"Third Man on the Mountain" ?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Nick Eden, Sep 11, 2004.

  1. Nick Eden

    Nick Eden Stunt Coordinator

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    Has anyone purchased this title yet? And if so is it widescreen please? I have yet to see any reviews or discussion about it and am keen to buy it, but only if it is in a true aspect ratio. I am not even sure what the OAR was-anyone?
     
  2. LukeB

    LukeB Cinematographer

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    It's not widescreen, but I tend to think that it's not supposed to be, similar to Darby O'Gill's situation. I should have a review up in a few days.
     
  3. Nick Eden

    Nick Eden Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for that Luke and I shall look forward to your review.
    I take it the case contains no statement (as with Darby)that 1.33:1 is the correct ratio?
     
  4. LukeB

    LukeB Cinematographer

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  5. Reagan

    Reagan Supporting Actor

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    I finally found a copy and watched it last night and things are not good. It looks like Disney used whatever transfer they had lying around (I'm guessing from a VHS release) and put it on DVD.

    I'm really disappointed (Luke, your review was far too kind). Now I understand that Third Man won't sell much, so financially it would be difficult to justify a lot of work on this title, but this is really bad.

    What makes matters worse is that the photography is so beautiful (it's like a travelogue for Switzerland). About the only issue that isn't a problem picture-wise is EE. But that's probably because there is so little detail in the picture that there are no edges to enhance. (Seriously, one scene, Janet Munro's face is so washed out that you can't tell where it ends and the backgrounds begin - just one big white mess).

    Not good.

    -Reagan
     
  6. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Cinematographer

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    I like this film a great deal. I haven't picked up the dvd yet. I have the laserdisc and its a beautiful,sharp transfer.
    However, a friend of mine back in Los Angeles who has his own private collection of films has widescreen prints of Third Man and Darby O'Gill. He tells me that both dvds have information missing at the sides and disneys story that these films are shot full frame is baloney. Both these movies should have had new widescreen transfers.
     
  7. Reagan

    Reagan Supporting Actor

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    Joe,

    Thanks for the information. I like the film too - it combines two of my favorite things: mountain climbing and Disney family entertainment from a less cynical time. Let me know if you think the DVD looks worse than the laser.

    -Reagan
     
  8. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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    I can confirm that this statement is true. I have seen a comparison between the Darby O'Gill DVD and a release print and the DVD is missing about 10% or so from each side. The release print was a hard matted 1.75:1 print, so Disney's story about the exibitor choosing to project this title at 1.85:1 rather that 1.33:1 is pure BS.

    Trying to soft matte the so called "open Matte" DVD past 1.66:1 starts cutting off heads, as well.

    Ted
     
  9. Guest

    Is the Laserdisc copy of it widescreen? It drives me crazy if movies are not shown using the whole negative.
     
  10. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    The OAR for Disney live action films in the late 50's and 60's is up for debate since as they were filming the films they were reminded of the eventual use of the films on the TV show. There were many films that were released just overseas that were only shown of The Wonderful World of Color in the US. There are also two films, The Monkey's Uncle and Merlin Jones that was originally set out for television that ended up with theatrical releases in the US.

    I am not sure that the people at Disney are all that aware of the debate since they more or less grew up on the television show or just know of the titles as two-parters and think they should be in 1:33 to 1.
     
  11. IanD

    IanD Stunt Coordinator

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    If they are ultimately for TV use, they still would film them for widescreen for theatrical use.
     
  12. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned
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    Third Man On the Mountain is one of Disney's least known but strongest dramatic films.
    It's a family film but not a childish family film, the story is mature and inspirational.
    It also gives Michael Rennie his best role since The Day the Earth Stood Still.
    Third Man On the Mountain was a personal project of Walt Disney, I understand.
    It deserves to be better known and if you give the film a chance you won't be disappointed in it.
    The DVD is a disappointment, but worth buying in any case for the high quality of the film.

    Disney needs to seriously reconsider all their live-action 1950s titles and especially the British titles that Walt Disney worked so hard on.
     
  13. Dick

    Dick Lead Actor
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    Third Man On the Mountain was one of those unlucky titles Disney quite arbitrarily released in full-frame, along with others that should have been 1.66:1, 1.75:1, 1.85:1 or...gasp...2.35:1 (Journey Of Natty Gann, Shipwrecked). Yet, again seemingly by a roll of the dice, we got Those Calloways, Adventures Of Bullwhip Griffin, and others in their proper ratio. No one has been able to figure this out -- there is no pattern to it. One of the better 70's adventures from the studio, Wild Country, is now available as a club exclusive, but, again, full screen. I'd love to see them revisit these titles properly, but none of the studios except Warner Bros, Universal and Sony seem to have any further interest in their catalogs. Disney now cares only for current live-action and their classic animation.We are entering a whole new territory for DVD availability, and we probably ought to try to get used to it sooner rather than later. (Tear rolls down cheek).
     
  14. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned
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    I don't understand Disney's inconsistency about print quality and aspect ratio, either.
    They have the worst track record of all the major studios.
    Coincidentally, their home video division is also the most insulated and the hardest to communicate with.

    Add Johnny Tremain (1956), Toby Tyler (1960), and Hans Brinker (1962) to the list of widescreen classic films that Disney has released full-frame / pan & scan, although the transfers are fine, especially Hans Brinker which is a beautiful print.

