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Interview Exclusive Interview: Robert A. Harris & Kevin Koster on the Restoration of My Fair Lady

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Neil Middlemiss, Sep 27, 2015.

  1. GerardoHP

    GerardoHP Supporting Actor

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    Robert Harris, you rule.


    My Fair Lady is required viewing about once a year in my home.


    Just one question - the new Bluray will be 2.20:1, right? I don't seem to be able to find any reliable info on this.
     
  2. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    Measure the screencaps in post #1. They are all 1920 X 872. :D
     
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  3. Harrison Shinn

    Harrison Shinn Stunt Coordinator

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    Truly a wonderful article. I await its arrival!
     
  4. Michel_Hafner

    Michel_Hafner Screenwriter

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    Having seen Dolby Vision in a cinema lately and on a reference monitor (a process that adds High Dynamic Range and Rec2020 to the menu for film making and film restoration) I would be interested to hear Mr. Harris take on this. Will we see one day MFL or Spartacus or Vertigo etc. in HDR and Rec2020? Or is this a definitive no because the films did not look that way when they were released?

    Dolby Vision is a fantastic system for cinemas, by the way. Finally real blacks and very bright highlights and colours as saturated as one could wish for. The home cinema version with UHD Blu Ray should be a jaw dropping affair.
     
  5. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    My opinion. HDR is a plus for modern films. For older productions, it could easily open a can of worms, never to be closed.

    Many colorists have problems dealing with older elements. Add differential fade by layer, individual alien layers replaced to 100%, differential fade at perfs, splices, general oxidation, and chemical damage.

    No interest in adding anything to the mix.

    Difficult enough getting a proper image.

    RAH
     
  6. Dick

    Dick Lead Actor
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    A wonderful, informative interview. Many thanks to all involved!


    When theatrical re-releases are being presented "Nation-wide" (the advertiser's phrase, not mine), they often seem to forget that there is a state called Maine, which for me is roughly 180 miles from the nearest Mass. show location. There ought to be at least one Cinema in my state that has the capacity for 4k projection. Kinda sucks.


    In my opinion, MY FAIR LADY won the Oscar because it was a prestigious Warner Bros. production, not because it was a better film than MARY POPPINS (which I think is superior and infinitely more entertaining).


    I and my siblings were brought to see this as one of our very rare "family" movie events at the Mt. Kisco Theater, New York in 1964, and I was bored to tears, having already seen it on Broadway (not, unfortunately, with the original cast), where I was mesmerized. I have since gained an appreciation for the film, but to this day wish that Jack Warner had trusted in Julie Andrews selling power enough to hire her for the lead role. I can't imagine the film wouldn't have won an Oscar anyway, but probably she'd have not done MARY POPPINS if she had been cast here, but we'd have lost a magnificent performance in the latter, so I suppose all is well. Hepburn is beautiful as always, but her cockney sounds false and she doesn't play a flower girl especially well. Her performance does greatly improve as the film progresses, but Andrews would have nailed it from the first moment. I know, water under the bridge...just sayin'. And, actually, BECKET and DR. STRANGELOVE were the better films anyway. But prestigious musical productions still held big sway with the Academy at the time.


    I'm looking forward the upcoming Blu-ray. I suspect my appreciation for the film will double if it's as described above.
     
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  7. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Cinematographer

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    Mr. Harris,


    Many thanks for all the cinematic treasures you've rescued for posterity. I will never forget seeing MY FAIR LADY in 70mm for the first time in the 1990s after decades of 35mm reissue prints and 1:33:1 TV presentations. Are you mentoring a younger generation to the nuances involved in handling these older elements? I only hope that the skills needed for handling film don't become lost in the rush to the digital future.
     
  8. GerardoHP

    GerardoHP Supporting Actor

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    :D :D :D :D
     
  9. PMF

    PMF Producer

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    Greetings RAH,


    For those of us who are making our perspective pilgrimages to the October 18th viewing of "MFL"...


    How can we have clarified for us as to which theater is presenting your restoration in 4K? Many theaters, nowadays, makes it difficult to get beyond an automated recording. And of those theaters who do pick up the phone, we are most assuredly faced with individuals who are clueless when asking about the difference between a 2K or 4K showing.


    Any guidelines as to how we can be certain?


    Once again, thank you for your lifetime commitment to film preservation.


    - PMF
     
  10. PMF

    PMF Producer

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    Question #2 for RAH,


    If the quality of 1964's sound design has been matched or surpassed, are you able to estimate at what percentage that may be?


    - PMF
     
  11. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Impossible. The sound design is not being surpassed. It is only being presented via newer technology, which allows transparency of the original recordings.


    RAH
     
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  12. PMF

    PMF Producer

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    Thanks for clarifying.


