Sunday, April 3, 2016

EXODUS: Blu-ray (United Artists, 1960) Twilight Time

Adapted for the Super Panavision 70mm screen from Leon Uris’ titanic novel – both in scope and subject matter – Otto Preminger’s Exodus (1960) quickly devolves into a 3 ½ hour marathon of endurance. It’s a tossup which will tire first; the eyes or the buttocks as the fate of a burgeoning Israeli state is miserably distilled into the traditional boy meets girl milieu, so un-refreshingly popular with cinema goers then and now, and, blasé in the extreme. Observe the histrionics into which an embittered, though generally nice Jewish guy, Ari Ben Canaan (Paul Newman) attempts to woo the glacially cool liberal WASP, Kitty Fremont (Eva Marie Saint). She professes ‘people are just people’ and ‘differences don’t matter’. But, of course, they do. Now, parallel this languid amour with the less than romantic pas deux between an emotionally scarred/bomb-happy terrorist, Dov Landau (Sal Mineo, in an oft’ brilliant performance); tortured holocaust survivor cum misguided blood-thirsty campaigner, enamored with the true innocent of the piece, Karen Johansson (Jill Haworth), so nicknamed the ‘child of light’ (not the least for her Village of the Damned visage and platinum/peroxide blonde tresses). Now, feather in a pair of ‘bromantic’ entanglements: one betwixt Ari and his childhood friend -Taha (John Derek, looking the part, but thoroughly out of his element); the other, a tale of two brothers, Ari’s papa, Barak Ben Canaan (Lee J. Cobb), the benevolent ‘figurehead’, governed by a passionate heart – and, rumored to have literally walked from Russia to Palestine (I hope he had good shoes) – and his conflicted familial bond with a martyred elder brother, Akiva (David Opatoshu); an enterprising intellectual, very loosely modeled on Menachem Begin, who later became Prime Minister of Israel.
Exodus would have a lot to say, at least enough for two 3-hour epics, except Otto Preminger becomes so unreservedly enamored, or perhaps stalled in the minutiae of this exercise he voluntarily overlooks the establishment of a free Israel that remains at the crux of Leon Uris’ sprawling prose. There is too much ‘star power’ on tap and Exodus suffers because of it – its’ crowning moment come too late in the third act to make an impact as Ari confronts his Uncle Akiva, living in isolation inside a monastery. Their goals are one in the same. Alas, their means to this end are diametrically opposed. “Before you have a country you need a population…” Ari insists, “How can we ask the United Nations for help when we keep blowing things up like anarchists?” to which the wily Akiva cleverly reasons, “Terror and violence are the midwives who bring free nations into the world.” A thoughtful debate to be sure, one prodded by two expertly counterbalanced and noteworthy illusions to reconsider; first, that real justice as an abstraction in the human world, effectively emasculated by opinion – both popular and un; second, that justice itself as skewed through the rubric of history has never favored the Jewish people and thus is an “an illogical absurdity” and perhaps not the model that needs to be emulated now within the context of our story.
Preminger spends a great deal of Exodus waffling between the aforementioned flawed ‘relationships’ without ever digging deeply into any of their backstories. His Michael Todd-styled who’s who lack’s Todd’s unabashed showmanship.  The cameos are good, but they never augment the central narrative so much as providing a slight – if slightly amusing detour – Preminger readily follows like Alice down the rabbit hole, coming out the other side with the likes of Peter Lawford as the bigoted prig, Maj. Caldwell, professing an uncanny radar, able to spot a Jew a mile away, yet who cannot see the one standing right under his nose as he grants Ari (disguised as a British officer) access to the 611 Jewish exiles being detained in a Brit-run camp, thus taking them to freedom aboard the newly christened ‘Exodus’, bound for their fate in Palestine. For cache, there is also Sir Ralph Richardson, giving another affecting performance in support as the empathetic Gen. Sutherland. But the most satisfying performance in the piece unequivocally belongs to Sal Mineo; his Dov Landau is heartrending, as he tearfully confides to selling out his people in the concentration camp in order to survive, but only after being caught in this lie under cross-examination by Akiva and his cohorts, also revealing his abject humiliation at being repeatedly raped by the S.S. in Auschwitz. Mineo’s performance is so varied and true to life, or a reasonable facsimile of it, it has an eclipsing effect on the rest of the cast.  When Mineo is on the screen he commands it with a fully-formed presence unrivaled by even its star. Mineo is moodily magnificent, expressing both primitive fears and a distorted outlook on human sacrifice and frailty. His budding and blood-thirsty youth is evolved in and by his friendship with the true believer of the faith and momentary keeper of its eternal flame – Karen – much later, left behind to affectingly mourn her loss as one of the first casualties of the advancing civil war.  
