|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
(Carol Reed, 1956)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Hill-Hecht-Lancaster Productions
Video: Concorde / Kino Lorber
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
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 1555 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1555 kbps / 16-bit (DTS
Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
• Original Trailer (3:05)
Audio Commentary by Film Historian Kat
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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