10,000 Bullets   Exploring the world of Cinema from the Arthouse to the Grindhouse™




39 Steps, The: Comparison (Criterion vs. Digiview) 
Written by: on December 15th, 2005

Theatrical Release Date: London, June 1935
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writers: John Buchan, Charles Bennett, Ian Hay
Cast: Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Lucie Mannheim, Godfrey Tearle,
Peggy Ashcroft, John Laurie, Helen Haye

DVD released: 1999 2005
Approximate running time: 86m27s 85m20s
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full-Frame 1.33:1 Full-Frame
Rating: NR NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: Criterion Digiview
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $39.95 $1.00

Criterion’s Region 1 DVD

854

Digiview’s Region 0 DVD

854

Criterion’s Region 1 DVD

854

Digiview’s Region 0 DVD

854

Criterion’s Region 1 DVD

854

Digiview’s Region 0 DVD

854


The Film :

Ranked in the top 10 of BFI’s Top 100 List, Richard Hanney involvement with Annabella Smith leads to her premature death, fingering him as the prime suspect. As the law pursues him over the Scottish Moors, Richard Hanney must uncover the truth surrounding conspiracy and prove his innocence. Fast-paced thriller remade twice and represents an atypical Hitchcock theme as found later in North by Northwest.

Video:

Both DVD releases present The 39 Steps in an Full Frame that preserves the films original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Criterion is a dual-layer release loaded with extras, while Digiview is simply a single-layer release as a DVD double feature (including Jamaica Inn). Digiview’s washed out image is clearly over contrasted in an unsuccessful attempt to hide the film prints blemishes. Digiview is littered with print damage, hairs and dust while Criterion’s restoration was done by hand utilizing the MTI Digital Restoration System. Digiview soft image lacks the clarity that Criterion offers. Digiview’s top edge has image loss – most likely caused from a poor analog to digital transfer. To my surprise, Digiview doesn’t have the representative compression squares found in other titles. Criterion, as with many of its releases, maintains the gold standard of film transfers. Images remaining crisp frame by frame in high action scenes.

Audio:

Digiview’s liters its single audio track with film pops, crackle, and hiss complete in Stereophonic Sound. Digiview’s audio has characteristics of being boosted to higher decibels. Criterion’s Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is clean with an additional informative commentary audio track by Marian Keane. Criterion also offers clear to read English subtitles. Clearly, there’s no comparison.

Extras:

Digiview includes an inferior transfer of Alfred Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn. Criterion includes The complete 1937 radio broadcast, The Art of Film (Hitchcock’s British film featurette), original 1935 press book excerpts, and original production design drawings. Criterion remains ever-faithful to Hitchcock enthusiasts who love film.

Overall:

Criterion’s transfer of 39 Steps in respects of both audio and video speaks volumes about how budget titles like Digiview offer little to avid DVD collectors. To Digiview’s defense, it’s extremely low price is perfect for those who want to preview Hitchcock’s British films before purchasing a Criterion release.

Disclaimer: Some of the reviews contained here at 10kbullets contain screenshots that may not be suitable for those surfing the website at work and discretion is advised while viewing these pages. All of the screenshots and other images used on this site are solely for promotional purposes and are copyrighted to their respective owners. All reviews, bios and interviews unless noted in the text of the review, bio or interview are original content that was written exclusively for 10kbullets and has never been published anywhere else. On occasion there may be typos or errors in the text and if you let us know we will be more then happy to correct all typos or misinformation in the text. All opinions expressed on this site are solely those of the author(s) and not that of any company or person referred to. All the written material contained on 10kBullets is intended for informational purposes only and it is copyright © 2004-Present by the authors.