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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

A Star is Born [Blu-ray]

 

(William A. Wellman, 1937)

 

also available in The Selznick Collection [Blu-ray] (Nothing Sacred, A Farewell To Arms, A Star is Born, Bird of Paradise, Little Lord Fauntleroy) BELOW:

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Selznick International Pictures

Video: Kino Video

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:51:16.836

Disc Size: 32,817,169,288 bytes

Feature Size: 30,844,008,384 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.93 Mbps

Chapters: 10

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 7th, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.37:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• Trailers (A Star is Born, Nothing Sacred, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman)

• Gallery

• Wardrobe Test (1:15)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Esther Blodgett (Janet Gaynor) is just another starry-eyed farm kid trying to break into the movies. Waitressing at a Hollywood party, she catches the eye of alcoholic star Norman Maine (Frederic March), is given a shot at stardom, and is caught up in the Hollywood glamour machine . She and her idol Norman marry; but as her star rises, his comes crashing down. Nominated for Six Academy Awards including BEST PICTURE, BEST ACTOR, BEST ACTRESS, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST SCREENPLAY, BEST ASSISTANT DIRECTOR. Won Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and an Honorary Award for groundbreaking color photography. This Kino Classics Edition is the only version AUTHORIZED FROM THE ESTATE OF DAVID O. SELZNICK FROM THE COLLECTION OF GEORGE EASTMAN HOUSE.

 

 

The Film:

March is a movie superstar whose heyday has slipped by, although he is still held in high esteem by his producer and studio head, Menjou. Everyone, except March, seems to know that he is losing popularity with the public and his films are seeing less and less box-office success. At a Hollywood party where he drinks too much, as usual, March meets and is attracted to Gaynor, who is serving sandwiches and, in his cups, he proposes to make her a star. She has been longing to become an actress and has been starving while waiting for Central Casting to call her for her big break. This call never comes, which annoys her boarding house owner, Kennedy, no end.

Excerpt from TVGuide located HERE

Wellman's non-musical version (attractively shot in the early Technicolor process), though starting more sentimentally with Gaynor as a wide-eyed innocent dreaming every girl's dream of stardom in her small-town home, develops a much more caustic edge, maintaining a bitterly critical distance from the dream factory. This is no doubt because in 1937 the real-life tragedies that fuelled the script were so much closer in time (Esther Blodgett and Norman Maine were inspired by the story of Colleen Moore and her husband/producer John McCormick, though March's Maine, here an actor, draws variously on the fates of John Gilbert, John Barrymore and John Bowers).

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

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

A Star is Born shows its age on Blu-ray from Kino. The image quality shows is thick and exports very little in the way of strong detail.  Once again, I suspect the transfer is at the mercy of the elements. This is dual-layered with a high bitrate and I have no reason to believe that the digital rendering has faltered in any way. I can only compare it to Wellman's Nothing Sacred - also made in 1937 - and in Technicolor. This is a notch below but looks better in-motion than the still captures suggest. The exterior scenes in A Star is Born are more impressive. I wouldn't say there was excessive noise but there are plenty of speckles and colored marks throughout the presentation. The gritty appearance is certainly more in-line with film than a video-like SD look. I doubt we will see this masterpiece looking any better.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The 2.0 channel linear PCM Audio track at 2304 kbps is likewise imperfect and follows the weaker production tools of the time. Dialogue is always audible if scattered and there are no subtitles offered. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Not much in the way of extras - we get trailers for A Star is Born, Nothing Sacred, and Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, an image gallery and a minute-long 'Wardrobe Test' that holds some brief fascination.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
This is a powerful film - Gaynor steals the show as always - it was a pleasure to watch on Blu-ray. Honestly, I was not expecting it to be so... entrancing. I frequently had the sense that I was privy to a historical recreation of the theatrical presentation. That and the value of the film itself are surely worth the indulgence for those keen on the stars, the era and the touching story. 

Gary Tooze

January 31st, 2011

also available in The Selznick Collection [Blu-ray] (Nothing Sacred, A Farewell To Arms, A Star is Born, Bird of Paradise, Little Lord Fauntleroy) BELOW:


 

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 5000 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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