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Exclusive HTF Interview: Gretchen Wayne on the Blu-ray release of Hondo

Paramount Interview

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#1 of 72 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted June 05 2012 - 01:23 PM

Gretchen Wayne is the owner and president of Batjac Productions, Inc., the film company founded in 1951by her father-in-law, legendary actor John Wayne, and run for 40 years by her late husband Michael.  Batjac produced over 25 films and retained full ownership of several Wayne crown jewels, including HondoMcLintock!The High and The Mighty and Island in the Sky. 


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HomeTheaterForum recently sat down with Gretchen Wayne to discuss the release of Hondo on Blu-ray for the first time - and its debut at home in widescreen format. While the 3D version is not yet available, the daughter-in-law of the Duke hopes that it is just a matter of time before fans get the chance to see the larger than life actor in 3D at home!



HTF:   Gretchen, thank you for talking with Home Theater Forum today.


Gretchen:       My pleasure. 


HTF:   So I am sure that you are excited about Hondo coming out on June 5th


Gretchen:       I really am, it looks so good and I’m so proud of it and I hope everyone gets an opportunity to see it in this format and enjoys it as much as I have enjoyed bringing to this particular iteration.


HTF:   And to finally be in widescreen!


Gretchen:       Yes, just the way it was originally filmed with its 1.85 aspect ratio


HTF:   Exactly. So, so talk a little bit about getting this film ready for its Blu‑ray release.


Gretchen:       Well, we had already restored it so some of the work was done and we had already done the 5.1 sound so it was really a matter of taking the film and going through it to see where we could intensify and improve the color.  And certainly the biggest thing is to bring it out in widescreen.  This is the way the film was intended to be seen and you are far more involved in the story and have a much greater appreciation for the desolate desert scenery that’s presented.  And the color looks spectacularly


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HTF:   And the 3D elements were previously restored which were used in getting this 2D ready


Gretchen:       Yes, and we restored the 3D aspect of this film further.  But this this isn’t released in 3D and its hard for me to talk about it.  I’m sorry that Paramount didn’t see wisdom to release it that way but, I think they want to make sure when they do bring it out in 3D, that there will be a more homes with 3D capable players and 3D‑capable television, so you’re really able to see it and enjoy it.


HTF:   Well…


Gretchen:       There are a lot of them out there, but they’re not as common as one would think.  Now, I can show this theatrically in 3D, and I have.  I was invited to show it at the Cannes Film Festival about four years ago and that was a big thrill.  We were invited as part of the Classical Film Division.  My daughter was greeted with standing ovations and whoops and hollers when it was shown. It was a real thrill and now it looks better in the newer 3D than it did then.  So with all the technology you’re able to make a film better and better. 


HTF:   I agree completely.  On our boards there are plenty of fans, not only of the great John Wayne’s work, but of 3D films and classic 3D films.  And I see it as a bit of a chicken and egg situation where there’s a large audience out there that would be buying these televisions if these great classic films like House of Wax and, of course, Hondo –


Gretchen:       And Bwana Devil.


HTF:   Were to be released on Blu‑ray in 3D. It can be frustrating not seeing these classics made available for fans.


Gretchen:       I agree. And with these great films it isn’t so much the dynamic or trick of the choreography or the scene with flames licking out of the screen from House of Wax for example, today there is a great deal of depth of field with some of the 3D films that are coming out



HTF:   Indeed. One of the landmarks films being James Cameron’s Avatar, and of course Scorsese’s Hugo


Gretchen:       I even saw Beowulf in 3D (laughs).  I’m probably the only one that understood the story in the theater, I think.


Gretchen:       I just didn’t care for it for the film but the 3D was very good. And I thought Avatar was very good and I liked The Polar Express and thought that was very well in 3D.  And when that ticket is flying around in the air and the snowdrops, flakes are coming down, you really truly felt you could reach up and grab it.


HTF:   Right.


Gretchen:       There’s a scene in Hondo where he sits at the table and in her kitchen and she’s fixed the meal for him and in 3D you feel like you are seated at the table with him.  It’s way out in front of you.  And it is very interesting that in the 1950s they got that.  They understood it.


HTF:   Well, they understood the composition of a shot –


Gretchen:       Yeah.


