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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Trapeze [Blu-ray]

 

(Carol Reed, 1956)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Hill-Hecht-Lancaster Productions

Video: Concorde / Kino Lorber

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:46:01.271  / 1:45:55.682

Disc Size: 22,750,156,969 bytes / 21,531,448,993 bytes

Feature Size: 21,705,338,880 bytes / 19,803,359,232 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.98 Mbps / 21.72 Mbps

Chapters: 12 / 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Standard BD case

Release date: February 13th, 2014 / September 25th, 2018

 

Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DUB:

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)

 

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1555 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1555 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

German, none

 

English, none

 

Extras:

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

Audio Commentary by Film Historian Kat Ellinger
Original Theatrical Trailer (3:14) and other trailers

 

Bitrate:

1) Concorde - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Description: Screen icons Burt Lancaster (Elmer Gantry), Tony Curtis (The Vikings) and Gina Lollobrigida (Death Laid and Egg) form a troubled love triangle in the realistic, suspenseful film shot in the actual Cirque d'Hiver in Paris. Young American acrobat Tino Orsini (Curtis) is an aspiring trapeze artist who comes to Paris in search of Mike Ribble (Lancaster), a former aerialist who has retired after injuring himself attempting a triple somersault. Mike agrees to teach Tino the triple after circus performer Rosa O'Flynn (Katy Jurado, One-Eyed Jacks) convinces him to stop feeling sorry for himself and try to recapture some of the fame that eluded him. But when two men both fall in love with the beautiful Lola (Lollobrigida) who uses them both to further her own ambitions the triangle threatens the dreams of them all. Trapeze, directed by the great Carol Reed (The Third Man, The Fallen Idol) is highlighted by great performances and high drama, and all the actors performed most of their own stunts (Lancaster had previously been an acrobat in real life). Two of the film's best features are the terrific Scope photography by Robert Krasker (El Cid, Brief Encounter) and the hauntingly beautiful score by Malcolm Arnold (The Bridge on the River Kwai). The wonderful Thomas Gomez (Key Largo) co-stars in this classic romantic drama.

***

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.

 

1) Concorde - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

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 low marks.

 

The Kino improves but further exemplifies the compromised source looking thick with plenty of speckles and unusual shifts in some scene endings. This CinemaScope-shot colors can looked odd, as if bleached/muted. It is not as digitized as the German Concorde Blu-ray despite having a slightly lower bitrate. It is also on a single-layered disc and colors (flesh tones) do improve and the overall image is more stable in-motion although it remains imperfect with more marks and dirt than the European counterpart. These issues are not glaring during the presentation but it doesn't reach the heights of the format exporting little depth. It may be the best we get for this intriguing Circus milieu film that probably requires a full film-level restoration to maximize the quality in digital.    

 

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

 

Subtitle Sample - Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

1) Concorde - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Concorde - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Concorde - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Concorde - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Concorde - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Concorde - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Concorde - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Concorde - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Concorde - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Concorde - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Concorde - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Concorde - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Concorde - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Concorde - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

More Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 sounds 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.

 

The Kino also uses a DTS-HD Master track (16-bit) but is more robust than the Concorde with deeper bass - notable in 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) including 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

retain some pleasing depth. There are optional English subtitles on the Region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.

 

 

Extras :

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

 

Big bonus of the Kino is the commentary by Kat Ellinger who talks about the performers, the time frame, shooting in Paris and some gossip relating to the production - plus much more. It is at her usual impressive, professional and extensively researched level and a pleasure to listen to. There is also a trailer and trailers for other films.

 

Concorde - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
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!

 

Although the 1080P presentation is still not ideal - the film is highly interesting and has plenty of fans. It always captures my interest and certainly worthy of any collection although we can hope that a superior edition surfaces one day - the Kino, with the valued Ellinger commentary, will be worthwhile for many.     

Gary Tooze

March 28, 2014

August 16th, 2018

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
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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