Might be of interest to Sled and others, I looked further into disabling the auto-pause on CAV discs. Post-1993 a lot of Pioneer players have a function called PSC (Picture Stop Cancel). It can be toggled on/off by holding down the Pause button on the player (not the remote) for a few seconds, the text PSC ON or PSC OFF will display on screen. With PSC ON the player will bypass the autostops, with PSC OFF it will respect them as normal. It works on my British CLD-2950 (equivalent, I think, to the US CLD-703). Try it with your player(s) and see if you can enjoy the Ambersons side 4 without interruption!
Another vaguely Welles-related release I'd recommend is Disney's CAV set of Saludos Amigos/Three Caballeros. There's no commentary, but there's documentary material and radio broadcasts on some of the analogue tracks. Welles and It's All True get passing contextual mention, but it's interesting to see a contemporary sister production under the good neighbour programme that was so financially successful for the Disney studio that they didn't need to take Uncle Sam's dollar after all, and based on the success put together their own sequel, Three Caballeros (that didn't do so well); also interesting to compare and contrast the content and structure of Disney's package films to the mooted and reconstructed forms of It's All True. There's some info on the release at the Laserdisc Database here:http://www.lddb.com/laserdisc/06559/5716-CS/Three-Caballeros-The/Saludos-Amigos-(1944)
I've found that the market's really loosened for LDs, I suppose it's to be expected now that it's not one but two generations back as far as home entertainment media goes, and that people are dumping their collections to 'make space' or because their LD player died and they don't want to spring for an increasingly expensive quality used machine (discs seem to be getting very cheap, players seem to be getting quite costly); also where there are less and less LD exclusive feature films now that aren't available as DVDs, BDs, paid downloads, TV airings or bootleg posts on YouTube or other platforms. I've really increased my collection and picked up plenty of nice discs for $5-$10, and some great job lots as low as $3 each.
Although I've been a big DVD fan since they came out, I'm finding I really like the unprocessed analogue look a lot of older LD releases have. Especially for pre-1960 material that's TV aspect ratio and that's 'challenging' to digital compression, (grainy, smoky, flickery and otherwise atmospheric
). Blu-ray is a great format, and well able to handle challenging material, but for those I'm noticing that some of the studios are now making very poor decisions and running the transfers through too much digital reprocessing, which is now just a computer based filter in the workflow - they've got the strong tendency to choose to 'correct' the film to try to make it look like it was shot with modern equipment; overstabilising, grain-reducing to the point that faces are waxy and movement leaves trails (Universal, j'accuse
), colour-'correcting' which can wreak havoc on Technicolor features especially, and (my biggest pet hate of all), dropping the original sound mix in favour of a 5.1 upmix.
Later LDs do start showing injudicious application of grain reduction and colour regrading, so as far as that's concerned it's not the format itself but the (ab)use of technology available at the time; but if the source transfer is the same on the LD and DVD, I feel that LD handles poor quality source material more gracefully than DVD does.
I have mixed feelings about studios using the camera negative to create the Blu-ray - on one side, it's amazing to see old movies look so pin sharp, but on the other, it doesn't look like anything anyone ever experienced in a theatre in 1941 or whenever. The LDs often maintain the atmosphere of a print seen in a revival theatre or on television in a way that's really pleasing to me. I'm finding that I prefer some good, honest film artefacting and audio crackles/hiss to the macroblocking and mosquito artefacting on DVDs, and the overprocessing used by some film studios (looking at you again, Universal) on their recent DVDs and Blu-rays where they'd do better to leave a film-like transfer unmolested.
In the last year, I've expanded my collection from around 30 discs where the LD has unique content, to upwards of 300, initially for discs that had variations in colour timing, sound mix, or other minor points; through discs where the LD is a fraction of the price of an out-of-print or MOD DVD, and now increasingly to favourite films where I have a perfectly good DVD and / or BD already, but it's just nice to have the packaging and the film-look on the LD, and at the moment the LDs are in very regular rotation. Last weekend I watched 10 titles from my latest haul. I've had very little bad luck with rotters so far; very sorry to hear of your losses here. My hope is that for discs that haven't yet rotted in their 15-30 year existence, they're not going to start now... At any rate, I'm keeping my fingers crossed....