NIGHT OF THE HUNTER... SE in the near future?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Micah Cohen, Oct 24, 2005.

  1. Micah Cohen

    Micah Cohen Screenwriter

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    Should I go ahead and grab this DVD, found used cheap, or is there some special edition in the works out there somewhere that would be worth waiting for?

    Please advise. (I know it's a great film, I'm just wondering if I should buy the current DVD.)

    MC
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I haven't heard a thing about any SE, however, this great film deserves one.






    Crawdaddy
     
  3. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Ha, funny you should post this because it's something I was going to bring up the other night!


    The current transfer is in dire need of a restoration, the image quality is significantly lacking!



    I have a question though about the opening shot of the film - the extreme long establishing shot taken from bird's eye view of the countryside... It seems to have been a hand-held shot, but the image is VERY unstable in the DVD. To the point where it becomes removed from the actual film itself and presents itself as a technical flub and I wanted to ask if this had to do with the transfer or if it was production related?

    There's actually more than one instance of this effect in which the camera seems very unstable, most noticeable with these long panoramic takes.

    Anyways, this is a terrific film and a true classic in my book and is far deserving of better treatment on DVD than the current disc available.

    That's not to detract you from picking up the current edition Micah. As far as I know nothing has been announced or hinted at from anyone just yet and the DVD can be had for very little, but on my 100" Stewart filmscreen... the transfer left a LOT to be desired! A significant ammount of dirt, grain and artifacts and the picture leans to the softer side with room for imporvement in overall resolution and detail.

    As for it being barebones, that's criminal for a movie of this stature. A Special Edition release is something I'd definitely want to see surface down the road, and sooner than later for one of my favorite films of all time! Robert Mitchum is absolutely brilliant in his role, what a fantastic blend of atmosphere, soundtrack and tones!

    Here's hoping for a much improved upon release!
     
  4. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    The Night of the Hunter has been restored by the UCLA Film & TV Archive...

    Preserved at the UCLA Film and Television Archive. Preservation funded by the Film Foundation and Robert B. Sturm. Restored in cooperation with MGM Studios from the original 35 mm. acetate picture negative, a 35 mm. acetate composite master positive, a 35 mm. acetate print, and the original 35 mm. magnetic sound tracks. Laboratory services by Cinetech. Sound services by Audio Mechanics, DJ Audio, Dolby Laboratories. Special thanks to: Gray Ainsworth, Timothy Andrews, David Cetra, Sean Coughlin, Simon Daniel, Weimer Gard, David Gray, Paul Gregory, John Kirk, Bruce Mazen, Joseph Olivier, Peter Oreckinto, David Osterkamp, John Polito, Martin Scorsese.

    http://cinema.library.ucla.edu/cgi-b...24214926&SID=1
     
  5. CameronMcC

    CameronMcC Second Unit

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    the uk magazine total film had a good article on night of the hunter in the september issue (narnia on the cover) I can't find a copy of the article online anywhere though.
     
  6. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    I saw a screening of this approximately 3 years ago, and one of the film restorers was present. At the time, he mentioned all of the home movies that Elsa Lanchester had recorded and said that a documentary was in the works (I believe this has been released), and that a substantial portion of these movies would make it on to an eventual SE DVD. I haven't heard anything new since though.
     
  7. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Can anyone please offer insight about the opening hand-held shot - was it a mistake, stylized effect, transfer related?
     
  8. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    It was due to technical limits of filming some shots in 1955, from either a small plane or helicopter. There was no such thing as steadicam fifty years ago.
     
  9. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    I read a book on the making of the film last year, and I'm almost positive that the shot Marco is questioning was taken from a helicopter. The book was very informative, and any true devotee of this film should check it out.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...books&n=507846
     
  10. Micah Cohen

    Micah Cohen Screenwriter

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    Huh. Well, I can't recall the last time I watched this or saw this on DVD, maybe I'll just Netflix it for Halloween and get a better handle on the disc quality. I'd definitely buy a special edition with extras and improved print quality... Oh well. Thanks for the input, all!

    MC

    PS - Thanks for that amazon link to those books. They look incredibly interesting and I will have to find them. Also, I highly recommend the original novel "Night of The Hunter," by Davis Grubb, which is pretty terrifying itself.
     
  11. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    Here's my original post from November 30th, 2001

     
  12. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Thanks, I assumed that it was taken from a hellicopter but even for a hand-held shot the technician could have executed better craftmanship. I guess it was an expensive take and they didn't have the time or budget for multiple shots. It was the first thing that jumped out at me when rewatching the film though. I can't wait for a full fledged Special Edition!



