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IT's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World Restoration (1 Viewer)

Art_AD

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It's been a while since we heard anything, has there been any change in the status of the restoration of "Mad World"? What about the Alamo, any news on that films restoation? Do we need to champion MGM for the cause?
 

Peter Kline

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They're working on it (IAMMMMW). It takes time (and $$). Robert Harris can respond if he's around.
 

Ronald Epstein

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I don't think it is being worked on, and I

welcome Robert Harris to correct me if I am wrong.

Last I heard MGM wasn't going to put up the

money for the restoration.
 

Jeffrey Gray

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Well, as Patrick said, isn't there anything we can do to try to get MGM to do it? They obviously have the money, if they can keep cranking out big-budget stuff like Windtalkers and Die Another Day...heck, why don't they just pay for the restoration with money that could have gone into another expensive flop?
 

Rain

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I now remember RH saying the money wasn't there.
The money is certainly "there" although MGM may not be willing to part with it.

Undoubtedly they feel that restoring the film would not be profitable.

Perhaps not. And I do recognize that they are running a business, but some consideration should be given to the preservation of art as well.

Certainly restoring a couple of films isn't going to bankrupt the studio (or probably even make much of a dent in profits).

It's truly a shame.
 

Jeffrey Gray

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You know, I think a good idea would be to send letters to MGM (not an online petition, but actually letters), and alert IAMMMMW fans (including people like major film critics, celebrities, or even surviving cast members) to our cause...maybe if enough fans speak (especially if some of them are people like Leonard Maltin or Roger Ebert, or cast members such as Jonathan Winters and Carl Reiner) MGM will listen...this could be done for The Alamo also...
 

Joel Vardy

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Certainly restoring a couple of films isn't going to bankrupt the studio (or probably even make much of a dent in profits).
Unless someone here is willing to donate the restoration costs I don't quite understand the tendency to second guess the studios' business calculations. Does anyone here really think they would recoup their investment (no less make a profit) from such an undertaking? As much as we would like the studios to donate such funds, I would rather that they stick to restoring yet unreleased classics like:

African Queen (??? does anyone care about this one?)

Around the World in 80 Days (already underway)

Metropolis (that one is already underway -- I know)

Ran (done but not released as a single)

King Kong (already underway)

Grapes of Wrath (underway ?)

The Sting (???)

Chariots of Fire (???)

Double Indemnity (??? badly in need of a rerelease)

The Last Emperor (also badly in need of rerelease)

The Jazz Singer (1927 version)

Mutiny on the Bounty (1935 version)

...

Though a disappointment to us on it's initial release IAMMMMW's transfer was serviceable and can be enjoyed for what it is. I know that other material is available both in terms of an extended cut and extras but in the scheme of things it probably doesn't rate as high a priority as some of the classics that were either more blatently rushed out prematurely or have never seen the light of day in R1. Just my $0.014 (2 cents after taxes).

Joel
 

Patrick McCart

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Unless someone here is willing to donate the restoration costs I don't quite understand the tendency to second guess the studios' business calculations. Does anyone here really think they would recoup their investment (no less make a profit) from such an undertaking? As much as we would like the studios to donate such funds, I would rather that they stick to restoring yet unreleased classics like:
You miss the point. Some of these films aren't in the danger of being lost like these two are. And the pending restorations are needed to save the films period, not just to get them on DVD.

Almost all of the films on your list are in no real danger of being lost. Around the World in Eighty Days was given a "limited restoration" which at least is preserving it for now.

You're thinking that if the restorations don't happen, that'll just mean no "ultimate DVD." It's worse than that. It's more like the films not existing in any usable form. A 16x9 high-def master of The Alamo's general release version isn't any substitute for the 65mm original camera negative!
 

Mark Cappelletty

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There was a "restored 35mm print" (their words, not mine) of Mad Mad World at the American Cinematheque with the surviving cast and crew in attendance in early December; I wasn't able to go b/c of a work screening of "The Two Towers." I'm curious if any news of a restored DVD came out of there (or if this filmed reunion might make an eventual DVD supplement). Did anyone on this forum go?
 

