4 Stars

I came to the conclusion many moons ago, that when a new release is publicized as “New (x)k transfer/ master,” that it’s pretty much meaningless.

And so it is with the Gary Cooper, Paramount production from 1935, Henry Hathaway’s The Lives of a Bengal Lancer.

Other than what are probably loan-outs to other production entities, Mr. Cooper was a Paramount player from 1925, with a bit in Old Ironsides (available on Blu-ray from Kino), into 1939, with Beau Geste (also forthcoming from Kino).

Bengal Lancer is fine adventure film, very much in the mode of Kipling, but the new Blu-ray has me puzzled.

The entire film seems soft, ie. out of focus, yet decently clean, which would make one believe that it has a digital clean-up that may have gone awry, unless the extant film elements were produced improperly before the nitrates were destroyed – and that the focus is just gone.

A decent gray scale, and with virtually no grain structure.

But then there’s this.

Single strand negative, which means that printer function (dissolves, fades) are cut in.

But they all appear far superior to the production footage. Overall resolution, and grain pop when they hit the screen.

An important film. Shot by Charles Lang, and with multiple Academy Award nominations.

Opinions gladly accepted.

Image – 3.25

Audio – 4.5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – Possibly

RAH

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Robert Crawford

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Well, I had a feeling it wasn't going to be pristine as I expect the same with those other titles like "Beau Geste". With that said, they have to look better than the 2005 DVD. I'm still waiting on mine to ship.
 

Mistress9

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haven't seen it but I absolutely love the blurays were no money has been put into them because they are usually just the film scanned and that's it, and to me, these represents an authentic film experience in digital transfer.
 

Robert Harris

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haven't seen it but I absolutely love the blurays were no money has been put into them because they are usually just the film scanned and that's it, and to me, these represents an authentic film experience in digital transfer.

There is no such thing as “just the film scanned.”
 

OliverK

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There is no such thing as “just the film scanned.”

I guess it could be done if it means scanning a film print but this wouldn't make any sense.

Maybe he should say that he likes it when films look as if digital wizardry was kept to the bare minimum.

Here is a good comparison of one of the worst offenders, the French company Sidonis "cleaning up" an older low budget master and a release from another vendor that chose not to go that route:
https://caps-a-holic.com/c.php?d1=13889&d2=6556&s1=140759&s2=61820&x=830&y=169&i=7&a=1&go=1&l=1

Clearly a case where less is more.
 
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OliverK

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[...]

But then there's this.

Single strand negative, which means that printer function (dissolves, fades) are cut in.

But they all appear far superior to the production footage. Overall resolution, and grain pop when they hit the screen.
[...]

Looks like they went back to elements that were not used for the production footage. From what you write it sounds like they should do a proper release when Parmount has revisited the rest of the movie.
 

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Looks like they went back to elements that were not used for the production footage. From what you write it sounds like they should do a proper release when Parmount has revisited the rest of the movie.

The entirety of what exists is based upon the cut & conformed 1935 original printing negative, and currently owned by Universal.
 

OliverK

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The entirety of what exists is based upon the cut & conformed 1935 original printing negative, and currently owned by Universal.

That is even more puzzling. Maybe they had an existing (older) master but the dissolves and fades were deemed so bad that only they were revisited with the latest and greatest technology?

In any case this is another movie that comes from Universal with more questions than answers. Not too long ago we also had a release of The Far Country that was supposedly scanned in 4k recently but instead it looked like a 10+ year old 1080i HDTV airing.

It would be great to be able to ask somebody at Universal about these things.
 

Robert Harris

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That is even more puzzling. Maybe they had an existing (older) master but the dissolves and fades were deemed so bad that only they were revisited with the latest and greatest technology?

In any case this is another movie that comes from Universal with more questions than answers. Not too long ago we also had a release of The Far Country that was supposedly scanned in 4k recently but instead it looked like a 10+ year old 1080i HDTV airing.

It would be great to be able to ask somebody at Universal about these things.

As I understand it, the Far Country situation was not the doing of Universal.
 

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There is no such thing as “just the film scanned.”

well, the ones that look like nothing have been done to them are the ones that look the best, And they are what the people actually want, people do not want these altered, digitally recomposed films.
 

