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The worldwide censorship of the Glenn Miller Story (1954) – five missing scenes

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Kanny Daye, Jun 21, 2012.

  1. Kanny Daye

    Kanny Daye New Member

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    Until today, Anthony Manns „The Glenn Miller Story“ remains much beloved as one of James Stewarts finest films and is well-remembered by Swing music fans all around the world. The more surprising it is, that nobody seems to be aware that the movie is only available in a truncated version wolrdwide today. Five scenes are missing in total which were all intact on the films initial release in 1954.
    Although I searched the whole internet about the censorship of the Glenn Miller Story, I didn’t find anything about it. Highly surprising for a film of such polpularity.
    I do not have the exact US censorship records but the British and the German ones. In the UK, the BBFC records dating December 10, 1953 give a length of 10.452 feet which is 3186 meters which is 116‘27 (NTSC) and 111’47 (PAL).
    The West German FSK approved the film January 27, 1954 in a length of 3151 meters which is 10.338 feet which is 115‘10 (NTSC) and 110‘34 (PAL).
    The current Universal dvd master has a length of 112’15 (NTSC) and 107’45 (PAL) which would correspond a length of only 3071 meters or 10.075 feet. So it's very obvious ca. 3 ½ minutes are missing.
    All the missing scenes deal with Glenns search for his special sound and his resignation when he is unsucessfully and faces obstacles in a particular way. All scenes also show, how Helen encourages Glenn repeatedly not to lose track of his vision in finding the new sound and her tireless effort to help Glenn to make his vision come true.
    I can only assume the five scenes were most probably excised from all circulating prints when the film got a re-release with re-mixed Stereo Soundtrack in 1985. As far as I know, the footage is missing on all official video and dvd releases wordwide. It was last seen on German TV in the early 80s, when an original 1954 German movie print of the film was used for TV showings.
    The film was re-dubbed into German in 1985 to enhance the soundtrack to Stereo for the German theatrical re-release. The re-dubbed German version misses out the five scenes as well. In the 90s, the vintage German 1954 dub track was matched to a new international video master to improve the video quality. Since then, also the version with the 1954 German dub track (which is also present on the European dvds) misses out the footage. These are clear hints to me, that the removal of the scenes has to do with the theatrical re-release.
    Now here you get the five scenes – the dialogue has been translated back into English from the 1954 German dub track:
    Missing Scene #1 - End of the conversation between Glenn and Helen in the Park
    ca. 21 minutes into the film
    H: Ehmm
    G: How do you know?
    H: Oh, I do not know, it‘s just kind of an idea. No, it's more than a hunch. It's almost a feeling. You know, if someone wants something from all his heart, really wants it, completely out of the innermost - then it succeeds. And therefore you will manage.
    G: Oh, eh, Helen, I really wanted to tell you so much and eh did I say anything to you now?
    H: No, not really.
    G: But you eh you know it anyway, don’t you? Or should I ...?

    Missing Scene #2 - Part of the conversation between Glenn and Helen in a car
    ca. 30 minutes into the film
    H: I‘m having a look at my new man. The man I didn’t see or hear from for the past two years.
    G: Do you like him?
    H: Yes, almost think so. He, he just calls me and immediately I’m running up like being crazy.
    G: Well I do not think you were crazy.
    H: I don‘t know. Don‘t you think our love story went quite very unusual?
    G: Unusual? What do you mean?
    H: Well, for example in the church, when you promised to love me that came to me very surprising.
    G: Surprising? Why?
    H: Well, you didn’t mention it before.
    G: Was that really necessary? Didn‘t you know?
    H: Yes, but it happens that a woman likes to hear such words very much...
    G: Oh, I've always known that you love me right from day one ...
    H: Well then you knew much more than I knew then ...
    G: Yeah

    Missing Scene #3 - Part of the conversation between Glenn and Helen in front of the locker
    ca. 42 minutes into the film
    H: The night Ted Healy drove me to Denver, he has asked me a question. With full justification. Why do I hang on to you so terribly. I did not know then. But now I know. You had a goal, something new. A goal that you will probably never reach. Glenn to me this meant more than if you had made millions or perhaps were a big movie star. But I'm probably wrong. Glenn, are you aware that you have never spoken again of your goal since we‘ve been married?

    Missing Scene #4 - Part of the conversation between Glenn and Helen at the bedside
    ca. 55 minutes into the film
    G: Yes, of course, we'd bad luck, but so had many others. I've always fooled myself about us being different, but we were not different, we were just like thousands of other bands.
    H: But you learned a lot.
    G: How not to make it, yes! But I, I still have not found what I was looking for for years. I don‘t know. I do not find that sound. I'm back at the bottom.
    H: Then we just start all over again.
    G: No, no. Never again a new band!
    H: Glenn, I don’t want to hear from you such a thing. As you've been looking for this sound for so long, so desperately, you will have to continue to do so. Regardless of what is to come.
    G: Is that your belief?
    H: Yes, of course. And if you don’t go on I feel ashamed for you.
    G: For me I can understand if necessary because I'm stubborn. But you have nothing of it.

