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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

On the Waterfront [Blu-ray]

 

(Elia Kazan, 1954)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Columbia Pictures Corporation 

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #647

 

Disc:

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

Runtime (both discs): 1:47:54.509 (all three versions)

Disc One Size: 47,390,630,259 bytes

Disc Two Size: 46,225,536,898 bytes

Disc One Feature Size: 24,329,195,520 bytes / Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Disc Two Feature(s) Sizes: 22,866,180,096 bytes / Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

                                      22,864,017,408 bytes / Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Video Bitrate: 22.49 Mbps (1.66:1) / 20.99 Mbps (both 1.33:1 + 1.85:1)

Chapters: 25 (all 3)

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 19th, 2013

 

Video:

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

Disc 1:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3362 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3362 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Disc 2 (both):

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3362 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3362 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras (only on Disc One):

• Audio commentary by authors Richard Schickel and Jeff Young
New conversation between filmmaker Martin Scorsese and critic Kent Jones (17:34)
Elia Kazan: Outsider (1982), an hour-long documentary (53:14)
New documentary. "I'm Standing Over Here Now", on the making of the film, featuring interviews with scholar Leo Braudy, critic David Thomson, and others (45:00)
New interview with actor Eva Marie Saint (11:11)
• Richard Schickel interviews director Elia Kazan from 2001 (12:00)
Contender: Mastering the Method, a 2001 documentary on the film’s most famous scene (25:04)
New interview with longshoreman Thomas Hanley , an actor in the film (12:00)
New interview with author James T. Fisher about the real-life people and places behind the film - "Who is Mr. Big" (25:46)
Visual essay on Leonard Bernstein’s score (20:05)
Visual essay on the aspect ratio (5:11)
Trailer (2:42)
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by filmmaker Michael Almereyda, Kazan’s 1952 defense of his House Un-American Activities Committee testimony, one of the 1948 Malcolm Johnson articles that inspired the film, and a 1953 piece by screenwriter Budd Schulberg

 

Bitrate (1.66:1):

 

 

Description: Marlon Brando gives the performance of his career as the tough prizefighter-turned-longshoreman Terry Malloy in this masterpiece of urban poetry. A raggedly emotional tale of individual failure and social corruption, On the Waterfront follows Terry’s deepening moral crisis as he must decide whether to remain loyal to the mob-connected union boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb) and Johnny’s right-hand man, Terry’s brother, Charley (Rod Steiger), as the authorities close in on them. Driven by the vivid, naturalistic direction of Elia Kazan and savory, streetwise dialogue by Budd Schulberg, On the Waterfront was an instant sensation, winning eight Oscars, including for best picture, director, actor, supporting actress (Eva Marie Saint), and screenplay.

 

 

The Film:

This classic story of Mob informers was based on a number of true stories and filmed on location in and around the docks of New York and New Jersey. Mob-connected union boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb) rules the waterfront with an iron fist. The police know that he's been responsible for a number of murders, but witnesses play deaf and dumb ("plead D & D"). Washed-up boxer Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) has had an errand-boy job because of the influence of his brother Charley, a crooked union lawyer (Rod Steiger). Witnessing one of Friendly's rub-outs, Terry is willing to keep his mouth shut until he meets the dead dockworker's sister, Edie (Eva Marie Saint). "Waterfront priest" Father Barry (Karl Malden) tells Terry that Edie's brother was killed because he was going to testify against boss Friendly before the crime commission. Because he could have intervened, but didn't, Terry feels somewhat responsible for the death. When Father Barry receives a beating from Friendly's goons, Terry is persuaded to cooperate with the commission. Featuring Brando's famous "I coulda been a contendah" speech, On the Waterfront has often been seen as an allegory of "naming names" against suspected Communists during the anti-Communist investigations of the 1950s. Director Elia Kazan famously informed on suspected Communists before a government committee -- unlike many of his colleagues, some of whom went to prison for refusing to "name names" and many more of whom were blacklisted from working in the film industry for many years to come -- and Budd Schulberg's screenplay has often been read as an elaborate defense of the informer's position. On the Waterfront won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor for Brando, and Best Supporting Actress for Saint.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Superb performances (none more so than Brando as Terry Malloy, the ex-boxer unwittingly entangled in corrupt union politics), a memorably colourful script by Budd Schulberg, and a sure control of atmosphere make this account of Brando's struggles against gangster Cobb's hold over the New York longshoremen's union powerful stuff. It is undermined, however, by both the religious symbolism (that turns Malloy not into a Judas but a Christ figure) and the embarrassing special pleading on behalf of informers, deriving presumably from the fact that Kazan and Schulberg named names during the McCarthy witch-hunts. Politics apart, though, it's pretty electrifying.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

