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Around The World In 80 Days (1956)

Robert Harris

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#1 of 15 OFFLINE   Brian Husar

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Posted February 09 2009 - 01:58 PM

Robert, I know you and James Katz were going to do a restoration of this when it was determined that the matrials were in such poor shape, that the restoration would be very expensive and the studio did not want to spend the money (I remember a photo of the negative in an AMC magazine, when AMC was good). No one ever talked about it and on The Digital Bits I never heard your thoughts. What did Warner's do for the DVD to make it look good. To me from what I heard the situation was with the negative and from all my life watching the pan and scan video tape, the DVD was incredible and that's when I put my faith in Warners. Any thoughts on what Warner's did ...I know this goes back to 2004, when it came out.

#2 of 15 OFFLINE   Todd Erwin

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Posted February 11 2009 - 12:25 PM

Curiously, the PlayStation Store has recently added this title as an HD rental download.

#3 of 15 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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Posted February 11 2009 - 01:03 PM

I'd love to see a proper restoration of both cuts. This is one of my favorite films (as evidenced by a review the mods let me do years ago).

Warner's DVD looks quite good. Color is terrific. But it's not quite as sharp as other 65mm productions and it seems that barely any digital cleanup was applied. The 5.1 (re)mix is excellent, without knowledge on whether or not it's faithful to the original 6-track mag mix.

One aspect about the DVD that's unfortunate is that they seemed to overlook all of the extensive Library of Congress holdings. They have the deleted scenes like the alternate prologue, as well as hours of 16mm behind-the-scenes footage.

Count me in for a full-scale restoration and BluRay release with both 1080p/24fps and 1080p/30fps versions.

#4 of 15 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted February 11 2009 - 11:35 PM

This is a film that is in need of a ground-up restoration. There are element problems exacerbated by various other missing elements. As I recall, I believe the current video version is derived from the generic 24fps version. This can be checked by looking at instances of background footage (without actors). If things move slowly, it isn't the Todd-AO version.

RAH

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#5 of 15 OFFLINE   Brian Husar

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Posted February 12 2009 - 10:23 AM

I would be in favor of a full restoration also. There are so many still out there. I still can't believe the studios have not wised up. I don't know if this is Warner's fault or United Artists as I believe it was a U/A film first. So the matrials must have been in poor shape when Warners got the rights.

#6 of 15 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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Posted February 12 2009 - 02:40 PM

It was owned by Michael Todd's estate until it was sold to WB and was messed up already.

By the way, what's the history on the multiple cuts?

The VHS and laserdisc editions were pan & scan, but were "uncut". The old TV version is missing the intermission and exit music. Both are pan & scan. The DVD adds back the original intermission card and a lengthy scene with Cantinflas on horseback.

Back when TCM aired the letterboxed version for the first time, they had to use the 1983 version that's about 20 minutes shorter. They ended up showing the longer P&S version a few more times before switching to the DVD version.

Did that shorter cut exist for the 1957 general release or did Warner put together that version for the re-release?

#7 of 15 OFFLINE   marknyc

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Posted February 23 2009 - 04:51 PM

Here's what Wikipedia says - it seems to contradict itself regarding what was used for the DVD:

Around 1976, after its last network television broadcast on CBS, UA lost control of the film to Elizabeth Taylor. In 1983 Warner Bros. acquired the rights to the film and reissued it theatrically in a re-edited 143-minute version. In the years that followed, a pan-and-scan transfer of the 35mm version (presented at its full 183-minute length) was shown on cable television.

In 2004, WB issued a digitally restored version of the 35mm incarnation on DVD, also at its full 183-minute length, including the original intermission, Entr'acte, and exit music that were a part of the original theatrical release, and for the first time on home video at its original 2.2:1 aspect ratio.

This restored version was reconstructed from the best available elements of the 35mm version WB could find, and was subsequently shown on TCM. The original elements from the 70mm Todd-AO version (as well as the original prints derived from these elements) still exist, albeit in faded condition but remain to be formally restored by WB.

