H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


The Black Shield of Falworth [Blu-ray]


(Rudolph Maté, 1954)




Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Universal International Pictures

Video: Eureka Entertainment



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:39:00.643

Disc Size: 23,912,562,624 bytes

Feature Size: 23,833,878,528 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 21st, 2009



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps











Product Description:
Available for the first time anywhere in the world in glorious 1080p HD and in its original aspect ratio, The Black Shield of Falworth, starring TONY CURTIS & JANET LEIGH was Universal-International's first feature in CinemaScope. In one of his earliest and most dashing performances, a young Tony Curtis pursues his real-life bride Janet Leigh, while defending the British throne in this swashbuckling saga filled with jousts, jests and medieval super heroics. The setting is England in the reign of King Henry IV, Miles (Curtis) is a headstrong, handsome peasant determined to learn the name of his slain father and discover his true heritage. His fiery ambition and swift sword lead him to the majestic MacWorth castle. There he must compete for both knighthood as well as the hand of the fair Lady Anne (Leigh), but her love is claimed by the evil, conniving Sir Walter Blount. All the while the English throne is being challenged to the death - from sinister forces within. Soon the fate of the realm, and his beloved Lady Anne, will depend upon his martial skill, but not before Miles must unlock the secret of his own shocking, mysterious identity. With its outstanding supporting cast and dazzling set design this is truly an epic tale of which legends are made! Starring the ever charismatic, multi-award winning Tony Curtis (Some like It Hot, Smell of Sweet Success, The Defiant Ones), the OSCAR® nominated Janet Leigh (Psycho, The Manchurian Candidate) and directed by the OSCAR® nominated cinematographer Rudolph Mate.

Set in medieval period England, BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH is the story of Myles Falworth, (Curtis) a peasant raised without ever knowing who his real father was. He goes to Mackworth castle to become a knight and regain his birthright. There he falls hopelessly in love with the Mackworth's daughter Anne, (Leigh.) Their relationship leaves him very unpopular amongst the castle's inhabitants, jeopardizing his ultimate goal; to bear the black shield Falworth. Based on the novel MEN OF IRON by Howard Pyle.



The Film:

The Black Shield Of Falworth was Universal-International's first feature in Cinemascope; with colours almost hallucinatory in their garishness. The action is largely confined indoors with little location work off the lot. On a hunting trip the ageing Henry IV (Ian Keith, Nightmare Alley) needs must curtail his exercise, whereupon his host, the Duke of Alban (David Farrar, The 300 Spartans), is flattered to hear from his hangers-on that he will soon be the most powerful man in England. The Duke and his entourage stop at a humble farm to partake of some refreshment and one of the Duke's lackeys makes lecherous advances to the young peasant girl he finds there: he is soundly beaten by the girl's brother Myles (Curtis) who also knocks about the Duke's guards. Myles, his sister Meg (Barbara Rush, It Came From Outer Space), and their companion Diccon, make their escape to the local monastery, where the Abbott gives them a letter of introduction to the Earl of Mackworth. The Abbott explains that the Earl owes the youngster's father a favour. The siblings know nothing of their parentage and Myles in particular is eager to know his birthright.

Excerpt from review by J.C. Hartley at VideVista,net located HERE



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

The Black Shield of Falworth appears very decent - approaching stellar on Blu-ray. Colors are bright - grain is apparent and detail advances beyond SD. This is only single-layered but it's always nice to see an earlier classic brought to hi-def disc. The print used for this 55-year old film seems in quite good shape. In motion the image is very smooth and exceptionally clean with only a very few erratic speckles being noted. Skin tones seem true - contrast exhibits adequate, if not piercing, black levels. For the majority of the film daylight scenes are used and they look very good. This Blu-ray has no intrusive noise or blockiness.  By modern standards this is fairly tame visually but as a representation of the original - I doubt much more could be done. This Blu-ray probably looks like the film The Black Shield of Falworth with vibrant colors and consistent grain that stand out as the most impressive attributes.















Audio :

No boost going on here - it appears to be the same 2.0 Dolby Digital channel track used on the previous Eureka DVD of The Black Shield of Falworth. I would have thought that an upgrade to PCM would have been appropriate but the film doesn't really require a dynamic audio expression. The film's score is unremarkable and fairly typical of the 'genre' - it doesn't produce heavy bass or rousing fanfare - excepting in some of the action sequences at the end of the film. There are no subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.




Extras :

Like the DVD - there are no extras for this.



If you lean to a 50's medieval/Arthurian/knights themed movie - this has what you are looking for. It's cool to see youthful Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis together with the romance/adventure aspects although some may find the film underwhelming in its content. Perhaps a poor-man's The Adventures of Robin Hood. I think the appeal lies mostly in the nostalgia for this early cinemascope romp. It could easily be a solid first-feature 'B' picture for a home theater night. The Blu-ray gives the film the best home theater presentation that you are likely to see. 

Gary Tooze

September 20th, 2009





About the Reviewer: 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
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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








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