Nightmare Alley may be Tyrone Power’s darkest film. The 1947 Fox production, directed by Edmund Goulding, definitely falls within noir parameters.

Criterion’s new Blu-ray – and I’m complaining, as I’m thrilled to have it – is a wonderful example of something that I’ve discussed in the past – Blu-ray as bucket. Something that will hold whatever data is dumped into it.

Presumably derived from a master provided by Fox / Disney, it’s noted to be a “New 4k digital restoration,” but what precisely does that mean?

Nightmare Alley is a film in trouble, and that’s a pity.

The new release has apparently been derived from a 35mm nitrate print preserved by UCLA – in decent shape aside from some splices noted on their on-line inventory. I viewed the disc, and nothing looked problematic.

There seems to be no fine grain, a comp dupe neg at the BFI. No idea what else survives, as I’ve not looked. Possibly something at MOMA.

But it is a new 4k restoration, which would lead some to believe that it’s something special, and in some ways it is, as much of the Blu-ray looks quite nice, and certainly clean.

There are, however, shots and sequences that are extremely blown out – that might have been handled darker in the master, or at least massaged in some way. Things don’t appear final.

And hence, that bucket. Put into it whatever will fit, and off you go.

Wonderful film, with comfortable grain structure, and some occasionally lovely shots, but something for which I might withhold that “new 4k restoration” moniker, and go with something more akin to new digital clean-up, probably with a bit of de-graining thrown in as an extra added attraction.

Image – 3.75

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – Yes

Recommended

RAH
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Robert Harris

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Trancas

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Eric
Yes.....what's with the blown out contrast?
This is a screenshot from: http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film9/blu-ray_review_137/nightmare_alley_blu-ray.htm

large_05_nightmare_alley_blu-ray__blu-ray.jpeg



Here's the above screen-shot with the contrast tamed in Photoshop. The shadow and highlight details are still there even in a web image degraded by further compression etc.

nightmare_alley_changed cont.jpg
 
Last edited:

Robert Harris

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Yes.....what's with the blown out contrast?
This is a screenshot from: http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film9/blu-ray_review_137/nightmare_alley_blu-ray.htm

View attachment 96795


Here's the above screen-shot with the contrast tamed in Photoshop. The shadow and highlight details are still there even in a web image degraded by further compression etc.

View attachment 96807
That’s hardly worth noting., and appears to be normal print contrast. The blown-out shots are unfortunately obvious, and probably at least partially correctable.

There appear to be no blown-out examples on Beaver.

You’ll know them when you see them. As I was viewing, I was thinking that the element may have been mis-lit.
 
Last edited:

Trancas

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That’s hardly worth noting., and appears to be normal print contrast. The blown-out shots are unfortunately obvious, and probably at least partially correctable.

There appear to be no blown-out examples on Beaver.

You’ll know them when you see them. As I was viewing, I was thinking that the element may have been mis-lit.
Normal print contrast? Sorry RAH, that ugly harshened contrast makes Coleen look like she spent the day working in a coal mine. I don't like watching movies with inky, blocked shadows and blanched faces. If there are sections even worse than that........then bad, Criterion, bad.
 

Robert Harris

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Normal print contrast? Sorry RAH, that ugly harshened contrast makes Coleen look like she spent the day working in a coal mine. I don't like watching movies with inky, blocked shadows and blanched faces. If there are sections even worse than that........then bad, Criterion, bad.
Keep in mind that this apparently derives from a full-contrast print. As to Criterion, I doubt that they were involved. They do better work than this. I'd bet it's as the studio delivered.
 

Trancas

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Keep in mind that this apparently derives from a full-contrast print. As to Criterion, I doubt that they were involved. They do better work than this. I'd bet it's as the studio delivered.
There aren't transfer details in Criterion's booklet?
 

commander richardson

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martyn
Nightmare Alley may be Tyrone Power's darkest film. The 1947 Fox production, directed by Edmund Goulding, definitely falls within noir parameters.

Criterion's new Blu-ray - and I'm complaining, as I'm thrilled to have it - is a wonderful example of something that I've discussed in the past - Blu-ray as bucket. Something that will hold whatever data is dumped into it.

Presumably derived from a master provided by Fox / Disney, it's noted to be a "New 4k digital restoration," but what precisely does that mean?

Nightmare Alley is a film in trouble, and that's a pity.

The new release has apparently been derived from a 35mm nitrate print preserved by UCLA - in decent shape aside from some splices noted on their on-line inventory. I viewed the disc, and nothing looked problematic.

There seems to be no fine grain, a comp dupe neg at the BFI. No idea what else survives, as I've not looked. Possibly something at MOMA.

But it is a new 4k restoration, which would lead some to believe that it's something special, and in some ways it is, as much of the Blu-ray looks quite nice, and certainly clean.

There are, however, shots and sequences that are extremely blown out - that might have been handled darker in the master, or at least massaged in some way. Things don't appear final.

And hence, that bucket. Put into it whatever will fit, and off you go.

Wonderful film, with comfortable grain structure, and some occasionally lovely shots, but something for which I might withhold that "new 4k restoration" moniker, and go with something more akin to new digital clean-up, probably with a bit of de-graining thrown in as an extra added attraction.

Image – 3.75

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – Yes

Recommended

RAH
Blown out Blown up what the hell folks.........I am buying this one for sure.
 

white vader

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Yes.....what's with the blown out contrast?
This is a screenshot from: http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film9/blu-ray_review_137/nightmare_alley_blu-ray.htm

View attachment 96795


Here's the above screen-shot with the contrast tamed in Photoshop. The shadow and highlight details are still there even in a web image degraded by further compression etc.

View attachment 96807


Blown out doesn't mean too much contrast for your liking.

As far as I understand it, blown out means actual loss of picture information. If you could find say a frame from the dvd with highlights/whites that still have some grain/picture information, then show how in the blu the actual information has been lost where it blows out to white, that would be a good example. Not this which is just subjective. Proof of picture info lost would be objective.
 

Mark McSherry

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For what it's worth, Signal One Entertainment is said (Amazon UK) to be releasing their bluray September 27th.
 
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Keep in mind that this apparently derives from a full-contrast print. As to Criterion, I doubt that they were involved. They do better work than this. I'd bet it's as the studio delivered.

It does unfortunately seem that even the venerable Criterion gets told to "like it or lump it" sometimes with transfers which they don't have much choice other than to accept as-provided, especially if the rightsholder has a "new restoration" that they paid for and are proud of. I'm thinking of titles such as Children of Paradise which, despite being from the neg, was scrubbed to death (I'd imagine for reasons of politics, trying to appeal to the tastes of mainstream audiences interested in seeing a famed national treasure.)