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HTF REVIEW: Darling Lili - Director's Cut (Recommended)



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#1 of 34 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted October 24 2005 - 12:50 PM

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Darling Lili - Director's Cut





Studio: Paramount

Year: 1970

Rated: G

Length: 114 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, Anamorphically enhanced

Audio: Dolby Digital English 2.0 Surround, Dolby Digital English 5.1

Closed Captioned and subtitled in English

Special Features: 19 Additional Scenes, Trailer

Suggested Retail Price: $14.99 USD
Release Date: October 25, 2005


Paramount brings “The Director’s Cut” of Darling Lili to DVD on October 25. I’ll admit that I’m not overly familiar with this film, and all of its incarnations. However, this “Director’s Cut” is not an extended cut of the theatrical release. Instead, it is a moderate trim of the original, cutting its runtime significantly. For more information on the different versions of this film, I point you to an existing thread where membership of the Home Theater Forum more knowledgeable on this film than I am have been discussing it:

http://www.hometheat....hreadid=227313

The film is a World War I era story featuring Julie Andrews as Lili Smith - a world-renowned singer entertaining the Allied troops. She also happens to be a German spy.

When she’s ordered to seduce Allied aviator, Major Larrabee (Rock Hudson) and retrieve vital information on Allied movements, Lili’s two worlds collide. She, instead, falls head over heels for the dashing officer.

While not a traditional musical with big production numbers, the film puts Andrews’ talent to good use in a number of “in character” moments singing and dancing on the stage and in other venues. The film features original songs by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini.

The film also features some great WWI dogfight recreations, which I especially enjoyed - and there is more in the deleted scenes.

I’ve only ever seen this trimmed “Director’s Cut” of the film, and I find it quite entertaining. It’s too bad, though, that the original cut is not available. I’d like to have seen it.

Originally released in 1970 with a running time of approximately 136 minutes, director Blake Edwards trimmed the film some two decades later to its current runtime of 114 minutes.

The film is complete with Overture and Exit music. The back of the case indicates a running time of 107 minutes, but the inclusion of the overture and exit music account for the difference between that and the actual running time of 114 minutes.


The Transfer
The print used for the transfer is not without flaws, but it is very nice, overall. Effects shots and stock shots tend to display more grain and debris - but the bulk of the film is in good shape.

The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is anamorphically enhanced. The image is sharp, delivering good detail most of the time. Aside from some occasional very mild ringing, there are no obvious digital artifacts present.

Colors are nicely rendered and saturated. Contrast is excellent, with good detail in the shadows. Bright whites are clean and avoid clipping.

Video: Very Good.

There are two soundtracks to choose from, a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, and a 2.0 Surround - both in English. I have no information on the original recording format for the film, but to these ears, it sounds like the original mix was 2 channel stereo.

The stereo track has excellent frequency response and good channel separation. Dialog and lyrics are always crystal clear and well defined. In Pro-Logic mode, my amplifier pinned on-screen dialog firmly in the center channel. The music is lush and full-bodied.

The 5.1 track actually seems to lose a bit of definition, favoring a soundfield that is actually too open, wrapping too much sound into the surrounds and defocusing dialog a bit.

Go with the stereo track, it is very good. For those who insist on a 5.1 presentation... well, it’s there - and it’s okay. But I prefer the stereo track.

Audio: Very Good / Good.

Special Features

There are 19 additional scenes available as a special feature, totaling almost 54 minutes. There is no indication of which scenes may have been cut from the theatrical edition of the film, but there is more footage here than seen in any version. Unfortunately, the additional footage is not reintegrated into the film. There is a “Play All” option.

The scenes include:

First Dogfight
Arrival at German Headquarters
No Man’s Land
Can-Can-Club
Madamoiselle from Armentieres Reprise
A Second Date
First Detective Sequence
Three Guesses
Liggett and Duvalle at the Restaurant
Bill and Lili Discuss T.C.
Children’s Song / Inn Sequence
Second Dogfight
Airfield Shoot-up
Bill’s Arrest
Decoration Ceremony
Kessler Arrives at Lili’s House
Bill Confronts Liggett & Duvalle / T.C. Argues with a General
Liggett and Duvalle Drive to Lili’s House
Train Attack / Armistice Montage


Also included is a trailer, featuring stills and music from the film.

Final Thoughts
Darling Lili is a decent spy / romance story set amidst a WWI backdrop, with great singing by Julie Andrews. How can you go wrong? It would have been nice to have seen the theatrical edition included on the DVD, but what is presented is apparently in accordance with the director’s wishes.

