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I have not put CASABLANCA or THIRD MAN on this list, because although they have noir elements, there is an A picture scope to them in terms of not just budget but aspiration, that transcends the conventions of the noir, they ultimately tell larger tales than the fall or redemption of a single man, which is the heart of the noir aesthetic.
With that caveat aside, onto the list.
I don’t love the cover art for the Eureka release of Billy Wilder’s DOUBLE INDEMNITY (I think they should have gone with the art used for DVD and other releases) , but the film itself is magnificent, one of the greatest film noirs of all time. And a very good Blu-ray release. It is currently the must own version of this film.
3. MURDER MY SWEET (1944)
5 DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS (1995)
7. THE BIG HEAT (1953)
8. THE BIG SLEEP (1946)
9. I WAKE UP SCREAMING (1941)
10. RAW DEAL (1948)
2020 saw all ten of these films available on quality, feature rich Blu-Ray releases (eff barebone, questionable quality 4K releases — I despise the “no interior artwork, lacking new artwork” 4k releases. I also blame 4k for the further fragmentation and dwindling of a market, that can not survive anymore fragmentation. If you are going to do UHD releases, release them with the Blu-Ray and/or DVD in multi-packs. You eliminate having to have a DVD market and a Bluray Market and a UHD market, and the associated expenses of trying to package for 3 different formats ) for the first time in the relatively short history of physical media. And arguably by the end of 2021 these ten movies will never again all be available in quality, feature rich, physical media versions.
I like the dayglo covers of the above reprint editions (the first two are reprint editions, the last two are new printings). However, I like the covers of the original Icon editions (shown below) a little bit better. The contents and build of both editions are almost identical, I just think the below Icon Editions have covers that are more in keeping with the noirish, slow-burn, content of the interiors. Price being no object I would get the below editions. However the below editions are out of print, and going for multiple times the cost of the new reprints. So unless you get the first editions cheap, or are well off and buy what you want… get the above reprints. Cick the images to view more and/or purchase.
A few posts back I recommended the Warner Brothers Archive distributed, Hammer Studios made CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN disc, but did point out an issue with its aspect issue. That the so-called wide screen 1:85 version is ‘fake’ widescreen, that basically just zooms in and crops information on the sides and top of the film, and that the 1:66 version is superior to the 1:85 version.
While that is true as far as it goes, I have just seen the special features on the 2nd disc, and the light bulb goes off. The primary feature on this disc is the movie in 1:37, basically 4:3, tv frame. This film was shot to maintain the 4:3 standard, that was very much still the standard for cinema. The viewers they used to frame their shots, everything was 4 by 3. Widescreen in the 1950s was very much a hail Mary, to try and bring people back to the cinemas by giving them something they could not get in their homes… widescreen.
And where widescreen would be used to real effect, by filmmakers as the years went on, watching the 1:37 print, from frame effing one it is clear, this is how the film was meant to look. From the first frame you can see the castle at the top of the screen that the rider is climbing up the mountain toward. a castle that is not discernible in the 1:8 version and you can just make out the bottom of on the 1:66 version.
In the 1:33 version you can clearly see the destination the rider is heading toward. And the rest of the movie is likewise perfectly framed, you no longer get the horses ears getting cut out of the frame, or the tops of people’s heads touching the top of the screen or being clipped out of the frame.
I knew the moment I saw the 1:8 version that it was missing detail. The 1:66 version gave us some of that detail back, the 1:33 finally gives us all the story… and the scales fall from our eyes.
Not only do you gain data on the top and bottom of the frame, you also gain data on the sides. You gain all that information that had the picture feeling… lacking (to differing degrees) in the other two versions.
And the pictures looks great in this 4 by 3 version. I’m over-joyed they included the 1:33 version but am dismayed they relegated it to the special feature disc (that potentially most will not even know about), and the ‘legitimate’ versions will be touted as these fake wide-screen versions.
