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#1 of 42 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted July 09 2014 - 01:55 PM

Marty Blu-ray Review

Paddy Chayefsky’s Marty, a slice of Bronx-Italian life, had its first incarnation in 1953 as a live broadcast on the Goodyear Television Playhouse. Two years later, expanded by about a half hour, the teleplay became the Oscar-winning Marty directed for the screen by its original television director Delbert Mann. Both productions capture beautifully the hearts and souls of two lonely people who find one another one fateful night (each production has its own strengths and weaknesses), and the simple story and honest performances once again capture the attention just through the beauty of its ethnic language and a modest, unadorned presentation.


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Studio: Kino

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA

Subtitles: None

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 1 Hr. 34 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

keep case

Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 07/29/2014

MSRP: $29.95




The Production Rating: 4.5/5

Bronx butcher Marty Piletti (Ernest Borgnine) is constantly harangued by his family, friends, and even customers about why at age thirty-four he’s still single. Trouble is, Marty has absolutely no luck with women and is about at the stage where he’s tired of looking and enduring heartache week after week. A final plea from his outspoken widowed mother (Esther Minciotti) sends him in his blue serge suit to the Stardust Ballroom where he meets high school chemistry teacher Clara (Betsy Blair) who’s had similar bad luck with blind dates and indifference from men. The two have an instant rapport and as the evening stretches into the morning hours, Marty is convinced he’s found a nice girl who feels similarly about him. But a brief meeting between his mother and Clara leaves Mrs. Piletti unimpressed (along with warnings from her belligerent sister Catherine – Augusta Ciolli – that Marty’s new wife will have no use for a live-in mother-in-law), and Marty’s friends, particularly Marty’s similarly single best friend Angie (Joe Mantell), think Marty can do better.

In expanding his teleplay for the big screen, Paddy Chayefsky retains every scene from his TV version but adds interesting backstory for Clara (we even meet her parents in a crucial scene that’s sometimes omitted from prints of the movie; it is present in this release) along with exploring a bit of Marty’s friend Angie’s obvious jealousy that Marty has finally found a special someone while he’s still looking and also offering a bit more of the subplot involving Aunt Catherine and her uneasy relationship with her daughter-in-law-now-a-new-mother (Karen Steele) and her son (Jerry Paris) who feels acres of Catholic guilt for asking his mother to leave his home. All of these additions don’t feel like padding at all but give breadth to the domestic drama unfolding for Marty, his friends, his family, and the girl who, he hopes, will one day be a part of it all. (The conflict with the mother who’s urging him to marry one minute and imploring him to ditch a perfectly nice girl the next because she’s not gorgeous or Italian does seem a trifle manufactured and phony, but it’s really the only misstep in Chayefsky’s script and it happens in both the TV and movie versions.) Delbert Mann’s direction doesn’t push for effects but keeps the focus clearly on Marty and Clara for a large part of the film as Marty’s motormouth just won’t stop yapping (finally, he's found someone he’s willing and eager to talk to about anything and everything) and Clara’s sweet smiles at his clumsiness and puppy dog-eagerness (which tell us mounds about her personality and character). And in one priceless moment, the lonely Angie, searching for Marty who’s otherwise occupied, eavesdrops on two gossipy older ladies and almost seems ready to sit down with them and dish the dirt.

While Ernest Borgnine is tremendously earnest and forthright as the title character, he doesn’t quite capture the same amount of deep-seated angst about his miserable single life and the repeated rejections that Rod Steiger imbued into his TV performance. He plays it a bit lighter and more chatty which seems right for the film but less dramatically heavy (though at the time, the impact of Borgnine’s sweet-natured performance was dynamic due to a series of sadistic supporting performances which had preceded this one). On the other hand, Chayefsky’s expansion of the screenplay means much more depth in the role of Clara, and Betsy Blair handles the part with aplomb and great sympathy. A scene late in the film as she sits with her parents silently weeping while waiting for a phone that doesn’t ring is one of the most devastating images in the entire film. Three actors repeat their TV performances in the movie version: Joe Mantell’s Angie, Esther Minciotti as Mama Piletti, and Augusta Ciolli as Aunt Catherine, and they all build splendidly on the performances they gave two years previously making the most of their additional dialogue and screen time. Karen Steele and Jerry Paris as the young marrieds are just fine.



Video Rating: 3.5/5  3D Rating: NA

The film intended for a 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio is presented here in 1.33:1 (with windowboxed credits and opening scene). Apart from the scene at the ballroom when Marty and Clara dance and talk, the image does not appear to be zoomed in (but I state up front I’m no expert on these matters), and I did completely rewatch the film zoomed to 1.66:1 with no ill effects and with still an acceptable amount of headroom in the frame to spare (and it was a much more enjoyable experience in widescreen). While sharpness is generally fine, there are occasional shots that don’t match well with those which precede or follow them (an optical near the 19-minute mark really goes wonky). Grayscale is very good with black levels that aren’t inky but are much better than average and white levels that aren’t ever in danger of blooming. There are dust specks, some occasional scratches, and a little bit of print damage along the way, and Mrs. Piletti’s polka-dot dress quivers uneasily in a couple of shots. The film has been divided into 8 chapters.



