on 19 February 2010
This if by far the best print of 55 Days At Peking I have ever seen. With the Intermission included and great song at the end. Beautiful wide-screen transfer with brilliant colours as well as audio. Thoroughly recommended.
This epic, set in China at the beginning of the twentieth century, has everything: top-notch Hollywood stars, including David Niven, Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner--to all appearances, still in their prime; magnificent costumes and sets; high production standards; thrilling action scenes, and a cast of thousands without computer generation. In fact, they just don't make 'em like this anymore!
Particularly memorable are the opening scenes in which each of the foreign legations at Peking--including the British, French, German, American, Russian, and Japanese [all the usual suspects] are raising their flags at dawn, to a cacophony of competing national anthems (a scene echoed at the end, when after pulling together for 55 days against a common enemy--the Harmonious Fists, or Boxers--the besieged foreigners revert ominously to their separatist ways. Equally interesting are the scenes in the beautifully recreated Forbidden City at the court of the Manchu Empress, whom the incomparable Flora Robsen invests with sympathy as well as inscrutability. Robert Helpmann, the great premier danseur of the Royal Ballet, plays the sinister prince Tuan, and Leo Genn performs the role of his rival, the general Wen Lu, who has conducted a secret love affair with the enchanting Russian Countess (Gardner), whose reputation has been consequently ruined [It seems to me that some of Genn's scenes have unfortunately been cut or lost with the passage of time].
The transfer to DVD is sharp and does not seem to have diminished in color, and the sound is excellent with one important exception. Lamentably, Dimtri Tiomkin's musical score, which accompanies the opening titles has not been re-mastered properly, and it sounds tinny and wobbles slightly off tune. Although this significant imperfection had me worried at the beginning, all sonic quaverings disappear as soon as the film starts. Although Korean and Japanese subtitles appear at the beginning, they are easily dispensed with by a press of the "subtitle off" button. Unfortunately, there are no English captions for the hearing impaired.
Nevertheless, we should be grateful to the Korean company for releasing this splendid example of Hollywood films at the end of a golden era. One wonders why Hollywood itself did not do so.
Buy this one and enjoy!
on 10 April 2014
Two days ago I saw a so called Epic movie, Noah, probablg the worst movie i've seen, so seeing this again is like a ray of sunshine after 40 days and nights of rain. I'm not going to go into the plot, others have already done that well enough. What you may want to know, is it worth buying again in blu ray? My answer is---YES! It looks wonderfull!
For the first time i noticed the magnificent costumes of the chinese. The settings stand out like 3D, except better than 3D as i have never liked that, far too many gimicks for me. Only one disapoinment, no DTS sound, a great pity as the restorers have done a superb job. This is a movie I have always enjoyed, not really 5 stars, perhaps 4? But after Noah which I would give minus 10, and the beautifull restoraton it now deserves five. Wonderfull!
I wrote this review while playing the blu ray disc for the first time, I had not set the sound. While not being DTS, they have resored it to 5-1 and it 's terrific, sounds as good as DTS to me. So if you like this movie I strongly recomend the blu ray. Thank you to all those reviewers who have steered me on to the best of blu ray.
on 25 October 2009
Since I started collecting DVD's (about 9 years ago), this title was one of my classic's, which I had never been able to add to my collection........until now.
This is the Samual Bronston epic, which has been very sadly neglected by both the region 1 and British region 2 producers and is one of my favorite epics of all time.
I won't bother giving you a review of the film itself, as if you are reading this, you are obviously a fan and are looking for (I hope)the best transfer you can get, and this is it !
This Swedish pressing of 55 Days at Peking, is as perfect as it is going to get.
As the sellers advertised; the transfer is in it's correct 2:35.1 ratio and is anamorphic, which makes the picture as good as it gets.
(The cover does state 1:85.1 anamorphic, but don't blow your top; this is incorrect)
When purchasing this, I did have an option of several other versions at lower prices. However, if you want the best, you have to pay for it, so don't hesitate to splash your hard-earned cash on this version.
on 11 April 2014
55 Days at Peking is already one of these classics all lovers of such should or will have in their DVD library. But the Blu Ray version is something else. I received mine yesterday and as I started to watch the movie I simply couldn't stop marveling at the sharp details, the vivid colours and the stunning level of granularity of the Blu Ray transfer.
