DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Guys and Dolls Deluxe Edition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Cameron Yee, May 20, 2006.

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  1. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    XenForo Template Guys and Dolls Deluxe Edition Release Date: April 25, 2006 Studio: MGM Studios Year: 1955 Rating: Not Rated Running Time: 2h29m Video: 2.55:1 anamorphic (Special Features 1.78 anamorphic) Audio: English DD5.1, English DD3.0, French DD5.1, Spanish DD5.1 (Special Features: English DD2.0) Subtitles: English, French, Spanish TV-Generated Closed Captions: English Menus: Non-animated Packaging/Materials: Single disc keepcase with cardstock slipcover that holds the case and collectible book MSRP: $24.96
    The Feature: 4.5/5 I didn’t attend a single high school football game, but you could always find me at the drama department’s latest production. “Guys and Dolls” came in my senior year, preceded by other popular fare like “Camelot” and “Hello Dolly.” Over time I’ve seen the Hollywood productions of those musicals – and now finally “Guys and Dolls” – but have found nostalgia to be a powerful thing. A film musical may be absolutely perfect and have won an armload of awards, but it will never beat the memories of friends and classmates on stage. With that said, Joseph Mankiewicz’s “Guys and Dolls” is a crowdpleaser – an accomplished production filled with hum-worthy songs, masterful dance sequences and solid vocal and dramatic performances. Gambler Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra) is looking to start up another session of his infamous floating crap game, but is short on startup funds and feeling pressure to give it up from both the authorities and Adelaide (Vivian Blaine), his fiancee of 14 years. Undaunted he makes a bet with fellow gambler Sky Masterson that Masterson cannot persuade any woman to join him on a trip to Havana, Cuba. Of course it’s Detroit who gets to pick the target and he picks Sgt. Sarah Brown (Jean Simmons), a missionary for a Salvation Army style organization. Masterson manages to win the bet, using a combination of gambler charm and sincerity, but falls in love with her – and she with him - in the process. Returning from their trip, a misunderstanding separates them until he is able to prove the depth of his feelings in the only way he knows how. The parallel love story between Detroit and Adelaide is played more for laughs, with Detroit unable to finalize the marriage and Adelaide suffering from a psychosomatic cold as a result. But their scenes together have their share of touching moments, as their love is genuine despite the delayed nuptials. Finding Brando in a musical remains as surprising today as it probably was in 1955, especially as “Guys and Dolls” followed his legendary performance in “On the Waterfront.” But whatever limitations he may have had vocally he made up for with acting prowess. Sinatra is the other side of the coin, standing out as the strongest vocal performer in the cast, but less natural as an actor. Of the two female parts, the role of Adelaide is the more interesting - though a bit cartoonish - with Brown being fairly straight and narrow (except when under the influence of several Dulce de Leches). Blaine and Simmons provide solid performances regardless. Music and lyrics (Frank Loesser) are the most enduring part of the production, as with any quality musical. “Guys and Dolls” gets an excellent start with “Fugue for Tinhorns,” a syncopated ode to horse racing and the gamblers who love it. Other standout numbers include the romantic duet “I’ll Know,” the rousing “The Oldest Established” and the males’ lamentation “Guys and Dolls.” Dance choreography (Michael Kidd) is also topnotch, with a stage-influenced opening sequence depicting New York hustle and flow, two sexy