A few words about…™ – The Night of the Hunter — in 4k UHD

The Night of the Hunter 4k UHD Screenshot

[FONT=times new roman][SIZE=5]Charles Laughton’s only foray into direction, his 1955 The Night of the Hunter is quite an extraordinary cinema experience.

With a screenplay by James Agee, and Robert Mitchum and Shelley Winters in the leads, supported by Lillian Gish, James Gleason and others, it’s a film that not only stands the test of time, but demands your attentions over 65 years later.

And for those in the know, it’s photographed by one of the greatest masters of black and white – Stanley Cortez.

Kino’s new 4k release of The Night of the Hunter is typical of the majority of other 4k black and white films coming from MGM. It’s a new 4k scan derived from the original camera negative, and like the others appears sharpened to a point of being able to count the individual silver grains on screen.

As noted in other reviews, this doesn’t work as a viewing experience until you’ve reached a moderate distance from the screen.

What this release adds to the previous Criterion Blu-ray is a new 4k scan and HDR, and that’s both good and bad. You gain a few new extras, but loose the quite exceptional extras on the Criterion.

The problem, as I see it, is that the majority of the other black & white 4k releases of this era, especially as sharpened to the hilt as they tend to be, is that there really isn’t any additional image.

There is nothing in the 4k that probably even reaches 2k, so what’s to be gained other than bragging rights, hopefully a proper 4k archival set of tapes and a new skew for Kino.

The Night of the Hunter is one more 4k that neither needs nor deserves the attempt at resolution.

Interestingly, the main title sequence appears to be derived from a couple of generations away from original.

Image – 3.5 (Dolby Vision)

Audio – 5 (DTS HD-MA 2.0)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors – Yes

Makes use of and works well in 4k – 2.5

Worth your attention – 9

Upgrade from Blu-ray – No

The Night of the Hunter is Very Highly Recommended

RAH

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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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Robert Crawford

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Frankly, I was underwhelmed with this 4K/Dolby Vision presentation. I could hardly notice the Dolby Vision. Plenty of film grain, but otherwise, I thought the video presentation wasn't much better than the Criterion Blu-ray. This is one of my five all-time favorite movies, so I know it backwards and forwards. I was more impressed by the Criterion Blu-ray improvement over the DVD.
 

Robert Harris

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Frankly, I was underwhelmed with this 4K/Dolby Vision presentation. I could hardly notice the Dolby Vision. Plenty of film grain, but otherwise, I thought the video presentation wasn't much better than the Criterion Blu-ray.
What you're seeing is far more than normal film grain. Prints never looked like this.
 

Robert Crawford

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What you're seeing is far more than normal film grain. Prints never looked like this.
Yeah, it didn't look right to me. As I stated in my edited post. I was more impressed with the Criterion Blu-ray's improved video presentation over the previous DVD. It just didn't look like much of an improvement at all from that Blu-ray to this 4K/Dolby Vision presentation.
 

JoshZ

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I don't think this problem is limited to black-and-white movies, or to MGM. I've watched plenty of color films in 4K where the grain is so thick and coarse it feels like sandpaper scraping your eyes, with negligible to no additional real picture detail over the comparable Blu-ray.
 

Scott Merryfield

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Just early this morning, I saw that the price for the new Kino version had dropped to under $20 on Amazon. However, I thought about it for a few minutes and decided to pass and stick with my Criterion BD. Then a little while later, I see this thread and feel very good about that decision.
 

dpippel

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Just early this morning, I saw that the price for the new Kino version had dropped to under $20 on Amazon. However, I thought about it for a few minutes and decided to pass and stick with my Criterion BD. Then a little while later, I see this thread and feel very good about that decision.
Same here, Scott. I almost pulled the trigger, then ran across Robert's post. The Criterion will stay on my shelf.
 

OliverK

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I don't think this problem is limited to black-and-white movies, or to MGM. I've watched plenty of color films in 4K where the grain is so thick and coarse it feels like sandpaper scraping your eyes, with negligible to no additional real picture detail over the comparable Blu-ray.
Instead of making grain more highly resolved which could be a benefit many titles make it look like an artefact.

The Criterion already was sharpened a bit too much to make up for lack of real detail I assume and the Kino release goes even further:

I neither like this look nor the smudgy grain managed look that we have seen with other titles so I am reluctant to complain and as a result get titles that look like the 4k versions of the dollar films that I consider worse offenders for completely obliterating grain structure in certain scenes:
 

Stephen_J_H

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Charles Laughton's only foray into direction, his 1955 The Night of the Hunter is quite an extraordinary cinema experience.

With a screenplay by James Agee, and Robert Mitchum and Shelley Winters in the leads, supported by Lillian Gish, James Gleason and others, it's a film that not only stands the test of time, but demands your attentions over 65 years later.

And for those in the know, it's photographed by one of the greatest masters of black and white - Stanley Cortez.

Kino's new 4k release is typical of the majority of other 4k black and white films coming from MGM. It's a new 4k scan derived from the original camera negative, and like the others appears sharpened to a point of being able to count the individual silver grains on screen.

As noted in other reviews, this doesn't work as a viewing experience until you've reached a moderate distance from the screen.

What this release adds to the previous Criterion Blu-ray is a new 4k scan and HDR, and that's both good and bad. You gain a few new extras, but loose the quite exceptional extras on the Criterion.

