Creamy Beige

The big revelation in yesterday’s DVD Beaver review of the new Psycho Bluray (the all-region British version, that is — the American Bluray won’t be out until 10.19) is that you can now see makeup on Martin Balsam’s face in that one close-up he has. Amazing! I love being able to see stuff that you weren’t intended to see, but which Bluray has now revealed.


Martin Balsam’s “Detective Arbogast” in his very first appearance in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Notice the makeup base spread over his upper cheeks and just under his eyes.
  • fitz-hume

    Um… it’s a good thing?

  • R. Hunt

    Now if they could just get a few more microphones hanging down into the frame, or maybe let shots run on past where they were originally cut…

  • DiscoNap

    don’t you guys know it’s always good when films don’t look the way they were intended to? The miracle of Blu

  • Jeffrey Wells

    You don’t even get it. Amazing. Seeing boom mikes is not an extension of this. Being able to see makeup base on Balsam’s face means — hello? — that the Psycho Bluray will deliver all kinds of details that you never saw before. This, for me, is what top-grade high-def versions of old classic films is all about — i.e., a chance to see them anew, and in a more detailed and specifically revealing state, perhaps, than even their makers were able to see in screening rooms before general release.

  • Krazy Eyes

    So, in your world:

    Film grain = bad

    Being able to see an actor’s make-up = good?

    I hope you’re being ironic. If not, I think you need to turn in your film appreciation card. Are you next going to proclaim a love for pan & scan or colorization?

  • DiscoNap

    Wells Krazy points out your hypocrisy. The makeup was never intended to be seen, it wasn’t a casualty of the technology of the time. I’m sure Hitch would be pissed.

  • YND

    don’t you guys know it’s always good when films don’t look the way they were intended to? The miracle of Blu

    DiscoNap – You get that blu-ray transfers don’t ADD information to the picture, right? They scan the negative. They present the information from the negative. It’s not like you’re going to see something on blu-ray that isn’t already on the physical film. The best blu-ray transfers are the ones that most transparently (ie; without introducing or losing any information) accurately present the picture on the negative. Hitch may have been pissed… but he would’ve been pissed 50 years ago.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wells to Krazy Eyes: Too much film grain is a needless and distracting (and for me, hateful) element that no self-respecting filmmaker, from Ernst Lubitsch to Howard Hawks to Orson Welles to Ida Lupino to John Ford to Roberto Rossellini, would have chosen to dominate any celluloid image he/she had prepared for commercial release.

    Even for them back in the day, it was an unwanted element that they had to live with. There was no getting around it, but then nobody made a stink about it so nobody said anything. Now there are ways to get around it.

    Bluray tends to intensify and bring grain “out” in a way that regular projection of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s did not. Hence the need to bring it down in order to make restored Bluray versions of older films palatable and/or less bothersome to watch.

    I’ve explained this over and over and over, and still there’s a moron element out there that disputes it or is unable to get what I’m saying.

    Yes, fine detail is good. I’ll try it again. (How are your reading skills this morning?) Being able to see makeup base on Balsam’s face means that the Psycho Bluray will deliver all kinds of INTERESTING details that you never saw before. This, for me, is what top-grade high-def versions of old classic films is all about — i.e., a chance to see them anew, and in a more detailed and specifically revealing state, perhaps, than even their makers were able to see in screening rooms before general release.

  • arch451

    Film grain was not filmed; the actor’s make-up was. That is a pretty significant difference and reason to see one and not the other.

    The worst kind of film grain is the kind that is digitally added to mimic actual real film grain. This is wrong because it is adding. There is nothing wrong with simply revealing physical objects that were filmed by the director.

  • Ponderer

    Comparing this to grain is the wrong example. Jeff, you’re always complaining that the high def versions of War of the Worlds expose the wires on the spacecraft, but they were never meant to be seen, that they took into account projection settings back in the day. But doesn’t that also count as an “interesting detail that you never saw before?”

    I mean, in this case, surely the projected version of Psycho never intended to show Balsam with so much caked-on make up that a drag queen would blush.

  • Ponderer

    (Yes, I know, that was a little hyperbolic, but still, I don’t feel that the projected image was going to be so sharp and contrasty that the make-up job would be revealed as THIS obvious.)

  • http://reno-rambler.blogspot.com/ reno rambler

    I don’t know, if I’m noticing Balsam’s makeup that’s just taking me out of the experience. Yeah, I’ve seen the film dozens of times so it might be an interesting quirk for me to note some of those kinds of details but imagine the young film student seeing it for the first time wondering “what the fuck is wrong with that dudes face?” I’m guessing Hitch wouldn’t be that pleased at that level of detail being retrofitted to his artwork.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    No, I never complained about digital scanning technology exposing the spaceship wires on the last War of the Worlds DVD. I complained about Paramount Home Video not applying the obvious remedy, which would have been to digitally delete the wires. This is what George Feltenstein and Ned Price and the WB gang did when confronted with being able to see the wires holding up Ray Bolger ‘s scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.

