I’m thinking of doing it as a project in the near future, maybe surprise you by releasing it right along with A Fistful of Dollars, my current major project.
After getting to study the Warner Bros. VHS colors more closely, I can safely conclude that the colors hew more closely to the Ripley’s print, but with less saturation. Edited NTSC-ified video to be uploaded to Thanos’s Italian Reddit Reject Forum sometime this week or next as proof (the only editing will be in terms of slowing down the WHV logo and the feature presentation to 24 FPS and putting the whole thing on a digital NTSC master).
And yet, I feel as though I could probably do one better on them. Probably.
And to the person who inquired about my taste for foreign dubs, yes, I am interested in them. I’d especially appreciate if someone on here has the Japanese Blu-ray releases of the Dollars Trilogy, so I can incorporate the Japanese dubs thereof when I work on them (I’m already working on A Fistful of Dollars at present).
Obviously, I won’t be restoring the TPE logo until at least the final 17 episodes of the second season, as I believe TPE wasn’t involved until 1997.
I hope to have an initial comparison ready with most sources sometime this month or next (I’ve just finished capturing my Warner Bros. VHS). As I don’t yet have every source I had planned to compare, the sources I will compare will be the Warner VHS, the CBS/Fox laserdisc, the MGM/UA 1988 VHS and 1990 laserdisc, the Dutch Afilm DVD, the Ripley’s Blu, the MGM Blu, the Tobis Blu, and the Kino Lorber Blu, plus a preliminary color correction based largely on the Fox print from the ‘80s.
I finally got a good look at the color of the Warner Bros. VHS, and it doesn’t look anywhere near as yellow as the Fox releases do. Needless to say, I’m still going to do all color correction based on the Fox print.
Add A Fistful of Dollars. I’m currently working on regrading it as Koopa Troopa Productions from the Ripley’s (somewhat accurate colors, but somewhat dull-looking) and the Kino Lorber (too yellow), based largely on the old Fox releases from the '80s. (For obvious reasons, I’m not using one frame of footage from the MGM, which apart from the cropping also looks rather muddy.)
I just gave my Warner Bros. VHS of AFOD a preview. Due to the way PAL output to my 3D TV works, I can’t speak for color accuracy yet, but I noticed a few things. First, the Warner Bros. release features a whole new pan-and-scan job, different than both the Fox and the MGM/UA, and it has its own quirks and screwjobs. Second, it uses the standard English-language opening sequence, instead of the one that credits Sergio Leone as Bob Robertson as seen on the Dutch DVD. Thirdly, the audio jump at the end of the opening sequence sounded similar to that on the MGM/UA, if it wasn’t exactly the same. Fourthly, the THE END title appears to have been made specifically for the Warner Bros. master, fading in in a more recognisable font instead of zooming in. And last, but far from least, certain of the cuts made to the UK theatrical version aren’t what I expected (for example, the torture scene is somewhat shorter, with Joe being roughed up for less time onscreen than in the Fox release by the Rojo thugs before Don Miguel advises him to talk so as to not prolong his suffering, an entire long shot of Joe crawling out of the storeroom after smashing Chico and another Rojo thug which was in the Fox release was removed—whereas that portion in the US theatrical version started with Joe crawling down the ramp after killing Chico and the other Rojo thug sent to guard him between torture shifts, here it begins from the point it begins in the uncut version, and continues until right before the aforementioned long shot—and a portion at the end of the scene where the Rojos torture Silvanito in his cantina was removed entirely, with the shot going from Ramón ramming the butt of his rifle into Silvanito’s chest immediately over to the shot of Piripero and Juan de Dios right after the scene).
Good grief, that doesn’t look like it’s going to go away any time soon… (defiantly checks the color of AFOD restoration against '80s Fox video print and notices the initial color check is nearly three-quarters finished)
Just go to my user page and click the “Start a Private Topic” button.
You’ll find out how definitive they are as I gradually start work on them. The current active project, for example, is a definitive edition for the Anglosphere, heavily based on an old video print from the ‘80s in terms of coloration (said ‘80s print appears to be the closest the film got to the intended colors on video).
The goal is to make definitive editions, really.
Unfortunately, that ship has already sailed (A Fistful of Dollars will be my first project, that’s already been settled), but if there’s a downloadable version of that source, I’d like to know via PM. Also, like any other respectable user, noob or veteran, I do not sell my projects. It is just unethical.
OK, I know I’m already working on one project, but in honor of this weekend’s Full Cold Moon, I am pleased to formally announce as a future project Sailor Moon.
