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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

directed by Frank Capra 
U.S. 1946

The pivotal moment in It's a Wonderful Life clearly defines its central character, George Bailey. Standing on a bridge, contemplating suicide, Bailey (played to small-town perfection by Jimmy Stewart) instead finds himself leaping into the water to save someone else, a 'man' who turns out to be his guardian angel, Clarence (Henry Travers in a sweet performance). Director Frank Capra shows us what makes Bailey such a great man: even in his moment of greatest despair, George risks his life to save someone he doesn't even know.

George Bailey is an admirable man. He always does what's right, often sacrificing his own dreams for the good of his family, friends and community. And, up until that moment on the bridge, he does so without complaining or falling into self-pity or loathing. This is what makes his ethical battle on the bridge so compelling. By the time George hits rock bottom, we have accompanied him on such a fascinating ride that we can't help but pray that it turns out well for him.

It's a Wonderful Life is Capra's take on A Christmas Carol, with a few twists and modifications. Henry Potter (the great Lionel Barrymore) is Scrooge, George Bailey is Cratchit, Clarence is all of the ghostly visitors while Zuzu is a slightly healthier Tiny Tim. In his Americanisation of the Dickens classic, Capra gives Bailey the moral dilemma and chance at redemption, while leaving Potter to rot in his own stench.

This great American fable is buoyed by its unwavering faith in the wealth of the human spirit. Capra wanted to make a film to help shake America out of a post-Second World War funk, but ironically, the movie has only gained true popularity in these most cynical post-Vietnam times, when we just might need its humanity even more.

Excerpt from Dan Jardine's review at Apollo Film Guide located HERE

Posters (Click middle to enlarge)    

Theatrical Release Date: January 7, 1947

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Comparison:

Paramount (Two-Disc) (B/W & Color) - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Paramount (Two-Disc Collector's Set) (B/W & Color) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Paramount (60th Anniversary) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Republic Studios - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Universal Pictures Video - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Ole of DVDBasen for the R2 - PAL DVD Screen Caps!

(Paramount - (2-disc) - Region FREE - Blu-ray LEFT vs. Paramount (Two-Disc Collector's Set) (B/W & Color) - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Paramount (2-disc)

Region FREE  - Blu-ray

Paramount (2-disc)

Region 1 - NTSC

(Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC  LEFT vs. Republic Studios - Region 1 - NTSC  MIDDLE vs. Universal Pictures Video - Region 2 - PAL RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

  

Distribution

Paramount Home Video

Region 1  - NTSC

Republic Studios

Region 1  - NTSC

Universal Pictures Video
Region 2 - PAL
Distribution

Paramount (2-disc)

Region FREE  - Blu-ray

Paramount (2-disc)

Region 1  - NTSC

Paramount Home Video

Region 1  - NTSC

Republic Studios

Region 1  - NTSC

Universal Pictures  Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 2:10:38.831 2:10:44 2:10:20 2:10:20 2:10:13

Video

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 41,573,763,906 bytes

Colorized:

Feature:

39,606,982,656 bytes

Video Bitrate: 37.71 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1.37:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.6 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.37:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.41 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.37:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.19 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.37:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.48
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Paramount Blu-ray

 

Bitrate:

Paramount

Blu-ray (colorized disc)

 

Bitrate:

Paramount (colorized disc)

 

Bitrate:

Paramount

 

Bitrate:

Republic R1

 

Bitrate:

Universal R2

Audio Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio French 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono)

Subtitles English (SDH), English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, none English, None English, None Spanish, French, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Paramount Home Video

 

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 41,573,763,906 bytes

Colorized:

Feature:

39,606,982,656 bytes

Video Bitrate: 37.71 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

Disc 1 (B/W)

• Theatrical trailer (1:45 in HD!)
• Documentary "The Making of It's a Wonderful Life" (22:45)

Disc 2

Colorized version

Blu-ray Release Date: November 13th, 2007
Standard
Blu-ray Case inside cardboard slipcase

Chapters 28 (x 2)

Release Information:
Studio: Paramount Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1

Edition Details:

Disc 1 (B/W)

• Theatrical trailer (1:45)
• Documentary "The Making of It's a Wonderful Life" (22:45)
• A special tribute to Frank Capra, "A Personal Remembrance" from "Frank Capra Jr." (14:04)

Disc 2

Colorized version

 

DVD Release Date: November 13th, 2007
Keep Case

Chapters 28 (x 2)

Release Information:
Studio: Paramount Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Theatrical trailer (1:45)
• Documentary "The Making of It's a Wonderful Life" (22:45)
• A special tribute to Frank Capra, "A Personal Remembrance" from "Frank Capra Jr." (14:04)