Warner's retained Andy Pratt Film Labs who in conjunction with Eastman Kodak developed a method to remove the cracked and fading to brown, clear lacquer from the original 65mm Technicolor negative. WB did nothing further to restore the negative.

The 65mm roadshow print negative was used for the DVD. Had any 35mm anamorphic elements been used, the aspect ratio would have been 2.35:1. Mike Todd had limited 35mm anamorphic prints made with a non-standard compression ratio to provide a 2.21:1 viewing experience. These special 35mm prints are called Cinestage, the same name of Mike Todd's showcase theatre in Chicago.

The best available prints of the 70mm version have recently been exhibited in revival movie houses worldwide. As of 2007, WB remains the film's rights holder.

#8 of 15 OFFLINE   Jo_C

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Posted July 06 2009 - 06:33 PM


Quote:
Originally Posted by marknyc 

Here's what Wikipedia says - it seems to contradict itself regarding what was used for the DVD:

Around 1976, after its last network television broadcast on CBS, UA lost control of the film to Elizabeth Taylor. In 1983 Warner Bros. acquired the rights to the film and reissued it theatrically in a re-edited 143-minute version. In the years that followed, a pan-and-scan transfer of the 35mm version (presented at its full 183-minute length) was shown on cable television.

In 2004, WB issued a digitally restored version of the 35mm incarnation on DVD, also at its full 183-minute length, including the original intermission, Entr'acte, and exit music that were a part of the original theatrical release, and for the first time on home video at its original 2.2:1 aspect ratio.

This restored version was reconstructed from the best available elements of the 35mm version WB could find, and was subsequently shown on TCM. The original elements from the 70mm Todd-AO version (as well as the original prints derived from these elements) still exist, albeit in faded condition but remain to be formally restored by WB.

Warner's retained Andy Pratt Film Labs who in conjunction with Eastman Kodak developed a method to remove the cracked and fading to brown, clear lacquer from the original 65mm Technicolor negative. WB did nothing further to restore the negative.

The 65mm roadshow print negative was used for the DVD. Had any 35mm anamorphic elements been used, the aspect ratio would have been 2.35:1. Mike Todd had limited 35mm anamorphic prints made with a non-standard compression ratio to provide a 2.21:1 viewing experience. These special 35mm prints are called Cinestage, the same name of Mike Todd's showcase theatre in Chicago.

The best available prints of the 70mm version have recently been exhibited in revival movie houses worldwide. As of 2007, WB remains the film's rights holder.
I personally wrote the Wikipedia section in question, which no doubt will be corrected by me at some point this week to make it make a little more sense.  But after reading all of the posts on this film, it is safe to say that WB is to be commended for at least restoring SOME version of the film, the 24fps incarnation.  So at least we know we will have some version of the film that will continue to be shown for many decades to come, assuming WB takes proper care of this film.  Yes, we have to put some trust in TimeWarner on this classic epic film.

The 70MM Todd AO version is a different beast.  Yes, work does have to be done on this version, but with today's digital technology there is no reason why it should not be restored.  It is just a question of money, and since TimeWarner is a corporate empire, I am confident they will get the job done.  They did with "Blade Runner" and "Superman", so...



#9 of 15 OFFLINE   marknyc

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Posted September 09 2011 - 04:47 PM

Have there been any rumors of a Blu-ray for this film?

#10 of 15 OFFLINE   garyrc

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Posted February 14 2012 - 01:16 PM