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

Firstly, the thorough Criterion package includes a second Blu-ray disc with 'Alternate presentations of the feature restoration in two additional aspect ratios: 1.85:1 (widescreen) and 1.33:1 (at one time considered "full-screen")'. Disc one, with all the supplements, has the feature in 1.66:1. We've compared a few captures below. The new 4K digital restoration looks wonderful. The visual highlights are the magnificently layered contrast and the visible film textures. Both discs are dual-layered with supportive bitrates. There are no flaws at all - no noise, moiring, chroma or any deficiencies at all. I expect this is a strong representation of the multi-theatrical appearances being releases on the cusp of some theatres offering widescreen depending on whether or not individual theater screens had been updated. Supposedly On the Waterfront was initially rejected by Zanuck because it was being shot in 1.37:1 / black and white. Certain theatres adopting the new widescreen format might have matted in to 1.85:1, but, there are plenty of folks who will tell you that it was definitely composed for 1.37:1. However, I think it looks best in 1.66:1, IMO. The video image in 1080P is brilliant with a few scenes looking less harp - which I will assume is authentic to the production. 

 

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

 

1.33:1 TOP
1.85:1 MIDDLE
1.66:1
BOTTOM

 

 

1.33:1 TOP
1.85:1 MIDDLE
1.66:1
BOTTOM

 

 

1.33:1 TOP
1.85:1 MIDDLE
1.66:1
BOTTOM

 

 

More 1.66:1 (Disc 1) screen captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Aside from the authentic, and genuinely flat, linear PCM mono track, thee is a new, alternate, DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround track at 3362 kbps. As bumps go - it does a nice job because it doesn't go overboard with the separations or depth. There are a few notable deviations there to help establish mood and aura (on the docks) but it doesn't extend beyond the normalcy you might expect from the film. Purists will opt for the uncompressed mono, but the surround offers an interesting, and worthwhile, alternative that is also available on the second disc versions. The Bernstein score remains impressive but rarely supersedes the activity onscreen - not that much could draw you away from Brando's iconic Terry Malloy portrayal and the hypnotic Eva Marie Saint. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.

 

Extras :

Aside from the aforementioned second disc offering the restored film in 1.85:1 and 1.33:1 ARs, we get a thoroughly professional audio commentary (on the 1.66:1) featuring Richard Schickel - author of Elia Kazan: A Biography and Jeff Young - author of Kazan: The Master Director Discusses His Films. It covers many areas of both the director and the film. There is an 18-minute conversation between filmmaker Martin Scorsese and critic Kent Jones recorded by Criterion in 2012. Scorsese has often acknowledged his debt to the films of Elia Kazan, most explicitly in his documentary A Letter to Elia, which he co-directed with Jones. The two have a great discussion on Kazan and On the Waterfront. Criterion have included Annie Tresgot's 1982, 53-minute documentary film, Elia Kazan: An Outsider. It looks at the career of Kazan with in-dept conversations with French critic Michel Ciment. There is another documentary - a new 45-minute piece entitled "I'm Standing Over Here Now" produced by Criterion on the making of the film, featuring interviews with scholar Leo Braudy (author of the BFI monograph On the Waterfront), Lisa Dombrowski editor of Kazan Revisited, Cineaste editor Dan Georgakas, Naming names author Victor Navasky and film scholar/critic David Thomson. Although On the Waterfront was Eva Marie Saint's first feature film, she had been a successful television and stage actor for ten years before landing the role of Edie Doyle, which earned her an Oscar. She went on to star in Hitchcock's North By Northwest. This 11-minute new interview with her was recorded by Criterion in 2012. From 2001, we get 12-minutes of Richard Schickel interviewing director Elia Kazan from 2001 and Contender: Mastering the Method, is a documentary, also from 2001, directed by David Naylor on the film’s most famous scene. Included is a new 12-minute interview with longshoreman Thomas Hanley , an actor in the film and there is a new 26-minute interview with author James T. Fisher about the real-life people and places behind the film - entitled "Who is Mr. Big?". Another extra is a 20-minute visual essay on Leonard Bernstein’s score by Jon Burlingame. There is also another visual essay - this time focusing on the aspect ratio with examples - running 5-minutes. There is a trailer plus an extensive liner notes booklet featuring an essay by filmmaker Michael Almereyda, Kazan’s 1952 defense of his House Un-American Activities Committee testimony, one of the 1948 Malcolm Johnson articles that inspired the film, and a 1953 piece by screenwriter Budd Schulberg.

 

 

Disc 2

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Criterion have created the most complete Blu-ray package in recorded memory! Unreal. On the Waterfront is presented, restored, and in a variety of presentation formats coupled with critical acumen from some of the finest film analysts. So much is covered - accentuating appreciation with the film looking and sounding equally as brilliant. THIS is what owning a digital library is all about and Criterion's extensive efforts here make this a centerpiece for any fans Blu-ray collection. STRONGLY recommended! 

Gary Tooze

February 4th, 2013


 

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.

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Gary W. Tooze

 

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