well.


I had heard mention of that too, but the only place with the disc specs and info is the slipcase, which I usually file away. Plus although I do have a couple of empty Criterion cases, I'd prefer to have a normal one for space reasons (every bit helps), plus that front cover is just bad. IMHO

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