Could I ask which Blu-ray.com allegation you are referring to?
Certainly - you initially speculated and then stated outright that it's an old transfer (a charge you repeat at the end of this very comment that I'm responding to!), which is not the impression that Arrow has been giving me.
I ask because from what you have written above it appears that there is some sort of an official statement in the Blu-ray.com review which links an old Paramount master to Arrow's release. The Blu-ray.com review certainly has not linked the two.
Not explicitly, certainly, but if you read what you wrote with the knowledge that there are only two HD masters out there (as far as I'm aware), it would be an entirely reasonable inference that Arrow used the same HD master that fuelled Paramount's DVD. In fact, this was something I was wondering about myself, although a side-by-side comparison quickly banished that impression.
The review also does not speculate that this is an upscale.
I thought I was clear about this at the time, but I'll very happily stress that that accusation was made on the AVS Forums, and that you do indeed make it clear that there's significantly more visible detail on the Blu-ray!
Compare these two releases with the high-definition transfer used for The Conformist Blu-ray release. There are fundamental differences - and no, the source has little do with them, because if a new scan was performed, and then a new high-definition transfer was struck from the new master, The Conformist would have looked very, very different on Blu-ray.
You'll have to argue this point with Arrow, but I understand from them that the HD master came from Bologna and was definitely not the mid-2000s Paramount HD master. I can be absolutely certain on the latter point, as the technical supervisor of Arrow's release also worked on the digital cinema reissue a few years back, which was
sourced from Paramount's HD master, so he's handled both masters directly and is therefore familiar with the differences.
As I wrote elsewhere, I understand perfectly well why Arrow did what they did - it was the lesser evil they chose, because had they gone with the DNR-ed Italian high-definition transfer quite a few forums would have exploded again. I don't blame them, they did the right thing. And we can all agree on this.
But they don't seem to have done what you're suggesting they did!
But there are facts here that one has to recognize: there is very little, if any, grain on this release. What you see the majority of the time is pulsating noise and artifacts that create the illusion that there is grain, which is why definition is seriously compromised. Yes, the Arrow disc looks better than the R1 Paramount DVD, but primarily because the R1 DVD is extremely weak, practically unwatchable these days. A proper high-definition transfer struck from the recent restoration - and free of the denoising the Raro high-definition transfer suffers from - would produce a vastly different result.
But as far as I'm aware, this release was sourced from the same master that fuelled the Raro disc - I admit that I could be wrong on this point, because of course there's no way of being certain about this without contacting the suppliers in Bologna. But if this is the case, surely your entire premise needs a rethink? (I'm not disputing what you saw, since I believe you watch things through a projector and I don't, though I was perfectly happy with the amount of grain that I saw on a 42" plasma).
Finally, as far as Mr. Storaro signing off the master is concerned, well, the one question that needs to be answered is: When did he do it? In 2011, in 2012? The master that has been used to produce the high-definition transfer for this release is dated.
This apparently bald statement of fact directly contradicts what I've been told.
Incidentally, do you ever take the trouble to contact DVD/BD producers before writing your reviews? These people are usually not hard to track down, and in my experience they're usually only too happy to answer detailed technical questions, if only to prevent unhelpful speculation and blatant guesswork. Certainly, my own rule with regard to my professional reviews (and indeed quite a few comments in these forums) is that if I'm not personally very sure indeed why a release has ended up the way it has done, I try to ask someone better-informed.