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Blu-ray Review While We Wait for Blu-ray Reviews of Touch of Evil and Double Indemnity (1 Viewer)

Kevin EK

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It will take me a few more days to compile my reviews of Touch of Evil and Double Indemnity, both of which have just been released by Universal on Blu-ray.

But I felt it important to post this note about them, in appreciation of the work that went into them, and in hopes that people will seek them out and purchase them.

Both titles will be Highly Recommended, with 5 star ratings on picture quality.

I have come to this determination after viewing them at Joe Kane's home projection system today, along with Robert A. Harris. All three of us are in agreement that the transfers on display here are quite lovely.

Touch of Evil is presented in a similar manner to the earlier 50th Anniversary DVD, which I reviewed here some time ago. The special features have all been carried over, including all the commentaries and even the little booklet of Orson Welles' memo. All three versions of the movie are available on the Blu-ray, as they were on the 50th Anniversary DVD. The difference is that the movie is now presented in solid high definition. We noted that the theatrical cut starts a little softer during the opening sequence, given that the titles are effectively a generation or two away from the original negative. The restored cut does not have this issue as they were using a version without the titles and thus a generation closer to the original. This does not mean that there's a problem - just a clarification for anyone noticing that Janet Leigh looks a little softer until after the kaboom. (We started speculating what the heck was in the fountain to cause it to catch fire - I'm going to check the commentaries to see if anyone has an answer there...)

Double Indemnity is presented in a similar manner to the 2006 Legacy DVD, with what looks like all the special features carried over from there, and adding a little envelope of promotional materials and stills. For the new 70th Anniversary Blu-ray, Universal has provided a new transfer that looks extremely good in projection on a 7 1/2 foot wide screen. Going from what is likely a fine grain master, the new transfer shows plenty of detail and what we saw as velvety grain. This is not the same transfer as the UK Masters of Cinema Blu, which apparently used an older HD transfer of the movie. The transfer on the new Universal Blu is superior.

Again, both of these releases are Highly Recommended for the excellent picture quality and for the quality of these films and their place in cinema history.
 

Robert Crawford

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Universal takes major criticism around here and much of it has been well deserved so I'm very happy both of these releases are highly recommended. My discs came yesterday, but I watched the Men in War BD instead.

Another kudo for Universal is their catalog BD titles releases with Digital HD with UV on them. To me, all studios should be offering that bonus. Great job by Universal in that regard.
 

Reggie W

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On Touch of Evil...

Well, I'm not Robert Harris and I don't play him on TV but I thought this looked great when I watched it last night and I would add the sound was wonderful and quite robust. I only watched the restoration version and I admit I am biased and a huge fan of Mr. Welles and I get a bit swept up by the film itself every time I watch it but this really looked like film to me. I would say this is the best I've ever seen the film look and sound. I don't know how any movie buff could not have this in their collection.
 

Peter Apruzzese

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I only had time last night for a quick scan of both titles on my projector but I also thought they looked excellent. Assuming they hold up under a proper viewing (and I have no reason to think they wouldn't), these releases are a terrific effort from Universal and need to be singled out and praised.
 

Kevin EK

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Keith,I have not personally seen the 2011 MOC Blu-ray of Touch of Evil, but I understand that the Universal Blu is from a more recent 4K transfer. Also, the Universal Blu presents all three cuts in 1.85:1, while the UK Blu presents two of the cuts in 1.33:1 as well. For myself, I'm happy just to have them in 1.85.
 

Charles Smith

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I think the Universal DVD set also presented all three in 1.85.
 

mikeyhitchfan

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I have a few questions regarding Touch of Evil.

Were all 3 versions given a 4K scan or just the reconstruction?

I don't think seamless branching was used, does anyone? If it is, then all 3 cuts had to have a 4K scan, right?

Why are there vertical scratch lines in the driving to the motel scenes present in the reconstruction version, but in the preview version the lines are gone but what looks like water spots or damage marks are in the same places. Was the negative run through a wet gate to remove scratches and it left spots?
 

bujaki

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Kevin EK said:
Keith,I have not personally seen the 2011 MOC Blu-ray of Touch of Evil, but I understand that the Universal Blu is from a more recent 4K transfer. Also, the Universal Blu presents all three cuts in 1.85:1, while the UK Blu presents two of the cuts in 1.33:1 as well. For myself, I'm happy just to have them in 1.85.
Kevin,
You are now in Jeffrey Wells' hit list. Fortunately, it's probably for a short time since he must be at death's door by now. After all, Orson Welles shot everything in 1.37 for TV, didn't he?
 

