The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 1966
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 117 Minutes
Genre: Western Action/Adventure
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: MPEG 4 (AVC)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English/French Dolby TrueHD 5.1,
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, Bahase
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Woody Strode, Robert Ryan, Jack Palance, Claudia Cardinale, Ralph Bellamy
Directed by: Richard Brooks
Music by: Maurice Jarre
Written by: Richard Brooks
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 10, 2008
"A rip-roaring western"
Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin headline the top-notch, rip-roaring Western action/adventure, THE PROFESSIONALS. Four soldiers of fortune are hired by a wealthy Texan oil baron (Ralph Bellamy) to rescue his kidnapped wife (Claudia Cardinale), who's been spirited acress the Mexican Border by a band ofmercenaries led by Jesus Raza (Jack Palance). The four rugged professionals, each regarded as a specialist in his selected field - an expert marksman and tracker (Woody Strode), the explosives master(Lancaster), horse handler (Robert Ryan) and one skilled in tactics and weaponry (Marvin) - make their way across the treacherous landscape to retrieve the beautiful kidnappee, but discover all is not what it seems in the explosive climax.
Being a fan of the western genre I always look forward to the opportunity to review a western that I have not seen previously. Looking at the cast here heightened my enthusiasm because I think that Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin excellent actors who play well within this genre. The premise here is not a complicated one (simple is better for cowboys!) and these four specialists are looking at $10,000 each if they can safely return the young kidnapped wife of rich oil man Joe Grant. This story takes some nice twists and turns before its over which keeps the audience on their toes. There is some great dialogue and interaction between Lancaster and Marvin. As a fan it was exactly what I was hoping for from the two of them. The screenplay was an adaptation of the novel A mule for the Marquesa by Frank O’Rourke. I have not read the book so I can’t comment on how faithful the film was to the novel. I can tell you that this is well rounded story that offers great pacing, fine acting performances, and enough adventure to keep genre fans happy.
Parental Guide:The rating is for violence and nudity. This rating didn’t exist back in 1966 and I suspect that when released this film was probably rated PG. The violence is typical of a film from this era and is not graphic in depiction. The nudity is very brief (I mean very) and you would have to look hard to notice it.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Professionals comes to Blu-ray from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video with an average bitrate of 27 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio with an average bitrate of 2.1 mbps.
Sony has consistently released their catalog titles in high definition on Blu-ray with great looking video quality and this release is no exception. From the film’s opening moments it was clear that this had lots of potential. Detail is exceptional for a 40 plus year old film although I saw somewhere that it may have been renewed in the mid nineties. Minute detail was rendered articulately as were the characteristic structure of objects and landscapes onscreen. This provided visuals that appeared clearly defined and dimensionally proportional. The beautiful sequences filmed in Death Valley and Valley of fire looked fabulous in high definition. Conrad Hall was nominated for an Academy Award for the cinematography on this film and it is easy to see why. I was pleasantly surprised at how well details in dark areas were rendered. There are quite a few sequences that are shot with the moon as the light source. I was able to discern the various shapes and outlines within the dark segments of the clothing worn by cast and the outlining areas. In chapter 3 as the group sits under a pavilion (at dusk) preparing to set out on their quest I could see the timbers and structure in the shadowy underside of the pavilion roof. I think that this was definitely a benefit to this film as these types of shots are used quite a bit. Being a western the wardrobe and settings rely on a fairly bland color palette. The colors used appeared slightly de-saturated but certainly in keeping with the intent of the visual design. I didn’t feel that was at all a negative and in fact I found it to be a nice match with the subject matter. Grain was visible at times and didn’t negatively impact fidelity. I didn’t notice any extraneous video noise or compression related artifacts.
**It should be noted that the subtitles in this film are located below the picture. Those with front projection masking systems and widescreen setups utilizing screens with an aspect ratio of greater than 1.85:1 or so should bear this in mind.**
The audio presentation was not on par with the video unfortunately. The front three channels (primarily the center channel) carried the majority of the film’s audio which sounded somewhat compressed. I never had a problem understanding dialogue or hearing sounds or effects but I felt they lacked depth, separation and openness. This is directly related to the onscreen film elements. The music score was another matter entirely. It almost seemed as though the score utilized a separate sound mix. Maurice Jarre’s excellent score sounded airy, detailed, and acoustically transparent. It was delivered using the front three channels and surrounds. I noticed that the mix utilized both discrete and ambient detail not only in the rear sound field but across the front as well. At times there were different instrument sounds coming from the left front speaker than the right front speaker simultaneously. I found this distracting at times because it made the front soundstage sound unbalanced. Even with that it sounded very good overall. There was no real LFE contained with this soundtrack which did have an impact on its delivery of the films dynamic elements and music score. Gun shots, explosions, train engines etc. didn’t have the feeling of tangible presence that it should have for a film like this. I can’t say that the sound negatively impacted the telling of the story however I think that a better sound mix would have enhanced the experience.
The bonus supplements presented on this Blu-ray Disc should please fans of the film. There are three documentaries that total just over 40 minutes. They offer a fairly in depth look at This Classic Film and features recent interviews with both female co-stars, Joanna Lancaster (daughter of Burt), a Lancaster biographer as well as Director Martin Campbell. They discuss their thoughts on the film, its cast, director, and the films significance. The Burt Lancaster Portrait piece offers some very nice family photos, footage and still photos from some of his films and discussion with his daughter Joanna and biographer Kate Buford. These are all in standard definition. My favorite was the Memories of Professionals piece.
- The Professionals: A Classic
- Burt Lancaster: A Portrait
- Memories from The Professionals
The Professionals is an entertaining western that features excellent direction, solid casting, and some darn good action sequences. The genre is loaded with films that have all of those qualities. This one can hold its head up high because it does not give away ground to any of them. Sony continues to provide excellent video quality on their catalog title releases on Blu-ray. While I was not particularly impressed with the audio presentation I didn’t feel that it negated my first experience with this film. The bonus set is a nice addition and helps to sweeten the deal. I suspect that fans will be very happy with this Blu-ray Disc.
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Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BD30 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
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Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
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B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 seven Channel amplifier
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APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
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Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package