A must-have in my opinion.
on 7 January 2010
This is one of my all time favourite Charlton Heston film and depicts a rare episode of International co-operation before the days of the UN, NATO, etc. The film is set in the 1900 "Boxer" Rebellion in China and shows the seige of the International embassies and legations in Peking by a huge force of Chinese Boxer forces and later the Chinese Army. The small embassy guards from the USA, Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Germany, Austria and Russia (along with Chinese volunteers) are forced to co-operate and pool resources in order to survive and hold out. Which they do for 55 days!
This epic film has some great battle scenes in the days before CGI they built a huge set and got thousands of extras, and great performance from screen legends like Charlton Heston, Ava Gardener and David Niven.
I loved the ending when the relief forces finally come to the rescue, each nationality represented with their own martial music and national characteristics. The British come with bag pipe playing Highlanders and Sikh Cavalry, the Italians at the run march, the Japanese with quiet dignity, etc. Its a classic film
A great film!
on 4 June 2014
A domestic sect called Boxers take it upon themselves to terrorize the foreign element in 1900 China. The Dowager Empress (Flora Robson) unofficially supports their attempts to ouster the foreigners (colonialism was still very much part of the landscape) who all reside in a guarded compound. But the league of nations under the leadership of a British diplomat (David Niven) stands its ground. It's just a matter of time before a full out rebellion begins. One of the last of the great movie epics, this is the kind of movie making that we'll never see the likes of again. The producer Samuel Bronston actually built the entire city of Peking in Spain and there are no CGI effects. When you see see a thousand Chinese attacking the compound, those are a thousand humans not 100 people multiplied via CGI to look like a thousand. Though the film's sympathies lie with the foreign legations, the screenplay allows us to see the Chinese point of view and their frustration at how foreign powers are dividing up China like a pie. The romantic narrative between a U.S. Marine (Charlton Heston) and a Russian baroness (Ava Gardner) isn't very compelling but the action set pieces are first rate. I'm not sure how much of the film can be called a Nicholas Ray film. Though he is the only credited director, there are allegations the film was finished by other hands when he had a breakdown. Whatever ... it remains an enjoyable picture of its kind. A marvelous score by Dimitri Tiomkin. With John Ireland, Leo Genn, Paul Lukas, Harry Andrews, Kurt Kasznar, Elizabeth Sellars, Robert Helpmann and Jacques Sernas.
The Anchor Bay blu is a stunning wide screen transfer from a 70 millimeter negative of the original Roadshow release.
on 13 June 2014
This review is a technical issue as the story of the film has been covered well by other reviewers.
Lovely transfer to High Definition of the film, vision and sound..However the disc,released by Anchor Bay is bare bones and no extras at all, not even a trailer, except, a comparison between the original negative and the restoration. However, it's the film that is the most important. All the Samuel Bronston block busters have now been done on B/R.
This is how an epic should be made. Good crew, art direction, excellent script with dry humour intersperced within the dramatics.Thousands of extras, top stars, acting and not just speaking the lines. Massive sets, being destroyed with no computer enhancements. To boot, music by Dimitri Tiomkin that varies with the action on screen, not wall to wall music composed for modern films, that one could fit into any film genre. This film and many others of the period have stood up for around 50 years, I wonder if in 50 years time wether films made today, will be restored for the then modern audiences. I have just watched the film again and it's one heck of an thrilling, epic adventure. You could not wish for a better quality transfer.John Paul Jones [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
on 7 December 2011
Many have asked why "55 Days in Peking" or other movies like "El Cid", "The Fall of the Roman Empire" or again "Circus World" did not receive a proper Hollywood treatment...
The answer is simple. They were all Samuel Bronston's productions, and Mr. Bronston was at odds with the Hollywood establishment of the time.
Hollywood can be a very jealous and unforgiving "lover". If you do not strictly play by their rules, they may hold a grudge on you... for years.
