A few words about…™ Three Ealing / Guinness Comedies – in Blu-ray

4 Stars

Between 1949 and 1955, Alec Guinness starred in four extraordinary (satirical) comedies for Ealing in England.

Three have now made their way to the Colonies on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber, and their Canal + arrangement.

These are brilliant films.

The first, Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), has Mr. Guinness in multiple roles. This was followed by The Lavender Hills Mob, released in June of 1951, and The Man in the White Suit, released two months hence. The final, not yet released on Blu here, is The Ladykillers (1955), in Eastman Color.

It’s nice that we now have (in our playback region) Blu-rays of the films, presumably commensurate with those released in the UK, but I’m still seeing nothing special about them.

Kind Hearts and Coronets

Kind Hearts has contrast issues, needs stabilization, and clean-up

Image – 3.25

Audio – 4

Pass / Fail – Pass

The Lavender Hill Mob

Lavender has occasional dirt, light scratches, but a better gray scale than Kind Hearts. Stability could also be better.

Image – 3.75

Audio – 4.25

Pass / Fail – Pass

The Man in the White Suit

White Suit is on par with Lavender.

Image – 3.75

Audio – 4.5

Pass / Fail – Pass

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

59 Comments

  1. When I purchased my all region player years ago one of first purchases was to buy the region B of the Ealing comedies including my all time favorite The Titfield Thunderbolt. The new releases are being shipped to me but sad to read from Robert that the image is not the best but they do have a commentary and a few new extras on them. Love British comedy and these films represent the best especially from Alec Guinness. By the way The Ladykillers is available on Blu-ray here in the states released by Lions Gate in 2010.

  2. But, but, but – the Beaver says: "ADDITION: Kino Blu-ray (August 2019): "Kind Hearts and Coronets" has finally surfaced on Region 'A' Blu-ray thanks to Kino Lorber. This, oft considered best, Ealing comedy is housed on a dual layered Blu-ray with a high bitrate – 40% higher than the Optimum. It looks to be from the same source as the image is very close – with the Kino advancing the 10780P presentation in-motion. The improvements is there, but, for most viewers, it will be minute." 🙂 All about that bit rate, which, in the end, is a bit rate. And 10780 seems to be a zip code in Malaysia.

    I hate to be the one to say it, but would Kino even know the difference? Would they know to ask? Reading this and the Mirage review, well…

  3. Brandon Conway

    Per KL Insider on the other forum re: Kind Hearts and Coronets:

    "The European release was an older master, this is a brand new 4K restoration seen in theaters by Rialto. First time on home video."

    Not a clue. They may have been told / sold otherwise. If this is a 4k restoration…

  4. For what it's worth, I downloaded and compared the Beaver's full-size frame grabs of Kind Hearts and Coronets from the Optimum and Kino discs. By opening two matching grabs simultaneously in Photoshop, the windows of each overlay precisely atop one another, permitting me to switch between them by keystroke. Four of the grabs are from identical film frames, the other four from adjacent frames.

    In terms of framing, film damage (speckles and scratches) and grayscale, the four Optimum and Kino grabs of identical frames are utterly indistinguishable. The grabs from adjacent frames also show identical grayscale.

    As for apparent sharpness, I compared just the grabs of matching frames. By getting as close as my eyes could focus on my 27" iMac Retina display I could detect very subtle differences, but they weren't consistent. Three gave the slight edge to the Optimum, one to the Kino, but even those differences varied between frames.

  5. See, I'm of the opinion that Mr. Harris is – they somehow got the same master as the UK Blu – even though it's touted as a 4K restoration (oy, that word again) my point is they wouldn't know that because, well, I don't think they have much of a clew over there – they take what they're given and question nothing.

  6. you also have the issue of the reliability beaver's reviews and screens now. more and more they become les and less precise or reliable, even in the new monetized version of that website where you pay for the privilege of viewing faux 4K/HDR screens. there are other more reliable sites, notably Mr Harris here,and Glenn Erickson in his Savant columns.

    FWIW, the French language titles now turning up on Kino from the Canal arrangement are in most cases genuinely new (mostly) 4K scans and restorations made in the last four years or so with funding from CNC. they are in advance of previous HD masters from Canal during their Criterion tie up days.

