The Quality Of These Various Movie Transfers? All Opinions Welcome!

Discussion in 'DVD' started by David Von Pein, Aug 26, 2003.

  1. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    Can you veterans of "PQ" help me on some of the following DVD titles I
    have on my To-Get list?

    "Thumbs Up" or "Thumbs Down" for these DVD transfers (concerned mainly with the video portion of the transfer).........

    Ferris Bueller's Day Off
    Woodstock
    Witness For The Prosecution
    It Happened One Night
    A Kiss Before Dying
    9 To 5
    Chinatown
    The Truth About Cats & Dogs
    Murder In The First
    Being John Malkovich
    City Slickers
    Remember The Titans
    Fried Green Tomatoes
    Not Without My Daughter
    Private Benjamin
    The Caine Mutiny
    Tender Mercies
    Bang The Drum Slowly
    Fear Strikes Out
    Annie Hall
    The Spitfire Grill
    Summer Of '42
    Melvin And Howard
    The Tenant
    Will Penny
    Mommie Dearest
    The Client
    Guess Who's Coming To Dinner
    Patriot Games
    Tucker: The Man And His Dream
    Brian's Song
    Blazing Saddles
    An Officer And A Gentleman
    Thunderbolt & Lightfoot
    Birdman Of Alcatraz
    Talk Radio
    Destry Rides Again
    The Mosquito Coast
    Tootsie
    Frankie And Johnnie
    A Double Life


    Pick out a couple and spill your guts regarding the worthiness of owning such software, OK? [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Thank You for your time and continued patronage. [​IMG]
     
  2. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    Ferris Bueller's Day Off - A nice clear transfer with good color saturation. Overall a good transfer.

    It Happened One Night - pretty good making allowances for the age of the film.

    Chinatown - excellent treatment of an older catalog title. This classic looks mighty fine on DVD.

    Fried Green Tomatoes - Another excellent transfer. One of my 'demo' discs from the early days of DVD partly due to its nice detailed imagery and color rendition. Still one of the better looking discs in my collection.

    Tender Mercies - A watchable if not inspiring transfer. It gets the job done. Still, considering the quality of the film and Duvall's performance, a must have title.

    Will Penny - solid transfer of an older catalog title from Paramount. Considering the number of catalog titles they release, Paramount has generally done a fine job with their catalog. Will Penny is no exception.

    Guess Who's Coming To Dinner - A pretty good transfer, especially considering the age of the film. Very watchable, bright and clear.

    An Officer and a Gentleman - (Yeah I know I just praised Paramount a moment ago.) One of the weaker Paramount transfers IMHO. While I'm not going to claim to have a photo perfect memory of the theatrical showing of this film [​IMG] the DVD does seem noticeably darker.

    - Walter.
     
  3. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    Ferris Bueller's Day Off [​IMG] (anamorphic, good commentary; a fine disc)

    Witness for the Prosecution [​IMG] (non-anamorphic but still quite good; I find 1.66:1 B&W transfers hold up the best among non-anamorphic widescreen, and this falls into that group; I'd love it to be anamorphic, but I'm content nevertheless)

    It Happened One Night [​IMG] (very good transfer, and a good commentary; other early Columbia classic releases with transfers I believe are even better, and perhaps just about perfect, are Only Angels Have Wings and His Girl Friday; these two are simply as good as B&W has ever looked on disc, apart from the exceptional quality achieved through digital manipulation/restoration on Them! and a few other Lowry Digital Images titles; among films that have not been granted the sheen of a full digital make-over, however, the early Columbias are a sight to behold; a few of their more recent titles have met with mixed to poor reviews, but what I believe is the most recent classic release I've seen from the company, Pennies From Heaven, is a very good transfer of an apparently unrestored but early generation film element in very good shape for its age, and warrants an enthusiastic [​IMG] as well; to comment on the only other recent release from Columbia I've personally seen, and despite praise from others around here -- risking the vicious flames I always court with reckless abandon [​IMG] -- I cannot readily recommend In a Lonely Place, however, whose blacks lack detail and whose overall photography feels quite flat; this may be the way it was shot, but as a cinematic experience it's far below the luster of His Girl Friday, by comparison; if Nicholas Ray's film was shot on safety rather than nitrate, that must be taken into account -- I don't know when the changeover took place in the industry -- but even still, the flat blacks and what I'd call good but unexceptional fine detail keep the film far below the quality achieved with His Girl Friday and Only Angels Have Wings -- these are truly an absolute visual feast)