  • Homie Cat

    But Wells, what are your feelings about seeing the streaks of luminescent paint on the backdrop in the apes sequence of 2001? That had never been seen before, and I’m sure if Kubrick had been alive, he wouldn’t have permitted it.

    It still is a beautiful disc, I just wish that for that one scene, they had stepped down a tad on the resolution to preserve the illusion.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    I have the 2001 Bluray and I’ve never noticed luminescent paint on the backdrops of the “Dawn of Man” sequence. Now I’m going to pop it in and look for it. Do you have a screen grab of this?

  • Rich S.

    Homie,

    I missed that, but check out the Earth behind Floyd as he’s making the phone call to his daughter. I’ve owned 2001 in virtually every format you can own it (and seen it on the big screen) and that’s the first time I noticed that.

  • YND

    I never noticed that either — neither on the blu-ray nor when I’ve seen it projected in 70mm. (The bluescreen work and (maybe) the ape masks are the only things that have aged badly to my eyes.) But I guarantee that if it’s on the blu-ray it’s on the 70mm prints too…

  • Heinz, the Baron Krauss von Espy

    The makers of “Belgian Icing” invite on another voyage into the realms of forbidden sensuality. Experience the erotic pleasures of:

    “Creamy Beige”

    Now playing continuously at the Studds Theater on Santa Monica.

  • bluefugue

    Yeah, blu-ray isn’t going to show you anything a good projected print wouldn’t show, is it? It can’t by definition have more information than the negative. Stuff can be added or sharpened or taken away via DNR and whatnot, but that’s not going to reveal something new…

  • PastePotPete

    I noticed the backdrops in 2001 as well(on hd dvd not blu ray in my case). I’ve seen the movie in 70mm before and didn’t notice it then, but it was fairly plain and somewhat distracting on my tv screen. It might have something to do with the compression on hd, sharpening the background detail.

  • chad_pole

    Is “Creamy Beige” supposed to be an Old Gregg reference?

  • Homie Cat

    Jeff: “Do you have a screen grab of this?”

    Here you go: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showpost.php?p=12004332&postcount=186

  • Deathtongue_Groupie

    “…I’ve explained this over and over and over, and still there’s a moron element out there…”

    This really needs to be one of the quotes in the banner at the top. That way, the next time Jeff or one of his water carriers starts complaining about the tone readers take they can be reminded the tone is already set.

    About the topic on hand –

    I am the type who does like to pull back the curtain and see how the machine works, but not all the time. There really should be an option to watch these discs in 2 modes: full HD detail and another that doesn’t pull you out of the film wondering is Balsam the quiet or chatty type in the chair.

  • Gordn27

    “Being able to see makeup base on Balsam’s face means that the Psycho Bluray will deliver all kinds of INTERESTING details that you never saw before.”

    So, Jeff, you’re still being unclear. You have no editor, so often what you mean gets lost in what you actually say. Are you saying that the makeup itself is actually interesting to see (which is what you said and why people thought you were being dumb) or that the existence of the make-up means that other things you’ve never seen will be visible, and you’re assuming those things will be interesting?

    Because, yes, the make-up was not meant to be seen. Just like the grain and all the other stuff. It is not an “interesting” thing, it’s a distraction that reminds you you’re watching a movie. Exactly like a boom mike.

    That said, also, I can’t believe Jeff actually thinks that Blu-Ray can reveal something that wasn’t seen in theaters before. That, and not the make-up thing, is the truly stupid point here. Blu-Ray does not have the resolution that projected film has, therefore nothing can be present that wasn’t seen in a theater.

  • Patrick Juvet

    Actually, Blu-Ray ( and even standard DVD ) can show you plenty of information that wasn’t seen in the theatre, especially if the film in question was shot and printed in the old 3-strip Technicolor process. 3-strip Technicolor prints had three separate color dyes applied on top of each other on a single print which produced a beautiful image but also a slightly softer and very saturated picture. That’s why the wires in Wizard of Oz and War Of The Worlds are now visible in todays transfers ( 3-strip Technicolor has been long abandoned ), but first-run audiences never saw them.

    The talent that made these films were true craftsmen – they would have worked out an alternate solution for the wire work had they foreseen technology would eventually expose their tricks.

  • bluefugue

    Interesting, Patrick. Thanks.

  • Gordn27

    Patrick – you’re right, I made my point sloppily. Blu-Ray can’t create images that don’t exist on the film. Transfers like what you’re talking about would, in my mind, qualify as “improper” transfers, in the sense that they improperly represent the original look of the film, of which the wires would be one result.

    However, the same is true of film grain, which Jeff (and others here) rail against. I know that Chaplin and Kubrick both buried effects in the grain, and I’m sure they’re not the only two.

  • Jenny4

    LOL – I guess make-up artists are going to have to change the way they work to accomodate blu-ray. Glass storage containers

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