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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Comedy > Crime > Car Racing > Motorcycle > Documentary > Burn 'Em Up O'Connor (1939/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/F1 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship/MotoGP 2016 + 2017 World Championship: Official Revue/24 Hour LeMans Official Review 2017 (all four MVD/Du

Burn 'Em Up O'Connor (1939/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/F1 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship/MotoGP 2016 + 2017 World Championship: Official Revue/24 Hour LeMans Official Review 2017 (all four MVD/Duke Blu-ray releases)



Picture: C/B-/B-/B-/B- Sound: C/B-/C+/C+/C+ Extras: D/C+/C+/C+/C- Main Programs: C/B+/B/B-/B



PLEASE NOTE: Despite reports to the contrary, all the Duke Blu-rays here play in all Blu-ray players worldwide and after reviewing a good amount of them, that has ALWAYS been the case, while Burn 'Em Up O'Connor is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.



Racing is one of the most popular sports, spectator and participant, in the world. Here's a new set of discs covering them, an old drama and four new annual mega complications.



Edward Sedgwick's Burn 'Em Up O'Connor (1939) is our comedy drama where the comedy does not work, the drama shows up too late and the the 70-minutes film is no classic. Made by MGM as a cheap programmer apparently in the watershed year for Hollywood of its release, Dennis O'Keefe is a race car driver looking for a car and chance to make a name for himself on the track when he starts harassing and stalking a cute Cecelia Parker. The makers think this is funny, but he'd be highly likely arrested today.


He also has a dumb sidekick (Nat Pendleton playing to type) who is somewhat funny, but cannot overcome how creepy this film gets in its short time span. She has no reason to like her new found attention, but he gets too lucky when she turns out her father happens to run a major race event with cars that all look like that metal token in the Monopoly board game!


Father and daughter are part of the O'Connor Family, seemingly cursed by a fatal accident that stopped their glorious run of race wins and the stalker is ready to break that curse, but it turns out (a later script twist) that someone has been sabotaging the family for years and will continue to do so unless stopped before more die.


Too bad that development is late and the film has already been messed up by the O'Keefe/Parker issues. Still, the races are not awful (rear projection and sped up footage) so it makes sense that Warner Archive would issue this on DVD for all to judge for themselves. It is not a great film, but might be a curio for some. Harry Carey also shows up.


There are no extras.



That leaves us with the latest set of Duke Video racing Blu-rays: F1 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship (the only double disc set here running 5 hours, 13 minutes!!!), MotoGP 2016 (200 minutes), and MotoGP 2017 World Championship: Official Revue (285), 24 Hour LeMans Official Review 2017 (240 minutes) meant to cover as fully as possible each annual event, though some are compiled of races held cumulatively worldwide. MotoGP involves high-powered motorcycle and the rest serious racing track cars.


I love how each release goes for broke bringing you into the action, the near misses, close photo finishes, crashes, vehicle failures, breakdowns, heartbreaks, flip-outs and atmosphere (including the occasional movie star showing up) and how seriously and thoroughly enjoyed this is worldwide (if not always as it ought to be in the U.S.) plus the star names well known within each respective sport you still might not have heard of if you are from 'the states' or the like.


These are produced for a limited time, though never necessarily announced as such, but once they sell out, they are gone. These are for fans and the F1 disc is marked #16 on the side, so it is part of a longer series. These are great to have, especially if you are a fan and by far beat any cable/satellite (HD)TV broadcast of such events. All have a good helping of extra footage in their extras (save LeMans being limited; a rarity from Duke), so you cannot fail to be informed or entertained.


That makes them one of the best sports and motor series in home video history and we expect they will continue to be so. Be sure to catch one if you enjoy this kind of excitement, including other Duke Blu-ray releases reviewed elsewhere on this site.



The 1.33 X 1 black & white image transfer on Burn definitely shows the age of the materials used, as does the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound, so Warner needs to fix this one up at some point, though they have so many other priority films that need the help. Otherwise, it is watchable at best, but be careful of high volume playback and volume switching.


All four Duke Blu-rays offer 1080i/60fps 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers that can have their moments of motion blur, but these are still documentary releases, so that has to be expected. Sound can be very different with each release, but the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on the F1 set is well mixed, presented, warmest and richest of the four, with lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on both MotoGP discs and PCM 2.0 Stereo on LeMans being fine and passable at best, but not what they could or should be. There is a slight, even unusually odd detail limit with the interlaced images at a higher frame rate than most 1080i discs we've seen, but they are among the best 1080i releases we've ever seen.


With 11.1 sound and 4K 2160p video now here, it is only a matter of time before these programs move up to those and lossless sound or simple stereo will seem older, so we expect future volumes to advance technically. We look forward to seeing how that plays!



To order the Burn 'Em Up O'Connor Warner Archive DVD, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


http://www.wbshop.com/



- Nicholas Sheffo


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