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International A HIGH WIND IN JAMAICA...A Decent But Flawed Blu-ray From Koch In Germany (1 Viewer)

Dick

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One of my top-ten must-have-on-Blu-ray titles is finally out in Germany. It only took a week to reach me once I ordered it from Amazon.de.

For fans of this wonderful adventure (and I hope there will be many more now), the disc is both a godsend and a minor disappointment. It's the uncut film* (103 minutes). The aspect ratio is correct (2.35:1). The color was processed by DeLuxe (this being a Fox title) and doesn't have that rich Technicolor saturation we all know and love, but it is colorful, with decent flesh tones and nice sky and water blues. Black levels are quite acceptable and are never blocky. The image is sharp as a tack for the most part.

The disappointing factors are two. The film has been put through the DNR wringer, leaving very little if any visible grain structure. But this has not resulted in an oversoftened image that I can see. The mono audio, while probably never very dynamic, is rather flat here...not unclear, just lacking any umph, if you get what I mean. The domestic Fox DVD of years ago will give you an idea of what the audio is here.

Aside from that, the film is one of those rare birds that, plot-wise, work on several levels simultaneously. First and most obvious, it is a rousing pirate adventure, although there isn't much swashbuckling involved. Beneath that, it is a rather potent psychological study of the true nature of children, who in this case innocently bring down the very men who have been reluctantly protecting them in order to offload them at the nearest port, having inadvertently kidnapped them during the hijack of another ship. The relationship between the ship's captain (Anthony Quinn) and one of the children (Deborah Baxter) can feel a bit queasy, but also helps to explain how the film plays out.

I highly recommend this Koch release with the caveats mentioned. This is probably as good as we're likely to see it, and frankly, I'm rather bowled-over (but of course very grateful) that it is being given a Blu-ray at all. This is not a 2k or 4k restoration, but it is a palpable upgrade from DVD in terms of PQ if not audio.

*A HIGH WIND IN JAMAICA (1965) was cut by a significant amount by the distributor, 20th Century-Fox, who did not have much confidence in it. Mackendrick's original submission ran 135 minutes, and subsequently lost just over 1/2 hour with no input from the director. Nonetheless, like THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, enough beautiful footage and plot details remained to render a near-classic. There is a fascinating chapter regarding the making of this film in the biography Lethal Innocence: The Cinema Of Alexander Mackendrick (1991, Methuen London, authored by Philip Kemp), inexpensive copies of which are currently available here:

https://www.amazon.com/Lethal-Innoc...4438904&sr=1-6&keywords=alexander+mackendrick


 
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david hare

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It's a terrible transfer. DVNR'ed to death as you say, in fact it's so bad you could be forgiven for thinking it's a standard def uprez that's been given too much digital makeup. THe color is also vile. Not at all up to normal standards for even the Explosive label.
 

Thomas T

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The film looked okay to me, not spectacular but certainly watchable. This was a first time viewing of the film for me and though it's been decades since I read the source novel (I was in my teens :(), I didn't care much the film. This is a movie that definitely needs a remake and stays closer to the darker aspects of the novel (all suggestions of pedophilia have been eliminated from the film) and the character of Margaret, important in the book, has been marginalized in the film. Frankly, I didn't find Deborah Baxter amazing at all but giving one of those irritating child performances that screams movie child rather than real child. As a child actress, she's no Anna Paquin or Jodie Foster. If a better transfer comes out via Twilight Time (or elsewhere), I'm not upgrading. No amount of spiffing up is going to makes this a better movie.
 

Dick

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As Steve Martin would say, "Well, excuse me!" <_<

I stand by my mini-review, but I'm glad to hear from others who bought this ahead of me. I was just so ecstatic about seeing this on Blu-ray at all that I probably have a tendency to go easy on it, since it is quite watchable. Twilight Time is unlikely to release this, but then I never thought I'd see CONRACK on Blu-ray, so maybe we'll get better one day. I'd love for someone to uncover the studio-imposed cuts (32 minutes) and restore them and the entire film via new 2k or 4k scan, but that's one of those MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS pipe dreams.
 

Robin9

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I've always found this to be a fascinating film. I'd jump for a high quality Blu-ray disc, but evidently this one from Germany doesn't qualify. Many thanks to Dick for starting this thread.
 

OliverK

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The caps look as if this was done to the same standards as the first PATTON disc and THE LONGEST DAY.
 

Bob Cashill

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Can't disagree with any of the thoughts above--it's frustrating as a film and as a Blu-ray, but I did enjoy seeing it again after many years. (And, thanks, Dick, for the book recommendation.)
 

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