3 Stars

No one has more respect and admiration for the work and efforts Warner Home Video and, in more recent times, the Warner Archive (WAC) have committed to hi-def remastering of vintage deep catalog titles. Warner Home Video, as most of us know, continues to be a treasure trove of priceless entertainment, culled from their own, as well as the MGM and RKO studio catalogs. And while Warner’s efforts of the last decade or so speak to the highest level of quality afforded such movies in hi-def, there are a few early misfires in their mastering that behoove the studio, possibly, taking another look and stab at doing right by these releases. Titles listed below are just a sampling of movies, with major drawing power, that I believe ought to receive an upgrade.

1) Doctor Zhivago – a few years ago Zhivago was shown theatrically in a sparkling new restoration that unfortunately leaves its Blu-ray counterpart looking very much like the poor cousin. One of the crown jewels in Warner’s back catalog (produced for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer originally), the current Warner’s disc sports wan colors and some heavy-handed edge effects, and even some minor untoward digital sharpening. This one could definitely get a reissue with a new 4K remaster derived from that aforementioned restoration.

2) Driving Miss Daisy – Warner suffered a brief and curious anomaly in their mastering efforts, releasing this Oscar-winning treasure, along with the less than well received Bonfire of the Vanities, both suffering from bizarre telecine wobble. In Driving Miss Daisy’s case, the most egregious example occurs in the scene where Daisy and her chauffeur are stopped by a pair of racist troopers while enjoying their curb-side lunches on their way to Daisy’s brother’s 90th birthday party. But the entire disc is a fairly abysmal effort, lacking in the subtleties being extolled in Peter James’ diffused glow cinematography. This is one perennially satisfying movie, too good to deserve this kind of treatment in hi-def.

3) Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet – the original roadshow theatrical release of this Columbia/Castlerock mammoth effort, glittering with an all-star cast, was presented in breathtaking 70mm. The Blu-ray has been authored from a 35mm reduction print, and looks it. Piggy pink flesh tones, a lack of tonality in the entire color spectrum and a general loss of what should have been razor-sharp fine grain detail and, well – the Blu of Branagh’s masterwork looks nothing like it did when it debuted. If ever there was a candidate for a 4K remaster and native 4K reissue, along with an upgrade to standard Blu – this movie is it!

4) Grand Prix – John Frankenheimer’s magnum opus, dedicated to those daring men of speed is another flick, originally released in 70mm. The Blu has been remastered from a reduction 35mm print that was a hold over from Warner’s push to enter the HD-DVD market. They released 2 movies originally shot in 70mm this way to HD-DVD before the format died. The other was Ryan’s Daughter (still MIA in any incarnation on home video). Frankenheimer’s extraordinary story-telling, his exhilarating action sequences, and, above all else, breath-taking cinematography from Lionel Linden, scream for a 70mm remaster in 4K. Pretty please – another disc worthy of a better representation on home video.

I have listed my top four wish fulfillment catalog titles that I believe could be better served by Warner on Blu-ray. Perhaps some of these are already in the works. And if not, perhaps this can serve as a reminder of shortcomings that, while accepted in the infancy of Warner’s mastering efforts, now do not live up to the standard we have all come to accept from hi-def disc mastering. Any takers on adding to this list. Fill in the blanks with your concerns and catalog.

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willyTass

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Zhivago as a sparkling new restoration? That would be a sight for sore eyes with so much drivel being released on UHD 4k

but I guess we’ll have to wait for the tie in with the 2021 release of the Revisioned version of Doctor Zhivago starring Rami Malek as Yuri
and Kieran Shipka as Lara
 
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Billy Batson

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Yup, that's the trouble with famous & obvious film choices, they get released on Blu-ray first, & quite right too, but in the long term it becomes a bit counter-intuitive. As the years go on & the technology improves & the studios get better at scanning & all the other stuff involved in bringing these films to Blu-ray, it's the lesser known films that reap the benefit. Anyway, three obvious choices for me:

Mutiny On The Bounty (1962)
The Wild Bunch (1969)
Where Eagles Dare (1969).
 
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Astairefan

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Personally, I'd throw in the likes of Gigi, which seemed to get decent reception at first, but has over time gotten poor reception here, and, for that reason (since I was late in the game switching to HD and Blu-ray), I haven't gotten it yet in the hopes of seeing it redone (and I've been surprised it got nothing in 2018 for its anniversary). Also, I recall seeing their 2015 releases of Anchors Aweigh and On The Town being poorly reviewed (and they must have sold poorly, too, otherwise why did those two end up being the last pre-1954 MGM musicals to come out on Blu-ray until last year's WAC release of Summer Stock).
 
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Worth

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Rio Bravo and The Searchers.
Out of curiosity, what's wrong with The Searchers? It was the first film I watched on blu-ray in 2007 or 2008 and I was blown away by how good it looked then, but that was a while ago and I'm not familiar with how the film is supposed to look.
 
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MLamarre

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I second The Wild Bunch as desperately needing a new release and add the following early format releases:

-Dark City (1998)
-The Dirty Dozen (1967)
-A History of Violence (2005)
-The Assassination of Jesse James (2007)
 

Dave B Ferris

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Out of curiosity, what's wrong with The Searchers? It was the first film I watched on blu-ray in 2007 or 2008 and I was blown away by how good it looked then, but that was a while ago and I'm not familiar with how the film is supposed to look.
Too yellow, or too brown (or maybe both). There were lots of contentious threads here. I think at least one member was banned,
 

John Hermes

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Out of curiosity, what's wrong with The Searchers? It was the first film I watched on blu-ray in 2007 or 2008 and I was blown away by how good it looked then, but that was a while ago and I'm not familiar with how the film is supposed to look.
It suffers from what RAH calls "yellow dye failure" in the original negative, which affects the color. The sharpness of the Blu-ray is out-of-this-world but the color needs a lot of modern digital tools to correct.

http://www.thedigitalbits.com/site_archive/articles/robertharris/harris082106.html
 

anorthosite

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Given the weak catalog classics market, it'd be surprising to see many re-dos for films that have had releases already owned by most of the consumers who care to have them. The best hope might be Criterion, which has done some re-dos, since Warner has licensed some films to them. I wonder how well the recent 2001 remaster did on Blu. I count myself lucky to have the Blus I've got.
 

AnthonyClarke

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I second the call for Warners to revisit Gigi. And I'd like them to cast an eye over the beautiful short features in their catalog. I've mentioned in another thread the most outstanding one due for Blu ray redemption -- the wonderful 1941 'Gay Parisian' ballet by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, directed by Jean Negulesco (whose credits include 'Daddy Long Legs'). This does exist in a good transfer on the Warner DVD of 'The Maltese Falcon'. It's also on the Blu ray of that title but the transfer was botched and it's unviewable.
A Blu ray sample from the best of the Warners short features would make a fabulous Archive disc, if the transfers were done with care.
 
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