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John Huston's The Dead...ever?


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#1 of 24 OFFLINE   Matt Stieg

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Posted October 09 2005 - 08:56 AM

Are we ever gonna see this great movie on DVD? I've not heard anything about it since the advent of DVD. Anyone know who owns it?

#2 of 24 OFFLINE   Brian PB

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Posted October 09 2005 - 10:30 AM

Artisan (now part of Lion's Gate) released the (now OOP) VHS tape in the US (Columbia TriStar/Sony released it on VHS in the UK). Since it was independently produced and was not distributed by a large studio (it was distributed by Vestron Pictures--now defunct), the rights may be up for grabs.

The only DVD release I'm aware of was in Spain last year, under the title Dublineses: Los muertos. It's listed as full frame (though I've seen the film at least twice, I can't recall its OAR, but full-frame could indicate either Pan & Scan, Open Matte, or even OAR---on the unlikely chance that it was filmed in 1.37:1).

Personally, I think The Dead is a lovely and moving film, and I look forward to owning it on DVD one of these days ...


#3 of 24 OFFLINE   Jing_B

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Posted October 09 2005 - 12:57 PM

The Great John Huston is being mistreated on DVD. 8 years into DVD and still no African Queen, Night of the Iguana, His Last Great Film The Dead...Posted Image

#4 of 24 OFFLINE   Fredric

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Posted October 10 2005 - 03:54 AM

What I want to know is why does Netflix have a DVD cover and a TBA release date?
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#5 of 24 OFFLINE   Brian PB

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Posted October 10 2005 - 04:45 AM

What I want to know is why does Netflix have a DVD cover and a TBA release date?
I doubt they have any 'inside information.' They also have a listing for The African Queen.


#6 of 24 OFFLINE   Gordon McMurphy

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Posted October 10 2005 - 06:00 AM

The Spanish DVD is 1.33:1 open-matte, I believe and is said to be of adequete quality at best.

#7 of 24 OFFLINE   ted:r

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Posted October 10 2005 - 11:47 PM

Wouldn't this be a great Criterion release?
"I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me."

My 25 most wanted DVDs: Chilly Scenes Of Winter (1979); The Dead (1987); The African Queen (1951); Johnny Guitar (1954); The Sterile Cuckoo (1969); The Friends Of Eddie Coyle (1973); The Rain People (196...

#8 of 24 OFFLINE   Brian PB

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Posted October 11 2005 - 06:48 AM

Wouldn't this be a great Criterion release?

It would be nice ... but very unlikely. After a little further research, it appears that Artisan acquired Vestron's film library, then Lion's Gate gobbled up Artisan. To my knowledge, Lion's Gate has never licensed any of its properties to Criterion (i.e., they have no "working relationship").

So, if we are ever to see a Region 1 release on DVD, it will have to come through Lion's Gate.

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#9 of 24 OFFLINE   Alejandro

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Posted October 12 2005 - 12:11 AM

Coincidentally Rogert Ebert published a review of this film on the Chicago Suntimes last sunday october 9. Does it mean there is a release date for this masterpiece? or is it a coincidence? Why a review now of a 1987 movie? Here is the review for anyone interested:

Quote:
The Dead
A fitting farewell for Huston


Roger Ebert / Oct 9, 2005



John Huston was dying when he directed "The Dead." Tethered to an oxygen tank, hunched in a wheelchair, weak with emphysema and heart disease, he was a perfectionist attentive to the slightest nuance of the filming. James Joyce's story, for that matter is all nuance until the final pages. It leads by subtle signs to a great outpouring of grief and love, but until then, as Huston observed, "The biggest piece of action is trying to pass the port." He began shooting in January 1987, finished in April, and at the end of August, he died. He was 81.

All of this I have from The Hustons, by Lawrence Grobel, a biography that charts a scattered and troubled family, yet one that gathered Oscars in three generations, for Walter, John and Anjelica. John's daughter won hers for a supporting role in his previous film, "Prizzi's Honor" (1985), and now she was playing the crucial role in "The Dead." John's son Tony, then 37, was nominated for his screenplay for "The Dead," and served as his father's assistant, aware of the secret being kept from the world, which was how ill John really was.

Joyce's "The Dead" is one of the greatest short stories in the language, but would seem unfilmable. Its action takes place in Dublin in 1904 at a holiday party given by two elderly sisters and their niece, who have spent their lives performing or teaching music. The guests arrive, we observe them as they observe one another and listen to talk that means more than it says. At the end of the long evening, Gabriel Conroy (Donal McCann), nephew of the Misses Morkan, leaves with his wife, Gretta (Anjelica Huston), to go back to the hotel where they will spend the night before going home to a far suburb in the morning.

