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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Cardinal [Blu-ray]


(Otto Preminger, 1963)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Otto Preminger Films

Video: Concorde



Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:30:24.416 (Part 1) / 1:34:22.208 (Part 2) 

Disc Size: 47,837,154,619 bytes

Part One Feature Size: 22,994,733,120 bytes

Part Two Feature Size: 24,042,080,256 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.00 Mbps

Chapters: 9 + 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 12th, 2013



Aspect ratio: 2.44:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1727 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1727 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

DUB: DTS-HD Master Audio German 890 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 890 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)


German, none



Trailer (5:50)






Description: Tom Tryon plays the title role in this Otto Preminger version of the Henry Morton Robinson novel. In his matriculation from Monsignor to the College of Cardinals, Stephen Fermoyle (Tom Tryon) must undergo several grueling life experiences: standing up to bigots in Georgia, defying Nazis in Austria, and so on. The film boasts cameo appearances by Dorothy Gish, Cecil Kellaway, John Saxon, John Huston, Robert Morse, Burgess Meredith, Raf Vallone, Ossie Davis. Incidentally, Tryon eventually quit acting and became a popular novelist.



The Film:

Interminable trials of an Irish-American boy from seminary to cardinal's hat, taking in some twenty years of history and every problem known to Catholic conscience, from religious intermarriage and abortion to the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi menace by way of the role of the Man of God. Risible script based on a doorstop novel by Henry Morton Robinson, but handled by Preminger with tremendous panache; worth seeing just for the incredible skill and flair with which he stages the action and moves the camera.

Excerpt from Timeout located HERE

In 1917 young Stephen Fermoyle returns to his native Boston as a newly ordained Roman Catholic priest. Upon learning that their daughter, Mona, is planning to marry a Jewish boy, the strong-willed Fermoyle family is so openly rude that the lad changes his mind. Consequently, Mona runs away and becomes the partner of a tango dancer. Stephen's arrogant nature causes the crusty but humane Archbishop Glennon to send him to a remote country parish, and there he learns his first lesson in humility from the dying Father Halley. He discovers that Mona is about to have an illegitimate child and that her life can be saved only if the infant's cranium is crushed. All too aware of Catholic dogma, Stephen denies permission and Mona dies. Haunted by the incident, he takes a year's leave of absence from his position with the Vatican diplomatic corps and becomes a teacher in Vienna. After a romantic but unfulfilled encounter with Anna, one of his students, he decides that the Church is his true vocation. Upon his return to Rome, he irritates most of his superiors by defending the rights of a black priest to have a parish in Georgia. As a result of his courageous fight against the Ku Klux Klan, he is promoted to Bishop. Just prior to World War II, he is sent to Austria in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade Cardinal Innitzer to oppose the Nazis. Subsequently, the two have a narrow escape when the Nazis attack the Austrian diocese. As the war begins, Fermoyle is appointed Cardinal, and his proud family travels from America to watch their son assume the robes of his office.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

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

The Cardinal looks quite weak on Blu-ray from Concorde out of Germany. I don't blame the transfer - a robust dual-layered rendering with a high bitrate for the 3-hour film - sharing the disc with almost nothing else. It is divided into two part on the lone BD disc - and has the Overture, Ent're act, and Intermission music interludes. The image has issues that seem to require restoration on the film-level. Colors have separated in spots and there are a few noticeable and prevalent vertical scratches.  It is has no gloss and is decidedly flat with clunky grain and artifacts. I would guess the 2.45:1 aspect ratio is coming from the 70mm print?*. The best part of the 1080P transfer are a few notable rich colors (yellows and greens) but otherwise this may be one of those films that does not shine in HD digital. This Blu-ray isn't to blame, as I understand the Warner Archive DVD source is similarly lackluster. Some money needs to be spent to bring this print up to speed.


*NOTE: Peter tells us in email "The film was shot 35mm 'scope, so the standard 2.35:1, not 70mm (the 70mm release was a blow-up). Besides which, 70mm negative frame is NOT "2.45:1" but 2.2:1, i.e. it's not as wide as 35mm... so the fact that this transfer appears in this strange, extra-wide ratio is merely a slight mistake. It's either stretched out or trimmed top and bottom very slightly, but I would suggest that it's hardly enough (either way) to be noticed.

There were 35mm magnetic 4-track prints of this title, and they still exist (I used to have one), so it's a pity that it appears only a L-R stereo mix is on the BR.
" (thanks Peter!)

















Audio :

DTS-HD Master 2.0 stereo at 1727 kbps but I believe the original had a 6-Track Stereo. So, perhaps an opportunity was lost in not offering some surround option. Even the lossless has a few scattering issues - there is also an optional German DUB. The original music by Jerome Moross - notable for wholesome western tracks for The Jayhawkers, The Big Country, Have Gun - Will Travel (TV) and large productions like The War Lord - it runs parallel to the film with a grand, epic feel - exporting some subtle depth. There are optional German subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.



Extras :

Only a trailer - hard to squeeze in anything significant with the 3-hour feature filling most of the disc.



Admittedly, I struggled with The Cardinal. When I thought I was finally settled the film began to drag, unmercilessly, for me. I had reconciled myself to the topic/story but perhaps I wasn't prepared for the length or pace. I think Concorde did a decent job on the Blu-ray, but the source needs some work to look superior in 1080P. So, I wasn't into the film, and have reservations about the a/v presentation. I suspect if it looked better, I would probably embrace it - or at least, give it more of an opportunity than I did. I say 'Pass'. 

Gary Tooze

April 22nd, 2014



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 3500 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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