A Few Words About A few words about... 1941

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Robert Harris, Sep 4, 2005.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I screened 1941 for someone over the weekend who had never seen it.

    Unfortunately, while Universal's current DVD is a port derived from the laserdisc, and a less than stellar representation of the film, the audience responded positively, giving it an 8 out of 10.

    I'm one of those people who, from the beginning, has always found 1941 to be one of the great comedies of the second half of the 20th century. Unfortunately, what it needs to find a successful audience is superb presentation.

    In the same spirit of Mad World, 1941, needs a proper DVD. I believe that Universal would find positive support in place of one of its many other 10th or 20th anniversary releases.

    A high quality DVD of Steven Spielberg's 1941 would be a welcome addition to many home video collections.

    RAH
     
  2. Mark Lucas

    Mark Lucas Second Unit

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    I rather see a high quality version of Poltergeist but that's a different studio, so yeah. Speilberg just has to make a few phone calls.
     
  3. Jo_C

    Jo_C Second Unit

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    My brother happens to be a big fan of the film as I am. Sure, despite turning in a small profit, it wasn't the blockbuster film Spielberg had hoped (it had tough competition in 1979, "Alien", "Star Trek", etc., plus the fall-out from "Superman: The Movie"). However (and this is what Robert Harris failed to mention), it was an expanded version on network television that made 1941 finally find its audience. There was something about the film that got audiences taking a second look. The content, the jokes...the structure of the film is what audiences overlooked back in 1979.

    The expanded version was only seen once on network television (though years later it was seen on The Disney Channel, back when it was a commercial-free premium channel). It is also the only version that has been represented on LaserDisc and DVD (the theatrical version, with small aural modifications due to music rights issues of the time, was released on VHS).

    I do agree with Harris that the DVD presentation could be improved, with all that stuff crammed onto the current disc (2 1/2 hours of movie, nearly 2 hours of supplements--a case of quantity vs. quality). It, at the very least, needs remastering. Perhaps a seamless branching option for the theatrical version (in addition to the expanded) on one disc, supplements on the other, for a new 2-disc set.

    Also some of the still-frame supplements sway toward a negative opinion on the movie (given that a majority of the movie reviews slammed the film), there could be more positive.

    1941 is a cult film in every sense of the word, one of those films that finds its audience as the years pass.
     
  4. RobertW

    RobertW Supporting Actor

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    like I Wanna Hold Your Hand, i find this to be an underrated classic. Belushi is just dementedly funny, and who can't just lose it with Eddie Deezen and the dummy?

    then again, i just love Eddie Deezen.
     
  5. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    I'm all over this one. But I think I'd prefer IAMMMMW first. [​IMG]

    - Steve
     
  6. MatthewLouwrens

    MatthewLouwrens Producer

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    Wow. That's a recommendation.

    I've always dismissed 1941 on its poor reputation, and never bothered even trying to see it. But to hear from Mr Harris (who I generally find to be pretty reliable in his opinions) a comment about "one of the great comedies" has pushed the film up to a must-see immediately.
     
  7. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    I've warmed to 1941 over the years; I liked it well enough when I first saw it, I saw it again recently and yes, it now comes across as a genuine classic comedy. I'd love Universal to roll out the red carpet for this on DVD.
     
  8. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan Screenwriter

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    I would love a 2 disc edition of this movie. A new anamorphic transfer is needed. Seamless branching between the original edit and the expanded cut would be nice, plus the original mono track would be nice to have as well. Disc one should be devoted to the movie while disc two could have all of the supplements. As it is, the current disc is an old LD transfer compressed onto one side of a DVD with a doc that runs almost as long as the main feature. It's amazing it looks as good as it does.

    Oh and Jo, the original version of this movie was released on LD on the "DiscoVision" label.
     
  9. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    I have never seen this before.

    Which region is the best to go for

    Cheers

    Oscar
     
  10. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    ........."Hollyroooooood!!"

    Yeah, this is a fine film that I have always liked from the first time I saw it as a kid in the theaters...my sister was a huge Belushi fan so she took me there instead of the mall as she promised [​IMG]...and I was happy to see the SE DVD arrive and at the time I thought it was a fairly high quality release, for the time it was, but it is indeed in need of updating.

    Perhaps we can get Spielberg to do a comme.......just kidding.[​IMG]
     
  11. obscurelabel

    obscurelabel Stunt Coordinator

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    This movie's status as one of my guiltiest pleasures is in jeopardy if the praise keeps coming!

    I saw this 15 or 20 times when it was first released. I still believe the juggling of the enormous cast and multiple story lines while maintaining a consistent comic tone is one of Speilberg's most impressive directorial achievements.

    This is one of the few movies I can think of that I enjoy more in an extended version than in the theatrical version; of course for those who don't agree (and as a matter of principle), I would hope that any future release would manage by some means to include both versions.
     
  12. Thomas T

    Thomas T Producer

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    I loved it immediately upon seeing it in its original theatrical run and have constantly defended it these past 25 years. Too bad so many listen to "critics" (both professional and amateur) rather than using their own critical faculties in judging a film.
     