    Missing Scene #5 - Part of the conversation between Helen and Shripman at bedside
    ca. 58 minutes into the film
    S: Well, what kind of a goal does he have? To establish a band like anybody else, I suppose.
    H: No, just not like anybody else. That‘s the characteristic about his goal. He, he wants a band with a special sound, a very personal sound. That's what‘s important to him. He wants a good band and not just a couple of good soloists.
    S: That's not such a bad idea Mrs Miller, I’m interested. The band could become a kind of institution. If you have a style that appeals to the youth – such a band may possibly stand ground throughout, the musicians are indifferent - it runs all by itself. H: That's exactly the thing Glenn wants.

    I really wonder why the scenes have been cut and nobody has protested the films' incompleteness yet. Yes, we know that the film lacks accuracy as a biography and Helen Miller had quite an influence on the script and the production. Sometimes the movie even was called „The Helen Miller Story“ sneeringly. But censoring it really goes overboard. I assume the Glenn Miller Estate is Helen-friendly so a censorship demand from that direction seems quite unlikely.
    I love the movie and I think it's a true classic that deserves to be preserved in its entirety. As there is no information available on these issues anywhere, I registered to share the information here. I’m afraid, already too much time has passed so anybody could remember.
    Did anybody ever see the five missing scenes in English language on TV or on a video release prior to 1985?
     
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  2. Craig S

    Craig S Premium
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    Joseph, thanks for sharing that. Very interesting, and I doubt you will get any argument here that it would be good to see these scenes re-incorporated into a future release of the film. It is odd that those scenes were cut; there doesn't seem to be any issues or hot buttons they would push.

    BTW - Welcome to the HTF! Hope you hang around and become part of our community.
     
  3. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Well-Known Member
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    Yes, indeed. I had never known about this until now, and I'm very grateful for this information. Thanks so much! And welcome!
     
  4. Mark-P

    Mark-P Well-Known Member

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    Kudos to your research. The current DVD is labeled as 113 minutes and IMBD lists it at 115 minutes, so there is definitely a discrepancy. As the cut scenes have no objectionable content I don't really think "censorship" is the right word to use. For some odd reason the scenes went missing. It is most likely an error that then got archived as the official version (much like the opening titles of West Side Story)
     
  5. David Weicker

    David Weicker Well-Known Member

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    There are a few movies that I remember scenes from that aren't in the 'official' version. Sometimes I wonder if they are actually missing or I am just mis-remembering.
    I haven't seen this film enough to know (and my memory of pre-'85 showings isn't strong enough). However your documentation seems sound.
    I wish someone could do this kind of research into The Quiet Man - that is the film that I have the strongest memory of a missing scene (first interior in Cohan's Bar). Confirm that it was there to put me out of my memory misery.
    David
    P.S. I also feel that 'censorship' might be too strong a word. It implies an intention to withhold. These might have been dropped due to bad print or accident.
     
  6. Kanny Daye

    Kanny Daye New Member

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    Thank you very much for all your warm welcome.
    I know “censorship” always sounds harsh, but in fact here I would consider it unlikely that the scenes are lost just by accident or print damage. Although the footage is “harmless”, it’s quite conspicuous that just five different moments in different parts of the film have been withdrawn, which all have in common not only to strengthen the contribution of Helen to Glenns success, but also make Glenn look more sensitive in terms how he is concerned with Helen. With the deletion of the scenes, Glenn looks more self-reliant, tenacious and courageous but also more amicable towards Helen than he actually is in the original version. Indeed, the omission of the footage alters the way how Glenn is portrayed and eliminates certain facets both of his and Helens character.
    Whoever edited these scenes - in my opinion he did it on purpose and had something in mind: strengthen Glenns character and his own insistency in his vision and make him look tougher overall. The other editing goal is to tone down Helens part as the “puppet master” who pathes Glenn’s way all in the background.
    The Glenn Miller Story had a re-release in 1959 due to its huge initial success. In fact, it could be possible that the alterations have already been done way back then – may be on the original negative - to make Glenn look more positive. So when the film was re-released in the 80s, these edited materials possibly were the first choice and nobody was aware. Reconsidering overall, it’s indeed more likely the cuts have been executed back in 1959 than in the 80s.
     
  7. JoelA

    JoelA Well-Known Member

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    Joseph, Fascinating information and I hope there is someone out there who can shed more light on the reasons why these scenes were edited and when. Very auspicious debut for you on HTF. Welcome.
     
