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A Few Words About A few words about...™ 42nd Street -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Apr 13, 2015.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Lloyd Bacon's extraordinary Broadway-based, 42nd Street, is one of the most important musicals in Hollywood history.

    It would be followed by a myriad of others throughout the depression era and thereafter.

    Mr. Bacon's Footlight Parade just followed six months later in September of 1933, and between them in May of that year, the incredible Gold Diggers of 1933, with many of the same cast members, including Ginger Rogers (before she made the move to RKO and her partnership with Fred Astaire), Ruby Keeler (Mrs. Al Jolson), Dick Powell, and Guy Kibbee.

    The cinematographer was Sol Polito, one of the best at Warner Bros during the era.

    And then, there was a gentleman named Busby Berkeley, who probably created what we think of today as the choreography of the quintessential Warner Bros musical, before moving on to M-G-M in 1939.

    The Warner Bros. musicals of this era are films to be studied and enjoyed.  The problems however, over the past decades have been that prints, even 35mm prints haven't looked great.

    Thanks to a new restoration by Warners, this WB Archive Release will be one of those special Blu-rays for 2015.

    A stable, gorgeous black & white image, with virtually zero defects holds up beautifully in projection.  Shadow detail, gray scale and overall resolution are superb.

    The new Blu arrives next week, and is currently $18 at Amazon.  There will be some who immediately request a boxed set, but these are going to come one at a time, as each needs full restoration.

    As added extras, two Warner cartoons -- Young and Healthy, released in March of 1933 (in what appears to be SD), and Shuffle of to Buffalo (HD), which was released three months later.  Take Shuffle with a large grain of salt, for it's a film of the era -- and going against everything today that is considered proper, seems equally racially improper against every race, creed and color.

    I'm pleased that it has been included, as these films need to be experienced, rather than hidden away.

    As a Blu-ray, 42nd Street is superb.  I've never seen the film look this good.  And I don't mean "on video."  I'm referring to 35mm prints.

    42nd Street is everything that you'd expect from a newly minted Warner Archive Blu-ray.

    Image - 5

    Audio - 5

    Pass / Fail - Pass

    Very Highly Recommended

    RAH

     
    Jack K, Danny Burk, MatthewA and 6 others like this.
  2. Reed Grele

    Reed Grele Screenwriter

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    This is very high on my list. Now I can't wait! :)
     
  3. battlebeast

    battlebeast Cinematographer

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    Wasnt there supposed to be a 2006 documentary on the film included on this Blu Ray?
     
  4. David Weicker

    David Weicker Producer

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    I have been looking forward to this since it was announced. Next week can't come soon enough.

    Thank you for the recommendation (although with WA's track record on Blu, not surprised).


    I do have a question about the other Berkeley titles. Rah, you mention they require 'full restoration'. Do you know if this is in progress?




    Also, although the goal is full adherence to how it was originally presented, there is one shot that I wonder if it could be 'fixed', so that it matched Mr Berkeley's intent, rather than what might have originally been shown. In Golddiggers Of 1935, at the start of "Lullaby Of Broadway", there is a famous zoom-in on Wini Shaw's face. Unfortunately, in all the versions I've seen, her face bounces around a little (most likely due to the limitations of 30's camera and crane and zoom technique). I believe the intention was a stationary, growing image. With a little digital manipulation, this could be achieved. Do you have any thoughts on that.
     
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  5. Robin9

    Robin9 Producer

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    Oh, I am pleased. I was going to buy it anyway but now . . . . .
     
  6. classicmovieguy

    classicmovieguy Producer

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    Sounds like another winner for Warner Archive.
     
  7. lukejosephchung

    lukejosephchung Screenwriter

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    First "Far From The Madding Crowd", now this...Warner Archive Collection is having an auspicious start to their 2015 blu-ray release schedule...looking forward to getting my copy of this from Amazon!!! :cheers:
     
  8. Richard Gallagher

    Reviewer

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    Yes, it's called "From Book to Screen to Stage" and it is included.
     
