Rodgers & Hammerstein Anamorphic Remasters Anytime Soon?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Paul_Scott, Jul 27, 2002.

  1. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    I heard the current non-anamorphic version of Oklahoma is a disaster. That's a shame 'cause i'd love to pick it up along with a couple other R&H musicals.
    i saw a PBS special on Richard Rodgers about a month back, and the clips they showed from Oklahoma looked truly spectacular.
    they looked like they had been spiffed up, or taken from a hi-def source. that should bode well for an eventual remastered disc, shouldn't it?

    also, i realize Big Mommas House is a title that will garner much more interest in their targeted demographic ( which is, i guess, 16-24 year olds with a lot of money to burn, and Martin Lawrence fans with front projectors) but if they were to start releasing widescreen classics like Oklahoma on D Theater, i'd start saving up for a deck tomorrow.
     
  2. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    Next year being the 60th anniversary of their collaboration, I wouldn't rule it out completely.
     
  3. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    it's a shame, but looks like the 60th anniversary is not going to be a cause of celebrating.

    i'm really disappointed in Fox's decison not to re-visit these titles.
    i can easily pick them up new for under $10 from Columbia House, but what is the point when i've heard nothing but bad things about the transfers.
    i don't like to waste money like that , on discs that i know won't cut it on my fp...no matter how great the movie is.


    these titles were of massive critical and financial importance for the studio in their time, and to some of us, they are timeless.

    i realize that Fox doesn't have much faith in them selling, but gussy up the transfers, cross promote them with flyers inside other musical and classic titles and get some anticipation building...thats all thats really needed.

    hell, i was never a big fan of musicals, but even i could appreciate the quality and craft that went into these films.


    i really truly hope the current dvds are not the last word on these titles.
     
  4. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

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    As I mentioned on another thread, I don't see a lot of problems with these transfers. Most of them look and sound better than they ever did before.
    there is some flicker in parts of Oklahoma that the THX people tried to fix as much as possible. One of the original Todd AO cameras had a shutter problem and its built into parts of the film. Color and sound is vastly superior to the Cinemascope version.
    Iwould like to see Fox release the 1962 State Fair.
    And someone PLEASE release Flower Drum Song.
    The 1957 broadcast of Cinderella with Julie Andrews also exists in great shape, but only in black and white.
     
  5. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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  6. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Even on my 34" 16x9 screen...these "laserdisc mastered" R&H DVDs look like "video" and do not have the film-like look or image purity we've come to expect as standard from "average" HD transfers/DVD downconversions. South Pacific and King and I, for instance, have a limited color-pallet (skin-tones appear monochromatic) despite the overall saturated image and resolution is severely lacking. Couple this with visible scan-line artifacing/aliasing and it's pretty poor. I've seen many 4x3 lbxed DVDs that look *great* upconverted on my 16x9 screen but these are not amont them.

    Perhaps they are the best the films have every been presented on video up until this point, but that's not the usual measuring stick I'd use to rate the objective image quality of a DVD of a classic film (if that's the case, then we'd have to give Artisan's Quiet Man 5 stars).
     
  7. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I know there is likely not a lot of money in it, but it would be neat to have a remaster of Oklahoma! from the Todd-AO sources.

    Warner is working on a Around the World in Eighty Days DVD (supposedly from 30fps) and to have Oklahoma! come out at the same time would be a good pair-up.

    I've seen the LD transfer on TCM and it looks wonderful (saturation is a little wild, but good understanding what kind of condition the film is in). Remastering in HD, then downconverting to NTSC could really make a fantastic DVD. Plus, a 5.0 mix based on the Todd-AO sound would be neat.
     
  8. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Patrick, I believe the current Oklahoma! DVD is the same as the laserdisk master, from the Todd-AO print. Sound is in 5.1.
     
  9. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    true.

    The problems with the DVD stem from a generally noisey, low-resolution appearance that looks to have heavy digital processing and (and some scan-line twitter/aliasing). Good for laserdisc and fine for cable...but DVD reveals just how "video looking" the image really is. As you say, a new HD-transfer and DVD dowconversion (sans processing artifacts like EE) could look spectacular!!!
     