  7. Robert Harris

    Not a clue. They may have been told / sold otherwise. If this is a 4k restoration…

    Only one of the 3 Kino titles has a "new" UK release, and that's Kind Hearts & Coronets. The other two – Lavender Hill Mob and Man in the White Suit – are old releases from 2012 or so. Are you saying all three got recent 4K remasters? You said "All have been restored in one manner or another, and released in restored form in the UK." Because only Coronets has a new release that's a different master than before. I don't see new releases of the other two with improved masters.

  8. CobraVerde

    Only one of the 3 Kino titles has a "new" UK release, and that's Kind Hearts & Coronets. The other two – Lavender Hill Mob and Man in the White Suit – are old releases from 2012 or so. Are you saying all three got recent 4K remasters? You said "All have been restored in one manner or another, and released in restored form in the UK." Because only Coronets has a new release that's a different master than before. I don't see new releases of the other two with improved masters.

    2012 is recent enough.

  9. Apparently, I’m not seeing what others may be seeing.

    As I’ve noted ad nauseous, the term 4k restoration, or 4k scan, is virtually without meaning, when it comes to final image quality.

    A 4k scan, among other attributes, should be rock steady, even if derived from a contact dupe, I’m not seeing that.

  10. Robert Harris

    2012 is recent enough.

    Well the point is that Coronets just received a NEW restoration. The other two films, if they haven't been touched since 2012, are the same versions Kino is putting out.

    Kino WAS given the new (2011/2012) masters for Lavender Hill Mob, Man in the White Suit, and Coronets. They apparently just weren't given the new 2019 master for Coronets. Not to mention, the 2012 master for Coronets was a 2k restoration.

  11. The term restoration aside, as it has no longer has a true meaning…

    The extant elements, be they scanned in 2011 or 2018, may simply be too many generations away to provide a stellar image. Any modern scan should not, unless the element is extremely shrunken, have continuous x/y weave, even if built into the dupe.

    If these actually are the same transfers as those released in Region B, there would be zero rationale to import them. I did look at the trailer for one of the restored works, and it looks splendid.

    Changing few words appropriately.

  12. Robert Harris

    The term restoration aside, as it has no longer has a true meaning…

    The extant elements, be they scanned in 2011 or 2018, may simply be too many generations away to provide a stellar image. Any modern scan should not, unless the element is extremely shrunken, have continuous x/y weave, even if built into the dupe.

    If these actually are the same transfers as those released in Region B, there would be zero rationale to import them. I did look at the trailer for one of the restored works, and it looks splendid.

    Changing few words appropriately.

    You're missing what I'm saying. There are no new UK discs of Lavender Hill Mob or Man in the White Suit. Hence, there are no "new" versions outside the ones created in 2011-2012.

    Coronets DID receive a new 4K scan/restoration/edition/whatever. Semantics aside, that's not what's important what it is. Kino did NOT receive that master, but received the 2011 one for their discs, which is the issue.

    You claimed that all 3 got 4K restorations and claim there are better masters out there that have been released, but outside of Coronets, there have not been any other releases since 2011-2012, and the Kino discos are identical to the 2011'2012 UK versions.

  13. CobraVerde

    You're missing what I'm saying. There are no new UK discs of Lavender Hill Mob or Man in the White Suit. Hence, there are no "new" versions outside the ones created in 2011-2012.

    Coronets DID receive a new 4K scan/restoration/edition/whatever. Semantics aside, that's not what's important what it is. Kino did NOT receive that master, but received the 2011 one for their discs, which is the issue.

    You claimed that all 3 got 4K restorations and claim there are better masters out there that have been released, but outside of Coronets, there have not been any other releases since 2011-2012, and the Kino discos are identical to the 2011'2012 UK versions.

    I’m following your comments. Canal publicized 2k work c. 2011, which would still not give us what I’m seeing unless all the elements are merde, French for extremely heavily shrunken.

  14. Robert Harris

    I’m following your comments. Canal publicized 2k work c. 2011, which would still not give us what I’m seeing unless all the elements are merde, French for extremely heavily shrunken.

