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Disney Blu-ray Exclusives -- A quick response to five titles (1 Viewer)

Dick

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I recently received five titles from the Disney Movie Club as my introductory package. This is the third time I have joined during the past twenty years, and I waited until there were enough movies I really wanted before signing up. Here are some quick thoughts:

MELODY TIME
This appears to be uncut at 75 minutes. The smoking scenes in "Pecos Bill" are intact. There is an interesting little box on the back cover:

1643467323381.png


That's ironic, considering they refuse to do the same for SONG OF THE SOUTH or FANTASIA or MAKE MINE MUSIC (see below). The image here is, like most Disney animated features, pretty much devoid of visible grain, yet remains sharp and colorful. The film often seems like a sort of sequel to FANTASIA, with bold abstract images animated to classical or jazz music. Sound is just fine. There is bonus content incliuded in the form of three short cartoons. "Casey Bats Again" is a dull one inmo, not very funny. The second is "Lambert, the Sheepish Lion," which is much more entertaining. Interestingly, both of these shorts seem to have retained their intended film grain. The third," "Donald Applecore" (intended, I assume, as a tie-in to the Johnny Appleseed chapter in the main movie), is the best and best-looking of the bunch although grainless, with nicely saturated colors, especially the reds of the apples. Overall, a nice disc.

MAKE MINE MUSIC
This is a series of stories set to songs and orchestral or jazz music. Unlike MELODY TIME, it has been censored. The Hatfield vs. McCoys chapter has been omitted in its entirety, I assume because of its gun violence. But that omission brings the running time of the film down to just 67 minutes. There is no warning like the one I cut and pasted above, although there is a much smaller box that reads, "Content Advisory: Contains tobacco depictions." What remains looks and sounds fine. Again, there are three bonus cartoons. The first is a virtual duplicate of "The Band Concert" from the CELEBRATING MICKEY disc of a couple years ago, meaning it still has a somewhat desatched look that does not resemble Technicolor. What should be bright red is sort of a dullish red-brown, etc. Too bad they didn't go back to the negative and make this look more like it should. The other two fare better, and both are Silly Symphonies, putting them among the very few that have so far emerged on Blu-ray. "Music Land" and "Farmyard Symphony" look quite nice indeed.

FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR
This one looks rather good to my eyes. The1.78:1 framing approximates the theatrical ratio. Color, sharpness, contrast and film grain are all nicely rendered, but there appears to have been no effort to clean the print from which it was derived. It's a fun movie, well-acted and featuring an interesting concept, brought to life with modest but decent special effects. And, of course, there is the iconic voice of Paul Reubens, aka Pee Wee Herman. No bonus content at all.

THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS
This is the weakest-looking of the batch. Coincidentally, it is also one of the studio's least successful of its PG-rated late 70's-80's films meant to thematically appeal more to adults than to children, while also containing elements that kids can enjoy. This one is occasionally spooky and has eccentric performances by nearly everyone, especially Bette Davis, as directed by John Hough (THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE). Lynn-Holly Johnson irritates me, just as she did in FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, probably due to her somewhat whiny voice. Probably the best performance is from the young Kyle Richards, sister of Kim (ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN). Image quality is all over the map. Often it is diffused and desaturated, starting with the title sequence, which also reveals a lot of print dust that has not been cleaned. The film's climax, which was filmed a number of times, is still a confusing mess. An alternate title sequence is included as a bonus, and it was best left behind. The alternate endings are more interesting. If I could edit the two into one with some judicious cuts, I could probably come up with an ending that works better than the one left in the movie. There is a kinda cool alien creature that I feel might have helped make sense of the muddle we have been left with. There is supposedly Dolby Stereo sound, but I didn't hear much for separation.

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES
I've been longing for this one on Blu, and the DMC edition aquits itself rather well. The colors are a bit desaturated, but I seem to recall they were not very strong when I saw it theatrically in 1983. The first half of the film rather splendidly captures the atmosphere and even poetic language of its author Ray Bradbury. I was thrilled while watching it. Finally! Bradbury has been well-adapted at last. But then came that spider sequence (not in the book) dropped in merely to appease the horror fans without moving the plot one iota. Where James Horner's music had been lovely and lyrical and quietly foreboding up to this point, this unnecessary sequence has him pounding away with ALIENS-like bursts of loud, screetching strings. But then came the parade "search" and the library sequences, which set everything right again. More than right...perfect. The interaction between Jason Robards and the evil Jonathan Pryce (both superb) is practically word-for-word Brabury dialog, and perfectly performed. Ditto the the ten-minute library sequence, which has an amazing impact that I wish had been maintained through the climax in the carnival. Unfortunately, at that point, in the carousel tent, the Dolby sound mix -- and this was true in the theatrical prints as well as on video -- is poorly mixed, so that the important dialog even when shouted can't be made out clearly above the sound of the runaway carousel. The big revelation about how one defeats the dark carnival is nearly lost in the fray.
In my final analysis, here is a 95-minute film that really needed to be two hours long, minimum. The relationships between Will and his aging, guilt-ridden father, and that of Will and his best friend Jim, need more texture and time to develop, but feel rushed in the second half. The roots of a masterpiece are there and can be seen and heard, but the studio screwed around with the story until its excellence was compromised. Some of the effects were considered subpar and were withdrawn and re-shot, but what remains is only passable. It seems likely that important character development was left dangling in favor of thrills. I still love the film, but wish it was more. Bradbury himself wrote the screenplay, but it just isn't always reflected in the final cut. The author's commentary track from the old Anchor Bay DVD was not carried over to this release. The sound is very clearly stereo, with good separation and surround effects. There are no bonus features.
 
