MacKenna's Gold -- restorable?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by PaulBigelow, Mar 25, 2003.

  1. PaulBigelow

    PaulBigelow Stunt Coordinator

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    Hello,

    I have read some references that "MacKenna's Gold" was
    "tampered" with by the studio. I've never really heard
    what the tampering was. Were scenes edited out or was
    the meddling during production?

    Is there a big, untold story here?

    Best regards,

    Paul Bigelow
     
  2. Thomas T

    Thomas T Cinematographer

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    The current DVD of MacKenna's Gold is 123 minutes.

    It's original running time is listed as 129 minutes which means six minutes are missing. There might even be more footage as the film was intended as a roadshow presentation and filmed in Super Panavision 70 millimeter with six track stereophonic sound and with an overture, intermission and exit music. In the United States at least, it did not play any roadshow presentations although the original soundtrack album included the overture that was never used.

    Based on my memory, I can see an edit on the current DVD. About 83 minutes and 30 seconds into the film, after Telly Savalas shoots the two soldiers, he and Camilla Sparv ride off after MacKenna and the music loudly rises and the camera pulls back for a panoramic view and you just know this is where the intermission was. However, in the current DVD the scene ends abruptly after Savalas shoots the two soldiers and we no longer see Savalas and Sparv riding away, the music rising loudly and the camera pulling back.
     
  3. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Some of the footage was shot in 65mm, but most was shot in Panavision 35mm.
     
  4. Greg_M

    Greg_M Screenwriter

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    A lot of footage was cut from the final release print. The picture was a mess to begin with. Many good actors give poor performances which may be the fault of the director. Columbia originally planned the film as a Roadshow event but cut it and released it to general audiences instead. The film was generally panned by the critics.

    Much of the film's interest involved Julie Newmar's nude scenes, which weren't very revealing.

    And how about that opening song, by Quincy Jones no less, the one about the vulture. What were they thinking?
     
  5. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    McKenna's Gold played at some Cinerama theatres in the U.S. I believe as "Presented In Cinerama".
     
  6. Mark_TS

    Mark_TS Screenwriter

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    MG is one of my cult faves: I call it Sci-fi- western because of all the minature earthquake effects, and the weird, impossible Geologies, etc.
    Leonard Maltin writes that it was drastically cut, as though at least 15-30 min is gone from it.
    It is a mess, nearly a train wreck, but a scenic, interesting mess.
    The film has some very beautiful panoramic scenery, and some very fake sets.
    And Camilla Sparv. wow. They dont make 'em like her anymore.
    I would love to see MG cleaned up and restored.
    They must all have been stoned out of their gourds to have made a big budget comic book of a western like this.
    I love Gregory Peck, but he sure looks embarrassed the whole way through.
    But, as bad as it is, it has an epic feel to it, one of the last of these type movies.
     
  7. Mark_TS

    Mark_TS Screenwriter

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    actually, the VHS tape and the LD/DVD differed in a couple of ways.
    During the credits, there is the vulture song (dig that crazy soul)
    at one coda, on the VHS, we see the sun blazing onscreen, in the DVD it is the huge eyeball of the vulture. Revolting-I understand why they substituted the sun.
    Also, as Camila Sparve comes back to the camp with Telly Savlas, after he has killed his own men, there is a scene were Sparve tells the group of his actions, and this leads to concern as to whether he can really be trusted by the gang-(as I remember) cut from the DVD/LD.
    This is likely the difference between the 70 and 35mm prints, as the credits also have a different font style, and runs slightly different.
    Also, on the VHS the first 10 mins of the movie are letterboxed even after the credits, as each scene change is a slow disolve-and there is no way to do a clean, quick cut to P/S for a while...
     
  8. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    I aplogise for my forgetfulness, but I once read somewhere that the original cut that was to be released for the roadshow was around 3½ hours. It was certainly intended to be a lot longer than it ended up being.

    And as Patrick McCart has stated, it was initially shot in 65mm Super Panavision and then as the suits got nervous they pared back the budget and the rest of the film was shot in 35mm anamorphic Panavision.

    It's a really weird, confusing film. Good sunday afternoon Western. A full-blown restoration would be a waste of money in my honest opinion - there are
    many truly great films that Columbia own that are more deserving of such a restoration.


    Gordy
     
  9. Mark_TS

    Mark_TS Screenwriter

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    youre right, Gordon-a restoration would be a waste of precious money-....like MG would have a snowballs chance in hell of a restoration anyways-just idle wishfull thinking... would be nice to know the rest of the story, though...

    and yeah, losing 1- 1.5 hours is a DRASTIC cutting of the film...
     
  10. Greg_M

    Greg_M Screenwriter

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    Ok granted, this is not the best film, ok its a pretty bad film, but how's the DVD look? My video store is selling it for $9.99 not a bad price. I might buy it if the transfer is good. Anyone know?
     
  11. GerardoHP

    GerardoHP Supporting Actor

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    I just scanned through the DVD because I couldn't remember the condition of this title. The transfer looks very clean, save for a few scratches running through the main titles and a couple of minutes into the film, and later, very sporadically here and there, and then only barely. The colors look quite saturated to me, as if the DVD was extracted from a pretty solid print of the film. The sound is 5.0 and feels old but clean. At a discount, this is a very good transfer to have, IMO.
     
  12. RolandL

    RolandL Producer

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  13. Greg_M

    Greg_M Screenwriter

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    Thanks, GerardoHP
    Maybe I will pick it up.
     
  14. William D Cavender

    William D Cavender Stunt Coordinator

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    It was also almst two year from the end of filming till it we released. There was a European print that had different footage of the "cat fight"... I wold lie to see it.
     
  15. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    Roland. I believe it did play at the Warner Cinerama in NYC.
     
  16. RolandL

    RolandL Producer

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    Peter,

    Do you have any documentation of it being promoted as "In Cinerama" at the Warner? I know it Hartford, CT the Cinerama theatre promoted the 70mm version of "Gone With The Wind" as being "projected on the GIANT CINERAMA screen".
     
  17. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    Roland. I'm afraid not. I seem to remember newspaper ads using the Cinerama logo. But it was a long time ago in a galaxy far far........ [​IMG]
     
  18. Greg_M

    Greg_M Screenwriter

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    Well I picked it up today for $9.99 - not a bad price (I seem to buy more DVD's at this price.) Except for the damage to the negative in the first reel, the picture looked sharp and clean much to my surprise. The film was also a better view with the cinematography restored to the correct aspect ratio giving the film a more expensive roadshow look. The film is still silly at times, but all in all I'm satisfied with the purchase, plus there's the original Trailer for "Lawrence of Arabia"
     

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