A Few Words About A few words about...™ Night Passage - in Blu-ray

Robert Harris

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In 1957, a new process, which can be considered the offspring of VistaVision and Panavision arrived on the scene.

Three films were released in the process that year. The first was Night Passage from Universal, followed by Escapade in Japan (also Universal), and finally Sayonara from Warner Bros.

All three made perfect use of the VVLA process, which doubled overall resolution, but now with the use of an adapter optic, which could squeeze the image by 50% (as opposed to 100%, as in CS and PV).

The main title sequence takes advantage of the TLA logotypes.

This enabled are highly resolved image that could be either reduced to standard (very sharp) Panavision 4 perf prints, or adapted (not really blown up) to 70mm, creating a base for larger screens and 6-track audio.

The process also competed well with 65mm origination, as the standard 35mm stock could be processed anywhere, world-wide.

If there were a contest for most highly resolved film of the year, Night Passage, with work performed by the techs at Universal, would be in the running, as especially in projection, the imagery is other-worldly.

Sharp as a tack.

Likewise, grain structure, color, densities, et al are properly in line.

The film, directed by James Neilson (originally Anthony Mann), and starring James Stewart and war hero Audie Murphy, is not one of the great films of the '50s, nor is it a great western.

But Mr. Stewart, with his bright blue eyes, and the location photography, mostly in Colorado, make the film essential viewing. Also important to railway buffs - three films released recently fit into that category - Night Passage, Canyon Passage, and Titfield Thunderbolt, starring Lion, an original locomotive that first hit the rails c. 1850.

As to the TLA process, it continued for another few years, into the early '60s, with the most interesting productions being, The Big Country, Spartacus, The Vikings, Sleeping Beauty, Solomon and Sheba, Auntie Mame, The Music Man, Gypsy, El Cid, Zulu and King of Kings.

For those fans of Mr. Stewart, and cinema technology buffs, this is essential viewing.

As far as I'm aware, all prints were 35mm reductions. The cameras were originally converted three-strip units.

The initial 70mm conversions were Disney's Sleeping Beauty and Solomon and Sheba, followed by Spartacus, 55 Days at Peking.

Image - 5

Audio - 5

Pass / Fail - Pass

Upgrade from DVD - Yes

Highly Recommended

RAH
 

dpippel

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Thanks for the interesting lesson in film history Mr. Harris! Ordered.
 

john a hunter

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As you say, Technirama was a fabulous system.
For me, El Cid and K of Ks represent the high water mark of the process. K of Ks looks great on BD ,Cid unfortunately not.
And then of course we have your superbly restored Spartacus.
If only your magic could be let loose on El Cid!
 
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Robert Harris

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As you say, Technirama was a fabulous system.
For me, El Cid and K of Ks represent the high water mark of the process. K of Ks looks great on BD ,Cid unfortunately not.
And then of course we have your superbly restored Spartacus.
If only your magic could be let loose on El Cid!
El Cid does not have Spartacus' fade problems.
 

Lord Dalek

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True story: In college I once had to correct one of my professors final exam questions because it erroneously said VistaVsion used an anamorphic lens. Because its not Vistavision anymore if you have a 2x squeeze on it, its Technirama.

Also Monte Carlo Story (the first film shot in Technirama altogether) was released in the US in late 1957, after being in Europe for a whole year.
 

Robert Harris

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True story: In college I once had to correct one of my professors final exam questions because it erroneously said VistaVsion used an anamorphic lens. Because its not Vistavision anymore if you have a 2x squeeze on it, its Technirama.

Also Monte Carlo Story (the first film shot in Technirama altogether) was released in the US in late 1957, after being in Europe for a whole year.
TLA is a 1.50 anamorphosis.
 

haineshisway

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Just finished watching - very beautiful. If you think Stewart's eyes are BLUE in this, watch the other release that came with it, The Rare Breed. Excellent color and also a nice transfer with some particularly and classic Universal optical work via what I believe is called the sodium vapor process.
 

cadavra

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Some years ago, I wrote the calendar notes for a Blake Edwards retrospective at LACMA. For THE PINK PANTHER, I noted that it was a very rare comedy filmed in Technirama. The idiot who "proofed" my copy assumed it was a mistake and instead asking me if it were accurate simply changed it to Technicolor. I got so much grief over that and other know-nothing "corrections" that I contemplated making a T-shirt that said, THAT'S NOT WHAT I WROTE.
 

Robert Harris

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Some years ago, I wrote the calendar notes for a Blake Edwards retrospective at LACMA. For THE PINK PANTHER, I noted that it was a very rare comedy filmed in Technirama. The idiot who "proofed" my copy assumed it was a mistake and instead asking me if it were accurate simply changed it to Technicolor. I got so much grief over that and other know-nothing "corrections" that I contemplated making a T-shirt that said, THAT'S NOT WHAT I WROTE.
Brings to mind the Arthur Penn / Bonnie & Clyde opening.
 
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Spencer Draper

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Holy moly! I was expecting just a 1080p version of the old master. I can't believe it's been redone. Wowzers this looks great.

You can't get away from the "this started as a Mann western" feeling of Night Passage. It has a darkness and should have been a great Western but never manages to shape up. It's still worth a watch and visually is lovely-but then again it stops for an accordion solo.
 
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Pictureman

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You guys who didn't have to learn the piano accordion when you were kids just don't have the same insight into Jimmy's tortured soul!
 
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HawksFord

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I finally got around to watching this one last night. I'll join the chorus of praising this release. The story is a bit predictable which keeps it from being a great western, but it's a very good one. I just loved the location shots of the train.
 

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This review pushed me over the edge. I have the old DVD of it, so I wasn't sure I would upgrade, but Mr. Harris again endeavored to help me empty my wallet.
 

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Image quality of "Night passage" is fantastic , but unfortunately i looked the DVD several times before and loved the warm colour timing for the colorado autumn shots on DVD so much. You can see what i mean on a screenshot comparison at dvdbeaver. Had the same feeling after watching "The searchers" on BD, compared to the DVD.
 

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