Diamond Wizard, The (Blu-ray 3D Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Nov 30, 2022
  • Format: Blu-ray 3D
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Diamond Wizard, The (Blu-ray 3D Review)

Director

Montgomery Tully, Dennis O’Keefe

Release Date(s)

1954 (November 15, 2022)

Studio(s)

Gibraltar Films/United Artists (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
  • Film/Program Grade: B-
  • Video Grade: B+
  • Audio Grade: B-
  • Extras Grade: C+

The Diamond Wizard (Blu-ray 3D)

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Review

The Diamond Wizard, released as simply The Diamond in its home home country of the United Kingdom, was the first full-length 3D film ever made in the UK, but it unfortunately came late during the “Golden Age” of the 3D boom. As such, it was never released in 3D until 2006 when it finally premiered at World 3-D Expo II, coming back once again for another rare screening in 2013. As a consequence, nearly the entirety of the world has only had access to the film in its flat, 2D form, until now.

A pair of British crooks pull off a heist that ends in tragedy when an undercover cop is killed, allowing them to escape and head back to London. Making his way overseas is Joe (Dennis O’Keefe), a Treasury Investigator who pursues them with the help of Scotland Yard Inspector McClaren (Philip Friend). McClaren has been following up on the discovery of synthetic diamond smugglers who will do anything to sell them for the highest price. As it turns out, the diamonds are so authentic that even experts have a difficult time telling the difference. McClaren has also been tracing the whereabouts of Dr. Miller (Paul Hardtmuth) on behalf of his daughter Marline (Margaret Sheridan), whom Joe takes a liking to. After examining a diamond brooch belonging to Marline, Joe and McClaren begin to suspect that Dr. Miller may be up to no good.

The Diamond Wizard obviously hearkens back to the theatrical serials of the 1930s, whether it was intended to or not. Secret experiments, spies, kidnapping, and diamond heists mark this as a story that would have felt right at home at Republic Pictures over the course of thirteen chapters. It’s also driven more by dialogue than action, as there are many scenes of characters simply explaining things to each other. However, the plot is intriguing and the principle actors are likable enough that these scenes work well enough, never mind seeing them in three dimensions.

Confusion about who actually directed the film has been stirred over the years since the UK version credits Dennis O’Keefe and the US version credits Montgomery Tully (the film is identical otherwise). A still taken from a periodical of the era (included in Mike Ballew’s featurette) during the film’s production states in the caption that “Million Dollar Diamond is co-directed by American actor Dennis O’Keefe and Montgomery Tully.” That seems pretty definitive, but even so, The Diamond Wizard is an enjoyable, old-fashioned yarn, regardless of who actually directed it.

The Diamond Wizard was shot by cinematographers Arthur Graham and Gordon Lang on 35 mm black-and-white film using the Spacemaster 3D camera system, finished photochemically, and presented flat in the aspect ratio of 1.65:1. Kino Lorber Studio Classics brings 3-D Film Archive’s new restoration of the film to Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D for the first time. Three viewing options have been included: standard 2D, polarized 3D, and anaglyphic 3D. Truly, this is one of 3-D Film Archive’s best restorations to date, especially since the film has almost never been seen in anything but 2D. The surviving elements appear to have been a tad rough, but they’ve been lovingly rescued. As for the standard 2D presentation, if offers a balanced and satisfying yield of grain with fairly high levels of fine detail. Since this disc houses three 84-minute presentations, the bit rate is slightly lower than current standards, but compression is good enough to bear it out without appearing chunky or pixellated. Excellent gradations of black and white are on display with good contrast and only minor jitter.

The polarized 3D presentation, the star of our show, is lovely. As Mike Ballew notes in his featurette, films shot with the Spacemaster 3D system (developed by Stereo Techniques Limited) tend to focus on depth, and when a pop-out effect does occur, it’s usually motivated by actions in the story or by transitions. A couple of them didn’t work entirely, at least for me, but none felt forced. The speckling and infrequent lines running through the frame are a little more obvious in 3D, but they don’t deter from the wonderful depth on display. There are a couple of brief moments when extremely distant or very close objects appear a little out of register, but neither are egregious. The majority of the presentation is stellar. The scenes of the crooks making diamonds in the control booth of a refinery with their reflections in the glass are particularly outstanding.

Also included is an anaglyph 3D version, which was created using 3-D Film Archive’s patented Adaptive Multi-Band Anaglyphic Encoding process. Many may find its inclusion unnecessary, but remember that not everyone has access to polarized 3D technology, and this option provides those who purchase this release a way to experience the film the way that it was intended.

Audio is included in English 2.0 mono DTS-HD Master Audio with optional English subtitles. It offers good support for the dialogue, though overdubs tend to stand out, while sound effects and score have decent weight to them. Sibilance, minor crackle, and hiss are prevalent throughout.

The Diamond Wizard on Blu-ray 3D sits in a blue amaray case alongside a pair of anaglyphic 3D glasses with an insert and a slipcover replicating and combining artworks from the film’s original US half-sheet and standard theatrical posters. The following extras are included, all in HD:

  • Alternate UK Opening (2D only – 1:51)
  • Mike Ballew on The Diamond Wizard (2D and 3D – 11:43)
  • Restoring The Diamond Wizard in 3-Dimensions (2D and 3D – 2:57)
  • US Theatrical Trailer (2D only – 1:38)

The Alternate UK Opening features the film under the title The Diamond, and also gives sole directorial credit to Dennis O’Keefe. Next, 3D film historian Mike Ballew gives us a concise but informative history of Stereo Techniques Limited (created by Raymond Spottiswoode and Jack Ralph), the Spacemaster 3D camera system, and its use on The Diamond Wizard. Restoring The Diamond Wizard in 3-Dimensions offers brief side-by-side comparisons of the original raw scan and final, cleaned-up and stabilized versions of the main presentation, which is viewable in 2D or 3D (though it should be noted that some portions can only be experienced in 3D).

Alongside the releases of I, The Jury and Treasure of the Four Crowns, 2022 has been an exciting year for Blu-ray 3D and 3D restoration in general. The Diamond Wizard joins their ranks as an extremely fun film, but also a reference quality Blu-ray 3D experience.

- Tim Salmons

(You can follow Tim on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel here.)

 

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