    The Shop Around the Corner [​IMG] (excellent transfer; other fine transfers from this period in the WB DVD catalogue include The Thin Man and The Women, the latter possibly/probably an LDI effort, and a few certain LDI efforts, among them Now, Voyager and the earlier-mentioned Them!, which may be LDI's best work in B&W to date; one of the poorest-looking WB B&W DVDs is Stagecoach, and I hope this is revisited in a restored edition soon)

    Chinatown [​IMG] (beautiful; this early Paramount transfer continues to shine; the rich golds of the cinematography come across very well)

    Destry Rides Again [​IMG] (a fine B&W transfer from duplicate elements; I'm happier with the transfer on Winchester '73, which only lacks to my eye in a few interiors, but according to Robert Harris the original negative elements for Destry are gone, and the transfer here suggests an acceptable print quality, given its age)

    Given Artisan's history (including a disc I've just tried to watch, The Fighting Kentuckian, and couldn't for the shabbiness of its source and/or transfer), I wouldn't hold my breath for A Double Life, but I absolutely adore this twisted little film and look forward to reading comments from those who've seen the disc; much of Artisan's classic output is lacking by all reports, but I've found a number of their earliest titles acceptable in quality and even rather good, such as Wake of the Red Witch and Champion. Others, such as Body and Soul, flitter like video and have poor detail but decent contrast -- that title also suffers from rather bad edge enhancement, and then there's something like their double feature of Topper/Topper Returns, where the first film, from a Hallmark transfer, flutters horribly and ghosts as if it were both a PAL conversion and suffered some sort of terrible interlace flaw -- it's probably just a really terrible PAL conversion -- yet sports lovely contrast, while Topper Returns, in a transfer from Hal Roach Studios, sports rather poor contrast but looks beautifully stable and nicely detailed; Artisan's earliest classic releases were Republic reissues, and while they seem to have done bad things to a few of these transfers in newer SE releases, the original Republic and then Artisan re-releases of titles like Rio Grande and High Noon -- both further reissued as SE's I haven't seen, but which were apparently over-processed according to reviews around here -- remain satisfying, and Republic discs Artisan hasn't tampered with, such as The Bells of St. Mary's and It's a Wonderful Life, should look just as good as the original Republic releases, which is to say, again, very satisfying, though I haven't revisited any of these in a few years -- DVDBeaver has screenshots for High Noon and It's a Wonderful Life that support my recollection of a very pleasing viewing experience, however; when Artisan took over the Republic collection, everything became uncertain, and ... well, there you have it. Artisan's own release of The Quiet Man has a reputation as one of the worst Technicolor transfers out there -- I haven't seen it, but the screenshots say enough -- yet they do fine work on many of their newer properties, such as Total Recall and Frank Herbert's Dune. I remain hopeful that a few good transfers will continue to leak out amongst the bad ones in their classic catalogue, but the uncertainty has demanded that I no longer buy any classic title from Artisan without glowing reviews from a reliable on-line critic).

    Final note: many of my [​IMG]s above carry the caveat of minor EE. Egregiously distracting EE (ala Goldfinger) would necessitate a [​IMG], but the qualities of a transfer can, for my money, overcome the handicap of minor EE. This isn't an excuse for its presence, however, and I hope the studios who continue to allow visible EE (artificial sharpening) in their transfers wise up* as they begin to transition into HD-DVD transfer protocols. What looks bad on SD-DVD will be an absolute deal breaker for videophyles in HD.

