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Posted: 24 Jun 2012, 19:14 

North by Northwest #45A (1959) [CC1226L]
I just watched this Criterion CLV edition which adds a digital version of the mono soundtrack not featured on the CAV release.

Image is very good for the age, but obviously Criterion used a show print of some kind as there is damage inherent throughout the film. Color timing is very pleasing to the eye and unlike other editions I've seen. Think of the look of the new Blu-ray/DVD edition but lighter and you have an idea of what it looks like. Framed at about 1.75:1, and as this is a VistaVision film there are many ways to go about this. 1.66, 1.7, 1.75, 1.78, 1.85 are all acceptable choices and each will give a slightly different amount of information in the frame. Criterion's image gives more on top and bottom but does lose a bit on the sides. Just look at the opening titles, as the bottom credit text and logo is cut off completely on the right side. But this is a great disc for it's age. Funny to think it's as old as I am. ;)
Image: 6 or 7/10

The mono soundtrack is the original version and not a remix. Once you've heard this track there's no going back to the fake modern 5.1 which has the music overpowering the still mono dialogue. It's perfectly balanced and for all the talk about Bernard Herrmann's score being recorded in stereo and pitifully put into the mono mix it sounds wonderful. Natural soundfield with a nice bit of bass too-this especially comes across when score cues. Here on the Criterion disc, the mono sounds well preserved on the digital track but has some occasional issues. In the first scene with VanDamm, the audio becomes extremely hissy and every line of dialogue is engulfed in a hiss. It's still audible but slightly distracting. The beginning of Side 3 has a big volume spike which gently lowers after about a minute or so. Finally, I don't know if this is just my disc but there are two places where the sound is completely garbled with some kind of digital noise. It's not either of my players and the disc seems to be perfect so perhaps this is a mastering error? Anyway, this occurs:
-In the opening dialogue scene right after Thornhill has picked up a newspaper, and the second half of his line if obscured by mysterious garble.
-When Thornhill and Mother enter the Plaza Hotel.
Sound gets a 10/10 for presenting the mono mix faithfully. The real quality rating with these issues would bring it down to say a 7/10. Still it sounds really really good !

I really enjoyed this disc, and it has become my favorite copy, though it lacks in the high resolution of the DVD/Blu-ray transfer which came from an 8K scan of the original negative. I want to see the MGM widescreen release as it has a cleaner mono soundtrack (but the opening titles are in stereo), a different color timing and more open 1.66 framing.

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Posted: 12 Nov 2015, 23:27 

Just wondering since at some point I'd either like to service or replace my still soldiering on 702. With a LX900 or D704, is there much visible improvement? Ever since getting my hdcrt xbr960, LDs have become noisy and unwatchable to the point of making me want to build a cart to use my old 4:3 480i Sony CRT again just for them.
My DVL-700 has less noise in the image than the 702, and of course the ac3 rf out. But the DVNR is so prevalent that I never use it other than testing ac3 tracks.

With the absurdly high cost of players on ebay, little guarantee they work right or will be shipped well, and the local avenues practically nil, I've never been able to justify shelling out several hundred dollars for what may or may not be much improvement.
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