A Few Words About A few words about... Last Train from Gun Hill

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Robert Harris, Nov 8, 2004.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Paramount has released John Sturges' VistaVision production of Last Train from Gun Hill, which is a textbook example of a way in which technology affects art.

    Like many large format films, Last Train's Vista double width negative gave the cinematographer, Charles Lang, Jr. the ability to shoot long shots knowing that the negative and resultant print would have the resolving power for those shots to be viewed on screen with the necessary clarity.

    Without Vistavision, these long shots would most like not even have been attempted.

    While not spectacularly presented, the film is very professionally handled and is fully up to the expectations created by the format, knowing that the original negative is no longer printable. Any Eastman color 1959 production, being the second worst year for color cinematography, must be taken from separation masters,

    Luckily, these masters seem to fit together well going from the 8 perf seps to a 4 perf dupe negative, used for the transfer.

    The separation masters seem to have been printed dry in the early wet-gate era, as Vista scratches can occasionally be seen when projected onto a large screen, as well as an occasional Newton ring, a photo-optical artifact printed into the separations from contact with the original negative.

    The presentation of this film on DVD hits as high a quality standard as possible without the benefit of a full restoration, which would not be financially feasible.

    Take a look at Last Train with the concept of long shots in mind and knowing that the cinematographer was responsible for some wonderful work, inclusive of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir for Fox, and a number of early Paramount films, especially Angel, Desire, Peter Ibbetson, The Lives of a Bengal Lancer and She Done Him Wrong. His later work includes The Big Carnival, Copper Canyon, The Big Heat, It Should Happen to You, Sabrina, The Man from Laramie, The Rainmaker, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and a little comedy entitled Some Like it Hot.

    RAH
     
  2. Cees Alons

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    Thanks Robert.
    Ordered it right away. This film is indeed an overlooked western gem. Completely in the style and at the quality level of better known westerns like Gunfight at the OK Corral and High Noon.

    I'm glad this DVD version will be as good as you say.


    Cees
     
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    RAH,
    I agree with your assessment and have posted my comments about this dvd in this thread. Also, are you planning on watching "The Naked Jungle" dvd? If so, I would like to read your comments.





    Crawdaddy
     
  4. Robin9

    Robin9 Producer

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    Charles Lang was one of the greatest ever cinematographers, and it is regrettable that today his work does not receive the same kind of excited admiration that Gregg Toland's work does. Lang was the favorite - and stipulated - cinematographer of both Claudette Colbert and Audrey Hepburn.
     
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Lang was one of the greatest, but Toland's might be talked about more due to two words, "deep focus". Furthermore, he had two film icons Wyler and Welles that always spoke highly of him even after his tragic death at the young age of 44 years old. Unlike Lang, Toland never had the opportunity to work with widescreen. Also, you do know that Lang has more AA nominations than just about any cinematographer in history?



    Crawdaddy
     
  6. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    I would throw John Ford in the mix and bump the icon count to three. [​IMG]

    Regards,
     
  7. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Ford is my favorite director, but I don't remember him exactly talking up Toland's work in The Grapes of Wrath or The Long Voyage Home like those other two icons.

    Edit: The cinematographer you really associate working with Ford was Hoch, but with Ford's great body of work, he had more than a few great cinematographers associated with his many films while Toland is easily identified with Wyler and Welles.
     
  8. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Ford was impressed by Toland and gave him more latitude than with most of his other collaborators. I remember reading about his favorable opinion of Toland in some material related to the making of "The Long Voyage Home", but the source is eluding my memory at the moment.

    Hoch collaborated effectively with Ford on his postwar color films, but the lion's share of Ford's most strikingly realized black and white films were shot by Joseph August. Bert Glennon was another frequent collaborator that spanned both eras.

    Regards,
     
  9. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Clothier was another cinematographer that worked with Ford on several films. Also, he had a long history working with John Wayne.

    Furthermore, if I rememember correctly, August died about the same period of time as Toland and most of the films he worked with Ford was during the 1930s.
     
  10. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Due to his Navy service, August only shot two films after William Dieterle's "The Devil and Daniel Webster" from 1941. His last completed film was Ford's "They Were Expendable" from 1945. He shot a good portion of Dieterle's "Portrait of Jennie", but died while it was in production.

    Regards,
     
  11. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    A lot of irony there because Toland served in the Navy too and co-directed "December 7th" with John Ford, who ran that camera unit for the Navy during the war.




    Crawdaddy
     
  12. John Hodson

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    Just to be pedantic, it was said to be largely Toland's film, with just a few sequences directed by Ford; his reward for teaching the men in Ford's Navy Reserve unit cinematography. [​IMG]
     
  13. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Right, unlike "Battle of Midway" which was clearly directed by Ford.
     
  14. Dick

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    Saw this first on T.V. and always really liked it - seemed pretty brutal at the time. The changing relationship between Douglas and Quinn was what really intrigued me. Very fine western, and, as Robert has stated, the DVD loks quite respectable.
     

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