A sizeable hit in 1960, with the passage of time Exodus’ shortcomings stand in stark relief to its attributes; chaste love overblown and set to Ernest Gold’s bombastic orchestral groundswells; a menagerie of falling bombs, unabashedly stiff British colonialism on the wane, and, the occasional ‘l'chaim’ or ‘shalom’ to re-orientate the audience with the secularist’s approach to Judaism. Preminger’s forte is decidedly not the historical epic, nor the love story grafted onto its broader canvas. For although Preminger is working from a best seller, no less competently condensed by former blacklisted screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, the results are hardly enveloping or emotionally satisfying. Trumbo manages to make the most of Uris’ political platitudes. The characters pontificating in Exodus are never starved for something pseudo-intellectual to say. Alas, for many of the principles, the reach of Trumbo’s exposition is well beyond their grasp. The worst of the lot is undeniably Eva Marie Saint, fumbling through two parts cockeyed ‘little Mary Sunshine’ to one part determined Florence Nightingale; newly stirred from faux mourning to a purpose beside a man who can reawaken both her stifled sexual desire as well as expand upon her political vocabulary. Tall order for Ari Ben Canaan and order up, it seems, for Newman, who never entirely rises to this challenge as man, myth or martyr. Newman is, of course, playing to his strengths as an actor, the brooding/sullen/conflicted mantel of quality all actors of his ilk and vintage aspired to after the debut of Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire. Yet, these attributes are ill-suited for the role as written.
If nothing else, one has to sincerely admire Newman’s chutzpah – a non-practicing Jew in life – ever-invested and eager to grow as an actor. However, time and reflection have proven the futility in this exercise. And Newman really ought to have known better. The Silver Chalice (1954)…anyone?  I have stated as much in the past but find it necessary once more to point out that Paul Newman, apart from being a stunning male animal with piercing blue eyes capable of melting steel at a glance, able to convey primal masculinity as few of his contemporaries could (see 1956’s Somebody Up There Likes Me, as proof), and opposite the right female costar (think Elizabeth Taylor in ‘58’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or Newman’s own real-life paramour, Joanne Woodward in The Long (and very) Hot Summer – also released in 1958) could emanate a sort of earthy/street-savvy ruggedness combined with his inimitably sly and devilish charm, transmitting underlying currents of dangerously appealing sex and intrigue. Not bad for a bronzed Apollo.
But Newman cannot play it straight – not for too long; his Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, as example, thoroughly enjoys the spank of off-putting remarks made to chronically chastise his wife while reveling in the hypnotic sway of his southern acidic charm. Even on crutches, barefoot, rippling and shirtless, or with a pillow casually slung over his shoulder on the balcony looking over Woodward’s frigid young Miss in Long Hot Summer, playfully cooing, “Clara”, Newman finds the innate humor in his sex appeal. It’s what makes him tick as an actor. Without this element his screen persona evaporates, his range fairly limited and lacking. Newman needs to be the stud, or at least the macho ‘go-to’ guy every woman will run to in a pinch. Too bad, Ari Ben Canaan is not that guy; but a rather ambitious fellow, passionless about virtually everything except his devotions to the cause of a newly liberated Israel.  At one point, Kitty tellingly illustrates for him that a man as singularly minded is not really a man – at least, not one she can directly relate to or be expected to love unconditionally, as no such reciprocation on that emotional level are likely.  A methodical mind is a terribly thing to waste, especially when you look like Paul Newman. And it is his projection of this antiseptic ‘want me?/can’t have me’ tease that becomes Exodus’ most troublesome hurdle to overcome. The audience keeps waiting for Kitty and Ari to consummate their affair, but when they do it is ‘business as usual’ with no time for love amidst the sweeping arc of history.   