  13. Alex cosmo

    Alex cosmo Stunt Coordinator

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    I'd buy it for sure. I seem to remember Spielberg asking them to remove the "director's cut" blurb from the cover? (it says "extended version" or something instead). It also seemed like Zemeckis/Gale prefer the long cut, but maybe Spielberg doesn't. I'm partial to the theatrical version these days, only for the sheer amount of stuff crammed into 2 hours.
     
  14. Dustin James

    Dustin James Stunt Coordinator

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    .
     
  15. Ric Bagoly

    Ric Bagoly Producer

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    Love this movie. Bring on an anamorphic transfer!!
     
  16. Nicholas Vargo

    Nicholas Vargo Second Unit

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    I own the current DVD in its original artwork, and I bought it back when it was still $34.95 retail, which it stayed at until the new artwork edition was finally released about a couple of years back. I will say that if you find the DVD with its original artwork, pick it up. I hate the artwork with Belushi and Aykroyd's face plastered onto it. The original artwork was better if only because it didn't give anything away.

    But yes, the DVD needs a true upgrade. A new 16x9 transfer of both the extended version and the theatrical version, plus a reworked 5.1 mix as well, as I think the current one is a little weak, as it always has been. Though a note to Universal: If you decide to upgrade, please leave on the complete 102-minute documentary as well as the three theatrical trailers and the deleted footage from the film as well. In fact, everything from the past release would be great.

    Another thing I would love to see would be TV Spots and maybe even a new featurette with interviews from all the surviving members of the cast, since the main documentary had interviewed basically only the crew of the film, I would love to hear the cast talk about the film and hear what they now think of the film itself. But I want the very first issue of the artwork to return as the cover please. It was a beautiful cover and it would be a shame to squander a new release without it.

    As for the film itself, I agree with Robert A. Harris that it is one of the great comedies of its time. It's very funny, ranking among some of Spielberg's best work, and that's especially true of the extended version, which becomes more character oriented with Wally and how he's basically part of everybody's story. That was one of its best ideas, and Spielberg pulled it off perfectly. The film also played off sexuality as comedy very well, especially in the scenes with Tim Matheson and Nancy Allen, who eventually end up in a sex scene on a B-17 that is instantly unforgetabbly funny. I bet that if the movie were released today, the movie would easily get an R rating just for that scene, especially with her moaning, "Give it to me, Loomis. Oh, give it to me." My, how times have changed.

    Still, it's one of my favorite movies of all time and I'm finally glad to see a thread that's basically saying nothing put positive things about it. I started a thread about the extended version somewhere online about two or three years ago and the comments were way more mixed there, with one poster calling it "shit with sprinkles" pardon my expression, but that was what I recalled seeing from that certain poster. Still, there's no accounting for taste, as there are some out there who don't like it. Still, I think Spielberg said it best in the introduction of the documentary, when he said that "watching the movie today is no different than playing 'Doom II' on your PC because it's a blast to the face of sight, sound, and imagery." I think today's Internet generation understands the film better than they did in 1979 because as Spielberg also said, "it was way ahead of its time", even though France actually priased the movie as well, but that would be a whole other story.

    To make it more simple, I love the film, and like Robert A. Harris, I would love to see a new edition just as much as he would. Let's hope someone from Universal is watching up here.
     
  17. Dave Simkiss

    Dave Simkiss Stunt Coordinator

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    As a Brit I would love to see 1941 get a Region 2 release, I imported the Region 1 without ever seeing it simply because it was the only Spielberg film I had never seen. (Of course a week later they started showing it on TCM UK - typical)

    I immidiatly fell in love with the film and was quite surprised to find so much negativity towards it on the net, I certainly feel it needs re-evaluation from the general public as I found it extreamly funny and an absolute pleasure to watch. And as a fan of good old model effects I can safely say I was very impressed, the planes flying through the streets sequence and the ferris wheel rolling down the pier are astounding, if there is ever a re-release I would hope more would be included on the FX as well as more from the surviving cast members.

    And of course anamorphic is a must! Add me to the list of people that would love to see this film get the full treatment it deserves.

    Region 2 as well please [​IMG]
     
  18. Charles H

    Charles H Screenwriter

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    A terrific film with an outstanding John Williams score. I am not a Spielberg fan (at least, during the last two decades), but 1941 is a tour de force and its swing scenes and the Rube Goldberg-ish donnybrook at the canteen suggests what Spielberg could do with a full-throttle musical (Pauline Kael championed this and other set pieces). The movie was a huge commercial failure but it nails the ambience and zeitgeist of the period somewhat better than Scorcese's similar NEW YORK, NEW YORK, and I recall that 1941 must have been the most frequently (and most delayed) laserdisc in that technology's brief history.
     
  19. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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  20. Derek Miner

    Derek Miner Screenwriter

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    I don't remember how much 1941 was delayed, but I remember waiting a loooong time for the Signature Collection of The Frighteners.

    Jo_C noted that the extended version of the film only played on network television once and also on Disney. It must have been offered in syndication at some point, as that is how I discovered it. 1941 was one of the only Spielberg films I hadn't seen at the time, and I taped it from a local station. When I watched this tape, I discovered I lost the end of the movie. When I taped it from another station, I discovered the first version had a lot of extra stuff. I missed probably the last half hour to 45 minutes of the extended version. When I heard this was on laserdisc in the longer version, I was quite happy! I drove across town about 40 minutes to rent it.
     

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