  10. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    From a previous thread, I posted:

    I'd like to add my vote for a new DVD of Oklahoma!, at least. The current DVD uses the Todd-AO 65mm version, but it is filled with problems, in addition to being non-enhanced. The shimmer makes it nearly impossible to watch without getting a headache. One can see registration marks across the field of vision -- in one case, a register mark can be seen directly on Gordon Macrae's face.

    Although the 65mm version was given a brief run in the 80s, many people, myself included, consider the 35mm Cinemascope version to be superior, at least in the performances. The original Todd-AO has significantly better color, and of course the negative is so huge that the clarity difference between the two must be enormous. But the Cinemascope, which was apparently filmed second, has more freedom of the camera -- there are more setups, and consequently, it seems more like a movie, with more motion. And the performances are easier and freer, particularly Gloria Grahame's Ado Annie.

    If this DVD was to be redone, wouldn't it be nice? a la E.T., for a special edition to contain BOTH versions, with an added feature that the musical numbers could be seen simultaneously, like AMC used to show them. Both versions did musical numbers to the same pre-recorded tracks.

    I, for one, would pay big-time for a special disk like that.
     
  11. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    DeeF,
    I think we discussed the two versions of the film before. I disagree. When the Todd AO version was re-released in the early 80s reviewers marveled at how much better the performances were then the Cinemascope version, when the takes were usually done after the Todd AO takes. The actors even admitted in subsequent interviews that they were somewhat tired when thne Cinemascope cameras rolled. But to each his own.
    As I also mentioned in another thread, the Todd AO negs of Oklahoma! were not in the best of shape when the Samuel Goldwyn Company obtained theatrical distribution rights. A fixed up print was shown in LA at the Egyptian in the 80s and it was pretty good, although the color was a bit washed out in spots (Eastman color). An interesting thing is that Julie's plaid shirt was a different color in the Todd AO and Cinemascope versions. (it shouldn't have been). If a restoration of the Todd AO version was made it probably would be in the digital domain rather then film. There is also a defect in one of the lenses used and it causes a "bubble" in the print. As to the Todd AO sound, it is superb.
     
  12. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Peter,

    Yes, we have had this discussion before.

    I saw Oklahoma! at the Beekman Theater in 1983. I thought it was a revelation! Remarkable clarity, beautiful color, and performances that seemed so fresh, I didn't understand why I hadn't thought so before.

    But you realize, this was the first time I ever saw the movie in a theater (it hadn't played in theaters for 30 years), in a widescreen 70mm print, vs. the pan-and-scan version I was familiar with on TV, and the performances seemed different because they were different! Filmed at a different time of day than the version I was familiar with. It was like a new movie because it was a new movie.

    In 1985-86, I worked for Mary Rodgers, as her assistant. And one day I mentioned that I had seen the Todd-AO version of the film, and how wonderful it was, yada, yada. And she told me that Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Hammerstein had personally liked the other one better, because the performances were smaller, freer, and funnier, particularly Gloria Grahame (the exception to this was Charlotte Greenwood as Aunt Eller, who they felt was better in the Todd-AO version). Gloria, apparently, completely changed what she was originally doing, for the later-filmed Cinemascope version.

    Rodgers and Hammerstein went so far as to insist that Academy voters see the Cinemascope version before casting their votes. And this version was the one which was seen on television for years. Only after Rodgers died did the original Todd-AO print resurface.

    I have owned copies of both versions, simultaneously, on tape, and though the Cinemascope version seemed woefully drab and old, it has more movement, and seems more of a film, than the Todd-AO version, which is on the recent DVD.

    But ultimately, I think both versions are very worthy, and since our DVD world offers the opportunities of restoration/re-transfer, etc., what I really want is both versions on disk, to watch and enjoy, perhaps simultaneously.
     
