I finally divined the secret of getting my LG Blu-Ray player to play 4:3 DVD's in the correct AR instead of stretching them. There's a setting for two 16:9 modes - 16:9 "Original" and 16:9 "Full".
It's not clear to me why there are these two modes. In 16:9 Original, you put in a 16:9 disc it plays 16:9, put in a 4:3 disc, it plays 4:3. In 16:9 Full, everything gets stretched to 16:9.
Any insights as to why these two modes exist?
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Both exist because some people don't care about seeing movies in their original aspect ratio. They want the video to completely fill their TV's screen.
The terminology used by your player could be better, though. On a 16:9 TV, your 16:9 Original seems to give "dot-by-dot", while 16:9 Full is probably "side-stretch". Just to use the viewing mode terms from the Sharp TV I'm using now. There are others, and it seems each manufacturer has their own viewing mode terms.Pull! Bang! Darn!