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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Jeux dangereux" )

 

directed by Ernst Lubitsch
USA 1942

 

As nervy as it is hilarious, this screwball masterpiece from Ernst Lubitsch stars Jack Benny and, in her final screen appearance, Carole Lombard as husband-and-wife thespians in Nazi-occupied Warsaw who become caught up in a dangerous spy plot. To Be or Not to Be is a Hollywood film of the boldest black humor, which went into production soon after the U.S. entered World War II. Lubitsch manages to brilliantly balance political satire, romance, slapstick, and urgent wartime suspense in a comic high-wire act that has never been equaled.

***

August, 1939. Poland is still free, but the Nazis are about to make their fateful move. Suddenly: "It's the little man with the black moustache!" Adolf Hitler is strolling calmly through Warsaw, completely alone, staring into a butcher's window. But he's a vegetarian! Naturally, he attracts some attention, and the narrator takes us into a flashback to explain how Hitler arrived alone in a Warsaw high street.

Ernst Lubitsch's black comedy details the efforts of a Polish theatrical company to help the resistance effort. All-round star of vaudeville, stage, radio, screen and television, Jack Benny, is the star with Carole Lombard as his unfaithful but heroic wife.

 

Excerpt from Martin Hunt's review from the EUFS Programme 1992-93 located HERE

 

Posters

Theatrical Release: 6 March 1942 - USA

Reviews                                             More Reviews                              DVD Reviews

Comparison:

Films sans Frontières - Region 0 - PAL vs. Studio Canal - Region 2 - PAL vs. Warner - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Ole Kofoed and Dimitri van den Engel and Guillaume Mareri for the DVD Screen Caps!

1) Films sans Frontières - Region 0 - PAL - LEFT

2) Studio Canal - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

Keep Case Blu-ray version from Germany:

The Warner edition can also be purchased in the Classic Comedies Collection (Bringing Up Baby / The Philadelphia Story Two-Disc Special Edition / Dinner at Eight / Libeled Lady / Stage Door / To Be or Not to Be):

 

                       

Distribution

Films sans Frontières

Region 0 - PAL

Studio Canal
Region 2 - PAL
Warner
Region 1 - NTSC
Studio Canal Collection
Region 'B' -Blu-ray
Criterion Collection
Region 'A' -Blu-ray
Runtime 1:34:14 (4% PAL speedup) 1:35:08 (4% PAL speedup) 1:39:06 1:39:12.583 1:39:20.329
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.70 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.17 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.54 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 36,772,126,961 bytes

Feature: 23,099,842,560 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1.37:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 44,930,263,939 bytes

Feature: 25,949,466,624 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.64 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:

 

Films sans Frontières

 

Bitrate:

 

Warner

 

Bitrate:

 

Criterion Blu-ray

 

Audio English (mono)

2.0 Dolby Digital Mono French, English

English (mono)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1644 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1644 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit / DN -4dB)
DTS-HD Master Audio French 1648 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1648 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit / DN -4dB)
DTS-HD Master Audio German 1612 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1612 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit / DN -4dB)
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Subtitles French, none. French, none English, French, Spanish, none French, German, none English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Films sans Frontières

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• About the Movie (In French).
• List of Lubitch films.
• Trailer (0:43).

DVD Release Date: 2001
Keep Case

Chapters 8

Release Information:
Studio: Studio Canal

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• None

 

DVD Release Date: November 7th, 2001
Digipak

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Warner

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Jack Benny in comedy short
• Wartime promo
• All subtitles are white

 

DVD Release Date: March 1, 2005
Keep Case

Chapters 26

Release Information:
Studio: Carlotta

 

Aspect Ratio:
1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray
Disc Size: 36,772,126,961 bytes
Feature: 23,099,842,560 bytes
Video Bitrate: 23.99 Mbps
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
 

Edition Details:
• Commentary (in French) with Jean Douchet
• To Be a Classic (35:39 in 1080i)
• To Be a Film Favorite (9:59 in 1080i)

• Gallery
 

Blu-ray Release Date: February 21st, 2012
Custom Blu-ray Case

Chapters 7

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

 

Aspect Ratio:

1.37:1 - 1080P Dual-layered
Blu-ray

Disc Size: 44,930,263,939 bytes

Feature: 25,949,466,624 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.64 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video


Edition Details:
• New audio commentary featuring film historian David Kalat
• Pinkus’s Shoe Palace, a 1916 German silent short directed by and starring Ernst Lubitsch, with a new piano score by Donald Sosin (44:58)
• Lubitsch le patron, a 2010 French documentary on the director’s career (53:10)
• Two episodes of The Screen Guild Theater, a radio anthology series: Variety (1940), starring Jack Benny, Claudette Colbert, and Lubitsch (29:31), and To Be or Not to Be (1942), an adaptation of the film, starring William Powell, Diana Lewis, and Sig Ruman (25:41)
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien and a 1942 New York Times op-ed by Lubitsch

 

Blu-ray Release Date: August 27th, 2013
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

 

Comments

NOTE: These Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (August 2013): You may judge the image quality yourself - I think it is fairly obvious that the Criterion 1080P is superior. It has a much higher bitrate, is smoother, marginally brighter, shows more information the frame, has less damage etc. - and provides a tremendous presentation. By comparison the Studio Canal may be slightly horizontally stretched. Contrast is strong - really another step higher.

