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Third Time Is A Charm
on May 3, 2001
Anybody else out there own three copies of Charade on DVD?
It's a great movie, yeah, but not worth three copies. Well, maybe the lesson was worth three copies. The first one took me by surprise. Front Row Features put it out. Nice looking jewel case with the word LETTERBOX EDITION across the top. I had to have it. Couldn't wait to watch it. It was the worst piece of crap I'd ever seen shoveled onto DVD. Faded colors. Blurry pictures. Horrid sound that kept breaking up. It was worse than my ten-year-old VHS copy. I was mortified. Then someone told me there was a copy out there by a company called Criterion Collection, but the price was $40.00. No way, I thought, am I paying that much for a movie.
Next copy I bought was put out by Diamond Entertainment. I'll give them their due. They did a fairly good job of cleaning up whatever print they used. The picture is pretty good; color still slightly washed out, some flickering that's annoying. The sound has been repaired. So what you get is about a C+ to a low B- for this DVD. I like Diamond. And compared to the road kill that Front Row Features served up, the Diamond Entertainment version is a seven-course meal in the finest restaurant.
At last, I couldn't stand it any longer. I went for the Criterion Collection version. I know, I know. Three copies. But the Front Row Features DVD will be thrown into the trash; I won't even subject a stranger at a garage sale to that basement torture trash. The Diamond Entertainment version, which is not a bad copy, just not the best, I'll hand over to my brother as a free-bee gift. He likes the movie, as well, and is even less likely than I to put out the cash.
But then there's the Criterion Collection version. This IS the SEVEN COURSE MEAL AT THE FINEST RESTAURANT, topped off with the finest drinks and entertainment, and a check at the end that says ON THE HOUSE! Everything great anyone has said about the Criterion Collection DVD of Charade is true. It's beautiful. The sound is perfect. The color heavenly. There are no age spots what so ever, no dropouts, none of the flickering that indicates the film was damaged and had to be spliced. It's a beautiful widescreen transfer from a 33mm interpositive. I'd never seen the original trailer for this film till I bought this DVD; it's funny, it's charming, it gets you primed for the movie. There is an Audio Commentary with director Stanley Donen and screenwriter Peter Stone. And some great career highlights on Peter Stone's career.
It took me three times to get it right (and that won't happen again, at least with DVDs), but get it right I did. Don't ever buy the Front Row Features version; if you already have it, burn it. NOW. If you can't afford the Criterion version, go ahead and get the Diamond Entertainment version; as always, they do a good job for a low price. But if you want the absolute best presentation of this movie, if you want to see the movie as it has not been seen since it was in the theater almost 40 years ago, find the Criterion Collection DVD. You will not be disappointed.