Billion Dollar Brain - Music Rights Cleared?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by ChristopherM, Jul 27, 2004.

  1. ChristopherM

    ChristopherM Stunt Coordinator

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    UK websites are reporting that MGM will release an R2 DVD of "Billion Dollar Brain" on 6 September 2004. Presumably the studio has either secured the music rights, or else the film has been redubbed. Does anybody know which?

    In his book "Starring Michael Caine" David Bishop reported that a video release of "Billion Dollar Brain" seemed unlikely because of music clearance problems with the Beatles song "A Hard Day's Night". This was bad news for Harry Palmer fans like myself. While not a great movie by any standards, "Brain" is the third of the five Palmer films and the only one not yet available on DVD.

    I for one would love to complete the collection, and would even prefer an appropriate redub (if necessary for legal purposes only, of course) to no version at all.

    (Note to Administrator - Please move thread to Regional DVD area if more appropriate, but I thought the news might be of broader interest)
     
  2. LarryDavenport

    LarryDavenport Cinematographer

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    Both Image and A&E cleared the music rights for "All You Need Is Love" in the last two episodes of The Prisoner, so I don't know why MGM (or whomever has the US rights) can't get AHDN cleared.
     
  3. LarryDavenport

    LarryDavenport Cinematographer

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    I see Billion Dollar Brain is due out from MGM on October 6 (Yeah!)
     
  4. Guido Bibra

    Guido Bibra Stunt Coordinator

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    The R2 disc has the beginning of the offending scene (with A Hard Day's Night playing) removed - about 40-45 seconds have been cut. Nothing very important, but a missing scene is a missing scene. It's possible that the upcoming R1 will be the same... but let's wait for reviews.
     
  5. LarryDavenport

    LarryDavenport Cinematographer

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    I'll still buy it. It's only $10.
     
  6. Guido Bibra

    Guido Bibra Stunt Coordinator

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    There's no reason not to buy the new R1 just because part of the scene might be missing! I certainly didn't want to discourage anyone to buy it - on the contrary I think it's great that the movie is finally going to be available in R1.
     
  7. walter o

    walter o Supporting Actor

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    Considering it was never even released on video in the states, it's a miracle we are getting a widescreen DVD release. But why cut the scene? Couldnt they rescored it?
     
  8. LarryDavenport

    LarryDavenport Cinematographer

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    At this point we don't even know if the scene was cut.
     
  9. PatH

    PatH Second Unit

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    5 Harry Palmer films? Please list. Thanks!

    PatH
     
  10. PhilipG

    PhilipG Cinematographer

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    Never heard of the IMDB, Pat? [​IMG]

    The IPCRESS File (1965)
    Funeral in Berlin (1966)
    Billion Dollar Brain (1967)
    Bullet to Beijing (1996)
    Midnight in St. Petersburg (1996)
     
  11. Jeffrey Nelson

    Jeffrey Nelson Screenwriter

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    According to Guido Bibra above, it was indeed cut, at least for the R2, which certainly doesn't bode well for the R1 release, does it?
     
  12. RichardCrowther

    RichardCrowther Stunt Coordinator

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    A sum total of 31 seconds is removed from the R2 version, comprising six shots and the beginning of a seventh.

    The footage lost is as follows:

    The edit begins at 42m 27s (at 25fps), once Palmer has knocked on the cabin door to gain entry. We should cut inside at this point and see and hear the following:

    Shot 1. - A Hard Days Night blares on the soundtrack as we are confronted with a close-up of a TV set. We then pull back to reveal Palmer entering the room.

    Shot 2. - Close-up of the "A Hard Days Night" LP on a turntable. We pull back from this to see a chicken flapping about and two men arguing over two LPs - Rubber Soul and A Hard Days Night.

    Shot 3. - Cut back to Palmer witnessing this in bemusement.

    Shot 4. - Cut to close-up introduction of the man we will come to know as Basil, who is sitting at a table and turns to greet Palmer.

    Shot 5. - Cut back to a reaction from Palmer.

    Shot 6. - Cut back to the two men, who now appear to be fighting over a rabbit one of them is holding.

    Opening of Shot 7. - Palmer begins to move over to where Basil is sitting, at which point we hear the sound of a stylus being removed from a record, and the music abruptly cutting off, just as a chicken flaps across the screen and startles Palmer.

    The DVD rejoins the shot at this point, at what would be 42m58s, as Palmer walks gingerly up to the man sat at the table and asks if he is Basil.

    Nothing substantial is lost, but the sequence is a wonderfully surreal moment and, without Basil's first welcoming gestures it does seem a tad odd that Palmer would select the right man first time, given the number of people in the room.

    So, as can be seen, it would very difficult to redub the shots in question since it would mean that 1) at the very least the second shot would have to be removed, since it clearly shows that A Hard Days Night is on the turntable and 2) it would mean unpicking the other sounds effects in the sequence, then overlaying them on to the newly chosen song. Too much work, I suspect, for a title not likely to sell more than a few thousand copies.





