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Robert Harris on The Bits-Interview with Warner's George Feltenstein Official Thread


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#121 of 140 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted November 05 2004 - 09:15 AM

While Warner is doing an outstanding job with their quality, not "all" of their titles look immaculate. FREAKS did not, TARZAN AND HIS MATE did not, DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (32) did not... they're plagued with imperfections. I'm certainly not complaining about this, but I'm just saying therefore I can't buy into the idea that every old film must go through a fine tooth comb before they'll issue it. I realize that those three films were originally MGM and Paramount, but I'm saying that the idea that WB will not release anything unless it is super-nice-looking and majorly stunning is just not the case. They've already released older films in less than optimum quality.
Fair enough, Robert. But as a result, people out there are going to continually make and sell illegitimate DVD-R's of out of print Laserdiscs with custom covers and such. This is another reality of the situation .

#122 of 140 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted November 05 2004 - 09:22 AM

But there is just no way certain obscure titles from yesterday can ever be as popular as something new and in vogue today. It's sad to see something of dubious quality or importance like MOST VALUABLE PRIMATE get recognized because it's something new and popular, whereas something like MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949) is still ignored because it's just no longer as popular. I also don't believe that estimating possible sales figures in advance is as much of an "exact science" as studios seem to think it is. If a certain movie sold only 5,000 units on VHS in 1985, for example, it does not automatically guarantee that it won't sell a lot more on DVD in 2005.

#123 of 140 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted November 05 2004 - 09:30 AM

Probably -- but then why even bother suggesting anything? I mean, if the studios are only going to give us what they want to give us, and when they want to release it ... what's the point of any original suggestions? I already bet we're going to see all the Cagney films. Should I suggest a DVD be released for KING KONG or maybe another SE for BEN-HUR? These are things we already know Warner will give us somewhere down the line, and it's a safe bet. No mystery there.

#124 of 140 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted November 05 2004 - 10:06 AM

There seems to be a contiinued thread of confusion of the quality of older releases, and I'm referring here to 50-70 year old product. It is the major A titles which need more work, as their elements have simply been worn out from overprinting and bad dupes over the years. A perfect example of a typical "B" title is Gun Crazy. The original negative was not overprinted, and was available for the creation of a new liquid gate fine grain master, hence the beautiful recent DVD. There must be a differentiation made between older titles such as the Marx Brothers films, which were simply worn out, and "B" titles which need an investment in a duplicating element so that they can appear on home video. RAH

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#125 of 140 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted November 05 2004 - 10:26 AM



Not everything can be restored to look like KANE or CASABLANCA. Those titles you mentioned do have issues but none of them has ever looked better and in the case of JEKYLL, it's also more complete. All three of those titles were cut back in the day so perhaps that's why their quality is a bit lower today.

I would certainly take a "poor" looking version of VOODOO MAN over no VM at all but this simply isn't good enough today. You can see the heat Universal is taking with their Monsters and Marx Bros. titles. It's not that these look "bad" per say but they aren't Warner quality so people are upset.

As for suggestion, perhaps there isn't a point but I think it's fun to tell studios what we want. Posted Image From the interview, it seems Warner has their lineup ready for the next two years so suggesting a SE of TAXI! might not do anything since the lineup is ready to go.

I really believe Warner is releasing enough to classic fans that they don't have to be too concerned over "when is this coming". Why? Who in the world can afford to buy everything that's being released already?

However, why do you feel these titles will never come out? The titles you mentioned are only 60 minutes each so they could easily be added as an extra. Plus, I believe Warner has released a few films that never made it to VHS or LD. I think a couple of the Chaney films were new to the home format but someone could correct me here if I'm wrong. Fox has a title coming in Jan., which was never released on VHS or LD and it features Paul Newman, Robert Mitchem and other very well known stars.

#126 of 140 OFFLINE   Derek Estes

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Posted November 05 2004 - 12:05 PM

I just realized that Baby Face will be on TCM tonight at 1:45am pacific, after the excellent documentary Complicated Women at 12:45. If anyone is interested in Pre-Code Hollywood, set your VCR!

Some of those films have never looked better, while many other films can look better, and should! And I disagree, as a consumer I want to know that what I buy is going to be the best product possible. Warners has built a trust, and that is very important, take for example The Criterion Collections, a relatively smaller business who's business in built entirely on that kind of trust. If you can just wait, they are working on Hundreds of classic films to release in the next couple of years, maybe some of the films you are waiting for are coming. Start saving your money.
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#127 of 140 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted November 05 2004 - 01:38 PM

Warner already stated in their last chat with us that Mighty Joe Young is on the schedule for a 2005 release. If you think every single obscure title is going to be release on dvd then you're in for disappointment and buying dvd-r copies of lasers is not going to change the situation. Crawdaddy

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#128 of 140 OFFLINE   John Hodson

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Posted November 05 2004 - 09:00 PM

I'd value your opinion on this Robert; has Universal done all that is possible - given the state of elements they hold and the current technology available to them - with their Marx Brothers films?
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#129 of 140 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted November 05 2004 - 10:36 PM


Glad to hear about MIGHTY JOE YOUNG's upcoming debut (I'm not a business person, but wouldn't it have made at least some business sense to release it back when the remake was out?)