Just look at what happened to Darryl Zanuck, the creator of 20th Century-Fox himself, in the early-mid sixties and you will see that those gentlemen
do not joke around...
If this is still the case is a question for the savvy (I would doubt it after all these years...). Yet it is known that once you're out, you're out.
Hollywood very seldom grants a second chance.
See also the example of some Orson Welles movies which have also been re-released recently, but just by a Korean and Portuguese distribution companies.
In the case of Bronston's pictures, only two ("El Cid" and "The Fall of the Roman Empire") have seen a recent revival through a privately owned distributor in the U.S. called The Miriam Collection (The Weinstein Company), which has restored and remastered them both back to their original glory.
Some years ago they announced other titles of this series to be re-released in this fashion, but alas, thus far none of the others received this treatment.
Let's hope in a better future next way round.
In any case, don't doubt the Korean distributions, nor, for this matter the Brazilian (Portuguese) ones. I already own a few and can guarantee that they stand at par with other products made both in Europe as well as in the United States.
The only difference is that they may not come with tons of extras attached to them, nor a plethora of foreign dubs or subtitles (except of course Korean and/or Portuguese), but what they usually have are both the Original version of the soundtrack coupled with an added Korean or Portuguese one.
If the superimposed Korean or Portuguese subtitles stand in your way, just remove them by activating the appropriate button on your remote.
The two more prominent and recent releases are "The Egyptian" (1954) (The Korean version is Digitally remastered in sound and vision), although 20th Century-Fox has also done their homework and now are releasing the very same movie with an additional separate music soundtrack score, through Twilight Time in a limited 3,000 copy version, and "Genghis Khan" (1965), starring Omar Sharif, which has been released in Germany first, by Columbia Pictures, and immediately afterwards by Sony Pictures in the U.S. (both do not sport any remastering in either sound or sight - they just slammed the widescreen version on a DVD et voila!).
But please be warned.
There is also a Spanish version of Genghis Khan. Stay away form that one, unless you want it in a 4x3 Full Screen video format (meaning that you lose 2/3 of the frame ratio of the original screen width...)
I hope I have been able to clarify some points here and enable you to browse around and find that not always Hollywood does the job it should, but that many others out there are more than happy to help out.
Sometimes even with better results...
The film made in the true 'Hollywood' tradition of the 'Epic's' era of the
late 50's to mid 60's.
This a sweeping and dramatic production set at the beginning of the 20th
century during the 'Boxer' uprising in 'China'
The Film starring 'Charlton Heston' who seemed to often be the 'face' of
the epic's of that era, he starred notably in films such as 'The Ten Commandments'
'Ben Hur' and the film it's been said he was born to front 'El Cid'
The Film :
In 'Peking' a compound is occupied by Foreign Diplomats and businessmen with
their family's from around a dozen countries including 'America' 'Britain' 'France'
'Germany' and 'Russia' protected by a small force of troops from each.
Major 'Matt Lewis' (Charlton Heston) returns to 'Peking' with his small troop of
marines, from the outset there seems to be a hint of romance between him and
a guest (who is about to be turned out of the hotel) Russian 'Baroness Natasha
The Major forms close links with 'British' Ambassador 'Sir Arthur Robertson' (David
Niven) as unrest deepens outside of the compound.
'The Dowager Empress' wants the foreign intruders out of 'China'
The compound is soon under siege from thousands of 'Boxer's' who outnumber the
small garrison considerably, it will take all the ingenuity and courage the defenders
Only the leadership of the 'Major' and 'British Ambassador' holds the desperate attempt
to survive the onslaught in check.
The 'Empress' orders her generals to involve the army under their command to prevent
a relief force from reaching 'Peking' to assist the defenders.
'The 'Countess' who had initially attempted to leave roles up her sleeves to assist the
surgeon with the wounded.
The film has moments of compassion, a hint of romance, moments of sadness coupled
with tension and frequent battle (siege) scenes.
A well made '1963' production that has been given an impressive upgrade to the 'Blu-ray
( until now, I hadn't seen the film for many a year, I remember it being a good film, in truth
I'd forgotten just how good, many of the great 'epic's' of those times were well made, standing
the test of time and well worth seeing, as is the case with this.