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Cinemascope

Alice Faye collection

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What a great link. [i'd never heard of that site.] Thank you!

 

I've been drooling with anticipation for this set, mainly for the color extravaganza of The Gang's All Here. This is a favorite musical of mine, for its surreal imagery (singing heads floating in space), absurdist songs (a tribute the polka dot!), an introduction to Jeanne Crain, gratuitous phallic symbols (the banana chorus line of "The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat"), Charlotte Greenwood's propeller legs, Edward Everett Horton's grand buffoonery, Alice Faye's smokey "basso profundo" ("No Love, No Nothing") and color, oh the colors!

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Yes it's a neat website, their reviews include screenshots that give you a good idea of the picture quality. When a movie's also been released in Europe, they'll do comparisons to see which one has the better transfer, or which one has more extras.

 

Thanks to them I learned that the UK DVD of Black Narcissus is much better than Criterion's -- but the WHV from France is even better!!!

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From today's New York Times:

 

THE ALICE FAYE COLLECTION

 

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has been turning out some first-rate discs lately, exemplified by last week?s release of ?The Mr. Moto Collection, Volume 2,? the final release in the studio?s Mr. Moto series. The Moto films, atmospheric tales of international intrigue starring Peter Lorre as a vaguely Asian adventurer, again look sharp, clear and solid in Fox?s transfers.

 

But something has gone horribly wrong with ?The Alice Faye Collection,? a four-disc set of Fox musicals including one of the studio?s crown jewels: ?The Gang?s All Here,? Busby Berkeley?s psychedelic Technicolor extravaganza of 1943. The original Technicolor separation negatives were destroyed in the 1980s at a time when Fox was trying to purge its library of nitrate film elements, and the movie was transferred to an Eastman Color internegative on safety stock. The Eastman material has since faded, producing dark, heavy tones. Fox?s engineers have apparently made an attempt to brighten the colors digitally, only to have the pigments look flat and pale.

 

The results, as in the celebrated giant bananas number starring the unforgettable Carmen Miranda, are disappointing and even grotesque; those big bananas are a washed-out tan color rather than the original, eye-popping yellow.

 

The other films in the set ? Irving Cummings?s Technicolor ?That Night in Rio? (1941); Mr. Cummings?s black-and-white biopic ?Lillian Russell? (1940) ; and Roy Del Ruth?s adaptation of Irving Berlin?s ?On the Avenue? (1937) ? look somewhat better, though ?Avenue? shows serious print damage throughout.

 

But ?The Gang?s All Here? represents another great film lost, this time right under our noses. We, and the studio libraries, ought to know better by now.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/20/movies/20dvd.html

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I have the laserdisc that was released in the 1990's and seem to remember the print looked fine. I have to take a look at the DVD myself. This set has some great extras which I posted on upcoming releases.

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That's sickening news regarding the Gangs All Here prints, Cinemascope. I guess I should feel fortunate that I saw good prints of this on the big screen, if I won't have the chance to see it on my own television... Thanks for passing on the article.

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Jack,

 

I posted this in the General Forum about "The Gang's All Here" and it probably bears repeating here. I didn't realize that Cinemascope had posted in both places.

 

Here's my post:

 

According to a film archivists group that I belong to the situation is not quite as dire as the story paints.

 

There was a CRI (color reversal interneg) that was made in the 1970s from the original nitrate elements. Most everyone is in agreement that the CRI is badly faded.

 

However, four IB prints were made during this same time. Two are in private hands. Of these two, one is in better shape than the other. The one in better shape, as I understand it, has been screened at the Egyptian in Hollywood and at the Film Forum in NYC. Fox decided not to use this IB print (though it was offered) when they authored the DVD for "Gang". This print is legitimately in private hands because in the 1970s, this gentleman legally licensed the film back in the 1970s for reissue.

 

The other privately held print was a mint, unprojected print that was finally screened. When it was finally screened, it was damaged. I would hope that someone would have noticed the damage being done and hopefully it was limited to only one reel (and hopefully not the entire reel).

 

Of the other two prints, both belong to Fox. One is thought to have been junked and the other is what was used for the DVD.

 

The better of the two prints in private hands was offered to Fox for the box set but Fox declined.

