Magnificent Ambersons

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by nhu, Jul 18, 2008.

  1. nhu

    nhu Auditioning

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    Would you have any information regarding the current status of The Magnificent Ambersons' restoration and DVD release?

    Thank you.
     
  2. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Not that can be discussed.
     
  3. nhu

    nhu Auditioning

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    An intriguingly brief reply which as you might expect has become the subject of much speculation.

    Thanks again.
     
  4. Dan1

    Dan1 Stunt Coordinator

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    Then I guess I should hold onto my 89 minute videotaped copy of Ambersons.
     
  5. nhu

    nhu Auditioning

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    Back in 2007 Warner said they had found "good elements" of Ambersons and would release it in 2008. Since it's now October I guess we'll hopefully see Ambersons sometime in 2009.

    Warner would be wise to announce a release date for this film as soon as possible. It's not like there will be a line out the door at Best Buy to purchase it. Kane was a mass-market DVD because everyone knows about it and it has been on TV for years. Ambersons is almost a niche-market film, and the more advance notice the better for it's sales.
     
  6. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    Intriguing indeed [​IMG]
     
  7. Dan1

    Dan1 Stunt Coordinator

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    Maybe not that intriguing after all. If what we are all speculating about is true, it would be very hard to keep that kind of info out of the press. Nothing is impossible but finding the lost Ambersons footage 66 years later is pretty close to it.

    (I know about the recent Metropolis find but that's different. The Ambersons footage is well documented as being destroyed sometime after 1942.)
     
  8. David Tolsky

    David Tolsky Supporting Actor

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    Dan, what recent Metropolis find are you speaking of? Something after the Kino release?
     
  9. MatthewLouwrens

    MatthewLouwrens Producer

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    David - Did you not hear that they've found a (nearly) complete Metropolis? If not, they've found a (nearly) complete Metropolis! I think it was announced back in early July. It's a 16mm print, there's apparently one scene missing (the monk in the cathedral) as it was at a damaged reel end, but otherwise it's complete. I first heard about it in this article, and I believe it has been confirmed that next year's Blu-Ray will have this version.
     
  10. Dan1

    Dan1 Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for posting the link. There was also an item on a European Marx Brothers fan site a few months back about a supposed find of some lost Night at The Opera footage. That was either a rumor or a hoax because the story has never appeared in the press either in the EU or the US. Most of these "lost footage" stories end up being rumors, hoaxes or honest misinformation.
     
  11. MatthewLouwrens

    MatthewLouwrens Producer

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    This one is confirmed - there were news reports at the time with footage from the new scenes, there were photographs, and, according to The Digital Bits, Kino have confrmed that their release next year will have the new footage. There were some HTF discussions here and here. In other words, there's no need to worry about it being a hoax.
     
  12. Michael Fournier

    Michael Fournier Auditioning

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    Mr. Harris,

    I was wondering if you might have any news to share on the release of Ambersons since your last post to this thread.

    Thank you,

    Michael Fournier
     
  13. lionel59

    lionel59 Supporting Actor

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    There is an article in the Jan 2002 issue of VANITY FAIR on THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS. I have secured a copy but have not got it yet. I believe it looks at the issue of the print that was sent to Welles in Brazil which -as far as I can gather- has never been officially found. From what I can understand it indicates the possibility of it still existing. The (excellent) Robert Carringer book THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS-A RECONSTRUCTION states that the negative trims and the preview versions (which were NOT as complete as the original cut shown to studio execs and shipped off to Welles) were destroyed. However, I have only recently learned that despite Warner Bros repeatedly stating that no complete prints of Cukor's A STAR IS BORN existed ,a one-time employee made off with a complete print. Warners reportedly knows about it (see HTF posts dealing with this) and efforts have gone forth for years to find a way for this "collector "to make this footage available. Columbia said no prints existed of the full premiere version of 1776 and the LD restoration of the '90's had to use faded sequences reportedly taken and stored by someone who worked on the project with Jack L Warner. Yet is has turned out that a complete negative is in existence and this was used for the Director's cut dvd. I cite these examples simply to give evidence that we can be told something for years re missing sequences of famous movies and then find out that we have not heard the complete truth. I have read that two top directors (one I think being my favourite of all time,William Wyler) knew of the cuts and put forth effort for an original cut of AMBERSONS to be saved in a national institute of some kind (eg the Library of
    Congress, my memory fails re the details).It is not inconceivable that somebody of William Wyler's standing could have found some way of preserving this footage in a covert manner. I personally think this film is the greatest American film of all time and - as Welles himself said- would take precedence over CITIZEN KANE if his complete vision could be seen. (What remains -despite the bland retakes, infantile reshuffling of the final third of the narrative and horrendously false ending- is still - to employ an overused word- "awesome".) I truly hope that Mr Harris, who has my utmost respect for his work on SPARTACUS, MY FAIR LADY etc, is really"sitting on" information that fans of THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS have been fantasizing about for years!
    P.S. I recently saw the trailer (which can be downloaded from TCM's website) for the first time, having just seen a 35mm print screened with KANE at the marvellous Astor cinema in Melbourne.(Which has theatrical rights to the RKO library in this country and is collecting prints world-wide to preserve and show in the future). If you watch closely, you will see a shot from one of the ALTERNATE scenes Welles made of the scene where George discusses Eugene's letter with Isabel (mostly we have a re-written retake in the film as shown since its release) and- best of all- a close-up of Agnes Moorehead from the original "boarding-house" ending followed by a shot of Joseph Cotten standing next to her as she rocks morosely in her rocking chair. One of the original lobby cards presents a still from the boarding house sequence that I have never seen in any book and is not on the Criterion LD (http://ambersons.com/lobbycards.htm) which shows some of the extras in that (legendary) sequence. Cheers, Mike Evans (Melbourne)
     
