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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Body and Soul -- in Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Robert Harris

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Abraham Polonsky's noir boxing drama, Body and Soul, has arrived on Blu-ray via Olive, and the results are well...

Olivish.

A decent film element, with an occasionally nice gray scale and detail, is mishandled in HD, all for the lack of a bit of digital clean-up. At the price of admission, that's the least that Olive can do to support their customer base, which must be from the higher levels of the socio-economic sale.

Very few people that I know, can actually afford to purchase these releases, especially at $20 a shot, or more, based upon Olive's distribution pattern.

Make no mistake, the Republic library contains some superb films, with some great Paramount titles along for the ride. I'm waiting patiently for Letter from an Unknown Woman, a brilliant Opuls film, as well as The Sterile Cuckoo.

But here's the rub. They're coming out so fast and furious, and with such a wide range of quality, it's difficult to keep up, difficult to report on them, and an unpleasant when you find an occasional rotten bit in the bowl of Blu-rays. If I didn't know better -- actually, I don't know better, as I've no information on the subject -- I might be led to believe that Olive has a 18 month window of exclusivity, and is in a rush to get the titles out before they lose their spot.

October will have to support 15 new Olive releases, followed in November by another 9 (inclusive of two important boxed sets). If one was desirous of owning half of their new releases, that's $150 for October alone. Most of the studios don't bring this many titles to the marketplace. And the problem is, many of the releases are high quality films. How can the average person keep up?

Add in a few studio titles, and one could easily be spending $300 - 400 per month on new releases. Blu-ray dependency could end up being a disease of the month.

Back to Body and Soul, which is a terrific film. $20 is too much to ask for a title that isn't decently digitally cleaned. Main titles could use a bit of stabilization.

Great film.

What appears to be a decent film element.

Poor showing when it comes to the final release.

On the positive side, main titles are not window-boxed.

Possibly if Olive slowed down their release pattern, they could spend a bit on each title, and get them right.

Image - 3

Audio - 4
 

lukejosephchung

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Do we know how long Olive Films' licensing agreement with Viacom/Paramount runs, Robert? They may have only a limited window of opportunity to get these films out before it expires. That may be contributing to the "rush job" quality of these releases.
 

shoeshineboy

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Wow. I'm now eager to see this for myself. Sure wish there was someone providing a similar critical eye for detail on half the Warner Archive crap that has been shovelled out the door with zero cleanup and at 98% of the same price. Still, good to keep the little independent businesses on their toes.
WA has a mixed track record that doesn't seem to get quite the same going-over. Wonder why? The list of mediocre to poor transfers could fill a nice blog, although I suppose the person who'd undertake that would see an end to their free review copies toot-sweet. But if one were to do so, they could start with Noirs like Crack-up, The FAllen Sparrow, The Gangster, I Died a 1,000 Times, Woman on Pier 13, Johnny Eager, A Lady Without Passport, The Locket...
 

Robin9

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shoeshineboy said:
Wow. I'm now eager to see this for myself. Sure wish there was someone providing a similar critical eye for detail on half the Warner Archive crap that has been shovelled out the door with zero cleanup and at 98% of the same price. Still, good to keep the little independent businesses on their toes.
WA has a mixed track record that doesn't seem to get quite the same going-over. Wonder why? The list of mediocre to poor transfers could fill a nice blog, although I suppose the person who'd undertake that would see an end to their free review copies toot-sweet. But if one were to do so, they could start with Noirs like Crack-up, The FAllen Sparrow, The Gangster, I Died a 1,000 Times, Woman on Pier 13, Johnny Eager, A Lady Without Passport, The Locket...
Why don't you place this in the Warner Archives thread where it belongs?
 

Brandon Conway

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Originally Posted by lukejosephchung /t/324078/a-few-words-about-body-and-soul-in-blu-ray#post_3981311
Do we know how long Olive Films' licensing agreement with Viacom/Paramount runs, Robert? They may have only a limited window of opportunity to get these films out before it expires. That may be contributing to the "rush job" quality of these releases.

