Senior HTF Member
- Jul 3, 1997
- Real Name
- Ronald Epstein
What can I say? I love 3D! From the moment I began watching 3D content in my home I quickly discovered that I needed more content. I suspect that those of you just purchasing your first 3D hardware will acquire the same ferocious appetite. That's why I became the HTF 3D ADDICT. I personally love images that pop off the screen and come inches away from your face without becoming overly gimmicky. However, I certainly appreciate the nature documentaries that offer beautiful depth and separation. These are not necessarily reviews of the film themselves. I am not going to concentrate on story or supplements -- you can find the 2D reviews elsewhere on this forum. My job is to let you know exactly what kind of 3D experience to expect from the titles that are being released. As I will be receiving a handful of new product from the studios expect to see more title coverage.
I N F E R N O
Product Release: August 10, 2014
Running Time: 83 minutes
On A Scale 0-5
Overall 3D Presentation Rating: 5
3D Separation: 5
3D In Yo' Face Factor: 2
In 2010, when newly introduced displays allowed the 3D experience to be taken
into the homes and the first wave of Blu-ray releases surfaced, many were
disappointed to find that none of the classic films from the 50s era were getting
For fans like myself who have been eager for a look at many of the 52 3D releases from
the format's golden age, it has been a rather painful wait that has required an exercise of
patience. To date, the major studios have only released a small handful of popular titles
and others are slowly finding their way to the collector via smaller labels. One such label,
Panamint Cinema (one of the Uk's longest standing producers of archive DVD and Blu-ray
discs) has finally made Twentieth Century Fox's, Inferno, available to the collector.
Filmed in 1953 during the initial theatrical boom of 3D, Inferno is an American film noir
drama directed by Roy Ward Baker. The story concerns business tycoon Donald Carson
(Robert Ryan) who falls off his horse, breaks his leg, and is left to die out in the Mojave desert
by his scheming wife, Geraldine (Rhonda Fleming) and her lover, Joseph Duncan (William
Lundigan). The story constantly switches between the the two lovers attempting to cover
their tracks, believing they have succeeded in their efforts and Carson struggling to find a
means to survive just one more day.
Since having the pleasure of being introduced to classic 3D by none other than Bob
Furmanek, I have sort of gone into the mindset that I need to own everything from that
era that gets released to Blu-ray. That can be a dangerous thing as I am not quite sure
how good most of those films really are. As I purchase these films blindly, I get the feeling
that at some point, I'm going to get burned. Though Inferno is considered a B-Movie, I don't
consider it a second-rate film by any means. In fact, I was quite surprised how much I enjoyed
this film, immersing myself in its shady characters and story of one man's fight for survival
against all odds. One of the most interesting facets of watching Robert Ryan in those desert
scenes is the ability to hear his inner thoughts aloud, which I thought added a very unique
perspective to the story.
Inferno was originally lensed in 3D by Lucien Ballard (Berlin Express and True Grit). It was
restored six years ago by the late Daniel L. Symmes. In speaking with 3DFilmArchive's
historian, Bob Furmanek, I was informed that there was some confusion at Fox over which
version to supply and they almost delivered a poor-quality anaglyphic master. Fortunately,
Bob and his fellow 3-D historians, Greg Kintz and Jack Theakston, stepped in and were able
to insure the correct HD restoration master was used for the Blu-ray.
Mr. Furmanek has informed me that this release is particularly gratifying for him given the
fact that he received a phone call from a very grateful Roy Ward Baker in November of 1999:
Director Roy Ward Baker was preparing his auto-biography “The Director’s Cut: A Memoir of 60 Years in Film” for publication in March 2000. He was quite proud of his subtle and dramatic use of stereoscopic cinematography on the 1953 classic INFERNO and lamented the fact that no original 3-D Technicolor prints had survived. (The Dinard British Film Festival saluted Mr. Baker in 1993 and was reduced to showing a flat black and white 16mm print.) When his editor Tony Sloman told him that I had found original dye transfer Technicolor 35mm left/right prints, he had the publisher stop the presses so he could modify the text. He called personally to express his gratitude and appreciation for my preservation efforts. We spoke for 20 minutes about his work on the film and he asked many questions about my work on the Archive. It was quite an honor.
(You can read the complete article here)
So how does Inferno look in 3D Blu-ray? In a word, "stunning!" Obviously, a lot
of care was put into a restoration effort that has cleaned up as much surface dirt,
abrasions and print damage as possible, while revealing an exceedingly well-detailed
image that allows the Technicolor to translate itself across the screen with all its
intended vibrance. There's a scene late in the film where the scheming lovers
are conversing in a living room. Fleming is wearing a blue dress and Lundigan is
wearing a blue suit. It's rather astonishing to see the luxurious and richly saturated
colors within that scene. In fact, I don't think you'll see Fleming's hair more vibrantly
red than it looks in this transfer. Fortunately, the film retains what I imagine is its
original intended look with just the right amount of background grain.
The 3D itself is quite amazing as well. One of the tests I like to do to gauge the
strength of 3D imagery is to take off my glasses and see how intense the image
blur is. In most 3D films made today, there's not a significant amount of blur which
generally means poor separation. Inferno has a very intensified blur level and when
wearing eyewear, you really get the sense of highly pronounced depth. This is the
level of dimensionality I have come to expect from films of this period where rooms
have the feeling of spaciousness and distant objects seem to go on forever in the
background. You just don't see this level of realism in any of the upconversions
that seem to be the staple of Hollywood 3D films of present day.
Blatant pop-out gimmickry is pretty much non-existent here. There is an attempt
late in the film to throw a lantern towards the audience, but it never lunges itself
outwards. However, interestingly, the brim of Robert Ryan's hat does seem to
poke itself outside of the screen on one or two occasions.
While watching the 3D Blu-ray presentation of Inferno, you will probably notice
some "warts" in the background associated with the limitations of the restoration,
but trust that these anomalies are ever-so-noticeable and hardly retract from the
spectacular transfer. Additionally, I noticed no ghosting/crosstalk whatsoever.
The film's original three-channel stereophonic sound no longer survives. The
provided mono track is sufficient, providing dialogue that is coherent.
Both the 3D and 2D versions of the film are contained on a single Blu-ray disc.
Included is the film's original theatrical trailer; Pat Boone interview with Rhonda
Fleming and an Illustrated Booklet.
Our friends from 3DFilmArchive have provided, for this release, the original teaser
trailer with Rhonda Fleming, which has not been seen anywhere since the summer
of 1953. Bob Furmanek also sent some production history and data on the film for
the booklet's liner notes.
For those of us salivating over getting our hands on golden age classic 3D, Inferno
certainly is a worthy purchase. The film is a fantastic representation of what the era
had to offer: a great matinee story and breathtaking 3D photography that brings a sense
of realism to the home screen that is not often matched in present day. What more could
you ask for?
I would like to share this original poster artwork that Bob Furmanek was kind enough to send me:
Inferno Blu-ray available for sale through Panamint Cinema.
Images are for illustrative purpose only and not representative of the picture quality of this disc.
Samsung PN64F8500 display professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen, Lion AV
Oppo BDP-93 3D Blu-ray Player
Denon 3311CI Receiver
Atlantic Technology H-PAS AT-1 fronts, 4400 center; 4200 rear side and back speakers
SV Sound Subwoofer