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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Marjorie Morningstar -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, May 6, 2017.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Kino Lorber, under its Studio Classics label, has released Irving Rapper's 1958 Marjorie Morningstar, based upon the novel by Herman Wouk. It's a good film, with some interesting performances, but never a great one.

    It has a superb cast, with Natalie Wood, freshly out of her teens in the lead, along with Gene Kelly, Claire Trevor, Ed Wynn, Everett Sloane, Carolyn Jones, George Tobias and Martin Balsam.

    The film element appears to be from sep masters. Normally nicely registered, one reel is disturbingly out of registration, and occasionally huge YCM dirt, along with some built in master problems bring the image score down.

    I'm presuming that the element was created before the digital era, and not cleaned, or we wouldn't be seeing the problems.

    Where registration is fine, color appears reasonably accurate for its WarnerColor era.

    Marjorie Morningstar is worth viewing, taking us back to a far more innocent era, and allowing us to visit with top talent, who are missed. A quick check of the cast, finds Edd Byrnes as the sole remaining thesp in the credit block.

    Look for Beverly Aadland as one of the dancers.

    Image - 3.25

    Audio - 5

    Pass / Fail - Pass

    Recommended

    RAH
     
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  2. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Screenwriter

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    Thanks Mr. Harris. If I may ask, there was a question in the other MARJORIE MORNINGSTAR thread about the Warner and WarnerColor logos that were previously removed from the home video masters and covered by freeze frames. Are they still missing? Thanks in advance!
     
  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Warner logo is intact, but extremely soft.
     
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  4. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Screenwriter

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    Maybe re-inserted from 16mm? I'm glad they made the effort though. Thank you!! I'm looking forward to getting it.
     
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  5. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    No, appears proper. Simply, oddly soft. Kept in mind that a logo would be a gen or so behind the MT sequence.
     
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  6. Richard Gallagher

    Reviewer

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    And Edd Byrnes will be 84 in July. Incidentally, his son, Logan Byrnes, is a local news anchor for KTTV, the Fox station in L.A.

    Speaking of Beverly Aadland, I have a DVD of Cuban Rebel Girls, Flynn's last film.
     
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  7. Nick*Z

    Nick*Z Supporting Actor

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    This is really disappointing, considering Kino Lorber has advertised this as a new HD 4K Scan. Honestly, 'new, HD and 4K are useless terminology if basic clean-up and realignment are not going to be equally applied to get the image up to snuff. What a crock and a sham. Will pass! Thanks for the heads up.
     
  8. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    One of the myriad of problems of being a licensee, is that one does not control their own fate.

    What one knows is that you have a license, a release date, and a promise of quality from the licensor.

    Marketing, reproduction, packaging, review copies, all must synchronize with that perception of what will be delivered, and unfortunately, it's difficult to pull the plug on a release, once the stars have aligned.

    If I were pointing fingers here, they would not be toward the distributor, which may be in one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situations.
     
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  9. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Screenwriter

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    Considering what it's looked like every time I've seen it up until this point, I'm still anxious to get it whether it's perfection or not. It's going to be miles better than it was. That may not be "enough" for me for every movie but it will be for this one.

    I don't have it yet because Amazon's new courier service had a bit of a hiccup this week and lost my original package (ggrrrrrr) but the replacement is due today (or so they say, not really impressed with the new delivery service as yet) so we shall see.
     
  10. Eastmancolor

    Eastmancolor Stunt Coordinator

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    While not perfect, this is undoubtedly the best the film has looked in decades. I projected it on a 10' screen and the image holds up very well. Yes it has some rough spots, but the bulk of it looks quite nice.

    If you like the movie, buy it. I would bet there will never be another Blu-ray done of this film, so don't pass it up if you're a fan.
     