The problem, as I see it, is that the majority of the other black & white 4k releases of this era, especially as sharpened to the hilt as they tend to be, is that there really isn't any additional image.

There is nothing in the 4k that probably even reaches 2k, so what's to be gained other than bragging rights, hopefully a proper 4k archival set of tapes and a new skew for Kino.

One more 4k that neither needs nor deserves the attempt at resolution.

Interestingly, the main title sequence appears to be derived from a couple of generations away from original.

Image – 3.5 (Dolby Vision)

Audio – 5 (DTS HD-MA 2.0)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors - Yes

Makes use of and works well in 4k - 2.5

Worth your attention - 9

Upgrade from Blu-ray - No

Very Highly Recommended

RAH
Not having seen the disc myself, is this akin to what you you would see when you sat close enough to an old stippled reflective silver home screen, making the movie look grainier than it actually is?
 

Konstantinos

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I read in the other forum, that the supposed mono audio, is a downmix of the 5.1!
If I'm not mistaken, Kino has done it in other releases too?
I wanted to buy this (I have seen the movie once but I don't remember anything of it), but now I'm reluctant to do it.
 

haineshisway

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And yet, there are certain types who LOVE heavy film grain - these types must have never gone to the movies because no DP wanted unnaturally heavy film grain, unless it was to make a point about something, say a "documentary" type look. I just have to giggle every time I see these comments about grain because no one was more of an avid moviegoer than I, and I can't recall a single time I sat in a movie theater and thought, look at how highly resolved the grain is, or look how horrible the grain looks.
 

bobclampett

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Charles Laughton's only foray into direction, his 1955 The Night of the Hunter is quite an extraordinary cinema experience.

With a screenplay by James Agee, and Robert Mitchum and Shelley Winters in the leads, supported by Lillian Gish, James Gleason and others, it's a film that not only stands the test of time, but demands your attentions over 65 years later.

And for those in the know, it's photographed by one of the greatest masters of black and white - Stanley Cortez.

Kino's new 4k release is typical of the majority of other 4k black and white films coming from MGM. It's a new 4k scan derived from the original camera negative, and like the others appears sharpened to a point of being able to count the individual silver grains on screen.

As noted in other reviews, this doesn't work as a viewing experience until you've reached a moderate distance from the screen.

What this release adds to the previous Criterion Blu-ray is a new 4k scan and HDR, and that's both good and bad. You gain a few new extras, but loose the quite exceptional extras on the Criterion.

The problem, as I see it, is that the majority of the other black & white 4k releases of this era, especially as sharpened to the hilt as they tend to be, is that there really isn't any additional image.

There is nothing in the 4k that probably even reaches 2k, so what's to be gained other than bragging rights, hopefully a proper 4k archival set of tapes and a new skew for Kino.

One more 4k that neither needs nor deserves the attempt at resolution.

Interestingly, the main title sequence appears to be derived from a couple of generations away from original.

Image – 3.5 (Dolby Vision)

Audio – 5 (DTS HD-MA 2.0)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors - Yes

Makes use of and works well in 4k - 2.5

Worth your attention - 9

Upgrade from Blu-ray - No

Very Highly Recommended

RAH
Do you think the 1.85 aspect ratio amplifies grain, say compared to Maltese Falcon, also derived from the camera negative. Do you think it was artificially sharpened or just post scan not having been messaged to better reflect a release print. I’m also wondering how the modern preference for larger screens at home and in the cinema impacts our perception of how grainy a film shot on 35mm looks. I think most modern movie goers would be shocked at how small the screen sizes were in those 3000+ seat movie palaces. The projectionist at the San Francisco Fox said it was like looking at a postage stamp when trying to focus the projector from the booth.
 

JoshZ

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And yet, there are certain types who LOVE heavy film grain - these types must have never gone to the movies because no DP wanted unnaturally heavy film grain, unless it was to make a point about something, say a "documentary" type look. I just have to giggle every time I see these comments about grain because no one was more of an avid moviegoer than I, and I can't recall a single time I sat in a movie theater and thought, look at how highly resolved the grain is, or look how horrible the grain looks.

It is pretty ironic how much home theater videophiles treasure grain now, when DPs over the decades worked their asses off to minimize it as much as possible.
 

dpippel

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It is pretty ironic how much home theater videophiles treasure grain now, when DPs over the decades worked their asses off to minimize it as much as possible.
The only grain that I treasure in my home theater is when it's as close to the director's intent and/or the source material as possible. Coveting grain purely for its own sake is a fool's errand.
 

Robert Harris

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Do you think the 1.85 aspect ratio amplifies grain, say compared to Maltese Falcon, also derived from the camera negative. Do you think it was artificially sharpened or just post scan not having been messaged to better reflect a release print. I’m also wondering how the modern preference for larger screens at home and in the cinema impacts our perception of how grainy a film shot on 35mm looks. I think most modern movie goers would be shocked at how small the screen sizes were in those 3000+ seat movie palaces. The projectionist at the San Francisco Fox said it was like looking at a postage stamp when trying to focus the projector from the booth.
I think it’s sharpened. Film never looked like this.

Aspect ratio has no affect.

And no, a good projectionist, especially with binoculars, has no problem focusing. Been there. Done that.
 
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