The transfer is nice, and the deleted scenes give you a taste for what may have ben in the theatrical edition - and more.

Recommended.

#2 of 34 OFFLINE   Mark B

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Posted October 24 2005 - 01:12 PM

I've read that Paramount assembled a 190m version for roadshow release, and Edwards disowned it. Perhaps all of the deleted scenes are representative of that?

#3 of 34 OFFLINE   TonyDale

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Posted October 24 2005 - 01:17 PM

Looking over the list of deleted scenes, it is my humble opinion (having been a fan of the film since its release) that Blake Edwards' cut, which has been the only version shown on cable television, IS the superior version.
We are just surrealist pilgrims, melting clocks in marble halls. . .

#4 of 34 OFFLINE   Mark B

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Posted October 24 2005 - 01:37 PM

I'm very happy to have the 114m version, as this is all I've seen and think it's a pretty good film. It's very cool that they're including the deletes, which I never dreamed of seeing. I was so convinced that this would never make it to home video that I was preparing a DVD-R version from my TCM taping to VHS. It was then that I happened to search the net and found the DVD was coming. Saved me a blank disc....

Tony --

Which version did you see in release? 190 or 136 m?

#5 of 34 OFFLINE   Joe Caps

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Posted October 25 2005 - 01:35 AM

Qustion - does this film NOT have the intermission and the Intermission music?

The film opened at 136 minutes. For many years, that was the ONLY version shown on television. We Julie Andrews films, after seeing one of her films one way for many years, do not like to be told we can never see it that way again.
SCOTT, no offence, but a little bit of film sound is in order. Before Star wars and Dolby Optical stereo (two trck matrixed to four) there is no such thing as two channel stero inn films that I know of. It was all magnetic stereo with either three channel stero, behind the screen or four channel if it had surrounds. The original for Lili is four channel stereo.
Even films that had 70mm blowups to six channel stereo or often just four channel stero artificially blown up to six.

#6 of 34 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted October 25 2005 - 02:25 AM

Quote:
Qustion - does this film NOT have the intermission and the Intermission music?

No, there is no intermission card or music.


Quote:
Before Star wars and Dolby Optical stereo (two trck matrixed to four) there is no such thing as two channel stero inn films that I know of. It was all magnetic stereo with either three channel stero, behind the screen or four channel if it had surrounds. The original for Lili is four channel stereo.

Fair enough. In any event, to these ears, the 2 channel track on the DVD sounded better than the 5.1 track. There was a slight lack of focus in the dialog in the 5.1 track. It's a subtle difference, though. But I also thought the surrounds were over-powered at times in 5.1 - not for effects, but for music. I don't like sitting in front of the orchestra... Posted Image

-Scott

#7 of 34 OFFLINE   Mark B

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Posted October 25 2005 - 02:26 AM

Where did the intermission occur in the 136m version?

#8 of 34 OFFLINE   RobertSiegel

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Posted October 25 2005 - 08:45 AM

Well, personally I think this STINKS! We have all waited for years for this first video release (on any format) of this movie, and not only do we NOT get the chance to see the roadshow, but gone is the intermission music, and from the list of deleted scenes listed above, some of my favorite songs are no longer in the film. Thanks alot Paramount and Mr. Edwards! I agree with Mr. Edwards that he has the right to have the film seen as he had intended, but what about fans who want to see what they saw in the theater? Pretty darn sad!

Classics on Blu-ray is what it is all about!


#9 of 34 OFFLINE   Paul Linfesty

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Posted October 25 2005 - 09:48 AM

I played some of it back today, and it sounds like they kept the original mix, with directionized dialog. Even many of the cut scenes in the extras section has the stereophonic directionization, so I'm guessing these were been from the original 136 minute cut, while the mono clips were from a pre-release cut?

Also, is that overture at the beginning actually the En'tracte heard in theatres? Is it possible they switched its location because a break in a 107 minute movie would be even more ridiculous than in a 136 minute one?

#10 of 34 OFFLINE   Joe Caps

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Posted October 25 2005 - 12:47 PM

When I saw the original run in New York, the film did not have an Overture.
When the studio was putting together pan and scan masters for syndication of the directors short version. theydid not have any stereo for REEL One or the Overture. the Overture and Julies song Whistling in the Dark were lifted fromthe record album and you could clearly hear the album reverb on that song. Can you hear reverb in either the 2.0 or 5.1 track on the new dvd?

