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Cineman

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Mr. Harris, can you explain what you mean about the aspect ratio being incorrectly stated as 1.33:1? Wasn't that the standard for the time?

Also: I believe another reason why this film is not considered a classic is the fact that -- SPOILER ALERT -- the ending of the play was rewritten so that Emily lives! I remember seeing the film years ago on TV and I thought it was very good until that jaw-dropping moment arrived.
Thornton Wilder has the first screenplay credit and I had always heard and read that he authorized the change you mentioned if not actively proposed it. I don't know the truth of it but I think it was the right call for this movie version.

That is just my feeling based on the year it was made and maybe because of the different response we have when watching a live stage version of it with no sets, little or no props and so on as the play is presented vs a movie version of it with all of those production elements including that marvelous Copland music soundtrack working on us. That lady on stage playing Emily, miming her acting business with no real props or furniture, is going to walk out a moment after the final Act and take a bow or possibly mingle with the audience. There is more of a detached, "instructional" element of the live stage play than is ultimately allowed in this movie version of it.

I don't know why but it just feels like the original stage version ending in this movie version would have been too much, too punishing, almost unnecessarily cruel on the part of the filmmakers. And would have made it very difficult to recommend to others. Perhaps that was a consideration by Mr. Wilder as well.

Relating my experience watching this restored version last night; I have seen 3 live stage versions of it with the original ending as you cited, of course. I have seen this movie version 2 times before and therefore I already knew how the ending was changed and what to expect.

It didn't matter. I found myself blubbering and crying all through that final Act. Pathetic. Weeping like an infant, big tears rolling down my cheeks. It was a glorious feeling, a stronger response to the work than I ever had in any previous viewing of the live stage play or of this movie.

If Mr. Wilder, Frank Craven, et al in fact concluded that it really wouldn't matter all that much to the intended effect and response without the risk of greatly limiting its popular appeal as a movie, they were right as far as I can tell.

I also owe much of my stronger than ever response to the wonderfully improved image and audio in this ClassicFlix restoration. Thank you so much for that!
 
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ClassicFlix

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Technically, the standard was 1.37:1. Which would make 1.33:1 "close enough for government work" as RAH stated.
From the start of the project, we had fully intended to crop to Academy ratio. But because of the way the elements were printed in the lab, this would have meant actually cutting off the image more on the top without gaining anything on the sides. We chose 1.33:1 because it actually increased the available image at the top without losing anything on the side.

- David
ClassicFlix Founder, Producer
 

mskaye

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From the start of the project, we had fully intended to crop to Academy ratio. But because of the way the elements were printed in the lab, this would have meant actually cutting off the image more on the top without gaining anything on the sides. We chose 1.33:1 because it actually increased the available image at the top without losing anything on the side.

- David
ClassicFlix Founder, Producer
Thank you David. Just bought Our Town and Little Rascals Vol.5. Appreciate your efforts to keep these films alive and looking amazing.
 

Robert Harris

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From the start of the project, we had fully intended to crop to Academy ratio. But because of the way the elements were printed in the lab, this would have meant actually cutting off the image more on the top without gaining anything on the sides. We chose 1.33:1 because it actually increased the available image at the top without losing anything on the side.

- David
ClassicFlix Founder, Producer
So you ran open matte.
 

roxy1927

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Back in the 70s I saw Fred Gwynne as the stage manager in a production at the American Shakespeare festival in CT. It was certainly one of the greatest theatrical productions I have ever seen. I wish I could find a cast list. I believe Geraldine Fitzgerald was in it. Perhaps even Theresa Wright. At the end George crumpling in grief next to Emily's grave was devastating.

As film is such a different medium and Mr Harris gives the film such a fine review I might see Our Town again after all these decades. I wish though the original ending had been kept. Since the play was such an enormous popular success and played throughout the country would the film audience of the time if the direction had been sensitive enough have found the original ending too much to bear? Even then people liked a good cry.
 
