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Robert Harris

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Mr. Ford's 1959 The Horse Soldiers is an interesting production from a number of angles, but fans may find it irresistible for the pairing of John Wayne and William Holden.

It's also a rather incredible historical showcase of the the Ford stock company, with players going back to appearing in his films in the teens - Hoot Gibson is a perfect example - they go back to 1917 in Straight Shooting, also available from Kino.

The Civil War drama looks far better than okay on the new Blu-ray, although the release also brings to the fore the concept of marketing via a new scan - in this case 4k.

But the question is what was scanned in 4k?

I'm betting the element is an older IP, and I'm guessing here, but we seem to be at generation away from the highest quality - dupes stand out easily for what they are - and there is a bit of fade - nothing terrible, possibly to the OCN at the time the IP was struck.

Without going back, and doing a full-scale restoration, I doubt that this could possibly be any better.

The above is not to dissuade anyone from purchasing this new Blu-ray, it's merely for the record.

Contrast can be a bit iffy at times. Flesh tones are generally fine, but also have their deficiencies. Stability is okay, but nowhere near it might be if a prime element was scanned. The image is overall just a touch twitchy.

A fine film, and worthy of a place in any serious collection.

Image – 3.5

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from earlier Blu-ray – depends

Works up-rezzed to 4k - Nothing special

Recommended

RAH
 

Robert Crawford

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Upgrade from earlier Blu-ray – depends
When was the last time you watched the 2011 Blu-ray? There is little doubt in my mind that this new Blu-ray will surpass that video presentation. This movie is near and dear to my heart so I've ordered it from Kino so I can get it as early as possible. Back in high school, I did a report on the actual raid this film was based on. Anyhow, I can't wait until then.
 

Robert Harris

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When was the last time you watched the 2011 Blu-ray? There is little doubt in my mind that this new Blu-ray will surpass that video presentation. This movie is near and dear to my heart so I've ordered it from Kino so I can get it as early as possible. Back in high school, I did a report on the actual raid this film was based on. Anyhow, I can't wait until then.
I sampled it a couple of days ago in comparison. The new one does surpass the old. Beyond being 1.85 as opposed 1.66 which was UA standard for two weeks in July of 1959, the new one has more palatable grain.

Dirt, wear, etc. are about the same.

I prefer the new one, but am a Ford aficionado.
 

jim_falconer

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As I’ve mentioned before, I’m completely satisfied with the previous BD, so I’ll be passing on this release. That said, anyone who doesn’t own this incredible film should certainly buy this latest release. One of my all-time favorite films. I own a large framed portrait of the scene where the southern troops are being cut to pieces by the awaiting northern troops. John Wayne’s anguish is extremely realistic, and is perfectly captured within that painting. One of my most treasured possessions
 

Flashgear

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I like film grain, and insist on a sufficient appearance of grain, the organic look of film. I'm no aficionado of the technical, but the previous MGM Blu-ray had the most exaggerated prominence of grain that I couldn't help but notice. So much so that It was distracting enough that it impacted my enjoyment of this spectacular film. And that was while viewing it from about 12 ft. from a 55" HDTV. The definition and color were otherwise quite good. Certainly nowhere near the most disappointing Blu-rays in my (pretty big) collection. I'm encouraged by Robert Harris' comment that "the new one has more palatable grain". Thanks for your helpful reviews, Robert!

But I love The Horse Soldiers enough that I've had KL's new Blu on pre-order for months now, and should have it on street date.
 

Bartman

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I had the MGM widescreen laserdisc and it quickly became one of my favorite westerns. I skipped the DVD as it was from the laserdisc master. Perhaps because I was used to the laserdisc, I didn't find the MGM Blu-ray objectionable. I'll pull it and rewatch. Please, everyone, let us know if this a genuine upgrade?
That UA standard of 1.66:1 became a lame excuse for MGM to release UA DVDs in a letterbox rather than anamorphic format. I purchased quite a few knowing that an upgrade to anamorphic would appear later, duh! Truth be told, there were very few widescreen TVs around at the dawn of DVD but Warner and a few others had the foresight to see what was coming.
 

Bartman

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I had the MGM widescreen laserdisc and it quickly became one of my favorite westerns. I skipped the DVD as it was from the laserdisc master. Perhaps because I was used to the laserdisc, I didn't find the MGM Blu-ray objectionable. I'll pull it and rewatch. Please, everyone, let us know if this a genuine upgrade?
That UA standard of 1.66:1 became a lame excuse for MGM to release UA DVDs in a letterbox rather than anamorphic format. I purchased quite a few knowing that an upgrade to anamorphic would appear later, duh! Truth be told, there were very few widescreen TVs around at the dawn of DVD but Warner and a few others had the foresight to see what was coming.
While I hav'nt seen the new KL, I rewatched the MGM and it looks very good probably because MGM gave it a very high bit rate (30-40Mbps), unusual for the time. I'm not going to replace the MGM until I'm tempted by a low price on the KL.
 

David_B_K

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While I hav'nt seen the new KL, I rewatched the MGM and it looks very good probably because MGM gave it a very high bit rate (30-40Mbps), unusual for the time. I'm not going to replace the MGM until I'm tempted by a low price on the KL.