Robert Harris

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Patrick McCart could not have explained the situation better. He is correct on each and every point.

And no, there was no "restored 35mm print" screened via the American Cinematheque.
 

Ronald Epstein

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Unless someone here is willing to donate the restoration costs I don't quite understand the tendency to second guess the studios' business calculations. Does anyone here really think they would recoup their investment (no less make a profit) from such an undertaking?

Much of MGM's library has been lost to other studios.

If you really examine what they have left and what

would be considered amongst the best titles to invest

a restoration, It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World is

a no-brainer.

When you consider the amount of golden age comics

who appear in this film, the choice is obvious.
 

Joel Vardy

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Some of these films aren't in the danger of being lost like these two are. And the pending restorations are needed to save the films period, not just to get them on DVD.
I knew my post would 'stir up' the pot a bit. I fail to see how this argument factors into MGM's business calculations. Exactly how would the restoration provide a financial return to their stockholders if another DVD release is not the objective? It might be a worthwhile project from the standpoint of preserving a piece of our culture and heritage. If so, then a donation by members who feel strongly about this film would be appropriate. Am I to understand that MGM no longer has anything left in their library similarly in need of preservation? What about the 'horrible' recent release of Exodus? I understand that considerable work would need to be done to improve it (if it isn't already too late). There must be others as well. I don't want to start a debate about which project is more worthwhile but we all have our favorites.

In these days of financial uncertainty the studios are gambling with their decisions. I'm afraid non are in such solid shape that they can afford to 'do the right thing' solely for the sake of posterity. They never were but I think they would occassionally make the risky moves in order to show that they were also 'good citizens' while hoping that payoff would come both directly from preservation projects rereleased to the public and indirectly by the positive PR. Those days may be behind us. Today's investment decisions seem to be much more closely scrutinized.

BTW, I'm not yet convinced that every title on my list is safely tucked away, ready to be 'harvested', without some restoration.

Joel
 

Jeffrey Gray

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Well, we have to figure out something, because Robert said that the film will be unrestorable by the end of the year...we need to find a way to get MGM to know that the fans want the film saved, and that's why I believe we should notify cast members, stars who are fans of the film, people like Roger Ebert; you know, people whose stature in the industry can basically CONVINCE MGM to put up the money, that the film will be lost if MGM doesn't put up money to have it restored. I'm as worried about this as anyone else, and I think Ronald should get involved with actually spreading the word. As I suggested, writing letters to MGM would be a good idea...as well as spreading the word to as many IAMMMMW fans as possible to write letters as well. And as I said before, Ronald, you need to get involved...

And if possible, we need to get this done for The Alamo as well...
 

Ronald Epstein

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You know, I understand the argument about

what will the restoration of this release

do for the stockholders?
.

God knows the almighty dollar has not only

dictated and ruined the artistic value of

proper film presentation, but what films

should or should not be restored.

Let me tell you a story. I was out at Parmount

studios over a year ago with the California

membership. We met with the studio's film

preservationists. Nicest bunch of guys you ever

would want to meet (most restorationists I have

met are caring individuals). They were showing

us their latest restoration efforts -- I believe

it was an old Roy Rogers film. We were told

outright that Paramount knew they weren't going

to recoup their money on this release. Yet, the

studio greenlighted the restoration because they

felt they had a responsibility to save the film.

I applaud Paramount for taking a bold position

like that.

Don't these studios realize that they are curators

of a priceless collection of artistic work about to

be destroyed forever from neglect? Don't you think

they have a responsibility to save and preserve this

art?

MGM has had a good year. Their Bond film is making

them money. While I realize theatrical and video

are budgeted differently, don't you think the studio

should take some of its profits and put it into film

restoration? I can't believe that any studio would

neglect its history and not fight to save these prints.

Furthermore, is anyone in Hollywood raising

money to save their films? Do you know how much

money is in Hollywood? You mean to tell me that

with all the money these studios make every year

so little of it is going to save the very celluloid

that put them on the map?