No one knows exactly, but I would guess at least 3 years and no more than 5. And the Republic titles were a subsequent deal to the original Paramount licensed titles, so clearly Olive would be first choice to re-up when the license expires.

In any case, I am under the impression that the volume of releases is due more to the vast amount of titles licensed (some 200 or so between the Paramount and Republic deals) than the release window.
 

Robert Harris

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Originally Posted by shoeshineboy /t/324078/a-few-words-about-body-and-soul-in-blu-ray#post_3981323
Wow. I'm now eager to see this for myself. Sure wish there was someone providing a similar critical eye for detail on half the Warner Archive crap that has been shovelled out the door with zero cleanup and at 98% of the same price. Still, good to keep the little independent businesses on their toes.
WA has a mixed track record that doesn't seem to get quite the same going-over. Wonder why? The list of mediocre to poor transfers could fill a nice blog, although I suppose the person who'd undertake that would see an end to their free review copies toot-sweet. But if one were to do so, they could start with Noirs like Crack-up, The FAllen Sparrow, The Gangster, I Died a 1,000 Times, Woman on Pier 13, Johnny Eager, A Lady Without Passport, The Locket...
Actually, the Warner Archive label has had quite a bit of re-mastering going on the past year, with more to come. While originally the concept only permitted the use of extant masters, George Feltenstein, who is behind the brand, has been working extremely hard to pull up quality. And in my opinion, has been succeeding. Is the price point too high in some instances? Yes.

There are some nice surprises coming.

RAH
 

Robert Harris

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Originally Posted by Brandon Conway /t/324078/a-few-words-about-body-and-soul-in-blu-ray#post_3981334

No one knows exactly, but I would guess at least 3 years and no more than 5. And the Republic titles were a subsequent deal to the original Paramount licensed titles, so clearly Olive would be first choice to re-up when the license expires.

In any case, I am under the impression that the volume of releases is due more to the vast amount of titles licensed (some 200 or so between the Paramount and Republic deals) than the release window.
Unfortunately, for their quality titles, and there are many, it will be the same consumers again and again. And it gets expensive.

RAH
 

Brandon Conway

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Originally Posted by Robert Harris /t/324078/a-few-words-about-body-and-soul-in-blu-ray#post_3981343
Unfortunately, for their quality titles, and there are many, it will be the same consumers again and again. And it gets expensive.

RAH

Well, no one is bound to buy them all, or upon release date for that matter.
 

Robert Crawford

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Originally Posted by Robert Harris /t/324078/a-few-words-about-body-and-soul-in-blu-ray#post_3981343
Unfortunately, for their quality titles, and there are many, it will be the same consumers again and again. And it gets expensive.

RAH
That may be, but they've released some titles that have never been released on any video disc format and for that I thank them. Sure, their releases could be better, but it's better than nothing as my time on this earth is getting shorter each day that passes.
 

Robert Harris

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Originally Posted by Robert Crawford /t/324078/a-few-words-about-body-and-soul-in-blu-ray#post_3981348
That may be, but they've released some titles that have never been released on any video disc format and for that I thank them. Sure, their releases could be better, but it's better than nothing as my time on this earth is getting shorter each day that passes.
Hopefully, my point is not being misconstrued.

When I suggest clean-up, I'm suggesting taking the master, and spending a few thousand dollars before bringing it to market, and having the final result be something that looks far better than it does currently.

I'm not suggesting major investments. Especially in something the don't own.

RAH
 

Robert Crawford

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Originally Posted by Robert Harris /t/324078/a-few-words-about-body-and-soul-in-blu-ray#post_3981349
Hopefully, my point is not being misconstrued.

When I suggest clean-up, I'm suggesting taking the master, and spending a few thousand dollars before bringing it to market, and having the final result be something that looks far better than it does currently.

I'm not suggesting major investments. Especially in something the don't own.

