‘Gimme a whisky, ginger ale on the side.” (Pause) ‘And don’ be stinchy baby.’ So went the first lines Greta Garbo ever uttered in a sound film, ‘Anna Christie’ from 1930. Above I’ve posted two versions of the opening whisky scene–one of them with ‘restored sound’. For my money the unrestored version–soft, mellow with some crackles and hiss–is perfectly understandable and even atmospheric. The restored sound version is treble-heavy, with odd and heavy sound effects and even some unnecessary background music added. Still lots of movie buffs like anything that reeks of restoration and may well prefer the souped-up version of this famous scene to the original. For visuals I’m pretty much all in with restored black and white prints–the recent Blu-Ray release of the restoration of The Marx Brothers ‘The Cocoanuts’ is quite breathtaking, especially for someone (like myself) who’s seen the film two-thousand times over the years in its sloppy, fifth-generation dupes incarnation. Sound is another matter though. I’ve become acutely aware in recent years that an abundance of tracks for a mixer to work with is a few sets of paints too many. Especially since most movies are now, unfortunately, watched at home with a sound bar used to handle the mix-down of all those tracks. Thus most new films achieve an aural muddiness that’s absent in nice old movies watched on TCM, which sound crisp, articulate and uncluttered. And now for that whisky, Ginger Ale on the side…


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