Exodus begins on Cyprus in 1946, childless widow, Kitty Fremont, aimlessly drifting along the coastal roads with her tour guide. Kitty has come to see Gen. Sutherland, her late husband, Tom’s commanding officer, now in charge of the British regiment responsible for corralling Jewish refugees in an internment camp – presumably for their own safety. Through Kitty and Sutherland’s candid conversation we learn she suffered a miscarriage late in her pregnancy, presumably brought on by the emotional upheaval of having already lost Tom. Kitty also meets Major Caldwell. Outwardly, Caldwell is the bright and breezy sort, though quickly he gives cause for Kitty to immediately dislike him. His low opinion of the Jews and sly amusement over Sutherland’s empathy toward them, is repellent to Kitty. Sutherland suggests Kitty might find purpose once more by relying on her vocational training as a nurse. Despite the best efforts of the British, the local Jewish internment camp is woefully understaffed and overpopulated. Perhaps in doing this favor for Sutherland, Kitty will find a reason to live again. She agrees, and shortly thereafter devotes her services to Dr. Samuel Odenheim (Martin Miller).
Kitty is also introduced to Dov Landau – defiant in his refusal of their medical attention after having fallen from a stony precipice while attempting to escape – and Karen Johansson, who willfully takes command of this volatile situation by tending to Dov’s wounds personally. Kitty feels motherly toward Karen, approaching Sutherland to orchestrate the necessary papers that will allow her to take the girl on several weekend holidays, with even bigger plans to adopt Karen and take her home to America.  Alas, in the interim, Ari Ben Canaan has orchestrated a minor coup; forging official-looking documents with Sutherland’s signature and the aid of a local merchant and Jewish sympathizer, Mr. Mandrai (Hugh Griffith); commissioning the British army to loan him transportation, foodstuffs, medical supplies and a ship – the badly battered Olympia – also, to release the newly arrived 611 Jewish refugees in his care. The ruse is nearly successful; Ari coming in contact with Caldwell, who laughingly suggests he can sniff out any Jew at twenty paces. To prove the idiocy of his claim, Ari asks Caldwell to look deep into his left eye, presumably to remove a cinder from it; Caldwell utterly oblivious to the fact he is so close to a real bona fide Jew right now he has just punctured the balloons of hypocrisy in his own argument.
As the Olympia begins to board its cargo, Ari meets Kitty for the first time. She is frantic to learn what has become of Karen who, after the briefest of consideration has agreed to go to America with her. Without knowing the girl, Ari lies to Kitty that Karen is awaiting her return at the internment camp. When Kitty realizes she has been misled, she makes her inquiries known to Sutherland who questions Caldwell. Chagrined, Caldwell orders the Olympia held in harbor, threatening to board her with a contingent of British troops. In retaliation, Ari announces he will blow up the Olympia – newly rechristened, Exodus – unless they are allowed unfettered passage through the channel, bound for their new homeland. The standoff persists with an organized hunger strike; one of the refugees, Mr. Lakovitch (Gregory Ratoff) galvanizing his fellow passengers to withstand their detainment or die from starvation to prove their point. The notoriety from this standoff incites an international incident in newspaper around the globe. Kitty appeals to Ari. He, however, is unwilling to bend. He further admonishes Kitty for her naiveté. After all, the Jews were promised a homeland by the British in Palestine in 1911; a promise later denied when shifting alliances with the Arabs forced the British to renege and then dismiss the notion outright. Dr. Odenheim is one of the group’s most ardent supporters. Regrettably, the hunger strike proves too much for him. He suffers a heart attack and dies. Let the record show that Samuel Odenheim, head of the first medical clinic in Vienna, gave his life to a cause because the world at large could conceive of no place for him to otherwise rest his weary head, Ari concludes. Kitty is appalled by Ari’s fatalist determination, neither understanding the concept, nor the history behind it.
She makes several blindsided appeals to Sutherland on Ari’s behalf, all the while remaining steadfast to the belief that even if Ari has his way and a partition is granted, the surrounding Arab nations will never allow the Jews to keep it. Sutherland is most empathetic to the plight of these 611 refugees; Kitty, surprised to learn Sutherland has no Jewish blood-ties, only a personal conviction which flies in the face of the status quo. Kitty finds this quality admirable. Thus, when Sutherland flies to London to fight for the release of the Exodus, Kitty elects to go with the ship to Palestine as Karen, having suffered a crisis of conscience, now refuses to abandon the other refugees. The Exodus sails for Palestine – a major victory against the ruling British colonialist attitude. Once there, Dov wastes no time seeking an audience with Akiva Canaan – the philosophizing mercenary who heads the Irgun, a radical Zionist underground network. But British intelligence is waiting to ambush Dov. He is arrested and questioned. Without evidence to detain him, he is eventually set free; quickly picked up by Akiva’s right-hand, Joav (George Maharis) and taken for an audience.