  • The DVD version sounds like they applied some dynamic range compression. The original 70 mm version had one of the most dynamic, best soundtracks to this day!
  • Ironically, one of the two VHS versions sounds less compressed, but has some dropouts, and other damage. If you have the stereo VHS-HiFi version and the DVD, you can compare the dynamics by running the sequence in Paris in which Cantinflas takes his leave of Niven to go greet his "cousin" and she slaps his face, because she is not his cousin. The music is much louder in proportion to the dialog on the VHS here (and nearly everywhere). In this, the VHS more nearly resembles the 70 mm version (of course, the color is much better on the DVD). The music for 80 Days, especially on the 70 mm soundtrack, was not background music -- it was foreground music, which helped give the movie its incredible bounce. The 6 channel stereo was incredible; it is possible that the movie was played "double system," with the sound channels on a separate piece of magnetic full coat 35 mm film in sync with the 70 mm image film, as was done in some theaters with the Todd-AO predecessor to 80 Days, Oklahoma!
  • People wonder what all the fuss was about 80 Days, why it was such a hit, and why it beat out so many other fine films in 1956 in every award ceremony. If it can be carefully restored and put on Blu-ray with full dynamics, they will find out! It was a joy, a romp, and was near hypnotic.
  • The sound on the current DVD version seems to be mainly midrange, and very slightly distorted. The original had wide frequency response, and bass of great authority. I could simulate that authority by setting my old NAD pre/pro at Bass + 10 (!!!). Sadly my new Marantz pre/pro only goes to Bass + 6, so I can't quite get there, and Audyssey actually cuts the bass in my room by a few dB, to achieve either standard Audyssey or Audyssey FLAT. If anyone wants to try to restore the authority (it needs it between about 40 Hz and 200 Hz, not in the low sub range, where there is little sound on the older Todd-AO tracks), the sequence just before the intermission Is a good place to adjust it ... that just before the intermission music was ultra dynamic, and probably partly responsible for the audience clapping at the intermission every time I saw it in Todd-AO


#11 of 15 OFFLINE   Nick*Z

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Posted September 01 2012 - 01:28 AM

The sad unromantic truth of it is that the stagnant U.S. economy has hit consumer spending very hard. While corporate entities like Warner do have a surplus currently to launch into full blown restorations of classic movies they must also weigh the cost against what the numbers will be on the other end, once the film is released either to DVD or Blu-ray to the general public.. These numbers, at present, are not as encouraging and thus studios are reticent to invest the necessary time, money and effort required to save classic movies for future generations. I think often executive logic gets chastised for being myopic in its view. While, as a private collector, I would absolutely love an all out 'gung-ho' investment from studios to do complete ground up restorations on movies that have enriched my life - like Around the World in 80 Days' - I also understand that the likelihood of getting such efforts underway is entirely dependent on a number crunching game. If executives can't see the money at the end of their investment they simply will not invest in it, just to satisfy a few die hards like myself. I do think that studios could, however, manage what available funds they are willing to spend, more prudently. I mean, do we really need yet another Blu-ray release of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner? The answer is no. But we're going to get one anyway for Christmas 2012, and that's a shame when there are soooooo many other titles in the Warner canon that have yet to be released once in 1080p. I also think the idea of providing consumers with 'a digital copy' for ipod or tablet really is a waste of the studio's time and money. Cutting back on some of these investments could free up some money for other things, like film restoration. Partnering up with organizations like the Library of Congress, The Film Foundation, the AFI and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and finding third party distribution with vendors like Criterion or Twilight Time could also lighten the fiscal burden and encourage studios to give classic movies like Around the World in 80 Days the ol' Joe College try. But I think the days when studios alone were expected to simply gamble and pick up the tab for doing full blown restorations on classic movies is coming to an end. This, of course, is personal conjecture with no concrete evidence to offer up as proof, but I believe proof is in the dwindling number of classics that have been coming to HD and Blu-ray of late. Not encouraging news, I know, but perhaps rather obvious of where the market base is headed.

#12 of 15 OFFLINE   garyrc

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Posted September 01 2012 - 09:06 AM

