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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Man Who Would Be King [Blu-ray]

 

(John Huston, 1975)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Warner

Video: Warner Home Video

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 2:08:52.516

Disc Size: 22,404,079,631 bytes

Feature Size: 21,483,466,752 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.96 Mbps

Chapters: 36

Case: Digibook Blu-ray case

Release date: June 7th, 2011

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1044 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1044 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), French, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Call it Magic: The Making of the Man Who Would Be King (12:00 in 480i)

• Theatrical Trailer (1:06 in 480i)

32-page Digi-book with photos and articles

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Based on a Rudyard Kipling story and packed with spectacle, humor, excitement and bold twists of fate, John Huston’s film of The Man Who Would Be King earns its crown as “an epic like no other. One of the screen’s great adventure yarns” (Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic). Sean Connery and Michael Caine – chins out, shoulders squared and with a sly wink – star as British sergeants Danny Dravot and Peachy Carnehan. The Empire was built by men like these two. Now they’re out to build their own empire, venturing into remote Kafiristan to become rich as kings.

***

A late-career masterpiece from legendary director/adventurer Huston and adapted from a Rudyard Kipling story, it stars... Sir Sean and Michael Caine as a pair of opportunistic Victorian chappies scheming to take over a remote middle-eastern kingdom, with Saeed Jaffrey and Christopher Plummer rounding out a star-studded cast. EIFF's long-serving patron has often named John Huston's rip-roaring adventure classic among his own personal favourites. We're therefore especially delighted to present this much-beloved film with the generous support of Park Circus. 35 years on, we've become accustomed to watching movies on our televisions, our laptops, even our mobiles. But of all the films selected for this year's programme, The Man Who Would Be King is the one which emphatically demands to be seen on the biggest of screens. It's surely what Huston would have wanted this is the man who once said "Edinburgh is the only film festival that's worth a damn."

 

 

The Film:

Huston waited a long time to make this film, and its history is a Hollywood legend. He originally cast Bogart and Gable, but then Bogart died, and the project was shelved until 1975. Maybe it's just as well. We need movies like this more now than we did years ago, when Hollywood wasn't shy about straightforward action films. And Huston's eventual casting of Michael Caine and Sean Connery is exactly right.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE

"The Man Who Would Be King" manages to be great fun in itself while being most faithful to Kipling, whose story, written in the 1890's, is a kind of raffish metaphor for the British colonial experience that did not end for another half century. But this really isn't what "The Man Who Would Be King" is about. It's a tall tale, a legend, of steadfastness, courage, camaraderie, gallantry and greed, though not necessarily in that order.

It's about two former English soldiers turned con artists, Danny Dravot (Sean Connery) and Peachy Carnehan (Michael Caine), who decide that Victoria's India is no longer big enough for them (and their growing reputations as blackmailers and forgers). They decide to carve out their own kingdom in Kafiristan, now a part of Afghanistan but then an undiscovered territory not visited by a known tourist or king since Alexander the Great.

Excerpt from Vincent Canby at the NY Times located HERE

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

The Man Who Would Be King appears on Blu-ray from Warner - the first digital appearance from that company from the November 97' anamorphic DVD via a double-sided (flipper) disc release. The image quality in hi-def is a little inconsistent. Sometimes it appears quite striking and others times potentially flawed. DoP Oswald Morris shows some impressive work and for the most part looks decent on new format video. The image is a shade glossy and sometimes characters appear a bit waxy - however I don't think this is the fault of the single-layered transfer. The production image was reported to have had some weaknesses. 1080P just tends to magnify both strengths and limitations. Contrast is strong and grain seems preserved. This Blu-ray is not demo but provides a good presentation far in advance of the older DVD.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Remaining authentic Warner have supplied a DTS-HD Master in original mono at 1044 kbps. The track is perfect with some encumbrances aside from its natural flatness. There is some, less noticeable hiss and dialogue can occasionally be scattered (volume fluctuation). Overall, I doubt most would consider these make or break however I would suggest modest expectations for depth. Maurice Jarre offers a subtle but important score for the film. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Aside from the handsome 32-page Digi-book (photos, articles, bios) there is the same vintage 12-minute Call it Magic: The Making of the Man Who Would Be King from the 14-year old DVD including a short theatrical Trailer - both in 480i.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
John Huston made some unforgettable masterpieces and I think The Man Who Would Be King is one of his best films. I have a friend who ranks it as his favorite of all time. This is infinitely superior to the older DVD although the Blu-ray itself is less than perfect. To be frank, I wasn't expecting too much as I recalled the past DVD. Regardless this is the best this masterful adventure is likely to look in your home theater. This edition should appeal to fans of the film and is recommended to those who haven't yet see it. Keeping a/v expectations at the modest end will help you focus on the enjoyment of The Man Who Would Be King.  

Gary Tooze

May 30th, 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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