    I believe you are saying Merde was the case … 😉

  15. CobraVerde

    Not according to StudioCanal, which specifically says 4K restoration. The previous disc was a 2K scan.

    I can say 4K restoration, too. It's meaningless. So, the 2K was a "scan" and because it's 4K now it's suddenly a restoration? No, no, and no again. There's no semantics aside – words have meanings and in the film world restoration, because of misuse, has lost every iota of what it actually means and is a slap in the face to anyone who actually does film restoration.

  16. haineshisway

    I can say 4K restoration, too. It's meaningless. So, the 2K was a "scan" and because it's 4K now it's suddenly a restoration? No, no, and no again. There's no semantics aside – words have meanings and in the film world restoration, because of misuse, has lost every iota of what it actually means and is a slap in the face to anyone who actually does film restoration.

    We’ve not seen it. May be restored. The trailer, while heavily compressed, has promise.

  17. Another important point. If something looks pristine, and is referenced as restored, doesn’t mean that it is. Most “restorations” are marketing sizzle.

    Could simple be a new transfer from a clean element.

    Think The Little Mermaid!

    Far too many transfers, image harvests to video being called restored. In most cases, but not all, the finished result should be recorded back to film as a stable asset.

    Case in point. Canal would have us believe that they’ve done a true 4k restoration of Kind Hearts, and we are now unable to take them at their word.

    It must be proven.

    And that’s unfortunate.

    But thank the marketing people, those picking low-hanging fruit, or calling lumpfish eggs, caviar.

    The term used to have meaning.

    No longer.

  18. From Amazon:

    June 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the original UK release of KIND HEARTS & CORONETS, the jewel in Ealing Studios' crown, and arguably one of the finest British films ever made. To celebrate this anniversary STUDIOCANAL are releasing this stunning Collector's Edition as part of their Vintage Classics Collection on June 24th 2019. The Collector's Edition includes the restored film on Blu-ray, DVD plus booklet (with contributions from Ealing expert Matthew Sweet), art cards including original costume illustrations and theatrical poster.

    Hailing from the Golden-Age of Ealing comedies (Passport to Pimlico and Whisky Galore! also turn 70 this year) KIND HEARTS & CORONETS stars Dennis Price as the debonair yet impoverished Louis Mazzini, the would-be Duke of Chalfont whose mother was disinherited by her noble family, the D'Ascoynes, for marrying beneath her. When her dying wish to be buried in the family crypt is refused, Louis vows to avenge his mother and work his way up the family tree, by engaging in the gentle art of murder. One by one he attempts to kill off the eight successors that stand in the way of his becoming Duke -all played by Alec Guinness in an unforgettable tour-de-force performance.

    Directed by Robert Hamer (who co-wrote the screenplay with John Dighton) KIND HEARTS & CORONETS also stars Joan Greenwood as the husky-voiced siren Sibella and Valerie Hobson as the refined and virtuous Edith D'Ascoyne, both of whom threaten to distract Louis from his murderous quest.

    A wonderfully entertaining combination of biting class satire, hilarious farce and pitch-black comedy, this story of a suave and elegant serial murderer is as sharp and funny today as ever.

    The 35 mm nitrate original negative of Kind Hearts & Coronets was scanned in 4K resolution at 16bit by the BFI archive. The resulting files were sent to Silver Salt Restoration, for restoration and colour grading. Extensive manual correction was carried out on a frame by frame basis to fix large dirt debris, warping, tears, scuffs and scratches. It was colour corrected by Senior Colourist, Steve Bearman.

  19. So, it sounds like Kino were not provided with the new 4K-sourced master that was released on Blu-ray in the UK (and Germany) earlier this summer, but instead were supplied with the previous HD master that was released on Blu-ray in the UK in 2011 (and again in a box set in 2014). The 2011 UK Blu-ray is the one currently included in the DVD Beaver comparison and review.

    The new UK Blu-ray was reviewed at Blu-ray.com last month, where there are numerous screenshots. I haven't watched my copy yet, but looking at the screenshots from DVD Beaver, the differences between the Kino / 2011 UK BD and the new UK BD are obvious, because for a start, the new UK disc is framed slightly wider than the Kino / 2011 UK discs.