    Happy viewing! [​IMG]

    * Completely OT, but I found it amusing that several of the heavily processed sequences in McG's Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle sported massive haloing in the theatre. This is one of only two or three films on which I've noted it during a theatrical run (I don't always look for it), and I presume it's a combination of contrast manipulation ("blowing out the highlights") and sharpening. The DVD will obviously contain this as well, but hopefully only on those shots which exhibited it in the theatre; DVD reviewers will have a chance to demonstrate whether they were paying attention at the cineplex as they attempt to gauge the quality of that particular disc's transfer. [​IMG]
     
  4. Joseph Bolus

    Joseph Bolus Cinematographer

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    * City Slickers: Fine looking 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer of a mostly-outdoor movie. The audio is just Dolby surround 2.0 but is serviceable for a comedy. There are virtually no extras provided.

    *Tootsie: A very nice new 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer is included along with a disappointing new DD 5.1 audio mix. The new audio mix did nothing for me and all I was hoping for was a good presentation of the movie's signature song. The original mono track is included as well. It sounds about the same. No extras.
     
  5. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Blazing Saddles is an OK transfer (I'm sure a remaster would look a LOT better) If you can get it for cheap, I'd go ahead. The audio is a great mono track, too.

    Ferris Bueller's Day Off looks and sounds fantastic.

    It Happened One Night is a very beautiful DVD. While a handful of shots were taken from dupe material (it was restored ON FILM first), it looks fantastic. The sound is very robust for an older film, too.
     
  6. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    Thanks for the help on some of these.

    I'm very happy to hear about "It Happened One Night". My VHS is pretty crappy. A great film. [​IMG]

    If anyone else has any other thoughts, feel free.....

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Stagecoach is a good candidate for another Lowry Digital Images 2K (or possibly 4K) restoration.

    The negative is gone and the remaining elements don't seem to be top-notch.
     
  8. Deepak Shenoy

    Deepak Shenoy Supporting Actor

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    I have the following titles from your list

    Witness For The Prosecution
    It Happened One Night
    The Shop Around The Corner
    Chinatown
    Being John Malkovich
    The Tenant
    Guess Who's Coming To Dinner

    and from what I can remember all of them have above-average transfers. It Happened One Night is especially stunning for a movie that is nearly 70 years old.

    I have seen the Annie Hall DVD and its transfer isn't that good (non-anamorphic too if I remember correctly). I would definitely pick this one up if MGM decided to revisit it with a brand new anamorphic transfer.

    -D
     
  9. James Edward

    James Edward Supporting Actor

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    The Tenant looks great. Having been made almost 30 years ago on what I'm sure was not a huge budget, it will more than satisfy. Mono for sound...

    Woodstock is pleasing. Sure, it's grainy at times, and it uses a lot of what seem to be differing film and cameras, but what the heck. The sound is better than the picture, but both will easily satisfy anyone with more than a passing interest in the film.
     
  10. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    Anybody have the current anamorphic DVD of The Caine Mutiny?

    I see where Caine was done in a 1.85:1 ratio. I would have thought this film would have been an ideal "scope" (2.35) movie. Anyone agree?

    Comments? Concerns?
     
  11. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Lead Actor
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    It Happened One Night is wonderful. When you consider that the movie is almost 70 years old, it looks fabulous on DVD. The picture is totally watchable, and the audio is very good as well. Comes with some cool extras, including a 1939 radio play of the film with Gable and Colbert.

    Chinatown looks wonderful. For years I had to watch it on crappy VHS - no more. Not much in terms of special featues, but as far as the movie itself, looks great.

    The Caine Mutiny - I love this movie. I've rented it a couple times in its current DVD version, but I don't have it handy to reference. As I remember, it was a solid quality DVD, no special features (maybe a trailer?) and made from decent elements. Nothing that will knock your socks off, but it still looks pretty good and is worth having if you're a fan of the film.

    Annie Hall - I hate this DVD. Picture is OK, not outstanding. But what really bothers me is that MGM has replaced some important subtitles that were part of the film with player generated titles. This is most prominent in a scene between Woody Allen and Diane Keaton on the apartment balcony, where the two of them have a conversation, with their inner thoughts being subtitled onscreen as they speak. It's a hilarious gag, but you'd never know it with the MGM DVD. If, like me, you often watch films with the English subtitles on, the player will generate the subtitles for what they're speaking, but neglect the subtitle that's meant to be there. This was enough to keep me from keeping it.