 

DVD Release Date: October 31st, 2006
Keep Case

Chapters 28

Release Information:
Studio: Republic Studios

Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical trailer (1:45)
• Remastered from original film negative
• Documentary "The Making of It's a Wonderful Life" (22:45)
• A special tribute to Frank Capra, "A Personal Remembrance" from "Frank Capra Jr." (14:04)

 

DVD Release Date: March 26, 2002 ( Re-released)
Keep Case

Chapters 28

Release Information:
Studio: Universal Pictures Video

Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1

 

Edition Details:
• Making Of documentary narrated by Tom Bosley (22:43)

• Introduction/interview with Frank Capra jr. (13:54)

• 12 pages booklet

 

DVD Release Date: 1999
Super-jewel Case

Chapters 18

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Paramount - Region FREE Blu-rays - October09: The news is very good. In this Paramount package we get two dual-layered Blu-rays. The first has the original black and white version and the second the colorized edition. Statistics for both discs are about the same - the feature takes up over 41 Gig with a strong video bitrate nearing 40 Mbps. Both have tightened up the image quality with the higher resolution. Contrast in the back and white version is extremely strong and may have some minor boosting of blacks and less grain that I would have anticipated. Zooming in extensively I couldn't find concrete or consistent examples of edge-enhancement. There was two instances of some minor chroma but it wasn't egregious enough to hinder viewing. 

Robert Harris says in his article at Home Theater Forum HERE: "This is one of the titles that will remain a sales staple. Therefore, budget should not be a concern. My perception is that after some nice film elements were created several years ago, the film was transferred to HD, released on standard definition, and finally that same transfer, which probably looked fine in standard definition, is being used for Blu-ray, rather than going back to film and doing it correctly.

[...]

What we have is a pretty film element that has been transferred, processed, grain reduced, sharpened -- to give it that wonderful Christmas tinsel look -- and then compressed by someone who apparently has no idea what they're doing.

[...]

What you'll see on screen is something shorn of grain, and what grain survives appears almost like a suspension in liquid.

[...]

The point that I'm trying to make is not to disparage, but simply have it understood that his is not film restoration -- merely a transfer, can very easily be performed correctly and with a final Blu-ray product that can look like very stable and clean projected film.

That, as I understand it, is what Blu-ray, with its incredible technical potential, is all about
."

Detail has some impressive moments. While I give credit for the colorization - it still can look a bit awkward. I prefer the black and white presentation which looks wonderful (no pun intended) on my system. The increased resolution makes it is quite spectacular at times.

Audio remains with neither a bump nor converted to HD. I noticed none of the pops that Peter mentions below as found on the DVD. It's clear and clean - fine and the film starts with the deep bell rings of the Liberty Films logo. It sounds deeper than it really represents on paper. Anyway - I have no complaints and there are now further optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified  both discs as being a region FREE and playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

We lose the 15-minute special tribute to Frank Capra, "A Personal Remembrance" from "Frank Capra Jr." but keep the 23-minute Documentary "The Making of It's a Wonderful Life" and a trailer in HD! Still no commentary but I don't think we need it.

ADDITION: RE: Robert's comments - via the higher resolution this looks sharper with superior contrast than the DVDs - but I suppose this is good news if he thinks it can look better as... maybe it will one day. He's right that being such a 'staple' - Paramount shouldn't have limited their budget and 'rescanned' - just like the audio not getting an HD treatment.

***

ADDITION: Paramount - Two-Disc DVD Collector's Set (B/W & Color) - November 07': Well, they colorized It's a Wonderful Life. This site in no way endorses the colorization of classic films but we will make some points in regards to this new Paramount edition.

Firstly disc 1 is EXACTLY the same as the previous edition (the 60th Anniversary releases from 2006) - dual-layered, progressive and as pristine as one could have hoped for on this format. It still contains the four instances of audio pops indicated by Peter below. NOTE: I did find these but never found them overly distracting. It has the exact same extras (2 featurettes etc.), same menus, same bitrate - it is the same disc.

Disc 2 has the colorized edition of the film (also dual-layered and progressive). To be fair - it looks quite impressive and unless I was reviewing I would probably never have indulged in a viewing. But I am and I did. I'd seen the film so many times that watching it in color was a kind of neat change - I admired the colorization - the look in Donna Reeds eyes - but I, of course, cannot recommend this to those who have not seen the film before. But to those who keep it as a holiday staple with the family huddled near and the cold wind whistling outside - it might make the leap to those in the family who 'don't like black and white films' (savages that they might be). It seemingly does not contain the below mentioned audio 'pops'. I am kind of keen on this technology and it's amazing to see how far it has come.

