Blu-Ray Review: StudioCanal Editions of ‘Delicatessen,’ ‘The Third Man’

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CHICAGO – What do Carol Reed’s beloved “The Third Man” and Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro’s “Delicatessen” have in common? Almost nothing and yet I kind of love that they’re now linked in Lionsgate’s StudioCanal Collection because it illustrates the diversity of this increasingly-interesting wave of releases. They’ll never top The Criterion Collection, but it’s nice to have another series of timeless and modern classics making the Blu-ray market that much richer.

“The Third Man”

The Third Man was released on Blu-ray on September 14th, 2010
The Third Man was released on Blu-ray on September 14th, 2010
Photo credit: Lionsgate Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0

It’s rare that we can say something this squarely — Carol Reed’s “The Third Man” is one of the best films ever made. It’s one of those influential works that seems to constantly be in the film conversation, whether it be through a remastered print playing at a local theater, a new DVD/BD release, a book about the film or one of its collaborators, or just general awarenes of the iconic film’s impact.

With the remastered prints and a beloved edition of the film already available from Criterion, what can StudioCanal/Lionsgate bring to the conversation around “The Third Man?” First and foremost, don’t even dream about discarding your Criterion edition. Some of the special features are the same but not many and the two commentary tracks from that version, including the one by Steven Soderbergh and Tony Gilroy, have not made the transition. Sadly, the Criterion version has been discontinued, making that superior edition even more of a collector’s item.

Now, it’s not like Lionsgate has completely dismissed those looking for special features simply because they don’t include the overwhelming amount that Criterion brought to the film. They did produce a new commentary track with Assistant Director Guy Hamilton, Simon Callow, and 2nd Unit Script Supervisor Angela Allen and have included a number of interesting special features.

But what about the HD transfer? The Criterion edition was beloved for its video quality as well and the Lionsgate release is undeniably a step down and I would even go as far as to say a slight disappointment. I was surprised by the quality of a few of the first wave of StudioCanal releases including “Contempt” and “Ran,” but “The Third Man” looks like a standard DVD more than an HD remastering. It’s not horrible but “The Third Man” deserves better than “not horrible.” There’s not a lot of grain but it almost looks overly-polished in that arena, which has created a lack of contrast within the gorgeous black-and-white cinematography.

With interesting special features and a great film, I hate to get too down on StudioCanal’s release of “The Third Man.” It’s a movie that all cinephiles should own and there is some excellent bonus material included. If we hadn’t had the glorious Criterion release with which to compare it, we may consider this a fantastic release instead of merely a satisfactory one.

Special Features:
o Original Trailer 1
o Original Trailer 2
o “The Third Man on the Radio”
o Audio commentary with Guy Hamilton (Assistant Director), Simon Callow and Angela Allen (2nd Unit Continuity)
o The Third Man Interactive Vienna Tour
o Stills Gallery
o Guardian NFT Interview with Joseph Cotton
o Guardian NFT Interview with Graham Greene
o Joseph Cotton’s Alternate Opening Voiceover Narration
o Interview and zither performance by Cornelia Mayer (4:43 in HD!)

“The Third Man” stars Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, and Orson Welles. It was written by Graham Greene and directed by Carol Reed. It was released on Blu-ray on September 14th, 2010. It is not rated and runs 105 minutes.


Delicatessen was released on Blu-ray on September 14th, 2010
Delicatessen was released on Blu-ray on September 14th, 2010
Photo credit: Lionsgate Blu-Ray Rating: 4.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 4.5/5.0

It is clearly not as significant a “classic” as “The Third Man” but Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “Delicatessen” is a beautiful, wonderful film and I couldn’t be happier to have it in HD. It looks remarkable and StudioCanal has included several fascinating and detailed special features to go along with the film itself. “The Third Man” is a better film. “Delicatessen” is a better Blu-ray.

Before “City of Lost Children,” “Amelie,” “A Very Long Engagement,” and “Micmacs,” the multi-talented Jeunet and his filmmaking partner Marc Caro crafted a beautiful fable about a young man (Dominic Pinon) who stumbles into a tale of romance, murder, and cannibalism. It’s a film that looks even more accomplished nearly twenty years after its production. It shows none of its two-decade age and would still be a blast were it released today. Some films are notable for their influence but others, like “Delicatessen,” is notable because it’s still so uniquely brilliant.

Unlike “The Third Man,” the StudioCanal release of “Delicatessen” is the film’s first on Blu-ray and it’s a beauty. The HD transfer is stunning and flawless, perfectly capturing Jeunet and Caro’s use of color and light. And the special features from the 2008 DVD edition have all been imported along with a few great new ones, including a fantastic hour-plus retrospective documentary about the making of the movie that features interviews with all of the film’s major players. It’s one of the best collection of special features this season and the pattern by which we hope future StudioCanal Collection releases are cut.

Special Features:
o Audio Commentary with Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet
o “Fine Cooked Meats” by Diane Bertrand: The Making of “Delicatessen”
o The Archives of Jean-Pierre Jeunet
o “Main Course Pieces” Retrospective Documentary
o Theatrical Trailer
o Teaser

“Delicatessen” stars Dominique Pinon, Marie-Laure Dougnac, Jean-Claude Dreyfus, Karin Viard, Rufus, and Ticky Holgado. It was written by Gille Adrien, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, & Marc Caro and directed by Jeunet & Caro. It was released on Blu-ray on September 14th, 2010. It is rated R and runs 96 minutes. content director Brian Tallerico

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