#11 of 34 OFFLINE   Ken Koc

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Posted October 25 2005 - 01:43 PM

In San Diego..."Darling Lili" played at the Cinerama theater in 70mm and it sounded fantastic!!!
I too am disappointed that the 136 version is not available.
Ken

#12 of 34 OFFLINE   Mark B

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Posted October 25 2005 - 03:02 PM

It looks like I'm going to spend the weekend (if it arrives by then) doing a bit of restoration work. I will be fun to reassemble this one, but I will need help from those who can remember what goes where and what should be left out. Sound like the stereo/mono situation on the deletes is a major clue....

#13 of 34 OFFLINE   John Skoda

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Posted October 26 2005 - 09:48 AM

The Overture on the DVD is definitely the same recording as that on the album. I saw the 136 minute version once in the theater, and there was no Overture. Also no intermission.

If they wanted to include the Overture, I wish they'd done it as an extra. The opening is way better with just the black screen and the quiet beginning of the "Whistling Away the Dark." That's the way it was designed to begin--notice there's not even a Paramount logo at the beginning for this reason. Still, I'm not complaining too much--this is a nice release that I thought we'd never see.

"Whistling Away the Dark" on the DVD is NOT the album version but IS in stereo.

#14 of 34 OFFLINE   Paul Linfesty

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Posted October 26 2005 - 11:44 AM

I saw the 136 minute version once in the theater, and there was no Overture. Also no intermission.


The two times I saw it (at two different theatres) also had no Overture or intermission. In both cases, the curtains stayed closed during the opening musical chords to WHISTLIN IN THE DARK, then opened as soon as the one spot illuminated Julie Andrews. I have to confess, however, that I saw this as the bottom half of a double feature both times, first with A NEW LEAF and later with WATERLOO.

Can you hear reverb in either the 2.0 or 5.1 track on the new dvd?
No reverb that I can hear. And there is certainly stereo mix heard during the air raid between the first and second songs at the beginning.

#15 of 34 OFFLINE   Mark B

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Posted October 26 2005 - 12:09 PM

Were the main titles always small and screen center, or was that a full frame friendly adjustment made during the cut to 107 mins?

#16 of 34 OFFLINE   Greg_M

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Posted October 26 2005 - 02:48 PM

I would have expected a better print of this film. Paramount usually puts out excellent material, and this version is very good but not up to their usual standards. I would guess the negative wouldn't have gotten much use on this film as there is a fair amount of speckling and the print looks worn during the closing song.

I'm glad Paramount released the footage Blake Edwards cut as a bonus. This way we finally! get the film and even the deleted scenes (most of which I could see why they were deleted) Though by keeping them in I doubt they made that much difference to the final film.

Great Paramount! Now how about "Oh! What a Lovely War" (they only Paramount film left on my wish list)

#17 of 34 OFFLINE   John Skoda

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Posted October 27 2005 - 12:29 AM

Quote:
Were the main titles always small and screen center, or was that a full frame friendly adjustment made during the cut to 107 mins?


The credits have always looked the way they do on DVD.

#18 of 34 OFFLINE   Mark B

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Posted October 27 2005 - 03:47 AM

Got the disc today...

Very pleased with quality of the deletes. Can't wait to snuggle up with the film tonight.

#19 of 34 OFFLINE   Jefferson

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Posted October 27 2005 - 06:35 AM

Thank goodness the cut scenes are included on the disc.
whew.

I am among the fans who are disturbed by the fact that, director or no, this film as we always knew it was tampered with.
I still have my old (and i mean OLD) and ugly CINEMAX pan and scan from the late 1980's, that is the complete 136 min. cut.

When i compare the two versions, there are also so many "interior" cuts within scenes...the most of which occur in the scene at the inn, where Rock and Julie are in bed together and "Kurt" is there, and the man on the roof.

In my opnion, the lighthearted moments were what Edwards chopped away from his new version.

My favorite missing moment is Julie chuckling each time Rock tries to kiss her in their bed scene.

#20 of 34 OFFLINE   Mark B

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Posted October 27 2005 - 07:28 AM

My favorite missing moment is Julie chuckling each time Rock tries to kiss her in their bed scene.


I was surprised at the number of cuts there were in this scene while comparing earlier today.

And there is an opening verse to THREE GUESSES. Cool.

One negative: I see the sync issue I spotted on the cable version is still present on the DVD.





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