Some time ago these 1945 films were released by Focus Films as part of their 4-disc Sherlock Holmes box set and although the release wasn’t very impressive, it was merely a matter of source material deterioration that plagued the release. Marengo Films, a newcomer in the DVD arena, is now re-releasing these films on a Sherlock Holmes Double Feature, bringing us two classic murder mysteries with the renown detective on one disc.
Sadly, the presentation on the DVD from Marengo Films is even worse in quality that the previous release by Focus Films. Both films seem to come from the same print, but apart from the same problems in the source material, this DVD offers an image that is visibly over-compressed. Every bit of detail is lost as a result of the compression, giving the image a very flat and lifeless quality without definition and an extremely soft look. Compression artifacts sucvh as pixelation can be found even in shots with little or no movement at all, and most images show banding artifacts destroying the smooth black-and-white fall-off the original image contained. It should have struck me when I noticed that the disc squeezes almost 3 hours of film on a single-layer DVD, but it really occurred to me when I noticed that the disc was running at a third of the average bitrate found on most common releases. The quality of the presentation is accordingly poor in all aspects.
To make matters worse, Marengo Films also forces us to watch a 2.5 minute promotional studio trailer that can not be skipped at all and comes up every time you insert the disc in your player. With its innate pitfalls DVD is certainly not an easy medium, but I am surprised how many newcomers in the field make even the most basic mistakes. A quick look at the competition could have avoided many of the problems found on this disc as everyone involved in the creation of DVD today should know how to avoid these pitfalls and problems. Unlike on VHS you can’t just slap material on a DVD real quick and hope to get away with it. Every negligence shows!
This self-proclaimed specialist for classic and rare movies needs some serious coaching and consulting in order to get the DVD releases on track, I am afraid. It is too bad, especially because the classic and rare films are the ones that require the most attention, and with such a poor start, I am not sure if Marengo Films will ever be able to achieve its goal to become a specialist.