 

Many of the archivists have viewed the screen captures on the dvd beaver site and some are of the opinion that perhaps the problem was that colorist went for a more 'modern' look instead of the saturated technicolor look and that is why the color seems off in the film.

 

Either way, the good news is that a good IB print of the film in all its saturated color does exist.

 

Fox just chose, for unknown reasons at this point, not to use it.

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I just sent for the Faye set from Amazon. I have to see for myself what the prints look like. Sometimes the critics are overly picky. When the Grable set was released there was criticisms about the way the Technicolor prints looked, but I found them to be perfectly satisfying, so I wouldn't jump the gun before I see the actual prints. I am anxious to see what the upcoming prints of SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO and THE LITTLE PRINCIESS look like since these two were rescued from awful public domain prints. Also, the TV prints of the upcoming ON THE RIVIERA are beautiful, so I expect the DVD transfer to look the same.

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Edge,

I just got the Faye set... I haven't had time to watch the movies properly, but I did take a quick look at The Gang's All Here and I can't say that it looked natural to say the least. Doesn't the Fox logo usually have some yellow?

 

The reds and blues can look quite nicely but I don't think there is proper balance between all the colors, and yellow tones seem a bit muted. Again, this is based on a very quick look at the disc, as I didn't have time to watch the movie from beginning to end.

 

I'm interested in knowing what you think when you do get to see it. I'd like to think it's not that bad, and try to forget that something may have gone seriously wrong here, but I have some doubts...

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I just watched The Gangs All Here and it looked horrible. It had a mustardy look to it. Why they used this transfer boggles me. If you look at the restoration comparison, the 1994 master transfer was truer to how it actually looked: bright and eye popping, not muddy and yellow/greenish tinged. Two thumbs down to Fox for this film.

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> I just watched The Gangs All Here and it looked

> horrible. It had a mustardy look to it. Why they used

> this transfer boggles me. If you look at the

> restoration comparison, the 1994 master transfer was

> truer to how it actually looked: bright and eye

> popping, not muddy and yellow/greenish tinged. Two

> thumbs down to Fox for this film.

 

I agree with you, completely! I'm sure even the laserdisc must look better than this hideous DVD!!! Curse you, Fox Video, for ruining this great Busby Berkeley musical! :(

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They seriosly need to do a product recall for this doozy. That Night in Rio was quite charming though. I never realized how sexy Alice was. That low contralto eyes, those beautiful big blue eyes, and that fleshy womanly figure of hers. :)

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Yes, indeed, WHV recalled/replaced two of the discs on the Superman Ultimate Edition set, and Fox should have done as much with this hideous transfer in the Alice Faye collection.

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I agree with you, completely! I'm sure even the laserdisc must look better than this hideous DVD!!! Curse you, Fox Video, for ruining this great Busby Berkeley musical!>>

 

While the transfer may not be up to par, they have not ruined the film. As stated in this thread and others, there is are better elements available. Fox, for whatever reason, chose not to use them.

 

I would hate to have posters here thinking that Fox ruined the existing elements to make this transfer.

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> I agree with you, completely! I'm sure even the

> laserdisc must look better than this hideous DVD!!!

> Curse you, Fox Video, for ruining this great Busby

> Berkeley musical!>>

>

> While the transfer may not be up to par, they have

> not ruined the film. As stated in this thread and

> others, there is are better elements available. Fox,

> for whatever reason, chose not to use them.

>

> I would hate to have posters here thinking that Fox

> ruined the existing elements to make this transfer.

 

 

I don't think anyone here has suggested that Fox "ruined the existing elements" anywhere in the last few posts. Both shearerchic and I referred to the transfer that was used for this particular film version. And we are both pretty disappointed with it.

 

Maybe you don't mean it that way, but your post sure sounds like you want to defend Fox. You don't happen to have any conflict of interest there, do you? All I know is you work in the industry....

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Cinemascope,

 

I understand your disappointment with the DVD and I am not defending Fox's choice of using the lesser elements.

 

However, you posted:

 

Curse you, Fox Video, for ruining this great Busby

> Berkeley musical!>>

 

Which, I was afraid, some might construe as Fox ruined the film for good.

