A few words about…™ – Columbia Classics Volume 4 — in 4k UHD

Columbia Classics Vol 4 Review
This thread will be added to as time permits.

I’ll begin by noting that discs coming out of Columbia have been superbly crafted, same with most WB and Universal product. Paramount is now hitting a standard which should also allow safe pre-orders. Therefore, no surprises here. From what I’ve seen thus far, zero problems and gorgeous discs.

I wanted to do some research before opening this box, and found a YouTube reviewer that was able to be my guide toward understand the six films in this set – His Girl Friday (1928), Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979). Starman (1984), Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and Punch-Drunk Love (2002).

While I’ll give the normal overview, the heavy lifting will be found in Todd Erwin’s forthcoming review, so make certain that you consult his thoughts.

First and foremost, this is an extremely beautifully packaged set, and opening it can be (at least for the uninitiated) and I must thank BobsMovieReview over on YouTube for not only guide though the unboxing, but in bringing something to my attention that I’d never known.

Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday, as everyone knows, is based upon Charles MacArthur’s (married Helen Hayes) 1928 play entitled The Front Page. This is where it gets confusing. There was a 1931 production of The Front Page directed by Lewis Milestone, starring Adolphe Menjou, Pat O’Brien and Mary Brian.

And there was the 1940 take on the same play, not entitled The Front Page, but rather His Girl Friday, which is the film under discussion, starring Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell and an actor who looks remarkably like Ralph Bellamy.

There’s also a 1974 version, confusingly entitled The Front Page, directed by Billy Wilder and starring the unlikely duo of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.

But there were two more based upon the same play – The Runt Page, a 1932 short starring Shirley Temple and The Baby Stars, directed by Ray Nazarro, who went on to be a successful director of westerns, much akin to John Ford.

And then there is another version of His Girl Friday (1928), which predates The Front Page, which according to BobsMovieReview is included in this superb boxed set. It will be ferreted out and reviewed. I presume it’s going to be found on the Blu-ray.

I spent over an hour trying to figure out how to open the packaging, which once you realize how it works, is quite simple. Just pull the two halves of the front forward, and they slide out revealing not only the discs, but the hard-cover book neating hidden in its own compartment behind. Best to reference the video. I don’t want to see anyone injured.

But how do these films look?

Let’s take a peek, one at a time.

His Girl Friday (the 1940 version)

I’ve seen this film projected from a 35mm print, but not from the OCN. I’ve also had a beautiful 16mm original, but I’ve never seen the film look like Mr. Crisp and his team have restored it.

Everything captured on the original nitrate negative back in the fall of 1939 is on full view. Perfect grain structure, a steady image, gorgeous resolution, rich blacks and a fully rendered gray scale.

Perfect in every regard. The few missing frames that have been obvious for decades have been re-rendered. I recall on my 16, a printed through section of tape holding the 35 neg together. In another print, there was a black slug. Gone.

Sound is as perfect as it can be, harvested from the original optical track neg.

His Girl Friday

Image – 10 (Dolby Vision) – aspect ratio is noted as 1.33:1, which may be correct for the 1928 version, which may be silent.

Audio – 10 (DTS-HD MA 2.0 Monaural)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors – Yes

Makes use of and works well in 4k – 7

Upgrade from Blu-ray – you bet’cha!

Worth your attention – 10

Slipcover rating – Boxed set

Very Highly Recommended

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

For those who may have never seen this film, be aware that the ending plays very different dependent upon whether on knows the on-set production situation during the final days of the shoot.

From one perspective it’s a beautifully crafted example of acting. From the other, best to have a supply of facial tissues at the ready.

Never shy about taking on social issues, director Stanley Kramer cast Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton as a racially mixed couple, deeply in love, set against a backdrop of the U.S. in 1967.

Be aware that the film starts Spencer Tracy in his final role, and Katharine Hepburn, as Houghton’s parents. Do a bit of research here and find the connection.

The original dye transfer prints had a beautifully glossy appearance, with the dyes giving the overall appearance a very velvety look, with rich, pure colors.

Here, as harvested from the OCN, which the accompanying book notes to have been slightly faded (an odd attribute for properly stored Kodak 5251, which is usually quite hardy. That noted, apparently the element suffered from improper storage during its first couple of decades.

Color and density here are beautifully rendered, with great reds, pure whites and rich blacks. Grain appears normal for an OCN scan.




For audio, the restoration team returned to the original material and created a new stereo track, offered here in Dolby TrueHD 7.1, and it makes viewing the film a very new experience. Monaural is also offered for purists.



A wonderful film, and a perfect candidate for Columbia’s Volume 4.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner – 1967


Image – 10 (Dolby Vision) – aspect ratio is noted as 1.33:1, which may be correct for the 1928 version, which may be silent.

Audio – 10 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors – Yes

Makes use of and works well in 4k – 7.5

Upgrade from Blu-ray – Yes

Worth your attention – 10

Slipcover rating – Boxed set

Very Highly Recommended

Kramer vs. Kramer – 1979




With Robert Benton’s 1979 Kramer vs. Kramer, another Best Picture winner arrives in 4k. I’m not certain what the count is at this point, however some are still missing on Blu-ray, and at least one Best Picture 4k is a mess, and shouldn’t count.



A beautifully told tale of a marriage that never should have happened is related via the great Nestor Almendros’ cinematography, which is here represented appearing much akin to a new 35mm print. Columbia (Sony) courtesy of Mr. Crisp and his team via selected post vendors seems to be able to do no harm. The final results of every one of their projects stands high, and allows consumers to pre-order without concern.