  20. McCrutchy

    So, it sounds like Kino were not provided with the new 4K-sourced master that was released on Blu-ray in the UK (and Germany) earlier this summer, but instead were supplied with the previous HD master that was released on Blu-ray in the UK in 2011 (and again in a box set in 2014). The 2011 UK Blu-ray is the one currently included in the DVD Beaver comparison and review.

    The new UK Blu-ray was reviewed at Blu-ray.com last month, where there are numerous screenshots. I haven't watched my copy yet, but looking at the screenshots from DVD Beaver, the differences between the Kino / 2011 UK BD and the new UK BD are obvious, because for a start, the new UK disc is framed slightly wider than the Kino / 2011 UK discs.

    Could you provide a link to the new UK disc – want to purchase – then I'll get the Kino and we'll have an answer once and for all – happy to take this one for the team, because Mr. Kino's remark about not being interested in Flower Drum Song has rankled me, oh, yes, it has rankled me and I've said so.

  21. McCrutchy

    So, it sounds like Kino were not provided with the new 4K-sourced master that was released on Blu-ray in the UK (and Germany) earlier this summer, but instead were supplied with the previous HD master that was released on Blu-ray in the UK in 2011 (and again in a box set in 2014). The 2011 UK Blu-ray is the one currently included in the DVD Beaver comparison and review.

    The new UK Blu-ray was reviewed at Blu-ray.com last month, where there are numerous screenshots. I haven't watched my copy yet, but looking at the screenshots from DVD Beaver, the differences between the Kino / 2011 UK BD and the new UK BD are obvious, because for a start, the new UK disc is framed slightly wider than the Kino / 2011 UK discs.

    I have to concur – StudioCanal had them postpone the release so it could have the new 4K master, but then my guess is someone grabbed the wrong digital file when sending it to Kino. If this turns out to be the case I would hope Kino can do a recall and get the proper version they were told to postpone the May 2019 release for.

  22. haineshisway

    Could you provide a link to the new UK disc – want to purchase – then I'll get the Kino and we'll have an answer once and for all – happy to take this one for the team, because Mr. Kino's remark about not being interested in Flower Drum Song has rankled me, oh, yes, it has rankled me and I've said so.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hearts-Cor…tors-Blu-ray/dp/B07R6S42VN/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2I

    Here is the link, Bruce.

  23. haineshisway

    Could you provide a link to the new UK disc – want to purchase – then I'll get the Kino and we'll have an answer once and for all – happy to take this one for the team, because Mr. Kino's remark about not being interested in Flower Drum Song has rankled me, oh, yes, it has rankled me and I've said so.

    Of course, here is exactly what you want:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07RCLSQFX

    The link provided in the below quote is a concurrently-released "Collector's Edition", which contains nothing more than a DVD copy of the film, a booklet, some art cards and a poster for the new 4K remaster, and currently costs about twice as much money as the single-disc Blu-ray:

    lark144

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hearts-Cor…tors-Blu-ray/dp/B07R6S42VN/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2I

    Here is the link, Bruce.

  24. McCrutchy

    Of course, here is exactly what you want:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07RCLSQFX

    The link provided in the below quote is a concurrently-released "Collector's Edition", which contains nothing more than a DVD copy of the film, a booklet, some art cards and a poster for the new 4K remaster, and currently costs about twice as much money as the single-disc Blu-ray:

    Cancelled the other one and ordered this one – hopefully that's the correct one.

  25. McCrutchy

    Of course, here is exactly what you want:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07RCLSQFX

    The link provided in the below quote is a concurrently-released "Collector's Edition", which contains nothing more than a DVD copy of the film, a booklet, some art cards and a poster for the new 4K remaster, and currently costs about twice as much money as the single-disc Blu-ray:

    I was perusing these pages yesterday, and had not seen the base version. I did, however, make note of the Lavender Hill offering, lower in the page, noted as "digitally restored."

    Might anyone be able to explain what, precisely, that means?