All was prologue to their cab ride and an hour or so in the hotel. She tells him a story he has never heard, about a boy who was sweet on her when he was 17, a boy named Michael Furey, who died. He was a sickly boy, who stood in the rain on the night before she was to leave Galway and go to a convent school. "I implored of him to go home at once and told him he would get his death in the rain," she remembers. "But he said he did not want to live." When she was only a week in the convent school, he died. "What was it he died of so young?" asks Gabriel. "Consumption, was it?" She replies, "I think he died from me." In his final pages, Joyce enters the mind of Gabriel, who thinks about the dead boy, about his wife's first great love, about how he has never felt a love like that, about those who have died, and about how all the rest of us will die as well -- die, with our loves and lusts, our hopes and regrets, our plans and secrets, all dead.

Read with me James Joyce's last paragraph:

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, on the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

There is, as John Huston realized, no way to translate this epiphany into the action of a movie script. It exists resolutely as thoughts expressed in words. He and Tony in their screenplay did what they had to do, and made it an interior monologue, spoken by the actor Donal McCann, as his wife, having wept, now sleeps on their bed. We note that he thinks of "his" journey, although she will accompany him. He thinks of himself as alone. When I first saw "The Dead," I thought it brave and deeply felt but "an impossible film," and I wrote: "There is no way in the world any filmmaker can reproduce the thoughts inside Gabriel's head." But of course there was. Huston could do the same thing Joyce did, and simply tell us what Gabriel was thinking.

The film follows the story with almost complete fidelity. A few details are transposed; Gabriel's story about his grandfather's horse is moved forward in the story, and given to Freddy Malins (Donal Donnelly), who arrives drunk but, as Gabriel reassures Mrs. Malins, "nearly all right." Line for line and scene for scene, the movie faithfully reflects the book, even to such details as two young men slipping into the next room for a drink during a piano recital and then returning at its close to applaud loudly.

The turning point comes as everyone is leaving. Gabriel has already descended the stairs when the famous tenor Bartell D'Arcy (Frank Patterson) is finally prevailed upon to sing. Gabriel looks up and sees a figure paused listening on the stair, and eventually realizes it is his wife: "There was grace and mystery in her attitude as if she were a symbol of something," and he thinks, "if he were a painter, he would paint her in that attitude." John Huston is a painter, and does. The song is the same one Michael Furey used to sing, and awakens Gretta's whole sad train of memory.

There is one line in the story that neither Huston nor anyone else could get into a film, because it is not the thought of Gabriel, but of Joyce. He tells us that as Gabriel regards his sleeping wife in the hotel, "a strange, friendly pity for her entered his soul." That is the phrase upon which the whole story wheels. He has been married for years and thinks he knows her, but suddenly he sees Gretta not in terms of wife, lover or their history together, but as another human being, one who will also be alone on her journey westward.

"The Dead" ends in sadness, but it is one of the great romantic films, fearless in its regard for regret and tenderness. John Huston, who lived for years in Ireland and raised Anjelica there until she was 16, had an instinctive sympathy for the kindness with which the guests at the Misses Morkan's party accepted one another's lives and failings. They have all fallen short of their hopes, and know it. Freddy Malins is a drunk, but as we see him seated beside his mother, we suspect that she has forced him to pursue defeat. Mr. Brown (Dan O'Herlihy) is a drunk in the classic mold, because of uncomplicated alcoholism. Molly Ivors (Maria McDermottroe), who supports the Republican cause, hurries off early to a meeting, still convinced their problems have political solutions. Aunt Julia (Cathleen Delany), who confesses she had a decent voice years ago, is persuaded to sing, and does so, not very well. Freddy lurches forward to blurt out praise that is so effusive, it embarrasses her in front of the party, but everyone understands that Julia's voice has failed, and that Freddy means well.

Gabriel is the witness to it all. An early shot shows the back of his head, regarding everyone in the room. Later he will see his wife, finally, as the person she really is and always has been. And he will see himself, with his ambitions as a journalist, the bright light of his family, the pride of his aunts, as a paltry fellow resting on unworthy accomplishments. Did these thoughts go through John Huston's mind as he chose his last film and directed it? How could they not? And if all those sad things were true, then he could at least communicate them with grace and poetry, in a film as quiet and forgiving as the falling snow.


Fasten your seatbelts!

