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Exodus

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Bill Huelbig, Jan 20, 2008.

  1. Bill Huelbig

    Bill Huelbig Well-Known Member

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    Last night I stumbled upon a screening of Otto Preminger's "Exodus" on the FilmFest HD channel. It looked absolutely perfect. It even included the intermission title card. Does this mean there'll be an upcoming new release of the film on DVD? The current disc, to put it charitably, looks a lot less than perfect.

    Thanks,
    Bill
     
  2. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Well-Known Member

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    Nothing has been announced. It really deserves a special edition treatment, with the film split across two discs. Eva Marie Saint and Paul Newman could provide interviews or a commentary as well. There was a new Preminger biography issued a few months ago, with another one on the way next month, so there should be lots of people to contribute to a good release of this film.

    I absolutely love the film, I think Preminger was at the absolute height of his directing powers when he made it (not that Advise & Consent, The Cardinal, In Harms Way, or Bunny Lake is Missing are bad!)

    The current DVD I own is hilariously bad, even by MGM's lame standards.

    It is from a 35mm element rather than 70mm, it is non-anamorphic, it is interlaced, and the audio is only 2.0.

    They made just about every mistake there is to make with a DVD transfer of any film, let alone one originally shot in Super Panavision.
     
  3. Bob Cashill

    Bob Cashill Well-Known Member

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    As Newman and Saint pretty much hated making the film, I wouldn't count on them for further elaboration. But Foster Hirsch, author of the Preminger bio, might speak up. The chapter in the book is very good.
     
  4. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Well-Known Member

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    See I don't think interviews with actors should just be "Yeah he/she/it was great to work with". I'd like to see interviews of them explain why they DIDN'T like making the film. That would actually be interesting for a change, most actor interviews on DVDs are pointless.
     
  5. Bob Cashill

    Bob Cashill Well-Known Member

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    I don't disagree--but as I said, I can't imagine actors who disliked making a film wanting to spend the time to plow old ground again. As it is, I don't think EXODUS is a career highpoint for either performer (both seem uncomfortable in their roles, and Preminger, distrustful of Method acting, did little to accommodate them) but there are stories to be told, if not by them than by others.
     
  6. BethHarrison

    BethHarrison Well-Known Member

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    The region 4 MGM transfer is nothing short of absolutely appalling. The audio is atrocious uglyyyyyyyy.

    I read an article on Preminger (a magazine given to me by my nan) and from what I can gather, he was a bit of a bastard to work with. I always remember a radio interview with Jean Simmons telling the story of when he directed Angel Face with her and Robert Mitchum. In the scene where Mitchum slaps her, Preminger apparently made him do it over and over again so that he was really hurting her. Seeing Jean's distress, Mitchum became so enraged that he turned around and belted Preminger instead.

    Peter Lawford who also acted in Exodus (can't remember what part he plays as I haven't seen it in years), didn't like him either. The cast also had rocks thrown at them by a few not-so-happy local people.

    I think many film directors believed Method acting was purely for the stage - not the screen.

    If you have a bad experience on a film set, you shouldn't have to relive it if you choose not to. Just like working in a regular job, perhaps you don't want to bitch about it to all and sundry. Makes interesting viewing for us, but probably makes the person in question uncomfortable.
     
  7. Thomas T

    Thomas T Well-Known Member

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    Newman and Saint are among many actors with unpleasant memories of working with Preminger. The stories actors have about working with Preminger and what an s.o.b. he was are legion. Jean Simmons can't even watch Angel Face because it brings up so many nasty memories. Shortly after working with Preminger on In Harms Way, Paula Prentiss had a nervous breakdown. Coincidence? Faye Dunaway hated him so much that she bought out her contract rather than ever work with him again. Tom Tryon was so miserable working with Preminger, that he lost all interest in acting and became a writer.
     
  8. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Well-Known Member

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    I think that Sal Mineo's scene where he's sworn into the Irgun is a classic though. [​IMG]
     
  9. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Well-Known Member

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    One of the few scenes in the film where Preminger cuts to a proper close-up.
     
  10. Mark B

    Mark B Well-Known Member

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    This film has more camera shadows at the bottom of the frame than any I have ever seen.
     
