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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Becky Sharp - in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Apr 3, 2019.

  1. Message #1 of 38 Apr 3, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 5, 2019
    Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I would bet that most cinephiles will know of Rouben Mamoulian's 1935 Becky Sharp by reputation only.

    A couple of decades ago, UCLA's Master of Restoration, Robert Gitt, performed yeoman-like work to gather the extant film elements and restore the film as well as possible, within the analogue domain.

    Recently, Paramount, the owner of the film via the NTA library, stepped up to the plate, with helpful funding from other sources, and did their updated digital restoration, and the results are remarkable.

    Generally, with the exception of the final reel, even those with a semi-knowledgable eye, will find no problems with the colors, densities and registration of elements. Certain sequences and shots have been captured from masters, and an increases of grain and contrast, are unavoidable.

    But all in all, with the exception of that final reel, Kino's new Blu-ray, based upon Paramount's new HD master is never less than magnificent. There's quite a bit of digital slight of hand going on here, but most people will never be aware.

    The only way for those interested, will be to view the film, a short 84 minutes, and follow up with Mr. Theakston's entertaining and educational commentary track.

    For those giving this film a first viewing, keep in mind that it was a halo project for Technicolor - the first 3-strip feature - which shows off the primary color palette.

    Also, for those who know the film only by reputation, be aware that it's reputation as a clunker of film does not hold up - especially while viewing it in a proper color restoration.

    Image - 4

    Audio - 5

    Pass / Fail - Pass

    Very Highly Recommended

    RAH

     
  2. Andrew Budgell

    Andrew Budgell Screenwriter

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    I'm thrilled my first viewing of this film will be such a magnificent presentation. Can't wait!

    I read the book two years ago and absolutely loved it. I also highly recommend the 2018 ITV/Amazon Studios mini-series.
     
  3. PODER

    PODER Supporting Actor

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    I've been waiting a LONG time for the restored BECKY SHARP. I saw the UCLA restoration many years ago
    on what ... HBO? Cinemax? Anyway, as I recall there was only one showing, which I recorded on Beta and
    then had transferred to VHS. Ever since I've been wondering when this would be released. Now I'm pretty
    much counting down the days until I can see what I expect to be a brilliant restoration of the restoration!
     
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  4. JoeDoakes

    JoeDoakes Cinematographer

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    In my case no. Many years ago, I rented the VHS of this from Blockbuster. Despite my love of the novel, I thought it was a clunker. I suppose the image quality may be better this time around.
     
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  5. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    There was a VHS release?

    News to me!
     
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  6. Jack Theakston

    Jack Theakston Supporting Actor

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    There have been PD-label VHS copies of the shortened, Cinecolor print (from Film Classics) out there, but my understanding is that this is the first commercial release of the UCLA restoration.
     
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  7. atcolomb

    atcolomb Screenwriter

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    Natalie Kalmus is on the credits as Technicolor color director and you will see her name on most of Technicolor films until 1950.
     
  8. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor
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    Pre-ordered this after hearing the Nitrateville podcast with Mr. Theakston. I caught it on TCM years ago from a watchable master, though still looked rough. Though, if you really want to see a rough print, the version on Amazon Prime looks like it's being projected through a meat grinder.

    I've just been impressed as heck with how Kino Lorber has been mining these deep cuts with long-neglected libraries. More so that Paramount is doing incredible work with films they'd be perfectly justified in turning a blind eye on, corporately speaking.
     
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  9. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Cinematographer

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    To quote Nigel Bruce, "Huzzah! I shout huzzah!!"

    I'm SO over the moon that this is good and gets the RAH stamp of approval! I've literally been waiting 35 years to see a restored version of this released commercially. I really can't believe it's almost here!

    It aired on AMC's first "Film Preservation Festival" back in 1993 (and yes, only once) It was a revelation at the time.

    The Film Classics PD version, which has the distinction of being the very first VHS tape I ever bought ($19.95 thank you very much) which I GET is weird (but true nonetheless) was the full 84 minute version. The theatrical reissue prints were shortened to 67 minutes or so but the videocassette contained the full running time. It was in REALLY rough shape with replaced opening credits and had terrible color and sound.

