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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

Directed by Douglas Sirk

USA 1954

 

Reckless playboy Bob Merrick (Rock Hudson, in his breakthrough role) crashes his speedboat, requiring emergency attention from the town’s only resuscitator—at the very moment that beloved local Dr. Phillips has a heart attack and dies waiting for the life-saving device. Thus begins one of Douglas Sirk’s most flamboyant master classes in melodrama, a delirious Technicolor mix of the sudsy and the spiritual in which Bob and the doctor’s widow, Helen (Jane Wyman), find themselves inextricably linked amid a series of increasingly wild twists, turns, trials, and tribulations. For this release, Criterion also presents John M. Stahl’s 1935 film version of the Lloyd C. Douglas novel, starring Irene Dunne and Robert Taylor.

Posters

Theatrical Release: August 4th, 1954

Reviews                                                                More Reviews                                                      DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Universal (UK) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Elephant Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Criterion (2 BDs) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Per-Olof Strandberg for the PAL captures

1) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Universal (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Elephant Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

   

 

  

  

 

 

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 457 - Region 1 - NTSC

Universal (UK)

Region 2 - PAL

Elephant Films
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Criterion Collection - Spine # 457 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:47:48  1:43:21 (4% PAL speedup) 1:47:49.254   1:47:59.431   
Video 2.0:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.75 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.00:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

2.0:1

Disc Size: 24,804,162,347 bytes

Feature Size: 19,425,275,904 bytes

Total Bitrate: 20.00 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

2.0:1

Disc Size: 48,526,128,471 bytes

Feature Size: 32,573,491,200 bytes

Total Bitrate: 35.83 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:  Disc 1

Bitrate:  Disc 2

Bitrate: Elephant Films  Blu-ray

Bitrate: Criterion  Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0)  English (Dolby Digital 2.0)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1339 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1339 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 16-bit)

DUB:

DTS-HD Master Audio French 1204 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1204 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 16-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 French, and none English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.0:1

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary featuring film scholar Thomas Doherty

• Tribute to Sirk: Video interviews with filmmakers Allison Anders and Kathryn Bigelow, in which they pay tribute to Sirk
• Theatrical trailer

Disc 2
• Magnificent Obsession (1935, 102 minutes), a new digital transfer of John M. Stahl’s earlier version of the film
• From UFA to Hollywood: Douglas Sirk Remembers (1991, 82 minutes), a rare documentary by German filmmaker Eckhart Schmidt in which Sirk reflects upon his career

• 20-page liner notes booklet featuring a new essay by film critic Geoffrey O’Brien

DVD Release Date: January 20th, 2009

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 25

Release Information:
Studio: Universal (UK)

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.00:1

Edition Details:
• None

DVD Release Date: May 5th, 2008
Keep Case

Chapters 20

 

Release Information:
Studio:
Elephant Films

 

2.0:1

Disc Size: 24,804,162,347 bytes

Feature Size: 19,425,275,904 bytes

Total Bitrate: 20.00 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

 

Edition Details:
• 
Sirk Par Jean-Pierre Dionnet (8:41)

Le Film Par Jean-Pierre Dionnet (12:56)

• Stills Gallery (2:17)
• trailers
• Second disc DVD included!
 

Blu-ray Release Date: April 4th, 2017

Transparent Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

 

2.0:1

Disc Size: 48,526,128,471 bytes

Feature Size: 32,573,491,200 bytes

Total Bitrate: 35.83 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

 

Edition Details:
• 
Audio commentary from 2008 featuring film scholar Thomas Doherty
• Magnificent Obsession, John M. Stahl’s 1935 adaptation of the same novel, newly restored (1:42:11)
• From UFA to Hollywood: Douglas Sirk Remembers (1991), a documentary by Eckhart (1:22:37)
• Interview from 2009 with screenwriter Robert Blees (19:19)
• Interviews from 2008 with filmmakers Allison Anders and Kathryn Bigelow, in which they pay tribute to director Douglas Sirk (9:10)
• Trailer (2:25)
 

Blu-ray Release Date: August 20th, 2019

Transparent Blu-ray case

Chapters 24

 

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - July 19': This is an upgrade from Criterion's 2009 DVD package of Douglas Sirk's Magnificent Obsession. It has both the main feature and the 1935 version (on a second Blu-ray) in 1080P. The Criterion is on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate significantly improving upon the French HD transfer (70% higher bitrate). It supports the same color palate but the Criterion's contrast is better layered and easily looks the best presentation yet on disc. As you can see by the captures below this Criterion of Magnificent Obsession remains in 'superscope' (sometimes known as 'Panascope') 2.0:1.

