Is “Giant” overlooked BD-wise?

Has anyone else found the print to be disappointing? The reviews on release were all extremely positive - but on my very large screen the quality was more like a DVD. 3 Stars

Giant was one of WB’s biggest films – yet the blue ray release received a disappointing upgrade released as part of the James Dean triple set. Watching it again, the quality was inferior to the amazing standard Warner has set. Sound was also disappointing and a remaster hopefully will be an option – but as is probably the case, interest might be low and the remaining elements just not worth the expense of a restoration. Has anyone else found the print to be disappointing? The reviews on release were all extremely positive – but on my very large screen the quality was more like a DVD.

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  1. Hi Justin, from my understanding this was the best WHV could do with this title, which is apparently extremely problematic, so I'm grateful that it was released at all. Here's Mr. Harris's review of the Dean Blu-ray set, which covers Giant: https://www.hometheaterforum.com/co…-the-james-dean-collection-in-blu-ray.327393/

    By the way, fans of the film might be interested to know that there's a new making of book due out this week called Giant: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Edna Ferber, and the Making of a Legendary American Film by Don Graham.

    [​IMG]

  2. M90GM

    Giant was one of WB's biggest films – yet the blue ray release received a disappointing upgrade released as part of the James Dean triple set. Watching it again, the quality was inferior to the amazing standard Warner has set. Sound was also disappointing and a remaster hopefully will be an option – but as is probably the case, interest might be low and the remaining elements just not worth the expense of a restoration. Has anyone else found the print to be disappointing? The reviews on release were all extremely positive – but on my very large screen the quality was more like a DVD.

    Giant, unfortunately displays the worst attributes of WarnerColor, and its use of single strand negative cutting.

  3. It should also be remembered that when Warner Home Video was responsible for releasing Blu-ray discs, the quality was variable to say the least. It is only since Warner Archive have taken over the Blu-ray program, that the quality has been so consistently high.

  4. Robin9

    It should also be remembered that when Warner Home Video was responsible for releasing Blu-ray discs, the quality was variable to say the least. It is only since Warner Archive have taken over the Blu-ray program, that the quality has been so consistently high.

    Yeah but even Archive probably couldn't salvage Giant. The source materials were pretty FUBAR'd even back in the 50s.

  5. When I got that James Dean Blu-ray set, I watched East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause pretty soon after getting it. I have yet to watch Giant from it. I had watched my DVD of it shortly before receiving the set, and I've just never gone back to it. I need to do something about that relatively soon.

  6. The Blu-ray of Giant puts the DVD to shame in every way. Just look at the handful of non-optical shots in the Blu-ray of Giant – they look amazing. Unfortunately, this film has more opticals than about ten other films combined.

  7. haineshisway

    The Blu-ray of Giant puts the DVD to shame in every way. Just look at the handful of non-optical shots in the Blu-ray of Giant – they look amazing. Unfortunately, this film has more opticals than about ten other films combined.

    Unfortunately, not only Opticals, but no cut-ins. When there’s an optical, it can go for 200 feet.

  8. The RAH review is a major and mandatory prep read. Everything is placed within its proper perspectives and lends the proper balance of what one is about to view. Upon the BD release of Giant, I read RAH's review and did not hesitate on making my purchase. Again, I returned to Mr. Harris' review about a month ago – some 3 plus years after its initial posting – as I was about to embark on an altogether different viewing through the prism of a 4K up-rez. With a stack of multiple titiles, my BD of Giant was initially thrown into the Sony 4K player as a "just to see what its like" reference. Giant never made it out of that player until 4 hours later, No doubt, we have seen better on BD; but problematic film stocks deserve to be considered in a case by case scenario where extensive works were performed to the utmost. Yes, en totale. I could see where Giant wanted to go or, should I say, where it once was.
    Remarkably, though, Giant still remains…well…Giant. And this experience couldn't help but to make me all the more grateful for the those many older films that were able to thankfully find its ways to a finer light on BD.
    BOTTOM LINE: Giant remains a Must See and a Must Own.