HTF:   And I think that’s part of the problem in some of the 3D films today is that they can do so much with the CGI, they rely on it for in-your-face effects, but they lack a compositional prowess that really serves the 3D in the film


Gretchen:       Yeah. And this Blu‑ray looks so good you just really get a sense of what the 3D could look like.  And, it’s so, you know, I just feel, you feel drawn into the scene.  Really it’s outstanding.


HTF:   So I wanted to ask you what thought of Jeff Bridges’ portrayal of the great Rooster Cogburn character that your father-in-law made vibrant in the True Grit remake.


Gretchen:       Well, here’s my feeling. They made the new film much closer to the book and it is really the story of the little girl.


HTF:   Right.


Gretchen:       And they followed that exactly.  When Michael’s (Gretchen’s late husband and John Wayne’s son) dad made the film, he said I’m going to play it a certain way because I’m not going to be a heavy that the audience doesn’t like.  And he played it with a lot more humor and made him more of the crazy uncle that you’d have up in the attic or something. Jeff Bridges to me is one of the better actors that we have and I love the film where he was a musician – Crazy Heart – and I felt sorry for him that no matter what he did the were going to compare him to John Wayne.  And, I think he even said it, it was a bit of a lost cause. He played it admirably, but it’s tough.  They’re always gonna hold you up to that.


HTF:   So, so what else have you got up your sleeve for, for John Wayne fans?


Gretchen:       I’ve got up my sleeve that I’d like to see McClintock in Blu‑ray.


HTF:   Oh yes.


Gretchen:       Because I think that would look wonderful - and in the widescreen. And I’d like to do High And The Mighty.  I think that would be interesting.


HTF:   So are these titles that you are actively working on restoration?


Gretchen:       Not at this moment.  We’ve just finished working on Hondo, so now we have to bring it to market.  And then you take some time and start in again with the next project.


HTF:   How important is it for you to have John Wayne’s films available in the high definition format for fans


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Gretchen:       Oh, absolutely and I get to see how lucky the audience is to see them.  When somebody saw Hondo back in 1953 they thought it was great. And then you see it again in 1989 or ‘90 when Michael did it in VHS and they thought that was spectacular.  So now that I’ve seen the 3D, this is as good as it gets.


HTF:   So what do you consider your favorite John Wayne film if you had to pick one.


Gretchen:       Well, I like different films for different reasons.


Gretchen:       I love the Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and I like black and white films so I like The Quiet Man and Red River.


HTF:   Absolutely. Great films! Well, it has been a pleasure speaking with you.  I am excited about Hondo coming out and looking forward to a 3D version hopefully in the near future


Gretchen:       Thank you so much.  Bye‑bye.


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#2 of 72 OFFLINE   Mark-P

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Posted June 05 2012 - 02:45 PM

Well now we at least know where to point the finger: Paramount, who thought there weren't enough 3D sets to warrant a 3D release!

Gretchen:       Yes, and we restored the 3D aspect of this film further.  But this this isn’t released in 3D and its hard for me to talk about it.  I’m sorry that Paramount didn’t see wisdom to release it that way but, I think they want to make sure when they do bring it out in 3D, that there will be a more homes with 3D capable players and 3D‑capable television, so you’re really able to see it and enjoy it.



#3 of 72 OFFLINE   Christian Preischl

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Posted June 05 2012 - 06:33 PM

Well now we at least know where to point the finger: Paramount, who thought there weren't enough 3D sets to warrant a 3D release!

Not much of of a surprise there, unfortunately. :( In either case, great interview, although my favorite part comes from the interviewer rather than the interviewee:

HTF: And I think that’s part of the problem in some of the 3D films today is that they can do so much with the CGI, they rely on it for in-your-face effects, but they lack a compositional prowess that really serves the 3D in the film

Pretty much sums it up for me.

#4 of 72 OFFLINE   Brian McP

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Posted June 05 2012 - 07:11 PM

I'm a big John Wayne fan, I love all the Batjac movies and hope all their landmark titles eventually come out in bluray (and remember "The Alamo" -- once restored, naturally) As Paramount hasn't given "Hondo" the 3D treatment for home video yet, would they consider a limited theatrical re-release of the picture in 3D, on the arthouse circuit? This publicity would carry over to consumers and hopefully translate to sales of the 3D version -- wishful thinking on a grand scale, but I'd see it in a theatre and I think a lot of people, most likely for novelty's sake, might do the same (maybe those kids who couldn't get seats to the latest Marvel or Transformers 3D sequel might blunder into "Hondo" years from now and be pleasantly surprised -- and if it does come out, what 3D process will be used? Real 3D?)