To ensure Dov is not a plant meant to infiltrate their organization, Akiva questions Dov’s stay in Auschwitz; suckling the facts from his well-guarded past. Dov resists divulging all of the information at first. However, when pressed, he breaks down, his tearful confession, having survived the onslaught by betraying others in the camp; also, by allowing the S.S. to repeatedly rape him. Akiva takes pity on Dov. He can be trusted. Meanwhile, Karen and the other refugees arrive at Gan Dafna, a kibbutz established by Dr. Lieberman (Felix Alymer) and Ari’s father, Barak; granted asylum by the neighboring Arab community under the auspices of its Mukhtar, Taha – son of the late Kamal who was Barak’s best friend so very long ago. Ari and Taha grew up together and have remained loyal in their friendship - equally devoted to a lasting peace between their peoples. Too bad for Taha, his community is soon to be invaded by Von Storch (Marius Goring) and a contingent of Nazi sympathizers as ever entrenched in the extermination of the Jews. For the briefest of wrinkles in time, peace seems attainable.
Gan Dafna is a thriving community overseen by Lieberman and Ari’s younger sister, Jordana (Alexandra Stewart). Ari and Kitty gradually reconcile their differences and fall in love; Ari, moving heaven and earth to discover what has become of Karen’s father, whose name did not appear on any of the casualty lists from Dachau. When it is discovered Karen’s father has been in an asylum – a catatonic since the war – Ari arranges a painful reunion between father and daughter. Karen gently caresses her father’s hands and gingerly kisses him on his forehead. There is no response or even recognition for this kindness. Moments later, Ari, Kitty and Karen witness the bombing of the King David Hotel. Many guests perish and we quickly discover Dov is responsible for the blast, working on Akiva’s orders. Dov is not so clever in concealing his return to the monastery where Akiva and his men are hiding. Tailing Dov, British soldiers descend on the monastery. Although they are unsuccessful at apprehending Dov, Akiva is taken away and shortly thereafter convicted. Ari convinces Barak to bury their nearly two decade old familial feud, brought on by Barak’s unwillingness to accept Akiva’s violence as the only answer to their nation’s plight. Without saying a word, Barak suffers, looking into his brother’s eyes for the very last time through a small porthole.  To spare both brothers their indignation, Ari – together with Dov’s complicity - stages a daring prison break; the car carrying Ari, Akiva and Yoav making it only so far past a British checkpoint before being riddled with bullets. Akiva is fatally wounded, dying in the backseat. Ari has been severely wounded too, suffering a collapsed lung. 
Kitty and Ari are inadvertently reunited at Gan Dafna; she, applying her nurse’s skills alongside Dr. Lieberman to cleanse Ari’s punctured lung and thus save his life. News of an impromptu British search of Gan Dafna reaches the kibbutz; Kitty electing to have Ari moved to Taha’s home to recuperate. Regrettably, while the British do not find any evidence Ari was ever at Gan Dafna, they nevertheless unearth a vast stockpile of weaponry beneath the floorboards of its operating room. Dr. Lieberman is arrested and taken away. The United Nations recognizes a free Israel. But an insidious plot begins to hatch, set forth by the Grand Mufti’s edict for all Muslims to rise against the Jew and cleanse him from their midst. Unable to comply, Taha orders Kitty and Ari to return to Gan Dafna with all speed before Von Storch comes back, likely with plans to torture them both. As Gan Dafna prepares to war with its neighbors, Karen and Dov are reunited. They confide in one another a mutual love. Dov orders Karen to return to the relative safety of the kibbutz while he remains on guard in the hills overlooking it. Regrettably, Arab factions have already infiltrated the parameter. Karen’s throat is slit; her body discovered the next morning by Dov and a fellow soldier on patrol.  As Ari and his patrol make their way into the nearby village, another gruesome discovery awaits; Taha, stripped and hanged in the public square, a Star of David murderously carved into his chest.  Laying Karen and Taha’s bodies side by side in an unmarked grave, Ari delivers an inspiring eulogy, tinged with his inimitably passion to continue the fight but broker the peace, flanked by his sister, Kitty, and Dov – who refuses to throw in his shovel of dirt to mark the occasion.