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PMF

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Still unavailable on Amazon, but it is available from Classicflix.
I hope that everyone here will consider ordering directly from ClassicFlix. Without data, I imagine every penny helps this great and modest group who has given us Our Town, The Little Rascals: The Complete Collection (restored), and the upcoming 4K/UHD of Meet John Doe (restored). ClassicFlix so much deserves our support and the late Nick Redman (Twilight Time) was behind them from their very early beginnings.
 
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Cineman

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Back in the 70s I saw Fred Gwynne as the stage manager in a production at the American Shakespeare festival in CT. It was certainly one of the greatest theatrical productions I have ever seen. I wish I could find a cast list. I believe Geraldine Fitzgerald was in it. Perhaps even Theresa Wright. At the end George crumpling in grief next to Emily's grave was devastating.

As film is such a different medium and Mr Harris gives the film such a fine review I might see Our Town again after all these decades. I wish though the original ending had been kept. Since the play was such an enormous popular success and played throughout the country would the film audience of the time if the direction had been sensitive enough have found the original ending too much to bear? Even then people liked a good cry.
I do wish there was more info on Thornton Wilder's reasoning for the change. And fellow screenplay contributors Frank Craven, Harry Chandlee, producer Sol Lesser and director Sam Wood as well. I have searched but not found anything more on it. I have not read anything about any of them regretting or lamenting the change they had resisted or argued against, for example.

I do think they got about as close as anyone has in "having it both ways" in that if they blinked a couple of times some audience members might not even realize or remember there was a last second reversal. Somewhat similar to the way many first time viewers were left with the impression that Rocky won the bout at the end of that movie.

They certainly drive home the idea that the original play outcome IS the case through 99% of that final Act. I would imagine tears were flowing pretty freely in movie theaters at the time. If so, then Wilder's message via Emily was still well and surely delivered regardless of those 2-3 shots, imo.

It's almost as if the movie could have and indeed might have been preview tested with the original ending and it was determined audiences were far more angered than enriched by the original ending as this movie was presented. So a couple of additional shots were tacked on near the end. I suppose we will never know.

Another shout out to ClassicFlix for this greatly improved presentation. And much appreciation for the English subtitle option, which as far as I know had never been included in any previous version. I was finally able to watch it with someone for whom English is a second or third language and she generally gets it a tad better by reading it than hearing it as spoken so quickly in many American movies. She loved it and cried even more than I did 😉
 
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Noel Aguirre

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Yet another film I was extremely disappointed in with the TCM print presented last summer. Now ordered and I think I need a job in my retirement to pay for all of these wonderful new treasures! Please give us Abel Gance’s Napoleon soon!!
 

cinefan

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My preorder from Amazon that I placed on September 5th has finally shipped and is supposed to arrive today.

I know, I know -- I should have preordered directly from ClassicFlix and I would have had it long ago and better supported the label. The free shipping and pre-order price guarantee from Amazon is always hard for me to resist when I'm already paying for Prime -- not to mention the 5% kickback I get at Amazon using my Prime Visa.

Anyway, I hope the delay getting it from Amazon is indicative of high demand for the disc.

I've seen the film before but only, naturally, in one of the cruddy copies circulating. A while back I bought the DVD of the stage production starring Paul Newman that was filmed for PBS but I haven't watched it yet (I think I saw it when it was new although memories are dim). I'm interested to watch the two takes on the play in proximity but not, I think, back-to-back. I'm aware of course of the change in the ending discussed in this thread.
 

battlebeast

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Just got my order from Deep Discount and I’ve watched it. The picture was great! The sound had a lot of hiss, but I could understand everything clearly.

This is a step up from the previous Blu ray, and definitely better than everything else.

Could you guys locate a print of THE PIED PIPER or STATE FAIR? (“Thunder only happens when it’s raining…”)
 

bujaki

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Just got my order from Deep Discount and I’ve watched it. The picture was great! The sound had a lot of hiss, but I could understand everything clearly.

This is a step up from the previous Blu ray, and definitely better than everything else.

Could you guys locate a print of THE PIED PIPER or STATE FAIR? (“Thunder only happens when it’s raining…”)
For The Pied Piper and State Fair you have to ask Disney, the worst company as regards vintage film releases (especially Fox titles).
 

