I worked as a projectionist in the late fifties and early sixties and showed for the children's matinee's many serials, which were old even then, and though the prints had been passed from venue to venue many times, and were riddled with joins and scratches, the pictures were pin sharp and beautifully exposed. The prints I refer to were of course 35mm, and this is where the trouble starts as regarding the poor quality of many of these films now available from the thirties and forties. Many have first of all been transfered from reduction 16mm prints, re recorded on to VHS tape, then transfered from tape to DVD. Is it any wonder that the copies are soft in focus, over or under exposed and often with unintelligible tracks?
Some films, to be fair are probably no longer in existence in their 35mm form, but I find it shamefull, and a little insulting that the companies distributing these subjects don't appear to care and assume that we will accept anything they offer. I don't particularly worry whether a film had been 'remastered', only that it has been taken from a fairly respectable master in the first place. Flash gordon, apparently has been selected for preservation in the US national film registry by the library of congress as 'significanlty and historically important'. I bet their preserved copies are streets away from this dross in quality !