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A Few Words About A few words about...™Forever Amber -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Dec 28, 2017.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Otto Preminger's 1947 Technicolor opus, Forever Amber, which was subjected to censorship cuts and then three decades later, destruction of the Fox Technicolor library, arrives via Twilight Time, and gives us an inkling -- and not much more -- of the original beauty of the production.

    One can only watch the work of Leon Shamroy, and wonder what might have been. To place things in perspective, over eighty productions were destroyed.

    Magnificently mounted by Fox, it's the tale of a young girl making her way through the court of seventeenth century England.

    Linda Darnell is in the lead, with a superb supporting cast -- Cornel Wilde, Richard Greene, George Sanders, Jessica Tandy and Fox stalwart, Anne Revere.

    Strangely, Miss Darnell, who in this film, survived the London fire, lost her life in 1965 due to a house fire in Illinois.

    While audio seems fine, imagery is much like many other Fox Technicolor productions, with decent color (albeit contrasty and dupey) in daylight, falling to quite unacceptable where elements are thinly exposed.

    Bottom line. It is what it is, and without spending far more than might be worthwhile, will not get any better.

    As a film, it's a superb entertainment, with a great score by David Raksin, offered isolated by Twilight Time.


    Image - 2.5

    Audio - 4.5

    Pass / Fail - Pass

    Upgrade from DVD - Yes, with limitations acknowledged

    Recommended


    RAH
     
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  2. Thomas T

    Thomas T Producer

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    While I'm disappointed that they weren't able to restore it to anywhere near its original visual luster, as you say it is what it is. Still, as a huge fan of the drop dead gorgeous Darnell and the great David Raksin, this is a high priority purchase for me.
     
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  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This was a 2014 Cinema Archives DVD-R release so I suspect this Blu-ray with RAH's issues noted is probably a significant upgrade over the DVD.
     
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  4. david hare

    david hare Second Unit

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    It follows a French Blu Ray released by Carlotta in 2012. I would not doubt both releases are using the same encode. I think Mr Harris' words to describe the Twilight Time image also apply to the Carlotta. "Washed out" is too kind for it. Pity, as it's really a Prem worth reviving.
     
  5. Message #5 of 119 Dec 28, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017
    PMF

    PMF Cinematographer

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    Due to the history of the fire, what more can be asked by us?
    Leon Shamroy's legacy, though, seems to have taken the greatest of beatings;
    as we must also factor in the surviving film elements of "Wilson" and "Leave Her to Heaven";
    with the latter from TT looking pretty darned amazing for a film I never saw in its pristine state.
    BTW, Robert, could you clarify if the censored portions are inclusive of this TT release?
    My gut says that those cuts went with the fire, as well.

    Just for the record, this will be a purchase. Preminger's directing is always worth the journey.
     
  6. ABaglivi

    ABaglivi Stunt Coordinator

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    Curiously, the new TT Blu ray has windowboxed titles. The Fox Cinema Archives DVD titles are full frame.
     
  7. RafaelPires

    RafaelPires Supporting Actor

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    The TT transfer is from a brand new 4k restoration, as already explained by TT folks.
     
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  8. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Cinematographer

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    It wasn't a fire (that was in 1937) Fox JUNKED all of their existing three-strip negatives in the 1970's. Threw em right in the ocean!
     
  9. ajabrams

    ajabrams Second Unit

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  10. PMF

    PMF Cinematographer

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    Thanks for clarifying, Will. I continue to imagine the fires; and often forget about the waters.
    Is it possible for the Woods Hole Oceanographic to conduct the same search as they had for Titanic?
     
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  11. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Cinematographer

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    It is often said that the Pacific Ocean is the greatest film repository in the world.
     
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  12. PMF

    PMF Cinematographer

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    RAH's article suggested that the ocean story could also be rumor.
    A worthy re-read from 2013; as linked to us by ajabrams.
    I wonder if these passing 4 years have produced any further information to this question?
     
  13. Robin9

    Robin9 Producer

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    I suspected that this might be a disc I wouldn't buy. I have this film on a most unsatisfactory Spanish DVD and I was hoping for a miracle, similar to Drums Along The Mohawk. Linda Darnell is one of my four favorite female stars, but I'm going to show disloyalty.
     
