3 Days of The Condor Blu Ray -Paramount vs Studio Canal Collection Comparison

Ob Com

Novice Member
This is one of my favorite movies. A gem of 1970's American film making imo. Whilst it may not be up with the heavy weights of that era, many people who discover this film seem to develop a great deal of fondness for it, flaws and all.

Whilst it has many individual strengths, there is just something about the experience of watching it that is so pleasurable, its somehow more than the sum of its parts.

Anyway, I already had the Paramount U.S. Blu Ray, but being something of a fanatic about this movie, decided to get the Studio Canal Collection Blu Ray also, after reading about it on the SCC thread here.

I know the film very well, having owned it on laser disc and dvd previously, but I am not super-qualified to undertake a technically minded review nor unfortunately do I have the ability to take screen shots for comparison. So its just my impressions.

Image Quality.

I found the Paramount blu ray to be apparantly sharper overall than the SCC version, which has a much lower bit rate.

There was more fine grain visible on the Paramount version.

However I found the SCC version to have better contrast. It was also a generally darker image, much closer to how I had previously recalled the film.

Indeed when I first got the Paramount blu ray, I was slightly taken a-back by how bright it was. Having seen the SCC, which is closer to previous dvd and LD versions, I do prefer the darker image and the Paramount appears overbrightened to my taste, looking almost a tad overexposed in some scenes.

Going back to the question of sharpness:- whilst the Paramount disc is sharper and shows more fine grain, I found myself noticing more detail in the SCC disc, despite it appearing noticably "softer" overall.

I dont think the Paramount disc has been oversharpened, so I'm puzzled by this.

Colours on the Paramount disc are drabber than the SCC version. It appears quite desaturated compared to the SCC version.

This combination of slight overbrightness (to my taste), lower contrast and drabber colours in the Paramount version makes, imo, for a less "filmic" look, despite the higher bit rate.

Indeed some of the interior shots, for example the ground floor interior shots of the American Literary Historical Society have an almost 1970's TV look to them, which I had not seen on previous DVD versions.

In the SCC version they look like film again.

There is some black crush in the Paramount disc, whereas the SCC blacks are better handled to my eyes.

Skin tones are also better in the SCC version. Much more natural. In the Paramount version Redford looks like he has lipstick on in some scenes.

I could see no evidence of excessive DNR on either blu ray and no EE on the SCC. Perhaps there might be some minor EE on the Paramount Disc.

BTW the rendering of out of focus background areas when the DP was shooting with long lenses (the final scene especially) were much more beautifully rendered on the SCC disc for some reason.

In terms of IQ, I prefer the SCC blu ray, despite its lower bit rate, primarily because the darker image, better contrast, more natural skin tones and less desaturated colours looks more film like and also more how I remember the movie always having previously looked. I wish it had all of those characteristics, plus the impressive sharpness of the Paramount disc,
- it would then be truly outstanding.

It is initially less "impressive" as a blu ray than the Paramount disc, which seems much sharper and has a nice layer of fine film grain and would appear to be undoubtedly a newly minted HD transfer. I dont know if SCC are using a new HD transfer- it certainly seems a much smaller file.

However I prefer the way the SCC disc looks compared with the way Paramount have rendered the film.

Audio Quality

Here the positions are reversed.

The SCC disc is DTS HD MA against Dolby True HD for Paramount.

The SCC disc is much louder than the Paramount disc. It also sounds over-cooked to me and I wonder if it has been overcompressed.

Aside from that the Paramount audio track just sounds clearer. Dialogue is clean and crisp, where as on the SCC disc the sound is slightly coloured, dialogue a bit boxy, and I wonder whether it would have benifited from a clean up.

Extras

The Paramount blu ray only has the trailer.

The SCC disc is much richer.

It has the extras from the previous two disc Dutch DVD special edition, which are a very interesting documentary about the late Sydney Pollack shot in about 2003, focusing particularly on his many collaborations with Redford, and also a piece with him and Redord discussing 3 days of the condor.

These are quite in depth and will be a pleasure to view for any fans of either Redford or Pollack.

It also has a documentary about the CIA which I havent watched yet. Its in French but has english subs available.

(BTW there are NO burnt in subs as was the case with the HD DVD Disc of 3DOTC)

I was particuarly pleased to see that there is a commentary track for the movie by Pollack.

I think this was only previously available on the German DVD so its nice to see it added here.

I liked Pollack, both as an actor and director, so I hoped it would be more detailed and engaging. Unfortunatley he doesnt speak much on the commentary and there are quite a few very long silences where you forget you are listening to the commentary track and become engaged in watching the film again, only to be surprised when the director interrupts :)

Packaging

The SCC is the winner here imo- really nice to have the cardboard book-style case and some artwork on the cover that more accurately reflects the original promo imagery for the film.

The booklet is OK- nothing particularly special. It contains an essay, which is in English (I got the Dutch blu ray as there is no UK release scheduled for this title). The essay slightly lets itself down by refering to the Higgins character mistakenly as "Atwood".

Conclusion

I prefered the SCC video and the Paramont Audio, so a compromise is in order.

