I just saw NbNW in 35mm as I said I would. Here is my report comparing this presentation to the Blu-ray.
The print was not the archive dye-transfer print that I had hoped for but instead was the print struck by Warners a few years ago when they did the DVD release. They made an effort to compare it to the dye-transfer prints at that time (I was told that Warners borrowed the one that I was hoping to see). People are understandably reluctant to run dye-transfer prints since they are irreplacable. Since this film was released by MGM not Paramount, there are apparently very few original dye-transfer prints left.
The presentation, at the Stanford Theater in Palo Alto, was virtually optimal, including period projection equipment with carbon arcs and a skilled projectionist instead of the automated platter systems that will ruin a print in the first weekend. Carbon arcs have a different and IMHO superior color balance, and certainly what was originally intended when the film was made.
My comparison of the Blu-ray to this presentation is that the color balance is spot-on the same. There are a few dark scenes (example: the scene where the Mercedes almost falls off of the cliff) that seem washed out on the Blu-ray but are better on the film. The original dye-transfer prints were surely sharper than this print, but I cannot confirm the color balance.
1. There are many blemishes on this print (which is actually in excellent condition) that are missing from the Blu-ray, thankfully.
2. The print had the original mono optical sound (for which the theatre is designed) while the Blu-ray has a remix that uses Bernard Herrrmann's original stereo recording of the score. Much improved on the Blu-ray IMHO. Herrmann was a big fan of stereo and lamented that it had gone out of use for a time.
3. The print was shown at an aspect ratio of about 1.7, which I prefer to the 1.78 of the Blu-ray. 1.78 is of course within the range of acceptable presentation for VistaVision but I find it a bit constrained.
4. The close-ups are deliberately fuzzy in this print, which has always been true of the movie.
5. From watching this print, there is no reason to believe that DNR or EE have been applied to degrade the image on the Blu-ray. The film is what it is.
Overall, if the print that I saw is an indication of what the film originally looked like, we can take the Blu-ray as being a winner. This is all that I can really say.