Odeon / Screenbound

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Perkins Cobb
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:49 pm

Odeon / Screenbound

#1 Post by Perkins Cobb » Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:15 pm

I'm thinking the UK label Odeon might be worth exploring a bit. Their releases are mostly British films from the 1940s-60s (most not widely known outside the UK). Very hard to find reviews or useful comments on the 'net about any of them.

Until recently I'd stayed away from Odeon's output because most of their late 50s and 60s releases are presented full-frame (4:3) -- presumably open-matte transfers of films that should be 1.66:1, but in at least one case (Cone of Silence) apparently a pan & scan xfer of a Scope film.

However, it looks like there's been some improvement of late. I ordered Odeon's DVD of the cult film Four in the Morning (1965) and it is a very nice 16:9 transfer in the proper aspect ratio. According to their website, some of Odeon's other recent releases are also 16:9 - Battle of the Sexes (1959), Blind Corner (1963), Girl in the Headlines (1963), The System (1964), and A Candle For the Devil (1967).

Has anybody seen these or any of their other releases, especially from the 40s and early 50s? Are some of them PD quality or are they reliably better than that?
Last edited by Perkins Cobb on Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Awesome Welles
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#2 Post by Awesome Welles » Wed Sep 17, 2008 5:50 pm

In the current Moviemail catalogue there are positive rumblings about the label and specifically Cavalcanti's They Made Me a Fugitive, though I know nothing about the label.

Perkins Cobb
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#3 Post by Perkins Cobb » Fri Sep 26, 2008 2:01 am

Ordered a couple more of these with mixed results. A Candle For the Devil is in the right aspect ratio, but otherwise VHS quality or worse. The System looks OK although it's a little too contrasty.

Also I neglected to mention in my first post that Four in the Morning includes a little booklet with some decent liner notes, as does The System.

Jonathan S
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Re: Odeon

#4 Post by Jonathan S » Thu Nov 20, 2008 9:09 am

I recommend Odeon's release of The Man on the Eiffel Tower (1949), taken from the same UCLA restoration that Kino scheduled but withdrew just before the release date. The early Ansco Color is faded with a strong red/brown bias (it sometimes looks like two-strip Technicolor) but an introductory note by UCLA states they had only 35mm projection prints to work from. Despite the warning that these are worn and scratched, the film is mostly quite clean-looking. Definition is sharp but contrast excessive with much loss of shadow detail; maybe that reflects the surviving elements and fortunately there aren't many night scenes. Despite being made at the height of film noir, the look of this thriller couldn't be further from it, though there are one or two noirish moments in the narrative.

The soundtrack is superbly rendered; one of the best I've ever heard on a film around this date, revealing how full, rich, clear and undistorted they can sound when not subjected to excessive processing. This is just as well as the thunderous musical score hardly ever lets up! Indeed, this plus the extensive location filming, visibly real stunts (less dangerous ones by the stars themselves) and almost tinted look of the film make it highly reminiscent of the silent era at times.

It's not a great film, perhaps not even a good one - characterisation is thin, plot development sometimes awkward and implausible. But it has a lot of energy, not least from Franchot Tone's manic villain (this isn't giving anything away - it's not a mystery) which counterbalances Laughton's surprisingly subdued performance as Maigret. I enjoyed it a lot and I think anyone with a real interest in this film should grab the Odeon DVD in case that disappears too. A scheduled BBC broadcast several years ago was also pulled at the last minute, but maybe that's coincidence as the film appears to be in public domain, from which hell it has now thankfully been rescued.

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Peacock
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Re: Odeon

#5 Post by Peacock » Mon Feb 09, 2009 11:08 am

Any Montez fans out there own their Siren of Atlantis dvd which came out in October?

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Peacock
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Re: Odeon

#6 Post by Peacock » Wed Feb 18, 2009 1:23 pm

Sorry to bump the thread but i just wanted to say for anyone(!) who was interested in the Siren of Atlantis release that i bought it and as far as i can see it's unrestored in both picture and sound, with the sound a couple of times popping then going off for a few seconds.

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tojoed
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Re: Odeon

#7 Post by tojoed » Tue Mar 03, 2009 7:34 am

Released by Odeon in June The Roman Polanski Collector's Edition. The set consists of "A Day at the Beach (writer), Knife in the Water, and Repulsion.

These were previously released by Anchor Bay, I think, and whether these transfers will be as good we'll have to wait and see.