  9. Andrew Budgell

    Hi Justin, from my understanding this was the best WHV could do with this title, which is apparently extremely problematic, so I'm grateful that it was released at all. Here's Mr. Harris's review of the Dean Blu-ray set, which covers Giant: https://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/threads/a-few-words-about-™-the-james-dean-collection-in-blu-ray.327393/

    By the way, fans of the film might be interested to know that there's a new making of book due out this week called Giant: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Edna Ferber, and the Making of a Legendary American Film by Don Graham.

    [​IMG]

    thank you!! will buy!!

  10. Robert Harris

    Unfortunately, not only Opticals, but no cut-ins. When there’s an optical, it can go for 200 feet.

    That was my point – the opticals go on FOREVER in Giant and there are a ton of them of that duration. That was Mr. Stevens' thing – he loved his slow dissolves. Sometimes you cut out of a long optical for one shot, then you're back to another optical for the next 100 feet or whatever.

  11. I have never seen Giant, but I picked up this disk on sale last summer. I'm glad to know it is at least a serviceable viewing copy for one who wants to watch for the first time.

    I need to get this one and Zulu in the rotation soon.

    (At any given time, I have about 30 disks that need watching).

  12. I got the link open(6pp) by using the link from M90GM but the original link at the top of the page for the James Dean Collection was to Coco each time I clicked it.

  13. Was the original camera negative tossed once the dupes, master positives, etc used to create the long disolves where printed. If the original camera negative is still available could the disolves be recreated?

  14. bobclampett

    Was the original camera negative tossed once the dupes, master positives, etc used to create the long disolves where printed. If the original camera negative is still available could the disolves be recreated?

    Yes.

    Yes.

  15. Well, I went to watch Giant tonight and got to Chapter 16 when the picture began to break up. I took out the disc only to find most woefully that there was a small gash in the dish which was accounting for the problem. Now, I'm in the process of having it replaced, but that means I won't get back to it for several days. At least I wasn't trying to show it to friends and been embarrassed by the disc flaw.

    I streamed the HD version of Steel Magnolias from Amazon Prime instead and had a good time laughing and crying along with it.

  16. Unfortunately, Warner Bros. did the best they could with the original elements. There is no stereo track available and the Warner Color elements are not very good. There are many opticals and dupe dissolves. The image quality varies from shot to shot. Some shots look quite beautiful, while others are very smeary and muddy-looking. From what I understand, Giant was filmed in 1:33:1 and cropped on the top and bottom to give it a 1:66:1 aspect ratio in theatres. The extras on this are outstanding with several documentaries with cast members Rock Hudson, Carol Baker, Jane Withers and others — Carol Baker and Jane Withers sharing some of the most interesting stories about James Dean. For some unknown reason, Elizabeth Taylor never participated.

  17. warnerbro

    The extras on this are outstanding with several documentaries with cast members Rock Hudson, Carol Baker, Jane Withers and others — Carol Baker and Jane Withers sharing some of the most interesting stories about James Dean. For some unknown reason, Elizabeth Taylor never participated.

    Sadly, Elizabeth never participated in DVD extras of this sort. The one exception being a featurette for another Stevens title, A Place in the Sun, and I think that was mostly to honour Monty Clift.

  18. warnerbro

    Unfortunately, Warner Bros. did the best they could with the original elements. There is no stereo track available and the Warner Color elements are not very good. There are many opticals and dupe dissolves. The image quality varies from shot to shot. Some shots look quite beautiful, while others are very smeary and muddy-looking. From what I understand, Giant was filmed in 1:33:1 and cropped on the top and bottom to give it a 1:66:1 aspect ratio in theatres. The extras on this are outstanding with several documentaries with cast members Rock Hudson, Carol Baker, Jane Withers and others — Carol Baker and Jane Withers sharing some of the most interesting stories about James Dean. For some unknown reason, Elizabeth Taylor never participated.

    An "A" list Color production initially filmed in Academy Ratio in 1955? Interesting!

