In March, Warner Home Entertainment will bring the 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition of Casablanca to Blu-ray. This romantic drama follows Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre), an American expatriate who finds his protestations of neutrality during the Second World War tested when his old flame Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman, Spellbound) re-enters his life looking for someone to help her husband, the heroic Czech Resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid, Night Train to Munich).
Director Michael Curtiz's film features an all-star cast that includes Peter Lorre (M), Claude Rains (Notorious), Conrad Veidt (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari), Sydney Greenstreet (The Maltese Falcon), and Dooley Wilson (Stormy Weather) as Sam, Rick's loyal piano man.
One of cinema's most beloved films, Casablanca won three Academy Awards - Best Original Screenplay: Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, & Howard Koch; Best Director: Michael Curtiz; and Best Picture - after its release in 1942 and was more recently honored with the American Film's Institute's distinction as the second greatest American film ever made.
Warner's new 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition presents an all-new 4K restoration of Casablanca. The exact technical specifications are still unknown for this three-disc set, but the package contains a number of bonus supplements, many of which were not available on Warner's previous Casablanca Ultimate Collector's Edition.
Introduction by Lauren Bacall
Two audio commentaries:
- Film critic Roger Ebert
- Film historian Rudy Behlmer
Roster for Warner's A Night at the Movies viewing mode:
- Theatrical trailer for Now Voyager
- Vintage newsreel
- Vaudeville Days short feature
- The Bird Came C.O.D. short feature
- The Squawkin' Hawk short feature
- The Dover Boys at Pimento University or The Rivals of Roquefort Hall short feature
Eight behind-the-scenes documentaries:
- Michael Curtiz: The Greatest Director You Never Heard Of
- Casablanca: An Unlikely Classic
- You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story
- The Brothers Warner
- Jack L. Warner: The Last Mogul
- Great Performances: Bacall on Bogart
- You Must Remember This: A Tribute to Casablanca
- As Time Goes By: The Children Remember
Who Holds Tomorrow? feature
Carrotblanca Looney Tunes cartoon
Scoring the Casablanca stage sessions
Two vintage Casablanca radio broadcasts:
- 4/26/43: Lady Esther Screen Guild Theater
- 11/19/47: Vox Pop
Warner has also included collectible media inside the Blu-ray box.
Full size reproduction of the original 1942 film poster
Sixty-two-page production art book that includes never-before-seen photos, personal memos, and archival documents about the production
Four collectible drink coasters
The 70th Anniversary Edition of Casablanca streets on March 27th.
If the 4k marks a noticeable difference from the previous excellent BD transfer on my measly 40" LCD display and there is a version (Best Buy exclusive digibook perhaps?) w/o all the swag, I will gladly sell my Ultimate Collector's Edition. I picked it up when that was the only BD version and never really wanted all the swag anyway.
@ShellOilJunior, I wouldn't consider this double dip a "joke", seeing as it has a new 4K restoration, additional bonus features and some collectible items (if you care for them). Seems as a worthy double dip, especially considering many titles that do receive double dips are just repackaged with the same disc!
Glad I haven't bought this yet, but I just hope they release an alternate version in smaller packaging for less than $50. A digi-book preferrably, containing most of what is in the box set book. I've held off on Ben Hur for the very same reason.
Tom Servo- There's been that version of Ben-Hur at Best Buy for awhile now (2 BDs/2 DVDs, no swag), picked it up mid-December for about $13 (back up to $30 last time I checked). Was movie only though, very little in the way of special features, which I rarely watch anyway :-)
I really really want this movie, I hope they release a version similar to the Gone With the Wind Scarlet Edition and the Wizard of Oz Emerald Edition, all the discs only without all the extra stuff in the box! Don't really care about extra fluff but I love me some special features, especially on these old classics...
Although I already have a copy of the previous UCE of Casablanca, I'm likely to buy this one too, given the improved transfer (fingers crossed) and additional features and collectibles, both on and off the discs -- and, I hope, the inclusion of lossless audio. I have it on preorder but may, in the end, wait for a discount, like I did for the UCEs of Willy Wonka and Gettysburg & Gods and Generals. We'll see how the reviews go.
I really do wish Warner would also give us UCEs (or at least digibooks) of The Maltese Falcon, Rebel without a Cause, White Heat, Giant, An American in Paris, The Searchers, Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), Dial M for Murder and some of the other classics in its library (and, as d5680 said, UCEs of Unforgiven and Goodfellas).
