Dear Warner Bros. -- Why Are You So Reluctant To Give Us the Silents Via Archive?

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Dick, Jun 15, 2014.

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  1. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Screenwriter
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    I get very nervous about new film scores, because they invariably tend to be anachronistic, atonal intrusions. Unless it's an epic like The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, where a Carl Davis orchestra adds tremendously, a simple piano score will often suffice. Any score by the late Gaylord Carter is most welcome and such modern talents as Phil Carli, Dean Mora and Robert Israel are reliably solid as well.
     
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  2. CinemaCynic

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    It is possible to hold two views at the same time in this instance. Warner's is consistently the best, most committed and far and away the most aggressively prolific distributors of their library in total, across every conceivable home video platform. And their commitment to preserving and restoring their library is without peer. I'd be lost without their MOD model and wish they'd expand their proprietary streaming service even further.

    I'm also annoyed beyond belief that there are some stubbornly unavailable titles that made their debut in the era of 1/2" tape. Not to mention the modestly infuriating discovery of an SD version of the silent 'Ben-Hur' on a special ed blu ray, only to read recently that they accessed superb materials for re-editing and scoring by Stewart Copeland. I love 'The Police,' but he apparently even had the temerity to criticize Carl Davis' work!!!!

    Being a silent film fan/collector has always required patience, but like many on this forum I'm a bit nervous about the corporate support behind blu as a format, none of us know how much time the format really has left. We've already entered a sub-licensing phase, which will keep it around for a while, but silents require more work than most titles (scoring, speed correction, etc), so I do hope they get around to them with some urgency before the 'its not worth the effort' argument takes too firm a hold.
     
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  3. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Damn right they do and this is coming from someone who rarely says anything negative about them. Paramount has always been a lost cause but Warner has been the leader of the pack and for films like GREED, THE WIND and THE CROWD to have never been released is a black mark no matter what else they have done or what else other studios haven't done. There are no excuses for these titles not to have been released by now. None and especially when you see companies like Kino, Flicker Alley and others releasing silent films that don't have 1% of the "known" factor as these three, which will appeal to those who wouldn't normally watch silent films.
     
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  4. bigshot

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    I've been collecting silent films on home video since the old Beta/VHS days. The old soundtracks back then were either the same three 78s played randomly over and over, or a dreadful Rosa Rita fumble fingered water treading organ playing Lady of Spain for no reason other than the fact that was the only song Rosa Rita knew.

    The new soundtracks on the Keaton, Wings, Nibelung films, City Girl, etc... are in an entirely different class. One of the my favorite films is Tod Browning's silent Unholy Three. I bought the DVD from Warner Archive and the soundtrack was so bad, I didn't even get through it. Silent films were never intended to be silent. The music is every bit as important as what is going on up on the screen.
     
  5. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    Ask the musician's union about that!
     
  6. Vic Pardo

    Vic Pardo Screenwriter

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    I can't tell whether you're making a positive or negative assessment of the ones I bolded. Are you saying things are worse now when it comes to silent soundtracks or better?
     
  7. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Most of the key missing MGM films have scores available. In fact, nearly all the big unreleased titles have orchestral tracks by Carl Davis.
     
  8. CinemaCynic

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    It was Rosa Rio. At a hammond organ... that often sounded like the final, weak lunged cries of death. And you're thinking of 'Video Yesteryear,' a company who kept putting out really rare films... all slowed down WAY below their proper fps rate.
     
  9. ahollis

    ahollis Producer

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    Mercy you angered. No there is no black mark against Warner's. Just because they have not released your favorite titles is not a reason to go off on them. I want THE WIND, THE CROWD, and GREED too. But willing to to let them come as the come. And yes I'm in my 60's to so time is fleeting also.
     
  10. JoHud

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    TCM did do The Circle fairly recently which in turn ended up on the WAC not long after. Was there another more recently? At any rate TCM has definitely dialed the rate of compositions (of new films) way down, to something like 1 new film bi-annually.

    Who knows? However they do it, they're going to have to do something soon. They've almost completely run out of the TCM compositions (not including those on the WHV backburner) and the silents/hybrids with separate disc soundtracks. Was last year's Show People the last silent film the WAC released? If so, it's been almost a full year since then and I'm sure the folks at the WAC don't want to abandon silents entirely.
     
  11. JoHud

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    I think it generally depends on who is doing the composition. Good or bad compositions is at least in some part subjective (there's some I find pretty bad) though I think most would agree that it's best not to resort to stock generic silent movie tracks that loop every 10 minutes and instead create new music arranged specifically for each particular film.

    At any rate, my main point is that much of the WB-owned silent library is without any sort of pre-composed soundtrack. I'm not talking about the major holy-grail titles, but the generally more obscure and rarely screened film that the WAC wouldn't have much issue making available if not for the absolute lack of musical accompaniment they would end up having, and they thankfully aren't interested in going down that road.
     
  12. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    The titles that have been released on blu-ray are infinitely better than the old VHS days. A completely different league.
     
  13. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    On streaming, there are new titles on a regular basis.
     
  14. Ed Lachmann

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    Anyone who is interested in GREED, THE WIND and THE CROWD might take a look at www.photoplay.co.uk, Kevin Brownlow's site where several other already restored silent classics such as THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE and THE STUDENT PRINCE IN OLD HEIDELBERG, also with wonderful Carl Davis scores and owned by WB, reside. At a screening of FOUR HORSEMEN in Los Angeles two years ago, Mr. Brownlow mentioned how he tried to convince the powers-that-be at WB to produce a BD and/or DVD of these titles but was met with total disinterest. I was fortunate to have experienced these films in theater, but unless you live near a major city you are out of luck. I have no idea why this disregard exists. You spend a fortune to restore a classic film, but it is "too expensive" to create a 2K or 4K master and press some BDs for sale? Thank God, they can find the money to put out a deluxe BD of AN AMERICAN HIPPY IN ISRAEL. Welcome to the new world order.
     
  15. Dick

    Dick Producer

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    Yes, all three of the films I mentioned in my original post have had Carl Davis scores. I have the music. It's most wonderful.
     
  16. davidmatychuk

    davidmatychuk Screenwriter

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    When Carl Davis' musical career is over (hopefully far into the future), his body of work will be regarded with awe.
     
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  17. David_B_K

    David_B_K Advanced Member

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    I seldom heard Rosa's scores, as I usually watched Video Yesteryear tapes in FF mode.
     
  18. CinemaCynic

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    Only way to get them to flow correctly. The music sounded like a keyboard in a small funeral home.... about as peppy, too!
     
  19. Dick

    Dick Producer

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    I recall having some correspondence with John Lasher, then at Southern Cross/Entr'acte Records, and asking him if there were any plans to release THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT'S WOMAN (which wound up with DRG), and his reply was that he absolutely despised Carl Davis' music and would never consider releasing any on his label. This surprised me, as I've always felt Davis was a very accomplished composer. My favorite theme of his was the heartbreakingly beautiful "Migration" track from the TV movie, THE SNOW GOOSE (it is/was available on a DRG LP called "Music For Television). But more to the point of this thread, his music for Gance's NAPOLEON is far superior (I think) to the rather sappy Carmine Coppola take.
     
  20. davidmatychuk

    davidmatychuk Screenwriter

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    There's no accounting for personal taste, and I know nothing about John Lasher, but that's a strange attitude for a record company executive to take. The musical career of Carl Davis speaks for itself.
     

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