Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Third Man on the Mountain|
Actors: Michael Rennie, James MacArthur, Janet Munro, James Donald, Herbert Lom
Director: Ken Annakin
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Kids & Family
Based on a true story, here is the thrilling, critically acclaimed account of Rudi Matt (James MacArthur), a young kitchen worker who is determined to conquer the Citadel -- the jagged, snowcapped peak that claimed his fat... more »
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Gret Old Classics/Poor Video Transfers
Allen Eaton | Longmont, CO USA | 10/03/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I love this movie and was delighted to see it appear at last on DVD. That is until I watched it. I was going to comment on the picture quality of this new DVD, but someone in New York beat me to it. All I can do is agree with that individual.
I worked at the Disney Studios in the 1970's in 16mm film distribution (just prior to the coming of home video). I distributed 16mm prints of this title. A new 16mm print struck at that time had a much better picture quality than the element used to make this current DVD transfer. The main problem is negative dirt. It's like watching a film in a snow storm. The N.Y. reviewer also correctly observed that the color correction was uneven.
Some audiences do not notice these technical flaws. Yet those in the industry have spent decades trying to improve the quality of how to present film product. DVDs are marketed on this very point. After all, what else do studios have to offer but their inventories? If all the Hollywood studios can agree to spend millions of dollars over the years investing in the latest technology, then they must care how to present their work in the best possible light. Or not, apparently.
For over three decades, video equipment has existed that can electronically "clean up" much of the dirt and some of the scratches that show up on video from a poor original source. The best way is to strike a new interpositive from the camera original negative (the original should first be chemically "washed"). You color correct when you make the digital transfer. I have overseen this process many times during my years in the video trarnsfer business. In this way, you will create the absolute best transfer possible. Otherwise, why bother?
I must also observe that this problem exists with many new Disney DVD transfers, and from films far more recent than THIRD MAN. Unfortunately, Disney isn't the only studio going "on the cheap." I just saw a new DVD of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. I think the print/negative they used must have first been run over BY the Orient Express.
This is now almost an exact science. It also isn't that cost prohibitive when you consider the length of time a DVD will last. Don't you want your name on the BEST quality product? Poor workmanship shows. I must say that this transfer does not show the pride the Disney people put into their work when I was at the Studio (in the pre-Eisner days).
On the plus side, the soundtrack is fairly clean, although here, too, great advances have been made in "cleaning up" and fully restoring audio elements. Just having THIRD MAN ON THE MOUNTAIN available on video again isn't enough, especially when you don't care (and here I'll borrow a tag line) "to send the very best.""
Great movie, but do not throw out your vhs copy yet
microjoe | 05/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"THE STORY : Basically, young Rudi is the son of the best climbing guide in his village, who died tragically climbing the yet unconquered Matterhorn, or as they call it "the Citadel". Rudi's mother refuses to let her son climb, and he is going crazy for it if it were not for the love and understanding of Lizbeth. He strongly believes his father had discovered a secret path to the mountaintop that has so far eluded all other climbers. Rudi is always in trouble for sneaking away to climb on his own, when he is supposed to be washing dishes at the hotel. But the village is concerned over losing their reputation with the other villages, since their guides have been afraid to climb the mountain in the 16 years since the tragedy. When a famous British climber arrives with a guide from a rival village to climb the Citadel and also wants to hire local guides, Rudi and the village get their big chance at redeeming their reputation. There is a good moral lesson about thinking of others first. A very enjoyable dramatic story, it is true Disney wholesome family fare.
BEHIND THE SCENES TRIVIA: The movie was filmed entirely on location in Switzerland. Helicopters and mule trains were used to get the gear to the filming spots. Disney arranged for the actors to actually learn to climb in order to make the scenes that involved the actors more realistic. The long shots were usually filmed with doubles, and close range shots involved the real actors. In the case of the close-up shots the crew used movie magic to make the actors to appear high off the ground when they were not. James MacArthur really enjoyed the climbing and disappeared without authorization from the set in order to do some real climbing, which panicked the crew as an accident would delay filming.
Ken Annakin directed, and was regrouped with some of the cast for his next Disney Studio project, "Swiss Family Robinson". The character of the 18 year old young man named Rudi is well played by young James MacArthur, the son of Helen Hayes. She has a cameo in the film if you look closely. James also appeared in Disney's films "Kidnapped", "Swiss Family Robinson", and "The Light in the Forest". The part of Lizbeth was played by cheery Janet Munro (who also appeared in "Darby and the Little People", "Swiss Family Robinson", & "The Horsemasters"); and Michael Rennie as Captain Winter. The climbing scenes are very well done and scenic.