Robert Harris

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I was hoping they were public Domain… ;(
Lest any members here post to youtube, PD isn’t as simple as it may seem, especially for works by foreign authors, which are not based upon date of publication, but rather life of author plus 70.

We’ve been playing wack-a-mole with people posting Napoleon. Some getting rather indignant and argumentative when their posts are removed.
 

mskaye

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I do wish there was more info on Thornton Wilder's reasoning for the change. And fellow screenplay contributors Frank Craven, Harry Chandlee, producer Sol Lesser and director Sam Wood as well. I have searched but not found anything more on it. I have not read anything about any of them regretting or lamenting the change they had resisted or argued against, for example.

I do think they got about as close as anyone has in "having it both ways" in that if they blinked a couple of times some audience members might not even realize or remember there was a last second reversal. Somewhat similar to the way many first time viewers were left with the impression that Rocky won the bout at the end of that movie.

They certainly drive home the idea that the original play outcome IS the case through 99% of that final Act. I would imagine tears were flowing pretty freely in movie theaters at the time. If so, then Wilder's message via Emily was still well and surely delivered regardless of those 2-3 shots, imo.

It's almost as if the movie could have and indeed might have been preview tested with the original ending and it was determined audiences were far more angered than enriched by the original ending as this movie was presented. So a couple of additional shots were tacked on near the end. I suppose we will never know.

Another shout out to ClassicFlix for this greatly improved presentation. And much appreciation for the English subtitle option, which as far as I know had never been included in any previous version. I was finally able to watch it with someone for whom English is a second or third language and she generally gets it a tad better by reading it than hearing it as spoken so quickly in many American movies. She loved it and cried even more than I did 😉
I'm watching it now and it looks beautiful. What a great film. The visual conception of this film is the work of true masters - Menzies, Glennon, Wood. Every frame is inspired. All the actors are beautifully directed - from casting to line readings to the blocking which is never cliche or prosaic. And Aaron Copland's score makes your heart melt. A high compliment - it has moments that feel like it was directed by John Ford.
 
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Howard Tom

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I do wish there was more info on Thornton Wilder's reasoning for the change. And fellow screenplay contributors Frank Craven, Harry Chandlee, producer Sol Lesser and director Sam Wood as well. I have searched but not found anything more on it. I have not read anything about any of them regretting or lamenting the change they had resisted or argued against, for example.

This TCM article explains Wilder's agreement with the changed ending:

Our Town
 

roxy1927

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vincent parisi
I wonder if Martha Scott who was so close to the material had any thoughts about it in her later in life interviews.
 

Cineman

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David B.
This TCM article explains Wilder's agreement with the changed ending:

Our Town
Ah, thank you so much for that link! I had not seen that or read it anywhere else before.

Right or wrong, that is my feeling about it as well for that movie version of the story as presented with all the real sets and props, close ups, music soundtrack and so on working on us.

However, the original ending in a movie version that simply photographs the play as it is generally presented on stage would probably not be as grim, and for the reasons expressed by Mr. Wilder.

In fact, I have seen a couple of those filmed versions, including the one with Paul Newman playing the stage manager, as well as other live stage versions and that final Act has never moved me to tears and profound self-reflection nearly as much as it does in this 1940 movie version every time I watch it.

This movie version simply drives home the play's main purpose and message as expressed by Wilder through Emily in her return visit to that one rather ordinary day so thoroughly, clearly and so much more personally and emotionally that, about as literally as a metaphor might get, hammering that final nail would have felt like cruel overkill.

Which is not a line that risks being crossed very easily with live actors on a nearly bare stage miming their business with the props and the stage manager breaking the fourth wall so blatantly and often.
 
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Stephen_J_H

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Lest any members here post to youtube, PD isn’t as simple as it may seem, especially for works by foreign authors, which are not based upon date of publication, but rather life of author plus 70.

We’ve been playing wack-a-mole with people posting Napoleon. Some getting rather indignant and argumentative when their posts are removed.
So 2051. That's a ways off
 

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