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Directed by Jerry Schatzberg
USA 19
71

 

In many ways the harsh hangover to the previous decade’s hope-filled high, American film in the ‘70s extracted much of its power from documenting the fallout from the dreams of the ‘60s. Bleak and intimate, The Panic in the Needle Park rolls up the drug culture’s sleeve and picks at the scabs underneath. The title of Jerry Schatzberg’s account of heroin abuse refers to the drug trade in New York City’s Sherman Square, which provided local addicts with an illusory feeling of community. Helen (Kitty Winn) is first spotted in a crowded subway car following a clandestine abortion, and the muted pain in her soft face sets the film’s tone of neurasthenic distress. Lost in the city, she falls for Bobby (a jittery, charismatic Al Pacino), a small-time smack pusher who introduces her to the world of strung-out junkies and tricks; the two self-deceivingly hope to keep their romance intact amid the squalor, but, as a narc (Alan Vint) puts it, no addict is above betrayal when their habit is put on the line. A relatively unsung chronicler of ‘70s alienation, Schatzberg is scrupulously attuned to the telling movements of his wounded characters, and, having gotten fashion-mag sleekness out of his system in Puzzle of a Downfall Child, vividly embraces the uncomposed grime of their milieu.

Excerpt from Slant Magazine located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: July 13th, 1971

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Comparison:

20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Signal One - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

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

3) Signal One - Region 'B' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Covers

   

   

Also available from France in a 2K restoration Blu-ray and a large boxset:

   

Distribution 20th Century Fox Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC Twilight Time
Region FREE - Blu-ray
Signal One - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:49:32  1:49:43.618 1:49:37.904 
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.9 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 31,676,954,199 bytes

Feature: 29,064,610,368 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.84 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,889,709,436 bytes

Feature: 32,079,209,856 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.93 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Twilight Time Blu-ray:

Bitrate: Signal One Blu-ray:

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

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1674 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1674 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Isolated Score:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1659 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1659 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
Subtitles English, Spanish, None English (SDH), None English (SDH), None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• Open-Matte version on opposite side
• Theatrical trailer

DVD Release Date: June 19th, 2007

Keep Case
Chapters: 24

Release Information:
Studio: Twilight Time

Aspect Ratio: 

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 31,676,954,199 bytes

Feature: 29,064,610,368 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.84 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Isolated Score Track (featuring Unused Music - Composed and Conducted by Ned Rorem)
• Panic in the Streets of New York (25:31)
• Writers in Needle Park (9:19)
• Notes on Ned Rorem’s Unused Score (2:17)
Original Theatrical Trailer (3:00)

• Liner notes by Julie Kirgo
• Limited to 3,000 Copies!
 

Blu-ray Release Date: June, 2016
Transparent
Blu-ray case

Chapters: 24

Release Information:
Studio: Signal One

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,889,709,436 bytes

Feature: 32,079,209,856 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.93 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Jerry the Photographer (2004, 17:15): Jerry Schatzberg discusses his early career
• Jerry the Filmmaker (2004, 21:12): Schatzberg reflects on his work as a director
• Al & Jerry (2004, 9:14): exploring the relationship between actor and director
• Jerry in Cannes (2004, 5:51): the director recalls his selections at the Cannes Film Festival
• Selected scenes with director commentary (2004, 21:10): Jerry Schatzberg reflects on five key sequences
• Panic in the Streets of New York (2011, 25:31): featuring interviews with Jerry Schatzberg and cinematographer Adam Holender
• Writers in Needle Park (2011, 9:19): interview with writer Joan Didion
• Original theatrical trailer (2:42)

Blu-ray Release Date: September 26th, 2016
Transparent
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 10

 

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Signal One - Region 'B' Blu-ray September 2016': The new Signal One looks to be using the same restoration (2K restoration supervised by director Jerry Schatzberg) but they have upped their game with a max'ed out bitrate on the dual-layered disc. My software can't determine much of a difference except a few pixels shifted around (hence only 3 captures compared.) It looks marvelous. If forced to choose I'd probably go for the Signal One in-motion but you'd have to have quite the discerning eye. Brilliant image quality.

