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Category:    Home > Reviews > War > Drama > Action > WWII > The Dirty Dozen (HD-DVD)

The Dirty Dozen (HD-DVD)


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: B+     Film: B+



The Dirty Dozen (Robert Aldrich, 1967) is a strong classic and one of the biggest successes the original MGM had in the 1960s.  Highly duplicated and imitated, the film is still a favorite and Warner (who has the film via Turner Entertainment’s holdings) has already given it deluxe treatment with a double DVD set where the sound and picture were nicely upgraded, then the film was complemented with a slew of extras.  We covered that set and the link to the 2 disc standard DVD set is:





Now, in another smart move, Warner has made it one of the earliest classics they are issuing in the initial software titles for the new HD-DVD format.  They will likely put it out in the competing Blu-ray format, but the HD-DVD has arrived first and to say I agree with our fellow critic about the film’s classic status is a definite affirmative.  So, what about the performance?


To repeat the previous review, the film was such an event film that original producing studio MGM took the 1.75 X 1 British aspect ratio negative and did 70mm blow-ups, sometimes calling it “Metroscope” because that looked and sounded good.  British cinematographer Edward Scaife (Khartoum, Dirty Dozen knock-off Play Dirty) shot the war epic very memorably, balancing scenes of gritty battles on the field with face-to-face personal battles among the characters.


Though we liked the transfer of the film on DVD, the new 1080p digital 1.78 X 1 High Definition is a little better, but like the recent digital Super 35mm Aeon Flux HD-DVD reviewed elsewhere on this site, this higher fidelity version also shows new flaws and limits.  This time, it has to do with restoration and age.  Some more work needs to be done on the film and some shots are just way too soft, which was something that seemed to happen throughout the HD-DVD of Blazing Saddles.  The MetroColor looks a bit better too. 


Unlike the regular 35mm prints, the 70mm prints had six strips of magnetic stereo sound and five of those were speakers behind the screen versus the type of surrounds we have today.  The DVD had a Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix and this new HD-DVD bests that a bit with a decent Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 track, though fidelity limits and editing can be heard, while the music is the clearest.  As already stated, the result included traveling dialogue and sound effects (trucks driving by) that felt and sounded like that.  Both 5.1 mixes had to fold down those five tracks into three, but you can still hear those moments to a great extent.  The sound still shows its age, but the music by Frank De Vol (listed as just De Vol) is in the best shape because it was recorded with better music studio audio equipment, dominated the surrounds and sounds incredible for its age.  The gap is noticeable, but worth it to have the best fidelity playback of all the elements, especially for a film that runs 149 minutes.


The extras are the same and though they now all fit on a single disc, which is convenient.  Even with so many films made recently with all the new digital technology and other advances, this is one of the best HD-DVD titles on the market and is at the top of the list for software to have in the format so far.  This is why it is so important so preserve classics and have them for the launch of a new format or venue.  The Dirty Dozen fits the bill nicely.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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