    The version that aired on TCM was FROM the UCLA restoration but was let down by a really aggressive compression that gave it a weirdly processed look and colors that didn't pop as they had on my VHS recording of the AMC broadcast.

    Can you tell I'm excited over this? Reading all about it in Fred Basten's book back in the early 80's has made this a personal holy grail of mine!
     
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  10. Message #10 of 38 Apr 4, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2019
    PMF

    PMF Producer

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    Will Krupp, you're lookin' Sharp.:thumbs-up-smiley:
    With a backlog of desired films to purchase, a "Holy Grail" from you is worth my putting this one on the front-burner.:)
     
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  11. Message #11 of 38 Apr 4, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2019
    Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Cinematographer

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    Well, thank you for the kind words!! I'm touched but also nervous now! :eek:

    This one MAY not be for every taste and I don't want to give the impression I think it's a great film (or even an especially good one.) I like it and find it very watchable but the direction is very stilted and dear Miriam is always ACTING up a storm. It's not entirely a success. It's really just a sketch of the original novel so I wouldn't recommend it to anyone looking for a satisfying adaptation of Thackery as a main draw. I love it mainly for its historical importance, its experimental use of "new" Technicolor, and its really impressive production design. Caveat emptor and all that but, as long as you're not expecting GWTW you should be fine. As I said, it's watchable and it MOVES. It manages to be quite funny at times, even if it the acting does resemble a high school production now and then. I don't expect anyone who isn't a Technicolor nut to be as bowled over by it as I am. As history, and a rare chance to see it as originally intended, it's an essential if you ARE a Technicolor nut, however!
     
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  12. Message #12 of 38 Apr 5, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2019
    PMF

    PMF Producer

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    You're too late, Mr. Krupp; it's been 24 hours since I read your last post - my imagination has since soared - and I am now fully well expecting "GWTW"; or, at least a "Jezebel"; and there's nothing to be done at this point. And being that "Becky Sharp" is a Thackery adapataion, I am also fully well expecting something of equal value to Kubrick's Barry Lyndon.

    [Edits: 2 paragraphs, for sake of brevity.]:rolleyes:

    I know that this won't make me popular; but I'm a purist.;)
     
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  13. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Cinematographer

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    Oh thank God! For a moment I was afraid your expectations would be unrealistic. Well THAT's sorted!! :(

    Now WHERE have I heard that before? Wait....it'll come to me.........
     
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  14. bujaki

    bujaki Producer

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    Thackeray. Someone in Dallas named a street in tribute to the novelist and misspelled it: Thackery; but only in Dallas, not in English Literature classes.
     
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  15. Message #15 of 38 Apr 5, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2019
    PMF

    PMF Producer

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    Makepeas.;)

    P,S. I won't cheat by going back to the "edit" option. All remains intact for your worthy clarification.:thumbs-up-smiley:
     
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  16. redhotandbluetechnicolor

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    Well I think I might have to go right and pre-order this sucker.
     
  17. Mark Mayes

    Mark Mayes Stunt Coordinator

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    I really like this film for Hopkins. There's an excellent new biography on her that has some good background on the filming. Practically everyone came down with pneumonia or a severe cold; the first director died of it. Hopkins pneumonia was so severe she set production back ten days and begged the producer not to replace her. Despite her belief in the film, she had to be forced to do publicity, but garnered great reviews for her performance.

    I have been waiting for this since it was announced and look forward to throwing the DVD and the VHS (the UCLA restoration, decent as it was at the time) out the window as quickly as Becky tossed her dictionary upon leaving school.
     
  18. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Cinematographer

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  19. AnthonyClarke

    AnthonyClarke Cinematographer

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    Wow. Hellzapopping colour!
     
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  20. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    I must say, looking at those caps, it really demonstrates how different color was used with the early color processes compared to how it was used in later decades. Technicolor was meant to be a piece of art, as though it were a Van Gogh painting rather than a true reflection of life. The bold colors are down right surrealistic. By the 1970s that style of filmmaking was mostly gone as the new wave of auteur filmmakers were going for stark realism with all its grungy earth tones.
    Well, I've been prodded into pre-ordering this one as I just can't wait to see it now!
     
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