    Blazing Saddles is perfectly servicable; again, nothing that will knock your socks off, but certainly the best this film has ever looked on DVD. I'm glad the DVD includes the widescreen version of the film, as a lot of the physical comedy can get lost in the evil pan and scan version I used to have on VHS.
     
  12. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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  13. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    David... Just watched my copy of A Kiss Before Dying last week and was quite impressed. It's not without it's flaws, but how many from 40+ years ago are? The Caine Mutiny, I watched a few months back and it was typical Columbia... great in some spots (most) but inconsistent. I am happy to have it however.

    As for A Double Life, mine is on order from Amazon and I am curious as to what it will look like. I don't recall seeing any posted threads here as to the quality but like Bill says, with Artisan, its a crap shoot at best.

    Speaking of Artisan, just heading down now to watch Body And Soul. It just showed up from Amazon minus one of the hub pieces and was obviously doing the "floppy chicken" all the way up from the US. Judging by the amount of scratches, I may just have to take advantage of the return policy....

    Herb.
     
  14. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie

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    I don't know if this has already been mentioned but:
    Patriot Games: This one has been reissued as a special edition with an anamorphic transfer and DTS and looks great. The special edition is distinguishable from the original release by the yellow "Widescreen Collection" Paramount banner across the top (the old one had either a red or a blue banner across the bottom.
     
  15. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    How does the non-anamorphic DVD of "Backdraft" (1991) look?

    And does it still come in the jewel case? Or has it since been upgraded to a keepcase package? (If anyone knows.)
     
  16. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie

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    I don't know about the transfer quality, but the last time I saw Backdraft in the stores, it was in a keep case.
     
  17. Tony Kwong

    Tony Kwong Supporting Actor

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    IMO the only good transfer of Backdraft is on DTheater. All versions of Backdraft on DVD that I've seen look very dated and bad. Lots of EE and compression problems on them.
     
  18. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    It Happened One Night [​IMG] don't remeber being as awestruck by the trnasfer as most here, although it probably is excellant for an early 30's pic.
    i was most struck by the sound. for the first time i clearly heard the fathers plane go by overhead as the two are in the cabin- Never, Ever noticed that before...very cool [​IMG]

    9 To 5 [​IMG] very decent for its age and profile
    Barefoot In The Park [​IMG] i recall the colors being more vibrant than i was expecting on this one

    Chinatown -this one seemed slightly soft to me, not as impressed as i was hoping to be


    The Caine Mutiny agree with the previous poster-great in spots-oddly off in others but on the whole a decent enough job and great movie

    Summer Of '42 [​IMG] very soft and hazy filming, but disc is cleanly authored and replicates the look exceptionally

    Will Penny [​IMG]

    Tucker: The Man And His Dream [​IMG] with the caveat that its not the theatrical 2.35 but Coppolas odd 2.20 for home video version- why i'll never understand

    The Mosquito Coast [​IMG]
    Tootsie [​IMG]
    Frankie And Johnnie [​IMG] very nice, basic job on this one


    you should open up a Columbia House account. i think they offer all of these and they would probably run you under $8 a piece averaged out with the cost of shipping and fulfillments- maybe even less.
     
  19. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    Thanks very much, Paul.

    Appreciate your advice.

    C.House might be a good choice. Although, in researching most of these catalog titles, DDD has many of them for under $10 as well (with Free S&H of course).

    More to critique? OK......

    On Golden Pond
    Five Easy Pieces
    Stalag 17
    Dominick & Eugene
    Now And Then
    Disclosure
    Midnight Cowboy
    Oh, God!
    Body Heat
    Some Like It Hot (SE)
    Naked Gun 1
     
  20. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    I just watched Woodstock for the first time about 2 weeks ago and was surprised by how good it looked, considering that it was one of the first discs released. Of course, the original film material isn't the best, with handheld 16mm cameras being used much of the time, but there's nothing to be done about that. As far as the transfer itself, it's pretty nice, with minimal artifacting and sharpening. I'd agree with the above poster, though, that the sound is better than the picture.
     

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