Criterion advance on the Elephant Films Blu-ray with a linear PCM (24-bit) audio transfer in the original English language. The romantic score by Frank Skinner (Canyon Passage, Written on the Wind, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, All That Heaven Allows, and The Naked City) tightens and adds significantly to the film experience, especially notable are the Orchestral Suite 1 - based on themes by Chopin, Beethoven and Johann Strauss. There are optional English subtitles and the Blu-ray disc is Region 'A'-locked.

Extras duplicate the Criterion 2009 DVD and include a very professional commentary by film scholar Thomas Doherty. He covers a lot of ground in a very matter-of-fact, but also relaxed, tone. I'd like to hear more from him in the future - he appears to either have extensively researched, or already knows his stuff. Also on disc one are two Fiction Factory (Robert Fischer) tribute pieces from Alison Anders and Kathryn Bigelow- both longtime Sirk fans - shot in California in 2008. These are available in the excellent Sirk 2 Boxset from Carlotta with - All I Desire (1953), There's Always Tomorrow (1956), Interlude (1957) and The Tarnished Angels (1958) reviewed HERE. There is also a theatrical trailer (2:25). We are also treated to From UFA to Hollywood: Douglas Sirk Remembers (1991, 82 minutes), a rare documentary by German filmmaker Eckhart Schmidt in which Sirk reflects upon his career with optional English subtitles. This is wonderful for Sirk fans.

NOTE: As Robert tells us in email, we have done a slight injustice to the Criterion: "Please allow one small clarification: "A Tribute to Douglas Sirk by Allison Anders" on the Criterion disc is NOT identical to "Perspectives on the American Family: Allison Anders on Douglas Sirk's There's Always Tomorrow" in the Carlotta box. In fact, the Criterion piece, while being much shorter, was edited especially for this edition, and in it, Allison briefly but exclusively discusses MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION."

Blu-ray 2 is dual-layered (30,598,023,740 bytes) with a max'ed out bitrate (35 Mbps) and only has the John M. Stahl's 1935 version of Magnificent Obsession in 1080P with the minor damage (mostly frame specific) remaining. But it looks much more film-like in the higher resolution, hampered only by the source condition.

The Criterion Blu-ray package is the definitive version of this Sirk romantic masterpiece. ZThe commentary adds value as do the other supplements and the 1935 version in HD. A very easy upgrade for the director's fan base. Just magnificent.

 

***

ADDITION: Elephant Films - Region FREE- Blu-ray - May 17': Just like Written on the Wind, the Elephant Films 1080p transfer looks highly pleasing - even single-layered with a modest bitrate. It is marginally brighter than the SD transfers, detail rises and contrast has more distinct layers. Skin tones warm - colors look more realistic and there is now depth apparent. It is also maintaining the correct 2.0:1 aspect ratio and you can see what has been added or missed on the carlotta Sirk Box DVD.

DTS-HD Master (16-bit) 2.0 channel sounds great. There is an untested French DUB. Only French subtitles but they are totally removable when the English-language option is chosen. Great news is that the Blu-ray disc is Region FREE. It starts with the Universal logo.

In the supplements, more of Jean-Pierre Dionnet but only in French and a bunch of trailers and an image gallery. Plus a second disc DVD. Once again the film's impact advances significantly in HD making this, practically, a must-own - certainly for Sirk fans. Very strongly recommended!

***

ADDITION: Thanks to Jason for sending us 4 Carlotta captures (1.33) - added below - from Sirk Vol. 1 (Imitation of Life, Magnificent Obsession, All that Heaven Allows and A Time to Love and a Time to Die) available HERE.

***

ADDITION Universal (UK): Per Olof has shot us over captures of the single-layered (4.1 Gig), bare-bones, Universal UK edition and says - "They seem fairly similar but the Universal is a shade softer has color bleeding, also the image has a tendency to be unstable". Thanks Per-Olof!

NOTE: Some are not exact frame matches!