    CHEERS! 🙂

  19. Tony Bensley

    An "A" list Color production initially filmed in Academy Ratio in 1955? Interesting!

    CHEERS! 🙂

    Wasn't that quite normal? If a film wasn't being photographed in an anamorphic process, it was pretty much the standard procedure to expose the whole negative and have the picture cropped in projection. I really don't know how often films were matted in camera, but I don't believe it was the most common process.

  20. KMR

    Wasn't that quite normal? If a film wasn't being photographed in an anamorphic process, it was pretty much the standard procedure to expose the whole negative and have the picture cropped in projection. I really don't know how often films were matted in camera, but I don't believe it was the most common process.

    I knew that it was normal for Black & White "B" movie fare, but it was my assumption that large scale Color productions, such as GIANT (1956) weren't part of that by 1955, no?

    CHEERS! 🙂

  21. Tony Bensley

    I knew that it was normal for Black & White "B" movie fare, but it was my assumption that large scale Color productions, such as GIANT (1956) weren't part of that by 1955, no?

    CHEERS! 🙂

    As I understand it, George Stevens was not a fan of Cinemascope when Giant was in production. Hence they went with an open-matte.

  22. Tony Bensley

    I knew that it was normal for Black & White "B" movie fare, but it was my assumption that large scale Color productions, such as GIANT (1956) weren't part of that by 1955, no?

    CHEERS! 🙂

    Virtually all productions not shot scope, were 1.37. Exceptions, involved various mattes in camera.

    Some with multiple, or different mattes, per camera.

    Wide-screen = 1.37 matted in projection, either RA or FA.

    All Vista and TLA shot full open matte 1.50.

  23. Robert Harris

    Virtually all productions not shot scope, were 1.37. Exceptions, involved various mattes in camera.

    Some with multiple, or different mattes, per camera.

    Wide-screen = 1.37 matted in projection, either RA or FA.

    All Vista and TLA shot full open matte 1.50.

    There you go.

  24. Tony Bensley

    I knew that it was normal for Black & White "B" movie fare, but it was my assumption that large scale Color productions, such as GIANT (1956) weren't part of that by 1955, no?

    CHEERS! 🙂

    I think you may be mixing up the difference between filmed in Academy and composed for Academy.

  25. Not having viewed GIANT in a very long time, I mistakenly assumed that it would have been shot in Cinemascope, but I was obviously thinking of REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955), which I know was filmed using that process, as initial Black & White shooting had to be scrapped, since all Cinemascope productions had to be filmed in Color at that time.

    Thank you very much, RAH for your clarifications!

    CHEERS! 🙂

  26. I did end up finishing Giant today. The transfer certainly does wax and wane in sharpness throughout, as many have said, due to the opticals, WarnerColor, and other photography problems. When it's good, though, it looks smashing. And at least it's clean with no specks and scratches.

  27. Matt Hough

    And yet he never made another film in that aspect ratio! I wonder if he tried to have The Only Game in Town framed at 1.66:1?

    Even more ironic, his two subsequent films to Giant were 2.35:1 (Diary of Anne Frank) and 2.76:1 (The Greatest Story Ever Told).

  28. RichMurphy

    Even more ironic, his two subsequent films to Giant were 2.35:1 (Diary of Anne Frank) and 2.76:1 (The Greatest Story Ever Told).

    They started filming The Greatest Story Ever Told in 3-panel Cinerama then changed over to Ultra Panavision. In the documentary they mention Super Panavision 2.2 was changed over to Ultra Panavsion 2.76 but that's wrong.

  29. PMF

    Will the advancement of technology ever make it possible for "Giant" to receive even further efforts of restoration?

    I'm not an expert, but I'd assume it might be possible at some point. The bigger issue is would it be worth the additional expense to the studio, or is the current master "good enough"?

  30. PMF

    Will the advancement of technology ever make it possible for "Giant" to receive even further efforts of restoration?

    If there’s no image on the negative, one would have to re-shoot, which carries with it, its own set of problems.

