Advice on Criterion DVDs

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Raj_Thiara, Jan 20, 2003.

  1. Raj_Thiara

    Raj_Thiara Agent

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    I'm a big Hitchcock fan but have been very curious about the work of Preston Sturges. I'm contemplating a blind buy of one of the following pieces of work and am interested in any insight those of you who own the disks might lend me.

    39 Steps
    The Lady Vanishes
    Sullivan's Travels
    The Lady Eve

    I have not been able to find any of these movies on DVD here in Edmonton. I know that I can buy the two Hitchcock films for approximately $11.00 Cdn each. I've read the transfers of these films, while not up to their Criterion counterparts standards, are decent.

    I've not seen any Sturges films, although I've heard good things.

    In terms of Hitchcock, I loved Rear Window, Strangers on a Train and Notorious. I really liked Vertigo, Rebecca and Psycho. I only liked The Birds and Rope.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    I reviewed the Sturges films for dOc (link below), and thought both were great.

    I'd take Lady Vanishes over 39 Steps, but haven't seen either in a while.
     
  3. Cary T

    Cary T Screenwriter

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    Mark me down as another who'd take The Lady Vanishes over The 39 Steps. But for $11 each why not buy both, it's a great value. I think you'd place The Lady Vanishes in your really like section, as the same for me.
     
  4. Raj_Thiara

    Raj_Thiara Agent

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    Just for clarification, the $11.00 Cdn Hitchcock DVDs are from another company (?Laserlight), not Criterion. These would thus represent great values.

    Now, I really loved Notorious. Even though there were non-Criterion editions available, I bought the Criterion for the A/V quality and the great extras.

    Thus, I'm asking whether the Hitchcock fans amongst you who have seen the DVDs believe they represent great value in this situation given my tastes in Hitchcock films.

    Thanks
     
  5. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    The Criterion transfers of The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes are much, much better than the Laserlight transfers (I upgraded from the latter). The Laserlight transfers are nowhere near as good as the Anchor Bay transfers of some of Hitchcock's other films that Criterion has also released -- Notorious, Spellbound and Rebecca.

    The Laserlight transfers are inexpensive for a reason. They are not very good.
     
  6. Matt Whitham

    Matt Whitham Auditioning

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    I would agree with Scott, I have the Laserlight version of 39 Steps and The man who knew too much. I really enjoyed the films but the transfers were horrible.

    If you like the films then don't get the laserlight ones, you will only be disappointed.
     
  7. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Many Laserlight releases have been suspected of being ‘pirate’ copies. You may want to consider this in your purchase decisions.

    All four of the Criterion release you mention have very fine transfers, and all four have very good commentaries, though they are a bit academic. I really liked them, but ymmv.

    As for the films, since you are already a big Hitchcock fan, you probably already know that he did not have as big budgets in the UK as he did in the States. I like both and think that they are both worth having. Since you have not familiar with Sturges, you might consider this priority sequence:

    1.The Lady Eve, not quite so dark nor so serious as ‘Sullivan’. Henry Fonda as a young, clueless, hopelessly in love heir in a non-typical comedic role, complete with pratfalls. Extremely funny. And with a young Barbara Stanwyck, who in one long scene, seductive scene gets his juices running.
    2.The Lady Vanishes, a Hitch classic, the premise is not new, but his take has been used by filmmakers over and over. Plus the beginning 20 minutes is as funny as any comedy.
    3.Sullivan’s Travels, if you liked the first Sturges. Many critics think that this is Sturges’ masterpiece. While I disagree, it is a very fine film indeed. If you decide that you are a fan of Sturges, then you will love this. Give is a miss otherwise.
    4.The 39 Steps, which requires that you suspend your disbelief to a large degree, but has rich rewards for those who can.
     
  8. ChuckDeLa

    ChuckDeLa Cinematographer

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    I believe Robert Harris also commented that those Laserlight discs are unauthorized bootlegs, or something to that effect.

    EDIT: Lew beat me to it [​IMG]
     
  9. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    by one minute! [​IMG]
     
  10. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Screenwriter

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  11. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Hey Jeff, thanks for getting an alternate view. I always think it valuable to hear from another side (and I recognize that you are not necessarily representing Laserlight’s view, but only relating what they have said).

    Even so, what else would we expect their counsel to say? That they were violating copyright?

    I’m sure that they have a foundation to believe that they are in the clear.

    But in regards to matters of movie restoration (if not the law), I find Mr. Harris to always have a sound position.
     
  12. Raj_Thiara

    Raj_Thiara Agent

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    I've decided not to pursue the Laserlight versions of the Hitchcock films. After reading some of your suggestions I've decided to give Sturges a spin while I try harder to hunt down the Hitchcock films for rental before I commit the chunk of change for two of his good but not great films (by public opinion, anyway) - some place in this city has got to have them.

    The verdict: Lady Eve Criterion Collection

    Will most likely also try to get Sullivan's Travels later if I like Lady Eve.

    Thanks for all your help.
     
  13. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Screenwriter

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  14. Lars Vermundsberget

    Lars Vermundsberget Supporting Actor

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    I've got all those four Criterions in my small collection and I'd recommend them all.
     
  15. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

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    Bottom line: Criterion Collection kicks ass! [​IMG]

    Re: Sturges- I agree with Lew. Give The Lady Eve a try first, then Sullivan's Travels if you like The Lady Eve. Looks like you have already decided to do this, and I think it's a good call.

    I have yet to go wrong with Criterion Collection DVD's.
     
  16. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Ta muchly, Jeff. [​IMG] As usual with copyright, I'm never sure of the true position--the more so when international issues are involved.
     

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