H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze

 

Introduction: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze

 

HD-DVD STORE         HIGH DEFINITION DVD STORE

 

ALL OUR NEW FORMAT DVD REVIEWS

 

 

An American in Paris [Blu-ray]

 

(Vincente Minnelli, 1951)

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE: Aside from the packaging the US edition is exactly the same as the Japanese release (as we suspected) - the exact same region free 1080P, VC-1 encoded Blu-ray disc. Our comments below still hold true. The good thing about the US edition is the price - a significant savings!

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Studio: Warner Brothers

Video: Warner Home Video

 

Discs:

Region FREE

Feature Runtime: 1:53:32

Chapters: 34

Feature film disc size: 21.7 Gig

One dual-layered Blu-ray

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 5th, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1:33 matted onto 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: VC-1

 

Audio:
English: 1.0 mono, DUBs: French, German, Italian, Spanish (mono)

Subtitles:
Feature: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish and none
 

Supplements:

Commentary by Patricia Ward-Kelly with producer Arthur Freed, Gene Kelly, director Vincente Minnelli, screenwriter Alan Jay Lerner, co-musical director Saul Chaplin, Leslie Caron, Nina Foch, musician Michael Feinstein, co-musical director and head of MGM music department Johnny Green, art director Preston Ames, and costume designer Irene Sharaff.
'S Wonderful: Creating "An American in Paris" (42:26) in HD!
2002 PBS Documentary - Anatomy of a Dancer (1:24:48)

7 audio Outtakes (Alternate Main Title, But Not for Me Guétary, But not for Me Levant Piano Solo
Gershwin Prelude #3, I've Go a Crush on You (Kelly vocal), Nice Work if You Can Get It (Guétary vocal) and 'S Wonderful (Kelly vocal)

3 radio interviews (Johnny Green, Kelly, Kelly + Caron)
Paris on Parade (1938 musical short - 8:54)
Symphony in Slang (1951 cartoon - 6:45)
Theatrical Trailer (in HD!)

 

Product Description: A GI (Gene Kelly) stays in Paris after the war to become an artist, and has to choose between the patronage of a rich American woman (Nina Foch) and a French gamine (Leslie Caron) engaged to an older man. The plot is mostly an excuse for director Vincente Minnelli to pool his own extraordinary talent with those of choreographer-dancer-actor Kelly and the artists behind the screenplay, art direction, cinematography, and score, creating a rapturous musical not quite like anything else in cinema. The final section of the film comprises a 17-minute dance sequence that took a month to film and is breathtaking. Songs include "'S Wonderful," "I Got Rhythm," and "Love Is Here to Stay."...

 

 

 

The Film:

Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly) is an ex-GI and struggling artist in postwar Paris. His friend Adam Cook (Oscar Levant) is a piano player in a nearby cafe, a sarcastic and morose individual who offers nothing but discouragement to Jerry. However, another friend, Henri Baurel (Georges Guetary), a successful revue singer, is more encouraging. Henri informs his pal that he's going to marry a wonderful girl, an 18-year-old dancer whom he rescued from the Nazis during the war. Jerry, meanwhile, is discovered by Milo Roberts (Nina Foch), a wealthy patroness who purchases his paintings and encourages her friends to do the same. Innocently enjoying his newfound success, Jerry visits a nightclub and meets Lise (newcomer Leslie Caron, discovered by Kelly in the Ballets des Champs Elysees), falling for her immediately. She fends off his advances but laters agrees to a date, then informs him that she's engaged to Henri. Though they are in love, Jerry and Lise do the noble thing and decide not to meet again.

 

 


The plot was showing signs of age far earlier than 1951, but everything else about AN AMERICAN IN PARIS more than compensates: the songs are all Gershwin Brothers standards; Kelly's choreography is breathtaking; the original screenplay by playwright Alan Jay Lerner is alternately witty and touching; and Minnelli's direction feels buoyantly assured. The 17-minute Dufy-inspired ballet (art directors Cedric Gibbons and Preston Ames, along with costume designer Irene Sharaff, also contributed brilliantly to this sequence) is the showstopper here but an underrated standout is "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise," performed with marvelous elan by Guetary. Although the setting is Paris, very little of the film was actually shot on location; the spectacular scenes were mostly sets built on the lot. AN AMERICAN IN PARIS received a total of seven Academy Awards, plus a special Oscar to Kelly...