Thus concludes Exodus – rather stolidly, Dalton Trumbo’s screenplay unable to reconcile the various historical/actioner/drama/romantic elements with a little social commentary thrown in for good measure. The most disheartening aspect of the picture is Otto Preminger’s decidedly episodic handling of the material. Whenever Preminger paints himself into a narrative corner he simply fades to black. There are far too many of these fades in Exodus – cumulatively reducing its third act into a series of disjointed vignettes – the fade outs so heavy-handedly applied, they appear to interrupt the preceding scenes instead of punctuating the moment with an affecting note of drama or even symbolic passage of time. Cinematographer, Sam Leavitt deserves kudos. If nothing else, Exodus has some stunningly handsome visual compositions to recommend it; Leavitt giving us so much more than the lay of this exotic land with one absolutely gorgeous image layered upon the next. We must remember Exodus is directly coming off the high-key lighting approach to fifties glam-bam. Thus, even long shots of the rusty-hulled Olympia appear immaculate. In hindsight, Leavitt’s clean visual style is complimentary to this subject matter; Preminger (generally adverse to punctuating dialogue scenes with close-ups) allowing Leavitt a few thoroughly romanticized up-close-and-personals with stars, Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint; two of the most handsome visages ever to appear in movies.
The picture’s success rests squarely on Newman’s ability to convey all the moral complexity and ambiguities of a man of conscience, forced to reinvent himself as a man of action. Tragically, it is not an altogether successful morph, with even Newman regretting the experience of making Exodus in years yet to follow; his own left-wing Democratic views frequently at odds with the political ambitions of successive Israeli governments. Newman, who could be counted upon to openly express his displeasure, had several publicized rows with Preminger while on location: two bulls in the same China shop, not a good mix indeed. In terms of sustaining Exodus’ dramatic arc, the ‘heavy lifting’ is relegated mostly to Preminger’s star-powered cavalcade of supporting players who, at almost every turn, outshine Newman and thus create a curious imbalance to his star presence, already punctuated by Preminger’s frequent departures from the main ‘love story’ to explore various other lives in peril. 
Eva Marie Saint, ever more the fashion plate than the actress, is given some simplified haute couture to prance around in, trading her stylish duds for khaki freedom-fighting chic, for which her fine-bone features are ill-equipped to remain convincing. The rest of the cast appears almost in cameo; Peter Lawford’s shameless bigot expertly played for cheap laughs (Caldwell really is a fop in British officer’s garb).  One of the most satisfying is Hugh Griffith, in a derivation of his Oscar-winning, lusty Sheik Ilderim from 1959’s Ben-Hur. As the wily merchant, Mandria, Griffith is given only a few choice scenes to distinguish himself, but animates virtually every last one, his best moment arising when Mandria philosophizes, “The Cypriots would like to see the Britons in Britain, the Jews in Palestine and the Cypriots in Cyprus. Not, mind you, that I am anti-British. If I must have a master the British are by far the best. The problem my dear friends is why have a master at all?”
The other shortcoming inflicting Exodus is the picture’s length. Arguably, Leon Uris’ writing demands a more thorough and thus lengthier investigation to fully express its intricacies. The fault herein is undeniably more Preminger’s than screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo. Indeed, Preminger had sought the professionally exiled Trumbo (deemed a communist in the McCarthy witch hunts) to write this movie; a move that, together with Kirk Douglas’ stance in hiring Trumbo to write Spartacus this same year, effectively shattered the autonomy of the black list. And Trumbo, as ever prolific, articulate and introspective, has done a fairly marvelous job of telescopically distilling Uris’ massive text into a manageable equivalent for the screen. Yet, Preminger does not quite know what to do with it; tripping over scenes of domesticity at the Ben Canaan household and Gan Dafna with a bootlegged mantra that freedom fighters are just people too. Reportedly, as Exodus entered its third hour on opening night, comedian, Mort Sahl stood up from his seat inside the packed theater, shouting “Hey, Otto, let my people go” – a riff that brought down the house. Nevertheless, Exodus was a big hit, its $4 million budget eclipsed by a worldwide intake of $21,750,000.
