A Few Words About A few words about...™ Never Steal Anything Small -- in Blu-ray

Robert Harris

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When James Cagney appeared in Charles Lederer's Never Steal Anything Small in 1959, it appeared that he was more interested in spending more time at the Cape, and winding down his extraordinary film career.

A comedy with music, based upon the play Devil's Hornpipe by Maxwell Anderson and Rouben Mamoulian, which went unproduced, but someone felt it was a great idea for a film.

It wasn't.

Being a film from 1959, it's on the worst stock of the era, late-issue 5248, and it shows. Kino's new release is done no favors by Universal, as their master appears to be from a poorly made, and possibly faded IP, with a myriad of fade and color timing problems. Color densities and overalls have a wonderful way changing in the middle of shots, which could go back to the IP possibly being printed out of sync with the timing tapes. No way to know.

It also probably didn't help things, that the film was process by Pathe, and not one of the top labs.

I'm a huge Cagney fan. Always have been. While I've not seen this film in decades, probably in a pan and scan on TV, today it leaves me less than color, especially as presented in what appears to be an ancient video incarnation.

A final note. Main titles seem to be cropped at the top, cutting of the tops of names, which gives me little hope that the film is correctly cropped.

Image – 3.25

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail - Pass

Upgrade from DVD - Was it ever on DVD?

RAH
 

Thomas T

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Your review on the film's transfer is disappointing :(, of course but I'm still thrilled to have this rarely seen Cagney (and Shirley Jones) film on blu ray. Naturally, I'd have preferred a pristine print (who wouldn't?) but for me, it's always been about the movie and to have this rarity on blu such as it is is enough for me.

And no, it has never been on DVD and I would suspect the transfer problems you bring up might be a clue why it was never on home video. Of course, I don't "blame" Kino Lorber but Universal for the transfer.
 

Robin9

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I've been wanting and waiting for years and I've pre-ordered. I'm very disappointed that the disc seems to be so bad but I don't regret buying it. I'm surprised that RAH didn't gave the disc a "fail."
 
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This had an odd history even in the cinema. I saw it on a reissue double bill in the nineteen sixties with a Fred McMurray western. Both were CinemaScope but letterboxed onto standard ratio prints, the only two such 35mm prints I'd seen. The projectionist didn't know what to make of the tiny picture in the middle of the screen.
 

Robert Crawford

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I've been wanting and waiting for years and I've pre-ordered. I'm very disappointed that the disc seems to be so bad but I don't regret buying it. I'm surprised that RAH didn't gave the disc a "fail."
I guess you're willing to spend your money on a bad "Universal" transfer.;)

Now being serious, Kino is releasing a bunch of movies that have never been on Blu-ray or on DVD for that matter. I suspect their relatively high monthly output of Blu-ray releases of catalog movies is going to produce results like this particular BD. Unfortunately, it's a taking the "bad" with the "good" situation for most classic movie fans.
 

Mark B

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My MCA Home Video VHS release from the 80s has letterboxed main titles before popping to pan and scan, and they are cut too tight on top as well.
 
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KPmusmag

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This had an odd history even in the cinema. I saw it on a reissue double bill in the nineteen sixties with a Fred McMurray western. Both were CinemaScope but letterboxed onto standard ratio prints, the only two such 35mm prints I'd seen. The projectionist didn't know what to make of the tiny picture in the middle of the screen.
I saw Sweet Charity in a revival house and it was like that.
 
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In my case the cinema only ever had 35mm. Rank distributed Universal pictures at the time and I heard they had a few other prints like these intended for houses without 'scope screens.
 

PMF

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Are you certain they were running 35?

Adapted scope was a standard 16mm practice.
Ah, yes, this may now explain my unfortunate first experience with “Lawrence of Arabia”; which occurred during the mid-1970’s, in a small city revival house. It was just awful. Fortunately, though; and for the sake of many; both 1989 and The Ziegfeld Theater had repaired and healed that initial age-old wound.:)

FILE UNDER: Never See Anything Small.;)
 
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Robin9

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I guess you're willing to spend your money on a bad "Universal" transfer.;)

Now being serious, Kino is releasing a bunch of movies that have never been on Blu-ray or on DVD for that matter. I suspect their relatively high monthly output of Blu-ray releases of catalog movies is going to produce results like this particular BD. Unfortunately, it's a taking the "bad" with the "good" situation for most classic movie fans.
Your second paragraph answers your first. If I had a DVD of Never Steal Anything Small, I wouldn't have pre-ordered. If the DVD had been halfway decent, RAH's comments would have stopped me buying this Blu-ray disc.

It's the same situation with The Last Valley. I'm glad I bought that disc because I want the film in my collection but the disc does not begin to do justice to the film's Todd AO origins.
 

Shawn Cornwell

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Now I'm not sure if I'll pick this one up. Your review indicates this will be one of the disappointing Kino releases (concerning picture quality) and I should pass, but then "I'm Sorry, I Want a Ferrari" cancels out just about every opposition to a purchase- saw this number on t.v. about 40 years ago and I never forgot it, with Cara Williams playfully demanding the best set of wheels from James Cagney.
 

Mark B

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My copy arrived today, and I was relieved after reading the review, to find that on an everyman TV set-up it is a very watchable transfer. The above noted issues could be seen, but they were not terribly distracting, and certainly nothing like slogging through one of those Fox blue and orange nightmare Blu-rays.

The film itself is a mish mash of ideas, styles, actors, and music that never gels at all. However, it is one of those failures that I have always found oddly appealing. To finally see the CinemaScope compositions, and proper color is a treat. I am not sure I have ever seen a film with more magenta gels used in ambient lighting of dramatic scenes. The "Ferrari" and "Love Soap" numbers are bathed in appealingly over saturated color, and look great.

I am grateful to Kino-Lorber for bringing this film to home video.
 
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Ken Koc

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My copy arrived today, and I was relieved after reading the review, to find that on an everyman TV set-up it is a very watchable transfer. The above noted issues could be seen, but they were not terribly distracting, and certainly nothing like slogging through one of those Fox blue and orange nightmare Blu-rays.

The film itself is a mish mash of ideas, styles, actors, and music that never gels at all. However, it is one of those failures that I have always found oddly appealing. To finally see the CinemaScope compositions, and proper color is a treat. I am not sure I have ever seen a film with more magenta gels used in ambient lighting of dramatic scenes. The "Ferrari" and "Love Soap" numbers are bathed in appealingly over saturated color, and look great.

I am grateful to Kino-Lorber for bringing this film to home video.
I ws pleased to see the transfer ws not as bad as reviewed. The 2 musical numbers mentioned above are bright and vivid and a lot of fun. The movie itself was tough for me to sit through...Cagney character is truly despicable.
 
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