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Directed by Walter Hill
US 1975

Writer-director Walter Hill's debut film, Hard Times (1975), stars the legendary Charles Bronson as a laconic street fighter who joins forces in Depression-era New Orleans with a fast-talking promoter (James Coburn) and a drug-addicted cut man (Strother Martin) to make some hard-earned cash in the illegal fight game. With its clean narrative, detailed period setting, superb cinematography by Philip Lathrop, and striking action sequences (elegantly edited by future director Roger Spottiswoode), Hard Times is an exhilarating jump-start for one of the 1970s' most influential filmmakers.

***

In the middle of the Great Depression, Chaney (Charles Bronson, Death Wish) is just looking to catch a break. When he meets Speed (James Coburn, The Magnificent Seven), a promoter of bare-knuckle street fighting, Chaney thinks with his fighting skill and Speedís savvy, he might have a chance. But Speed has his own problems, and what seemed like a sure thing is not as simple. Directed by Walter Hill (48 Hrs.), and also starring Jill Ireland (The Mechanic, 1972) and Strother Martin (Cool Hand Luke), HARD TIMES is a gritty, compelling drama.

***

Also known as The Streetfighter, Hard Times stars Charles Bronson as Chaney, an aging bare-knuckle boxer, trying to scratch out a living in the middle of the Depression. "Speed" (James Coburn) is the two-bit promoter who books Chaney in the tank towns of the South and Midwest. He is briefly reinvigorated by an affair with the lovely Lucy (Jill Ireland, Mrs. Bronson in real life), but it's back to the seedy realm before too long. Hard Times represented the directorial debut of Walter Hill, who even at this early stage demonstrated the gritty verisimilitude that he'd bring to such future projects as The Warriors (1979) and 48 Hrs. (1984)

 

  Posters

Theatrical Release:  September 4th, 1975

Reviews                                                                                More Reviews                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Sony - Region 1, 3, 4 - NTSC vs. Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray

1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

 

Distribution Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC Twilight Time
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Masters of Cinema - Spine # 157
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:33:15 1:33:23.764 1:33:24.557
Video 2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.24 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 30,842,387,578 bytes

Feature Size: 30,122,852,352 bytes

Total Bitrate: 35.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

Disc Size: 39,214,131,059 bytes

Feature Size: 29,415,841,344 bytes

Total Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Twilight Time Blu-ray

Bitrate: Masters of Cinema Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), DUB: Portuguese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2922 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2922 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Isolated Score:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1710 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1710 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2664 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2664 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Subtitles English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Korean, Thai, Chinese, None English (SDH), none English (SDH), none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Sony

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
Theatrical trailers (Hard Times, The Stone Killer)

Pan and Scan on opposite side of disc

4 - page Liner notes

DVD Release Date: April 6th, 1999

Keep Case
Chapters: 28

Release Information:
Studio:
Twilight Time

 

Disc Size: 30,842,387,578 bytes

Feature Size: 30,122,852,352 bytes

Total Bitrate: 35.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

 

Edition Details:
Isolated Music & Effects Track
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:23)

• 8-page liner notes by Julie Kirgo
Limited to 3,000 units

 

Blu-ray Release Date: June, 2013
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio:
Masters of Cinema

 

Disc Size: 39,214,131,059 bytes

Feature Size: 29,415,841,344 bytes

Total Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

 

Edition Details:
A new interview with co-writer/director Walter Hill (20:40)
A new interview with producer Lawrence Gordon (14:20)
A new interview with composer Barry DeVorzon (8:58)
Excerpts from a 1984 interview with Walter Hill at the National Film Theatre, London (31:32 - audio only)
Original theatrical trailer (2:23)

20-PAGE BOOKLET featuring Pauline Kaelís original 1975 New Yorker review of the film, and archival imagery

DVD included
 

Blu-ray Release Date: April 24th, 2017
Transparent Blu-ray case

Chapters 10

 

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray April 17': This is cited as a "New 4K digital restoration" - so it looks exactly the same as the Twilight Time. I can see no differences. We've matched 4 captures below - you can toggle between and see for yourself.

In the audio department, Masters of Cinema diligently add an option for the original mono - in a linear PCM track - as well as a 5.1 surround option (both 24-bit.) Purists will appreciate that over the Twilight Time Blu-ray. Both have optional subtitles (see samples). The MoC Blu-ray is Region FREE also!

Masters of Cinema have put some real effort into their release with a new, 20-minute, interview with co-writer/director Walter Hill and he is always great to listen to. We also get new interviews with producer Lawrence Gordon - running a 1/4 of an hour and with composer Barry DeVorzon for shy of 10-minutes. I appreciate the inclusion of, audio-only, 1/2 hour excerpts from a 1984 interview with Walter Hill at the National Film Theatre. Wonderful. There is also an original theatrical trailer and the package contains a 20-page booklet featuring Pauline Kaelís original 1975 New Yorker review of the film, and archival imagery. Being dual-format a second disc DVD is included.

Illegal street fighting in the depression and the pairing of Walter Hill (Streets of Fire, Southern Comfort, The Long Riders, The Driver) and Bronson (Death Wish, Yukon, The Mechanic) couldn't be more iconic. Hard Times is probably my favorite film of the director's Pulp-rich, hard-nosed style.  I have re-watched multiple times. This Twilight Time Blu-ray has also been played many times, but it's way out of print now. Those who appreciate the film, director or performers (Strother Martin, Coburn, Jill Ireland) you need this Masters of Cinema, with its great extras and mono option, in your digital library...

***

ADDITION: Twilight Time (4K restoration) - Region FREE - Blu-ray March 15': We're a bit late-off-the-mark in reviewing this Twilight Time 1080P but my, over-watched, DVD resurfaced so we could do a full comparison. The Blu-ray improves notably offering more natural colors (especially flesh-tones.) and with the higher resolution the detail is far crisper. My only concern was a kind of waxy softness that I noticed a few times. In-motion, however, this was never prevalent and my digitization suspicions remained with little evidence to support any fears. It also appears that the DVD is somewhat vertically stretched or the BD is horizontally stretched. It may be a little of both. The HD shows a bit more information in the frame. 

Twilight Time use a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround track at 2922 kbps. Some of the film's fight-sequence effects gain depth with potent punches and there is minor separation apparent in spectator noise. The score is by Barry De Vorzon (Rolling Thunder, The Warriors) and subtly adds to the depression-era atmosphere sounding reasonably adept. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and the Blu-ray disc is region FREE.

Twilight Time include there usual Isolated Music & Effects Track (in lossless), an original Theatrical Trailer and the package contains an 8-page liner notes booklet with photos and an essay by Julie Kirgo. It is limited to 3,000 units.

Gary W. Tooze


Menus

 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

 

Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


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

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Box Covers

 

 

Distribution Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC Twilight Time
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Masters of Cinema - Spine # 157
Region FREE -
Blu-ray




 

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