HTF REVIEW: Woody Allen Collection 1982-87

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Oct 4, 2001.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    The Woody Allen Collection '82-'87

    Time to get a bit chatty....
    My most favorite film comics include The Marx
    Brothers, Jerry Lewis and Woody Allen. I have
    always been an immense fan of Woody Allen's early
    film comedies from Take The Money And Run to
    Sleeper to Bananas. Woody's comedic
    charm was that he was able to make people identify
    with his neurotic self.
    When people think of Woody Allen movies, there are
    always the funny ones and the more serious ones.
    That change started with Annie Hall (1977).
    By 1979, when Manhattan was released, the
    critics were hailing Woody Allen as an acclaimed
    Director.
    Some of his fans, like myself, weren't very happy
    that Woody Allen was no longer doing screwball comedy.
    It was at that point that I stopped watching all his
    future releases. I wanted the screwball comedy that
    made me fall in love with his movies so long ago.
    Jettison ahead nearly 22 years later....
    MGM begins releasing their huge library of Woody
    Allen movies. Fortunately, the first collection
    consists of his most memorable screwball comedies.
    I imagine that MGM did very well selling these films.
    After all, this is the period in which we most fondly
    remember Woody Allen. Titles included: Sleeper,
    Bananas, Annie Hall, Everything you always wanted
    to know about sex, Love and Death, Stardust Memories,
    Interiors and Manhattan.
    Months later, a second collection is released.
    That collection includes Alice, Another Woman,
    Crimes and Misdemeanors, September, Shadow and Fog.
    Although I had received a screener of this set, my
    heart was just not into wanting to review many of
    these Allen films that were the least known of his
    fillm period.
    Last week I received a screener of the new 6-disc
    Woody Allen Collection covering the years 1982-87.
    These films include: Broadway Danny Rose, Hannah
    and her Sisters, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Zelig,
    Radio Days, A Midsummer Night's sex comedy.
    I must be honest. I had just come home from a
    10-day HTF National Meet in Los Angeles. I had a
    stack of screeners that every studio had sent me.
    Watching Woody Allen was the least thing I wanted
    to do when I had movies like THE GODFATHER, THE
    PHANTOM MENACE waiting for me.
    I decided to dedicate my time to THE WOODY ALLEN
    COLLECTION because MGM has been kind enough to
    send me product, and I felt I wanted to review
    something that none of the other websites wanted
    to cover. I also knew that HTF has many Woody
    Allen fans who had been anticipating this set's
    release. I also realized that this set is a
    compilation of Woody Allen's most highly acclaimed
    award-winning films.
    I did not watch the entire collection. There
    just was no time. I do pride myself in being
    able to watch 4 of the 6 titles in this set in
    a matter of 24 hours. I will now talk about the
    set and the titles I watched....
    The Woody Allen Collection, as with the previous
    releases, comes housed in a sturdy box. The box
    gives little information more than displaying icons
    for each of the individual DVD cover art.
    [​IMG]
    The Purple Rose of Cairo is an extraordinary
    fable about set against the depression area. A lonely
    waitress (Mia Farrow) has an abusive life. She finds
    escape at the movie theaters, getting lost in romantic
    films. She soon becomes addicted to a film called
    "The Purple Rose Of Cairo". To her surprise, the main
    character of the film steps right off the screen into
    her life.
    The movie takes many humorous turns at the characters
    left on the movie screen become disgruntled, as they
    insult the audiance who has paid to watch them. There's
    also the real-life actor who portrays the runaway
    screen star who must locate his character and get him
    back on the screen.
    [​IMG]
    Zelig is perhaps my favorite of all the 4
    films I watched. The early comedy of Woody Allen
    is captured in this painstakingly hilarious comedy
    done in 1920s documentary style. Zelig (Allen) is
    a neurotic who's insecurity forces him to mimic
    any person or group he is amongst. Through movietone
    newsreels and filmed footage that is made to seamlessly
    interact with that period, we laugh as Zelig becomes an
    irishman, a negro, a rabbi, a greek, or an obese person.
    Psychiatrist Dr. Eudora (Mia Farrow) is the only person
    that cares about Zelig as a person, as she tries to
    cure him.
    I enjoyed this film the most because it is a
    throwback to Woody's screwball years. There are
    some hilarious one-liners in this film that you
    just sit and wonder about the kind of mind that
    could think them up.
    [​IMG]
    Radio Days is a simple comedy that affectionately
    takes a look at the 1940s, before television, where
    radio was what the world had their ear to.
    Narrated by Woody Allen and seen through the eyes of
    his fictional young self, we meet his whacky family.
    With each song that is played on the radio, a story is
    reminisced. There are also stories about the radio
    personalities themselves.
    This was another Allen film that surprised me.
    It's a very warm, nostalgic comedy.
    [​IMG]
    Hannah And Her Sisters is perhaps the most
    complex of Allen's comedies about families. The movie
    centers around Hannah (Mia Farrow) and her two
    sisters (Barbara Hershey and Dianne Wiest). The
    movie takes these 3 sisters and presents a spinning tale
    of their seprate lives, their loves and losses, as
    well as the sibling rivalry that exists between them.
    The film is superbly supported by Michael Caine and
    Carrie Fisher.
    Another thumbs up for this finely directed film.
    One thing I noticed about Woody Allen -- especially
    with this film -- is that his stories are character
    driven. He does such an excellent job of defining
    his characters. Many times, a simple expression
    on the face of an actor or actress evokes more
    emotion than any dialogue could.

