A few words about…™ Notorious – in Blu-ray

Belongs in every serious collection 4 Stars

Quintessential Hitchcock

Selznick

Cary Grant

Ingrid Bergman

Claude Rains

Finally in a gorgeous Blu-ray presentation

From Criterion, with a cornucopia of extras

No need to give this one a great deal of thought

Belongs in every serious collection

Image – 5

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from earlier Blu-ray – A necessity

Very Highly Recommended

RAH

Published by

Kevin Collins

administrator

21 Comments

  1. Cool, an early review!

    Back in the bad old days of laserdisc, when I was first discovering a lot of Hitchcock titles, I was shopping at The Laserdisc Exchange, a small indie shop that sold laserdiscs new and used. I happen to be searching the bins and saw a guy selling back his Criterion laserdisc of Notorius. I’d never seen it before and I was discovering Cary Grant titles too so I grabbed it. Wow, that was about 19 years.

    Since then, I’ve collected every U.S. home video release, including the Criterion DVD, so very much looking forward to this.

  2. The good Dr. over at the other site was a bissela blase about this Blu-Ray, so I'm pleased to hear this earns a prominent place in RAH's Hall of Fame. I first saw NOTORIOUS at MOMA, probably in the early 70's. Have no idea if it was a nitrate print, but it was possibly the most gorgeous black & white film I have ever seen, with such rich blacks and greys that the only comparison I can make is to a Mocha Cake from Linz, Austria; rich, delectable and life transforming. Like many collectors on this forum, I have bought successive iterations of NOTORIOUS searching in vain for those glorious textures I first saw at MOMA so many decades ago. I look forward to experiencing the new Criterion, and thank Mr. Harris for his recommendation.

  3. lark144

    The good Dr. over at the other site was a bissela blase about this Blu-Ray, so I'm pleased to hear this earns a prominent place in RAH's Hall of Fame. I first saw NOTORIOUS at MOMA, probably in the early 70's. Have no idea if it was a nitrate print, but it was possibly the most gorgeous black & white film I have ever seen, with such rich blacks and greys that the only comparison I can make is to a Mocha Cake from Linz, Austria; rich, delectable and life transforming. Like many collectors on this forum, I have bought successive iterations of NOTORIOUS searching in vain for those glorious textures I first saw at MOMA so many decades ago. I look forward to experiencing the new Criterion, and thank Mr. Harris for his recommendation.

    I too once saw a really good print which is why I have never yet been satisfied with any disc version of Notorious.

  4. Robert Harris

    Keep in mind that the entire OCN does not survive. Some footage from fine grain and dupe neg. Also, before comments begin, there are rear screen shots which are quite noticeable, and of the era.

    Yes, you find those rear screen projections throughout the entirety of Hitchcock, and they aren't often well disguised. It's part of his oeuvre.

  5. Well, I started it, because the review SEEMED fairly negative, though he actually said what RAH said, that the original negative is missing, and therefore it can't be as perfectly resolved as it might have been, but within those parameters, it's close to perfect as it can be, and head and shoulders above all other issues. But you have to read what he wrote very carefully and pull that out from the mass of mostly negative verbiage. However, I must say that his little essay on THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS was about as cogent and profound a piece of criticism on Welles' film that I've read, and I recommend it highly.

  6. lark144

    Well, I started it, because the review SEEMED fairly negative, though he actually said what RAH said, that the original negative is missing, and therefore it can't be as perfectly resolved as it might have been, but within those parameters, it's close to perfect as it can be, and head and shoulders above all other issues. But you have to read what he wrote very carefully and pull that out from the mass of mostly negative verbiage. However, I must say that his little essay on THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS was about as cogent and profound a piece of criticism on Welles' film that I've read, and I recommend it highly.

    For clarity, parts of the OCN are no longer extant.