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tojoed
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Re: Odeon

#8 Post by tojoed » Sun Oct 25, 2009 6:36 am

According to this DVD Beaver review the current Odeon release of Scarlet Street is from the same Library of Congress print used by Kino. But it's also progressive and dual-layered.

Quite a surprise for Odeon, and might be a good option for those looking for a good DVD of this film as it's also very cheap.

Napoleon
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Re: Odeon

#9 Post by Napoleon » Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:28 pm

Odeon's Scarlett Street looked (and sounded) very strong to me. In terms of A/V quality it’s on a par with the sort of releases that Warner’s used to put out. Keep an eye out for the menus which are reminiscent of DVD’s from 1998.

A great find so thanks to Luke Scoffield and the Beaver.

One drawback. No subs.

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MichaelB
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Re: Odeon

#10 Post by MichaelB » Thu Jan 14, 2010 12:15 pm

Just a quick note to say that Odeon's soon-to-be-released disc of Antony Balch's certifiably bonkers Secrets of Sex appears to be sourced from Synapse's 2005 US release, though it throws in a few additional extras like trailers for Pete Walker's Cool It Carol!, Tudor Gates' Intimate Games and Norman J. Warren's Spaced Out. There's also a booklet, apparently, though the requested PDF has yet to arrive.

I can't judge the transfer with any particular accuracy as my review copy was a single-layer DVD-R reduction of a dual-layer original (the label warned me of this), so I'm assuming the blocky artefacting I spotted won't be present on the final release - though in all other respects the anamorphic 1.66:1 transfer looked great. Really startlingly good, in fact, given that 1970s British softcore films weren't exactly renowned for either production values or preservation. It also appears to be native PAL - or rather, I couldn't spot any ghosting when stepping through shots frame by frame on my MacBook.

As for the extras, they seem to have ported over all the Synapse ones, including a commentary by executive producer Richard Gordon (not especially scene-specific, but with a ton of info about Balch), an interview with actor/co-writer Elliott Stein, and Balch's two William S. Burroughs shorts Towers Open Fire (1963) and The Cut-Ups (1967). Some might consider the last two worth the price of the disc on their own.

All in all, this is much closer to BFI Flipside quality than the other Odeon discs that I've seen, which bodes very well for future releases.

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strangerinparadise
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Re: Odeon

#11 Post by strangerinparadise » Thu Jan 14, 2010 12:28 pm

I recommend Odeon's release of The Man on the Eiffel Tower (1949), taken from the same UCLA restoration that Kino scheduled but withdrew just before the release date.


Does anyone happen to know why Kino's DVD was withdrawn?

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strangerinparadise
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Re: Odeon

#12 Post by strangerinparadise » Thu Jan 14, 2010 12:37 pm

This came across as a nifty little docu-thriller to me.
Last edited by strangerinparadise on Fri Jan 15, 2010 6:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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colinr0380
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Re: Odeon

#13 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:43 pm

"Hello...yes....hello...yes......yes...hello...does it seem to be persisting?"

I've got the Synapse release of Secrets of Sex (or Bizarre as they called it on their cover) and can attest to the picture quality having been incredibly good there too, which kind of made up for the variable quality of some of the sequences themselves, though they all have a certain naive charm to them!

I found the Synapse release to be almost an essential purchase as it hit so many different areas of interest - the Richard Gordon and Tom Weaver commentary is one of the best they've done with Balch fondly remembered throughout. The discussion of Balch's dream project of a faithful adaptation of Naked Lunch was fascinating, and surprisingly it seemed so close to becoming a reality. It was also interesting to have the connection made that Balch was the person who produced the Witchcraft Through The Ages re-edit of Haxan narrated by Burroughs (which is of course on the Criterion disc). Plus he was apparently the person responsible for retitling that Alain Delon film Shock Treatment as the sexier sounding Doctor In The Nude!

It is the William Burroughs films that really steal the entire disc however and make the whole package well worth buying just for them alone. It is nice that the Odeon disc will finally make all this material more widely available in Britain.

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colinr0380
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Re: Odeon

#14 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Sep 12, 2010 6:28 pm

Jonathan S on Fritz Lang on DVD thread wrote:That doesn't surprise me as it was a RKO release, so I believe it would have to be licensed from Universal in the UK... and most of Universal UK's own releases of RKO films are like VHS or worse. I've noticed that quite a few RKO titles are scheduled for DVD release soon in the UK, many of them through Odeon Entertainment who sometimes produce good quality discs, but I'm not hopeful this time.

