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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

That Cold Day in the Park [Blu-ray]


(Robert Altman, 1969)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Factor-Altman-Mirell Films

Video: Olive Films / Masters of Cinema - Spine # 145



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

Runtime: 1:46:21.049 / 1:46:54.449

Disc Size: 21,942,532,243 bytes / 38,422,214,710 bytes

Feature Size: 21,862,391,808 bytes / 31,237,033,728 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.98 Mbps / 34.87 Mbps

Chapters: 9 / 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: February 19th, 2013 / June 20th, 2016


Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 933 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 933 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)


LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit





English (SDH), none



• None


New video interview with critic and filmmaker David Thompson, editor of Altman on Altman (28:16)
PLUS: A booklet featuring new writing and archival images




1) Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM


Description: A wealthy and mentally disturbed spinster (Sandy Dennis) goes to extraordinary lengths to assuage her loneliness in Robert Altman's 1969 psychological gothic thriller. On a very cold and rainy Vancouver day, she notices a shivering blond youth (Michael Burns) sitting alone on a park bench. She offers him food and shelter and the apparently mute teenager accepts. Every night she locks his bedroom door, but the boy goes in and out of his room through the fire escape window, returning early next morning without her knowledge. She eventually attempts to seduce him and the boy soon learns who's in control of their relationship and how far she'll go to keep it that way. Masterfully shot by legendary cinematographer Leslie Kovacs (Easy Rider).



The Film:

Made immediately before MASH, this has Sandy Dennis, in her characteristic role as a frustrated spinster, picking up a dropout (Burns) on a Vancouver park bench and inviting him home for food, care and shelter. The results are distressingly predictable (though, to be fair to Altman, this area of modern Gothic hadn't been quite so overworked in 1969). With signs of the visual daring evident in Altman's later work, however, there is sufficient interest in his treatment of yet another woman character going bananas to repay committed admirers.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Robert Altman's inauspicious first theatrical feature—recognizably his work, meandering zooms and all, but the material is somewhat pretentious and hackneyed: spinster Sandy Dennis picks up hippie Michael Burns in a Vancouver park, and, needless to say, goes nuts. The intermittent homophobia isn't exactly winning either (1969).

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum at the Chicago Reader located HERE

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

Like many Altman films That Cold Day in the Park is highly textured looking thick with some intentionally hazy (through the rain, glass block etc.) sequences modest Blu-ray transfer from Olive Films. This is only single-layered and contrast looks a shade dusty - but this is probably more the condition of the original production. I don't know that dual-layering would benefit the visuals extensively. Laszlo Kovacs cinematography has some curious, obtuse touches that seem more significant in 1080P. Detail is modest and there is no real depth but there is some grain and hints of noise. If you didn't know better - you might accept these visuals style to be very Altman-esque. It looked quite heavy in-motion which I can only presume is very accurate.


Short story - the Masters of Cinema Blu-ray image is a better transfer - more robust, much higher bitrate, colors are richer, deeper. It is also 1.78:1 - the rain-umbrella shot is an exact frame match to toggle between the large versions. It's clearly evident that the UK edition visuals are superior.




Subtitle Sample Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray



1) Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM



1) Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM



1) Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM



1) Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM



More Olive Blu-ray Captures






Audio :

The audio comes in the form of a DTS-HD mono track at 933 kbps. There is no depth or range to speak of but it seems a faithful transfer without flaws. Johnny Mandel does the score and it benefits from the lossless rendering. There are no subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Linear PCM mono - and a shade more robust - still 1.0 channel (mono). Benefitting is Johnny Mandel's (Pretty Poison, Point Blank, Deathtrap, M*A*S*H, That Cold Day in the Park, Heaven with a Gun etc.) mysterious score balanced nicely via the uncompressed rendering. I'd probably lean to the Masters of Cinema if forced to choose and it offers optional English (SDH) subtitles where the Olive does not. The UK Blu-ray is Region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with most of their releases.


Masters of Cinema come through with a new 1/2 hour video interview with critic and filmmaker David Thompson, editor of Altman on Altman. It is rewarding expanding on the films subtle themes.  Plus, MoC include one of their impressive booklets featuring new writing and archival images.


Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray



Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray



I really liked the premise of That Cold Day in the Park - maybe more than I liked the actual film. Despite it being quite odd - I appreciated seeing Altman's first feature. It wasn't totally an uncomfortable viewing as there were plenty of things to like about it, notably the visual style. The bare-bones Blu-ray seems to export an authentic presentation. A bit of a head-scratcher but worth a spin or two.


Not much of a decision - especially considering that the Olive appears to be OOP. The Masters of Cinema is better in every respect over the bare-bones US release. Love the supplement and we give this a very strong recommendation! Altman fans should double-dip!  

Gary Tooze

February 19th, 2013

June 2nd, 2016



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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