"Casablanca underwent a pretty substantial digital restoration for its 2003 SD DVD release. This VC-1 1.37:1 transfer (finally the correct OAR) looks to me like it’s from the same elements, though there is a noticeable, if not completely overwhelming, increase in clarity and especially contrast. You’ll notice an increased depth of field in some of the shots, despite a lack of deep focus, and the smoky ambience of Rick’s Cafe Americain is lovingly rendered. As with the previous SD release, there’s no damage or abrasion to speak of–this was one film that Warners really took care of through the years, and it shows."
Planet of the Apes
On Planet of the Apes, one can finally read the main title card that was completely washed-out by the glare of a passing comet (or something), and other details previously visible only in 35mm theatrical prints come into focus here. This does have some interesting disadvantages, however; it’s clear for instance in some shots that the interiors of Taylor’s spaceship are constructed out of plywood. Plants are visible in a few high-angle shots before we’re supposed to see any plant life, and in Ape City some of the structures off in the distance are clearly two-dimensional standees.
Battle of Britan
I was caught off-guard but the strength of its depth and dimensionality. The scope image is generally smooth, crisp, and brimming with fine detail, often looking decades more recent than Battle of Britain really is. Film grain remains tight and unintrusive throughout, showing no signs of being smeared away by overzealous video noise reduction. Some moments do exhibit somewhat of an artificially oversharpened appearance, but it’s not a constant concern. There is some scattered softness that becomes particularly pronounced in any shot with optical effects, although that’s to be expected. The palette tends to be somewhat cold but generally emerges as natural and nicely saturated. Wear is limited to just a couple of tiny and easily ignored flecks throughout.
In this case, the video transfer given to Blazing Saddles is nothing short of remarkable and belies its 30+ year age. Aside from the gritty opening credits (an artifact of the optical compositing process used to generate the titles), the movie looks like it could have been filmed this very year, not 1974. The image is quite sharp and has terrific resolution of fine object details. Colors are richly saturated and flesh tones spot-on accurate. Some mild film grain is apparent throughout, but it’s well rendered and has a fine film-like texture. Black levels are inky and provide a satisfying sense of depth. The clarity in this picture is just fantastic. Any fan of Blazing Saddles will be thrilled to see it looking so good, and even casual movie-watchers looking for High Definition eye candy will find it a revelation.
Do a search on whats coming out soon at Amazon and you will see tons of old school movies coming out soon. They seem to all coming out looking pretty sweet too. I mean Casablanca is a 1940’s movie and it can show improvement. So give it a shot whenever you can