Generally speaking, the best UK source for RKO films has been the BBC (who I believe own permanent UK TV rights), though they show only a select few these days. Some of their prints - e.g. most of the Lewton series - beat even the R1 Warner releases, especially for digital clean-up.
This is interesting news - I'd be particularly excited if Odeon released (or the BBC showed!) the two non-horror RKO Lewtons, Youth Runs Wild (directed by Mark Robson) and Mademoiselle Fifi (directed by Robert Wise), which seem to be badly overlooked at the moment.

Jonathan S
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Re: Odeon

#15 Post by Jonathan S » Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:08 am

Those two Lewtons were shown by the BBC in the 1980s and 90s but they're among the hundreds of RKO films they've since dropped. I'm not sure why - maybe the leaky-roof flood in the BBC film library I read about a decade ago (does anyone have definite info on that disaster?) or more likely they just don't consider them popular enough, or worth cleaning up, to show anymore. I think there are Spanish (?) DVDs available. The Lewton that really deserves rescuing is Universal's Apache Drums (with a climax comparable to his horror films) especially as all the UK TV screenings since the 1980s have been cut by several minutes.

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colinr0380
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Re: Odeon

#16 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Sep 13, 2010 12:43 pm

There was that segment on BBC Radio 4's Film Programme a few months ago where they tried to get to the bottom of where all the weekday afternoon films have gone to by talking to one of the film programmers and it appeared to come down to a depressing combination of thinking that modern audiences don't want to watch anything old, particularly if they were in black and white, and that the BBC now has filled the afternoon weekday slots that these films used to take up with antiques/house buying/auctioning/cookery shows that apparently appeal to their particular audience demographics more.

Plus there was also an explanation of the lack of film seasons on television any more, as schedulers don't want to have to devote slots for film screenings over a month or two (or one slot a week for a three or four month run) anymore. Though I suppose that they barely did it properly when they were doing Moviedrome, which regularly got shifted about due to overrunning sports events.

Jonathan S
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Re: Odeon

#17 Post by Jonathan S » Wed Oct 06, 2010 4:51 am

Sadly, it looks like my lack of hope for the quality of Odeon's RKO titles is more than justified. The Digital Fix has reviewed Berlin Express and Rachel and the Stranger.
From the Rachel review (but it applies to both):
Odeon potentially has quite a good thing going here. But they screwed up. The transfers are PAL format without properly converting from NTSC. This keeps the running time at the original pace instead of allowing for the 4% speedup. It also introduces combing and ghosting and various other possible problems.
So it seems their source is an American one - they should have just left them in NTSC, which virtually all UK systems play without problems. I hope Exposure's release of While the City Sleeps (also RKO) doesn't suffer from this conversion issue - perhaps the additional delay was caused by obtaining a proper PAL transfer, if their source is the same as Odeon's.

DanV
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Re: Odeon

#18 Post by DanV » Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:22 am

Just received The Big Clock and I can say it sports the same good master and transfer of the Universal R1.

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tojoed
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Re: Odeon

#19 Post by tojoed » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:40 am

Odeon are moving in to Blu-Ray in March with Michael Reeves's The Witchfinder General.

DanV
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Re: Odeon

#20 Post by DanV » Wed Dec 01, 2010 7:14 am

Great!!

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Cash Flagg
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Re: Odeon

#21 Post by Cash Flagg » Tue Dec 07, 2010 2:26 pm

tojoed wrote:Odeon are moving in to Blu-Ray in March with Michael Reeves's The Witchfinder General.
I emailed Odeon and they told me this will be region-free.

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Finch
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Re: Odeon

#22 Post by Finch » Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:14 pm

Odean have licenced To Each Their Own from Universal for a March 7 release. Good news for those who haven't jumped on Universal's decent Spanish release yet.

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antnield
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Re: Odeon

#23 Post by antnield » Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:45 am

The Digital Fix on To Each His Own.

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antnield
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Re: Odeon

#24 Post by antnield » Thu Apr 07, 2011 8:10 pm

The Digital Fix on Ninety Degrees in the Shade. This is a rare Anglo-Czech production and really should appeal to fans of Second Run's output considering the personnel: director Jiri Weiss (Romeo, Juliet and Darkness), dop Bedrich Batka (Marketa Lazarova) and actor Rudolf Hrusinsky (The Cremator, Larks on a String). It's also a Region 0 disc and budget priced.

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antnield
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Re: Odeon

#25 Post by antnield » Sun Apr 17, 2011 1:06 pm

The Digital Fix on Naked - As Nature Intended and Secrets of a Windmill Girl, Odeon's latest 'Slap & Tickle' double-bill.

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