Audio may also lean to the Signal One with a linear PCM mono track at 24-bit. It is authentically flat and very tight occasionally scattering the dialogue with a vérité subtlety. The film has no score. We don't get the unused score as heard as an isolated track on the Twilight Time. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles on the region 'B'-locked Blu-ray  disc.

Signal One load the extras with many Allerton Films, out of France, featurettes including Jerry the Photographer a 17-minute, 2004 where Jerry Schatzberg discusses his early career. Jerry the Filmmaker is also from 2004 and runs 21-minutes as Schatzberg reflects on his work as a director. Al & Jerry exploring the relationship between actor and director for 9-minutes. Jerry in Cannes spends another 6-minutes with the director recalling his selections at the Cannes Film Festival. There is also a selected scene director commentary as Schatzberg reflects on five key sequences for about 20-minutes in total. Panic in the Streets of New York is the same 2011 25-minute piece featuring interviews with Jerry Schatzberg and cinematographer Adam Holender as found on the Twilight Time - as is Writers in Needle Park a 10-minute interview with writer Joan Didion. There is also an original theatrical trailer.

Well, Signal One continue to announce themselves with the definitive edition (although I have not seen the French Blu-rays.) It seems to marginally, have the best a/v and many more extras. Penetrating film experience. VERY strongly recommended!

***

ADDITION: Twilight Time - Region FREE Blu-ray June 2016': Twilight Time's new 1080P restored transfer looks marvelous beside the 2007 DVD. Colors are significantly richer, contrast bolder and flesh tones look more realistic. It's quite impressive in-motion showing grain texture and depth. I was very pleased with the appearance - on a dual-layered disc with a high bitrate for the, almost, 2-hour film.

Regarding the film's sound - Twilight Time utilize a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1674 kbps (16-bit). The film has no score - we see this screener on the Blu-ray:

So we can access the 'potentially utilized' score, composed and conducted by Ned Rorem, as an extra. The lossless for the film sounds strong - purposely scattered at times, and clean with some depth.

If the stellar transfer and access to the unheard score in lossless weren't enough of an enticement, Twilight Time add some featurettes; Panic in the Streets of New York runs over 25-minutes, is from 2001 by David Gregory and has input from Jerry Schatzberg and Adam Holender. Writers in Needle Park runs shy of 10-minutes and spends time with writer Joan Didion. We get some notes on Ned Rorem’s Unused Score, an original theatrical trailer plus the usual liner notes by Julie Kirgo and this Blu-ray is limited to 3,000 Copies.

A stark, honest portrayal - important early 70's film - Pacino's debut - and a very desirable Blu-ray. We give a very strong recommendation!

***

ON THE DVD: Fox is a very good DVD production company and the image on The Panic in Needle Park is clean and true to its original intent. Colors are a bit dull (faded) but detail is acceptable. Although it is advertised on Amazon as being two-disc, it is actually the Open Matte version on one side and the widescreen (1:85:1 anamorphic) on the opposite side - both are single-layered and progressive. There are optional English or Spanish subtitles and audio choices for original mono or 2.0 channel stereo. There is also a mono French DUB option.

There are no extras save the theatrical trailer.

The film is shocking in its realism (actually refused a certificate in the UK for four years because of its graphic depiction of drug-taking). Pacino is excellent as is Kitty Winn (some may remember her from The Exorcist). The film has the gritty feel of the 70's and Schatzberg's direction is quite compelling - giving the production an honest and occasionally compassionate aura. Strongly recommended - great value for the money (it is less than $10)! 

Gary W. Tooze

 


DVD Menus


 

Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

Signal One - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 


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

 

Subtitle Samples

 

1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

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

3) Signal One - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Fox DVD Full Frame (Open Matte) version on side B - TOP

2) Fox DVD Widescreen version on Side A - SECOND

3) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Signal One - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

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

3) Signal One - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

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

 


1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

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

 


1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

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

 


1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

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

 


1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

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

 

More Blu-ray Captures


Box Covers

   

   

Also available from France in a 2K restoration Blu-ray and a large boxset:

   

Distribution 20th Century Fox Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC Twilight Time
Region FREE - Blu-ray
Signal One - Region 'B' - Blu-ray




 

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