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Directed by Robert Altman
USA 1973

 

Possibly my favorite Altman film - filled with equal parts Noir homage, parody and the director with his best sardonic witticisms. Elliott Gould is a Philip Marlowe, but circa 1970, and he does a perfect job injecting Raymond Chandler's pulp private-eye hero (or anti-hero) by a perverse form of subversion as he floats through the new sexually open environment of viciously unbalanced criminal leaders, coquettish neighbors and a writer, played by Sterling Hayden, who appears the most comfortable in Marlowe's unbalanced time lines. The action starts as Marlowe’s buddy’s wife is dead, and he is viewed as a remote accomplice by the authorities. With code of honor in full force he sets out to prove his pal innocent.... even if he is deceased. With deadpan absurdities but full faith to respecting the noir roots, Altman creates a stunning catalyst of the sublime elements into a powerhouse of fun, suspense, intrigue and darn true machismo values. The "Hooray For Hollywood” played over the opening and closing titles is no mistake. Bravo!

 

  Posters

Theatrical Release: March 7th, 1973

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Comparison:

MGM - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Potemkine Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray vs. Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

1) MGM Region 1 - NTSC LEFT

2) Potemkine Films Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Cover

Distribution MGM Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC Potemkine Films
Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Arrow Academy
Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:52:00  1:52:10.765  1:52:11.182 
Video 2.30:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.86 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 34,926,168,280 bytes

Feature: 28,892,921,856 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.77 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,607,423,797 bytes

Feature: 34,964,555,328 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Potemkine Blu-ray

Bitrate: Arrow Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), DUB: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) DTS-HD Master Audio French 1744 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1744 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 915 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 915 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
Isolated Score: LPCM Audio Undetermined 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, Spanish, French, None French, None English (SGH), None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: MGM Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.30:1

Edition Details:

• Rip Van Marlowe (24:31)
• Vilmos Szigmund Flashes The Long Goodbye (14:22)
• American Cinematographer reprint of 1973 article
• Radio Spots
• Theatrical Trailer

DVD Release Date: September 17th, 2002

Keep Case
Chapters: 16

Release Information:
Studio: Potemkine

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 34,926,168,280 bytes

Feature: 28,892,921,856 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.77 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• RIP Van Marlow, with Robert Altman and Elliot Gould (24:34)

• Vilmos Zsigmond, DoP, Flashes The Long Goodbye (14:25)

• Interview with Jean-Baptiste Thoret (22:27)

Blu-ray Release Date: October 2nd, 2012
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Academy

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,607,423,797 bytes

Feature: 34,964,555,328 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Isolated Score

• RIP Van Marlow, with Robert Altman and Elliot Gould (24:35)

• Robert Altman: Giggle and Give In (56:32)

Interviews:

• Elliot Gould (53:05)

• Vilmos Zsigmond (14:23)

• David Thompson (21:04)

• Tom Williams on Raymond Chandler (14:29)

• Maxim Jakubowski on Hard Boiled Fiction (14:33)

• Radio Spots (3:24)

Blu-ray Release Date: December 16th, 2013
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Potemkine and Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-rays (December 2013): The newer Arrow improves in every every over the previous European Blu-ray. The technical transfer is more robust with a high video bitrate showing up as slightly darker and richer black levels (and warmer skin tones) in the new 1080P visuals compared below. Framing (2.35:1) seems the same on both Blu-rays both adding additional information from the older DVD. Basically, the image quality is a solid representation of the original production looking thick and, relatively, flat. Grain textures are present and contrast takes a leap forward. I saw no noise, or artefacts, on either HD edition. Generally speaking the Arrow is the best in regards to the video.

Audio technically goes to Arrow as well, but I wasn't able to notice any significant differences. Both authentically mono with no range and only minor depth exported. The Potemkine edition has a French DUB (and French subtitles when English audio is selected) and the UK Blu-ray offers John Williams, seething, score, isolated - as an option - as well as the choice of English (SDH) subtitles. Both are encoded region 'B'-locked.

All three editions offer the 25 minute documentary RIP Van Marlow with Robert Altman and Elliot Gould discussing the film. As well all three digital releases include the informative 15-minutes with director of photography Vilmos Zsigmond. The Potemkine has non-removable French subtitles for these pieces and includes a 20-minute interview with Jean-Baptiste Thoret (in French only) about the film. Arrow, as we have come to expect add further supplements. Robert Altman: Giggle and Give In is almost an hour long and fans of the director will appreciate this documentary profile of Robert Altman by Paul Joyce, with contributions from Altman, Elliott Gould, Shelley Duvall, assistant director Alan Rudolph and screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury, There are more interviews - almost an hour with, the likeable, Elliot Gould, 20-minutes with David Thompson (editor of 'Altman on Altman' and producer of the BBC s 'Robert Altman in England), 15 more with Tom Williams talking about Raymond Chandler and equal time with Maxim Jakubowski on the subject of Hard Boiled Fiction. Lastly there are 3.5 minutes of Radio Spots. The package contains a liner notes booklet featuring new writing on the film by Brad Stevens, a new interview with assistant director Alan Rudolph and an extract from American Cinematographer discussing Zsigmond's unique treatment of the film, illustrated with original archive stills and posters.

Easy to choose, especially if you consider that some players may not be able to remove the French subtitles when English audio is chosen on the Potemkine.  Arrow come through again!  

***

ON THE DVD: Very decent if not stellar transfer from MGM. It is always hard to judge image on Altman films as so much of the seemingly weak production characteristics are intentional. For, usually lackluster, MGM, I'd say this package is fabulous. Extras are stacked with featurettes, articles, radio spots. Audio and subtitles are pretty good. Nice to see such a hidden classic be given some digital respect. Even if the package was bare bones I'd recommend based on the film, but with these relevant supplements its a must-own DVD. Both the 'Rip Van Marlowe' and 'Vilmos Szigmund Flashes The Long Goodbye' are entertaining and educational. Noir devotees will get the biggest entertainment value.

Gary W. Tooze

 


DVD Menus


 

Potemkine Films Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray


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

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) MGM Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Potemkine Films Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Screen Captures

 

1) MGM Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Potemkine Films Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) MGM Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Potemkine Films Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

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1) MGM Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Potemkine Films Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) MGM Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Potemkine Films Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) MGM Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Potemkine Films Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) MGM Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Potemkine Films Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Potemkine Films Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Potemkine Films Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Potemkine Films Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Potemkine Films Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Potemkine Films Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Potemkine Films Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Potemkine Films Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Potemkine Films Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Potemkine Films Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Box Cover

Distribution MGM Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC Potemkine Films
Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Arrow Academy
Region 'B' - Blu-ray




 

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Gary Tooze

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