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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

directed by Preston Sturges
USA 19
41

 

Tired of churning out lightweight comedies, Hollywood director John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea) decides to make O Brother, Where Art Thou?—a serious, socially responsible film about human suffering. After his producers point out that he knows nothing of hardship, Sullivan hits the road disguised as a hobo. En route to enlightenment, he meets a lovely but no-nonsense young woman (Veronica Lake)—and more trouble than he ever dreamed of. This comic masterpiece by Preston Sturges is among the finest Hollywood satires and a high-water mark in the career of one of the industry’s most revered funnymen.

***

This masterpiece by Preston Sturges is perhaps the finest movie-about-a-movie ever made. Hollywood director Joel McCrea, tired of churning out lightweight comedies, decides to make O Brother, Where Art Thou—a serious, socially responsible film about human suffering. After his producers point out that he knows nothing of hardship, he hits the road as a hobo. He finds the lovely Veronica Lake—and more trouble than he ever dreamed of.

 

  Posters

Theatrical Release: December 1941 - USA

Reviews                                                           More Reviews                                                        DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT

2) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

 

Box Covers

  

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 118 - Region 0 - NTSC Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray Criterion Collection, spine #118 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:30:27  1:30:46.899  1:31:03.875  
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.79 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,110,869,647 bytes

Feature: 28,289,639,808 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.99  Mbps

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,949,040,885 bytes

Feature: 26,899,402,752 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 35.01  Mbps

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

DVD Bitrate:

Bitrate: Arrow Blu-ray

Bitrate: Criterion Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 

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

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

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, None English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary by Noah Baumbach, Kenneth Bowser, Christopher Guest, and Michael McKean
• Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer, a 76-minute documentary made by Kenneth Bowser for PBS’ American Masters series
• Interview with Preston Sturges’ widow Sandy Sturges
• Hedda Hopper interview with Preston Sturges
• Archival audio recordings of Sturges singing his original composition “My Love” and reciting the poem “If I Were King”
• Storyboards and blueprints
• Production stills archive
• Scrapbook of original publicity materials
• Original theatrical trailer

• 6 page liner notes with essay by Todd McCarthy

DVD Release Date: August 21st, 2001

Keep Case
Chapters: 23

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Films

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,110,869,647 bytes

Feature: 28,289,639,808 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.99  Mbps

 

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary by filmmaker and Python Terry Jones
• Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer Kenneth Bowser s acclaimed feature-length documentary portrait from the American Masters series (1:15:13)
• Kevin Jackson on Sullivan s Travels: an appreciation by the writer and broadcaster (21;28)
The Preston Sturges Stock Company: a celebration of Sturges regular character actors and bit-part players (45:52)
• Safeguarding Military Information: a Sturges-scripted propaganda short released in the same month as Sullivan s Travels (10:22)
• Theatrical Trailer (1:48)
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jay Shaw
Booklet featuring new writing on the film by screwball comedy expert Peter Swaab, plus archive pieces by Geoff Brown and Preston Sturges, illustrated with original stills and poster designs.

Blu-ray Release Date: May 26th, 2014
Transparent
Blu-ray Case  
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,949,040,885 bytes

Feature: 26,899,402,752 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 35.01  Mbps

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary by Noah Baumbach, Kenneth Bowser, Christopher Guest, and Michael McKean
• Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer, a 76-minute documentary made by Kenneth Bowser for PBS’ American Masters series (1:15:13)

• New video essay by film critic David Cairns, featuring filmmaker Bill Forsyth - Ants in Your Plants of 1941 (17:19)
• Interview with Preston Sturges’ widow Sandy Sturges (13:12)
• Hedda Hopper interview with Preston Sturges - Audio Only (4:10)
• Archival audio recordings of Sturges singing his original composition “My Love” (1:38) and reciting the poem “If I Were King” (1:18)

• Liner notes with essay by critic Stuart Klawans

Blu-ray Release Date: April 14th, 2015
Transparent
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 22

 

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - March 2015': Firstly, the Criterion is marginally cropped when directly compared to the Arrow. Firstly I thought it was the 1.37:1 ratio, but they are both very close to that. Other than that, the Criterion is a shade darker. I *think* I prefer the grain structure appearance on the Arrow Blu-ray - but these, in the grand scale, are minor differences. The Criterion 1080P is also in a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate.

