4 Stars

My technical background enables me to wax on about grain structure in old films, color fade, black levels, shadow detail, stability of the image, et al.

All of which makes my words regarding virtually all Warner Archive titles, to be quite honest, boring.

Take The Letter, one of Bette Davis’ finest, the William Wyler directed, 1940 Warner Bros. production.

Photographed in black & white by Tony Gaudio (The Adventures of Robin Hood), based upon the play by W. Somerset Maugham, with a screenplay by Howard Koch, and a score by Max Steiner, the film is a magnificent achievement.

Quite rightly, it was nominated for seven Academy Awards, inclusive of Best Picture, Actress, Editing, Director, Cinematography (b/w), score, and Supporting Actor.

As far as I know, the original nitrate negative survives, but apparently a decade ago, the studio ordered a meticulously prepared wet-gate fine grain, which is the source of this Blu-ray.

As noted, this is boring.

The Blu-ray is magnificent in every detail, and to my jaundiced eye appears to be akin to an original 35mm print.

For those who really want to get into the weeds, there is a problem, but as far as I can tell, it’s been there for eighty years.

Look closely at the main title sequence, and you’ll see a lack of stability.

Not the type the you’ll find from an old telecine, where the entire frame wobbles about, but rather, within the production of the title negative itself, with a certain amount of movement between the background plate, and presumably, the hold-back matte, and title overlay.

I feel better, now that I’ve found something to write about.

Essential Davis, essential Wyler, and essential to any serious library.

A perfect Blu-ray.

Image – 5

Audio – 5

Upgrade from DVD – Absolutely!

Pass / Fail – Pass

Very Highly Recommended

RAH

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Robert Harris

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Will Krupp

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I feel better, now that I've found something to write about.
Us, too!! What a snoozefest all this perfection has been!

Now, who do we see about a recall?? :rolleyes:

All kidding aside, thanks for the great news and I can't wait to see this again as well! I've mentioned before but it contains one of my favorite Bette Davis moments from her entire career and I can't wait to make a night of it.

Thank you, sir! :)
 

B-ROLL

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Us, too!! What a snoozefest all this perfection has been!

Now, who do we see about a recall?? :rolleyes:

All kidding aside, thanks for the great news and I can't wait to see this again as well! I've mentioned before but it contains one of my favorite Bette Davis moments from her entire career and I can't wait to make a night of it.

Thank you, sir! :)
Try not to make it too bumpy ;) ...
 
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lark144

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'Tell ME my credits are wobbly! I'll show that son of a bitch a bumpy night"
As Bogie (playing Philip Marlowe) says to Colonel Sherwood in the beginning of "The Big Sleep": "Hmmmmmmmmm! Then Colonel Sherwood asks, "What does that mean?" Bogie responds: "Just Hmmmmmmmmmmm!"
 

Paul Penna

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For those who really want to get into the weeds, there is a problem, but as far as I can tell, it's been there for eighty years.

Look closely at the main title sequence, and you'll see a lack of stability.

Not the type the you'll find from an old telecine, where the entire frame wobbles about, but rather, within the production of the title negative itself, with a certain amount of movement between the background plate, and presumably, the hold-back matte, and title overlay.
Similar to the credit for Max Steiner in Jezebel; just after the dissolve to it, the text jumps down a bit in relation to the background.
 

Robert Harris

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Actually, there are two or three shots in the opening sequence that could have easily been culled from one of Universal’s Talbot epics.

Precisely what might Ms Davis looked like, as the moon came out from behind those ominous clouds, had she been bitten by her victim before he succumbed?
 

PMF

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Can't imagine any greater unveilings from WAC;
but I'll be remaining in this very line, just in case there's more.:thumbs-up-smiley:
 
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lionel59

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One of Wyler's, Davis', Steiner's and Warner's best, which is saying A LOT.
Seems like this is the year for Davis and de Havilland on blu ray (Criterion are releasing NOW, VOYAGER in November and did THE HEIRESS earlier this year. Plus we have been blessed with HOLD BACK THE DAWN, a new rendition of THE SNAKE PIT, JEZEBEL etc). Keep 'em coming!
P. S. Thanks for the review Robert.
 

PMF

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And what would they call this film if they ever decided to do a remake?
"The email"? "The Tweet"?, "The Instagram"?
Somehow, within our times, such a concept would simply not succeed nor translate as well.
And that, my friends, is why we love our catalog titles and all that's done towards the preservation of film.:thumbs-up-smiley:
 
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JohnMor

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And what would they call this film if they ever decided to do a remake?
"The email"? "The Tweet"?, "The Instagram"?
Somehow, within our times, such a concept would simply not succeed nor translate as well.
And that, my friends, is why we love our catalog titles and all that's done towards the preservation of film.:thumbs-up-smiley:
The Text.
 
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PMF

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Yes, they're all caps and in yellow.
Yellow subtitles on B/W films have worked best for me;
but now I've learned that this is not the case for all.
I wonder if there is such a thing as a single type of subtitle that would universally work the best?
 
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