    How do these films look?

    Unfortunately, there is nothing to brag about
    as far as transfer quality. It is obvious that
    all these prints came off of older masters. All
    the movie prints have some dirt and wear specs
    scattered throughout. I am also sorry to announce
    that the transfer on Hannah and her Sisters
    is pretty bad. The film is full of noticeable grain.
    I expect many of you will not be overly pleased
    with the transfer. Do realize, however, I can
    see why MGM would not put a lot of effort into
    restoring these titles.
    Menus are plain. Each of these titles contain
    an original theatrical trailer, and best of all,
    are english subtitled -- something I depend on
    when watching a film.

    Summation

    It took a great deal of effort to watch these
    movies with the amount of other screener product
    waiting for me. However, I feel very fortunate that
    I made the decision to look into this set. All these
    titles are terrific films. Even though they aren't
    screwball comedies that put Woody in the forefront,
    they are instead intelligently directed comedies
    that definately have Woody's influence. These are
    all warmly entertaining movies, most set against
    Woody's favorite backdrop, New York City.
    Release Date: November 6th
    ------------------
    [​IMG]
    Ronald Epstein (pronounced like the English "Ronald Epstein")
    Circa 2000
    Home Theater Forum Administrator
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  2. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Ron,
    How was Purple Rose compared to the rest of the pack in terms of picture quality and sound? This is probably my favorite 80s Woody Allen title. People who don't love movies find the ending depressing. If you do love the movies, you realize that it is bittersweet. No matter how much is lost and how bad things get, you still have Astaire & Rogers to make you feel a little better.
    Regards,
    ------------------
    Ken McAlinden
    Livonia, MI USA
     
  3. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Ron, would you say that the transfers are not on-par with the ones in the first Allen box (with the exception of the recycled Annie Hall transfer)?
     
  4. ChristopherS

    ChristopherS Second Unit

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    Thanks for the review Ron. Because I had heard almost nothing about this collection until your post, I had forgotten about this set. As much as I too am looking forward to Snow White, TPM, Shrek, and the Godfather Collection, I have to admit to enjoying a Woody Allen film over a bottle of red wine with my wife on a cold winters night. [​IMG]
    Chris
     
  5. Jason Whyte

    Jason Whyte Screenwriter

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    Ron,
    Thanks for taking a look at the set. This will be the near-end of my complete Woody Allen collection. Now all we have to do is get Columbia to release Husbands and Wives [​IMG]
    Jason
    ------------------
    [​IMG]
    [email protected] ICQ: 16733922 2001 Film List I Am Jack's DVD List
    "Are we gonna let the elevator bring us down?
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    My Own Film Review Website Is Coming Soon!
     