I don't regret buying the first "ultimate" Blu-ray edition (which may now become a collector's item, I suppose), but I see no reason at all to get the newest "ultimate" edition unless they've also upgraded the bonus features to HD, especially the "Warner night at the movies" selection of shorts and cartoons, but also as many of the documentaries as possible.
It's nice to see Warners upgrading scans on their classics when possible, but the current Blu-ray still looks pretty good at 1080p. With Blu-ray technology finally catching on with the public and getting reasonably compatable standards, how long now, I wonder, before high-end electronics companies will decide to agree on a standard for 4K home presentations? That's when the 4K scan will truly reveal its glories.
Jesus, just what we need--another Casablanca release. Surely all of us see this for what it is: another suckling at the tit by Warner of its most lucrative cash cow. The 4K scan might fool some into thinking they'll have the ultimate viewing experience of this oh-so-classic classic, but it ain't foolin' me. Pass, in spades.
I have the single BD they released over a year ago, which was a Best Buy Exclusive which was a stripped down version of the prior Ultimate Collector's Edition sans the frills, and it looks great. The only way it could possibly have looked better is if you happened to be there during the shoot. Good luck.
In other words, this is what is known as "Milking the Tit".
If the reviews come in and say the picture quality with the 4K is a mind-blowing improvement over the current
blu-ray I might throw in when the set becomes highly discounted, but I'm not holding my breath.
Here's Blu-ray.com's review of the prior Casablanca blu-ray release:
The black-and-white video presentation is in the original Academy aspect ratio of 1.37:1, featuring Warner's VC-1 encode. While it is miraculously noise-free, with only the smallest traces of grain, the signs of processing and noise reduction do not seem to inhibit the vibrancy or dynamics of the picture. This Blu-ray is not meant to make viewers feel like they are watching film from 65 years ago--that was not Warner's intention. Rather, it is intended as more of a museum piece that has been carefully excavated, cleaned up and restored to a relatively asceptic state. In some cases, film is DNR'ed to death, but Warner seems to have taken great pains to remove the noise, grunge and grain without losing too much detail in the process. The effect is disarming. For the first time, Bogart's facial expressions have a clarity and resolution that seems to bridge the past and present.
The only feature that suffers is depth. Watch the beginning of the film. The opening shot over Casablanca shows a minaret and palm tree in the foreground with buildings behind them, breaking off where the ocean stretches back to the horizon. While the landscape shot is detailed and convincing and the sky shows organic qualities, the picture appears two-dimensional. Less noise reduction would have resulted in a dirtier picture, but may have yielded better feel for front- to-back depth and shadow detail. But these amount to six-of-one, half-dozen-of-the-other arguments and minor quibbles. The bottom line is that Warner took pains to clean up the picture as much as possible, and it pays off in every frame of Casablanca.
@rezpekt: The packaging doesn't call it UCE, but it's actually more along the lines of a full-blown WB UCE than the prior UCE. I just hope either (a) someone gets an all-discs, no-swag version (preferably in the U.S. this time, not just the UK) and/or (b) Best Buy has an exclusive edition (miniature plane? Rick & Ilsa figurines?) that doesn't sell and goes for $10.99 on BF. (I think everyone knows which 2011 WB UCE I'm alluding to. )
(Edit: Your later comment explains the double-dip. When the previous Casablanca transfer was made, "DNR'd to death" was the norm; by today's standards, it looks just a bit TOO perfect. And WB doesn't want to take any chances with what they consider their most important property--Citizen Kane may be more acclaimed, but Casablanca was actually *MADE* by WB. Perhaps the new transfer will give us more pores on Bogie's & Bergman's faces during the closeups...)
Here's hoping for the eventual release of a nice digibook with all the video content included. Remember, we originally only had big boxes for GWTW and Oz...but then WB came through for us with those nice regular case editions that had nice slipcovers and all the disc content. Maybe something like that is in store for this or something like the digibook for Citizen Kane that was originally a BB exclusive and is now going wide release.
The 4k scan makes me happy I just sold my regular BD release for $60 (boy do people panic when a BD goes OOP...it's not like WB would keep Casablanca OOP for long).
I did not get the previous edition so this is day one for me. This is one of my all-time favorite films and the new 4k restoration should look spectacular. The only thing I hope is that Warner includes lossless audio as well. That will make this set one of the best ever!!
