Moby Dick 1956 OAR?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Jeff Swearingen, Nov 10, 2003.

  1. Jeff Swearingen

    Jeff Swearingen Second Unit

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    I just got the MGM release of John Huston's Moby Dick. The box says Standard: Modified to fit your TV screen. So I started searching to find the OAR and am finding everything from 1.33:1 to 1.76:1. What is the actual OAR? It doesn't look Pan & Scan so far other than the titles being slightly framed at the top.
     
  2. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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    I believe it's actually 1.37:1. A lot of movies originally framed this way are usually zoomed in during the transfer process in order to remove the hint of letterboxing at the top and bottom parts of the screen. My old Laserdisc edition shows a hint of letterboxing during the opening credits (not 1.66:1 -- too narrow), then fills up the entire screen when the main feature begins.
     
  3. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Agreed. I think the OAR is 1.37:1. The image looks as if it were specifically composed to fill a @1.33:1 screen (ie, not a 1.85:1 screen).

    p.s. I LOVE this movie and own the DVD. My only complaint is the washed-out color. It seems to me that the film is in need of restoration...I can't imaging that faded color (*really* faded) pallet being the way it really looked when originally projected.
     
  4. Dick

    Dick Lead Actor
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    David, the color scheme is actually intentional. There have been numerous articles about the use of filters and alternate film stocks to desaturate the images in order to simulate the look of steel engravings. Not knowing this before, I always thought the video transfers looked weird, too.
     
  5. TonyDale

    TonyDale Second Unit

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    This is also mentioned, with clips, in the two hour documentary about John Huston, on THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE's second disc. (a disc, which I might add, glosses over ANNIE).
     
  6. Terry H

    Terry H Second Unit

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  7. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    A quote from the November issue of American Cinematographer, the publication of the ASC.

    "Huston wanted Moby Dick to have fairly monochromatic visuals, reminiscent of 19th-century steel engravings of sailing ships. Lacking today's digital and bleach-bypass options, [Cinematographer Oswald] Morris devised a complicated process; he shot the film on Eastmancolor but printed in Technicolor, adding a black and white pass to the three color dyes. This achieved a remarkable degree of desaturation for that time, and it created a palette that was primarily gray, brown and black -- and , of course, white for the whale."

    Original prints of Moby Dick were things of beauty.
     
  8. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Nice to be educated yet again to our wonderful history of film...

    -dave [​IMG]
     
  9. Stephen PI

    Stephen PI Supporting Actor

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    I think the dvd of "Moby Dick" looks unsatisfactory. I don't think the transfer reflects very accurately the intentions of the director and cinematographer. The image looks processed, some kind of edge enhancement is in there which goes against the effect they were after. The audio is also poor. A badly transferred 16mm 0r 35mm optical track made more unlistenable by further overprocessing to defeat noise. A new transfer is badly needed. I don't think simply desaturating the color on the film element during telecine is the answer, the effect of what was achieved only during the manufacture of the Technicolor Prints. Maybe Bob Harris can answer this. Was a Technicolor print used for the original transfer? If so, it would have looked better without the additional processing.

    David Boulet quote:
    p.s. I LOVE this movie and own the DVD. My only complaint is the washed-out color. It seems to me that the film is in need of restoration...I can't imaging that faded color (*really* faded) pallet being the way it really looked when originally projected.

    I agree, it does look faded to me also and it is possible that some additional kind of desaturation technique was applied during telecine to give it that look which cannot be corrected by simply increasing the chroma to achieve the desired style. I think this transfer is quite old and a telecine colorist today, with a knowledge of the history of this film, could pull it off.
     
  10. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    It might be one of the Lowry Digital titles MGM will re-release.
     
  11. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

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    I saw a print of this at Arclight with Ray Bradbury in attendance last year and it is definitely 1.37:1. Unfortunately, the print was in HORRIBLE shape-- all faded and turning to red. I haven't seen the DVD yet, but it's got to look amazing compared to what I saw.
     
  12. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Is there any chance of a remastered 50th Anniversary SE now that the film is with Sony?
     
  13. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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  14. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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  15. Mark_TS

    Mark_TS Screenwriter

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    New edition of MOBY DICK? when??? GREAT!!!
    If I recall reading correctly, didnt Glenn Erickson
    (who worked at MGM and had his sources) figure a 1:66 AR?
    Maybe im nuts-but I thought I read it somewhere
     
  16. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

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    "I LOVE this movie and own the DVD"

    I think they did a great job with what they had at the time, and in the age of CGI I look at this movie and just smile - they did a great job on the whale dont you think.

    And Orson Welles scene is a alltime fav of mine.
     
  17. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I don't recall Golden Eye as gray. Original prints certainly had golden look to them, and were actually quite beautiful.

    RAH
     
  18. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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  19. JohnPM

    JohnPM Second Unit

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    The HD Movies Network ran "Reflections In A Golden Eye" a year or so ago, and it looked gorgeous. I would expect it to turn up in a Taylor or Brando DVD box at some point ...

    http://greenbriarpictureshows.blogspot.com/
     
  20. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Mark_TS, wrote:
     

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