As for the DVD-R thing, while it's not the most desired solution, at least I have the films to watch while I wait.

Anyway, there's not much more I can say on this. I see that it's coming across that I'm not wild about WB, and this is not at all true! At present they're my favorite studio, and the most dedicated to quality. But I see this is becoming rather redundant, so I'll step out of this for a while Posted Image

#130 of 140 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted November 05 2004 - 11:25 PM

I thank you.Posted Image






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#131 of 140 OFFLINE   MichaelSloan

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Posted November 06 2004 - 03:06 PM

Just in case Warner is reading this, I think it would be cool to have Swiss Family Robinson 1940 on DVD in the 108 minute version. RKO originally distributed it so I think Warner owns it.
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#132 of 140 OFFLINE   Charles H

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Posted November 07 2004 - 06:07 AM

An excerpt from the 1940 version appears on the dvd Disney version. Disney films were released through RKO, but I believe that there were some public domain issues with the title in the early days of VHS video.
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#133 of 140 OFFLINE   MichaelSloan

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Posted November 07 2004 - 06:55 AM

The 108 minute version was never on VHS. Does anyone know if Disney now owns the rights and ever releases films of their own that old on DVD?
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#134 of 140 OFFLINE   Simon Howson

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Posted November 08 2004 - 06:57 PM

I think it is more useful to look at the production code as specifying how one gets sex and violence into a film. The production code didn't 'stop' things like sex and violence from appearing in films, it just altered how they were presented, i.e covertly rather than overtly.

#135 of 140 OFFLINE   Mark Walker

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Posted November 09 2004 - 04:00 AM

Simon, I agree in part. I do know that films had their plots altered to adhere to the PC code. "The bad guys cannot get away with it..." aspect of the PC code impacted many films including Hitchcock's Rebecca (where, out of the blue, George Fortescu Maximillian 'Maxim' de Winter blurts out to his new wife that he didn't kill Rebecca), and in Suspicion, where Hitchcock wanted Cary Grant's character to have the milk filled with poison, which honestly, would make a MUCH better film. Hitchcock even says he wanted the milk to be glowing and have the last thing done in movie to be a letter going out from the hand of the now-murdered wife sealing her husbands fate. However, also in a film like Rebecca we also get a great use of "hear what I am not saying" in the case of Mrs. Danvers' obession with Rebecca that would not be as artful had Hitchcock been able to be a little less subtle. So, we have the PC code to thank for that. I even have one English prof who suggests that it was the easing off the of the PC code that contributed to Hitchcock's later works (post The Birds) not being as effective. Still, with a film like The Public Enemy, as I understand it, the whole last third of the film was butchered after-the-fact because the film was already completed and had the PC code imposed on it for re-release.

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#136 of 140 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted November 09 2004 - 06:27 AM

That's an overly facile interpretation as there are both positive and negative examples. "Notorious" was ingenious in the way it subverted the production code to tell the story it wanted to tell. On the other hand, no clever way of telling the story of "The Paradine Case" was devised within the reins of what the production code allowed, and it resulted in arguably Hitchcock's worst film of his American era (although "Topaz" gives it a run for its money). Regards,
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#137 of 140 OFFLINE   ScottR

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Posted November 09 2004 - 07:42 AM

I understand that In The Good Old Summertime's negative was lost in the fire, and the dvd does look good. But couldn't WB have eased up on the use of digital video noise reduction on the opening credits? They look horrendous....I would rather see a little more grain and specks than to have all of the titles shimmering and dancing all over the screen. I wish they would fix that.

#138 of 140 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted November 09 2004 - 12:31 PM

The movement seen in the main titles of Good Old Summertime does not seem to be noise reduction. One of the most oft seen problems with older three-strip Technicolor productions is movement within the typography of the titles, especially if coming from a dupe element. What I'm seeing here is differential shrinkage, combined with the digital domain attempting to keep up with it. RAH

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#139 of 140 OFFLINE   ScottR

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Posted November 09 2004 - 04:37 PM

Thanks, Mr. Harris.

#140 of 140 OFFLINE   Simon Howson

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Posted November 10 2004 - 01:05 AM

I agree with this, however a film like Notorious for example positions the U.S. government as "the bad guy" because it is using Bergman as a means to an end (exactly the same thing happens to Thornhill in NBNW). So Hitchcock just turned the whole good guy / bad guy dichotomy into a complex commentary on social institutions in ways that the production code never even tried to deal with. I'm always amazed at the Cary Grant line in NBNW "Maybe you guys should think about losing some cold wars", that must've been a rather shocking line for 1959, but its in the film... Regarding films being altered, the 1932 version of Scarface is the one I have read most about, I have read the PCA memos for that film, some 50 odd pages worth of correspondance between Hughes, Hawks and the PCA office. Essentially every single page of the script was altered in some way. Including removal of an implication of an incestuous relationship between Tony and his sister (which I reckon is still implied in the version I have seen).




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