numbers at Adelaide’s nightclub (featuring the Goldwyn Girls), and Masterson’s climactic bet in the sewer, set to “Luck Be A Lady.” Those who enjoy musicals will find plenty to appreciate in “Guys and Dolls.” Songs will stay with a viewer well past the initial viewing and will certainly inspire repeated play. For those of us whose first exposure to a musical was through a high school production, nothing will likely replace those fond memories but the quality of a Hollywood production like “Guys and Dolls” may make them fade just a little. Video Quality: 3/5 The Deluxe Edition’s video quality improves on the release from 2000 with a 16:9 anamorphic transfer and better shadow detail. Unfortunately, the new transfer’s overall color and contrast is flatter, lacking the vibrancy of its predecessor. The new transfer is also softer, though neither has signs of edge enhancement. Based on this post from HTF member Jeff Krispow, the picture has also been “zoomboxed”, resulting in a lack of headroom in many shots. Audio Quality: 3/5 (5.1 track); 4/5 (3.0 track) The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track seems to be a carryover from the first release. Surround activity is minimal, perking up in the musical numbers, but still not particularly noticeable or purposeful. The integration of the mains and center channels could be more seamless as well – the separation between the component speakers is a bit obvious at times. The Dolby Digital 3.0 (original audio) track is preferable in this regard, though is also more tightly focused toward the center compared to the 5.1. Dialogue and vocal performances are overall clear and intelligible. Low frequency effects are nonexistent. Special Features: 4/5A Broadway Fable: From Stage to Screen (51m23s): History of the film featuring interviews with Joseph Mankiewicz’s son, Frank Loesser’s family, choreographer Michael Kidd and Samuel Goldwyn biographer A. Scott Berg. The documentary has two parts (“The Goldwyn Touch” and “From Stage to Screen”), which can be played in sequence or individually. An informative and interesting piece with some good anecdotes. • More Guys and Dolls Stories (7m44s): Outtakes from the documentary, which also can be played in sequence or individually.
    • Adelaide: Inspiration for the song revealed
    • Brando Dance Lesson: Kidd’s experience working with Brando
    • Goldwyn’s Career: A brief career biography of Goldwyn by Berg
    • On the Set: Joseph Mankiewicz’s son shares his experience being on set
    • Rehearsing Adelaide: Kidd’s experience working with Sinatra on the “Adelaide” scene
    Musical Numbers: Six scenes pulled from the film for easier repeated play. Includes:
    • “Fugue for Tinhorns” (1m38s)
    • “I’ll Know" (4m57s)
    • “Guys and Dolls” (3m22s)
    • “Adelaide” (3m30s)
    • “Luck Be A Lady” (3m10s)
    • “Sue Me” (3m10s)
    Photo Gallery: Production stills and publicity shots. • 72-page Collectible Scrapbook: A quality book containing brief histories of Samuel Goldwyn, writer Damon Runyon and the film, along with photos and reproductions of materials used in the original promotion. Recap and Final Thoughts The Feature: 4.5/5 Video Quality: 3/5 Audio Quality: 3/5 (5.1 track); 4/5 (3.0 track) Special Features: 4/5 Overall Score (not an average): 3/5 Owners of the original release will be disappointed the Deluxe Edition’s video quality trades one set of problems for another. The special features are worthwhile, however, so fans may want to add it to the collection for this reason alone. For first time purchasers, it’s the better choice overall, though not the obvious one it could have been.
    Equipment: InFocus Screenplay 4805 fed a pixel-mapped, 854x480 signal from a Bravo D1 DVD player. Audio evaluation is based on an Onkyo TX-SR502 6.1 AVR running JBL N26 mains, JBL N24 surrounds, JBL N-Center, and Dayton 10" subwoofer.
     