  11. Bob Cashill

    Bob Cashill Well-Known Member

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    There are two sides to some of those coins, Dunaway in particular (no one liked her on HURRY SUNDOWN). And Tryon just wasn't destined for great things on the screen, not that it excuses conduct toward him. Do read the book; it's most illuminating.
     
  12. AdrianTurner

    AdrianTurner Banned

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    I like Saul Bass's opening credit titles and Ernest Gold's accompanying music. The remaining four hours are tedious beyond belief.
     
  13. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Well-Known Member

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    It also has more camera movement in a 65mm film than I've ever seen. Maybe those things to together?

    I've never actually noticed any camera shadows in the film, but then again I've only watched it via the horrid DVD.
     
  14. BethHarrison

    BethHarrison Well-Known Member

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    You really like it Simon? I like it as well.

    Pity the disgraceful DVD doesn't do it justice.
     
  15. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Well-Known Member

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    Yes, very much.

    In particular I love the scene where Paul Newman - impersonating a British officer - gets a whole convoy of trucks into the refugee camp. There is a shot where Newman shows some forged paper work to some actual British officers which Preminger stages in one shot via a short track to the right, pan to the left, then a pan to the right. Because the film was shot in Super Panavision, there is so much resolution in the image that you can see all the refugees looking in, many of them sharply focussed in the background.

    For nearly any other director that would've required at least 4 or 5 shots, but Preminger does it in one, and just gets actors to move towards or away from the camera to achieve close-ups. There's even a guy who is sitting down below the frame line who stands up as the camera pans. It's small things like that that I think are brilliant pieces of direction.

    Of course this is now considered a bad way to make films that drives audiences insane. But I think it is a very eloquent way to direct the film, because it forces the audiences to make up their own mind about what is going on. You aren't hammered over the head with a message about who is right and who is wrong, you have to sit there and figure it out for yourself.
     
  16. BethHarrison

    BethHarrison Well-Known Member

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    Actually, my dad pointed out the shadow of the boom microphone when Kitty kisses Ari for the first time (the scene just before we meet Lee.J.Cobb). You don't notice it if you don't look for it, bit when you see it, it tends to be distracting [​IMG]

    Way to kill the big romantic moment.
     
  17. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    That's a very good analysis and one that I agree with. I understand what Preminger was after in his directing style although I find it hard to explain. There may have been a method to his meanness that served the film. I've been wanting to see EXODUS again. Let's hope the perfect transfer Bill Huelbig saw on HD television finds its way to home video soon.
     
  18. Bill Huelbig

    Bill Huelbig Well-Known Member

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    I can't overstate how beautiful the film looked on that HD channel. In the scene where the UN is voting for the partition of Palestine, every face in the huge crowd stood out in amazing detail. After seeing "Exodus" like that - like seeing it in a brand new 70mm print - I'll find it hard to ever watch the DVD again.
     
  19. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Well-Known Member

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    Preminger obviously had very specific ideas of how he wanted each shot to look. It seems that he became irate whenever actors did something that departed from how he saw the shot happening in his head. Moreover he produced all his films from Carmen Jones onwards, so when he wasn't getting what he wanted it isn't like he could blame the producer, so he just blamed the actors instead.

    Still, it is quite astonishing to see some of the complicated action that he could cover in one shot, so it seems he achieved what he wanted most of the time.
     
  20. Chuck Pennington

    Chuck Pennington Well-Known Member

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    Um, I wouldn't go THAT far. There was a LOT of edge enhancement on the HD version I saw on FILM FEST HD last weekend, and the opening credits in particular were flooded with little scratches. The color was good all the way through, and I'm sure it's a huge leap in quality over the DVD, but this new HD master is far from perfect - if it's even new. I suspect it's a few yrs old, though why it wasn't downconverted to make an anamorphic DVD I don't know.

    Why did HDNET MOVIES show a gorgeous I COULD GO ON SINGING in hi-def a few months after MGM released a non-anamorphic horrendous version on DVD (the same master used for the 1989 Laserdisc)? I don't understand how these mixups happen.
     

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