Johnny Guitar R2

Discussion in 'DVD' started by John Hodson, Apr 17, 2005.

  1. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Nicholas Ray's Johnny Guitar is available in R2, with an alledgedly beautiful transfer and an introduction by Martin Scorsese; it's currently only $12.95 from CD Wow here or £6.99 from the www.cd-wow.co.uk site.
     
  2. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Hey, that's great news, John. I have been waiting for a review, but I haven't seen any, so I was sceptical about buying and it was on long-wait at Love Film. No specs I read mentioned a Scorsese intro! How could they have missed that out?! It's a great film.

    The "gay community" (whatever that is) call it "camp"; it isn't. Hysterical, yes, but not camp.

    I love Nick Ray's films and this gem has been long overdue on DVD. The price is a steal, even more so if you use any of these discounts:

    http://www.dvdbargain.net/ShowDisc.asp

    Thanks, John; well spotted!
     
  3. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    I was hoping to have nothing but priase for the R2 Johnny Guitar; I was...until it arrived this morning.

    An R2 exclusive, this 1954 Republic western comes from Universal over here, while Paramount, though yet to release it, boasts ownership of the title in R1. So I'll get to the good things first; Scorsese, in his brief but informative intro, says the film was 'recently restored' and it does show. There are very few noticable nicks, marks, or signs of dust and debris, and this belies the fact that it's over half a century old.

    Scorsese lays out the facts concisely, if, in a somewhat stilted manner as he reads from the autocue - this was a film, almost laughed out of America, that Europeans, who recognised the fact that it was a very mature work by an experienced and talented director, loved first.

    But it's in the intro that there are the first signs of trouble; it's slightly out of whack in a 'low-bandwidth' kind of way. So it's something of a relief to see the Republic logo and titles look gorgeous. No problem? I wish; we get to the film itself, and that too lacks a certain sharpness. Filmed in 'Trucolor', I don't recall the colours being so muted either; am I wrong or should it leap off the screen more in the manner of three-strip Technicolor. And I'm not just talking film elements here, I'm speaking of production design - is my memory playing tricks?

    Worse though is the soundtrack, which doesn't appear to have had much restoration at all. There's quite a hiss in some scenes, in others a pronounced background hum. Universal and quality control do seem to be strangers to one another at times...

    Still, at the price, one can't complain too much; and it will prove a useful stop gap until Paramount come along with what I'm sure will be a better job in R1.
     
  4. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    I wonder if Universal UK were working from the restored elements? I mean, Scorsese says it was restored, but who's to say that Universal used the restoration negative? Afterall, it now belongs to Paramount, no? Pretty confusing. And what, in this case, is meant by "restored"? It could just mean that the negative was re-timed and a safety neg was made. Paramount's Preservation Team routinely do this with their older negatives and do a great job.

    The sound is a different issue: if the Dolby Digital mono track for this DVD was made from an old optical track, then it probably would have hiss, crackle, hum and other 'weaknesses'. But in this day and age, it is expected that prime sound elements are used, if available and if not, digital manipulation should be used to rectify faults, especially if they ruin dialogue and make words intelligable.

    Trucolor was a pretty limited colour process. It tended to make fast reds appear brownish. Johnny Guitar has always had a muddyness to it, but the colour has always struck me as 'alive', nevertheless. Prints and VHS copies always seemed dark, to me.

    Scorsese loves Ray's films (he discusses him in A Personal Journey Through American Movies) and it was a neat touch to have him introduce the film and put it into cultural context. Ray, like Sirk, was a master of the psycho-drama and although Johnny Guitar is regarded as a Western, its themes and characters are much closer to home.
     
  5. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Gordon; if you get this disc, I'd be grateful for your views on it [​IMG]
     
  6. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Gladly, John! It probably won't arrive until the end of next week, though.

    I like reading your contributions, also, John. Quality stuff! [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Cheers.
     
  7. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Reciprocated Gordon [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  8. ArthurMy

    ArthurMy Supporting Actor

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    I should also have the disc, probably by Tuesday.
     
  9. ArthurMy

    ArthurMy Supporting Actor

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    I'm watching it now. It is actually a pretty fair representation of Trucolor - the very blue blues will tell you that. Trucolor was always a bastard child of Technicolor - but unlike the latter it was a two-color process rather than three. They did switch over to three colors at some point - not sure if Johnny Guitar was two or three. But this is as good as I've ever seen the film look, color-wise. Sharpness is something else again - the closeups and closer shots look fine, but, as so often is the case with certain DVDs, the wide shots and the mid shots suffer from softness. This always surprises me, given the complete sharpness no matter what the shot of certain DVDs.

    While it's not perfect, I'm not at all unhappy with this so far.
     
  10. ArthurMy

    ArthurMy Supporting Actor

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    Having finished the disc, it's a disappointment. It's just not sharp enough. I think the color is okay, from my memory of prints I've seen over the years, but it's just too fuzzy-looking throughout.
     
  11. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Hmmm. It's hard for me to make a judgment call on this yet, as CD-WOW sent me a "delayed" email, stating a 2nd May dispatch, so I still don't know what the transfer is like. But I am begining to wonder if a prime film element was used by Universal; I reckon they used an 'adequete' element and DVNR'd it 'clean'.

    The future Paramount release will make a very interesting comparison, no doubt. I'm surprised DVD Beaver hasn't posted a review of this disc, as they have been diverse and prolific as of late. Amazing webiste.
     

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