Like the airline industry, home video seems to be veering toward the cutting of corners in order to stay afloat at a profit.Is it nice to finally see FORTY POUNDS OF TROUBLE in it original 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio? Yes. Is it nice to see the entire film, minus commercial interruptions and at its original length? Yes. Is the print good? Not really -- there's no crispness and a fuzz that dims the Panavision perspective, especially on an LCD TV. Do I like having no idea how long this DVD-R disc will last? No. Was it worth the $14.99 I paid for it? Yes, as it would cost nearly this much to see it once in a NY revival house theater.
Here's the point: I'm collecting these Universal Vault Series titles, but with caution. Whereas the sky would be the limit if the discs were pressed, it means I'm holding back. For starters, I'd rather get a Region 2 PAL edition from the UK if it's a standard pressed DVD (I strongly advocate getting a region free DVD player -- you would be amazed how cheap titles are on Amazon's UK site, and how many U.S. films are being released there rather than here). Additionally, the way Amazon is vacillating its prices, I won't touch one of these Universal Vault discs until it hits the $14.99 mark. It changes by the hour, with the same title vaulting between $14.99 and $17.99 (it's like day trading for film buffs).
Again, it's nice to see this film in widescreen, but I would have bought it sooner from the UK had it been available. That's where I found GAMBIT, THE BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH and some others in the DVD-R series, some of them even on all-region Blu-ray. Branch out, movie collectors -- there are so many more options out there than we're aware of. Meantime, we have to be careful. The Warner Archive series is notorious for shipping out defective discs (HAYWIRE is impossible to find unscathed), and when you try to warn other buyers about specific titles, they censor your reviews. Amazon's THE LIST OF ADRIAN MESSENGER had digital break-up on my player, and when I rewound to play it back, the break-up was gone, which leads one to believe that these discs will never play the same way twice.
If this is the future of home video, I'm concerned...