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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Syncopation [Blu-ray]

 

(William Dieterle, 1942)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: RKO Radio Pictures

Video: Cohen Media Group

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:28:13.621

Disc Size: 45,116,707,992 bytes

Feature Size: 22,388,514,816 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.00 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: February 10th, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

"Symphony in Black" (1935 w/Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday) (9:37)
• "Rhapsody in Black and Blue" (1932, w/Louis Armstrong) (10:06)
• "St. Louis Blues" (1929, w/Bessie Smith) (15:43)
• "Cab Calloway's Hi De Ho" (1933) (9:56)
• "Bundle of Blues" (1933, w/Duke Ellington) (9:12)
• "Hoagy Carmichael" (1939, w/Carmichael and Jack Teagarden) (10:04)
• "Artie Shaw's Class in Swing" (1939, w/Shaw) (10:11)
"Jazz a la Cuba" (1933, w/Don Azpiaz˙) (5:20)
• "Black and Tan Fantasy" (1929, w/Duke Ellington and Fredi Washington) (19:04)

2015 Re-Release Trailer (1:29)
• 8-page leaflet with photos, chapter titles etc.

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: A one-of-a-kind cinematic extravaganza, Syncopation is both a love story about two young musicians and a celebration of some of the greatest popular music of the first half of the 20th century. The romance between a young trumpeter (former child star Jackie Cooper of The Champ and Our Gang fame) and a New Orleans-born piano player (Bonita Granville, the silver screen's original Nancy Drew and the future producer of TV's Lassie) serves as the narrative plot line. But the core of the film is its celebratory history of "syncopated" music - jazz - tracing it from the turn-of-the-century sounds of ragtime, through Dixieland, the blues, Chicago jazz and the swing era.

Musical greats of the day are featured in performance, including Benny Goodman, Harry James, Gene Krupa, Charlie Barnet and many more. Also in the cast are Adolphe Menjou, George Bancroft, Robert Benchley and singers Todd Duncan and Connee Boswell. Putting all of the elements together is prolific golden age director William Dieterle (The Life of Emile Zola, Portrait of Jennie, September Affair, The Hunchback of Notre Dame).

For its Cohen Film Collection Blu-ray release, syncopation has been restored in 2K from an archival 35mm fine grain master struck by the Library of Congress from the nitrate negative.

 

 

The Film:

This musical chronicles the history of jazz music and features many of the most popular musical acts from the early 1940s, including Gene Krupa and Benny Goodman. The story centers on a trumpet player who falls for a young woman with an equal passion for music. Unfortunately, the girl is still grieving for her true-love whom she lost during the war. The trumpeter begins working to get the girl to trust her. He simultaneously tries to start a band. Songs include: "Goin' Up the River" Dave Torbett, Leith Stevens, "You Made Me Love You" Joseph McCarthy, James V. Monaco, "Only Worry for a Pillow," "Chicago Ragtime" Stevens, "Under a Falling Star" Rich Hall, Stevens, sung by Connie Boswell, and "Slave Market" Hall Johnson.
 

Excerpt from Barnes and Noble located HERE

In 1906, the Congo Square Building in New Orleans, who was previously used as a slave market, is transformed into an African-American unemployment bureau. Close by there is also an African-American musical college, where little Reggie Tearbone, seven years old, is learning to play Bach on his cornet. He has trouble following the sheet and starts improvising. It begins to sound more like a jazz piece.

Reggie's mother Ella works as a housekeeper for architect George Latimer. The Latimers are an old aristocratic family who has started to get financial problems. Because of this, when George's old friend Steve Porter come to visit, he offers the Latimer family, including George's daughter Kit and Ella, to return to Chicago with him.

The whole family go to Chicago, but Reggie stays behind, having gotten a permanent spot in King Jeffers' Basin Street Band.

Excerpt from Wikipedia located HERE

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

Syncopation on Blu-ray from Cohen Media looks very good. Grain, detail and depth are all accentuated by the marvelous contrast of the 1080P black and white visuals. There are a few, less-frequent, muddy spots but they seem more a function of the original production not any flaw in the rendering. This is dual-layered with a high bitrate and it exceeded my expectations. I might have seen one or two slight instances of noise but it was never distracting. The shadows in the film are so rich and the use of light only adds to the aura. This Blu-ray video is impressive enough for this reviewer to express great satisfaction with the visual presentation.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The audio is transferred via a linear PCM mono 2.0 channel at a very supportive 2304 Kbps. It sounds pretty darn solid - nice high-end underpinning the crisp, authentically flat music. Depth is there in limited quantity - adding a further edge of realism. 'Toe-tapping' would be an understatement to describing the rhythms via uncompressed. There are some anticipated weaknesses but they are the exception. You might even be encouraged to listen to this with the video turned off. All good. There are no subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'.

 

Extras :

Incredible selection of supplements -over 100-minutes worth of vintage Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Cab Calloway, Hoagy Carmichael, Artie Shaw and others. How great is it to have this all available on one Blu-ray with uncompressed audio! The quality is decent enough with 1929's "St. Louis Blues" before a bit inferior a/v wise (predictably so considering its age). Also included are a new Re-Release trailer and a liner notes leaflet.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
What an amazing Blu-ray package. I loved the energy of Syncopation. It is both free-forming and stylish - unencumbered artistic brilliance, happiness and fun - and the Cohen Blu-ray
offers so much with the feature and the many extras. This will be revisited continuously - a great disc to throw on at a gathering. It might be my favorite BD of the early year. Our strongest recommendation!

Gary Tooze

February 3rd, 2015

 

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 5000 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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