 

The Criterion linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps sounds fine - I don't notice much of a difference between the European DTS-HD Master track except the LPCM may be a bit tinnier - more notable in Werner Heymann's fine score. Truly, it's all good with optional English subtitles.

 

Criterion really load up with some amazing extras - firstly we get a new, thorough and totally professional new audio commentary featuring film historian David Kalat. It seems to cover every aspect of the film, Lubitsch, the performers and more. Pinkus’s Shoe Palace is a 45-minute 1916 German silent short directed by and starring Ernst Lubitsch, with a new piano score by Donald Sosin. Lubitsch le patron is a 53-minute 2010 French documentary by Jean-Jacques Bernard on the director’s career from how the son of a German Jewish tailor became the undisputed master of elegant American comedy. We get two episodes of The Screen Guild Theater, a radio anthology series: Variety (1940), starring Jack Benny, Claudette Colbert, and Lubitsch (29:31), and To Be or Not to Be (1942), an adaptation of the film, starring William Powell, Diana Lewis, and Sig Ruman (25:41) plus the package has a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien and a 1942 New York Times op-ed by Lubitsch.

 

Magnificent - the film remains an absolute gem and now it comes looking even better and with fabulous extras including the excellent commentary. This Blu-ray is very strongly recommended!

 

***

 

ADDITION: Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray (April 2012): Cracking film chosen by Studio Canal for their Blu-ray Collection. Lubitsch's To Be or Not To Be is a consummate masterpiece.. It looks pretty sweet on this dual-layered BD package from Studio Canal. The film 'crisps-up' and showcases some nice textures. The contrast is significantly more-layered and detail rises. It may not seem like an overwhelming improvement via the static screen captures but its advancement is more evident as the film runs in 1080P.

 

The initial menu screen offers either French or German - but the film IS in English and has the ability to be played with NO subtitles. The audio offers DTS-HD Master DUBs in French and German as well as the original English in similar lossless. The Blu-ray disc is coded region 'B'-locked.

 

Supplements are mostly not English-friendly with a commentary (in French) by Jean Douchet, a 35-minute piece entitled To Be a Classic (in 1080i) mostly in French with Truffaut and others discussing the importance of the film. Joe Dante gives his accolades (in English) for 10-minutes in To Be a Film Favorite (also in 1080i) and there is a digital gallery. This is housed in another of Studio Canal's wonderful Digi-books (French text) - see image above - and the disc offers an impressive presentation of a fabulous film.

It's hard not to give this a full endorsement - what a film - and seeing it looking so much closer to theatrical-like quality was such a pleasure I already want to repeat. This Blu-ray will get plenty of play in my Home Theater.

***

ON THE DVDs: The Films sans Frontières edition doesn't look too bad here but has a high amount of speckles and dirt. Amusingly as well the Films sans Frontières  version has translated the signs and letters of the film into French !?! (see large capture #5). Both PAL DVDs are cropped on both side edges. Both PAL editions are so dark that some details are lost (see large capture #3). The Warner is sharper, brighter and the best choice overall. Heil Warner!

 - Gary Tooze


DVD Menus
(
Films sans Frontières - Region 0 - PAL - LEFT vs. Studio Canal - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE vs. Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)
 

 

Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920 X 1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Films sans Frontières - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Studio Canal - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Films sans Frontières - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Studio Canal - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Films sans Frontières - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Studio Canal - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Films sans Frontières - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Studio Canal - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Films sans Frontières - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Studio Canal - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Films sans Frontières - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Studio Canal - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Films sans Frontières - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Studio Canal - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Warner - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

1) Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Studio Canal - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Hit Counter


Report Card:

 

Image:

Criterion Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-rays

Extras:

Criterion Blu-ray

Box Covers

 

Keep Case Blu-ray version from Germany:

Distribution

Films sans Frontières

Region 0 - PAL

Studio Canal
Region 2 - PAL
Warner
Region 1 - NTSC
Studio Canal Collection
Region 'B' -Blu-ray
Criterion Collection
Region 'A' -Blu-ray

 




 

 

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Gary Tooze

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