RAH
I completely understand what you're saying as we've been down this road before regarding Olive. Remember, when they became a little sensitive to some earlier comments regarding some previous releases like High Noon during an exclusive interview with BR.com's Jeff Kauffman. They made some confusing comments then that didn't make sense to you nor I for that matter. It would be nice if they did a little more work on these titles as well as include subtitles, but I'm not holding my breath to see them change their current practice.
 

Robert Harris

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Originally Posted by Robert Crawford /t/324078/a-few-words-about-body-and-soul-in-blu-ray#post_3981354
I completely understand what you're saying as we've been down this road before regarding Olive. Remember, when they became a little sensitive to some earlier comments regarding some previous releases like High Noon during an exclusive interview with BR.com's Jeff Kauffman. They made some confusing comments then that didn't make sense to you nor I for that matter. It would be nice if they did a little more work on these titles as well as include subtitles, but I'm not holding my breath to see them change their current practice.
Sub-titles are easy...


comedy is hard.

Who said that?
 

RobHam

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"if Olive slowed down their release pattern, they could spend a bit on each title, and get them right".
Possibly relevant, maybe not.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, who holds rights to a master tape of a movie (or who can get licence from a major studio) is releasing blu ray discs in the now.
There seems to be an almost panic in the speed of release - witness the disgrace of a major studio preparing to release Hitchcock classics with wrong font/spelling mistakes.
What we seem to be seeing is a "fuck 'em, they wont notice" attitude.
What I don't know, is the gravitas of the RAH "a few words about" series and this site's impact on the wider commercial world (does it have any?).
I have enormous respect for Mr Harris, but I also wonder if this is more about Canute and the tide.
 

Robert Crawford

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Originally Posted by Brandon Conway /t/324078/a-few-words-about-body-and-soul-in-blu-ray#post_3981363

But pricey for arbitrary reasons.
Is it really that pricey? I know a lot of people that aren't hard of hearling that do activate subtitles during playback.
 

Brandon Conway

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Originally Posted by Robert Crawford /t/324078/a-few-words-about-body-and-soul-in-blu-ray#post_3981365
Is it really that pricey? I know a lot of people that aren't hard of hearling that do activate subtitles during playback.

Yes. Just one example:

http://cpcweb.com/caption-service/rates/CPC_caption_rates.pdf

That's for older style closed captions. On-disc EN SDH subs have more specific programming that costs even more, IIRC.

And this doesn't include quality control checks and cost of fixes.

For many small labels that only license the films this can be outside their budgets.
 

Robert Harris

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RobHam said:
I have enormous respect for Mr Harris, but I also wonder if this is more about Canute and the tide.
Hardly. I simply desire the best possible presentations under rational circumstances.
 

Doug Otte

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Hi Mr. Harris. I watched Body and Soul a few weeks before Force of Evil, but they seemed about the same picture quality to me. You gave Force a 4 rating, but you gave Body a 3 rating. You mentioned that it could have used digital clean up, specifically stabilizing the credits. Could you give more detail about what could have been cleaned up, and how this release differed from Force? Thanks.
 

Robert Crawford

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Originally Posted by Doug Otte /t/324078/a-few-words-about-body-and-soul-in-blu-ray#post_3981503
Hi Mr. Harris. I watched Body and Soul a few weeks before Force of Evil, but they seemed about the same picture quality to me. You gave Force a 4 rating, but you gave Body a 3 rating. You mentioned that it could have used digital clean up, specifically stabilizing the credits. Could you give more detail about what could have been cleaned up, and how this release differed from Force? Thanks.
I thought Force of Evil was better picture quality-wise than Body and Soul. My personal grade for Force of Evil would be 4.0 and for Body and Soul 3.5.
 

Robert Harris

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Originally Posted by Doug Otte /t/324078/a-few-words-about-body-and-soul-in-blu-ray#post_3981503
Hi Mr. Harris. I watched Body and Soul a few weeks before Force of Evil, but they seemed about the same picture quality to me. You gave Force a 4 rating, but you gave Body a 3 rating. You mentioned that it could have used digital clean up, specifically stabilizing the credits. Could you give more detail about what could have been cleaned up, and how this release differed from Force? Thanks.
More dirt.

RAH
 

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