|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
(George Marshall, 1953)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Paramount Pictures
Video: Legend Films / Olive Films
Region: FREE!/ Region 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 1:45:58.393 /1:45:58.352
Disc Size: 16,949,150,836 bytes/ 24,537,946,374 bytes
Feature Size: 16,835,291,136 bytes /24,442,902,528 bytes
Video Bitrate: 19.99 Mbps/ 26.99 Mbps
Chapters: 16 /12
Case (both): Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: May 3rd, 2011 /November 15th, 2016
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB (both)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2065 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2065 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
• None (both)
Description: The wonderfully talented Tony Curtis heads up two all-star casts in these unforgettable classic films. Boasting as his first leading film role, Tony stars as the world's most captivating magician and escape artist in Houdini. From his beginnings as a 'wild man' carnival act to the internationally famous feat of escaping from a locked trunk in an ice-jammed river, Houdini effectively captures the amazing life and courage of this fascinating man.
Houdini was made under the technical supervision of Joseph
Dunninger, a veteran of stage magic who had inherited a number of
Houdini's devices upon Bess's death in 1943. Efforts were made to
recreate the look of some of Houdini's signature illusions, but only the
trunk escape "Metamorphosis" is performed on-camera without any cuts.
During most of the magic scenes, director George Marshall (Destry
Rides Again, 1939) is happy to cheat the illusion by cutting
away during the performance (or relying on an optical dissolve).
Apparently to Marshall and Pal, the magic of editing was just as
impressive as stage illusions.
"Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies," the new
Paramount release at the Astor, is the four-wheeled follow-up to "Those
Magnificent Young Men in Their Flying Machines." Once more, Ken
Annakin, the director-producer, has sent international sporting types
into a scenic, comic-scramble race. But this time (the late twenties)
it's the Monte Carlo Rally, with some snappy-looking old cars streaming
toward the French resort from five European starting points.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Legend Films (notable for their colorization of films-to-DVD like The House on Haunted Hill, The Most Dangerous Game, Corman's The Little Shop of Horrors and even Pasolini's The Gosepl According to St. Matthew) have a new digital gimmick - dual-release bare-bones packages on Blu-ray. We have this pairing (Houdini + Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies) plus coming out on the same date; Student Bodies +Jekyll & Hyde Together Again (we may review) and The Man Who Could Cheat Death / The Skull! I think it's a pretty good idea since it is doubtful that many of these films would ever see the HD light of day via Paramount. So, this is 2 separate single-layered discs (maybe cheaper that way?) and both seem adeptly transferred with bitrates far in excess of SD level. They are both 1080P and look a bit better than I was expecting. Houdini is the 'star' film of the two and appropriately it looks the strongest with some even grain and vibrant colors. Skin tones are very red. I understand the existing DVD was fairly weak visually. There are still light scratches but nothing fatal. Contrast is modest but the image quality is reasonably consistent looking thick and pleasing. It's no demo but does its job well enough for this reviewer. Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies is a bit worse for wear with some inconsistency in the contrast. It looks the fault of the source and, again, no restoration has been implemented. This Blu-rays both gave me a decent to surprising viewing - not in the league of most modern HD transfers but nothing I could sit and complain about extensively either.
We originally reviewed the Legend Blu-rays double-bill HERE. Olive's Blu-ray is also 1080P but far more technically robust - this shows in the color depth, grain texture and it also has more information in the frame. It's the superior image and it certainly more consistent although not perfect - single-layered and could have a higher bitrate.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Those Daring Young Men and Their Jaunty Jalopies (on the Legend Blu-ray package)
This would be my complaint - in that no uncompressed audio is offered. Both films are transferred in simple stereo and although sound 'okay' (and Jalopies is less consistent) it is certainly not taking advantage of one of the format's greatest strengths. Perhaps, again, though this is a factor of cost. There are no subtitles offered and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
Olive improve on the audio going lossless with a DTS-HD Master. The effects and Roy Webb's score (Clash by Night, I Married a Witch, This Is Cinerama, Easy Living, The Window, Journey Into Fear, I Walked with a Zombie, Fixed Bayonets! etc.) benefit with greater impact on the viewing experience. Olive offers optional English subtitles on their region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.
Nutt'in on either disc and, frankly, I wasn't expecting anything at this price.
Nothing for a supplement either on the Olive - at least the legend includes a second film though.
Legend- Region FREE - Blu-ray
Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Houdini is a realistic and very interesting bio-pic. Although bare-bones I think the superior a/v (especially the audio) would surely be worth the indulgence for those keen on seeing this. It has definite repeat value - I enjoyed all of my viewings. Recommended although unfortunate that the disc is still bare-bones. The film deserves some, IMO.
May 2nd, 2011
November 16th, 2016
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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