    Ironically, a recent Club-Exclusive like Scandalous John (1971) with Brian Kieth as a kind of western Don Qioixote gets a pristine transfer, widescreen and anamrophic, whereas Wild Country (1970) is full frame. It doesn't look bad full frame -- it was directed by the vastly under-rated Robert Totten, remember -- but it would look better without all that head room and bottom room. Other recent Club-Exclusives include the long-awaited Tonka (1958), Smith! (1969) and Castaway Cowboy (1973). Has anyone checked those out yet?

    Other full-frame / pan & scan Disney Club Exclusives that should have been widescreen include Kidnapped (1960), Moon Pilot (1962), A Tiger Walks (1964), Monkey's Uncle (1965), and The Fighting Prince of Donegal (1966).

    Third Man On the Mountain is an adult drama as well-told as The Old Man and the Sea or The Mountain.
    Personally, I think it's worth buying, or renting, even though the transfer is less than what it should be.
     
  15. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    Absolutely, but the forces at Disney more than likely have two versions of films and are using the 1:33 version (which was the version they used for VHS). I am not sure they look at these titles as films as much at made for TV movies. They also think there is an aversion to letter-boxing and feel their audience are 6 to 10 year olds sitting in front of a TV and complaining to mom that the picture does not fill the screen. I think a small proof of this is on the Snow White & Pinocchio Blu-ray where they added artwork to the left and right of the film to fill the screen length wise.

    Disney is sitting on a great library of live-action films that many people remember seeing in theatres or on television. They need to go back and re-look at the titles, re-master in proper OAR and get them out.

    Richard W lists above several titles that need wide-screen re-mastering and Johnny Tremain (1956), Toby Tyler (1960),Hans Brinker (1962), Moon Pilot (1962), A Tiger Walks (1964), and Monkey's Uncle (1965) were all produced for The Wonderful World Of Color, but did receive some theatrical releasing as second features in the US and mainstream release in Europe. There are original elements for these films, but again, Disney is using the VHS masters for these. I completely agree with Richard that these are better in OAR.
     
  16. Joe Lugoff

    Joe Lugoff Cinematographer

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    Of the movies you named, only Hans Brinker was made for television. The others -- Johnny Tremain (1957, actually), Toby Tyler, Moon Pilot, A Tiger Walks and The Monkey's Uncle -- were all major theatrical releases in the US. In fact, Moon Pilot was the Easter movie at Radio City Music Hall for 1962, and you didn't get more major than that in those days.
     
  17. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned
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    Hans Brinker, like The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh and many others, was produced simultaneously for European cinemas as well as for American televison. That means the directors composed for a wide frame while keeping it TV safe. And then, as often happened with Disney, after a television airing created an audience interest, the film would get a theatrical release in the USA after all, usually at the bottom half of a double-bill. Sometimes the feature film version would be a different, tighter edit; the feature might have more coverage instead of masters, while the TV version would offer as much as an hour more footage. The still missing-in-action A Connecticut Yankee (1962?) was a good example of this. But there was no set rule. The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh opened in British cinemas in December 1963 as a two-hour feature, and in widescreen, two months before the three-hour version aired in three installments on American TV, in full frame. And yet it is best-remembered today (inaccurately) as a made-for-TV movie.

    So Hans Brinker , a handsome, elegant production filmed in a real-life winter wonderland, qualifies as both a feature film and as a television program because it was shot simultaneously for both venues.
    When I saw it in a theater in 1966 or thereabouts I had no idea it already aired on television.
    It certainly didn't look like any video-TV program I'd ever seen.
    The cinematography in Hans Brinker is state-of-the-art, even Oscar-worthy.

    Third Man On the Mountain, however, was shot as a feature film.
    Today it stands as one of the best live-action films Walt Disney ever produced.
    If he were alive today he would be disgusted by the studio's lack of caring and inattentiveness to quality control.

    Perhaps the point I should be making is that the studio's current crop of execs don't realize that many of the live-action titles were composed in widescreen for theatrical screenings overseas while being kept TV safe for American television. If their records show a title aired on Wonderful World of Disney / Color, which they know was a full-frame medium, that's as far they think. Likewise, they don't make a distinction between the studio's juvenile films for a juvenile audience and its adult dramas for an adult-family audience. To the studio execs, the back-catalog is all the same stuff for an audience whom they assume doesn't know the difference.
     
  18. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    I will stand corrected on the theatrical releases of some of the titles, but mostly, if released they were bottom half of double bills (except Moon Pilot). I will stand by the observation that Disney today looks at the films as B titles that were thrown around the Television series and foreign release and they have a hard time OAR the films they do not have consider their A titles. They more than likely only have full screen transfers of the titles and do not see a need to re-visit.
     
  19. Mark B

    Mark B Supporting Actor

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    A few months back TCM aired a widescreen version of MOON PILOT.
     
  20. IanD

    IanD Stunt Coordinator

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    A bit off topic but:

    Disney's original 101 Dalmations was, according to records, original released theatrically HARD MATTE at 1.66:1. Subsequent theatrical reissues were full frame, as are the DVDs. Was the film animated in conventional academy (as opposed to open matte) and then did the studio do a special vertical scan and crop for the theatre prints (as opposed to just cropping the top and bottom)?

    And how come Fox and Hound is still cropped for its DVDs? Shame.

    And we need anamorphic Black Cauldron and Hercules dvds!!!

    Back to the regular discussion
     

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