  7. For real clarity, think back to the days of old, when transfers rarely came from any OCN. Then think of what we get today, for the most part. We live in incredible times for movie enthusiasts. Some negatives are lost, some are partially lost or damaged, but if there are good other elements the results should be just fine. I never even understand the need to point out rear projection – it is what it is and it's never going to be anything else, same with opticals. I can't wait to get this – I'm sure I'll have nothing to nitpick and that I'll say: Highly recommended. It's one of the great movies.

  8. Matt Hough

    Yes, you find those rear screen projections throughout the entirety of Hitchcock, and they aren't often well disguised. It's part of his oeuvre.

    Depends on the portion of his work you are referencing. In the 50s, much of the work was photographed in VistaVision and generally at Paramount, and the process photography is excellent in these films.

  9. rsmithjr

    Depends on the portion of his work you are referencing. In the 50s, much of the work was photographed in VistaVision and generally at Paramount, and the process photography is excellent in these films.

    Generally excellent but not always; for example, the scene in the marketplace in The Man Who Knew Too Much as Stewart and Day are watching the acrobats and Hitch does his cameo. That's quite poor and very obvious.

  10. Notorious isn't just essential Hitchcock, it's everything you could ask for in a classic film. It's the sort of film I'd show to someone who "doesn't like old movies" or "doesn't like black and white" because it's just as fresh as it was then.

    This was the very first Criterion DVD I ever purchased way back in 2001 when I had a weekend job in high school, so I'm looking forward to upgrading again. It'll be the fourth time I've owned it as I also had the MGM Hitchcock set (with the other three Selznicks, Lifeboat, and three of his British films) and MGM's Blu-ray. That Blu-ray is actually quite nice – clearly off a gorgeous film element, but limited by being an older transfer with less cleanup.

  11. A side note, when I watched the last blu ray on a then new 65” plasma, I had upgraded from a 50” and I never noticed all that stuff going on in the titles. There was small things moving around, and I realized this is a shot of Miami and that was smoke from a building.

  12. Excellent news.
    The old Criterion was also my first CC DVD purchase. I had to save up forever in school to afford it and replace my worn VHS copy. I have the MGM version but really disliked what their work resulted in on the titles previously issued by others, particularly NOTORIOUS which I felt was far better on the Criterion DVD. Since then I even went back and picked up the CAV Criterion version which looks especially good for Laserdisc.

  13. Here's the transfer notes from the 2001 DVD:

    “The picture for Notorious was restored and preserved from the original 35mm nitrate camera negative, a 35mm nitrate fine-grain master, and a 35mm nitrate copyright print. A newly printed 35mm fine-grain master and the 35mm nitrate fine-grain master for reels 4A and 5B, were used for the digital film-to-tape transfer.

    The soundtrack for Notorious was restored and preserved from a 1954 35mm acetate release print, a 35mm nitrate fine-grain master, and a 35mm nitrate optical music & effects track positive. New 35mm magnetic analog masters and DA-88 digital masters were created using Sonic Solutions noise reduction software.”

    and the 2019 Blu-ray (from the Blu-ray.com review):

    "This new digital restoration was undertaken by The Walt Disney Company and the Criterion Collection. A new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on a Lasergraphics Director film scanner at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging in Burbank, California, from three elements: the 35mm original camera negative and a 35mm nitrate fine-grain, both held by the Museum of Modern Art, and a 35mm safety fine-grain held by the British Film Institute. Several sections of the original camera negative, the primary source for this restoration, have sustained damage over the years and been replaced by duplicate negatives; for some of these portions, the fine-grains were used. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, and warps were manually removed using MTI Film's DRS, while Digital Vision's Phoenix was used for jitter, flicker, small dirt, grain, and noise management. The original monaural soundtrack was first restored in 2001 from a 1954 35mm acetate release print and a 35mm nitrate fine-grain master. Additional restoration work was performed by the Criterion Collection for this release, using Pro Tools HD and iZotope RX."

  14. That is beautiful cover art for NOTORIOUS. Criterion’s art department is superb. Great choice and very thoughtful. That alone makes me want to buy this.

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