THE NUTTY PROFESSOR ( PARAMOUNT HOME ENTERTAINMENT)
DUEL ( UNIVERSAL HOME ENTERTAINMENT)
ED WOOD ( DISNEY HOME ENTERTAINMENT)
HOW TO STEAL A MILLION ( 20th CENTURY FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT)
CASTLE KEEP - Widescreen Version ( COLUMBIA HOME ENTERTAINMENT )
JUNGLE GIRL (VCI HOME ENTERTAINMENT )
Paramount Home Video continues, and even exceeds its tradition of consistently flawless transfers of their catalogue classics with their release of Jerry Lewis' THE NUTTY PROFESSOR.
How great is this Widescreen (enhanced for 16:9 TV's) transfer? So great that it accomplished something I would've thought impossible ------- I actually watched an entire Lewis opus from start to finish for the first time ever, a fact which I attribute solely to the astonishing excellence of this restoration. Indeed, I was virtually hypnotized by the perfectly rendered panoply of color on display here which are reproduced with startling clarity and sharpness, and Paramount continues to dominate the field when it comes to their 5.1 Dolby Surround reprocessing of previously monaural material. With transfers this good who needs Hi-Def ?
Also in a class by itself is Universal Home Entertainment's full-screen color transfer of the only Steven Spielberg film that I admire in its entirety, the nail-bitingly tense and terrific DUEL, a high-velocity thriller about a motorist terrorized by an evil truck. I must admit I don't know how the magicians at Universal were able to mine such a truly vibrant full-screen transfer from the source material for this TV movie, which was originally shot on cheap color stock, but lo and behold, they've gone and done it! Add a rumbling subwoofer-savvy 5.1 DTS Surround Sound track as well as a thumpingly effective 5.1 Dolby Digital track and what you have here is a relentlessly unstoppable thrill ride that'll keep you on the edge of your seat for all of its compact 90 minute running time.
I searched and I searched, but try as I may I couldn't find any claims of "restoration" on the dvd package of Tim Burton's mostly fascinating ED WOOD, but just one look at this transfer will immediately confirm that someone at Disney Home Video is being excessively and unnecessarily modest.
I saw ED WOOD on the very first day it opened at a prestigious Century City first-run theatre and, much as I admired the film itself, I wasn't pleased with the quality of the black-and-white image which appeared to me to be somewhat grainy and very greyish, problems which have been completely eliminated in this pristine Widescreen (1:85 - enhanced for 16 x 9 TV's) dvd . The blacks are vibrant and deep and completely bereft of distortion and the degree of sharpness is so superb that it's like seeing this very unique film for the first time, and Howard Shore's score benefits immensely from a rich 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround track.
While William Wyler's HOW TO STEAL A MILLION is without question the least substantial offering of his entire legendary career, there are certain pleasures to be found in this agreeably lightweight offering which teams the completely delectable Audrey Hepburn with the effervescent Peter O'Toole, and provides us with Paris locations which make the trip almost worthwhile, especially as viewed in the absolutely beautiful enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1) color transfer that 20th Century Fox Home Video has thankfully delivered.
Since the primary reason to view CASTLE KEEP is for the extraordinarily luscious Widescreen dream-like location photography supplied by Henri Dacae, it was entirely appropriate that fans of this very strange and poetically ambitious WW2 film were outraged at the full-screen monstrosity that Columbia Home Video delivered a few months ago which turned Dacae's compositions into incomprehensible mush. Happily, Columbia has seen the error of their ways by way of supplying a new anamorphic 2.35 transfer that does complete justice to the ample visual delights that CASTLE KEEP offers. All is well with the world.
A VCI ENTERTAINMENT release on our "Terrific Transfer" list? Absolutely! Their excellently-rendered full-screen black and white transfers of all 15 Chapters of the Republic Serial JUNGLE GIRL are a delightful sight for sore eyes accustomed to the murky and mushy public domain Serial eyesores delivered in the past by other outfits far less concerned with quality control. I blushingly admit that I cannot supply a coherent synopsis of this very loose but wildly entertaining adaptation of an Edgar Rice Burroughs jungle novel, as Gifford's Glorious Gams (which give Cyd Charisse's a run for her money ) are continuously on display and, at least for yours truly, a constant, though immensely pleasurable, distraction.