SHADOW OF A DOUBT - BD50 - R0 - Checkdisc date 7th August 2012 Length 01:47:49 / VC-1 / DTS-HD MA 2 Ch. 48kHz / Confirmed AR 1.37:1
These are my rough viewing notes about the technical quality of the *UK* Blu-ray:
Upshot: The second oldest film in the boxset, and only 1 of 3 B&W (the others being Saboteur and Psycho), this is a perfectly acceptable Blu-ray, occasionally great. It’s not as good as it could be (some light manual damage removal and slightly better grain handling is all it needed for full marks) but at least there’s nothing massively wrong with it.
Opening titles are soft, as are all opticals in the film, which is to be expected. Once the opening titles and following establishing transitions have finished, the film *pops* nicely when we see Uncle Charlie on his bed and the bulk of the film looks good like this.
I’m guessing this isn’t a very recent HD scan (perhaps 2004-2008?) The original film materials are obviously capable of generating superb resolution imagery but they’re not in perfect condition. There are parts in the film (particularly the first few reels, and the scene in the bank when Uncle Charlie is in a back room opening a bank account) where there is noticeable film damage. It appears that nothing has been done to deal with the small amounts of film damage throughout the film.
No problems with sparkle.
I have a slight issue with the DVNR used to handle the grain, but it’s not a shocker, most people won’t notice, and it’s certainly not paralyzing like Frenzy. It’s not at all scrubbed smooth, there is “grain” visible, but it’s fighting with the DVNR and doesn’t seem to behave organically. Boring disclaimer: Yes, DVNR is useful when used lightly, but its presence should NEVER be felt and detritus it causes should never be seen. I felt its presence here, worse on pans and patterned fabrics that move. If you don’t know what you’re looking for though, you won’t really think it’s much of a problem – but, it could have looked a touch better. The other similar vintage film in the boxset – Saboteur – is a better encoding in this respect. I wish Universal followed best practice or at least had some consistency like Criterion, Fox, and the new shit-hot Sony discs; or indeed had learned by now like Warners, who reissued CASABLANCA on Blu this year (2012) with a far less scrubbed Blu-ray that replaced a smoothed-out 2008 effort. Having said that, the worst DVNR offender in this boxset is Frenzy.
This was the third time I’d seen Shadow of a Doubt and it was very satisfying to see it looking this good. There is room for improvement (eg. Criterion would have very carefully removed the film damage, and handled the grain better, which would have resulted in an even more filmic, organic image.)
No noticeable hiss/pop/crackle/noise on the soundtrack whatsoever.
Take these scores with a pinch of salt, and they may change, but I’m going to give it 7/10.