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Warner Archive’s Rancho Notorious (1952) on Blu-ray is a knockout! (1 Viewer)

Chuck Pennington

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Wow, just wow. I bought Warner Archive’s Blu-ray of Rancho Notorious (1952) having never seen the film before but am glad that I did. George Feltenstein discussed the restoration on The Extras podcast as being from the 3-strip elements for Blu-ray, and I know how gorgeous past presentations have been when those negatives are scanned and digitally realigned. Still, I was unprepared for how gorgeous this RKO western from over seventy years ago would appear on Blu-ray. I checked out the DVD release from 2010 and was even more impressed when I compared the two releases (even the sound is improved).

2010 DVD
DE10C112-AA17-43B5-A064-9963F47C14A0.png

2023 Blu-ray
E327FC8D-6F38-44B8-BEBB-96467A3F9AB0.png

2010 DVD
B12FBD77-42B5-4248-9EA3-3A0981193DF7.png

2023 Blu-ray
2B5859E6-A2B3-4ADA-83FF-C82EB69C9B3D.png

I made this video comparison of the two releases as well: Rancho Notorious: DVD to Blu-ray

I just don’t see modern films approaching the level of care and precision in lighting and design that these vintage Technicolor films exhibit. Maybe because they were products of the studio system or because so much light was required for the slow film stocks, I don’t know; whatever their technical limitations of the time, even some of the most mundane films from these past eras seem light years ahead artistically of a lot of what I see that is new and current today IMHO. I sound so stodgy, but I’m just 42! Oh well. Warner Archive’s Rancho Notorious - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
 

Nick*Z

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Wow, just wow. I bought Warner Archive’s Blu-ray of Rancho Notorious (1952) having never seen the film before but am glad that I did. George Feltenstein discussed the restoration on The Extras podcast as being from the 3-strip elements for Blu-ray, and I know how gorgeous past presentations have been when those negatives are scanned and digitally realigned. Still, I was unprepared for how gorgeous this RKO western from over seventy years ago would appear on Blu-ray. I checked out the DVD release from 2010 and was even more impressed when I compared the two releases (even the sound is improved).

2010 DVD
View attachment 172405

2023 Blu-ray
View attachment 172406

2010 DVD
View attachment 172407

2023 Blu-ray
View attachment 172409

I made this video comparison of the two releases as well: Rancho Notorious: DVD to Blu-ray

I just don’t see modern films approaching the level of care and precision in lighting and design that these vintage Technicolor films exhibit. Maybe because they were products of the studio system or because so much light was required for the slow film stocks, I don’t know; whatever their technical limitations of the time, even some of the most mundane films from these past eras seem light years ahead artistically of a lot of what I see that is new and current today IMHO. I sound so stodgy, but I’m just 42! Oh well. Warner Archive’s Rancho Notorious - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
I have no affinity for what Hollywood pumps out today over what they made 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 years ago. You have to remember, the studio system was a hermetically sealed kingdom, self-contained and self-sufficient. How could it not hope to succeed when you had everything you could possibly desire to make a great movie housed under one banner and backlot? You take the best stars, the best writers, the best musicians, the best craftsman (set designers, art directors, etc. et al), and you put them together in one room to hammer out the details.

Consider someone like Arthur Freed at MGM, who lived, breathed and digested movie musical content with a ravenous desire to create the very best. With the studio's unlimited resourced behind him, is it any wonder that studio gave us such immortal musical fare as Best Foot Forward, For Me and My Gal, Meet Me In St. Louis, An American in Paris and Gigi (to grotesquely only state some of the highlights).

There was a minor renaissance in picture-making in the early 1990's. This gave us some content that will likely endure for decades to come. I would point to such carefully crafted fare as the Merchant Ivory pics, A Room with a View, Howards End and The Remains of the Day. There was also Gillian Anderson's Little Women, and Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility and Kenneth Branaugh's Hamlet to consider. Quality fare for sure.