Audio Rating: 4/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound mix offers much better than average fidelity. With the dialogue being such an important feature of the soundtrack, it comes across clearly and cleanly and is never compromised by Roy Webb and George Bassman’s background music or the accompanying sound effects. And age-related problems like hiss, crackle, or flutter never pose much of a problem.



Special Features Rating: 1/5

Theatrical Trailer (2:59, SD): Burt Lancaster (whose production company produced the film) introduces the movie to audiences.



Overall Rating: 4/5

Marty doesn’t get quite the pristine high definition presentation one might have wished for it, and a film this honored (the first American film ever to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes) certainly deserves some additional analysis and celebration with more developed and extensive bonus features. But despite the compromised aspect ratio, the film does look mostly quite nice, so fans of the film will have to decide for themselves if these compromises are serious enough not to add the film to their collections.


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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#2 of 42 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted July 09 2014 - 02:13 PM

No sale for me!


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#3 of 42 OFFLINE   bujaki

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Posted July 09 2014 - 03:02 PM

I'd knock your overall rating down considering the compromised release of such an important film. What are the chances now of ever seeing MARTY in its correct aspect ratio? Even at 1.66, such as Kino used (also wrong) for Witness for the Prosecution, Marty probably would have looked better.



#4 of 42 OFFLINE   Mark-P

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Posted July 09 2014 - 03:48 PM

No sale for me!


Why? Matt just said that the composition looks great when matted to 1.66:1. That is exactly how I plan to view it when I receive my copy.

#5 of 42 OFFLINE   AnthonyClarke

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Posted July 09 2014 - 04:21 PM

No sale for me either.

My projector doesn't offer matting and I can't physically matte the screen so I would have no choice but watch in the incorrect ratio. I have to do that with too many movies already .. I'll avoid until it's issued in (if) another market in correct ratio.



#6 of 42 OFFLINE   Nick*Z

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Posted July 09 2014 - 05:04 PM

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I'm with you, fellas. We need to stop placating shoddy work, also to stop patronizing it with our hard earned dollars simply because there's nothing better being pumped out. Badly done is badly done - period. I can't tell you how many reviews I've read, as example, on the Fox Cinema Archive where non-anamorphic transfers of Cinemascope movies are getting a 3 out of 5 rating simply because they don't have 'too much edge effects' and the colors 'seem okay'. What?!?!

 

Marty in 1.33:1 is just wrong - period. Zooming in isn't an option - or rather - shouldn't be considered acceptable. Send a message to the companies who violate - you haven't won any votes here!!!


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#7 of 42 OFFLINE   ljgranberry

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Posted July 09 2014 - 05:22 PM

I'm with you, fellas. We need to stop placating shoddy work, also to stop patronizing it with our hard earned dollars simply because there's nothing better being pumped out. Badly done is badly done - period. I can't tell you how many reviews I've read, as example, on the Fox Cinema Archive where non-anamorphic transfers of Cinemascope movies are getting a 3 out of 5 rating simply because they don't have 'too much edge effects' and the colors 'seem okay'. What?!?!

 

Marty in 1.33:1 is just wrong - period. Zooming in isn't an option - or rather - shouldn't be considered acceptable. Send a message to the companies who violate - you haven't won any votes here!!!

This is why I almost exclusively buy from Criterion or Twilight Time, and even then always check reviews on this page and on DVD Talk.  Shoddy work is shoddy work.  The more you support companies that turn it out, the more it emboldens them to keep doing it.  MARTY should have been given stellar treatment.  Not only will I not buy this copy, I also won't rent it.



#8 of 42 OFFLINE   Cremildo

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Posted July 09 2014 - 05:27 PM

Thanks for the review.

 

I'll be waiting for a (hopefully) different European release.



#9 of 42 OFFLINE   bruceames

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Posted July 09 2014 - 07:52 PM

Oh no, now I need to cancel my order.   I hope this isn't a sign of things to come from Lorber Classics.   



#10 of 42 OFFLINE   AnthonyClarke

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Posted July 09 2014 - 08:33 PM

Since this has been letterboxed for the opening titles, it suggests that this release was made from a zoomed transfer of elements done originally for old pre-widescreen televisions.

So it would appear, sadly, that Kino could never have presented it in its proper aspect ratio .. not to good result, anyway.

Another reason for letting this one go.



#11 of 42 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted July 09 2014 - 08:57 PM

This is why I almost exclusively buy from Criterion or Twilight Time, and even then always check reviews on this page and on DVD Talk.  Shoddy work is shoddy work.  The more you support companies that turn it out, the more it emboldens them to keep doing it.  MARTY should have been given stellar treatment.  Not only will I not buy this copy, I also won't rent it.

