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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Bird of Paradise [Blu-ray]

 

(King Vidor, 1932)

 

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: RKO Radio Pictures

Video: Kino International

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:22:34.439

Disc Size: 22,312,323,680 bytes

Feature Size: 20,668,842,624 bytes

Video Bitrate: 20.55 Mbps

Chapters: 10

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 1st, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

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

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Joel McCrea (The Most Dangerous Game) stars as a handsome South Seas soldier of fortune who falls in love with Dolores Del Rio (Flying Down to Rio), the daughter of a Polynesian native chieftain. Alas, their idyllic romance is destined to come to a sudden and violent end: tribal custom decrees that Del Rio is to be sacrificed to the local volcano. After initial resistance, the heroine nobly resigns herself to her fate, realizing that there is no place for her in her white lover's civilization. From the legendary Academy Award nominated director King Vidor (War & Peace, The Champ) and producer David O. Selznick (Gone With The Wind, King Kong). This is the ONLY authorized edition of this classic film from the estate of David O. Selznick, restored and remastered in high definition from the George Eastman House.

***

From legendary Oscar®-winning director King Vidor (The Crowd, Duel in the Sun) comes an exotic tale of romance set in gorgeous Polynesia: Bird of Paradise.

Johnny (Joel McCrea) is an intrepid young sailor traveling the South Seas who falls in love with Luana (Dolores del Rio), the beautiful daughter of an island chief. But Luana is betrothed to a neighboring native prince, and is soon to be married. With little thought to the future, Johnny and Luana elope together, searching for paradise in each other’s arms.

With McCrea at his most dashing and del Rio at her alluring height, Bird of Paradise is a movie of wild eroticism and thrilling adventure, and not to be missed.
 

 

 

The Film:

Out of Richard Walton Tully's highly successful old play, "The Bird of Paradise," King Vidor has produced a languid film with many beautifully photographed scenes. This story in its modernized form is frequently unconsciously humorous and even though much is made of the volcano on a South Sea isle exacting its annual human toll, there is here hardly anything akin to suspense.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

Vidor had hoped to work with a small crew and shoot verite style, as he had on Hallelujah!, but that was not Selznick's way. In his autobiography, A Tree Is a Tree (1953), Vidor lamented the damage to the landscape inflicted by the studio's trucks, equipment and crews. That wasn't the only problem he encountered. Weeks of bad weather left him with very little usable footage and crews waiting idly for a break in the storms. There were compensations. While in Hawaii Vidor, whose marriage to actress Eleanor Boardman was rocky, fell in love with the script girl, Elizabeth Hill. They would marry later that year after his divorce from Boardman. Finally, Vidor and his crew gave up and went back to California, completing their location work on Catalina Island, and in a native village set that had been built at the studio in their absence (it was also used the following year for King Kong, 1933)

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

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

Bird of Paradise on Blu-ray from Kino appears to be a massive improvement over the Roan Group DVD that came out in 1999 - reviewed HERE (and compared below). That SD sepia transfer was interlaced, cropped, picture-boxed and weak by any standards. This is single-layered and still contains plenty of damage but none of it is unforgivable and the resulting image is very impressive for an 80-year old film. Grain is not overwhelming but there is some texture. There are some jump cuts and it can run a bit clunky in scenes but overall - this is a dramatically superior presentation than I was anticipating.  By modern standards this won't be a demo representation for any system but for those keen on the Pre-Code era - Kino have delivered with this Blu-ray.

 

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

 

Roan Group - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Roan Group - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Roan Group - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Roan Group - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Roan Group - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Roan Group - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 

 


Roan Group - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 


One reason Bird of Paradise garnered its PRE-CODE appeal status...

 

Roan Group - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Roan Group - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 

 


Roan Group - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

We get a linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 2304 kbps. I suspect that audio will always be a weak point for Bird of Paradise but I feel confident that this lossless transfer makes the best of a originally weak source. There are some audio flaws for sure - and no subtitles. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

NOTE: Rick tells us in email: "Gary ... regarding Kino’s new blu-ray of BIRD OF PARADISE, if you compare the audio with the old Roan disc, you’ll discover that the Roan audio is actually much better. It would appear that the Kino disc boosted the audio level to the point of distortion. True, it was probably not all that great to begin with ... originating from a nitrate optical source ... but the Kino disc adds a lot of distortion, which is particularly unfortunate since this is one of Max Steiner’s pioneering film scores, and much of it is tarnished by over-zealous and detrimental boosting of audio levels. The only saving grace is that the left track audio seems to be slightly less distorted than the right, so if you can set your home equipment to pick up only the left track, you will have slightly better sound. Unfortunately, if people just attribute the problem to the age of the film, Kino will probably not go to the trouble to correct the problem, though the disc should really be recalled. I have written to them about it, but have not yet heard back from them."

 

Extras :

Nothing but some trailers of Kino Blu-ray vintage films. It would be very appreciated if one day some distributor would do some real investigation, analysis and discussion of the Pre-Code era. But it ain't gonna be on this disc.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
A simple premise but Vidor works some of his magic in the realm of storytelling. The improved Blu-ray resolution really adds the cinema-like experience to a previously digitized video-appearance. Scratches and light damage can be frequent but the air of tropical romance, tension and suspense permeate the air. Vintage fans shouldn't hesitate! 

Gary Tooze

April 24th, 2012

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)

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Gary W. Tooze

 

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