    True, it can not be surpassed; the technology can only reveal that which was already there; but what we will be hearing is something that has not been experienced since the Roadshow sound designs of 1964. Right?


    If so, then to my mind (or ear) this would be, in and of itself, "surpassing"...if you know what I mean. :)
     
  13. Rob W

    Rob W Supporting Actor

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    For those of you concerned with 4K vs 2K, let me give you an overview of the exhibition situation concerning 4K, as I understand it.


    When the digital conversion began, the initial machines were limited to 2K only. There are plenty of these machines out there and will remain there for the foreseeable future. Later generation machines were 4K upgradeable ; installed as 2K machines but ready for a 4K upgrade that was still not available at the time. Those who began the conversion later rather than sooner would have a leg up on the ability to go 4K if they chose the later generation machines.


    When the newer machines and 4K upgrades became available, those who chose to install them did so fairly selectively, usually meaning only one or two screens in the most prominent locations. Many of them were done in the Premium Large Format screens ( every chain has a different proprietary name for their in-house deluxe presentation auditoriums with upgraded sound and picture ) It's possible that some chains embraced 4K on a much wider level; if anyone is aware of one it would be interesting to hear about it.


    The simple fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of features being delivered today are 2K-only. It's not an exaggeration to suggest that less than 10-15% of DCP's are delivered with 4K content. You can understand why exhibition hasn't deemed it necessary to roll out more 4K that is going to go unused for the most part.


    Being that 4K has been mostly installed in premium and the very largest auditoriums, it's unlikely that most locations will be running MFL on those 4K screens, which will be undoubtedly be running Crimson Peak, Bridge of Spies or Goosebumps the week of the screenings. Theatres use these screenings as an alternative source of revenue, but they are never booked to supercede the top releases of the week that will generate the most revenue. I'm sure there are a couple of high-profile locations that may be entirely 4K; but for the purposes of our discussion what I say is accurate. Corrections are of course, welcomed.


    That being said, would I turn down a chance to see MFL in a real theatre running 'only' 2K ? Not in a million years. The digital revolution has allowed these classic films a whole new audience across North America, as studios would never have 100-200 prints of a library title like MFL available for a nationwide event of two or three showings. And if they did, they would certainly not be pristine, as will every 2K DCP of MFL.
     
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  14. PMF

    PMF Producer

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    I wouldn't turn my back on a 2K theatrical showing of "MFL", either.


    But, as I asked in Post #49, I wonder how we can capture just which of these theaters are showing "MFL" in 4K; as I would make the pilgrimage. Is such information usually identified within the marketing? Take for instance, the www.myfairlady50.com website. Do they have an icon to specify which theaters in which states are 4K ready for this event?
     
  15. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I'm informed that the MFL50 Site will differentiate 4k MFL theaters later today.

    RAH
     
  16. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    I liked That Woman better when it was called Song of the South and So Dear to My Heart and better still when they called it Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Pete's Dragon and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, three films that invalidate the glib, reductive "Walt's dead, now it sucks" excuses some have used against the studio's post-1966 output.* Even the non-animated musicals the studio made were better despite the post-production butchery they were subjected to because the people Walt himself trusted to take care of the studio in his absence let him down in that respect if less so in others.


    But for that tragic waste of Walt Disney's time and money, I do not blame the actors; most of them did good or even great work elsewhere, even in films from the same director, writer, and producer. I do not blame the personnel who made the film despite being owned by a corporate sibling of Paramount.** I blame the source material, as none of the other adaptations have done anything for me either. The way its studio has treated the other films as redheaded stepchildren (literally and figuratively in some cases) and glorified this overrated, overpraised, unwatchable mess and its fatuous view of human nature is just sickening. Sickening. And even Hollywood's over-budget attempts to capitalize on its fluke success were more entertaining.


    The one place I do not take my disgust with That Woman, its very existence and everything it represents is to threads actually devoted to it for people who like it. I stay away from them. This is why I do not understand why people come into a thread about My Fair Lady to denigrate the film and praise That Woman.


    My Fair Lady deserved its Oscars. It wasn't just a Warner Bros. prestige production, it's the Warner Bros. prestige production, despite now being owned by a corporate sibling of Paramount**. Jack Warner was practically the only man in Hollywood who believed "if it worked on Broadway, it'll work in Hollywood," and if anyone else had made this into film, they likely would have butchered it or vulgarized it or made it significantly less of a film than the one we have now. The movie captures about 95% of the original show's text*** and 99% of its score when historically, most adaptations are lucky to keep 50% of the original source material. He cast Audrey Hepburn because he had faith in her ability to play the part. Remember that the little bits and pieces between the songs called "dialogue" matter just as much. And as for her Cockney dialect (the word "accent" is incorrect), she learned it from an actual Cockney (Stanley Holloway) while Mr. Van Dyke learned it from an Irishman (J. Pat O'Malley). Audrey's is closer to the real thing and far, far less grating on the ear. But frankly, Oliver! and Bedknobs and Broomsticks were the closest to the real thing out of any of the major film musicals of this time period in that respect. And Audrey was better at lip-syncing some one else's singing voice than Debbie Reynolds was at doing the same to her own voice in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, yet Debbie gets an Oscar nomination and Audrey doesn't. So she'll just have to settle for the love and adoration of millions around the world in the role. And if anybody else but Rex Harrison had played Higgins, can you imagine the outcry then?