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Capt D McMars

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I agreee, why has Disney placed this lable for one film, yet denighs a classic like Song of the South, by just the addition of this lable, to cover thier collective Booty? Very interesting....
siamese please GIF
 

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Kent K H

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Very disappointed to hear they released a butchered MMM. I was hoping they’d fix that faux pas as they did some other overzealous cutting.
 

lark144

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Very disappointed to hear they released a butchered MMM. I was hoping they’d fix that faux pas as they did some other overzealous cutting.
I think the Hatfield & McCoy sequence was deleted decades ago for home video in the mistaken belief that it would frighten young children. Except Walt Disney movies have been frightening young children for almost a century now. By that reasoning, they should also delete the kidnapping and whale sequences in "Pinocchio"--which scared the living daylights out of me as a three year old--and the killing of the mother in "Bambi". I remember going to see "Bambi" in the afternoon to a theater when it was re-released sometime in the 1980's. The theater was filled with young children and their nannies. When the mother was killed, every child in the theater started to scream. The Hatfield & McCoy sequence is extremely tame by comparison. Walt Disney, of course, unlike the current overseerers of his catalogue, thought such shocks were good for building character in young children. The powers that be at Disney today state the Hatfield & McCoy sequence was deleted because of "gun violence", but a child can see way more random killing on 30 seconds of television. And of course, that sequence has the best animation in the film as a whole. But whatareya gonnado?
 

Kent K H

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I think the Hatfield & McCoy sequence was deleted decades ago for home video in the mistaken belief that it would frighten young children. Except Walt Disney movies have been frightening young children for almost a century now. By that reasoning, they should also delete the kidnapping and whale sequences in "Pinocchio"--which scared the living daylights out of me as a three year old--and the killing of the mother in "Bambi". I remember going to see "Bambi" in the afternoon to a theater when it was re-released sometime in the 1980's. The theater was filled with young children and their nannies. When the mother was killed, every child in the theater started to scream. The Hatfield & McCoy sequence is extremely tame by comparison. Walt Disney, of course, unlike the current overseerers of his catalogue, thought such shocks were good for building character in young children. The powers that be at Disney today state the Hatfield & McCoy sequence was deleted because of "gun violence", but a child can see way more random killing on 30 seconds of television. And of course, that sequence has the best animation in the film as a whole. But whatareya gonnado?
Pinnochio is filled to the brim with nightmare fuel. Pleasure Island still freaks audiences out. That would be an insane reasoning for that company, in particular. I mean... being traumatized by Pink Elephants is a rite of passage.
 

jayembee

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I think the Hatfield & McCoy sequence was deleted decades ago for home video in the mistaken belief that it would frighten young children. Except Walt Disney movies have been frightening young children for almost a century now.

This reminds me of a comment by Tim Burton prior to the release of A Nightmare Before Christmas: "If it disturbs just one child, it will have been worth it."
 

ScottHM

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The powers that be at Disney today state the Hatfield & McCoy sequence was deleted because of "gun violence", but a child can see way more random killing on 30 seconds of television. And of course, that sequence has the best animation in the film as a whole. But whatareya gonnado?
Just slap an R rating on the package.
---------------
 

lark144

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Pinnochio is filled to the brim with nightmare fuel. Pleasure Island still freaks audiences out. That would be an insane reasoning for that company, in particular. I mean... being traumatized by Pink Elephants is a rite of passage.
"Pinocchio" was especially traumatic for me, because I was taken to see it on my third birthday. What especially disturbed me was the fact that Pinocchio went to Pleasure Island, ate ice cream, and then all these horrible things happened to him. After the movie, we went to an ice cream parlor, my mother bought me an ice cream sundae, but I was afraid to eat it.
 

lark144

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Just slap an R rating on the package.
---------------
If you'd like to convince the CEO of Disney about the wisdom of that action, so a few hundred animation freaks can see it, you have my blessing.
 

warnerbro

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DARBY O GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE looks faded and washed out. The colors are wrong. What used to be emerald green is now faded teal. They did include the entire Disney TV episode of the Wonderful World Of Disney and I thank them for that. It is even in HD! And they included the Sean Connery short documentary as well as the informative documentary on the tricks used in the film.
 

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