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  11. 11 May 12, 2017
    Last edited: May 12, 2017
    Nick*Z

    Nick*Z Supporting Actor

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    Yes, I'll agree that Kino Lorber had no 'hand' in the restoration, or lack thereof. But someone, somewhere ought to be accountable for 'misregistration' issues, because these are correctable; again, at a cost. But we are way beyond the looking glass of either laying blame or settling for grotesque misfires in home video mastering here. A few minor cases or misregistration, scattered throughout...perhaps, forgivable if not overlooked. But a whole real, and residual softness factored in to boot?!? It sounds like the licenser was really not paying attention during the mastering process, or did not do their archival research to locate surviving source materials in better condition than the one's obviously used for this 're-mastering' effort. At this point, mis-regristration ought to be a thing of the past. It certainly has NO place in Blu-ray where even minute imperfections register with the intensity of a Mack Truck driving through a snow pea.

    Correcting the issue may have taken both time and money to properly achieve. But it nevertheless was a necessary part of the 'restoration' process, bluntly overlooked by the rights holder before issuing the files to Kino to distribute. And hey, distributors ought to be a little more forthcoming in their demands; holding licensers accountable for plunk shoveled their way. There ought to be a substitution clause in these agreements; the distributor emphasizing that if the digital files are not up to snuff upon further inspection, the licensee has the right to substitute another catalog title of both side's choice in lieu of the original title sought. And licensees see this stuff way ahead of the release date - months in advance. It wasn't like they announced Marjorie Morningstar last week for release two weeks from now, and were not given the goods to inspect before a handshake agreement, commitment in writing and the final product was stamped a hundred thousand times over in disc format. They did have the luxury of at least time for consideration.

    I often get shot down on these forums as possessing a level of expectation too chichi for most. I am not asking for perfection from deep catalog releases, particularly if archival elements have been stored in less than perfect conditions and the licensee is unwilling to spend what is needed to get them back up to snuff and is willing to farm them out to a third party distributor just so that I suspect the buck doesn't have to stop with them. Passing the buck, indeed. A favorite North American past time!

    But what I am expecting is base level competence, and a basic respect for the consumer of these deep catalog titles. When whole reels are completely out of focus I sincerely have to question how insulted my intelligence should be. I have eyes. Blurry pictures are not what I want to see in 1080p on an 85 inch screen. Sorry, but that is unsatisfactory any way you slice it - period! If you cannot even be bothered to achieve competency, lest we not even mention the word 'perfection' in the same breath. But I would see fewer titles get released with just the base consideration paid them, then a flood of catalog in which whole portions are virtually unwatchable without getting a migraine. Dumb! Really dumb. And again, disheartening!!!

    PS - regarding feasibility: Warner Archive seems to have found a way to make almost 'full blown' restorations a mainstay of their Blu-ray MOD program. Sony has a pretty good track record for quality from the ole Columbia catalog too and turn a profit besides. When even a tiny operation like Flicker Alley and David Strohmaier (basically a one man zeitgeist) can go back and redo an entire Cinerama catalog in hi-def, then please do not tell me the licenser of Marjorie Morningstar had little to no recourse other than to advertise this as a new 4K restoration to Kino Lorber and hope the rest of us would all be willing to look the other way. There's always a way to achieve quality. It can be done. And in this day and age it really isn't so much a matter of 'can we do this?' but 'does anyone really give a damn to even try?'
     
  12. 12 May 13, 2017
    Last edited: May 13, 2017
    Will Krupp

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    Woah! I'm not sure what all this anger is pointing towards but it can't be THIS blu-ray. There is nothing incompetent or disrespectful about it. Where are you getting the idea that this is unwatchable or migraine inducing? The surviving elements on MM have long been deemed "poor" and, in fact, the state of the elements was mentioned two and a half years ago when the title was turned down by Olive, then licensing material owned by Republic.

    No one has anything to be ashamed of here.

    Truth be told, I'm not seeing what Mr. Harris is seeing. I couldn't find a reel that was misregistered and I looked (if someone can point it out I would greatly appreciate it.) What I DID see was dupe material surrounding optical dissolves that was in noticeably poor shape. This movie has a very curious relationship with its optical work as they never seem to do it the exact same way twice. In some cases it's "full foot" (I think that's the term) heading into the dissolve and then a snap out; in other cases the reverse is true. I saw quite a few that were full foot both in and out and I THINK I saw at least one that was snap in and snap out. It's downright schizophrenic when it comes to its opticals but that's baked in. The duped sections (which also seem to include a few brief shots of Wood on location in Manhattan, looking especially fetching in a black cocktail dress, during one sequence) have the dull, flat look we have come to expect from Warner dupe negatives of this vintage.