#10 of 24 OFFLINE   Henry Gale

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Posted October 12 2005 - 02:36 AM

This seems like a good time to mention that I've been missing
Wise Blood (1979) for some time now. Missing seeing it so much that I considered buying a VHS copy. I can get a new one for $119.99, used for $45.
Don't prices like that indicate a healthy market for a DVD release?

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#11 of 24 OFFLINE   Gordon McMurphy

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Posted October 12 2005 - 03:54 AM

The Dead (1987) - Lion's Gate? Sony?
Wise Blood (1979) - Universal released the last VHS edition in 1997
The MacKintosh Man (1973) - Warner
The Kremlin Letter (1970) - Fox
Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967) - Warner
The Night of the Iguana (1964) - Warner
The List of Adrian Messenger (1963) - Universal
Freud (1962) - Universal

I'd love to these Huston films given a release. Most of them are very hard to see these days. Like Henry says above, Wise Blood VHS tapes go for obscene amounts on Ebay and Amazon Marketplace.


#12 of 24 OFFLINE   John Hodson

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Posted October 12 2005 - 04:18 AM

Quote:
Wise Blood (1979) for some time now. Missing seeing it so much that I considered buying a VHS copy. I can get a new one for $119.99, used for $45.
Don't prices like that indicate a healthy market for a DVD release?

I admire posts like that; if we can't appeal to their hearts, let's at least try an appeal to their heads... Posted Image
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#13 of 24 OFFLINE   Brian PB

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Posted October 12 2005 - 05:00 AM

Coincidentally Rogert Ebert published a review of this film on the Chicago Suntimes last sunday october 9. Does it mean there is a release date for this masterpiece? or is it a coincidence? Why a review now of a 1987 movie?

Roger Ebert has an ongoing project called The Great Movies in which he selects another "great" film every 2 weeks and then re-runs his original review, if available. (his first 100 selections were also issued as a book; so, too, with the second 100).

The Dead was the latest addition to Ebert's list, which is why the review appeared last weekend. I suspect that Ebert's review (available online and in the Chicago Sun-Times) inspired Matt Stieg to start this thread ...


#14 of 24 OFFLINE   Haggai

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Posted October 12 2005 - 05:24 AM

Quote:
Roger Ebert has an ongoing project called The Great Movies in which he selects another "great" film every 2 weeks and then re-runs his original review, if available.


Actually, I think he always writes a new one specifically for the series, even if he had reviewed the movie at some point before.

#15 of 24 OFFLINE   Fredric

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Posted October 12 2005 - 07:12 AM

Night of the Iguana almost saw the light of day, but nobody "voted" for it. Darn Warners and their little games!
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#16 of 24 OFFLINE   Gordon McMurphy

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Posted October 12 2005 - 07:42 AM

Yeah, Warner have Night of the Iguana ready to go; the set was finished ages ago and it waiting for a window. There's a few others too besides, right?

#17 of 24 OFFLINE   seanJ

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Posted October 12 2005 - 09:18 AM

"The Dead" is a fabulous picture, the last great film from a great director - it`s fully deserving of special edition treatment on DVD.

Like all great filmakers` who`ve had long careers Huston had a few misfires, but even some of his lesser movies such "The Mackintosh Man" and "Reflections In A Golden Eye" have merit. And look at the actors in those films......Newman, Brando, Taylor, Mason, Julie Harris.... talk about top talent.....

#18 of 24 OFFLINE   Runar_R

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Posted October 16 2005 - 12:51 AM

Quote:
The only DVD release I'm aware of was in Spain last year, under the title Dublineses: Los muertos. It's listed as full frame (though I've seen the film at least twice, I can't recall its OAR, but full-frame could indicate either Pan & Scan, Open Matte, or even OAR---on the unlikely chance that it was filmed in 1.37:1).


I just stumbled across a R4-release while browsing Atlantic dvd. It's cheap, and it's 16:9. Can't seem to find any review of it anywhere, but like I said it's cheap so I ordered it anyway.
"These are the moments I live for.
I put up with all the other crap just to get seconds like this.
The moments when you know the world is a better place than advertised."
-Planetary, Warren Ellis

#19 of 24 OFFLINE   Gordon McMurphy

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Posted October 16 2005 - 03:32 AM

Runar - you are a GOD! May I offer you one of my daughters? Posted Image

#20 of 24 OFFLINE   Runar_R

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Posted October 17 2005 - 05:35 AM

Gordon,

I take it you were pleased to hear about the R4-release?
Posted Image
"These are the moments I live for.
I put up with all the other crap just to get seconds like this.
The moments when you know the world is a better place than advertised."
-Planetary, Warren Ellis


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