"A Star Is Born" Garland in 6k resolution

MatthewA

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Here's the thumbnail version:

"A Star is Born" premiered at 181 minutes, but then cut down by 30 minutes because Jack L. Warner thought a shorter film would make more money. The cuts were made without the approval or assistance of director George Cukor and these cuts ravaged the film.

In the early 1980s, film historian Ron Haver persuaded WB to restore the cut version. The multichannel tracks was long gone (and sadly, this was not the only WB film this happened to; Calamity Jane, Giant, and Auntie Mame are among the sad list of stereo films now only extant in mono), but a 151-minute print with 4 track stereo (with very few high ends) was located. A search for cut scenes began. They were able to find a mono 181-minute soundtrack, and looped in the cut scenes. For about 5 minutes where footage absolutely, positively could not be found, B&W stills were used instead. Later in the 1980s, supposedly WB got in contact with a former employee who said he had not one, but two IB Tech 35mm prints that were totally uncut, but the deal to acquire them fell thru. I suppose that when Time Warner merged with Warner Communications and with Ron Haver's death in 1993, the drive for futher work died too. Hopefully they will make one more try or another search through the vaults.

There are plenty of films that may benefit from the reinstatement of cut scenes, but those aren't the ones that get it, and the superfluous "director's cuts" often ruin it for them.

More discussion here:

http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htf/...A+Star+is+Born

Read Ron Haver's book on the making and reconstruction of the film. It's out of print, but I found a used copy on Amazon. I recommend it.
 

Jon Lidolt

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Over the years there have been persistent rumors that a film collector somewhere has a complete print. Does anyone know if this is indeed fact or simply wishful thinking?
 

Jon Lidolt

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I'm rather doubtful that anyone would have a dye transfer Technicolor print of the uncut A Star is Born. According to the Ronald Haver book on the subject, Technicolor printed the original run on Eastmancolor. Only the cut version was printed in dye transfer. So it seems to me that even if this phantom collector does have a full length print, it would now look like a B&W film projected through a pink filter. Mind you, these restored segments could always be colorized to match the rest of the film.
 

Jack Cleveland

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Add me to the list of consumers who will buy this film whenever it is improved upon- It is certainly Garland's penultimate performance, and if they can continue to improve the look of this classic, I will be in line to buy my copy.

I only wish that if there is indeed a complete 3 hour Roadshow print out there somewhere that it could come to light so we can all see the film complete and restored. There is no excuse for a private film collector to sit on something and not share it with the world. It is the belief of many that had the film not been cut as it was, Judy Garland would have won the Academy Award she so richly deserved.
 

marknyc

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I have heard the rumors of the legendary uncut prints before and I absolutely do not believe them. Are you telling me that WB would spend all the time and money to do a 6K re-transfer of the existing version when they know that a complete print exists?! Thanks to Disney Studios, copyright protections now last 100 years, so any prints that exist anywhere are legally the property of WB, no matter how the person got them. If these prints exist, WB could simply seize them, the same way the "Lose That Long Face" number was taken from a collector. Can you think of any reason WB wouldn't do that? Because the guy used to work there? I don't think so - the money they would make off such a release would far outweigh any loyalty to a former employee.

To me, this just lands in the pile with all the other "lost film" stories, including the one that the deleted numbers from "The King and I" exist in the Philippines or that someone saw them at a screening in Rochester, NY in the 1970s. Yeah, right.
 

Robin9

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Holding the copyright is not the same as owning individual prints. If this rumoured print does exist, it belongs to the owner. He does not have the right to screen it in public or to sell or lease it to a DVD producing company but the physical entity is still his property - assuming of course that he obtained it legally. Warners do not have the right to seize this print any more than they have the right to confiscate your DVD of A Star Is Born.
 

marknyc

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Tell it to Roddy or the many other film collectors who have had their homes raided - including a friend of mine who collected only 16mm! Owning these prints is completely illegal, and the only reason private collections exist is because either the studios don't know about them or don't care. In this case, you can bet WB would care if they knew!

One more thing. According to the legend:

"Later in the 1980s, supposedly WB got in contact with a former employee who said he had not one, but two IB Tech 35mm prints that were totally uncut..."

If WB knew about these, then Haver also knew, since he didn't die until 1993. Are you telling me that the man who devoted years of his life to restoring this film, and who even wrote a book about the attempt, wouldn't have done everything possible to get these prints, including telling everyone that they existed? Of course he would have.

The story has all the classic elements of an urban legend: not one, but two prints (making the collector crueler for not sharing one), juicy details (Tech !B prints) making the item even more desirable, and good provenance (a former employee), making the story more believable.