For its roadshow, Exodus was released theatrically in Super Panavision-70 with reduction prints made on standard 35mm to accommodate the smaller venues. Okay, (pause, breathe)… I have officially given up on MGM Home Video to do right by their deep catalog. This newly minted Twilight Time release, easily bests both MGM/UA Home Video’s disgustingly subpar and non-anamorphic DVD from 2002; also, marginally advancing over the quality exhibited on the Australian Blu-ray counterpart, made available in 2011, region free, by Shock! Media. Side-by-side comparisons reveal Twilight Time’s disc is slightly cleaner than the Shock! counterpart. It also restores the opening credits to their full aperture. The Shock! Blu-ray idiotically had them window-boxed on all four sides. Alas, like Shock!’s disc, TT’s Blu-ray has been remastered from 35mm reduction prints. A Super-Panavision 70 remaster would have yielded greater clarity, more detail and more faithful color reproduction unless, of course, the 70mm elements were in a deplorable state of decay. Given MGM’s lackluster custodial track record thus far, this really would not surprise me!
So, what are the pluses on TT’s transfer? First, the overall 1080p presentation looks quite crisp and consistent. Colors do not pop as they should, but at least we have no catastrophic color fading. Contrast is solid and there appears to be a light smattering of grain looking indigenous to its source. So far, so good. But it’s MGM – remember? So, cleanup is minimal; nicks, chips and scratches present and accounted for, though nevertheless, not terribly distracting. Color density and temperature both leave something to be desired, constantly fluctuating, though not to egregious levels. There are quite a few optical dissolves scattered throughout Preminger’s storytelling and these appear decidedly ragged and ‘dupey’. Alas, there are some disturbing anomalies to reconsider, persistent on the old DVD release – also, the Shock! Blu-ray, that – again – MGM has shown zero interest to correct for this North American hi-def debut. The lengthy sequence in which Yoav tails Dov from his first arrival ‘off the boat’ in Palestine to Akiva’s apartment where he is temporary incarcerated by British Intel; then, subsequently released; this entire sequence is plagued by thoroughly distracting gate weave and a sudden and inexplicable overall blurriness that cannot be ignored. Honestly, this pivotal sequence looks awful – period! I can sincerely appreciate a cash-strapped operation like MGM not wanting to go the distance with a beginning to end/ground up restoration effort. But this sequence – lasting approximately 8 ½ minutes – ought to have either been corrected digitally or, ideally, have involved some exculpatory research to find an alternative take unaffected by these distortions, easily recut and inserted into the existing 1080p scan of original elements. Again, it’s MGM. So, no – not happening. Not now – and likely – never! Lower your expectations, folks. The lion whimpers yet again.
Thanks primarily to TT’s due diligence in performing some investigative research prior to slapping this one to disc, this new Blu-ray boasts three listening options: a new DTS 5.1, an approximation of the original roadshow in 4.0, and, 2.0 theatrical stereo mixes. The unearthed 6-track 35mm mag was housed in MGM’s vaults but never utilized in any of their remastering efforts before this one – big surprise! Those mags serve as the basis for the 4.0 remaster, with thousands of clicks, pops, dropouts and distortions painstakingly corrected to ensure maximum fidelity to its original source. In the case of all three audio options, dialogue suffers from a sustained low-key, almost inaudible quality, disconcerting during the picture’s second half. Raising the volume helps, except that now the SFX and Ernest Gold’s orchestral arrangements thunder across the screen with all the sonic volatility of a mortar shell. It is impossible to get excited about TT’s isolate score and effects track – since MGM has gone the quick and dirty route yet again, 2.0 with built in background garble to distort one’s appreciation of Ernest Gold’s superior orchestrations. A CD of the original orchestral tracks does exist so exactly why we do not get these instead is, frankly, beyond me. MGM has favored us with an HD trailer for Exodus and also another marking their 90th Anniversary. I have news for the PR boys – MGM’s 90th was 2 years ago. Perhaps, it is about time future hi-def releases reflect the inevitable passage of time. TT’s only noteworthy ‘extra’ is Julie Kirgo’s astute reflections, culled in a handsome six page booklet. She always has something relevant and engaging to offer. Bottom line: Exodus on Blu-ray isn’t exceptional. However, given that the DVD was such a slapdash effort, Exodus on Blu-ray is passable. But ‘passable’ should not be the benchmark for catalog remastering in hi-def. By 2016, it is very near scraping the bottom of the barrel. Minimal effort put forth on this one, folks. Thoroughly unimpressed! 
FILM RATING (out of 5 – 5 being the best)


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