  26. Back around 2002 (ish), I did a transfer of KIND HEARTS & CORONETS, only SD onto DigiBeta, on an old Rank Cintel. It was from a fine grain pos. that the BFI had, & it had been misprinted or misprocessed as it was really dark, it looked like black leader, but winding up the wick gave a really nice picture (I think it had been struck from the originals). The only trouble was that a shot would start off okay, but then the camera would pan to a lighter part of the room & everything would clip-out, so I had to put a lot of dynamic light changes in. I don't think that transfer was ever used, a shame as I thought it looked really nice in the end. I don't know how a scan would work using that FGP. No help, but I thought I'd throw it in.

  27. McCrutchy

    Of course, here is exactly what you want:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07RCLSQFX

    The link provided in the below quote is a concurrently-released "Collector's Edition", which contains nothing more than a DVD copy of the film, a booklet, some art cards and a poster for the new 4K remaster, and currently costs about twice as much money as the single-disc Blu-ray:

    I didn't notice the cheaper one, as it's in very tiny print. I'm glad someone is more awake than I am.

  28. Robert Harris

    I was perusing these pages yesterday, and had not seen the base version. I did, however, make note of the Lavender Hill offering, lower in the page, noted as "digitally restored."

    Might anyone be able to explain what, precisely, that means?

    I have this UK Blu-ray. At the time it was released (also 2011), it was the first Blu-ray in the world, but I think the reason for the term "Digitally Restored" comes down to marketing, along with the fact that at the time, most of these Blu-rays were also simultaneously re-released on DVD using the then-new HD masters. Since these DVDs had to be differentiated from previous ones, my guess is that StudioCanal thought that having "Digitally Restored" on the packaging made it easy to do so.

    Robert Harris

    But is the UK Lavender Hill, noted as "restored," the same as the Kino?

    My guess is yes.

    lark144

    I didn't notice the cheaper one, as it's in very tiny print. I'm glad someone is more awake than I am.

    Barely, at the time. 🙂 It's only because I had pre-ordered the 2019 UK release myself, and so I was already keenly aware that the "Collector's Edition" offered very little to justify the extra expense.

  29. Robert Harris

    I did, however, make note of the Lavender Hill offering, lower in the page, noted as "digitally restored."

    Might anyone be able to explain what, precisely, that means?

    Some collection of bits followed some sort of path from one location to another.

  30. Robert Harris

    I was perusing these pages yesterday, and had not seen the base version. I did, however, make note of the Lavender Hill offering, lower in the page, noted as "digitally restored."

    Might anyone be able to explain what, precisely, that means?

    While i was looking at the Ealing films at Amazon UK I wanted to buy Young Winston (1972) and noticed in the description of the disc "High Definition remaster". Do not know what to think of that and the condition of the print used for the disc?

  31. Billy Batson

    Ha, digitally restored from original elements (whatever they are), just add 4K for the cherry on the top.

    I'm very happy with my Blu-ray of Ealing's, Dunkirk.

    Saw the disc a few months ago and what a nice looking picture and liked the movie more than recent remake.

  32. Brandon Conway

    KL Insider on the other forum says SC insists that they received the 2019 master.

    I can only infer someone is lying – SC, KL, our all of our eyes.

    Presuming that Lavender and Man are identical to the UK release, they’re worth picking on from KL.

    As to Kind Hearts, I’ve never seen a completed 4k restoration, especially from an OCN, with continuous x/y movement, as well as positive detritus.

    I’ll chalk it up to a clerical shipping error.

    No one is lying.

  33. Robert Harris

    But is the UK Lavender Hill, noted as "restored," the same as the Kino?

    it's the 2011 release from Optimum – and proudly states Digitaly Restored on the slipcase….. and on the disc it has a before and after comparison, the picture is clear and the sound is solid. Beyond that it would probably take a more discerning set of eyes, And i don't have the Kino release to compare against.

    Like The Lady Killers release from Lionsgate "StudioCanal Collection" also release on this side of the pond in 2010. Words get used a lot that have little meaning except to move items of stock off of a shelf, is it restored, i can't be certain, but it was available and for general casual viewing entertaining, Normally i wait an read the reviews before purchasing a lot of titles. i believe there is a review on the site here somewhere.But it does have one cavaet , it's released not in it OAR, 1955 uk, so i am uncertian, but i dont think it would have been 1.37:1

  34. Just received the three releases and did a quick a/b comparison to my two region B's from 2012. On Lavender Hill Mob they both look the same and on Man in the White Suit I give the edge to the Region B for being slightly sharper & brighter image. For Kind Hearts I only have the Criterion dvd from 2006 and no surprise that the picture on the Kino is much better.

