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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Trapeze [Blu-ray]


(Carol Reed, 1956)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Hill-Hecht-Lancaster Productions

Video: Concorde



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

Runtime: 1:46:01.271

Disc Size: 22,750,156,969 bytes

Feature Size: 21,705,338,880 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.98 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 13th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio German 832 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 832 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 944 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 944 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)



German, none



• Original Trailer (3:05)
• Trailers for 3 modern films on Concorde




Description: Former circus aerialist Burt Lancaster was the logical choice to star in the Technicolor drama Trapeze. Lancaster plays a crippled acrobat, disabled after attempting to perform a dangerous triple mid-air somersault. Tony Curtis co-stars as an aspiring aerialist who coerces Lancaster into teaching him the tricks of the trade. The friendship between Lancaster and Curtis is threatened by the arrival of beautiful, ambitious circus tumbler Gina Lollobridgida (it's a toss-up as to which of the three stars looks best in spangled tights). Surprisingly, Lancaster's former circus partner Nick Cravat is nowhere to be found in the film; we are, however, treated to the harmonica virtuosity of Johnny Puleo. Trapeze is highlighted by its truly breathtaking stunt sequences, performed by the cream of the European big-top circuit.



The Film:

Internationally famous as the first continental sex symbol to emerge from post-war European cinema, Gina Lollobrigida was not only glamorous and seductive but an accomplished actress as well, and Trapeze (1956) is probably the best demonstration of her various attributes. Cast as a scheming acrobat who comes between a famous trapeze star (Burt Lancaster) and his assistant-in-training (Tony Curtis), she practically steals the film from her co-stars, who were both in their physical prime and at the height of their popularity.

Trapeze was based on the novel, The Killing Frost, and filmed entirely in Paris and at the nearby Billancourt studios. Produced by Lancaster's own production company (Hecht-Hill-Lancaster), which liked to balance commercial ventures like Apache (1954) with more challenging projects like Marty (1955) and Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Trapeze fulfilled a lifetime dream of Lancaster's - to make a film about the circus. After all, Lancaster had once toured carnivals and nightclubs as an acrobatic act with his partner and childhood friend, Nick Cravat. They would later appear in two films together - The Flame and the Arrow (1950) and The Crimson Pirate (1952) - where they performed their own stunts.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

The story of a crippled man who achieves a measure of freedom from his affliction when he "flies" is an easy fit for Lancaster, a graduate of the circus culture himself. His "walk-and-talk" rapport with Curtis anticipates their superb master-slave routines in the acerbic Sweet Smell of Success. The tight, elliptical narrative with its sense of live theatre also prefigures Sweet Smell of Success, an influence derived in part from the fact that both films had British directors. While Carol Reed is better known for his grim post-war morality tale The Third Man, the over-lapping actions and character cameos of Trapeze conceal a lot of sophisticated scene direction. The De Luxe color cinematography of the aerialists is always convincing and dramatic, and the seedy claustrophobia of life with the animals in the world below has the weird and gritty authenticity of a colorized period postcard.

Excerpt from FilmCourt  located HERE

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

Trapeze comes to Blu-ray from Concorde in Germany. I had never seen the film before - I don't think it ever reached even SD in North America. The 1080P image is quite weak. I have no idea what the film originally looked like - but this HD image is extremely thick and soft. The transfer is single-layered and never seemed 'in focus' with a kind of waxy haziness throughout. It resembles DNR - if not direct evidence of the rendering practice. This is slightly horizontally stretched as well (fatter faces.) Either Cinemascope 'mumps' or a transfer faux-pas. Sigh. Some films just don't appears stable on digital (2nd generation source, production characteristics etc.) and this may be one. Colors are not fatally poor (reds and golds are rich) but overall I'd say this is well below standard for the medium. Visually, this get very low marks.



















Audio :

I believe that the film was shown theatrically in both Mono and a 4-Track Stereo (Western Electric Recording - magnetic prints) depending on the theatre but this Blu-ray only has the mono via a DTS-HD Master at 944 kbps (in original English - there is a German DUB as well.) It is predictably flat but the Circus themes - and Johann Straus Blue Danube + some Victor Schertzinger (played during the trapeze routines) as well as Frédéric Chopin, John Philip Sousa, and the score composed by Malcolm Arnold (The Bridge On the River Kwai, Island in the Sun, Stolen Face, Hobson's Choice, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness) never give abundant depth. They sound clean but never powerful - even as background you'd anticipate more from the orchestral instruments. There are removable German subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.



Extras :

Nothing but an original trailer looking similarly weak - and some other modern film trailers (presumably of Concorde Blu-ray offerings.)



Trapeze seemed to be universally panned as one of the great Carol Reed's worst films. Yes, it is hokey as heck with the fatal editing error of Gina Lollobrigida's costume color change in mid-act. Actually, never having seen it before - and having poor expectations - I kinda liked it. Of course, we can't endorse the Blu-ray. As well as the weak image, no 4-track audio - it is, essentially bare-bones. Unless you only want to see the film - I suggest passing! 

Gary Tooze

March 28, 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.

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
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Gary W. Tooze






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