    I ALSO saw at least two really lousy looking "matte" scenes (one between Marjorie and Wally in front of some Chinese lanterns and another the sequence representing Marjorie's graduation from Hunter College) that reminded me of the Sodium Vapor process Walt Disney was later so fond of (that I also hated) but I'm not tech savvy enough to say for sure. They are both so poorly filmed that I doubt they looked much better (if at all) in 1958.

    Dupe and matte sections aside I think this has a solid, nicely organic (if, at times, slightly faded) look and I have certainly never seen it look better or more pleasing. I enjoyed it more tonight than I think I ever have (though Gene Kelly's character is still a creep all the way through) and I've seen it countless times over the years. Some sequences (specifically Wood and Gene Kelly walking down a New York City street at night with neon restaurant signs behind them) even approach the hem of "gorgeous." All of the "Cherries in the Snow" lips and Marty Milner's adorable freckles have never registered as pleasingly in any previous incarnation.

    For the record, I don't remember anyone advertising this as a 4K "restoration." The specific verbiage from the liner notes is "Newly Mastered in HD from a 4K Scan!" every word of which is obviously true.
     
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  13. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Welcome to the Wonder World of [Warner] Color.
     
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  14. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Funny, but true.
     
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  15. Thomas T

    Thomas T Producer

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    The problem with Nick's rant is that he's raging on a blu ray that he hasn't actually seen! :) Not long ago, a friend referred to a film as "trashy" and when I asked him, "Really? How so?", he had to confess that he hadn't actually seen the movie!
     
  16. 16 May 13, 2017
    Last edited: May 13, 2017
    Nick*Z

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    Actually I've had my contributor's copy for about a week and three days. But thanks for commenting on something you didn't know about either.

    And as for 'rant' - its more constructive criticism than rant with a lot of useful suggestions on how to improve quality. It has a tone of disgust for which no apology is made. But quality can be achieved and that was the point of my comment. Finally, Will: if you don't notice the fact an entire reel here is severely out of focus I don't know what to tell you except...it is. If you're happy with that, I still don't know what to say except you are precisely the sort I wouldn't want working at a lab in charge of remastering anything for home video. Regrets.
     
  17. 17 May 13, 2017
    Last edited: May 13, 2017
    Will Krupp

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    This MAY have led people to believe you didn't have a copy, don't you think?

    All I ask is, which reel? What's so hard about that?

    If people have been "shooting you down" on this board, I would guess it's less about your "chi chi expectations" than you think.
     
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  18. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Sorry, but that's really rude. I believe you owe an apology.
     
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  19. Nick*Z

    Nick*Z Supporting Actor

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    Sorry, but I don't believe that I do.

    Thomas' comments accused me of a rant for which it was also suggested I hadn't seen the movie on disc that I was commenting about
    - and I have.

    Will's comments defy both an assessment of the disc quality as I have seen it with my own eyes and as you yourself have attested to in your review above.

    I don't see how agreeing with those comments and adding a few of my own are rude at all.

    And I'll still stand by my remark that if 'settling' for integrity is going to be the 'standard' for industry remastering in hi def, then I don't believe there is any need to suggest a level of 'standard' at all.

    I don't take offense when I am pounced on in this forum. I certainly don't see how my comments should force others to become defensive either...or force me into reconsidering my stance or my judgment.

    We're all entitled to opinions. Mine may differ from Will's but not from yours. And just so we are on the same page, no disrespect to ANY fellow member in these forums was intended. But frankly, I am not here to start a riot; rather, a discussion. If that purpose is not clear, then for this, I sincerely clarify, but again, emphatically DO NOT apologize!
     
  20. 20 May 13, 2017
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    Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Screenwriter

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    And again..... you're saying that a full ten minutes of this movie is "severely" and consecutively out of focus. Again, I ask for the third time, what reel? What's the time code? What's happening on screen? Anything.

    I'm obviously so stupid that I need to have it pointed out.
     

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