Excerpt from TV Guide located HERE

 

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

This Blu-ray image is beautiful. Although I don't own the 2-disc SE I have compared a number of captures with the original snapper-cased SD-DVD. The improvement, in all areas, borders on spectacular. Beyond detail, which we expect to be superior, colors are more vibrant (closer to the Technicolor ideal), contrast and black levels are pristine and there is even more information in the frame. On my system it had some breathtaking moments - even showing some depth that one wouldn't expect for a 58-year old film. Grain is visible - but not overly so. It is also surprisingly clean - fully restored a few years back. In a word 'Wow'. Technically it is dual-layered with the feature size being a reasonable 21.7 Gig. I don't see evidence of any digital manipulations like DNR or edge enhancements. The VC1 encode has done an impressive job of recreating the theatrical feel of An American in Paris through this 1080P transfer. Hopefully, the expandable screen captures below will give you an idea of what it will look like on your system. I expect most will swoon at the presentation.

 

NOTE: Thanks to Dennis K. for sending captures of the 2-disc SE! (Thanks Dennis!)  

 

Spine packaging difference between US and Japanese Blu-rays

 

 

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

 

June 2000 Snapper-cased SD-DVD NTSC TOP vs. 2-disc Special Edition MIDDLE vs. Warner Region FREE Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

June 2000 Snapper-cased SD-DVD NTSC TOP vs. 2-disc Special Edition MIDDLE vs. Warner Region FREE Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

June 2000 Snapper-cased SD-DVD NTSC TOP vs. 2-disc Special Edition MIDDLE vs. Warner Region FREE Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

June 2000 Snapper-cased SD-DVD NTSC TOP vs. 2-disc Special Edition MIDDLE vs. Warner Region FREE Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

June 2000 Snapper-cased SD-DVD NTSC TOP vs. 2-disc Special Edition MIDDLE vs. Warner Region FREE Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

June 2000 Snapper-cased SD-DVD NTSC TOP vs. 2-disc Special Edition MIDDLE vs. Warner Region FREE Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music:  
Warner have stuck with the single-channel option remaining true to the film's original audio. It has also been restored and sounds fine - so good you question whether it is actually mono. The Gershwin songs are iconic and have imbedded themselves into musical history. What more could one ask for? There are a number of DUB and subtitle options signifying this
Blu-rays region FREE status
.

 

Extras:
All supplements are duplicated from the 2-disc SE including the excellent 'commentary' pieced together from various interviews. The thoroughly enjoyable
S Wonderful: Creating "An American in Paris" is actually in HD (1080P). There are Outtakes, radio interviews, a cartoon and so much more. many will appreciate the 1.5 hour Anatomy of a Dancer
documentary bio on Gene Kelly from 2002 on PBS. As a plus the Blu-ray allows one to access all of these extras on one disc. Certainly a complete package of bonus features although there are no unique bells and whistles (like a BD-Live etc.)

 

 

Bottom line:
No
Blu-ray library should be complete without this and it makes one long for the vast vault of other great classic musicals that will eventually reach Blu-ray - like Singi'in in the Rain, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, The Band Wagon and many more
- perhaps even older! Yes, it will arrive as a North American release - but I have no idea when. I do strongly suspect that this transfer (audio/video) and complete disc contents will be the exact same - it must be. DVDBeaver love to see older films moved to 1080P resolution for home theatre presentations. This is a stellar example and it has our strongest recommendation. 

Gary Tooze

November 6th, 2008

 

NOTE: Aside from the packaging the US edition is exactly the same as the Japanese release (as we suspected) - the exact same region free 1080P, VC-1 encoded Blu-ray disc. Our comments abovestill hold true. The good thing about the US edition is the price - a significant savings!

 

 

 

 

 

 





 

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