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March 05, 2010


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Paul Clipson

Having seen THE LADYKILLERS projected theatrically in 35mm and also owning an unfaded 16mm print, I'd say that the use of a sickly pink color palette was possibly an aesthetic choice made by the filmmakers. Visually, the reds, browns, purples and pinks very much aid the teeth-rotting candybox quality of Mackendrick’s send-up of Ealing comedies and British crime film in general. The emphasis on particular colors, not always pleasant ones, follows a trend from the mid 50’s that includes Huston’s bleached MOBY DICK and deeply saturated MOULIN ROUGE, not to mention Tashlin’s candy-colored THE GIRL CAN’T HELP IT. Your comparison of the Mackendrick film with Powell and Pressburger’s BLACK NARCISSUS only serves to prove the point. The beautiful Jack Cardiff-lensed BLACK NARCISSUS couldn’t be further in color scheme from the purposes of Mackendrick’s Caligari-like nightmare (THE LADYKILLERS was inspired by a dream afterall), which is closer to the Addams Family than the THE RED SHOES. Not having the Blu-Ray to look at directly, only the various screen captures, perhaps the image is too bright. The Anchor Bay edition was definitely on the green side.


You've now become the best reason to read HOLLYWOOD ELSEHWERE. Thanks?

Glenn Kenny

@ Paul, I see your point, certainly. From as objective a perspective I can muster though, yes, this disc is too bright where the Anchor Bay skewed green...AND the color is out of registration—see the fold in the neck of Guinness' sweater in the right side of the frame. I think had Criterion been handling this transfer, these aspects would have been seen to. (Although my understanding is that getting color registration in synch is super expensive and time-consuming...)


For the record Glenn, your screen-grabbing-via-camera skills have greatly improved (at least since the July 08 BN screen caps). Good golly, that Black Narcissus Blu looks amazing - I've had it on my shelf for a couple of weeks now since finally coming to the realization that It'd play in Region 1, but haven't watched yet. Must rectify this.

david hare

Glenn, I did a comp last week of the old Studio Canal/Optimum DVD with the BluRay and aside fro the AR differences (The DVD is matted to 1.66 and the Blu is full frame Academy which is by all accounts the preferred option) the biggest difference is color temp and saturation. The DVD has been boosted and sits in the hotter end of the color spectrum. It frankly looks horrible. The Blu is cool and color neutral so I don't really buy the pink argument, but then I dont buy any of Well's goods.

The real issue with the transfer to me is the softness on wides down to what looks like three strip fringing - for instance the overhead exteriors and process shots of Kings Cross Station. According to the booklet the fims was shot on three strip cameras - a surprise considering it's 1955 - and this looks like typical registration issues. But I agree it's not a great transfer, merely serviceable.


Can never have too many King Crimson allusions.

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