I strongly suspect that the quality on many of those titles will be absolutely atrocious. Metropolis, for example, to the best of my knowledge is only available from Kino in a form that isn't hideous. Just look at their claims... 50 movies and 70 hours of film on just 12 DVD's!!??? That's almost 6 hours per DVD! That might not be too bad if that's 12 DVD-18's, but if they're DVD-9's, or perish the thought, DVD-5's it's going to be utterly painful to look at. Were I you, I would specifically ask them what type of DVD's those are. If they don't answer, don't waste your money.
I was just about to post on what I have discovered after receiving the Family Pac of 50 movies on 12 DVDS a couple of days ago. Yes, the quality is shabby, and you appreciate the restoration on those Criterion discs you paid dearly for, or the fabulous Adventures of Robin Hood just released.
However, I have found much of interest. My plan was to sample many of the offerings and report briefly on each, but I nearly always got hooked on the movie and watched the whole thing, technical quality be damned.
First, the packaging: the lot comes in a decent enough cardboad box with the usual dimensions of DVD packaging...but a couple of inches thick. Inside is a window the size of a DVD in its envelope, and the dozen offerings are stacked up, each in a cardboard sleeve with a brief description of the movies therein. Mine was missing #12, just an empty sleeve. The discs are flippers, with two movies on each side. When I thought to check bit rates, they were invariably just 2 to 3 MBPS.
Here's wahat I've watched so far: about 30 minutes of A Farewell to Arms with Gary Cooper. The print has many flaws, scratches and such, and the soundtrack often suffers from a very high noise level.
I watched Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling in Royal Wedding. I have never previously seen the entire dance routine, just bits and pieces. It's terrific, and I'm very glad to have this in my collection. The print they used is largely free from scratches and the soundtrack is clean, but the color is badly faded (but uniform).
The Scarlet Pimpernel. Really beat up, but I watched the entire movie. I remember seeing some of this on the tube when I was a kid, and I always wanted to see the whole thing. Merle Oberon is beautiful!!
The Flying Scotsman with Ray Milland. This started out as a silent film with title cards and a musical soundtrack (like the music that would ordinarily accompany a silent film with live musicians in the theater). Then midway, it turned into a talkie! So it's a sort of hybrid. The quality of print and sound is very poor, but I loved the train, the real star of the show. 80 mph was mentioned....we are lucky to average 40mph on the Amtrak run from Vancouver to Seattle. I watched the whole thing.
Only 46 more movies to audit, then I can issue a complete report!
In summary, this package is about what I expected. There's no free lunch, but there is truly some substance here in terms of content. Do you watch old movies on AMC? Did you watch a lot of unsophisticated movies on Saturday mornings when you were a kid? Are you interested in the history of the medium?
I think this is well worth the money, but expect not many will agree.
There's unpleasantly bad, and there's unwatchable. Fire up Metropolis and let us know what you think.. How much cropping is there? I had one copy from before Kino's release that was actually cropped to the point where the title read "Metropo"!!! If that's unwatchable for you (i.e. The other stuff is better by a significant margin) then this might be a good bargain set if you want to see a lot of films and then purchase better versions of your favorites. ($30 isn't that much...) Also, are those DVD-18's or DVD-10's? (DVD-5 flippers or DVD-9 flippers?) Do the transfers look like crappy film or more like VHS?
Depends on your threshhold of pain, I suppose. Metropolis? Not in my collection (50 Movie Family Pack).
I don't know how to discern which DVD format these are, other than considering the bit-rate and the length of the movies. Since there are two movies on each side, there would be no layer-change within a single movie to attract notice. But as I mentioned, the bit-rates look to be maybe 2.5MBPS. So 2.5MBPS x 3600 sec/hr x 2 h/movie x GB/10*3 MB=18GB. Most of these movies aren't two hours in length, the usual total will be lower.
In addition to my thinking the dollar risk was low, I also have ulterior motives. My neighbors have young children whom they keep on a loving, but tight, rein....no OTA TV (our location), no rental movies that aren't G-rated, etc. They watch such movies often at my house. Over Christmas they were given a DVD player. They would gladly watch the movies in this collection, no matter the quality. So I might make a gift of the collection to them.
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