  2. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Sony's new release of Guys and Dolls is unacceptable.

    RAH
     
  3. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

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    I have the first release and have found that one agreeable enough, especially on my projector. Although I would like to see the extras, I will stick with my old edition.
     
  4. Steven Good

    Steven Good Second Unit

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    [William Hurt to Holly Hunter in Broadcast News] Light up a room and leave, huh?[William Hurt]

    Thank you Mr. Harris. That's all I needed to hear. No sale.
     
  5. Greg_M

    Greg_M Screenwriter

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    From the company that gave us a Special Edition Pan and Scan "Annie"
     
  6. Dave Mack

    Dave Mack Producer

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    I'll wait for the superbit. [​IMG]
     
  7. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Cinematographer

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    Its AMAZING to hear that the picture looks worse on the new transfer. The old one was horrible and looked NOTHING like the film. the old one also had poor sound.
    BTW, the original sound for this film is full 4.0. There were separate surrounds for many of the musical numbers.
     
  8. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Robert: Could you please elaborate? Are you referring to the "Zoomboxing" mentioned by Cameron?

    I was pretty much in agreement with Cameron that the two releases are a trade-off on problems/improvements.

    FWIW, Guys & Dolls contains one of my favorite widescreen moments...the shot of Adelaide from the perspective of the inside of the medicine cabinet during the performance of "Adelaide's Lament". Classic. [​IMG]
     
  9. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    I found the last DVD unwatchable because of the enormous amounts of motion artifacting and twitter in the clothes, pipes in the sewer, etc. The new transfer is pretty much rock solid in those areas due to the anamorphic enhancement.

    I agree that in the new release the color is lackluster, and the transfer doesn't "sparkle," but I still find it watchable now, and I didn't before.
     
  10. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    My point is that the release of "improved" DVDs should not be a trade-off.

    Color is quite easy to bring back to perfection. The aspect ratio as well as the information contained within that ratio are easy enough to ascertain.

    It isn't brain surgery to do these properly the first time, and Sony, for all of its technical brilliance in the electronics sector, continues to get them wrong.

    There is no excuse. Whenever I see something like this, and know that any number of people could do it correctly with just a bit of help, it all seems rather like a waste of effort.

    We could make this film look as good or better than it did at the time of its original release. If they can't do it, they shouldn't try.

    RAH
    Edited by Robert Harris - 7/24/2009 at 04:36 am GMT
     
  11. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    The very same.

    Luck be a Lady, but Luck be not a Torch Lady, sadly.

    But if you don't own the old DVD is this worth having?
     
  12. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Mmm...tough call. The Deluxe Edition is certainly watchable, but the more you love the film the more likely you'll be bothered by the picture quality issues. The overall package is an improvement from the old.
     
  13. Doug Bull

    Doug Bull Advanced Member

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    To my eyes this wretched edition of GUYS AND DOLLS is almost as bad as that monumental horror OKLAHOMA! (70mm)
    Well not quite, but really bad none the less.

    Some scenes look OK, but others are hoplessly soft.

    As for the Sound, well it is lifeless and lacking badly in the treble dept.
    It just sounds muffled and poorly balanced.

    The jacket says "Mastered in High Definition"
    I guess the joke's on us.
     
  14. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Thank you for the explanation. You make it sound so simple. It is a shame there have to be such difficulties. I would suppose such transfer problems will be magnified as we wnter the world of high-definition.

    While I know you have been enthusiastic about the HD technology thus far, I would think when older films start to make it ti HD some of these transfer issues will be that much more pparent.

    I am fascinated by your comments in the Star Wars thread as well.
     
  15. Mark B

    Mark B Supporting Actor

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    OLD
    [​IMG]

    NEW
    [​IMG]
    What more needs to be said on the framing issue?
     
  16. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Well...how about sending out a search party to bring back the top of Arvide Abernathy's (Regis Toomey's) head?! [​IMG]

    That's awful.
     
  17. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Thank you HTF and RAH for saving me ~$20.

    I can't wait to see how Sony/Columbia is going to muck up Blu Ray transfers...
     
  18. Mark B

    Mark B Supporting Actor

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    Hopefully they'll find it with the extra chairs, wall and desk. I was stunned, to put it mildly, when I saw this.
     
  19. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    For shame, Sony.

    They need to recall this disc immediately and offer replacements to anyone who bought it.
     
  20. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    There should be no problem with these films in HD. We have a wonderful tool box of technology.

    It is simply a matter of knowing which tools to use to solve which problems and then using the selected tools correctly.

    RAH
     

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