NOTE: Audio was notably low in this new edition - I really had to crank the volume to hear the dialogue.

If you don't own the 60th Anniversary release (how can that be?) then this 2-disc version is the one to own - for the classic version and the bastardized anomaly which serves as a curiosity... and disrespectful change. The colorization does look exceptionally good folks.... just not the way it was shown originally. Would Capra have wanted to in color if he had the choice? - I guess we'll never know.   

****

I wasn't sure what to expect in this 60th Anniversary release - I anticipated the exact same transfer as the Republic with some added extras. Good news is the transfer is superior - although these screen captures may not give it the credit it deserves. Of course, I can't be positive that either the Republic has had some contrast boosting or the Paramount some black level boosting, in fact - it might be a little of both. Regardless, the Paramount looks cleaner (less speckles), less digital noise, smoother and blacks are significantly more piercing. The boosted blacks bring up the detail to a small degree as well.  Although there is some frame movement - generally speaking the 60th Anniversary shows more information - most notably on the side edges (in most sequences). Overall a better release in regards to image.

NOTE: Peter says: But, unfortunately, the amazing picture quality comes with a rather annoying price, as there are 4 very loud audio pops, to be heard coming from the left hand speaker, through out the picture at the:

7 minutes and 43 second mark
57 minute and 9 second mark
1 hour, 24 minutes and 46 second mark
1 hour, 31 minutes and 43 second mark

*times are approximate*
(Thanks Peter)

I detected no severe upgrade in the sound quality (same original 1.0 track), but the new release has optional English subtitles which is a nice touch.

Bad news is there are no new extras. It has the same 'Making off...' and same 'Tribute to Capra...' featurettes. Ditto for the trailer. This is one area that Paramount could-have/should-have given us something more substantial and newer. The film certainly warrants it.

This film holds a special place for family/seasonal viewing and you, like me, may also want the best quality image possible - the price is easy to justify and although some may not want to double-dip - for many it is mandatory.

NOTE: We can easily dismiss the Region 2 issue for obvious reasons.

- Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus

 

Colorized DVD Disc

 

 

(Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC DVD)

 



(Republic Studios - Region 1 - NTSC  LEFT vs. Universal Pictures Video - Region 2 - PAL
RIGHT)


 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Paramount (original B/W) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Paramount (2nd disc - the colorized edition) - Region FREE - Blu-ray SECOND

3) Paramount (2nd disc - the colorized edition) - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Paramount (60th Anniversary) - Region 1 - NTSC  FOURTH

5) Republic Studios - Region 1 - NTSC  FIFTH

6) Universal Pictures Video - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM

 


 

 

1) Paramount (original B/W) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Paramount (2nd disc - the colorized edition) - Region FREE - Blu-ray SECOND

3) Paramount (2nd disc - the colorized edition) - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Paramount (60th Anniversary) - Region 1 - NTSC  FOURTH

5) Republic Studios - Region 1 - NTSC  FIFTH

6) Universal Pictures Video - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM

 


1) Paramount (original B/W) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Paramount (2nd disc - the colorized edition) - Region FREE - Blu-ray SECOND

3) Paramount (2nd disc - the colorized edition) - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Paramount (60th Anniversary) - Region 1 - NTSC  FOURTH

5) Republic Studios - Region 1 - NTSC  FIFTH

6) Universal Pictures Video - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM

 


 

1) Paramount (original B/W) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Paramount (2nd disc - the colorized edition) - Region FREE - Blu-ray SECOND

3) Paramount (2nd disc - the colorized edition) - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Paramount (60th Anniversary) - Region 1 - NTSC  FOURTH

5) Republic Studios - Region 1 - NTSC  FIFTH

6) Universal Pictures Video - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM

 


1) Paramount (original B/W) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Paramount (2nd disc - the colorized edition) - Region FREE - Blu-ray SECOND

3) Paramount (2nd disc - the colorized edition) - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Paramount (60th Anniversary) - Region 1 - NTSC  FOURTH

5) Republic Studios - Region 1 - NTSC  FIFTH

6) Universal Pictures Video - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM

 


1) Paramount (original B/W) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Paramount (2nd disc - the colorized edition) - Region FREE - Blu-ray SECOND

3) Paramount (2nd disc - the colorized edition) - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Paramount (60th Anniversary) - Region 1 - NTSC  FOURTH

5) Republic Studios - Region 1 - NTSC  FIFTH

6) Universal Pictures Video - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM

 


More Blu-ray Captures

 

 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

-

Extras: DVD

 

DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Paramount (2-disc)

Region FREE  - Blu-ray

Paramount (2-disc)

Region 1 - NTSC




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