It actually makes me mad, that the superior version of the film, the 4 by 3 version, was not the marketable version. “Oh but everyone has a widescreen tv, and people don’t want the picture to not use all that widescreen real estate”, even if it means they are actually being sold an inferior viewing experience, under the guise that it is a superior standard.
It reminds me of what is happening with 4K, People are sold this idea that 4k is a superior picture to Bluray, that is is 4 times as good picture wise, and as with fake widescreen, that is not true.
1st, the term 4K is a misnomer sold to idiots, it is not 4 times anything compared to Bluray. It can discern smaller pixels, so roughly twice more dots per inch. But that is about screen real estate, and is not picture quality. It is picture real estate that depending what you are looking at and how it is applied… could be a component of better picture quality, or not.
But as I’ve stated before, in real world situation on a 60″ or less tv, at a standard viewing distance you are not going to discern any notable difference in the resolution between HD and UHD (called inaccurately 4K). What you do notice is the bells and whistles they dress up the marginal difference with, ie Dolby Digital and/or HDR. And that is color grading. And that technology could have just as easily veen applied to Bluray, but then they could not have sold the masses on new Tvs and players.
UHD like Widescreen has the ability to be well used, but it also (as in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN) has the ability to be lip-service to quality, rather than a true qualitative improvement.
It depends if the people mastering these discs, are just interested in selling you a buzz word and a fad to get you to part with your money, or if they are actually interested and capable of recognizing a superior picture, and providing you that experience.
As with widescreen, sometimes the UHD/4K is just a buzzword with no value, and you are better off getting the 4:3 or Bluray version.
THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN is a great film, and if you have only seen it via the ‘wide-screen’ versions, go to disc 2 and watch the 1:33 version, and see what you have been missing. Highly Recommended!
That said it has been a good couple years since I have found these CDs and revisited this audio book. I listened to them this week…. and it still hits me the same…. my goodness I LOVE this audio book.
Click the image above to own the ABSOLUTE KINGDOM COME while it is still in print. A must own.
And all due respect to Mark Waid (you can’t have a much better scripter/writer to flesh out your ideas, and make your concept better, especially when it comes to DC Characters and history and imbuing it with a sense of the iconic and the nostalgic); but I do think we need to give due respect to Alex Ross, and start giving him his due praise for the story even existing, and its romantic, and even spiritual nature… giving us the gist of this story about — faith rewarded.
And here another great writer and lover of all things DC, Elliot S. Maggin, takes the Graphic Novel and adapts it for the novel and the audio book, I think with faithful and momentous and heartfelt results.
Reviewed in the United States on February 18, 2013
Moments in this audio book never fail to give me chills or make me teary eyed or make me inspired. The audio eliciting memories of Alex Ross’ stunning iconic painted moments. So yes, you very much need to have read the Graphic Novel first, to appreciate the audio book.
I’ll post links to both items, and more, throughout this post.
“And fingers that can fuse coal into diamond, crawl across human bone. And in the hush, ears that can hear a cell divide, pick out with chilling ease, the scream of human rage.”
Holy Effing Crap.
I think the performers with one or two brief exceptions for the bit players, are all fantastic. The main characters, Superman, Batman, WonderWoman, Magog, Norman McKay, Wesley Dodds, Spectre, many more— are all picture perfect.
Alex Ross meets Mark Waid meet Elliott Maggin— all add up to the best DC adaptation ever made.
The cassettes have dried up, but sometimes you can catch one popping up from time to time. And hopefully one day they will release the CD (but wouldn’t hold my breath, considering it has been over 20 years since the Audio Book was released). However, if you can snag a copy, it is worth having.
COLLECTING: FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #1-30, FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL (1963) #1
Collecting the greatest stories from the World’s Greatest Comics Magazine in one, massive collector’s edition that has been painstakingly restored and recolored from the sharpest material in the Marvel Archives.