The big question is whether or not WB will bring out a new Dolby TrueHD 1.0 track or just recycle the old lossy mono from the previous BD releases. Although the film is apparently receiving a new transfer, the studio has shown a reluctance to go the lossless route for reissues of titles in their catalog, opting to port over the lossy tracks. (That goes for just about every region.)
I also hope the transfer is much better, because the current edition leaves a lot to be desired. It's far from perfect, and could be improved in almost every way. The reviewers who gave this PQ5, AQ5....must have been drinking the Warner cool-aid. I pray this one will have a lossless audio track!!!
my favorite film (along with Taxi Driver) so I welcome this "new" blu-ray. I sold my sealed uce and got a great price for it when I heard they were coming out with a new uce so happy days!!
4k ftw!! (and hopefully no detail zapping dnr. c'mon Warner, you can do it)
Although the current transfer is fine, it can easily be improved upon (there's artifacting in teh cafe backgrounds due to the low bitrate, some dodgy black levels and DNR). It's not a 5 star transfer as it is made out to be (I would give it 4). But I'm not paying $48.99 for a 5 star transfer, get it to a single disc and I will consider it.
From "Gone With The Wind": Frankly, I don't give a damn
Just kidding. I couldn't wait for a less pricey version since I missed the last supposedly "ultimate" edition.
What's it going to be for the 75th or 80th anniversary version? "Ultimately Ultimate Edition"? "Ungodly Filled to the Brim Edition"? "Bacall and Bogart Would Be Proud of this Edition"? Great marketing department, Warner.
I received the original UCE as a Christmas gift in 2010, and I don't feel like giving that one up. Maybe if WB releases a standard version, then I'll consider getting that and swapping the discs from there. No point in having two UCEs for the same movie.
As much as I love Casablanca, I am sick of buying version after version of it, and getting soaked over the same old special features that I already have. I'm boycotting this one. With all of the great films in the WB Library that could use a Blu-Ray upgrade, Warners should give this title a rest and bring out something new to Blu.
Are that many people really overlooking the DNR on the original release? I saw all the reviews that praised the transfer to high heaven, bought it, and was pretty disappointed. There is absolutely zero doubt that this film can look better (and more like film), and if the work WB does here is anywhere near the level of their Citizen Kane transfer (which absolutely trounces their original Casablanca transfer), I'm all over this double-dip.
sigh, there are so many other great classic films warners is sitting on. It's really sad and depressing to me that Casablanca gets two bluray releases when only a handful of pre-1970s have seen the light of day on blu. Oh well, I'll buy this when they release a disc only edition without all the crap. I hate these collectors editions taking up tons of space
I'm a bit suprised Blu-ray.com isn't taking part at all with the SOPA/PIPA protest today being that this is a kind of site that would be affected if either of these laws were passed. If you go to en.wikipedia.org you can input your zipcode to get the contact.info of your house and sentate reps to notify them that your are against these billsalso if you do not know what SOPA & PIPA are go to http://sopablackout.org/learnmore to findout.
There are way too many movies out there to compete with a double-dip. I'll wait for the details and review... but I feel pretty cheated by blu-ray.com as I bought the UCE on the basis of their PQ-4.5 review. It wasn't 5-star quality, still looked good, but how are we supposed to justify a proper rating scale if everything is a 5/5? Kinda like why the videogame magazine industry has seen such a decline... everything was rated 9/10 and something rated "better than average" (6/10 or 7/10) was considered a crappy game.
Just give me an honest rating and review from the get-go -- "gorgeously produced in 1080p" was the original release's tagline in the Casablanca review.
Lossless? They'll probably do it just to satisfy the market, but there is no way anyone can hear the difference between a lossless and Dolby Digital track when the source material is an optical soundtrack. With the Academy Curve, the soundtrack starts rolling off at 2KHz.
It's one thing for post World War II films where the original stems were recorded magnetically even though no release prints had mag tracks, and the source mag tracks still exist, but quite another for films like this where regardless of whether they've scanned negative or a print, we're getting the optical soundtrack.
May give it a shot when it ends up on a cheap single disc release, depending on level of improvement.
But yeah, my eyes just quickly gazed up to rockinrick's post (The Big Sleep caught my eye), would rather be seeing some other titles getting a release rather than the same ones over and over again - how about spending a bit more time on blu-rays and less time on MODs for a while WB? And enough already with the boxes filled with junk.