  6. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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  7. Doug Schiller

    Doug Schiller Supporting Actor

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    Finally!
    I've been waiting to own Zelig since I stumbled into a theater showing it by mistake.
    One of my favorite films and it has never received decent treatment on laserdisc.
    Doug
     
  8. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Honestly, all the transfers look good -- not great.
    We aren't talking about any major restorations
    here.
    There is no doubt that Hannah and her Sisters
    suffers from a great deal of graininess. This
    shows up especially in dimly lit scenes. I can't
    believe another website would be glorifying the
    transfer.
    ------------------
    [​IMG]
    Ronald Epstein (pronounced like the English "Ronald Epstein")
    Circa 2000
    Home Theater Forum Administrator
    All forum questions & to get on our private forum mailing list (new members)... Email: [email protected]
    Problems with the webpage or site? Contact WEBMASTER
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  9. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Ron, do you find the grain excessive, like as the result of dupe prints or process shots, or does it seem more like the grain that's inherent to the film stock?
    I know that many companies - Criterion, in particular - take careful efforts to preserve the inherent grain and not allow it to be artificially smoothed out into something that looks more like television/video. Does the graininess you note strike you as being closer to this or to the kind of grain from something like a multi-duped print?
     
  10. Mitty

    Mitty Supporting Actor

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    Of course, I don't know about the rest of you, but even a slightly disappointing transfer is a moot point for me, this is an instant purchase from me. I've been waiting for this particular batch of movies for a year, and fully expected them this summer when Set #2 came out.
    Thanks Ron, I appreciate you giving us the not-so-Sweet and Lowdown (forgive me) about this set.
     
  11. Kurt N

    Kurt N Stunt Coordinator

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    Zelig, Radio Days, Purple Rose of Cairo all in one set...a must-buy. They may come out better quality in a year or two, but to be able to watch Zelig regularly is worth te prie of the set.
    ------------------
    I suppose you think that's very funny, Harold.
    my DVDs
     
  12. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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  13. Joel C

    Joel C Screenwriter

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    Incidentally, digitallyobsessed is reviewing these too. I am in fact finishing up my Purple Rose review right now!
    ------------------
    Joel
    [email protected]
    "I've been very lonely in my isolated tower of indecipherable speech."
    digitallyOBSESSED
     
  14. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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    Well DVDFile gave the video score a wopping 1.5 for The Purple Rose of Cairo.
    http://www.dvdfile.com/software/revi...seofcairo.html
    I think I'm going to wait for more impressions of the DVDs in this set before plunking down the cash on any of them. So far it doesn't sound like MGM did much work in the video department.
    [Edited last by Marc Colella on October 14, 2001 at 10:05 PM]
     
  15. Joel C

    Joel C Screenwriter

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    Marc-
    I found little to complain about with the video on TPROC. Check out my review on digitallyobsessed.com.
    I don't know what the DVDfile reviewer was expecting. I did, however, notice that he is new. When I first started writing reviews, I tended to be really really hard on everything, no matter how good it looked.
    ------------------
    Joel
    [email protected]
    "I've been very lonely in my isolated tower of indecipherable speech."
    digitallyOBSESSED
     
  16. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    quote: Well DVDFile gave the video score a wopping 1.5 for The Purple Rose of Cairo.[/quote]
    No idea why the DVD got such a low grade. No, it's not a gorgeous image, but I felt it replicated the source material fairly well. The print flaws are a little heavy at times, and some of the colors were somewhat thick on occasion, but the movie never intended to be bright and vivid. Overall, I gave it a "B-" for picture...
     
  17. Joel C

    Joel C Screenwriter

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    Colin-
    I felt likewise, PROC was a fairly good presentation of the original elements.
    And I thought Josh was new because I didn't recognize his name. Sorry, my mistake!
    ------------------
    Joel
    [email protected]
    "I've been very lonely in my isolated tower of indecipherable speech."
    digitallyOBSESSED
     
  18. Joe Bernardi

    Joe Bernardi Supporting Actor

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    I've been waiting especially for Purple Rose of Cairo and Zelig. I've ordered the collection as well as Play It Again, Sam which is due on 10/23/01.
     

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