COLLECTING: FANTASTIC FOUR 31-60, ANNUAL 2-4
These are some of the greatest adventures of all time! Collecting FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #61-93 and ANNUAL #5-7, and material from NOT BRAND ECHH #5-7. All Ages
Celebrate 60 years of the World’s Greatest Comics Collaboration! Stan Lee and Jack Kirby conclude their record-setting tenures on the FANTASTIC FOUR, the book that birthed the Marvel Universe! In Kirby’s final issues, Doctor Doom lurks in the shadows, the FF save Apollo 11 from an alien threat, and the Sub-Mariner and Magneto team up to attack our heroes! Then, Stan Lee is joined by Marvel art legends John Romita Sr. and John Buscema to forge a new future for Marvel’s first family! Along the way, the Thing battles the Hulk, the Surfer is taken captive by Galactus, and the Overmind menaces Earth — leading to the strangest event in Marvel history: Doctor Doom joins the FF?! Guest-starring Black Panther, the Inhumans and more!
COLLECTING: Fantastic Four (1961) 94-125, Fantastic Four: The Lost Adventure (2008) 1, material from Fantastic Four Annual (1963) 8-9
Okay now onto the issues you can afford to pick up in issue form, and the ones i recommend having:
For my money John Byrne invented the concept of wide-screen entertainment with his seminal early work on AVENGERS 164 thru 166. This is him a decade later, showing he is still the bar, by which super hero action will always be measured.
Without argument John Bryne was one of the best writers and artists on Fantastic Four (Right up there with Stan the Man Lee, Jack King Kirby, John Buscema and Roy Thomas ), but until you go back and revisit his lengthy run on The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine’you forget exactly how good he was. Issue 251 thru 265 is really one large, fluid story about— families lost and families found.
It was the world’s greatest comic magazine – again! Not since the days of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had a creator so perfectly captured the intense mood, cosmic style and classic sense of adventure of Marvel’s First Family. Fresh off an earth-shattering and reputation-making run as penciler on UNCANNY X-MEN, John Byrne proved his writing talent was every bit the equal of his art as he pulled double-duty on FANTASTIC FOUR, launching Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny into realms of imagination and wonder into which few creators before had dared to travel. From the four corners of the globe to the farthest reaches of space to the deepest depths of the Negative Zone, the FF face off against foes old and new – including the Dr. Doom, Galactus and Annihilus! Plus: The FF aid the Inhumans, bid farewell to the Baxter Building, don new costumes and celebrate their 20th anniversary in style as Byrne reminds us all there’s a family at the heart of this team of adventurers!
Collecting: MARVEL TEAMUP (1972) #61-62; MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #50; FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #215-218, #220-221, #232-262 and ANNUAL #17; PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN (1976) #42; AVENGERS (1963) #233; THING (1983) #2; and ALPHA FLIGHT (1983) #4.
Superstar John Byrne’s legendary run concludes with one of the most innovative periods in Fantastic Four history! The sensational She-Hulk replaces the Thing, Sue Richards becomes the Invisible Woman, and Mr. Fantastic is tried for crimes against the universe! Also featuring the return of Dr. Doom, the fate of Reed and Sue’s unborn child, the resurrection of Jean Grey, and more — as the FF confront deadly foes including the Mole Man, Dr. Octopus, Terminus, the Beyonder, Mephisto, Psycho-Man and Annihilus! Plus: the unfinished “Last Galactus Story,” reprinted for the first time!
COLLECTING: Fantastic Four (1961) #261-295, Fantastic Four Annual #18-19, Alpha Flight (1983) #4, Thing (1983) #10 and #19, Avengers Annual #14, and material from Secret Wars II #2, Epic Illustrated #26-34, What If? (1977) #36, What The -?! #2 and #10, Thing (1983) #7, Fantastic Four Roast and Fantastic Four Special Edition — written by John Byrne, Mark Gruenwald, and Roger Stern; and illustrated by John Byrne, Mark Bright, Ron Wilson, and Jerry Ordway.
The original first run of the FANTASTIC FOUR ran 416 issues. For my money you can stop reading with the recommendations in this post. The series never gets better or as good as the issues listed above.
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