***

There was quite a debate about the aspect ratio of Sirk's Magnificent Obsession at the Criterion Forum HERE. The discussion centering on how the film was shot (by Metty/Sirk) to how it was shown theatrically ('superscope' - 2.0:1.) We've seen this debate before with films on the cusp of the widescreen revolution (mid 50's). I believe some of these films were exhibited at different AR's depending on the time they were released - or even if the individual theater had been 'updated' or 'retrofitted' for widescreen. Unlike other, later, Sirk widescreen films this has no credit for 'superscope' on the Criterion presentation credits (that I saw.) It is quite probable that this is one of the many transitional anomalies of cinema in that it was composed for full negative but presented in widescreen. As DVDBeaver ListServ member David Hare states '50s ratios are one of the biggest minefields in American film history.'

Personally 2.0:1 does not look 'off' to me but I can see much of the earlier part of the film fitting quite easily in a 1.33:1 frame. I appreciate the widescreen while mise en scene seems quite appropriate - even if it was potentially 'retroactive'.

It is anamorphic and looks very good showing grain and free of damage and blemishes. I imagine there may have been some digital restoration but colors, in a relatively soft pallet while hinting at exuberance of color, and detail are exceptional. For SD-DVD I imagine this is the best this film will ever look. Douglas Sirk fans can hope for Blu-ray one day - I'm sure it would bring out even more of the grain and while raising the overall resolution.

Typical for Criterion - the audio is in original mono with optional English subtitles (sample below.)

Extras on the Criterion include a very professional commentary by film scholar Thomas Doherty. He covers a lot of ground in a very matter-of-fact, but also relaxed, tone. I'd like to hear more from him in the future - he appears to either have extensively researched, or already knows his stuff. Also on disc one are two Fiction Factory (Robert Fischer) tribute pieces from Alison Anders and Kathryn Bigelow- both longtime Sirk fans - shot in California in 2008. These are both available in the excellent Sirk 2 Boxset from Carlotta with - All I Desire (1953), There's Always Tomorrow (1956), Interlude (1957) and The Tarnished Angels (1958) reviewed HERE. There is also a theatrical trailer (2:25)

NOTE: As Robert tells us in email, we have done a slight injustice to the Criterion: "Please allow one small clarification: "A Tribute to Douglas Sirk by Allison Anders" on the Criterion disc is NOT identical to "Perspectives on the American Family: Allison Anders on Douglas Sirk's There's Always Tomorrow" in the Carlotta box. In fact, the Criterion piece, while being much shorter, was edited especially for this edition, and in it, Allison briefly but exclusively discusses MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION."

Disc 2 has the John M. Stahl's 1935 version of Magnificent Obsession looking pretty sweet with some very minor damage (mostly frame specific) but relatively clean and smooth (see caps below) - excellent contrast. We are also treated to From UFA to Hollywood: Douglas Sirk Remembers (1991, 82 minutes), a rare documentary by German filmmaker Eckhart Schmidt in which Sirk reflects upon his career with optional English subtitles. This is wonderful for Sirk fans.

Just incredible release from Criterion - a triumphant masterpiece presented to us in an impeccable boxset worthy of any film lover. Intensely recommended! 

Gary W. Tooze

 


Criterion DVD Menus


 

Criterion Disc 2

 

Universal (UK)

 

Elephant Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

Criterion Collection - Spine # 457 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 Criterion Collection - Spine # 457 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Two


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

 

1) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Universal (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Carlotta (Sirk Box 1) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Elephant Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Subtitle Sample

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Universal (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Carlotta (Sirk Box 1) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Elephant Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Universal (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Carlotta (Sirk Box 1) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Elephant Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Universal (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Carlotta (Sirk Box 1) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Elephant Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Universal (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Elephant Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Universal (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Elephant Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Universal (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Elephant Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Universal (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Elephant Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Universal (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Elephant Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

1) Elephant Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

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

 

 

1) Elephant Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

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

 

 

1) Elephant Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

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

 


Stahl's 1935 version from the Criterion 2nd Disc
 

 

1) Stahl's 1935 version from the Criterion 2nd Disc TOP

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

 

 


 

1) Stahl's 1935 version from the Criterion 2nd Disc TOP

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

 

 


 

1) Stahl's 1935 version from the Criterion 2nd Disc TOP

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

 

More Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Captures

 

 


Box Covers

   

 

  

  

 

 

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 457 - Region 1 - NTSC

Universal (UK)

Region 2 - PAL

Elephant Films
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Criterion Collection - Spine # 457 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

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