I also don't note any differences in the audio - Criterion use a linear PCM mono and it sounds clean and solid. Duplicating the comments below: '...it has some depth notable in the train noises and the score by Charles Bradshaw + Leo Shuken (who worked together on Sturges' The Miracle of Morgan's Creek) plus there is some buoyancy in Let My People Go - as sung in the Church - and Felix Mendelssohn's Spring Song played as part of the score when Sullivan begins his experiment (reprised when he starts a second time.) The uncompressed audio is crisp and clear sounding tight and, occasionally, bouncy. There are optional English subtitles on the region 'B' Blu-ray disc."

Okay, supplements. We have the same as the 2001 Criterion DVD plus more. The older audio commentary by Noah Baumbach, Kenneth Bowser, Christopher Guest, and Michael McKean is still here and the 1 1/4 hour Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer, documentary made by Kenneth Bowser for PBS’ American Masters series - as also found on the Arrow. The 15-minute interview with Preston Sturges’ widow Sandy Sturges remains - as do the audio pieces (Hedda Hopper interview and the short recordings of Sturges singing his original composition “My Love” and reciting the poem “If I Were King”.) What is new is an excellent new, 17-minute, video essay by film critic David Cairns, featuring filmmaker Bill Forsyth. It is entitled Ants in Your Plants of 1941 and was produced by Criterion in 2014. They also include some liner notes with an essay by critic Stuart Klawans.

Tough call for the best release - both Blu-ray packages are magnificent - a brilliant presentation and extras available for both regions. Our highest recommendation!!  

***

ADDITION: Arrow Academy - Region 'B' Blu-ray - May 2014 - Arrow's 1080P looks really nice. Contrast and grain and the two major attributes of this dual-layered rendering with a max'ed out bitrate. The visuals are gorgeous, a shade darker than the SD and it shows more informatuion on both side edges when compared to the Criterion DVD. The rich textures give a true film-like quality to the Blu-ray  presentation. I can't imagine it ever looking better on digital. Brilliant.

Arrow, sensibly, opt for a linear PCM at 2304 kbps and it has some depth notable in the train noises and the score by Charles Bradshaw + Leo Shuken (who worked together on Sturges' The Miracle of Morgan's Creek) plus there is some buoyancy in Let My People Go - as sung in the Church - and Felix Mendelssohn's Spring Song played as part of the score when Sullivan begins his experiment (reprised when he starts a second time.) The uncompressed audio is crisp and clear sounding tight and, occasionally, bouncy. There are optional English subtitles on the region 'B' Blu-ray disc.

Arrow go whole-hog, again, on their supplements starting with an audio commentary by Welsh comedian, screenwriter, actor, film director and author Terry Jones - best known as member of the Monty Python comedy team. This was previously on the UK, Universal DVD. Fans will thoroughly enjoy his impressive insights. Arrow include the 1 1/4 hour documentary (also found on the Criterion DVD) Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer by Kenneth Bowser as a wonderful portrait from the American Masters series. There is a very concise 21-minute video appreciation on Sullivan's Travels by writer and broadcaster Kevin Jackson (author of The Language of Cinema). The Preston Sturges Stock Company is a 45-minute celebration of Sturges regular character actors and bit-part players from many of the director's films. Safeguarding Military Information is a 10-minute Sturges-scripted propaganda short released in the same month as Sullivan's Travels. There is also a theatrical trailer and the package contains a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jay Shaw and a liner notes booklet featuring new writing on the film by screwball comedy expert Peter Swaab, plus archive pieces by Geoff Brown and Preston Sturges, illustrated with original stills and poster designs.

I can't imagine this being bested at any point in the future. Sturges' brilliant masterpiece comes in the definitive Blu-ray package. Top-shelf a/v, loaded with valuable extras - Arrow truly are the 'Criterion of the UK'. Our highest recommendation!

***

ON the DVD: Slightly superior picture quality to the corresponding Sturges Criterion The Lady Eve, - another stacked disc with good contrast, film grain and extensive extra features. The black-levels on this DVD are exceptional, as is the original mono audio.  The 76-minute Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer is such a wonderful feature, I consider it easily worth the bump to the next price-point tier.

Gary W. Tooze

 





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3) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

1) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

More Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray Captures

 

Box Covers

  

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 118 - Region 0 - NTSC Arrow Academy - Region 'B' - Blu-ray Criterion Collection, spine #118 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 




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