  14. lionel59

    lionel59 Supporting Actor

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    Update- A post-er on imdb has informed me that the 2 prints shipped to Rio of THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS (one a Director's cut, the other, reels containing nearly two hours of alternate takes) were reportedly -and tragically-destroyed in 1944. Pity Wyler or someone couldn't have done something to preserve them. Nonethless,Mr Harris may be sitting on some startling information for us AMBERSON devotees. Time will tell! Mike
     
  15. Ethan Riley

    Ethan Riley Producer

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    I hear (mostly scurrilous) reports and rumors of rare clips being held by people who entertain the Divine Right of Collectors when it comes to unique footage in their possession. I was once personally told (at point-blank range by a prominent film collector) that actual outtakes of "The Wizard of Oz" including the long-lost "Jitterbug" sequence were being held hostage by a snobbish collector who lived in Santa Barbara, California, and that the studios had tried to pry the footage from his Scrooge-like grasp to no avail. I assume that Uncle Scrooge wants to have that footage inserted into his coffin so that the silver nitrate can decay along with him. There is no doubt that long-lost clips suddenly pop up from time to time, but it's never worth worrying about in light of the fact that some of these crazy stories are better than the actual footage.
     
  16. lionel59

    lionel59 Supporting Actor

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    I have recently read an excellent article on AMBERSONS from an old Vanity Fair magazine(January 2002). It mentions an American working in the film industry in Brazil in the '50's or '60's who claims he saw the full cut of AMBERSONS from a print still in the vaults in mis-labelled cans. The head of the film exchange in the '40's was apparently a man who did not destroy celluloid of value if he could avoid doing so. His daughter runs (or ran) the exchange after him. It is not impossible to conceive of him mis-informing RKO or simply destroying the reels of alternate takes etc which were shipped with the Welles cut to Brazil and protecting the print. If it is still there in those mis-labelled cans it has been held in ideal conditions (as opposed to prints discovered in warehouses, garages etc) and may be still usable. I think an expedition to Brazil is called for! Mike
     
  17. Jeff Swindoll

    Jeff Swindoll Supporting Actor

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    It wasn't that same guy who said he found London after Midnight was it.....[/url]

    I have recently read an excellent article on AMBERSONS from an old Vanity Fair magazine(January 2002). It mentions an American working in the film industry in Brazil in the '50's or '60's who claims he saw the full cut of AMBERSONS from a print still in the vaults in mis-labelled cans.
     
  18. JoeDoakes

    JoeDoakes Cinematographer
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    In the 2009 WHV chat, Warner was asked about The Magnificent Ambersons. They said "AMBERSONS is still in the development stages...our plans for supplementary materials
    require much more time (and money)than expected." and "AMBERSONS will have a significant exploration on the film's production history." It does not sound as if they have a lost Brazil print. My thought at the time was that they might try to put together some kind of virtual director's cut using extant footage plus stills. At any rate, if they announce a mystery film at the upcoming TCM Classic Film Festival, and you happen to be in Los Angeles, be sure to get your tickets. You never know . . . .
     
  19. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    Sorry - wrong thread.
     

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