It was rather entertaining seeing Kino-Lorber’s new Blu-Ray release of OLD IRONSIDES being raked over the coals over at Nitwitville this last week, much to Rodney Sauer’s consternation. A nameless one named “Tuffy” liked neither the Mont Alto score nor the herky-jerkiness in the attempts to “correct” the speeds below 24 fps. And of course, Sauer, already straining what little credibility he has by critiquing a video release he himself has worked on (much less also being a “moderator” over at that silly newsgroup), had to go on damage control mode and try to shush Tuffy from speaking the truth, as Gebert chimed in with more thought police threats in an attempt to silence any naysaying.
Well, sorry Sauer, but a lot of people think the Mont Alto’s scores suck the life out of every film they play for, poncy palm court music played without any energy really doesn’t work for many films made after 1917, and even if the original music was good, their playing does it no favors (my favorite of recent was their sawing away on CHILDREN OF DIVORCE (1927) in which for a scene in a “roaring 20’s” film showing a group of partyers dancing the Charleston, Black Bottom, Fox Trots etc, even with the film being sadly slo-moed to an incorrect drag, the Mont Alto still could not play something keeping pace with the originally fast dancing. As I have said before, the Mont Alto’s playing runs the gamut from tepid to stately.
Mr. or Ms. Tuffy (who knows, I think we once had a cat by that name) also praised recent releases including Cinemuseum’s release of THE ROUND-UP as examples of digital silent reissues that are free of visual “stutter” and move and flow in perfect and entertaining precision. Yes Tuffy, it can indeed be done, and what was our magic algorhythm in making this happen: gee, we transferred it at 24 fps, and it looks just fine.
About the time they had Tuffy quieted down, another nameless one started in on the darker contrast in the new Blu-Ray, also nothing new for Kino-Lorber releases of late, I just looked at their DVD of ROAD TO RIO (1947), apparently from a UCLA restoration, and it was so dark and muddy looking that all of it, including the daylight wedding scenes at the end of the film, looked like it takes place at night. I knew we were in trouble when I pulled my other copy (from an old AMC broadcast) and was immediately surprised to find out that the dark black suit Crosby appears to be wearing in the beginning of the KINO DVD actually has pinstripes in the old AMC burn. I’ve noticed lousy contrasts on a number of recent releases from Kino Lorber and elsewhere (ClassicFlix’s dim and muddy ALONG CAME JONES (1945) also comes to mind as another poorly-mastered recent release in this vein), I don’t know who has decided all movies must look like film noirs in recent digital releases, but a bit of it seems to be going around.
In any event, it made for little Holiday entertainment reading at Nitratevile, which has really become a very dull site, and we give Gebert something to count words on, Merry Christmas Michael.
RICHARD M ROBERTS
So you want to discuss silent drama, science fiction, horror, noir, mystery and other NON-COMEDY films? Look no further, this is the place.
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