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A Few Words About A few words about...™ The Night of the Generals -- in Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Robert Harris

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Anatole Litvak's The Night of the Generals (1967), is one of the films, and it seems like there are dozens of them, although there are not, that are spawn of Lawrence of Arabia, and continuing agreements with Sam Spiegel's production company.


This one reunited Mssrs. O'Toole and Sharif, along with Tom Courtenay, who is connected via Dr. Zhivago and David Lean. Possibly one of the greatest screen exits to an intermission -- That's him. That's Strelnikov. Also, on board, was composer Maurice Jarre.


Night of the Generals is a big production about a Nazi general with a penchant for killing prostitutes, and while I've never found it to be a "great" film, it is a good one.


This is also one of those films, in which, at least for me, accents get in the way.


In the end, however, it's worth two hours of your time, and Twilight Time's new Blu-ray is a high quality affair, as the master came from Columbia.


Grain structure, along with overall resolution, color, densities and all the niceties we've come to expect from Columbia are in place.


Image - 4.5


Audio - 5


Pass / Fail - Pass


Recommended


RAH
 

Dr Griffin

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I like this one and thought the DVD looked very good. I like O'toole's role in this one, subdued for the most part for him, but very twitchy. :) Sort of like the barely audible rumble before a volcano blows.
 

marsnkc

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Dr Griffin said:
I like this one and thought the DVD looked very good. I like O'toole's role in this one, subdued for the most part for him, but very twitchy. :) Sort of like the barely audible rumble before a volcano blows.

Yep, no one could play tightly wound like O'Toole. Not the greatest movie in the world, but I love it, and a treat to watch him. On its way with The Young Lions (now there's a special treat!) and a few other gems (including a second one from S.P. Eagle).
 

marsnkc

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That's good news, Alex. Surprised it didn't get a full 5 as it's from Columbia, but maybe we've just been spoiled... :P
 

marsnkc

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The picture is stunning and exceeds my hopes and expectations for it. Outdoor scenes particularly look three dimensional. You know you're in for a treat the moment the titles start.


As for the story, I've always wished the writers (apparently a case of too many cooks) had better justified, or given more weight to, Major Grau's authority to pursue senior generals - one of them a hero - in the thick of war, no matter that the murdered 'prostitute' was a German agent. He approaches them unchallenged and uninvited at parties and interrupts them at meetings with impunity. In reality, any one of these acts would have seen him shot before he got within a mile of them, or his head dangling from the Brandenburg Gate as a warning to other humanities-regarding, would-be Quixotes.

The access he apparently enjoyed would have worked had he been shown to have the support, for any number of reasons, of one of the generals' own superiors, someone like the character played by Harry Andrews.
 

Malcolm Bmoor

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It's interesting that this thread, as do most others, supports the myth of OSCE - no you've not heard of it before because I've just made it up: ORIGINAL SUPERIOR CINEMA EXPERIENCE.


I saw NIGHT OF THE GENERALS in what was at the time considered to be a prime presentation. It was at the long gone Capital in Cardiff, a superb 70mm house, at the midnight private print check and was instantly disappointed. It was extremely grainy 35mm in (as usual) distorted mono optical and whatever the merits of the film (I've never been a fan) the experience was lacklustre.


I'm sure the Blu-ray is wonderful quality and those too young to remember the average cinema experiences of the past can be truly grateful.


I'm eagerly awaiting LA NUITE AMERICAIN as that's always looked and sounded dreadful, both originally and on subsequent NFT revivals. The Blu-ray will be the first time I'll have seen it decently. As a final example I'll mention THE LONG GOODBYE, with which my experience is identical. It wasn't until watching the Blu-ray that I realised that the appalling quality of the music was because it was from an appalling quality distorted original.


Of course special large format presentations could be stunning and there were frequently high quality 35mm ones, despite the sound limitations, although some were 4 track before Dolby Matrix arrived to improve the average situation. But in this world of beautifully transferred and restored productions to Blu-ray that bad old world of average cinema experiences has been left far behind.


Before our resident Insiders howl in disagreement I'll suggest they bear in mind the issues of multi dupe printing and mediocre cinemas. Quality varied enormously depending upon where you saw the film and here in the UK there was an additional factor: Used, worn and scruffy imported US prints saving on local duplication.
 

StephenDH

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Sadly, no amount of restoration/remastering will improve the awful, tin-eared dubbing. Even when the actor's own voice is being used, it looks fake.

International co-productions often suffer from this but at least they keep David de Keyser in work.
 

Paul Rossen

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A few posters have commented about the sound of Night of the Generals. Remember this is the same producer (Sam Spiegel) that made Nicholas and Alexandra. And while a number of posters have seen N&A in stereo I saw it Roadshow at NY's Criterion Theater in mono. Same mono sound as Night of the Generals. Just an observation that Mr. Spiegel did not want to spend the money on stereo sound.
 

marsnkc

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David Lean (according to Robert Bolt, if memory serves) once complained that "Sam always had one hand in your pocket", and in a row over the budget on Lawrence, allegedly said, "Sam, this movie is going to make money, and since we're equal partners, meaning you'll get 60% to my 40% ( :cool: ) you'll do very well out of it."


But what a CV. Four masterpieces, two of them in my top three obsessions.



Malcolm-

Positive comments about Columbia here don't refer to the studio at the time of Generals, nor to their attitude towards elements at the time. They're a reference to Grover Crisp at Sony. Since he's made Columbia/Sony synonymous with top quality masters, expectations are always high. Article is about a 2013 event in London in recognition of his work in restoration and preservation:
 

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Brian McP

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RAH, I especially agree with your statement:


"This is also one of those films, in which, at least for me, accents get in the way."


Could not have put it better -- the sight and sound of Gordon Jackson playing a Nazi officer is one of the weirdest things I ever seen in any movie.
 

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