Will Success Spoil Rock Hudson? comes to Blu-ray in a 1080p transfer in the original aspect ratio of 2.37:1. The disc is region locked to UK players, region B.
I wasn’t expecting too much from a film of such a vintage – but I was very pleasantly surprised. I haven’t ever seen the film before on any format, so I am unable to make any comparisons – but what is presented here is very impressive for a film over 50 years old. Of course the usual caveats apply. The film is aged (older than me, that’s saying something) so it is not comparable with modern digitally shot blockbusters. But my comments take this into account.
The first thing to mention is just how vivid and bright the colours are. The film must have been pretty vivid at the time because the colours just burst off the screen. This really is impressive stuff. Black levels are amazingly deep and shadow details are impressive. The only slight complaint in these areas is that perhaps the transfer is a little inconsistent, sometime the clarity drops a little bit – but these are rare moments and are likely to be problems with the source rather than the encode.
The other surprising thing here is how pristine the print seems to be. I was expecting to see some degeneration of the source – the odd scratch or other defects. However, my critical eye could see no such thing. This film could almost have been made yesterday. This transfer is extremely impressive folks.
The film is presented with a DTS-HD MA stereo mix that also manages to impress the viewer. Stereo separation is surprisingly wide for such a vintage film, with panning accurate and effective.
Dialogue is very well mixed and well pinned to the centre. It is always clear and precise, with no problems hearing what is being said. The dynamic range is also impressive, and there is none of the shrillness that can sometimes occur in older sound mixes.
As an extra option we are presented with an alternate track that just presents the music with some of the effects. A bit of a curiosity this, and I’ll be honest that I struggled to listen all the way through. This is a nice addition though.
It is very difficult to mark the extras on this package, as on the review copy a sizable chunk of extras are missing. I shall explain that later, but first let’s see what I could assess.
The first extra is an exclusive introduction to the film by Joe Dante. I was expecting just a few seconds, but this actually lasts 7 minutes and is surprisingly informative. It makes one wish he contributed a lengthy interview such as the ones featured on the Make way for Tomorrow disc. There is also the original theatrical trailer and a fascinating but too brief (less than a minute) Movietone piece covering Jayne Mansfield.
So what is missing here? Well, the accompanying PR material trumpets a book that will be included. This is a 44 page booklet that includes several essays and interviews. As this forms the bulk of the added value and I have been unable to view it then I have to give the extras a low mark. If I ever get to view this booklet, however, I will update accordingly. You should bear in mind that the book probably will add significant value to the package.
October 25th is turning out to be a good day for Eureka’s Masters of Cinema series – with this and Make Way for Tomorrow being released on the same day. Will Success Spoil Rock Hudson is another excellent release – presenting a film that has a subject matter that still resonates more than 50 years after it was made. Satirical without ever being savage, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this slice of comedy.
The picture and sound are surprisingly impressive for a film of this vintage, the picture in particular belying its age with a transfer that is amazingly free of defects and gorgeously colourful without ever being garish. The soundtrack is clear and precise, and there is even an extra music and effects track for those who are interested.
Although the extras may appear to drag the overall package down this is only because the reviewer did not get to see the booklet that is included, and this forms the bulk of the added value. With this book included the extras may well have got a higher mark.
The bottom line, though, is that anyone who is interested in film should add this to their purchase list. I am aware that I have marked both Eureka discs highly here, but perhaps the highest compliment I can pay them is that these discs would not look out of place with a Criterion badge on them. And most of you know how highly I rate Criterion. Eureka deserves praise for bringing such classics to the format, and for treating them with the respect they deserve.
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