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This review originally appeared in issue 6 of THE CINEMA LASER.


Here is the release that is proof positive that Fox Video has been (and continues) to rip off Laserdisc collectors with their pricing policies. Lumivision is presenting BENEATH THE 12 MILE REEF in the Letterbox format for only $40! BENEATH THE 12 MILE REEF is one of the earliest films to be produced in CinemaScope, and one that Fox has allowed to fall into public domain. This Laserdisc was mastered from the CinemaScope print of a private collector. The mastering entailed: 1) Having the film element cleaned and prepared for the film to tape transfer. 2) The actual film to tape transfer in the digital format. 3) A re­mix of the magnetic stereo soundtrack into surround at Chase Productions. 4) The production of a Laserdisc master from which the Laserdisc stampers are made. These are the steps that are required to create a Letterbox Laserdisc master. These are the same steps that Fox goes through for a Letterbox release. Lumivision pays roughly the same mastering costs that Fox pays (most likely more). Yet, Lumivision is charging only $40 for BENEATH THE 12 MILE REEF. If Fox had released this title, you know that they would be charging $50, or even $60! This release should leave little doubt in the minds of Laserdisc collectors where Fox Video's priorities lie.

BENEATH THE 12 MILE REEF was the third CinemaScope feature to be released by 20th Century Fox and it stars Robert Wagner, Terri Moore, Gilbert Roland, Richard Boone, Peter Graves and J. Carrol Naish. BENEATH THE 12 MILE REEF really is a little movie, which was given big production values to capitalize on Fox's new wide screen process. BENEATH THE 12 MILE REEF also features some really wonderful underwater cinematography (a major "first" for CinemaScope), which must have been a real treat to see up on the big WIDE screen. Aside from being given CinemaScope treatment, the film also features a great Bernard Herrmann score. The plot concerns the trials and tribulations of Greek sponge divers off the coast of Florida.

Lumivision has done an excellent job with the Letterbox transfer of BENEATH THE 12 MILE REEF. The image is very "wide" and almost fully recreates the early CinemaScope aspect ratio. Since the print used for the transfer comes from a private collection, one would expect to see a lot of wear and tear, not here. The film element is nearly pristine, with only minor markings apparent. The image is sharp and clear, and the color is excellent. That brings me to another point, the jacket lists the film element as an Eastmancolor print from England. My eyes tell me otherwise; the color is just too good and too consistent to be Eastmancolor from that period.

The digital stereo surround soundtrack is quite good, with Bernard Herrmann's score receiving almost all of the benefits of the Chase Productions re­mix. The dialogue remains front and center almost all of the time, with just a bit of left and right. Sound effects ditto. Herrmann's music is the only thing that one consistently hears in the surround channels. Also, the music has a great deal of low bass, so those with a sub­woofer will love this track. The pressing heralds from Sony's (DADC) facility in Austria, and it is the only weak link in the chain. The last few moments of side one contains more video noise than average; the black bands of the Letterbox image make the video noise noticeable. Speckling was minimal. This Laserdisc comes highly recommended because it may be the only chance collectors will get to own a reasonably priced "Fox" Letterbox title.


Laserdisc reviews are Copyright © 1996 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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