    Because neither Image nor A&E needed to clear it. Some enterprising individual cleared the track in question (which actually only featured in the last episode of the series) in perpetuity at the time the programme was made, meaning it can be released with the song intact forever. The same situation surrounds an episode of UFO, which contains The Beatles track "Get Back", again, cleared in perpetuity, so there will never be any question of it having to be redubbed. If only this were the case for every film and TV series.
     
  13. walter o

    walter o Supporting Actor

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    Does this scene remain intact in the old UK pal tape or the japanese LD from WB?
     
  14. Philo MacDuff

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    Has anyone been lucky enough to receive this early? I'd like to know if its cut and if the opening credits has that brief but noticeable wobbly sound in the music like the R2 disc. Also, if you could post a few caps I'd like to compare the two. Thanks.
     
  15. RichardCrowther

    RichardCrowther Stunt Coordinator

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    Yes, there really was no excuse for that wobbly bit in the opening title music. The BBC have been showing a version for years without the wobble in. Mind you, the BBC have been showing a version with a much stronger-sounding soundtrack all round for years, too.[​IMG]
     
  16. Peter M Fitzgerald

    Peter M Fitzgerald Screenwriter

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    My copy of B$B is in transit from Deep Discount DVD, and I'll report on whether the scene with the Beatles music is cut and/or any music wobbling in the opening credits, if someone else doesn't do so before me.

    I don't have the ability to do screen caps, though. I'd imagine that DVD Beaver will have some available sooner or later.
     
  17. Peter M Fitzgerald

    Peter M Fitzgerald Screenwriter

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    The R1 edition of BILLION DOLLAR BRAIN arrived in my mailbox today. A quick check revealed that the small portion of the scene with the Beatles tune (about 44 minutes into the film) is missing.

    Originally, when Michael Caine's "Harry Palmer" visits a Russian resistance group in an old barn in the U.S.S.R., a TV is playing a Soviet militaristic scene, but the audio is drowned out by the last bit of "A Hard Days Night", playing on a nearby record player. During this, some resistance members trade live chickens for smuggled Beatles albums. Palmer's main contact beckons him over, and the Beatles music stops with a needle scratch. I know this, due to a DVD-R I made of an old, local TV broadcast of an edited, 16mm P&S version of the film, which has this scene intact. I pulled this out to compare with the new DVD.

    On the Sony/MGM DVD, Palmer knocks on the barn door, is let in, and it jumps to the needle scratch.

    Though I'd prefer that the whole scene played intact, the few seconds of the scene that are lost, due to the music rights issue, aren't really crucial, and the edit is pretty seamless.

    As for the "music wobble" during the opening credits, I didn't detect anything like that, other than a split-second audio glitch/drop-out at the 5:18 mark, when the "co-starring Ed Begley" credit appears. Unless that's what's being referred to.

    Anyway, this DVD is, at the very least, a vast improvement over my aforementioned DVD-R, which, even with the "Beatles" scene uncut, is still a good 10 minutes shorter than this official DVD (and this airing was from before the era of time-compressed broadcasts).

    The DVD edition of the film runs 107:45 (including the modern MGM logo at the front and end). English audio only, with optional English and French subtitles. No trailer for BILLION DOLLAR BRAIN, but the disc has a "Play Trailers" option, that gives you trailers for the Denzel Washington flick, OUT OF TIME, and for the Rock's remake of WALKING TALL.
     
  18. Philo MacDuff

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    Thanks very much Peter.

    That's a shame. I had some small hope Sony/MGM might release it uncut. There's no dropout during the Begley credit on the R2. The audio distortion occurs during the Film Editor credit. Sounds like an old tape thats been stretched. The other foreign language tracks sound fine though. I'm used to seeing it on an old Nth generation pan and scan dupe. It was amazing to see it widescreen and looking so clean but every time that scene rolls around I'm always thinking of the cut. Sad not get a chance to hear Ken Russell's comments on this one.
     
  19. David_Blackwell

    David_Blackwell Screenwriter

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    I think they should have just cut the audio to have the 44 seconds play in silence (or steal a piece of music from elsewhere in the film without putting the sound effects back in and the dialogue being presented by subtitles).

    Just a thought.

    Too bad those seconds are missing due to music costs.
     
  20. RichardCrowther

    RichardCrowther Stunt Coordinator

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    That simply wouldn't be possible. As I state above, one of the shots clearly shows that it is the album A Hard Days Night playing on the turntable. If another, non-Beatles, track had been dubbed over this, it would have looked odd, to say the least. If nothing else, that particular shot would have to be cut, otherwise the scene wouldn't make sense with another piece of music over it, and once you've started cutting, you migth just as well save time and money removing the whole of the offending sequence, which is the course of action MGM chose.
     

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