I think the real seismic shift occurred with the release of Cameron's Titanic - the last big-budget gambles on period product. There were some good movies to emerge shortly afterward, like Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge, Tykwer's The International, Bayona's The Impossible, Moorhouse's The Dressmaker and Altman's Gosford Park.

But on the whole, the real beginning of the end for quality in content and style began with the release of Titanic. Hollywood's aggressive shift to franchise film making, with a chronic slant toward Star Wars and Marvel Comics content, has basically skewed the audience for 'other' movie content to the small screen where hits like Yellowstone thrive. But the art and craft of picture-making on the big screen in general has only cheapened since.
 

RobertMG

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I thought we were talking about Rancho Notorious Blu-ray. Discussion about Hollywood of yesteryear versus today’s Hollywood should have its own thread in Movies forum.
Looks stunning! Dietrich in Technicolor va va va voom! By the way another Mr F podcast from the extras too soon! Hope THF can get one too!
 
Last edited:

ManW_TheUncool

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Wow, just wow. I bought Warner Archive’s Blu-ray of Rancho Notorious (1952) having never seen the film before but am glad that I did...

Guess I need to do the same... even though shelf/storage space is scarce (and probably more costly than the BD itself) over here... :lol::D Thanks! :cool:

_Man_
 

Robert Harris

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I’m a bit confused as to why some readers seem shocked at this release.

The film has always looked like this.

It’s the old SD transfer derived from a dupe via telecine or an old scan that’s the comparison.

When you have:

1. The original negative elements;

2. A quality post facility that knows how to properly scan;

3. A colorist with a great eye;

4. A cinematographer like Hal Mohr;

5. Warner Archive and someone wth Mr. Feltenstein’s Love and Knowledge of cinema behind the project…

This is precisely what should be expected.

I’m not one bit surprised.
 

Chuck Pennington

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I’m a bit confused as to why some readers seem shocked at this release.

The film has always looked like this.

It’s the old SD transfer derived from a dupe via telecine or an old scan that’s the comparison.

When you have:

1. The original negative elements;

2. A quality post facility that knows how to properly scan;

3. A colorist with a great eye;

4. A cinematographer like Hal Mohr;

5. Warner Archive and someone wth Mr. Feltenstein’s Love and Knowledge of cinema behind the project…

This is precisely what should be expected.

I’m not one bit surprised.
It’s the degree of deviation and improvement that is a surprise. Every film is different. When one is used to murky and soft and pale for decades, to suddenly see an image so vital and vibrant can be surprising - and quite welcome. We don’t always know what elements exist on a film when a Blu is announced or what effort is being made to prepare a new master, and many a new release has arrived that appears to be a step down in quality than what has been seen before. Sure, Warner Archive is of a different standard, but still the question remains what we will see after decades of what has come before.

Excuse me for being excited about and sharing my enthusiasm for a new release.
 

Rob W

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Watched this tonight for the first time. Mr. Harris, can you (or anyone else) explain why the film starts with a black and white RKO logo ? Were RKO color films so rare that the studio had not created a color logo in 1952?
 

mskaye

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WHY this. Waste of time.
Warner Archive. George F's curation skills. Gorgeous scan from the original negs. A movie that has never looked better probably since its release. Fritz Lang, one of the greatest directors in cinema history, helming a singular western starring Marlene Dietrich.
 

Robert Harris

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It’s the degree of deviation and improvement that is a surprise. Every film is different. When one is used to murky and soft and pale for decades, to suddenly see an image so vital and vibrant can be surprising - and quite welcome. We don’t always know what elements exist on a film when a Blu is announced or what effort is being made to prepare a new master, and many a new release has arrived that appears to be a step down in quality than what has been seen before. Sure, Warner Archive is of a different standard, but still the question remains what we will see after decades of what has come before.

Excuse me for being excited about and sharing my enthusiasm for a new release.
You should be excited. I’m certain it’s a gorgeous release. I expect to have a copy next week.

My point is that people shouldn’t be surprised.

Extant elements on films are generally not a secret - good or bad.
 

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