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It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Restoration discussion thread

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Mar 5, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Real Name:
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    This is just mearly a teaser for something
    in the works....
    On Monday, I had the opportunity to spend
    an entire day with Film Preservationist
    Robert Harris, who has been compiling
    missing footage from Stanley Kramer's It's
    A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, to present
    to MGM in hopes that they will fund a total
    new restoration.
    I am working on a full-blown story of my visit,
    complete with pictures that I think you'll
    find very interesting.
    One of the most startling photos you will see
    is of an entire reel that has been ruined due
    to storage neglect. The reel is warped, reaking
    of a vinegar-like odor, and easily crumbled to
    the touch. 90% of all the extra footage for this
    film is close to being forever extinct. If MGM
    does not fund a restoration THIS YEAR, it can never
    be done and the footage will be lost forever.
    Although I am going to save most of the details
    of my visit for the upcoming story I am working
    on, I do want to say that I heard audio footage
    that has not been heard by more than a handful of
    people since 1963. This audio footage includes
    a sequence where Captain Culpepper (Spencer Tracy)
    is talking to Jimmy the Crook (Buster Keaton).
    The film portion is missing, but Harris is still
    optimistic it will be found.
    I also heard the infamous "Radio Calls" sequence
    that played in theater lobbies during intermission.
    This also has not been heard by anyone since the
    film's premier. It's an amazingly funny piece of
    audio footage, and if MGM funds this restoration,
    all of you will have the opportunity to hear it for
    yourselves.
    I am in the process of starting this lengthly
    article, which includes a Q&A with Robert Harris
    on all the aspects of his MAD WORLD quests. I
    hope to have the article up by week's end.
     
  2. Eric Paddon

    Eric Paddon Well-Known Member

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    Ron, your account is fascinating and disturbing, as there is both excitement over the news of what has been found, and at the same time concern that time is fast running out.

    "Mad, Mad World" is not a particularly great film from my standpoint (I think "The Great Race" is a funnier "epic comedy") but it is a fascinating piece of filmmaking that deserves to be seen restored back to as full a version as possible. To help that, I broke my vow not to buy the existing DVD in the hope that one extra purchase would contribute to the sales figures that are needed to convince MGM that more work needs to be done.

    Since you got a chance to hear the Tracy-Keaton scene, can you kind of summarize how the dialogue went? And also, how did the "police bulletins" Entr'acte work? Was it more recapping of the action or something else altogether? This is probably the one missing sequence that intrigues me the most above all others.
     
  3. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Eric,

    If you are good, I'll post a photo of

    the actual Buster Keaton dialogue sequence

    off of the original music timing sheet.

    The sequence changes the entire mindset of

    the film's ending as we learn for the first

    time that Culpepper is planning to take the

    money and run even before he meets up with

    the group.

    The "Police Calls" sequence will also be

    discussed in further detail once the article

    is posted.

    Regards!
     
  4. george kaplan

    george kaplan Well-Known Member

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    I for one have put my money where my mouth is. I ponied up $15 and bought the current Mad World dvd, which sits in my desk, upopened and unwatched (I will never watch this, I'll watch my ld instead). I bought it to help send MGM a message. I only hope I didn't spend my $15 in vain.
     
  5. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Well-Known Member

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    Not to nitpick. ok I will. There is no missing or deteriorating"video" footage. It's called "film". [​IMG]
     
  6. Jonathan Perregaux

    Jonathan Perregaux Well-Known Member

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    Real Name:
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  7. John P Grosskopf

    John P Grosskopf Well-Known Member

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  8. JohnS

    JohnS Well-Known Member

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    This is sickening news.
    Just to hear about a reel of film, just sitting there breaking down and rotting away.
    Isn't there something that can be done, with maybe outside investors?
    Just how much would it cost to restore this film?
    These film elements must be saved.
     
  9. paul o'donnell

    paul o'donnell Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the update there Ron. Cannot wait for the article, was already frothing at the mouth over the last thread. [​IMG]
    And preservation is far too overlooked. I get soooo annoyed upon hearing about film totally deteriorating due to simple lack of care. Its a social document for god sake, a piece of art. I sincerely hope MGM pick this up.
     
  10. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Well-Known Member

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    I do wonder how MGM's current financial state will affect whether they will or will not fund a restoration.
     
  11. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

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  12. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Well-Known Member

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    If MGM can't fund the entire restoration, perhaps a fund can be started where people send in pledges (like for PBS) for the restoration...
     
  13. Greg_M

    Greg_M Well-Known Member

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    Of course, If MGM is sold, there is a chance the film may not be restored. Having the audio only scenes play over still photo's is also a good idea that has worked before "A Star is Born" If the film could have a limited release in 70MM like "Lawrence of Arabia" it may help to cover the costs. If you can make it work on paper, they'll let you restore the film.
     
  14. paul o'donnell

    paul o'donnell Well-Known Member

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    For anyone who's only got this thread bookmarked. The article is up. (or has it been up all day and I've only noticed now?)
    Im only half way through it thus far. Good stuff [​IMG]
     
  15. Jon_W

    Jon_W Well-Known Member

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    Great report Ron. Let's hope Mr. Harris can work his magic on those MGM executives. If it doesn't happen soon who knows it ever will.
     
  16. paul o'donnell

    paul o'donnell Well-Known Member

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    Yup that was a very good report there. Keeping my fingers crossed about the Pinewood connection, maybe we're good for something over here. [​IMG]
    Its astonishing how preservation is so overlooked among people at studios. Restore any film properly and I pledge to buy a copy of the DVD regardless, how's that? [​IMG]
    Anywho, cheers for the report Ron.
    ps: LOA range-finder! that must've been cool!
     
  17. Derek Miner

    Derek Miner Well-Known Member

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    Ron,

    I just read through your report, and I am very impressed! I'm sure I speak for many of the film fans on the HTF when I say that I'm incredibly jealous that you got to spend a day with Robert Harris watching the man work and getting to see such interesting artifacts. I certainly hope to see more articles like this in the future.
     
  18. Jeremy Jones

    Jeremy Jones Well-Known Member

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    GREAT report, Ron! I wish there was a way that some of our tax dollars could go to film restoration. I mean, there has GOT to be some way to finance these restorations. Lord knows what's sitting outside and rotting this very moment! You'd think with all the Hollywood fund raisers there are, at least most of them would be to preserve their history. Look how bad of shape Star Wars was in when they restored it. Lucas said it would've been lost if they hadn't restored it when they did. The sad thing is, Lucas could fund 2000 restorations, at the rate it's costing to restore Mad World, with just the money he made off the Pepsi deal. Come on, Hollywood. Have a heart! [​IMG]
     
  19. EricK

    EricK Well-Known Member

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    Excellent report Ron, thank you so much for sharing your day with Robert Harris and MMMM World. I hope that MGM decides to go ahead and restore MMMM World properly. I would be glad to make a donation to the restoration efforts if it would help.

    Eric.
     
  20. Hank Frankenberg

    Hank Frankenberg Well-Known Member

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    Ron, thank you for the best report I've read on the net about deterioration of our film history. Your report saddens me as I realize how many reels are already beyond hope. Specifically for IAMMMMW, I am willing to sign a petition to the studio, to pledge donation dollars, write a letter, etc. Are there any of these activities already started somewhere? Anyone?

    I'm 55 and the two memories I have of actually nearly falling out of my theater seat with laughter, are IAMMMMW and The Pink Panther. Great comdey is more difficult to create than great drama.
     

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