Warner Archive DVDs : Product of the Day 19, 2010


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There are many classic movies that are not available to the public because the cost of restoring the movies, authoring the DVDs, then replicating and distributing them would well exceed the proceeds from the sales.  Many film buffs have been dismayed over this state of affairs, fearing these classics will never be available to be enjoyed again. Warner Bros. has one of the largest film libraries in existence, having purchased many MGM films and added them to their own vast library.  Now, with DVDs from Warner Archive, you can enjoy many of these movies on DVD.  Warner Bros. has come up with an elegant solution that is a godsend to film fans everywhere.



No-frills labeling

The films in the Warner Archive catalog have not gone through a painstaking restoration and are stored digitally as they were scanned.  When you order a Warner Archive DVD it is burned on recordable media without a fancy menu or special features.  You get a classic movie on a DVD at an affordable price, and that should be enough to satisfy much of the market.


Color of disc gives it away- it is a burned DVD-R


No-frills menu, too

Much like a DVD recorder, there are no specific chapters.  Using the >| and |< buttons take you forward or back ten minutes at a time.  You get a PLAY MOVIE button on the menu… that’s it!

As you can see above, I ordered three Warner Archive movies to give it a try: The D.I.,  Genesis II, and Planet Earth. The latter two are 1970s sci-fi movies by Gene Roddenberry that I had heard of but never had a chance to see.  The D.I. is a Jack Webb classic about a Marine D.I. on Parris Island trying to make a man and a Marine out of a boy with an interesting past.

I started with Genesis II.  Given the films were not restored I wasn’t expecting much in the way of image quality but was pleasantly surprised.  I used an Anthem AVM 50 audio/video processor connected to my Qualia 006 via an Oppo DVD player, a combination sure to reveal image quality defects.  I was pleasantly surprised by a sharp image with natural color and contrast.  In fact, a lot of films get messed up by being overtly processed when they are converted to digital formats.  There is something to be said for a less being more!  I didn’t watch the whole movie as I wanted to try the classic B&W film so I could compare.

So, I putThe D.I. in my Oppo.  It didn’t play, locking up the player. This was quite surprising given the Oppo is known as one of the least fussy players out there.  Repeated attempts yielded repeated lock-ups. I put the disc in my PlayStation 3 and it played, so I know the disc itself was not defective.  For some reason, the Oppo just did not like it.

Though the PlayStation 3’s upconversion is not even close to that of the Anthem AVM 50, I was presented with a sharp, gritty, moody image that is surely what the director intended, as it suits the film so well.  I was sucked into the film and watched it all the way through.  It looked great and though it had a bit of a”Perry Mason” ending with a sudden exposition (and a somewhat unbelievable one at that) I thought it was a great film and a great trip back through classic cinema with a renowned actor.  Webb did a great job without resorting to profanity and crudeness.

Warner Archive is a winner!  Be sure to check out the Warner Archive website.  There are lots of great movies (479 at the time of this posting) with many more sure to follow.  Hats off to W.B. for preserving out film heritage and making it available to all.

Questions? Email Don

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