  8. ahollis

    ahollis Well-Known Member

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    The AFI Catalog of Feature Films lists the running time as115minutes so there is some 2minutes that is not on any released media. Some of the history of the film is that Universal-International purchased the rights directly from Mrs. Helen Miller, Glenn's widow, so on the outside it would appear that Universal and Mrs. Miller had a good relationship. But due to the success of the film Mrs. Miller was in several lawsuits over music rights and her share of the profits with Universal. The first lawsuit filed in 1954 over the soundtrack record rights, which she said she never agreed to sell and in 1961 for a complete audit of the profits of the film, but that lawsuit was rejected by the courts. . There was also a lawsuit filed in 1954 by a friend of Mrs. Miller who was supposed to receive screen credit for his contribution as an adviser on the film and that he originated the idea for the picture. That suit was settled out of court.

    Speculation could be that Universal cut those scenes to make Mrs. Miller appear a little less involved due to her litigious nature. This is only speculation but might have been pushed by the legal department or just a ticked off executive. Or the cuts might have been made to satisfy the settlement of the 1954 suit by Mrs. Miller's friend.

    Whatever the reason, we more than likely never know. And if it was cut due one of the lawsuits, the scenes more than likely will never see them re-instated.
     
  9. SwingFan101

    SwingFan101 New Member

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    Excellent effort on your behalf, Joseph. Someone should offer to transcribe the dialog as spoken in the original English.
    I saw a theatrical re-release of the film in the late 70s or earlier 80s at the Vagabond Theater in Los Angeles, CA, USA. Stunning print and even my rock and roll friend enjoyed the film. I don't recall any missing scenes.
    I originally saw this film back in the 60s on its television debut on the Schaefer (Beer) Award Theater on CBS TV Channel 2 out of NYC. Much time has gone by since then.
     
  10. Louis Letizia

    Louis Letizia Well-Known Member

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    Impeccable research...I enjoyed reading that immensely..thanks.
    This deserved to be part of Universals 100th anniversary Blue rays as this era of their films is not properly reprsented
     
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  11. NJR1

    NJR1 Member

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    This is it, the thread that drew me to HTF, and it's fantastic! :tu: I add my agreement to those who have proclaimed it a wel-executed piece of research, and it answers some questions that have been bugging me about this film for a long while.
    I had a DVD copy of The Glenn Miller Story from 2007 with this cover art and although I've since given it away (for reasons that will become apparent) I definitely remember the running time as being 107 minutes (PAL). This corresponds with every other available copy of the DVD in the UK, as far as I can tell.
    Now here's the kicker. Years ago an old family friend recorded a showing of The Glenn Miller Story from the British TV channel BBC 2 on to a VHS tape, which eventually made its way to me. This copy has the missing scenes intact, in English! As soon as I watched the official [2007] DVD I knew something was wrong and it has annoyed me ever since that these few minutes are lost. Eventually I copied the tape to disc and, as I said, gave the official DVD away.
    I agree with David that it falls short of "censorship" but I certainly take the OP's point about it affecting the characters of Glenn and Helen Miller and the dynamic between them. The missing footage definitely changes the film as the OP has suggested. Why the scenes were excised I can't imagine, but Allen's theory of litigation on the part of Mrs Miller is as good as any.
    One thing I'm still not clear on - would Universal have the original print with the missing footage somewhere? Or do I understand it that every available copy is the post-'85 stereo version? What makes my copy even more interesting is that I can pin down the recording date to a window of 5 years thanks to the fact that the station ident is visible for a few seconds at the beginning of the recording. Checking Wikipædia (and taking a pinch of salt! ;) ) the ident seen in the recording was used by BBC 2 between the 31st March 1986 and the 15th February 1991. So it is possible that an English-language recording with the missing footage was available and in use perhaps as late as 1991 (to the best of my knowledge the film has not been shown by the BBC - maybe not even on terrestrial British television - since but if it ever does come on again I will watch it with interest!).
    Swingfan101 (could someone tell me how we prefer to be addressed - real name (where available) or user name?) has asked if someone would offer to transcribe the dialogue in the original English print. I happily volunteer!
    In the original English:
    Helen: “Mmm-mm.”
    Glenn: “How do you know?”
    H: “Oh, I don’t know, just a hunch. No, it’s more than that, it… it’s a feeling you get. You know, when someone really wants something, way inside, and they want it hard enough… they usually get it. That’s why I think you will.”
    G: “Gee, Helen, there’s so many things I wanted to say to you. I haven’t said any of them, have I?”
    H: “No, you haven’t.”
    G: “Would… I don’t have to, do I? You know…?”
    In the original English:
    Glenn: “What’s the matter? Wha-what are you looking at?”
    Helen: “The man I just married. The man I haven’t seen or heard from in two years.”
    G: “Don’t you like him?”
    H: “Well I suppose I must. He just picks up the telephone and I come running like a little idiot.”
    G: “Well I think I [or you - difficult to tell] did pretty well myself.”
    H: “Well I don’t know. Don’t you think our romance has been a little… unusual?”
    G: “Unusual? Well, what do you mean?”
    H: “Well, for one thing when… when you promised to love me in the church it came as quite a surprise.”
    G: “Surprise?! Why?”
    H: “You’d never mentioned it before.”
    G: “Well did I have to? Didn’t you know?”
    H: “Well, uh, that’s the kind of thing a girl likes to hear.”
    G: “Why, I knew you loved me all the time. I knew that from the very first.”
    H: “Hmmm you knew a lot more than me then.”
    G: “Yeah.”
    (both laugh)
    In the original English:
    Helen: “You know the night Ed Healy drove me into Denver he asked me a question. He asked me why – why I felt that way about you. I didn’t know why then, but I do now. You were exciting. You had a goal. You were aiming for something you might never reach. Gosh, to me that was much more exciting than making a lot of money or owning a lot of real estate. Hmmm, guess I was wrong. Do you know in… in all the time we’ve been married you’ve never once mentioned that sound?”
    In the original English:
    Glenn: “Oh we had tough luck, plenty of it, but so did everybody else. I just kept kidding myself we were different, well we weren’t we weren’t any different we sounded like a dozen other bands.”
    Helen: “But you were learning.”
    G: “Yeah, I was learning what not to do! I never, never got that thing I was looking for; I never got… got that sound. I’m right back where I started from.”
    H: “So we start all over again.”
    G: “Oh no! Not another band, not after this one.”
    H: “Glenn I won’t listen to that kind of talk. If… if… if that sound was worth trying for eight years ago it’s still worth trying for. I don’t care what’s happened.”
    G: “You really believe that, don’t you?”
    H: “Yes I do. And if you don’t I’m ashamed of you.”
    G: “Well I suppose I believe it just out of stubbornness but I don’t see why you should.”
    In the original English:
    Si Schribman: “Well what is he trying to do? Get a band like everyone else, no?”
    Helen Miller: “No! Not like anybody else’s! That’s just the point. He… he’s trying to get a band with a different sound – a sound of its own. That… that’s the thing that’s important to Glenn. It… it’s the whole band, not… not just soloists.”
    SS: “You know I think he’s got something there Mrs Miller. This interests me. A band such as this could be like a… an institution. If you can get a style the kids like, it could go on for… years maybe! No matter who’s in it, it keeps right on going.”
    HM: “Well now that’s just exactly the idea.”
     