I think I will do the same. I didn't think the re-do of Vera Cruz looked better than the original. It seemed like the color was overly boosted and it was kind of overly contrasty. I love The Horse Soldiers and bought the MGM Blu-ray as soon as it came out, but I will wait for reviews on the new version.
 

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I have a question about scanning 'from the OCN'. This may not be relevant to The Horse Soldiers itself, but something I've always wondered about.

It is my understanding that for a given scene, there are multiple OCNs (the film that actually went through the camera) - different angles, multiple takes, close-ups vs medium vs long, etc. The Director and Editor then take these multiple pieces of film and cut them up and assemble them into the scene we end up seeing.

It's also my understanding that in most cases, the actual OCNs are left as is, and all this cutting and re-assembling is done using copies of the OCN (to preserve the actual OCN, and allow revisions).

My question is, when it is stated that the OCN was scanned, are they referring to the true OCN - the film that went through the camera, or something else (a 1st generation copy?). Because if they are scanning the true OCN, does that mean they are scanning all the takes, all the angles? And then, does someone have to re-edit those to match the original edit? Having to choose which shots from which take were used?
 

Bartman

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I think I will do the same. I didn't think the re-do of Vera Cruz looked better than the original. It seemed like the color was overly boosted and it was kind of overly contrasty. I love The Horse Soldiers and bought the MGM Blu-ray as soon as it came out, but I will wait for reviews on the new version.
I, too, had the MGM and didn't buy the KL Vera Cruz. Truth be told I only watched it once, it's a strange western!
 

Josh Steinberg

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I have a question about scanning 'from the OCN'. This may not be relevant to The Horse Soldiers itself, but something I've always wondered about.

It is my understanding that for a given scene, there are multiple OCNs (the film that actually went through the camera) - different angles, multiple takes, close-ups vs medium vs long, etc. The Director and Editor then take these multiple pieces of film and cut them up and assemble them into the scene we end up seeing.

It's also my understanding that in most cases, the actual OCNs are left as is, and all this cutting and re-assembling is done using copies of the OCN (to preserve the actual OCN, and allow revisions).

My question is, when it is stated that the OCN was scanned, are they referring to the true OCN - the film that went through the camera, or something else (a 1st generation copy?). Because if they are scanning the true OCN, does that mean they are scanning all the takes, all the angles? And then, does someone have to re-edit those to match the original edit? Having to choose which shots from which take were used?

Speaking very generally from the days of shooting and editing on film…

When the editor and director are working on editing the film, they’re cutting a work print - it’s a copy made from the original negative. The original negative has unique identifiers outside the visible frame and these copy over to the work print - like numbers on a page in a book, so even though the editor is cutting a copy of the negative, all of the information is present to know how to assemble the original negative in the same way. When the editing is finished and finalized (or “locked”), a special kind of editor called a “negative cutter” will very carefully cut the original negatives together to match the work print. This cut negative will then be used to make intermediate and printing elements, and release prints are made from that.

That’s enormously generalized and there are countless exceptions and deviations depending on year and format and budget and all that stuff, but that’s a broad snapshot of the process. So when a studio talks about scanning an original negative, they’re usually referring to an assembled negative and not individual takes or unused material. More often than not, unused material would have been junked after the finished film was released.
 

RickardL

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I like film grain, and insist on a sufficient appearance of grain, the organic look of film. I'm no aficionado of the technical, but the previous MGM Blu-ray had the most exaggerated prominence of grain that I couldn't help but notice. So much so that It was distracting enough that it impacted my enjoyment of this spectacular film. And that was while viewing it from about 12 ft. from a 55" HDTV.
I have the MGM as well but your bad experience might be caused by having the Contrast setting too high?
I have used this pattern on the Spears & Munsil BD to set the Contrast http://spearsandmunsil.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Contrast_Y.png
but not the bars with numbers, instead look at the ramp in the middle:
Instructions say: The ramp in the center that goes from black to white and back should have a very thin white stripe in the center, but no other streaks or bands.
With a smooth continuous ramp and basically no stripe in the middle, (see the blue rectangle in the contrastmiddle.jpg) I end up with a Contrast setting that is well below the setting I get when I try to use the bars with numbers as reference.
And the result is that the grain is more like fine velvet in the background instead of very noticeable "exaggerated prominence of grain". If I have the Contrast too high, the grain is almost untolerable on that disc.
Try it!
 

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Robert Harris

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I like film grain, and insist on a sufficient appearance of grain, the organic look of film. I'm no aficionado of the technical, but the previous MGM Blu-ray had the most exaggerated prominence of grain that I couldn't help but notice. So much so that It was distracting enough that it impacted my enjoyment of this spectacular film. And that was while viewing it from about 12 ft. from a 55" HDTV. The definition and color were otherwise quite good. Certainly nowhere near the most disappointing Blu-rays in my (pretty big) collection. I'm encouraged by Robert Harris' comment that "the new one has more palatable grain". Thanks for your helpful reviews, Robert!

But I love The Horse Soldiers enough that I've had KL's new Blu on pre-order for months now, and should have it on street date.
This transfer has a extremely sharpened appearance. The Kino release solves the problem.
 

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