Details are forthcoming, with the first details to come out sometime next spring, as I project myself to wrap things up on my current project. Stay tuned…
Forgot to mention: you may want to change the color correction settings on a scene-by-scene basis, as the second scene, in which Joe enters San Miguel only to be greeted by the sight of a dead man with a sign reading “Adios Amigo” on his back, looks a little too magenta in the skies compared to the Fox print. Also, depending on the cropping, I might use different sources at different places (but never the MGM Blu, for obvious reasons). For example, the balcony scene, in which Silvanito explains San Miguel’s situation to Joe, loses a little bit of the top in the Ripley’s, whereas that portion is visible in the Kino Lorber.
Well, I tried color-matching the Kino Lorber Blu to the '80s Fox prints, but the damn thing turned out to have been too far gone on the yellow side of the spectrum, plus there were certain shots during the first reel, particularly in the quarters Joe had been assigned at the Rojo compound upon joining, where I just couldn’t get the lighting right. Plus, as mentioned elsewhere, the Kino Lorber looks cropped, albeit not as heavily as the MGM. So, I decided to compare the Fox print to the Ripley’s print, and wouldn’t you know it, it looked more like a low-contrast Fox print on closer inspection. Just pump up the brightness to about 15 and the contrast to about 30, give the gain a slight boost towards the yellow end, and give the gamma a slight boost towards the magenta end, and you’ve got a Fox print that looks better, not to mention more complete and in widescreen.
HUGE UPDATE: I just won the Warner Bros. rental-only pre-cert VHS from 1983 at auction, so it looks like I will be able to include the UK theatrical version in addition to the US theatrical and uncut versions I had already planned to include.
That’s what the on-disc screenshot comparison is for, I guess, but I’ll probably show a sneak preview of what to expect as soon as I am able to.
After further comparison, I’ve decided the CBS/Fox laserdisc is the better color source to use than the MGM/UA laserdisc, which, if its videocassette counterpart is anything to go by, looks closer to the MGM Blu-ray, whereas the CBS/Fox laserdisc looks closer to Sergio Leone’s intentions.
Something I just noticed due to having too much free time on my hands on a slow Wednesday: the CBS/Fox laserdisc is similar to the Kino Lorber Blu-ray, only it’s somewhat more on the blue side and (typical of prints used for home video in the '80s) higher-contrast.
ETA: It’s apparently the exact same print 20th Century-Fox Video had used for their rental-only release a mere three years earlier. At some point, I’ll see how it compares with the print(s) MGM/UA issued in the late '80s/early '90s.
My current guesses in regards to the reels:
There are five reels.
The break between Reel 1 and Reel 2 is between Esteban and Joe meeting for the first time and the arrival of the cavalry into San Miguel.
The break between Reel 2 and Reel 3 is between the Rojos departing for the cemetery and the Baxters arriving at the cemetery.
The break between Reel 3 and Reel 4 is between Joe shooting up the small house and some nearby Rojos reacting.
The break between Reel 4 and Reel 5 is between the initial explosion of the Baxter mansion and Ramon signaling for the wine barrels to be brought over to use as fuel for the fire.
Ah! Thanks for catching that! No wonder I got yelled at by others earlier…
BTW I’m considering putting a DePatie-Freleng short or two. I’m definitely including whichever Pink Panther short played with this film in its original 1967 US run, and I might even include a short subject from the 1969 Dollar Double Bill re-release.
It’s basically a combination of the video from the Italian Blu-ray (which IMHO looks slightly better than the German Blu-ray in terms of picture quality from what I’ve read) and the opening and closing titles and mono track of the Kino Lorber Blu-ray—in other words, basically a definitive edition for the Anglosphere.
As for colors, I’m tentatively planning to use the letterboxed MGM/UA laserdisc as a color reference of sorts, in order to produce a quality transfer which further improves on the Italian Blu-ray and goes miles past the MGM and Kino Lorber Blu-rays (ESPECIALLY the former, which strays farther from director Sergio Leone’s intentions, let alone what videophiles expect from a good old low-budget Italowestern, than even the excessively yellow-looking Kino Lorber Blu-ray). I might even produce a 10-bit HDR version, depending on the capabilities of the current freeware programs. If things go well enough, and the freeware becomes capable enough, eventually I’ll even do a 4K UHD ISO using said 10-bit HDR version.
But for now, I’ll stick with bog-standard 8-bit SDR HD, and do the best I can manage with that.