#5 of 72 OFFLINE   moviepas

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Posted June 05 2012 - 10:08 PM

Did Gretchen really say that The Quiet Man was made in black and white?



#6 of 72 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted June 06 2012 - 12:22 AM

Originally Posted by moviepas 

Did Gretchen really say that The Quiet Man was made in black and white?


Yes, it's clear she hasn't seen it in a long time. In years of reading interviews with celebrities and even conducting a few myself, it's often true that fans are sometimes more knowledgeable of a person's career than the person himself. Remember that interview with Dick Cavett when Katharine Hepburn had no recollection about Cary Grant's pushing her down in The Philadelphia Story. She couldn't even remember doing it.


Anyway, thanks for the interview, Neil. Hopefully there will be a 3D release of Hondo in the not too distant future.



#7 of 72 OFFLINE   RolandL

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Posted June 06 2012 - 01:33 AM

When we meet with Paramount in October we can ask about Hondo.

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#8 of 72 OFFLINE   RolandL

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Posted June 06 2012 - 03:29 AM

Also, I don't remember any ads promoting the sound on this title. I'm assuming it was released in mono sound. That's probably why the reviewers prefer the mono track.

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#9 of 72 OFFLINE   jim_falconer

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Posted June 06 2012 - 04:29 AM


Gretchen:  And certainly the biggest thing is to bring it out in widescreen.  This is the way the film was intended to be seen and you are far more involved in the story and have a much greater appreciation for the desolate desert scenery that’s presented.  And the color looks spectacularly




Not sure I understand Gretchen's point here.  After looking at the comparison screen shots at DVD Beaver, it's clear that Paramount took the previously 'open matte' transfer, and cropped the top and bottom to frame it at 1.85:1.  The comment she makes here usually is stated when a film that was composed for widescreen (like using a widescreen lens of 2.35:1), is then shown in home video at 1.33:1.


Even if Hondo was originally intended to be shown in theaters at 1.85:1, you certainly are not gaining any new picture information with this release, as Gretchen is suggesting.



#10 of 72 OFFLINE   Doctorossi

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Posted June 06 2012 - 04:33 AM

Even if Hondo was originally intended to be shown in theaters at 1.85:1, you certainly are not gaining any new picture information with this release, as Gretchen is suggesting.

Presentation in the correct aspect ratio is not only about displaying more picture information- it's about displaying the appropriate picture information and not displaying the inappropriate picture information.

#11 of 72 OFFLINE   RolandL

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Posted June 06 2012 - 05:09 AM

1953 Boxoffice magazine ad says "This picture can be exhibited on WIDE SCREENS"

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#12 of 72 OFFLINE   Bob Furmanek

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Posted June 06 2012 - 05:17 AM

The comment she makes here usually is stated when a film that was composed for widescreen (like using a widescreen lens of 2.35:1), is then shown in home video at 1.33:1.

It can also be applied to a film that was intended for widescreen but has only been seen in open matte 1.37:1 since 1954. Remember, starting in March/April 1953, a film does not have to be photographed with an anamorphic lens in order to be composed for widescreen.

Even if Hondo was originally intended to be shown in theaters at 1.85:1

HONDO was composed and intended for widescreen from day one. That is an indisputable fact. http://www.3dfilmarc...ndo-3-d-release Bob

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#13 of 72 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted June 06 2012 - 06:15 AM

We have three copies of Hondoon Blu-ray to give away to lucky HTF members courtesy of Paramount. To enter send an email to contest 'at' hometheaterforum.com with the name of the first favorite movie Gretchen Wayne listed as her favorite in the interview in the subject line and your user name, full name and address in the body of the email. Winners must have a US or Canadian shipping address, be over 18 and a member of HTF. The winner will be drawn at random from all emails received with the correct code word in the subject line. Contest runs through Sunday 6/9/12. Good luck!


Edit:

Winners were: Matt Hough, Stephen_J_H, and Steve Tannehill



#14 of 72 ONLINE   Charles Smith

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Posted June 06 2012 - 08:24 AM

Thank you for getting that interview, Neil!



#15 of 72 OFFLINE   Bob Furmanek

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Posted June 06 2012 - 08:55 AM

Yes! Thank you Neil, that was very enlightening.

