A few words about…™ – The Roaring Twenties — in 4k UHD

The Roaring Twenties 4k Review
One of the interesting attributes of the studio system during the classic era of the twenties through fifties, was the pecking order of contract players through the years, and Raoul Walsh’s 1939 The Roaring Twenties is a perfect example.

James Cagney first appeared in a WB production (The Singing Fool – 1928, with Al Jolson). Mr. Cagney had a bit. Two years later he was starring in The Public Enemy.

Humphrey Bogart spent some time at Fox before joining First National/ WB in 1932, first appearing in Big City Blues, and receiving raves for his portrayal of Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest in 1936. The film starred Leslie Howard and Bette Davis.

He continued his superb performances with Angels with Dirty Faces, and getting third or lower billing in Dark Victory (a Bette Davis film) and The Oklahoma Kid, a Cagney film, receiving third billing, below Mr. Cagney and Priscilla Lane in The Roaring Twenties. He finally received star billing in the semi-forgettable The Wagons Roll at Night, before appearing in a detective mystery about a mysterious bird in 1941, in which he played the lead, one Samuel Spade.

Priscilla Lane, who received second billing (above the title) has just 24, had been with the studio since 1937 and Roading Twenties was her 11th film.

I’m offering multiple words as a preface toward my review, which will be short and sweet.

Criterion’s new 4k release of The Roaring Twenties, is one gorgeous affair. To my eyes, it appears very much akin to a newly struck 35mm print derived from the original camera negative.

Just gorgeous in every regard.

My advice.

Grab a copy and be enthralled by what can be encoded on these tiny reflective discs. For those unaware, it’s also a great film.

For those into cinematographic details, the film was shot by Ernest Haller, who began in the camera department in 1918. You’ve seen his work in films like The Emperor Jones, Captain Blood, Jezebel, Dark Victory, Gone with the Wind, Mildred Pierce, The Flame and the Arrow, Rebel Without a Cause, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane and Lilies of the Field.

Image – 10 (Dolby Vision)

Audio – 10 (Monaural 1.0)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors – Yes

Makes use of and works well in 4k – 7

Worth your attention – 9

Slipcover rating – n/a

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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Jeffrey D

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Jeffrey D Hanawalt
I did order this, when Criterion had their 30% off sale a while back. Never saw it. Looking forward to watching it (I blind-bought another Criterion Bogart- High Sierra, and wasn’t disappointed).
 

Kyle_D

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Wonderful to hear this release passes muster. The film was one of my favorite titles in the Warner Gangsters DVD Collection that came out years ago. I’m looking forward to revisiting it in UHD and hope to pick it up during the anticipated Criterion flash sale later this month.
 

Garysb

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"and receiving raves for his portrayal of Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest in 1932.

The film version of "The Petrified Forest" was released in 1936 based on a 1934 play which also starred Leslie Howard but Bette Davis was not in the play.
 

mskaye

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I can't wait to receive this.
I watched this last night - literally 2 hours after receiving it - and man, it is so great and badass ! I cried like a baby at the end. And the transfer - most from the original nitrate camera negative (!) is beautiful. There are moments in it that really display that incredibly singular touch Walsh brought to the material. And Cagney and Bogart! Just amazing (yes prone to hyperbole at times.)
 
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bujaki

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Jose Ortiz-Marrero
I watched this last night - literally 2 hours after receiving it - and man, it is so great and badass ! I cried like a baby at the end. And the transfer - most from the original nitrate camera negative (!) is beautiful. There are moments in it that really display that incredibly singular touch Walsh brought to the material. And Cagney and Bogart! Just amazing (yes prone to hyperbole at times.)
Add the magnificent Gladys George, never forgetting her delivery of the punch line.
 

JoeDoakes

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Ray
For those into cinematographic details, the film was shot by Ernest Haller, who began in the camera department in 1918. You've seen his work in films like The Emperor Jones, Captain Blood, Jezebel, Dark Victory, Gone with the Wind, Mildred Pierce, The Flame and the Arrow, Rebel Without a Cause, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane and Lilies of the Field.
For myself, I'm still waiting for Captain Blood!
 

lark144

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mark gross
I watched this last night - literally 2 hours after receiving it - and man, it is so great and badass ! I cried like a baby at the end. And the transfer - most from the original nitrate camera negative (!) is beautiful. There are moments in it that really display that incredibly singular touch Walsh brought to the material. And Cagney and Bogart! Just amazing (yes prone to hyperbole at times.)
I watched this last night too. I was only checking to see what it looked like, and got completely caught up in the film. As Raoul Walsh notes in that brief interview excerpted as an extra, both Cagney and Bogart have this quality, that when the camera is pointed at them, it involves the audience, piques their curiosity, makes them want to know what happens to these guys so they can't stop watching. I haven't seen this is decades. I forgot about Don Siegel's montages, as penetrating and inebriating in their rhythm as a Charlie Parker solo, especially that sequence when a giant ticker tape machine explodes, and the skyscrapers of Wall Street dissolve. I wonder what film that was taken from, or was it done in-house? It was Walsh's first film at Warner's and he directs with a new-found authority, a kinetic splendor. And the master, beyond gorgeous, possessing that nitrate glow and pristine quality, though still miraculous, from my perspective, we have come to expect from Warners. Every master that comes down the pike from them is just about the greatest, most stunning thing I've ever seen in a home theater, and you can say the same about THE ROARING TWENTIES. It's interesting comparing the last scene which is on the extra, from the 1970's, I assume, the details of the church steps completely lost in a mass of squiggling electronica, waves of white noise, trying in vain to make sense of that image, opposed to how it looks now, the grey scales solid, with deep blacks, as in a lithohraph by Rembrandt or Piranesi. Mr. Haller's lighting is exquisue, not only from a visual standpoint, but because it has the mark of tradgedy, in those stones and shadows. And yes, Jose, that last line of Gladys George's ain't bad either.
 

B-ROLL

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No Reeley (rhymes with Gigli ;))


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