I suspect I will use the SCC version in future, because it looks more faithful to the movie as I've always known it.

Whether it is a better blu ray or not than the Paramount version, is, I suspect a different matter.

Other people may be disapointed with the video quality of the SCC disc, which looks much better than DVD but not as good as many remastered classic films can on blu ray imo.

Attached is a photograph of my various versions of the film for the enjoyment of anyone as fanatical about this movie as I am :)

 
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John Hodson

Well-known Member
Thanks for that; I'm quite frustrated over the Studio Canal set. I'm a fan of the film, but I refuse to shell out the £20+ that a buy from Holland would cost, and it still appears to be a store exclusive in Australia.

Yesterday, I found it at Dutch etailer Bol.com for 14.99 Euros, but not only will they not ship BDs outside of Holland, I understand that for their other items their shipping charges are crucifying.

Any other, affordable, option?
 

Ob Com

Novice Member
Hi John

I didnt find any other options I'm afraid, and in fact it ended up costing me £30 plus shipping from the only retailer I could find selling it.
I would not normally spend this much on a blu ray, but its a top 5 film for me :)

cheers

David
 
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Dubliner1

Member
from cinemasquid...U.S. bluray....



Releases:
2009-05-19 - Paramount
2009-05-19 - ParamountRegion:Region Free ABCRuntime:117 minutesDiscs:1 : BD-50 (38.34 GB)Video:MPEG-4 AVC / 1080p24 / 2.35:1 / 38.63 MbpsAudio:English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48 kHz / 24-bit / 3085 kbps)French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 kbps)Subtitles:English (SDH), English, French, Spanish
ASIN:B001U0HAYSUPC:097361428840EAN:0097361428840MPN:pARBR142884

StudioCanal....



Releases:
2009-09-18 - Kinowelt GmbHRegion:Region Locked ABRuntime:117 minutesDiscs:1 : BD-50Video:VC-1 / 1080p24 / 2.35:1 / 20.96 MbpsAudio:English DTS-HD Master 5.1 (48 kHz / 16-bit / 2006 kbps)English DTS-HD Master 2.0 (48 kHz / 16-bit / 1076 kbps)
French DTS-HD Master 2.0 (48 kHz / 16-bit / 904 kbps)
German DTS-HD Master 2.0 (48 kHz / 16-bit / 853 kbps)
Spanish DTS-HD Master 2.0 (48 kHz / 16-bit / 976 kbps)Subtitles:Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Japanese, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish
ASIN:B002DOSVMAUPC:-EAN:4006680050348MPN:-
http://www.cinemasquid.com/blu-ray/movies/list?search=3+days+of+the+condor
 

Pecker

Distinguished Member
Thanks for that; I'm quite frustrated over the Studio Canal set. I'm a fan of the film, but I refuse to shell out the £20+ that a buy from Holland would cost, and it still appears to be a store exclusive in Australia.

Yesterday, I found it at Dutch etailer Bol.com for 14.99 Euros, but not only will they not ship BDs outside of Holland, I understand that for their other items their shipping charges are crucifying.

Any other, affordable, option?
I'd like the look of the extras, but the US disc (which cost me a tenner) looks smashing, and I bet the documentaries turn up on YouTube.

Steve W
 

Jim Di Griz

Distinguished Member
I love this film but this review (thanks ob com!) has still confused me! I think the Studio Canal version sounds best but Im not paying over the top for it. Surely there must be a UK one out at some point (which will be the Studio Canal version im guessing?)

Might sound like sacrilege to some but I much prefer this film to the Conversation for example! :)
 

Ob Com

Novice Member
Hi Jim,

There has never been a UK home video release for this film as far as I know. Never on DVD or video. Its always puzzled me, and I guess it must be a contractural issue.

Its unavailablilty in the UK was why I first bought a laser disc player back in around 1995, to get a good uncut copy of the film- the one they showed on TV was butchered.

Re my review- I would say that the Paramount disc is the better "blu ray"- it has more wow factor about it- but the SCC appears more true to the original as previously presented, in terms of contrast/brightness/colour saturation/skin tones.

Thats why I prefer the SCC version. But, whilst an improvement, it is not as big a step up from the DVD interms of pure IQ as the Paramount disc is.

hope that helps

David
 
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Jim Di Griz

Distinguished Member
Hi Jim,

There has never been a UK home video release for this film as far as I know. Never on DVD or video. Its always puzzled me, and I guess it must be a contractural issue.

Its unavailablilty in the UK was why I first bought a laser disc player back in around 1995, to get a good uncut copy of the film- the one they showed on TV was butchered.

Re my review- I would say that the Paramount disc is the better "blu ray"- it has more wow factor about it- but the SCC appears more true to the original as previously presented, in terms of contrast/brightness/colour saturation/skin tones.

Thats why I prefer the SCC version. But, whilst an improvement, it is not as big a step up from the DVD interms of pure IQ as the Paramount disc is.

hope that helps

David
Thanks. From what youve said above I would rather go for the SCC one too. Id rather have a true to the original picture than an overly enhanced/bright one. Thats one reason why I got a plasma instead of an LCD for one thing! :)
 

Jim Di Griz

Distinguished Member
Youre welcome.