To be fair, both of those companies have released compromised films too.  This isn't about Kino, Criterion nor TT.  It's about getting it right or as close to right as possible.  This BD is derived from compromised film elements, plain and simple to understand for me.


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#12 of 42 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted July 09 2014 - 09:49 PM

I cancelled my preorder a few weeks ago.

 

Was hoping for a more positive review on the aspect ratio.

 

However, the people I depend on have spoken and I am going

to continue to boycott this title until it is released in its proper ratio.


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#13 of 42 OFFLINE   Yorkshire

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Posted July 10 2014 - 12:01 AM

Thanks for the great review.

 

Any chance of a screencap of the windowboxed credits?

 

Cheers.

 

Steve W


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#14 of 42 OFFLINE   Keith Cobby

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Posted July 10 2014 - 12:18 AM

This film is a character study rather than a big widescreen historical epic so I don't think the AR is too egregious in this case. It wouldn't stop me buying it or enjoying the performances, though I doubt it would provide repeat viewing for many. If unsure it is worth a rental.



#15 of 42 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted July 10 2014 - 02:50 AM

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This film is a character study rather than a big widescreen historical epic so I don't think the AR is too egregious in this case. It wouldn't stop me buying it or enjoying the performances, though I doubt it would provide repeat viewing for many. If unsure it is worth a rental.

You can apply any type of rationale to it, but it still doesn't make it right. 

 

Other people can do what they want as it's their monies, but for myself and my monies, it's a no sale.


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#16 of 42 OFFLINE   Jari K

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Posted July 10 2014 - 03:30 AM

"You can apply any type of rationale to it, but it still doesn't make it right."

 

I think one point is that some people are starting to get a bit obsessed with this thinking that there's one aspect ratio, even when some films have been shown in different ratios (in the theatres) back in the days (often 1.66:1 and 1.85:1, but probably also 1.37:1 and 1.85:1 in some cases). Research is great, but you also have to keep an open mind.

 

There are people who have now said maybe 10-15 times that they don't buy this release - or that they've cancelled the pre-order. It's their right as a consumer. But what's the next step? Mocking people who want to see the film in HD? Shouting boycott slogans? Saying Kino is s**t? Where does it end? The release is out there, whether people like it not. Rest (will people buy it, or will people like it) is out of our hands.

 

So yes, I think we should add some rationalization to this discussion. You can enjoy Marty via Kino's release. Is it perfect? Hell no. But it's not "disaster" either.


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#17 of 42 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted July 10 2014 - 03:45 AM

Thanks for the great review.
 
Any chance of a screencap of the windowboxed credits?
 
Cheers.
 
Steve W


Sorry. I don't have the capability to do them.

#18 of 42 ONLINE   nara

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Posted July 10 2014 - 04:45 AM

Research is great, but you also have to keep an open mind.

 

 

Fuzzy thinking alert! Research is fundamental to informed debate.

 

 

"I believe in an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out."

(various attributions)


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#19 of 42 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted July 10 2014 - 05:14 AM

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"You can apply any type of rationale to it, but it still doesn't make it right."

 

I think one point is that some people are starting to get a bit obsessed with this thinking that there's one aspect ratio, even when some films have been shown in different ratios (in the theatres) back in the days (often 1.66:1 and 1.85:1, but probably also 1.37:1 and 1.85:1 in some cases). Research is great, but you also have to keep an open mind.

 

There are people who have now said maybe 10-15 times that they don't buy this release - or that they've cancelled the pre-order. It's their right as a consumer. But what's the next step? Mocking people who want to see the film in HD? Shouting boycott slogans? Saying Kino is s**t? Where does it end? The release is out there, whether people like it not. Rest (will people buy it, or will people like it) is out of our hands.

 

So yes, I think we should add some rationalization to this discussion. You can enjoy Marty via Kino's release. Is it perfect? Hell no. But it's not "disaster" either.

Everybody is welcome to think as they please regarding this issue.  And I don't appreciate the inference from you that those that believe in research and oppose your POV on this issue are not open minded.  Just respect those that oppose your POV and I'll do the same with you and any other person with a contrary POV from mine.


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#20 of 42 OFFLINE   Bob Furmanek

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Posted July 10 2014 - 05:54 AM

I think one point is that some people are starting to get a bit obsessed with this thinking that there's one aspect ratio, even when some films have been shown in different ratios (in the theatres) back in the days (often 1.66:1 and 1.85:1, but probably also 1.37:1 and 1.85:1 in some cases). Research is great, but you also have to keep an open mind.

 

Our documented research has shown that once theaters switched to widescreen beginning in the summer of 1953 and throughout the year, they did not go back to 1.37:1 presentations.

 

By 1955, the academy ratio was a dead format in theaters.


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