    (What am I still doing here, I should be buying The Wizard Of Oz and LTGC3?!)
     
  13. obscurelabel

    obscurelabel Stunt Coordinator

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    For those who think the quality on the existing release is lacking, could you be more specific?

    I watched it on an admittedly small 30" set a few weeks ago and thought it looked fine ... good blacks, good contrast levels, good detail, didn't notice any obvious artifacts or ringing. I did notice some reel change marks, but even if the transfer was done from a release print it looked good. Maybe it looks worse on larger screens? The sound was fine, plain mono as originally released, clear dialogue, no noticeable distortion or harshness. For the price I would recommend it as being very watchable.

    Just MHO ... again, if those of you familiar with the disc could point out any the flaws ...
     
  14. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Well I didn't say that I don't reccommend it. For the aaprox. $12 sale price it's certainly a worthwhile purchase until something better comes along, but there's no question that this film needs to be properly remastered. I also didn't notice any major shortcomings in the visual department when viewed on my old Toshiba CRT set, but blown up on my 100" projection screen it's clear that the transfer is lacking. I'd have to pop the disc in again and run through a chapter to give a detailed rundown of what I find to be the major issues with the pq, but overall the ammount of grain (and not in an applicable filmic sense), artifacts and dirt was clearly a strike. The overall resolution is simply not as sharp or defined as it could be. It's a decnt transfer, certainly for an unrestores early issue to DVD it's not without merit, but there is much that can be improved upon and I'm eagerly welcoming the new Special Edition, whenever that happens to be...
     
  15. Shawn Cornwell

    Shawn Cornwell Stunt Coordinator

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    I read a piece a year or two ago at Leonard Maltin's website concerning a showing of the documentary, which I'd love to see on a new DVD- "Night" is one of my favorites, and possibly the scariest movie I've ever seen (and I saw it first as an young adult- I can't imagine the fright factor if I've seen this chiller at a younger, more impressionable age).
     
  16. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    If any classic is ripe for a 'bells and whistles' DVD release, it has to be Night of The Hunter.

    It's now four years since the following was published in The Guardian newspaper in the UK:

    Like many career-ruining films, Laughton's The Night of the Hunter has ultimately been recognised as a masterpiece, but the praise came too late to help the British star, who was discouraged from ever directing again by the film's commercial and critical failure. One consolation for Laughton is that, unlike almost every other major picture of the era, every foot of film shot for The Night of the Hunter survives - not only the outtakes but all the original rushes, too. From eight hours' worth of footage, UCLA film historian Robert Gitt and his collaborator, Nancy Mysel, have assembled the nearest thing to a Charles Laughton directing masterclass. Laughton can be heard between takes giving directions to Robert Mitchum, Lillian Gish and the rest of his cast, and, being an actor himself, Laughton knows exactly how every part should be played. Add in rejected scenes, dialogue and camera angles and the result is an unprecedented insight into the making of a modern classic.

    That restored Night of the Hunter went on a limited theatrical release and Robert Gitt took his two decades labour of love to various film festivals to explain first hand exactly what was going on in the outtakes, but there has been no sign since Eric's original 2001 post that all that material will make its way on to a special edition set - now that the rights rest with Sony, the question is, will it ever...?

    A couple of useful links:

    'Night of the Hunter' at Moviediva
    Robert Gitt on 'The Hidden Hunter'
     
  17. Charles H

    Charles H Screenwriter

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    Now that Shelley Winters has passed away, is Peter Graves the only survivor of the cast? Does anyone know if Billy Chaplin and Sally Jane Bruce are still alive?
     
  18. David Tolsky

    David Tolsky Supporting Actor

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    Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the current release of NOTH not in OAR? I've screened a friend's copy and it starts out with a "This film has been modified to..." tag at the start.
    This is one of my favorite classic films. Masterful cinematography by Stanley Cortez, ASC, and masterful directing my Laughton, his only directorial effort. I've dreamed of a SE for this film. I hope it happens.
     
  19. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    I've only ever seen NoTH in 1.33:1 and it simply looks right to me at that, but the DVD is open-matte and, as has just been pointed out elsewhere, being 1955 it was in all likliehood composed for 1.85:1 and mostly screened as such.

    Zooming the image to fit that ratio does show that it was composed for widescreen...but as I say the film of my memory is 'square'. However, now that it's been pointed out, it will probably bug the hell out of me... [​IMG]
     
  20. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    When I watched it on TCM last year, it was 1.85:1. I think Robert Crawford also said that he's seen it in theaters, projected at that ratio.
     

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