I trust that Haver did everything possible to restore this film, and the version we have now is the most complete we'll ever see. Too bad, but thank god he did what he did!

Mark
 

MatthewA

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I'm just repeating what I heard, and I have no way of verifying it. This is third or fourth hand rumor at best, but anything is possible, considering what has been uncovered lately. It is also possible that WB could have kept Haver out of the loop, or the attempts to contact this mysterious collector could have been after he died. The dates at which this transpired are unclear.

I assumed that these rumored complete prints were IB Tech because the film was printed at Technicolor. I apologize for giving anyone false impressions.

WB is one of the most film collector-unfriendly studios out there. For rep houses attempting to show one of their films, they do not allow you to use collector prints when one of their own is unavailable. If that is the case, you must find a film archive print and obtain their permission. If the rumors are true, I could certainly see why one would be reluctant to work with them.
 

marknyc

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Urban legends are always third- or fourth-hand, and when you try to research them, you're never able to find the actual source.

Look, I'm not getting down on anyone here. It's just that we all would really like to see an uncut print of ASIB, as well as many other legendary lost films. That leads to rumours and legends, which unfortunately are almost always not true.

In his book, Haver writes about attempts to follow-up on numerous film collector leads (including the great story about the collector who tells Lorna Luft that "I have what you want" and then proceeds to unspool a black-and-white print of "Good News"), so I'm sure he exhausted all possible leads - no one could've been more obsessed with this film than he was!

BTW, here's the Roddy McDowall story:

"In 1974, the FBI raided the home of McDowall and seized the actor's collection of films and television series in the course of an investigation of movie piracy and copyright infringement. His collection consisted of 160 16 mm prints and over 1,000 videocassettes, at a time before the era of videotapes when there was no legal aftermarket for films (copying or selling prints obtained from studios without owning the copyright was illegal). No charges were brought against McDowall."
 
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MielR

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I thought that McDowell was threatened with jail time unless he named names.

I didn't know that 16mm prints were illegal, too. Didn't people used to rent 16mm prints for home viewing before the days of videotape?
 

Charles Ellis

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Well, he did name names, though reluctantly. Fortunately everyone knew that the FBI was twisting his arm, so he held on to his friends, though it was a painful episode in his life, as the collection of old films he had cherished was taken from him. Like Debbie Reynolds, Roddy was a film star who was also a film fan. He befriended a lot of people in the industry and knew all sorts of intimate secrets, which is why he stipulated in his will that his diaries not be released to the public until decades after his death- or so the story goes.
 

Jack Theakston

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There is a great deal of misinformation in this thread about film collecting. Owning a 35mm feature is not illegal. MANY prints were sold over the years, quite legally, out of studio warehouses that were cleared, dead accounts at labs, and personal prints given to staff. Few studios have a legal leg to stand on with this claim, since they can't prove the provenance of any print. This is why they've resorted to intimidation with collectors. Same applies to 16mm. What IS illegal is how many modern prints are obtained by collectors today, the various ways I don't wish to discuss here.

WB has been particularly bad with collectors, so I can understand the disincentive for collectors to be sharing with them. The truth is that their policy on this is based on an event that happened some twenty years ago and I doubt that anyone in the department has been around long enough to remember it. As of right now, there is still existing STAR IS BORN footage that has yet to be incorporated into the film because a collector is holding out (I happen to know who he is and can verify this story is true). WB knows this, but can't legally do anything, or probably don't care enough.

As for 6k, as RAH said above-- I don't think that 6k or 4k will make much difference, but using the highest quality scan can accomplish a few things, including better color rendition. STAR IS BORN has a lot of issues as we all know, but definition is one of those uncorrectable ones, brought about by the sub-par anamorphic lenses that were used to shoot it.

As for the 1937 film, it's been fully restored to its former glory by UCLA. Here's hoping WB will be releasing this edition with their new one.
 

MatthewA

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Jack,

I'm torn about what to think about what you've just written. On one hand, I'm glad that the footage exists and that I am not spreading phony baloney. But on the other hand I am deeply saddened that it is unlikely that the footage will ever be restored to the film anytime soon. (assuming these are not outtakes that were never supposed to be in it, but truly the last piece of the puzzle, so to speak).

Has WB ever dealt with collectors directly before? I know they found cut musical numbers from 1962's Gypsy that were in no condition to put back into the film.
 

MatthewA

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The word I would use is hypocrisy. There's nothing stopping Warner from offering an olive branch to this guy except their own arrogance. I don't know anything about this collector's character to comment on it.
 

Russell G

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I'm completely confused... which collector where they mean too? Is it known that a collector has the cut sequences and is just being difficult (for whatever reason)?

I need more stories told to keep up with all this! :S
 

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