[78-L] Jazz Singer Blu-ray set -- my Amazon review

David Lennick dlennick at sympatico.ca
Fri Feb 1 09:55:04 PST 2013

Okay folks, I recorded the TCM transmission of The Jazz Singer this morning. 
Where am I supposed to look to see if the corrections have been made? (I'll 
allow a minute or so extra since promos and logs are at the top of the 
program.) I have no burning desire to sit through the old version (and no 
burning desire to watch this old chestnut more than once every 20 years in any 
case). What I spotted through looks very clean.


On 1/26/2013 2:11 PM, Jeff Sultanof wrote:
> Thank you, Dr. Biel for such a great review. I was going to upgrade anyway,
> but this certainly tips the scale.
> And David, I would imagine that TMC is running the new restoration, as the
> HD transfer for the Blu-ray is now the official master for this feature
> (Thank goodness those synch issues were addressed).
> Jeff Sultanof
> On Sat, Jan 26, 2013 at 10:58 AM, David Lennick<dlennick at sympatico.ca>wrote:
>> I see TMC is showing The Jazz Singer next Saturday morning. Any chance
>> they'll
>> have the new restoration?
>> dl
>> On 1/25/2013 11:28 PM, Michael Biel wrote:
>>> Since a lot of you on the list might be interested, here (with the usual
>>> disclaimers) is my Amazon review of the new Blu-ray edition of The Jazz
>>> Singer and Vitaphone collection:
>> http://www.amazon.com/Jazz-Singer-Blu-ray-Al-Jolson/dp/B009P07QPS/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
>>> Let's cut to the chase because it is obvious that all film collectors
>>> either need this or already have the DVD -- yes, you DO need to upgrade
>>> from the DVD to this new Blu-ray edition. It IS that much better.
>>> All of the errors in the DVD have been corrected. The scratches during
>>> "Dirty Hands, Dirty Face" and much of the rest of the Coffee Dan's scene
>>> have been eliminated without a trace. The mis-matched synchronization of
>>> the entire reel before "Blue Skies" has been fixed. The artificial
>>> shaking of the inter-titles to disguise them being free-frames has been
>>> steadied. In the extras, they have put in the correct two scenes from
>>> "Gold Diggers Of Broadway" -- we actually see Nick Lucas sing in 2-strip
>>> Technicolor "Tip-Toe Through the Tulips" this time. As an additional
>>> bonus they have added two shorts which have cameo appearances by Al
>>> Jolson and Ruby Keeler at Santa Anita Raceway. Most of the printed
>>> extras from the DVD set are in the book except for most of the
>>> postcards, but they have added some great portraits, bios, and an
>>> illustrated essay on the earlier film sound systems.
>>> Only disc one is Blu-ray. Discs two and three are still DVD, and
>>> actually have the same labels and catalog number as the originals -- so
>>> don't mix them up with your originals or else you'll lose Nick Lucas.
>>> They are still standard definition, but the first disc is High
>>> Defination and the image sparkles! The DVD was good, but the Blu-ray
>>> image will blow you away. It probably looks better than original nitrate
>>> prints looked in 1927. I'll go so far as to say that it proves that you
>>> DO need to buy that Blu-ray player if you haven't yet.
>>> The aforementioned scratches on the DVD were always a puzzle to me. They
>>> were continuous vertical scratches that often hit right on Jolson's
>>> face. You could tell they had worked on them because they were faint
>>> remnants of what must have originally been very deep. But they were
>>> still there in the most famous scene in the film. When Mary Dale enters
>>> down the stairs the scratch is right down the middle of her face in the
>>> first close-up and very heavy at the end of the second close-up. (There!
>>> I've done it!! If you never noticed them before, now you will never be
>>> able to watch the DVD again without them bothering you!!! Mission
>>> Accomplished!) But they are GONE in the Blu-ray!!
>>> The sync problem in the DVD starts at the beginning of the train station
>>> scene where they mis-start the disc too late over the letter writing
>>> close-up. It is as much as 20 seconds off, and the music cues are in all
>>> the wrong places. It is much like the scene in "Singing In the Rain"
>>> where voices come out of the wrong person's mouths. The bassoon that was
>>> supposed to be mocking the prima donna always came when other people
>>> were on the screen. The music made no sense. It continues on to the
>>> neighborhood walk and the entry into his family's apartment. The
>>> mother's theme music was never there at the correct time. And the end of
>>> the disc was clipped off when the "Blue Skies" reel begins. This had
>>> never been wrong in previous issues and prints so someone really goofed
>>> when the DVD was being assembled. But all of this has been fixed in the
>>> Blu-ray, and the scenes and the music really make sense once again.
>>> Almost all of the inter-titles are freeze-frames. They are noticeable
>>> because all moving grain of the image stops cold. To disguise this they
>>> wandered the image slightly in the DVD version. This fake motion was
>>> supposed to emulate how titles look when the film continues to run, but
>>> in 35mm theatrical prints this does not happen unless the film is worn.
>>> The four sprockets per frame should keep the picture steady, unlike 16mm
>>> where there is only one sprocket per frame and the image usually always
>>> shakes. Saner heads prevailed this time, and the titles are kept steady
>>> in the Blu-ray. (Again, if you had never noticed this in the DVD, now it
>>> will bother you. Good! Mission accomplished!)
>>> The book is easier to maneuver than all those separate booklets and
>>> slip-cases of the DVD set. It is much easier to find the list of
>>> contents of the discs because they are the last two pages of the book,
>>> rather than being in one of four booklets that you never can find right
>>> away. They still do not give you any info about the shorts other than
>>> their title. None of the extras have their track number printed so you
>>> can easily find which track they are on without having to go back to the
>>> headers on the discs. You have to print this out for yourself from the
>>> internet. Do be careful when removing disc three fromthe plastic holder
>>> because there is an added lip that requires it being slid out further
>>> than you might realize. But these are small nitpicks.
>>> All in all, the original DVD was a bargain for all you got -- but this
>>> Blu-ray set is even more of a bargain. It IS necessary to get even if
>>> you already have the DVD set.
>>> _______________________

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