 

I know that was not your intent but many people are not as industry savvy as you. Preservation work is hard enough on the best of days. I would hate for posters to think that the film was ruined for good.

 

but your post sure sounds like you want to defend Fox. You don't happen to have any conflict of interest there, do you? All I know is you work in the industry.... >>

 

I'm not trying to defend Fox but at least trying to make sure that the facts behind this DVD are known to posters on this board.

 

And for the record, I am not on Fox's payroll. But thanks for asking.

 

How about you? Any conflicts of interest? :)

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Which, I was afraid, some might construe as Fox ruined the film for good.

 

Well they certainly ruined this presentation of the movie on DVD, and given that most classic movies aren't reissued periodically, well, who knows, it might be years or maybe over a decade before we see another release of the movie that corrects the hideous transfer.

 

Nonetheless, and while I don't want to cast doubt of your version of the events, the fact remains that the NYT reviewer did say that Fox had in fact discarded some of the original film elements. To the best of my knowledge, the NYT never issued a correction regarding this assertion.

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I am not disputing what the NYTimes reviewer said regarding the original elements. Here is a copy of my post about the DVD from the General Discussion forum a few weeks ago:

 

Here's my post:

 

According to a film archivists group that I belong to the situation is not quite as dire as the story paints.

 

There was a CRI (color reversal interneg) that was made in the 1970s from the original nitrate elements. Most everyone is in agreement that the CRI is badly faded.

 

However, four IB prints were made during this same time. Two are in private hands. Of these two, one is in better shape than the other. The one in better shape, as I understand it, has been screened at the Egyptian in Hollywood and at the Film Forum in NYC. Fox decided not to use this IB print (though it was offered) when they authored the DVD for "Gang". This print is legitimately in private hands because in the 1970s, this gentleman legally licensed the film back in the 1970s for reissue.

 

The other privately held print was a mint, unprojected print that was finally screened. When it was finally screened, it was damaged. I would hope that someone would have noticed the damage being done and hopefully it was limited to only one reel (and hopefully not the entire reel).

 

Of the other two prints, both belong to Fox. One is thought to have been junked and the other is what was used for the DVD.

 

The better of the two prints in private hands was offered to Fox for the box set but Fox declined.

 

Many of the archivists have viewed the screen captures on the dvd beaver site and some are of the opinion that perhaps the problem was that colorist went for a more 'modern' look instead of the saturated technicolor look and that is why the color seems off in the film.

 

Either way, the good news is that a good IB print of the film in all its saturated color does exist.

 

Fox just chose, for unknown reasons at this point, not to use it.

 

There is no need for the reviewer to post a correction because no one is disputing the facts about the loss of the original elements.

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There is no need for the reviewer to post a correction because no one is disputing the facts about the loss of the original elements.

 

Wouldn't you think that some could interpret this as Fox ruining the movie forever in a very real sense -- in the sense of making it harder for modern audiences to enjoy the movie in as close a version as humanly possible to the original theatrical release?

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I had the VHS release of BLOOD AND SAND, and always found the colors to be spectacular, so I would hope the DVD will follow the same. Apparently, the reviewer for some of the Doris Day movies just released has found fault in several of the DVD's in that box set. Oddly enough one reviewer found fault with the print of LUCKY ME while the other found the print to be excellent. So go figure it out!!! I am thinking sometimes people are a bit too picky while the average viewer doesn't really notice some minor technical difficulties.

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i recently bought doris day's 'lullaby of broadway' 1951 on dvd and the technicolor transfer is just JAW-DROPPING!! looked like it was filmed yesterday.

the same is true of 'down argentine way' 1940 and 'moon over miami' 1941 dvds w/ betty grable.

these films look so clean and crisp on dvd, so breathtaking, that any inferior tranfer of a classic movie onto dvd nowdays just seems suspect.

we see what technology is capable of, and don't understand why the QUALITY of these transfers aren't all more uniform, it looks like they aren't even trying in some cases.

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Well, I think when it comes to film-to-video transfers, WHV has an infinitely better track record than Fox Video.

 

Honestly, I lost a lot of faith in Fox after I saw the travesty of a transfer they pulled with The Gang's All Here, especially since it's Busby's only Technicolor movie. :(

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