Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice & DVD & Blu

If you've never seen Paul Mazursky's Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice before, I can understand being disinclined to.  It's from the 60s, has that cutesy poster, starts out in the "new age" clinic where everybody's hugging each other... it all looks super dated, like one of those movies that may've had its moment in the past, but can be left right there in the past, too.  But no, actually, it's great and holds up just as well today as ever. 
Everything it's really satirizing is just as pertinent now as it was then.  Any fad psychology at play is dealing with the same inherently existential issues in relationships we face today.  It's witty and incisive, like the best of Allen, Brooks or Baumbach, with more depth than much of his later, more obvious comedies.  And the ensemble cast is brilliant.  I mean, you should expect that from Elliot Gould and maybe Natalie Wood, but Dyan Cannon is really on top of the humor of her character and Robert Culp, primarily known for milquetoast television series like I Spy (keep your eyes pealed for Bill Cosby cameo!) and The Greatest American Hero is surprisingly nuanced.  Unfortunately, I don't think anything else in his long filmography has ever asked as much of him, because it turns out he's really adept. 
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice's life on home video is has been pretty straight forward.  Columbia Tri-Star originally released it as a pretty decent special edition DVD in 2004.  It got released a couple of times... once as a 2008 triple feature with two unrelated films, and once in 2010 by Image.  But it was always the same disc.  It finally hit blu-ray in 2018 from Twilight Time in the US, and Arrow Academy in the UK, with a couple more extras.
2004 Columbia Tri-Star DVD top; 2018 Arrow BD bottom.
Arrow's case calls this a "brand new restoration from original film elements by Sony Pictures," and you can tell.  The aspect ratio is corrected from 1.80:1 to 1.85:1, effectively by lifting the slight pillarboxing the DVD had in the overscan area (I left the negative space around the first set of shots so you can see) and correcting a barely perceptible vertical stretch.  The whole DVD had a slight washed look to it, so now the BD has slightly bolder colors and higher contrast with brighter highlights and distinctly blacker blacks.  They're clearly using a whole new master for the blu, which is much clearer, free of the DVD's light edge enhancement and with crisply captured grain, which is barely even hinted at on the old disc.  The DVD only had slight damage, but it's been cleaned up on the blu (note the black spot on Dyan Cannon's collar only in the first of the second set of shots).

Both discs have the the original mono with optional English subtitles.  The DVD also had Japanese subtitles, and the blu bumps the audio up to LPCM.
Columbia already had some pretty strong extras, primarily an audio commentary by Mazursky and the three surviving stars.  It's a pretty great and informative reunion.  There's also an on-camera interview with Mazursky, where he's interviewed at a screening (enhanced by a few additional soundbites from Mazursky filmed separately), which is a little redundant at times, but fills in more of Mazursky's back story.  Besides that, there's just a couple bonus trailers.

Arrow thankfully hangs onto all of that, except the bonus trailers, and adds a couple more experts into the mix.  Australian critic Adrian Martin adds a second commentary, which is pretty interesting, and critic David Cairns provides a nice little overview in visual essay form, although if you've already watched all the other extras, a lot of what he's saying will be sounding pretty familiar.  The original Columbia features are the important must-watch stuff, but at least Arrow makes you feel like you're getting more.  Their release also includes reversible artwork.
Man, I miss Arrow Academy.  Although, to be fair, Twilight Time's blu is probably just as good.  I don't have it, but I'm pretty certain both blus are using the same restoration.  It's missing the visual essay, but it has one of TT's signature isolated score tracks instead.  So either way.  But hey, Twilight Time's gone, too.  And the fewer labels like those we have just means the fewer films like these we see get releases at all, let alone high quality ones like this.  And that's a shame, because this is a masterwork that's worth a spot in anyone's collection.

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