The Three Musketeers & The Four Musketeers

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Ed Bishop, Mar 5, 2003.

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  1. Ed Bishop

    Ed Bishop Incredibly, I'm still here Thread Starter

    A Pleasant DVD Surprise

    If redbook CD's have become a sonic minefield in recent years, the DVD, if anything, has been, in my experience thus far, more consistent and satisfying in terms of visual and sound quality(AHDN and the ABBA comp excepted:sigh: ). There just isn't the high screwup ratio here that we keep getting with remastered CD's. Apparently the format itself is responsible. To my surprise, we keep getting correctly letterboxed images(where applicable)and, on the main, sound that ranges from fair(for older films)to phenomenal(for some films and music vids, ranging from flat mono to DD 5.1 and DTS 5.1).

    Since my brother, ahem, didn't quite come through with THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL--the company didn't send any to his store despite his constant e-mails and phone calls, and nobody in town had it, either--I was forced:p to console myself with the 2-disc remaster of THE THREE and FOUR MUSKETEERS, the pair of Richard Lester films from '73 & '74. Although he would go on to direct more movies, IMO these really were the last good films he would do.

    What I dug about the films back in the day was Lester's sense of fun and exuberance, something very apparent in AHDN, to a lesser degree in HELP! and all but absent in too many of his subsequent efforts. Spontaneity was always his strongest suit, and this pair of films can seem, if you're unfamiliar with them, a little excessive in terms of stunts, pratfalls, and other visual nonsense. But as both feature some of the best work of all involved, this makes for a great bargain at $17.99.

    The image is correctly letterboxed in british camera ratio to around 1.80(1.77, says the box; close enough)and looks stunning, given how crappy looking both have appeared on home video and TV in the past. Very little artifacting or any kind of picture problems; not much in the way of film stock age, meaning, I hope, the original camera negatives were found(sometimes very hard to locate with some 'international' productions).
    The sound, thankfully, is in flat mono; cleaned up, but not excessively so.
    The usual extras(featurettes, trailers, TV & radio spots, still galleries, cast bios)round out a very impressively presented package.

    Everything else aside, any films that have Raquel Welch not only visually striking but indeed doing a good job of acting--something she normally wasn't required to do--are to be reckoned with. The question of "Whatever happened to Simon Ward?" remains unanswered, but attentive viewers will note a brief appearance by Frank Thornton(from the BBC's ARE YOU BEING SERVED? comedy show from the '70s, and who also turned up in other Lester films now and again). And as it pretty much ends with Faye Dunaway's character literally losing her head, well, very satisfying; great rainy afternoon fare.

    This now concludes my first Visual Arts contribution. I will now attempt to locate the suddenly missing 'Music Archives' button:D

  2. cwon

    cwon Active Member

    And some of the scenes are lit like Vermeers - gorgeous to look at.

    Wonder why Lester's Juggernaut hasn't been released?
  3. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden MichiGort Staff

    Livonia, MI
    I called in a favor to get this DVD set a few days before street date. I could watch these films all day for a week and still find myself laughing and gasping at all the right moments. The previous releases on Fox Lorber were terrible. They were mis-matted and the color seemed to be so brown that I thought I was watching a sepia toned B&W film at times. The new release from Anchor Bay is simply outstanding. The slight improvement in sound is also welcome as many of the funniest lines are muttered under a character's breath.

    One amusing but not too significant gaffe is that the closed caption track is frequently inaccurate and sometimes makes little sense. It's not quite as amusing as some of those Hong Kong films with the slap-dash English subtitles, but it is heading in that direction. The second film has more issues than the first.

  4. Ed Bishop

    Ed Bishop Incredibly, I'm still here Thread Starter

    The thing that bugs me about captioning is the unnecessary tendency to paraphrase or alter dialogue that not only is best left alone, but isn't so excessive that either is necessary so you can read it. I might also add captioning isn't just for the deaf: it can be fun for the hearing, actually. I can recall many TV shows where the captioning reveals original dialogue later removed or altered, or scene descriptions and sound effects later changed but nobody let the captioners in on it; LOL sometimes!

    Yet, as CC is meant for the hearing-impaired, it seems to me only reasonable to get as close to the original dialogue as possible, yet this is not always the case. The various STAR TREK series, and BABYLON 5, were notorious for paraphrased, shortened and altered dialogue that can, at times, be positively maddening to anybody.

    Having said that, the one thing I didn't do, Ken, was check THREE/FOUR MUSKETEERS' CC. Will have to do that this weekend. But, as you said, great transfer, and about time!

  5. thegage

    thegage Forum Currency Nerd

    I remember laughing my ass off at the fight scene on the ice in Four, seen when it came out at I think the 57 Cinema in Boston, IIRC, one of the last really big screens in the city. These are two of my all-time faves, and when I bought the first DVD release I was totally disheartened at the video quality. I'm glad that has been fixed, and can't wait to pick it up.

    BTW, isn't it amazing how the DVD marketers have learned so quickly from the music marketers to remaster product so we'll keep buying the same thing over and over. I was a first adopter of DVD in '97, and already have a significant number of discs that have been outdated by remasters.

    John K.
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