Walt Disney took his family on vacation to Switzerland, and fell in love with the mountain and the book the story is derived from, "Banner in the Sky" by James Ramsey Ullman. In fact the author has a brief cameo as an American tourist in one scene. The book is based on a true story, and was adapted into a screenplay by Eleanore Griffin. Walt personally made the decision to turn the book into a movie, and the film held a special place in his heart, as well as his budget since this was an expensive undertaking. The mountain left such a deep impression on him that he later recreated it in 1/100th scale at Disneyland with the Matterhorn Mountain and Bobsleds attraction. The film was released in theatres on November 10, 1959 at 107 minutes in length. The episode was re-edited for release as a two episode show on the Walt Disney's `Wonderful World of Color' television show in 1963. It was subsequently renamed after the original book, "Banner in the Sky". Each episode had its own title, the first being "To Conquer the Mountain", and the 2nd being "The Killer Mountain". It first aired on February 17, and 24, 1963. It re-aired on March 5, and 12, 1972. The theatrical edit of the film was first released on VHS in 1986 and DVD on September 7, 2004.
DVD QUALITY: Let me start off by saying that if you are looking to buy a copy to upgrade your old VHS copy of the same film, SAVE YOUR MONEY. Since they decided not to re-master the film and it has been poorly preserved, the 2004 DVD version of the film has scratches, poor sound, and bad color, and was in full screen rather than wide screen. No extras even though there are tons of footage that could have been used. I would have liked to see the trailer, footage of Walt talking about the film, and from his trip to Switzerland, the original 1955 Disney "People and Places" travelogue on Switzerland, and maybe a piece on the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland. So hold onto your VHS copy if you have one, or buy a used on here at Amazon rather than encourage Disney to keep up this butcher job on such great films."
gellerfan | FLUSHING, NEW YORK United States | 01/29/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Having read the cautionary reviews of my colleagues, regarding the quality of the dvd, I decided to purchase "Third Man On The Mountain" anyway. I, too, became enthralled with the story in grade school when I read Banner In The Sky and eagerly ran to the theater to see the story brought to life on film. You all know the tale, so I won't bore the reader by repeating it. The DVD transfer is a disgrace! Grainy, poor color correction; very painful to watch. I had hoped that the other reviewers were just being too technically critical, but they were spot on! If Disney is going to bring a film to DVD, it owes the consumer AND the filmmakers the courtesy of presenting the movie in the best possible manner! Disney failed us all miserably, and - because TMOTM is not a Disney "classic" it is likely we will never again see the pristine cinematography so lovingly shot back in the 50's. One other thing - could not determine if the film was ever shot in 'scope; was it just 1.33:1 aspect ratio originally?
My advice -don't buy the DVD unless you have no concern for quality. I returned mine and instead watch my old laserdisc (which was, in fact, a better transfer).
Great movie, not the best DVD....
DigitalMan | New York | 09/17/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First, the good news: this is one of my favorite of all the live action Disney movies and it is wonderful to finally see it again. If you enjoy beautiful scenery, the mountain climbing sequences in here display some of the best (though admittedly, some scenes are clearly matte paintings - but who cares? They're still beautiful!). The story is essentially predictable, but that doesn't distract for the wonderful atmosphere created in this film. It is well worth watching.
Now, the bad news...and the reason I could not give this DVD a full five stars: the DVD transfer is poor. The film print they used is fine considering it's age and generally looks rather good. However, and I don't know this as fact, I strongly suspect that they did not do a new film transfer for this DVD release. I think they used an old 3/4" tape - very likely the same source tape used when they released this film on VHS tape and laserdisc way back when. On the DVD, you can see very slight and subtle analog hits in the tape - the type that don't occur on digital source tapes. Not to mention, the color correction and brightness which someone did an atrocious job with - again, probably when trying to remaster the 3/4" tape rather than a new pristine film transfer which is what should have been done. The color correction is not SO bad (though some of the skin tones look awful), but there are portions of peoples faces that are washed out in certain scenes due to someone incompetent being behind the brightness/contrast controls - did Disney use a summer intern to prepare this DVD release?
I think that someone just threw an old 3/4" tape of this movie into a deck and badly tweaked the colors and brightness/contrast while it was running to DVD - that's it. Easy and cheap and a very sub-standard result.
So, major points to Disney for finally releasing this great movie, but major strikes against them for doing such a poor job on maintaining any standards in the DVD quality. They obviously cut some serious corners to save money and it definitely shows.
All that being said, I still love this movie and am thrilled to have it on DVD at all. Don't let my ranting fool you - for those who truly love it, it is still watchable and young children probably won't notice any difference. I'm not going to get rid of my copy, but let's hope that Disney gets their act together and releases this film in one of those Special Vault Disney editions....and that they go back to the original film rather than some aged 3/4" tape."