  35. Okay, let's get real here, even though David Hare's post on the other page should have given everyone pretty much the answer. I just finished watching this new Blu-ray of Kind Hearts and Coronets, the UK 70th anniversary edition – fascinating that nowhere on the packaging does it actually say 4K or restoration. But clearly it is exactly that. It is a STUNNER. Gorgeous contrast, rock-solid image, not one SPECK of dirt or anything like that. Clearly, Kino has been given the old master and just as clearly and just as typically they will not own up to it. I'm sorry, that's just wrong. Get the right master, do it over, and replace people's discs – THAT is the right answer – you don't lie about it when the evidence, at least as stated by Mr. Harris and the fellow who compared the Kino and older UK Blu from 2011 and stated they are the SAME, is so clear. What you do is get to the bottom of it and the own up to it and then fix it. You don't double down. They won't even address the missing music on Sweet Charity. I find this incredibly cocky, but I think that is obvious any time anyone has the temerity to bring up anything to them, and their ruder than rude comments that come back.

    This new UK disc is glorious – so rich and beautiful to look at. And it made me appreciate the movie even more, and especially the performance of Dennis Price, which is nothing short of brilliant. Has this been brought up in the Kino thread where such things CAN be brought up? Point me to it, if so.

  36. haineshisway

    Okay, let's get real here, even though David Hare's post on the other page should have given everyone pretty much the answer. I just finished watching this new Blu-ray of Kind Hearts and Coronets, the UK 70th anniversary edition – fascinating that nowhere on the packaging does it actually say 4K or restoration. But clearly it is exactly that. It is a STUNNER. Gorgeous contrast, rock-solid image, not one SPECK of dirt or anything like that. Clearly, Kino has been given the old master and just as clearly and just as typically they will not own up to it. I'm sorry, that's just wrong. Get the right master, do it over, and replace people's discs – THAT is the right answer – you don't lie about it when the evidence, at least as stated by Mr. Harris and the fellow who compared the Kino and older UK Blu from 2011 and stated they are the SAME, is so clear. What you do is get to the bottom of it and the own up to it and then fix it. You don't double down. They won't even address the missing music on Sweet Charity. I find this incredibly cocky, but I think that is obvious any time anyone has the temerity to bring up anything to them, and their ruder than rude comments that come back.

    This new UK disc is glorious – so rich and beautiful to look at. And it made me appreciate the movie even more, and especially the performance of Dennis Price, which is nothing short of brilliant. Has this been brought up in the Kino thread where such things CAN be brought up? Point me to it, if so.

    The last official work from Kino, was that they had reached out to Canal, who should be open again this week. They have requested info from their licensor.

  37. I am just as surprised that Kino received a old master for Kind Hearts when there was a better transfer available. I bet you Criterion would have not done that and did wish they would have gotten the rights and release a Ealing box set.

  38. Well, that's good then, because the last official word I'd read was that they kept repeating they had the 4K transfer. If SC screwed up it's not Kino's fault anyway – so just get SC to fix it and they should have to eat that cost. And then Kino should have the courtesy to address the missing Sweet Charity music. Again, they were clearly given what they were given, but had they known the film they would have realized what was what and could have gone back and asked for it. Maybe Universal would have turned them down, who knows?

  39. Hmm. I've had the UK remastered disc for a few months (since July?). Had I seen this thread earlier, I would've chimed in as there's been lots of confusion in this thread. Regardless of what Kino or SC think they have our did, it's not the 4K remaster that's available in the UK and looks fantastic. If you're region free, just buy that. I did so knowing Kino was working on a US release. I wouldn't bother with Kino releases if there's a quality version out there elsewhere in the world.

  40. I was lucky enough to find a cheap copy of the UK 70th Anniversary disc on Ebay, so Bruce's comments are very reassuring. Should be here in a few days. I somehow missed the words from my old friend David Hare .. I'll search them out.

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