Yes, I'm a plasma fan also, for those filmic black levels:D
You sound as obsessed about 3 Days as I am about Blade Runner! :D I love 3 Days though. For some reason, I never saw it until about 5 years ago or so - must have been on TV - and the opening sequence just grabbed me, wasnt expecting it at all!

I know im preaching to the converted but its definitely my favourite of those dark, downbeat 70s thrillers.

Now, where can I find a decent price for the SCC one I wonder?
 

Dubliner1

Member
You sound as obsessed about 3 Days as I am about Blade Runner! :D I love 3 Days though. For some reason, I never saw it until about 5 years ago or so - must have been on TV - and the opening sequence just grabbed me, wasnt expecting it at all!

I know im preaching to the converted but its definitely my favourite of those dark, downbeat 70s thrillers.

Now, where can I find a decent price for the SCC one I wonder?
Another good thriller from the 70's is 'The Parallax View'...tho not available on bluray as far as I know.
 

Ob Com

Novice Member
Jim. Lol, I'm fairly batty (ho! ho!) about Blade Runner too. My top three films are probably 3 days, Bladerunner and The Big Lebowski.

I remember the excitement of getting Bladerunner Directors Cut on Laser Disc- it was a revelation after the widecreen video. Georgeous PCM sound.

I have the R1 DVD collectors box with the copy script and poster and also the Suitcase Blu Ray.

The blu ray is a joy to behold isnt it? I never tire of watching Blade Runner.

@ Dubliner- yeah hopefully Parralax, Klute, All the Presidents Men and The Conversation on blu ray one day!
 

Jim Di Griz

Distinguished Member
Jim. Lol, I'm fairly batty (ho! ho!) about Blade Runner too. My top three films are probably 3 days, Bladerunner and The Big Lebowski.

I remember the excitement of getting Bladerunner Directors Cut on Laser Disc- it was a revelation after the widecreen video. Georgeous PCM sound.

I have the R1 DVD collectors box with the copy script and poster and also the Suitcase Blu Ray.

The blu ray is a joy to behold isnt it? I never tire of watching Blade Runner.

@ Dubliner- yeah hopefully Parralax, Klute, All the Presidents Men and The Conversation on blu ray one day!
:D You sound as batty as me about it, Roy!

I didnt bother with the suitcases actually! But I have got other various bits and pieces and a few Blade Runner posters. I actually had the workprint for years on a dodgy VHS which I treasured until the final cut edition came out!

Dangerous Days and the docs on disc 4 are the best extras on dvd for me, and not just because of the subject matter. I take it youve already got the second edition of Future Noir? If not, its a must-read! And the Philip K Dick book is a must-read too...not too similar to the film but its fascinating.
 

Ob Com

Novice Member
Hi Jim,

I have the first version of Future Noir, but havent bought the revised edition.

I agree the documentary supplimentals on the blu rays were the pinnacle of how it can be done to date.

After so many years of waiting I almost had to pinch myself when the 5 disc blu ray was issued.

It was litterally a dream come true!

David
 

Jim Di Griz

Distinguished Member
Hi Jim,

I have the first version of Future Noir, but havent bought the revised edition.

I agree the documentary supplimentals on the blu rays were the pinnacle of how it can be done to date.

After so many years of waiting I almost had to pinch myself when the 5 disc blu ray was issued.

It was litterally a dream come true!

David
I sold my first edition on ebay and the money from that paid for the second edition - its not quite as nice to look at but it does have a fair bit more info etc.

Yeah, I put off buying BR on dvd for years and years. I tried not to buy the remastered DC on dvd (and failed). And of course, the final cut came out about a year later! Got the UK tin box, the 2-disc UK blu-ray and the the US 5-disc of course.

3 Days of the Condor is even harder to get then BR was - as a UK release anyway! And when you see the sheer amounts of dross that is released on blu-ray it just beggars belief...Ive seen people with 300+ blu-rays, I really would find it hard to find 300 blu-rays worth buying (or even watching! :D) myself but thats just me! :)
 

TheFantabulator

Novice Member
3 Days and I have to add, The Parallax View, were two of the best films to come out of the 70s.
 

Garrett

Moderator
3 Days and I have to add, The Parallax View, were two of the best films to come out of the 70s.
That and Seconds still send chills down my spine thinking about them.
 

John Hodson

Well-known Member
"seconds" is an amazing film, paranoia at its creepiest best. Don't think I have seen it since I was at college, is it available on any medium?

P
Paramount released it in R1 a while back, but it's OOP now.
 

John Hodson

Well-known Member
If anyone's desperate to lay their hands on the Studio Canal Collection BD of 3 Days of The Condor, it's available at the cheapest price I've seen it online at the Finnish etailer Filmifrikki; it's almost a decade since I dealt with them, but their estore now has an English interface (click top right) and alot easier to use! Works out at around £17 delivered.
 

Jim Di Griz

Distinguished Member
Cheers John! Ordered. Decent price I think, I doubt it will get much lower. And it was the SCC version I wanted. Prices on the USA one have been crazy whenever Ive looked earlier this year. :)
 

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