  14. RMajidi

    RMajidi Screenwriter

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    For perspective, RAH scored Drums Along the Mohawk at 3 out of 5 for video and made similar remarks about that release as he has about this one:

    https://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/threads/a-few-words-about-™-drums-along-the-mohawk-in-blu-ray.326562/#post-4002038

    If Forever Amber is judged to be only 0.5 below that standard, then it will be just fine for me, as I loved the look and colour of Drums - the lack of shadow detail notwithstanding.

    I understand that the colour in both films probably looks nothing like their original releases, and I suspect that that’s (rightly) the prime reason for the low video scores from a purist’s view.

    I’ll be buying this Blu-ray, reassured by Matt Hough’s review and the knowledge that Twilight Time is picky with the masters they accept for release.
     
  15. Twilight Time

    Twilight Time Insider
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    Thanks, RMajidi -- Yes, similar to Drums, Leave Her to Heaven, Captain from Castile, etc. this new transfer of Amber (more recent than the Fox DVD, and the Carlotta), is really the best that Fox can do with their 30s and 40s color films - while wishing that things were different, we, and they, can't make it so. It's almost pointless "scoring" these transfers, as purists will always be disappointed, while fans will simply be happy to have them. Unless we should just cancel all the remaining vintage color films from Fox that we have licensed? Would that be preferable?
     
  16. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    No Nick, that is not right course of action as most of us have been very happy with your Fox color films releases on Blu-ray.
     
  17. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    Absolutely not! I don't have this one yet, but I found Drums Along The Mohawk to be spectacular, so if this and other Fox titles from that period are of similar quality, I'll be a happy camper.
     
  18. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Do keep them coming, based upon your inspection. Some have survived better than others, as the 1970s intermediate elements were produced as nothing more than running footage, or film fodder, for lab billing.

    It came down to a matter of luck.

    Having worked on some of these, creating the work flow, a film such as Leave Her will appear far better than Drums.

    Many of these are superb productions, and even in black & white, deserve the public’s attention.

    Which is why there is still a less than wonderful numerical grade, but the product can be Recommended.
     
  19. Andrew Budgell

    Andrew Budgell Screenwriter

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    I just finished watching my Forever Amber Blu-ray and thought it was breathtaking, the perfect post-Christmas treat. I'm so grateful that, in spite of the inevitable flaws, 20th Century Fox thought it worthy of a 4K scan and Twilight Time of releasing it. It's now a treasured title in my collection.
     
  20. notmicro

    notmicro Agent

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    My Technicolor wish-list:

    Becky Sharp (1935)
    Down Argentine Way (1940 Fox) *on Fox iTunes*
    That Night in Rio (1941 Fox)
    Week-End in Havana (1941 Fox)
    Song of the Islands (1942 Fox)
    Lassie Come Home (1943 MGM)
    Bathing Beauty (1944 MGM)
    Cobra Woman (1944 Universal)
    Frenchman's Creek (1944 Paramount) (Oscar for Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Color)
    National Velvet (1944 MGM) (Oscars for Best Director / Best Actress in a Supporting Role / Best Cinematography, Color / Best Editing)
    the Spanish Main (1945 RKO)
    the Harvey Girls (1946 MGM) (Oscar for Best Music, Original Song)
    Till the Clouds Roll By (1946 MGM)
    Desert Fury (1947 Paramount)
    Sinbad, the Sailor (1947 RKO)
    Romance on the High Seas (1948 Warner)
    the Three Musketeers (1948 MGM)
    Neptune's Daughter (1949 MGM) (Oscar for Best Music, Original Song)
    King Solomon's Mines (1950 MGM) (Oscars for Best Cinematography, Color / Best Film Editing)
    Anne of the Indies (1951 Fox)
    Flame of Araby (1951 Universal)
    Show Boat (1951 MGM)
    Against All Flags (1952 Universal)
    Rancho Notorious (1952 RKO)
    Small Town Girl (1953 MGM)
    War of the Worlds (1953 Paramount) (Oscar for Best Effects, Special Effects)
    Secret of the Incas (1954 Paramount)

    And if I had to pick just one, it would have to be King Solomon's Mines - lots of vivid outdoor cinematography!
     
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