JoHud

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I can also vouch that Double Indemnity looks absolutely fantastic. Never bought the MoC Edition, so I can't compare but no one should be disappointed in their Double Indemnity disc. Blu-ray of the year contender.

Apparently there isn't a very clear victor between MoC and Universal in regards to Touch of Evil. DVDBeaver gave this assessment:
ADDITION: Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - (April 2014) - Like the new Double Indemnity Masters of Cinema Blu-ray compared to the Universal 1080P - we have significant differences. Firstly the Universal don't bother with the dual-ratios. There is no 1.37:1 versions. They include all three versions ('Reconstruction', 'Theatrical' + 'Preview') in 1.85;1 on one, seamlessly-branched, Blu-ray disc. It is less robust than the UK BD showing a consistent 20 Mbps video bitrate for all three. What is most striking is the amount of information in the frame. The new Universal has more on the left and top edges. Now, I'm not a lab or anything - I'm just one guy and my observations are that the quality generally leans to the Universal but, like Double Indemnity, the Masters of Cinema supports the grain structure to a notably higher level. After the first captures comparison (Janet Leigh and Charlton Heston walking by the car) it looked like the MoC would be dramatically better (Universal looked like it may be boosted and softer), but as I made more comparison captures (VERY difficult with an imbedded timeline in 'pause mode') - the Universal took the edge with superior contrast supporting slightly tighter detail. Aside from the cropping, I suspect the MoC is the most authentic in appearance. So I think both packages have a lot to offer.The Universal audio is transferred more robustly, but I think you'd have to be extremely familiar with the film to be attentive to the marginally deeper soundstage. I have no idea which is most accurate to the production's intentions and the Universal DTS-HD Master sounded strong. Mancini's Mani title and background score sounded excellent via the lossless.
It confirms that Universal used seamless branching on its disc which explains why there aren't any significant compression artifacts caused by putting three different cuts on a single disc. MoC has a better bitrate, but it the visual edge seems marginal in comparison.

Also, the MoC edition offers both 1.85:1 and 1.37:1 for all cuts while Universal limits them all to 1.85:1. In that respect consumers who wish to watch these in 1.37:1 will need to get the MoC Disc. Otherwise there doesn't seem to be much incentive to import from either side of the pond--they're both excellent releases.
 

Dale MA

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After reading that I'm very tempted to pull the trigger on Touch of Evil, even though I own the MOC release...
 

Bryan Tuck

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JoHud said:
It confirms that Universal used seamless branching on its disc which explains why there aren't any significant compression artifacts caused by putting three different cuts on a single disc. MoC has a better bitrate, but it the visual edge seems marginal in comparison.
Could it be that only the Preview and Theatrical are seamlessly-branched, with the Reconstructed being on its own? I believe that's how it was on the DVD (albeit with 2 discs).
 

Angelo Colombus

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I have the MoC blu-ray that i play on my all region player and the image looks great and sharper looking then the Universal dvd from a few years ago. Will think about getting the new blu-ray just released but i think of it as double dipping.
 

Kevin EK

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I've posted a question to Torsten about this. I was confused by the discussion of color timing for a black and white movie. I also am not convinced that somehow Universal used a subpar scanner. I do believe that Torsten thinks they did, but what I saw on the blu-ray did not bear that idea out. I also read the dvd beaver review, and I'd agree that the beaver is lining up the two Blus and saying they each have their advantages. I don't agree with Jeffrey Wells about the 1.37:1 ratio. I'd be curious what the source is for such an argument.
 

Reggie W

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bujaki said:
After all, Orson Welles shot everything in 1.37 for TV, didn't he?
Not according to the commentary on the Touch of Evil restoration. Welles shot Touch of Evil in 1.85:1 and that was what he wanted to do but the studio wanted it to also be available to be shown 1.37:1 because they wanted to show the film on television...which they felt was becoming such a popular medium. So, not Orson's idea to show it at 1.37:1.
 

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