  9. Michel_Hafner

    Michel_Hafner Screenwriter

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    Seems to be one of the new bit rate policy discs: No more sub 20 Mbit/s titles but a generous 35 Mbit/s for 35mm! Hip, hip hooray! :banana:
     
  10. AnthonyClarke

    AnthonyClarke Cinematographer

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    Nice and understandable thought ... but I think on balance that it's best to preserve it as it is just so future generations can see just how much could be achieved without recourse to modern techniques/special effects. I think that it works well as it is .. and we can marvel at how much was achieved despite technical limitations of the time....
     
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  11. McCrutchy

    McCrutchy Second Unit

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    Unfortunately, you are conflating Warner Archive with Warner (Home Video). WAC has seemingly had a policy of high bitrate Blu-ray encodes for a couple of years now, while WHV still aims for silly target bitrates. A few WHV releases are outliers, but most new releases and catalog titles are 24.99 Mbps or lower, and BD-50s are still used in a pointless fashion.


    Case in point (catalog): Sharky's Machine (Released on 4/7/15 by WHV)

    Runtime: 2:01:48.718

    Disc Size: 29,193,956,588 bytes

    Feature Size: 28,500,037,632 bytes

    Video Bitrate: 24.95 Mbps


    Case in point (new release): Inherent Vice (US disc, but as it's WB, all of the discs will be identical, save for language options):


    Runtime: 2:28:43.456

    Disc Size: 38,099,098,222 bytes

    Feature Size: 35,797,106,688 bytes

    Video Bitrate: 24.93 Mbps


    (Specs are courtesy of DVD Beaver)


    The practice here is very strange, because at the very least, WHV could have used the additional space on the disc to put additional dubs and subs, thus streamlining the worldwide BD process. As it stands, the US BD has only French, Spanish and Portuguese foreign language options.
     
  12. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Yes. Don't touch it.


    RAH
     
  13. davidmatychuk

    davidmatychuk Cinematographer

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    I'm taking these right down to my nearest Full Restoration Depot, as soon as one shows up on Google Maps.


    IMG_1899.JPG
     
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  14. Conrad_SSS

    Conrad_SSS Second Unit

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    TODAY'S THE DAY. More solid reviews at other sites confirm Mr. Harris' praise for this release. Just hoping the UPS truck pulls up with my Amazon delivery...Berkeley in Blu :popcorn: :dancing-banana-04: :banana:
     
  15. Eastmancolor

    Eastmancolor Second Unit

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    I would guess that GOLDIGGERS OF 1933 has been restored as I purchased the digital streaming version and it's spotless. Perfect contrast and density too.


    Same for FOOTLIGHT PARADE, though it's not quite as spotless, so perhaps it needs another pass through the "Restorationator."


    Looking forward to the Blu's on these and the other BB titles!
     
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  16. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    As I mentioned in another thread, I'm currently taking the on-line course on movie musicals sponsored by TCM through Ball State University, and this first week of the course deals with the first decade of movie musicals. Though I have seen all of the movies they're going to cover, I haven't revisited some in years, and one of those is 42nd Street, with the Blu-ray of this sitting on my shelf for the past year or two unopened. I watched it this afternoon, and RAH is so right. It is just wonderful looking and sounding in this new restoration.
     
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  17. Robin9

    Robin9 Producer

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    Thanks for "bumping" this thread. It reminds me it's high time I watched this film again.
     
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  18. Conrad_SSS

    Conrad_SSS Second Unit

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    This is a gorgeous Blu-ray. It deserves to be on everyone's essential classic shelf.
     
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  19. CarlosMeat

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    Such a great film, so fun to watch and one I revisit about once a year. I've had several home theater get togethers in my home over the years and I show this since it shows how beautiful black and white can be. I always start at Young and Healthy for demonstrations.

    I love the actress in that scene with Dick Powell she is in the background elsewhere but I've not seen her dance or sing any place. With that face no need I guess.
     
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  20. Astairefan

    Astairefan Second Unit

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    I have to agree with what everybody else says about this one. It is such a wonderful restoration, and a lot of fun to watch. It just saddens me to see that, after three years, this still remains WAC's only representation for the thirties on blu. I can only wonder whether either this movie or WHV's Golden Year releases about that time sold very poorly, or whether most (if not all) of their remaining thirties films are in terrible shape, or some combination of the two. It definitely hurts to see nothing coming from WAC (or Criterion) while both Universal and Sony are continuing to represent the decade through their own releases as well as stuff licensed out to Criterion.
     
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