Shades of 1997 and non-anamorphic releases

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Robert Harris, Oct 1, 2001.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I always have an interest in seeing what the studios are issuing in terms of productions from the 40s through 60s. I had the opportunity this evening to sample four new dvds.
    Two from Republic (Artisan) and two from MGM.
    One of these releases (Stanley Donen's Indiscreet) was shot spherical with prints produced in dye transfer at about 1.66 for projection anywhere between that aspect ratio and 1.85.
    Two others by Frank Capra (Hole in the Head and Pocketful of Miracles) were shot in CinemaScope at 2.35:1
    The fourth (Donen's The Grass is Greener) was shot in Technirama, a large format process which was also the photographic basis of Kubrick's Spartacus. It was also a Technicolor release.
    All of these titles have now been released (in late 2001) in non-anamporphic format.
    The interesting point which comes from comparing the four discs is that the MGM releases, while not perfect, are at least reasonably representative of the films with good clean tracks and workable picture. Hole in the Head, which takes place in Miami Beach does seem a bit like a noir version of the film that I recall, but it still works.
    It is the Artisan releases which don't do well.
    Grass is Greener is a mess of what is seemingly a combination of EE and aliasing with a track which sounds as if it comes directly from the early 1930s.
    Indiscreet also has a track which sounds as if off an old optical element. The picture, while far superior to Grass, could have used anamorphic if only to highlight the work of director of photography Freddie Young. The image has an overly contrasty digital look to it which is a pity.
    Here are four films, produced within five years of one another, all with top technical credits and only two (the MGMs) are really worth owning as they are.
    The worst of the bunch is the only large format production.
    The single bit of humor here is the legend proudly displayed by Artisan which reads: "Access (film title) special features by pressing the menu key on your remote control." There are no special features.
    Artisan should be ashamed of what they're placing before the public. They need help.
    These comments should not be construed as reviews, just as rather off the cuff comments, which, taken as they are, will probably not be placing me on Artisan's comp list.
    RAH
     
  2. Roland Wandinger

    Roland Wandinger Stunt Coordinator

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  3. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

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    Artisan is such a Jekyll-&-Hyde company that anytime they release any catalog product, it's like playing a game of Russian Roulette. Their new releases -- such as The Limey, Stir of Echoes and Requiem For a Dream -- rank up there as some of the best in the business. But catalog titles like Extreme Prejudice, The Boys From Brazil and the aforementioned ones mentioned in Robert Harris' post are treated like the proverbial reheaded stepchildren. While the Twin Peaks discs are likely to look nice -- given David Lynch's involvement -- it's clear that they are extremely short-sighted in their approach.
     
  4. Lannie Lorence

    Lannie Lorence Stunt Coordinator

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    In my opinion, Artisan provides the worst treatment of catalog titles than any other studio. If it's not a big, much-hyped special edition title, you can be sure it's going to be a rehashed LD transfer. And not a good LD transfer, but a really bad one.
     
  5. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Artisan has a few winners with some of their B&W Republic catalog releases (Sands of Iwo Jima, Rio Grande, It's a Wonderful Life), but are usually as disappointing as Winstar/Fox Lorber. This news does not exactly get my hopes up that I will ever see the high-quality DVD of The Quiet Man that is at the top of my vaporware remaster list. [​IMG] I wish they would sell or sublicense the Republic catalog rights to someone who actually cares.
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    Ken McAlinden
    Livonia, MI USA
     

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