    *More like "at least the College-of-Cardinals system put in place after Walt's death didn't order them to destroy the things they arbitrarily ordered removed from the film" in the cases when that happened.
    **A fair trade when you consider Warner Bros. ended up with the rights to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a Paramount release in its 1971 debut, when they bought out David L. Wolper's company.

    ***And what percentage of that was actually lifted directly from Shaw?
     
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  17. PMF

    PMF Producer

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    OMG !!! Of course "Oliver!" was closest to the real thing, in terms of their use of dialects. The entire cast was British. :D
     
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  18. PMF

    PMF Producer

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    I should clarify my earlier post (#50), as I realize my question was based more on my personal experiences with "My Fair Lady"; rather than what so many others may have experienced.


    In 1964, I saw a 35mm presentation at my local theater.


    In 1994, I saw the restoration in Toronto.


    So, in re-phrasing my sound design question, will the current restoration "surpass" what I heard within those two presentations?


    I can only image this to be the case.


    Thanks, again,

    PMF
     
  19. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    updated:


    Theater
    Name
    Street
    City
    State
    THE CASTRO
    429 Castro St
    San Francisco
    CA
    NATIONAL AMUSEMENTS FAIRFIELD
    41 Blackrock Turnpike
    Fairfield
    CT
    PARAGON OCEAN WALK
    250 N. Atlantic Avenue
    Daytona Beach
    FL
    NATIONAL AMUSEMENTS LEGACY
    670 Legacy Place
    Dedham
    MA
    NATIONAL AMUSEMENTS RANDOLPH
    73 MAZZEO DRIVE
    Randolph
    MA
    NATIONAL AMUSEMENTS REVERE
    565 SQUIRE ROAD
    Revere
    MA
    NATIONAL AMUSEMENTS WORCESTER NORTH
    135 Brooks Street
    Worcester
    MA
    SHOWCASE CINEMAS LOWELL
    32 Reiss Avenue
    Lowell
    MA
    SHOWCASE SUPER LUX
    55 Boylston Street
    Chestnut Hill
    MA
    PARAGON KENTLANDS 10
    629 Center Point Way
    Gaithersburg
    MD
    ALAMO KALAMAZOO
    180 Portage St.
    Kalamazoo
    MI
    PARAGON CHATEAU
    3450 East Circle Drive NE
    Rochester
    MN
    PARAGON ODYSSEY
    14401 Burnhaven Drive
    Burnsville
    MN
    ALAMO MAINSTREET
    1400 Main Street
    Kansas City
    MO
    NATIONAL AMUSEMENTS EDGEWATER
    339 River Road
    Edgewater
    NJ
    ALAMO YONKERS
    2548 Central Park Avenue
    Yonkers
    NY
    NATIONAL AMUSEMENTS CITY CENTER
    19 Mamaroneck Ave
    White Plains
    NY
    NATIONAL AMUSEMENTS FARMINGDALE
    1001 Broadhollow Road
    Farmingdale
    NY
    NATIONAL AMUSEMENTS ISLAND
    185 Morris Ave
    Holtsville
    NY
    ZURICH ONEIDA
    2152 Glenwood Shopping Plaza
    Oneida
    NY
    ZURICH PITTSFORD
    3349 Monroe Ave.
    Rochester
    NY
    ZURICH SOUTHSIDE MALL
    5006 StateHighway 23
    Oneonta
    NY
    NATIONAL AMUSEMENTS SPRINGDALE 18 CINEMA DELUX
    12064 Springfield Pike
    Cincinnati
    OH
    SHOWCASE CINEMAS WARWICK
    1200 Quaker Lane
    Warwick
    RI
    ALAMO MASON PARK
    531 South Mason Road
    Katy
    TX
    ALAMO RICHARDSON
    100 South Central Expressway #14
    Richardson
    TX
    ALAMO VINTAGE PARK
    114 Vintage Park Blvd., Suite J
    Houston
    TX
    ALAMO ONE LOUDOUN
    20575 East Hampton Plaza
    Ashburn
    VA
    PARAGON VILLAGE
    51 TOWNE CENTRE BLVD
    Fredericksburg
    VA
     
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  20. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member

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    Thank you SIR!
     
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