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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Our Hospitality [Blu-ray]

 

(John G. Blystone, Buster Keaton, 1923)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Joseph M. Schenck Productions

Video: Kino International

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:15:34.562

Disc Size: 42,705,467,606 bytes

Feature Size: 20,590,159,872 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.91 Mbps

Chapters: 10

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 22nd, 2011

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080i / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

Music composed and conducted by Carl Davis, performed by The Thames Silents Orchestra: DTS-HD Master Audio English 2876 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2876 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit) or
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Musical score compiled by Donald Hunsberger:

Dolby Digital Audio English 320 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 320 kbps

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

The Iron Mule (1925, 19 Min. - 1080i), with music by Ben Model
Original documentary on the making of the film, written by film historian Patricia Eliot Tobias with David B. Pearson (26:01 in 1080i)
Hospitality, a 49-minute alternate cut of the film, with an explanatory introduction, and an organ score by Lee Erwin
2 Galleries: Photos & Snapshots

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Like his 1926 film The General, this elaborate historical comedy broadened the boundaries of slapstick and proved that Keaton was not just a comedian, he was an artist. Keaton stars as youthful dreamer Willie McKay, who travels westward on a rickety locomotive to claim his birthright, only to find that his inheritance is a shack. And he learns that the object of his affection (Keaton s real-life wife, Natalie Talmadge) is the daughter of a man with whom his family has been engaged in a long, violent feud. McKay s personal struggles are punctuated by brilliant slapstick set pieces that involve an exploding dam, raging waterfalls, and a primitive steam engine. Keaton supervised the design and construction of the train, which he revived two years later for the short The Iron Mule (in which he appears without credit as an Native American chief). This definitive edition of OUR HOSPITALITY features an exquisite orchestral score by Carl Davis, performed by the Thames Silents Orchestra; a documentary on the making of the film; and a rare alternate cut entitled Hospitality.

 

 

The Film:

Willie McKay (Buster Keaton) lives with his mother in the bustling city of New York in the 1830s, where people already complain of high traffic (consisting of two horse carriages and a bicyclist) and urban sprawl (a one-story house occupies the rural dirt road of the 42nd Street delta). He has received news that he has inherited the family estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and decides to head out west on a high-speed steam train (so fast that that the family dog runs alongside it for the duration of the trip) to claim his fortune. But before he leaves, his mother warns him of his family's longstanding feud with the Canfields ...and to be vigilant of Indians beyond Trenton, New Jersey - the unknown frontier. He shares a cramped carriage with a young woman named Virginia (Natalie Talmadge) who is going home to visit her family, and by the end of their trip, they are equally smitten. As luck would have it, he has fallen in love with a Canfield, and Virginia's family has declared open season on the unwitting McKay. However, when Virginia invites Willie over for dinner, her father (Joe Roberts) decides that it would be improper etiquette to shoot Willie while he is a guest in their house. Outside, on the other hand, is a different story. A hilarious cat-and-mouse game ensues as Willie learns of their plan, and decides to make himself a permanent guest in the Canfield home.

Excerpt from Pascal Acquarello's review at DVDBeaver located HERE

Sole surviving son William McKay settles a family feud by marrying the rival feudist's daughter, Virginia Canfield. Before the wedding, city boy McKay attempts to escape the little Kentucky hamlet unobserved. When the Canfield men give chase, he hitches a ride on a pioneer railroad train, then is swept over a high falls. A floating log saves McKay, and he rescues Virginia when she follows the chase and falls in the water.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

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

Our Hospitality appears on Blu-ray superior to the last SD-DVD edition but the interlaced, and still damaged, image quality is not as impressive as Kino's The General or even their The Black Pirate. and certainly not at the level of Masters of Cinema amazing Blu-ray of City Girl. There doesn't appear to have been any film-level restoration but the improved resolution brings out certain attributes to greater prominence - both positive (some depth, improved detail) and negative (scratches / damage). Contrast is not dominant and grain appears to be more smoothed out that visibly textured. On the big screen it can look decent and has far less artifacts than we have seen in the past for home theater presentations. We have provided screen grabs below for your own judgment.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The music defaults to a lossless Carl Davis conducted and composed score performed by The Thames Silents Orchestra in DTS-HD Master 5.1 at, an occasionally potent, 2876 kbps. As an option you can select the same rendition in a linear PCM 2.0 channel stereo at 2304 kbps or a less dynamic score compiled by Donald Hunsberger in a standard 2.0 channel Dolby track. the intertitles are in original English and there are no subtitle options offered. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Extras include "The Iron Mule" - a 20-minute film from 1925 with music by Ben Model and the original documentary on the making of the film, written by film historian Patricia Eliot Tobias with David B. Pearson - running 26-minutes, also in 1080i. As a curiosity Kino include Hospitality, the 49-minute alternate cut of the film, with an explanatory introduction, and an organ score by Lee Erwin. It is in rough shape but has some bona-fide interest for Silent Era fans. Lastly there are 2 Galleries: Photos & Snapshots.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I don't want to be the judge whether the interlacing is an error or a factor of the original frame rate - but I suspect with enough investment Our Hospitality could have been 'bumped' to a progressive transfer. This remains one of the great silent comedies and it is still a formidable, if imperfect, presentation via Blu-ray. Fans of the Silent Era, Keaton, vintage comedy - or just serious film enthusiasts in general should strongly consider indulging. 

Gary Tooze

March 17th, 2011

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 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 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.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
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)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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