Nick, I agree with almost all of your post, but I hope you are wrong about one part: "If executives can't see the money at the end of their investment they simply will not invest in it, just to satisfy a few die hards like myself." There are (hopefully) some executives with vision. Many films that we regard as classics, and which have made money on disk, were ones that were thought to have little chance of paying for themselves, even in theatrical release. Fantasia, for one. Many have found new life in later theatrical releases and a third (fourth, fifth sixth) life on tape, then DVD, then BD and streaming.. Citizen Kane had all but disappeared from the collective consciousness before Sight and Sound first deemed it one of the top ten in, I believe, 1962. We don't have another film by Wells -- I believe it was going to be called The Other Side of the Wind (or similar)-- because the investors couldn't "see the money at the end of their investment." Wells showed us some excerpts at the San Francisco Film Festival, and it got much applause, and looked fascinating.. When we built our big screen Home Theater, we often heard -- from age appropriate people, and their sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters -- "Do you have Around the World in 80 Days (1956!) ? I'd love to see it [again, or for the first time]. The young ones sometimes say something like, "My dad never tired of talking about that movie." I used to say things like, "Hold on for a couple of years and we might have a restored version on BD that has the marvelous, bouncy, exciting dynamics of the original" (if interested, see my earlier posts, and my Amazon review of the 1956 version on tape & disk). Now, I just show the DVD. The color is ok, without the marvelous feeling of visual depth of the original, but I feel I have to sit behind the audience and tastefully ride the volume control, to restore the original sense of dynamics (e.g., just before the intermission, the Paris arrival, the voyage across the Atlantic, and many other places). If a well restored BD, with the 6 channel Todd-AO soundtrack at its uncompressed, dynamic best comes out, I'll have a party and invite those who saw the DVD. Done right, the BD may look like a different movie.

#13 of 15 OFFLINE   Nick*Z

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Posted September 03 2012 - 12:47 AM

Dear Gary: I sincerely hope I am wrong about this too. Around the World in 80 Days is one of those super-colossal extravaganzas that so obviously deserves a complete restoration. But it's also a very problematic project to undertake; meaning time, effort and the all mighty dollar must be expended to do things right. What I would like to see is a return to form by the studios; a solid commitment to restore and release at least two movies to Blu every six months. And I don't mean re-release using video elements already in existence simply bumped up to a 1080p signal, but a complete ground up visitation of original film elements scanned at 4k or 8k resolution. Think, Universal's Pillow Talk Blu-ray as a primary example. If you've ever seen the film on DVD and then seen it on Blu you'll know exactly what I mean. But restorations like that one siphon cash pretty quickly. I don't think it would be too much of a strain or an issue if the studios' new releases kept their coffers filled with revenue to tackle projects like this. Personal opinion, of course, but I don't understand why studios have not been more proactive remastering at least their Best Picture Oscar winners (of which Around the World is but one) from decades past as a sort of starting point to re-releasing classics in hi-def. These titles have built in cache on so many levels that they would probably recoup the cost of their restoration. WB has a lot of Best Pictures in its library; everything from MGM's The Great Ziegfeld and Mrs. Miniver to WB's own Driving Miss Daisy. But again, these are not easy - slap 'em out - releases, but films that require further inspection and restoration before they can get a proper re-issue in 1080p. WB did finally get around to releasing Chariots of Fire prior to the Olympics in a stunning new 1080p transfer that quite simply blew their old DVD out of the water. An apples to oranges comparison, truly. We need more of that, frankly, and with more frequency. Films that WB currently needs to reassess and remaster in 1080p would include the aforementioned titles, plus, My Fair Lady, Giant, San Francisco, Red Dust, Marie Antoinette, Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939), The Women (1939), The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, Random Harvest, Mrs. Parkington, Meet John Doe, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Topper, Kings Row, Now Voyager, Woman of the Year, Lassie Come Home, National Velvet, I Walked With A Zombie, Cat People, Curse of the Cat People, Mildred Pierce, Humoresque, Babes in Arms, Babes on Broadway, Strike Up the Band, Girl Crazy, For Me and My Gal, The Student Prince, The Swan, Old Acquaintance, Jezebel, The Damned Don't Cry, A Guy Named Joe, The White Cliffs of Dover, Weekend At the Waldorf, Grand Hotel, Dinner at Eight, Pride and Prejudice, David Copperfield, The Valley of Decision, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Anchors Aweigh, Holiday in Mexico, The Harvey Girls, I Confess, Rebel Without A Cause, Good News, Easter Parade, That Midnight Kiss, Adam's Rib, Summer Stock, Scaramouche (1952), The Band Wagon, Ivanhoe, The Bad and the Beautiful, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Brigadoon, High Society, The Philadelphia Story, Silk Stockings, Raintree County, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Auntie Mame, The Americanization of Emily, The Yellow Rolls-Royce, The VIP's, Ryan's Daughter and Far from the Madding Crowd to name but a handful. Some need more restoration than others. All require more pressing attention paid if we are to have them around for another 100 years for audiences to know, love and appreciate.