MGM should be doing everything they can to restore

IAMMMMW back to its original splendor. This

is undoubtably one of the most important titles in

their library.
 

Patrick McCart

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Exactly how would the restoration provide a financial return to their stockholders if another DVD release is not the objective? It might be a worthwhile project from the standpoint of preserving a piece of our culture and heritage. If so, then a donation by members who feel strongly about this film would be appropriate. Am I to understand that MGM no longer has anything left in their library similarly in need of preservation?
1. Video just isn't important in the big picture.

2. Donations don't mean anything to a studio. The Vitaphone Project is a restoration project which is funded mainly through donations. On the other hand, Mad World and Alamo are both privately owned films.

3. Preservation isn't the key word. The films are likely preserved very fine. But preserving a faded and beat up negative doesn't mean much. Restoring that negative and returning it to its original version...then preserving THAT means something.

These two films were picked mainly because of the urgency. I think it was mentioned before that Exodus is likely beyond repair, with a totally faded negative. The fact that MGM didn't even transfer a 35mm element for the DVD raises more questions about the condition of even the 35mm elements.

As for films you asked about...

King Kong, The Jazz Singer, and Mutiny on the Bounty are likely just fine. In fact, The Jazz Singer will be coming to DVD soon with fresh Vitaphone disc-sourced sound.

Carlton owns The African Queen and I think it has been restored already. Most 3-strip Technicolor films have been preserved well thanks to the negatives only being used to make the separations.

Metropolis has been restored digitally to film.

Ran, The Sting, and Chariots of Fire likely don't need restoration...they're relatively new films. The lousy DVDs out are no way to tell of the condition, though.

Fox is restoring The Grapes of Wrath. Likely a great one.

Around the World in Eighty Days, like I said already, has had a limited restoration done. The 65mm negative has been cleaned up somewhat, lacquer removed from one reel, and a wetgate printed 65mm interpositive has been made. The only question is that of color quality and decomposition. We'll have to see how this one turns out.

Double Indemnity is a film which likely is in poor condition. It's been said that the Paramount films with Universal (1928-1948) were not preserved very well.

Again, I'm talking in terms of FILM, not video. It's possible to have a film look fantastic on video while the prime elements for it are in pitiful condition...and just the opposite by having a pitiful looking video while the film elements themselves are in perfect condition...

North By Northwest looks wonderful on DVD. You wouldn't guess that the yellow layer on the negative is just about gone. On the other hand, the DVDs for Charade from any public domain label look hideous while the film elements look wonderful. This is evident in Criterion's DVD, BTW.
 

Robert Harris

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While the income derived from home video (for the most part DVD) makes up a major part of those monies received when a film is reconstructed and restored, it not necessarily the ONLY area of large income.

Actual restored films can be licensed to network, cable and pay tv, both domestic and foreign. If handled properly and with a bit of thought, a profit can be derived from theatrical exhibition.

While Mad World could easily be the basis of a limited theatcial run, The Alamo would have a more film buff appeal outside of continuous runs in San Antonio -- potentially at the IMAX theatre next door to the Alamo shrine.

The problem here is that the owner would have to put up funds 18 - 24 months in advance of deriving any income. The upside is that that income would continue in perpetuity.

Off the top of my head the cost to save both Mad World and Alamo in large format, not inclusive of shooting a couple of scenes to sync with extant audio for Mad World, would be under 2.5 million. Mad World is the more expensive project, as LONG shots, some well over 1,000 frames would have to be digitized in full rez and recombined with short trims derived from faded 70mm print. It would be an extremely complex reconstruction/restoration.

As has been mentioned in the past, neither of these films constitute a long term problem, as they should both have fully gone to vinegar in the near future, making this a rather moot point.

The question for any corporate holder of rights in this situation is actually quite simple. Assuming that funds might be made available, would current management want to be viewed as one might view someone from the Louvre when the Mona Lisa falls off the wall and is irreparably damaged.
 

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