  31. Robert Harris

    If there’s no image on the negative, one would have to re-shoot, which carries with it, its own set of problems.

    Or, with the advancement of photorealistic CGI, completely recreate the dupe sections digitally. 🙂 But that’s going a bit too far, don’t you think?

  32. I've always believed that Giant being filmed flat was due to Elizabeth Taylor's aversion to CinemaScope (in particular the CinemaScope mumps), Miss Taylor's first wide format film was Raintree County, filmed in MGM Camera 65 with Panavision lenses and although Butterfield 8 carries a CinemaScope credit on the titles it was filmed with Panaviion lenses.

  33. Les Mangram

    I've always believed that Giant being filmed flat was due to Elizabeth Taylor's aversion to CinemaScope (in particular the CinemaScope mumps), Miss Taylor's first wide format film was Raintree County, filmed in MGM Camera 65 with Panavision lenses and although Butterfield 8 carries a CinemaScope credit on the titles it was filmed with Panaviion lenses.

    That sounds extremely unlikely. In 1955 (when Giant was filmed), Ms. Taylor didn't have the clout to dictate to a major studio like Warners or a director like Stevens, what format a movie should be filmed in. Indeed, she was still forced to make movies she didn't want to make (like Butterfield 8). Her clout came after Cleopatra (1963) when, arguably, she was the biggest star in the world. She could even insist a movie set in Las Vegas like George Stevens' The Only Game In Town be filmed in Paris because she didn't feel like going to Vegas. Now, that's clout.

  34. Thomas T

    That sounds extremely unlikely. In 1955 (when Giant was filmed), Ms. Taylor didn't have the clout to dictate to a major studio like Warners or a director like Stevens, what format a movie should be filmed in. Indeed, she was still forced to make movies she didn't want to make (like Butterfield 8). Her clout came after Cleopatra (1963) when, arguably, she was the biggest star in the world. She could even insist a movie set in Las Vegas like George Stevens' The Only Game In Town be filmed in Paris because she didn't feel like going to Vegas. Now, that's clout.

    She had the clout when making Cleopatra to demand the studio use Todd-AO as the filming format, had approval on the director, and forced the studio to accept Rouben Mamoulian's resignation. Her making BUtterfield 8 was a legal requirement so she could fulfill her MGM contract and finally be free from the studio.

  35. Allansfirebird

    She had the clout when making Cleopatra to demand the studio use Todd-AO as the filming format, had approval on the director, and forced the studio to accept Rouben Mamoulian's resignation. Her making BUtterfield 8 was a legal requirement so she could fulfill her MGM contract and finally be free from the studio.

    And the clout to ask for—and receive—a one million dollar salary and 10% of the gross for Cleopatra. With overtime she made something like $7 million on that film. Not too shabby!

  36. Allansfirebird

    She had the clout when making Cleopatra to demand the studio use Todd-AO as the filming format, had approval on the director, and forced the studio to accept Rouben Mamoulian's resignation. Her making BUtterfield 8 was a legal requirement so she could fulfill her MGM contract and finally be free from the studio.

    I do not believe that Taylor forced Fox to use Todd-AO, by the time that Cleopatra went into production Fox owned the Todd-AO process (and had already used it on Can-Can) and as the film was to be their response to MGM's Ben-Hur in the epic stakes, there was never any doubt that it would be in 70mm.
    The fact remains that at a time when every Hollywood studio except Paramount was adopting CinemaScope for their big movies, Taylor was the only major Hollywood actress never to make a CinemaScope film.

  37. It is worth noting that after the development of Cinemascope Darryl Zanuck dictated that all of Fox's "A" features would be filmed in scope. If you watch Ottos Preminger's 1954 films "River of No Return" and "Carmen Jones" while both were required to be photographed in Cinemascope, in "River of No Return" he embraces the scope framing, while in "Carmen Jones" he largely rejected it. For the famous closet scene in "Carmen Jones," Preminger effectively dumps the cs ears and frames the film's climax in what amounts to the academy sound format. Just because you tell a director what to do does not mean he won't find a way around it.

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