#14 of 15 OFFLINE   garyrc

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Posted September 04 2012 - 11:51 AM

I agree. That's a great list. I would give 80 Days top priority, but I'd love to see the rest restored, as well. Can AFI or other organizations help with the cost of restoration? If they do restore these, I hope they pay close attention to how the sound was presented in the first run (or road show) theaters. Some sound issues -- including those that alter visual perception because of differences in brain arousal -- sometimes make DVD/BDs worse than they have to be. Especially with films having magnetic stereo soundtracks, in addition to going back to the original music and sound elements, they should also audition an old copy of the final film (in mag, if it was printed in mag) to see what proportional volume levels the filmmakers used in the final mix, and, of course they shouldn't compress the dynamics. I strongly suspect that when they made the DVD of 80 Days they didn't know that, in the Todd-AO original, the music was often foreground music. In the DVD of Alien, the you-know-what is barely louder than the average SPL in the movie. In the theater it peeled the paint off the walls! This kind of thing can even happen in theatrical releases. My friends and I saw The Unsinkable Molly Brown at a super sneak preview, with the director, Charles Walters, present.. The soundtrack (4 channel magnetic stereo) had superior dynamics that were nothing short of thrilling. A few months later, we saw it in general release with a mono optical soundtrack. The sound was lifeless and, surprisingly, the dancing looked less precise and less energetic as well. We were very let down, and wondered if we misremembered the quality of the dancing. Finally, a stereo magnetic print was released on the other side of the Bay. We drove over and took a look -- guess what? The energetic dancing was back! When feet hit the wood floor in certain numbers, there was quite an impact. The brass shimmered. The voices had the smiles put back in them. When a film was made in the mag stereo era, and [U]depends on having wide frequency response and wide dynamic range, (as opposed to a film intended for optical, as they all were before 1953*) it can drop like a rock when released without those characteristics, and the limp sound can affect the visuals. I've seen this happen several times. IMO, in the mono optical version of [U]The King and I , The Little House of Uncle Thomas stage sequence falls flat, and seemed like an intrusion into the movie, except for the one plot element it introduces. In a 70mm blow up (from a Cinemascope 55 big negative) with 6 channel magnetic sound, this sequence rises to become a highlight of the movie, with exciting music and much clash and bash. In the case of these two movies, the stereo home versions were somewhere between the mono-optical theatrical and mag stereo theatrical versions. I'll bet restored versions on BD could have audio that is as good as it was in the best theatrical presentations. * It seems that some films made between the end of WWII and 1953 that were destined for optical did have their music recorded on the first, crude, magnetic recorders. It would be great to find these magnetic music masters and use them, if the are not vinegar by now.

#15 of 15 OFFLINE   Nick*Z

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Posted September 05 2012 - 12:49 AM

Dear Gary: I agree too. Bad sound can ruin the presentation of a great film just like a shoddy print with faded colors can make a sow's ear from a silk purse. Movies were meant to be seen and heard. They are a visual media and have the potential to impact us in all sorts of profound ways. When the sound is perfectly married to the image the results can be electrifying. Molly Brown is a good example. But the one that really blew me out of the water was the re-issue of How The West Was Won in Cinerama. I mean, the ground beneath my feet literally shook when the thunderous opening credits roared to life on the screen. The rapids gushed, horses hooves rumbled and the buffalo stampede left me feeling shaken and thrilled. I think a lot of people today forget how powerful and emotionally satisfying these movies used to be and still can be when time, effort and money is properly expended to resurrect a tired old print from PD oblivion. The Home Theater Forum is a great venue to meet like minded people who share this love, but also a fantastic way to bring our concerns to light with studios who, as I understand, frequently peruse our comments - perhaps for ideas or just inspiration. Either way, our message to them is coming across loud and clear.





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