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#16 of 72 OFFLINE   Stephen_J_H

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Posted June 06 2012 - 09:16 AM

Nice to know what's holding things back for a 3D release. Paramount has not exactly been the most active of studios on the 3D front, with the obvious exception of DrwamWorks Animation titles and some 3D tentpoles (Tintin, Hugo).


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#17 of 72 OFFLINE   lukejosephchung

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Posted June 06 2012 - 10:23 AM

It's disheartening to know that Paramount/Viacom has so little faith in the 3D blu-ray/catalog market and the untapped consumer demand that they're currently refusing to service...Posted Image



#18 of 72 OFFLINE   JParker

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Posted June 06 2012 - 10:24 AM

Neil, in your interview (good job! ;)), there was the following reply by Ms. Wayne:

HTF: Exactly. So, so talk a little bit about getting this film ready for its Blu‑ray release. Gretchen: Well, we had already restored it so some of the work was done and we had already done the 5.1 sound so it was really a matter of taking the film and going through it to see where we could intensify and improve the color. And certainly the biggest thing is to bring it out in widescreen. This is the way the film was intended to be seen and you are far more involved in the story and have a much greater appreciation for the desolate desert scenery that’s presented. And the color looks spectacularl

Bob Furmanek posted here: http://www.hometheat...ay#post_3927816

There are many holes in the timeline since, like I said, for Michael, out of sight, out of mind. He got distracted by other business so MANY months would go by between progress spurts. At the end of 2002 I finally got Michael to say “go” to get the film ready for DVD release, and he said I should “soon” get with him to go through the vault to find the D1 tapes, including “my” tapes of MOTOR RHYTHM, since many were apparently mislabeled. In March of ’03 I was out of the country when I heard, to my utter shock, that Michael Anthony Wayne had died, 2 APRIL 2003. I sent condolences to Michael’s widow, Gretchen, who I knew in better times. For reasons known only to Gretchen, I became an outsider and she has never since talked to me nor acknowledged my attempts to help with HONDO these past years. Imagine my surprise and dismay hearing about all the fuss it has been getting lately, and with the waste to time and money to rediscover the wheel by people with no or little understanding of 3D and this film’s unique aspects. What a business.

So, were you aware of Bob's research? I see the question wasn't asked but it appears that they did "rediscover the wheel" unless it is Daniel L. Symmes' restoration that was used or parts of his work? Maybe Bob F. knows. Thanks!:) Sort of trivial, maybe. And regarding The Quiet Man, I sent a question to Olive Films via their website on the Blu-ray, never heard back. p.s. I think I spelled your name wrong so I copied and pasted to make sure; my brain skips the "r" sometimes. Sorry ;)

#19 of 72 OFFLINE   Bob Furmanek

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Posted June 06 2012 - 10:31 AM

James: They did re-invent the wheel in 2007 when they did the new digital restoration. Mr. Symmes was not consulted nor did they utilize the superb 3-D restoration that he had done with Michael Wayne years earlier. Instead, they went back to the faded camera negative to do their work. I'm not sure what element was utilized for this most recent HD master. I was not involved so I can't speculate as to what was done. Also, the quote above is from the late Mr. Symmes' article on the 2007 restoration.

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#20 of 72 OFFLINE   JParker

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Posted June 06 2012 - 11:07 AM

James: They did re-invent the wheel in 2007 when they did the new digital restoration. Mr. Symmes was not consulted nor did they utilize the superb 3-D restoration that he had done with Michael Wayne years earlier. Instead, they went back to the faded camera negative to do their work. I'm not sure what element was utilized for this most recent HD master. I was not involved so I can't speculate as to what was done. Also, the quote above is from the late Mr. Symmes' article on the 2007 restoration.

:( Well, then, that's sad news, have you seen this Blu-ray yet? I've got it, haven't opened it yet or played it but I can't compare it to Mr. Symmes' work the way you can. It's one thing to reinvent the wheel, and it's another to come up with a cube! Too bad, then, that Neil didn't ask Ms. Wayne what happened, unless a) he didn't know or b) he was being like John Wayne; it's water under the bridge, she's a lady, etc. I suspect she's no clue what happened and maybe the studio decided for her? Well, maybe Symmes' work can be used in theatrical presentations. Thanks for your reply, I appreciate it! Have a great evening, and keep up the great work on reminding us of our (movie) history.





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