A Few Words About A few words about...™ Nothing Sacred -- in Blu-ray

Robert Harris

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William Wellman's wonderful, 1937 Selznick production, Nothing Sacred, has been problematic for decades - ever since it hit the public domain in 1965.

Original nitrate prints had a very specific monochromatic look, favored by Mr. Selznick at the time, and noting yet seen on home video reproduces that look - not that modern audiences would probably find it appealing, or care.

The earlier Blu-ray, also from Kino, was derived from a transfer of the Selznick studio print, held at GEH in Rochester.

While it was far better than anything else available on the PD market, it had its share of shortcomings - light scratches, occasional splices, etc.

But it was taken from a final print, produced properly at Technicolor, in their new three-strip dye transfer process.

The new Blu-ray is apparently derived from three-strip masters, presumably safety based, and not with the finest of processing quality. View the new version, and you'll note constantly shifting colors, as the deficiancies of the black & white elements make themselves known.

There is a definite give and take here.

The new release has slightly more pleasing overall color, and stability, and far less wear and defects, but as has become the standard of these films as they come from Disney, the original dupes are not attended to, and generally show registration problems.

All in all, I'd probably vote for the new disc, although if you have the previous, the "upgrade" is a balance of good and problematic.

Short of a full restoration, if you desire to own a copy of Nothing Sacred, this is probably as good as it's going to get, and as a film - it's a wonderful way to spend it's short running time of 76 minutes.

The aspect ratio, as noted on the packaging is 1.33. Proper AR should be 1.37, but who's measuring, or checking information?


Image - 3.25

Audio - 5

Pass / Fail - Pass

Upgrade from earlier Blu-ray - Not essential

Highly Recommended

RAH

 
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Jim*Tod

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I know Selznick worked hard to perfect Technicolor. I have read that for the original release of GWTW, they printed a fourth layer of black and white over the three other color passes to subdue the color. The color on this release was apparently fairly subdued with the more saturated look in subsequent releases (and god knows that film was "restored" and "Improved" on pretty much each new reissue). Mr. Harris---have you ever seen any part or bits of the original prints for GWTW?

So it makes sense that NOTHING SACRED would have had more muted tones.
 
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Robert Harris

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I know Selznick worked hard to perfect Technicolor. I have read that for the original release of GWTW, they printed a fourth layer of black and white over the three other color passes to subdue the color. The color on this release was apparently fairly subdued with the more saturated look in subsequent releases (and god knows that film was "restored" and "Improved" on pretty much each new reissue). Mr. Harris---have you ever seen any part or bits of the original prints for GWTW?

So it makes sense that NOTHING SACRED would have had more muted tones.
Actually, most if not all. Tech films, c. Pre- 1943 had the silver record. I recall examining a 1939 print of GWTW, as well as a nitrate of The Black Swan - magnificent.
 
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Will Krupp

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Yeah, that first Kino Blu-ray was mediocre at best. I hope this latest BD release improves upon it.
Have no fear, it does and in spades. There are warts, to be sure. The optical transitions are in really rough shape and mis-registration errors abound but those are all errors the brain is able to correct in an otherwise bright, colorful, and detailed transfer. It looks significantly more organic once we get past the digitally re-combined first reel, which coincides with Wally's arrival in Warsaw.

I have to disagree with Mr. Harris in that I think this upgrade IS essential if you're a fan of the movie.
 
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TJPC

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I like the movie, but having seen it projected during the “Nitrate Festival” in Rochester N.Y., and having been perfectly satisfied with the Blu ray of this same print, I’m not about to buy it again. Now if you can persuade Frederic March and Carol Lombard to come to our house and perform it live...
 

Gary16

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On a related matter, is any more restoration work being done on the 1937 “A Star is Born” or is the last Kino bluray the best it’s going to be?
 
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Will Krupp

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On a related matter, is any more restoration work being done on the 1937 “A Star is Born” or is the last Kino bluray the best it’s going to be?
Never say never.

According to Ronald Haver's 1983 book about the restoration of the 1954 A STAR IS BORN, a scouring of all available vault spaces at Warner's led him an old double-decker storage unit behind the old Technicolor building. Most of the films there were well labeled, but there was some disorganized and unlabeled material as well. Amidst this uncatalogued material, he found the original camera negative and a print of 1932's ANIMAL KINGDOM (considered lost up until that time) that Warner's had purchased from RKO in the 1940's for a planned remake, a mint condition 35mm nitrate print of 1934's OF HUMAN BONDAGE, again bought for a remake, and the (according to him) original black and white camera separation negatives from the 1937 A STAR IS BORN (ironically enough.)

It's long been rumored that Warner's has the material to put out a superior version of this and there was some hope that it would have seen the light of day when the blu-ray for the 1954 remake was released. As of yet, though, nothing. I'm not giving up hope, but I am slightly concerned that they've (supposedly) had this material for 35 years now and done nothing with it. Makes me think there may be something wrong with it from a quality standpoint.
 
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