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well, the ones that look like nothing have been done to them are the ones that look the best, And they are what the people actually want, people do not want these altered, digitally recomposed films.

We will agree to disagree. Original elements wear, and are damaged due to use and time. What should be viewed are versions, digitally restored, if necessary, that mimic the original film prints.

Nothing more.

Nothing less.

People would not be happy with a raw scan from a 40 year-old negative.
 

Mistress9

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We will agree to disagree. Original elements wear, and are damaged due to use and time. What should be viewed are versions, digitally restored, if necessary, that mimic the original film prints.

Nothing more.

Nothing less.

People would not be happy with a raw scan from a 40 year-old negative.

Personally, I believe that if the original elements are too damaged or worn out then the second best possible version, if it exists, should then be scanned and released. For instance, I torrented a HQ version of the 1938 classic Angels With Dirty Faces, and it looks AMAZING, it's perfect,it just has fine scratches and specs throughout the film and for me it doesn't detract from the viewing experience, quite the contrary, it makes it seem like I'm actually watching a film.

Films are a physical medium, this does not translate in the digital restorations. It's like when you buy fine leather, you get the disclaimer that blemishes and defects are a part of it and not a defect, film being physical was also artesanal, like leather.

If I can get only one point accross it would be this: the public doesn't know the extent of actual alterations the word restoration entails. Look at the Disney films, they are basically redrawn and repainted to avoid any sense of film. It's not the films we say on the theater, not because they were damaged or degraded, but because they've been consciously altered. If the public knew this, they wouldn't buy them. Believe me, I've had the discussions.
 

Robin9

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, I torrented a HQ version of the 1938 classic Angels With Dirty Faces, and it looks AMAZING, it's perfect,it just has fine scratches and specs throughout the film and for me it doesn't detract from the viewing experience, quite the contrary, it makes it seem like I'm actually watching a film.
I pre-date VHS, DVD, Blu-ray disc, streaming and home cinema in general. Only Angels Have Wings is one of my favorite films and one of the ten I would take to that desert island. 40/55 years ago I saw it several times in re-run theaters and on TV and got to know the film really well. The DVD was a revelation for me and the Blu-ray disc is substantially better still. I'm surprised you find old, scratched and marked film prints provide a better experience because I've seen prints like that. I used to see them two or three times a week!

By the way, I'm very sorry to see that you've been banned so soon after joining.
 

OliverK

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I think we all agree that in general a release should mimic a film print and as for the general public I will say that they will ususally not be that discerning in the first place so they will be happy with a release that satisfies the enthusiast.
I pre-date VHS, DVD, Blu-ray disc, streaming and home cinema in general. Only Angels Have Wings is one of my favorite films and one of the ten I would take to that desert island. 40/55 years ago I saw it several times in re-run theaters and on TV and got to know the film really well. The DVD was a revelation for me and the Blu-ray disc is substantially better still. I'm surprised you find old, scratched and marked film prints provide a better experience because I've seen prints like that. I used to see them two or three times a week!

By the way, I'm very sorry to see that you've been banned so soon after joining.

There is no Blu-ray of Angels With Dirty Faces but in general I agree that scratched prints can be really annoying.
 
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I would much rather have a Blu Ray cleaned up and released to look like premier night.

I don’t want to see scratches and vertical
Lines and other elements blocking the picture. I want to watch Gable and Hepburn, not dirt dust and scratches.

The way Warners has restored ROBIN HOOD and WIND make technicolor look simply AMAZING.

restoration all the way.
 

Robin9

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I think we all agree that in general a release should mimic a film print and as for the general public I will say that they will ususally not be that discerning in the first place so the will be happy with a release that satisfies the enthusiast.


There is no Blu-ray of Angels With Dirty Faces but in general I agree that scratched prints can be really annoying.
I've just realised that I misread the post I replied to. I crossed two "Angel" movies over in my mind.
 

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We will agree to disagree. Original elements wear, and are damaged due to use and time. What should be viewed are versions, digitally restored, if necessary, that mimic the original film prints.

Nothing more.

Nothing less.

People would not be happy with a raw scan from a 40 year-old negative.

Most often that is true. Personally, on occasion I enjoy watching a crappy Monogram movie that contains visible cue marks, splices and scratches...brings me back!