Color, grain structure, black levels, stability are all in order to create a superior presentation of a brilliant film on a tiny silver disc.



Audio, like three of the other titles in this set, has been upgraded to Dolby Atmos, while the original monaural track is presented in DTS-HD MA.



Image – 10 (Dolby Vision)

Audio – 10 (Dolby Atmos)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors – Yes

Makes use of and works well in 4k – 7.5

Upgrade from Blu-ray – Yes

Worth your attention – 10

Slipcover rating – Boxed set

Very Highly Recommended

STARMAN – 1984

In each of Columbia’s six-film Classics 4k sets, there seems to be a single film – occasionally two – for which fans will pay the price of the set.

The first set was inclusive of an Arabian epic about a possibly slightly loony
Englishman, and has caused numerous cases of temporary madness, as fans try to acquire a copy, and the original six-film boxed sets continue to gain in (perceived) value.



For set 4, my two main films are His Girl Friday and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.



But I’m not your average film fan, and virtually all of the excitement about this release seems to be pointing directly at John Carpenter’s 1984 Starman, and the 22 episodes of the TV series starring Robert Hays. For fans, this is a huge deal.



And Columbia has stepped up the plate as far as quality. When do they not?



The new 4k UHD has all the attributes of a new 35mm print, and then some. As to the film, I wasn’t a huge fan upon its initial release, but I do believe that it plays better today than it did four decades ago.



Audio has been re-purposed in Dolby Atmos, which works beautifully.



I’ve oft noted here that 4k UHD discs are merely a bucket, and this release proves that out with the inclusion of the 22 episodes of the Starman TV series, but in HD – not 4k UHD, but still on two 4k discs. It’s only data bandwidth and space and resolution.



Big question fans are asking: will Sony release a single Starman three-pack, or will find be forces to ferret put Classic 4, thereby making the price rise?



Image – 10 (Dolby Vision)

Audio – 10 (Dolby Atmos)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors – Yes

Makes use of and works well in 4k – 7.5

Upgrade from Blu-ray – Yes

Worth your attention – 10 (if you’re a fan)

Slipcover rating – Boxed set

Highly Recommended

Sleepless in Seattle




Much like His Girl Friday, Nora Ephron’s 1993 Sleepless in Seattle is another relationship picture, and is understandably beloved by audiences three decades after it’s release.



The new 4k UHD is perfect in every regard, with the addition of Dolby Atmos. It’s crystal clear, with appropriate grain structure. Just another perfect Columbia release. With prices seemingly settling a bit on this set, it’s yet another in the group of six that should gain your attention.



Image – 10 (Dolby Vision)

Audio – 10 (Dolby Atmos)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors – Yes

Makes use of and works well in 4k – 7.5

Upgrade from Blu-ray – Yes

Worth your attention – 9

Slipcover rating – Boxed set

Highly Recommended

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Robert has been known in the film industry for his unmatched skill and passion in film preservation. Growing up around photography, his first home theater experience began at age ten with 16mm. Years later he was running 35 and 70mm at home.

His restoration projects have breathed new life into classic films like Lawrence of Arabia, Vertigo, My Fair Lady, Spartacus, and The Godfather series. Beyond his restoration work, he has also shared his expertise through publications, contributing to the academic discourse on film restoration. The Academy Film Archive houses the Robert A. Harris Collection, a testament to his significant contributions to film preservation.

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titch

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I spent over an hour trying to figure out how to open the packaging, which once you realize how it works, is quite simple. Just pull the two halves of the front forward, and they slide out revealing not only the discs, but the hard-cover book neating hidden in its own compartment behind. Best to reference the video. I don't want to see anyone injured.
Is this the first Columbia Classics Volume you've had?
 

Capt D McMars

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Thanks RAH, how does this edition of "His Girl Friday" compair with the Crterion edition?
 
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Robert Harris

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Your comments on Footloose don’t inspire such confidence.
Footloose doesn't disturb me. It's a more than okay release.

One needs to understand that some titles are requested for release by home video, and occasionally an older master is taken off the shelf, and upgraded or not.

That occurred at Universal for a few titles a number of years ago. It happens.

Seeing the latest from Paramount, such as Gunfight at the OK Corral instills confidence that as long as new masters are used, we shouldn't be seeing problems.
 

Robert Crawford

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Where’s the beef?

At $169.00 plus shipping with your Zavvi link, I'm not spending $80.00+ more for this volume 4 than I previously spent for the other three volumes which I purchased on release date. Not for a volume in which I only love two of the six movies. It's an easy decision for me because over the years, I purchased the iTunes digital for all six movies. Five of the six have upgraded to 4K/Dolby Vision free of charge. I've only watched His Girl Friday in its entirety in 4K/Dolby Vision. A great looking 4K digital!
 

Keith Cobby

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It's a great set if you like all the films, but it's not so good if you only want one or two. It's a fairly eclectic mix of films with the only common link being the studio, unlike strong thematic sets like the Hitchcocks. I'm happy to upgrade a film (or TV show) to 4k but it has to be a favourite or one with stunning cinematography that can be enjoyed on it's own.
 

Robert Harris

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Granted that unless one is seriously seeking more half, it’s expensive. But only the first volume has grown in value. Others were discounted within months.
 
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