Having already reviewed the wonderful film "Notorious" this review deals with the DVD releases in question. Reading the reviews praising Criterion Collections "great acheivement" over Anchor Bays "bare-bones" release lit a fire under me. The fact is most re-viewers even those with high-end equipment came to DVD direct from VHS land. DVD is their first experience with Criterion releases.
I, for better and for worse, was part of the 1 percent of the population who ventured into the world of high tech video and the Audio-Video receiver and sound system, years before anyone had heard of DVD, with the Laserdisc. The Criterion Collection (formerly the Voyager Collection) put out very expensive editions of Classic films on Laserdisc for years and the results to say the least were mixed. Part of the problem was that Laserdisc technology steadily improved over its 20 plus year run and studios like MGM were able to best many of Voyager/Criterions releases with stronger more colorful releases over time. Others discs were, frankly, just average releases being sold at inflated prices, so inflated in fact that I picked many out of bargain bins. Having collected over 200 titles on Laserdisc, not counting multiple copies of some titles I came to DVD with both good and bad examples of Criterions work over the years.
Now having seen the Criterion Collection as well as the Anchor Bay versions of "Notorious" I cannot believe some of the reviews praising the Criterion editon are genuine. The opening credits of "Notorious" are windowboxed, making them almost minature even on a large screen moniter. While I agree that Criterion does exhibit better overall contrast and fewer skips, this, however, does not compensate for such heavy grain that the picture is severely compromised in several scenes (even viewed on just a 27 inch Proscan TV) and dust is apparent everywhere. Anchor Bay's 2.0 mono may have less definiton when played on a very high end system than Criterions 1.0, but Anchor Bay's still had more volume overall and the softer and far cleaner video image was more pleasant to watch. Considering that the Criterion edition, even deeply discounted, was triple what I paid for Anchor Bays DVD made me glad I had rented it first. Unless you want to own the extras on the Criterion release, which are substantial, I would recommend a rental first. Thanks, CAL