  12. NJR1

    NJR1 Member

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    Haha, not a very auspicious start! I kept getting an error message on my last post, saying it "couldn't be found". I've just been told it (and this second one, which was just a repeat of the first - and is now this rambling apology instead :rolleyes:) was in the "Spam" folder! :huh:
    Oh well, onwards and upwards! :D
     
  13. Rodney

    Rodney Premium
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    Thanks for posting the original english dialogue. This is an interesting thread, isn't it? Hopefully we will have the uncut Glen Miller Story one of these days.
    -Rodney
     
  14. rmos

    rmos New Member

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    All of these scenes are intact on the version that turns up on TCM occasionally. I always thought these scenes were trimmed so Universal could squeeze the film onto a 2-hour VHS tape.
     
  15. Michael (Koch)

    Michael (Koch) New User

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    Hi everyone. We at Koch Media will release "Glenn Miller Story" on Blu-ray soon. We will have the now official shorter version as the main feature but also the longer cut in the special features. Right now I only have German audio for the longer version. If someone here has the English long version, it would be great if you could provide the track to us.

    Thank you!
     
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  16. LeoA

    LeoA Well-Known Member

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    If what's said in post #14 about Turner Classic Movies airing it uncut is true, I'd suggest contacting them.

    I DVR'ed it when it was aired a few days ago on their US network. Just fast forwarding through it and eyeballing it based off the DVR's minute counter, it's just about 116.5 minutes long and scene #1 is definitely present.

    When I watch it and burn it to DVD, I can be more precise. But it appears to indeed be uncut judging by the run times in post #1 and the presence of that scene.
     
  17. Jari K

    Jari K Well-Known Member

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    Michael (Koch), I assume you mean that the longer version is only in SD and the shorter version on HD?
     
  18. Michael (Koch)

    Michael (Koch) New User

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    Both versions will be in HD.
     
  19. Jari K

    Jari K Well-Known Member

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    Both are from the HD masters? Good news then. I guess you could take the English track from the shorter version, and then add the English audio for the "deleted scenes" from some other source.
     
  20. LeoA

    LeoA Well-Known Member

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    Just for the record, the uncut version that TCM airs times out at 1:56:11.
     

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