  13. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    I remember those comments. The Todd AO has less camera set ups then the Cinemascope version so it is a bit more "stagey". Some if not most of the second unit shots were made with both cameras side by side filming at the same time. My understanding is that set ups were done each day for the 35mm and 70mm version with the Cinemascope being done later when the lighting was not quite as good. The one thing I think we can agree on is that Rod Steiger is exactly the same in both versions! Method acting at its finest I guess. I always had the impression that he walked into the film from a Tennessee Williams play or something. One other thing, the R&H estate has gone downhill, in my opinion, with their okaying the awful animated King and I and the nearly as awful South Pacific for TV. It's the money nowadays not the art so much. It would be nice to have both versions on the same DVD but I doubt we'll see that. I have fun sometimes running the DVD and the panned and scanned VHS together to see the slight differences in the performances as they occur. Hey, maybe they can make it into a 3D movie!!!!! [​IMG]
     
  14. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

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    Oddly, the prerecords seEm to be slightly different at the beginning of the Out of My Dreams ballet. In the section for the two lovers, the playback is distinctly faster in the Todd AO VERSION.
     
  15. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Joe,

    You're right! The ballet is significantly different in the two versions, including changes in the scoring. Why this is, I can't tell you. But the ballet was probably not pre-recorded, but filmed with a piano, or a piano track. So, the two different films with different setups required slightly different scoring.

    One thing I know for sure: the total time of the ballet is different from one version to the other. Although I think the total ballet time in the Todd-AO is longer, which doesn't make sense, if that one section is faster.

    Oh well, that ballet is where you can really see how the movies differ.
     
  16. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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    The Oklahoma DVD has a terrible case of film buckle throughout the movie. It looks like the telecine was not capable of keeping the apparently warped film element consistently in the focal plane. As a result the entire film is constantly changing focus, sharp one second, blurry the next, fluttering in and out of focus.

    It drove me crazy the last time I watched it!!!!

    No way this is even a fair transfer!

    Joe might not see this on his small TV, but on a 5' x 11' screen it's plainly visible.

    Ted
     
  17. SteveP

    SteveP Second Unit

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    CHARLOTTE Greenwood played Aunt Eller in the film of OKLAHOMA!.
    For a similarly excellent performance by the very British JOAN Greenwood, check out the first film version of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST.
     
  18. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Yes, of course, Charlotte.

    Somebody else mentioned Julie's blouse changing color.

    But the character's name is Laurey!
     
  19. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    Right, I called or Julie instead of Laurey. :b In the Cinemascope version her blouse is a fairly bright blue plaid, the Todd AO is almost gray. This may have to do with the poor yellow layer (do to fading of the negative) in the Todd AO version. Curly's bright orange-red shirt in 35mm is somewhat muddier in 70mm. Fox made separation negs for the 35mm version, released I believe in Technicolor. Yes, Charlotte's performance is much better in the Todd AO version. And that "corn as high as an elephant's eye" was filmed where? [​IMG]
     
  20. Doug Bull

    Doug Bull Advanced Member

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    Anybody who watches non Anamorphic Widescreen DVDs or Anamorphic DVDs on a non adjustable 4:3 TV is doing themselves a great disservice and are missing out on seeing just what gorgeous imagery DVD has to offer, in terms of fantastic picture quality.

    The resolution of non Anamorphic Widescreen DVDs drops down by almost half, because of the dramatic loss of valuable scanning lines.

    That's why to most of us, the R&H Widescreen non Anamorphic DVDs, while maybe a slight improvement over Laserdisc, are all absmal, when compared to how they could look if they were Anamorphically enhanced.
    There is a huge problem with color in certain scenes on "Carousel" as well.

    I own a copy of them all, but as much as I love the Movies, I just can't bring myself to look at the poor quality non Anamorphic images. YUCK !! and so they just sit and gather dust in the cupboard.

    Warners need to revisit "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and "Brigadoon", not to mention "HTWWW", while let's hope that the upcoming re-issue of Anchor Bay's "The Happiest Millionaire"this time from MGM, is Anamorphic.

    As much as I love "Guys and Dolls" and "How to succeed in Business without really trying", I never bothered to buy these NON Anamorphic discs.

    And yes, even on a 36" Widescreen monitor, "SOM" does indeed have ghastly edging.
     

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