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Paul Seydor's PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Richard--W, Jul 9, 2007.

  1. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    At the risk of repeating myself, the facts come from Roger Spottiswoode via both Seydor and Weddle; Sam cut it to 123 minutes then dug in his heels and was taken off the film. Aubrey was determined to get it down to a 90 minute oater and both Spottiswoode and Wolfe only agreed to edit in a vain bid to save what they could for Sam; in the end it was useless. Aubrey had other cutters brought in. The theatrical release may be seen as the work of Peckinpah because edits made while he was involved are still there; but to all intents and purposes he didn't make or approve of that cut.
    I've no problem accepting what has already been put into print, rather than a few careless, or misinterpreted, words on a DVD release.
     
  2. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned
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    You explain it very well, John, better than the commentators do in some places.
    Who is misinterpreting?
    I didn't want to get bogged down in all these details, but you're entirely correct to post them here. Thanks for your attention to the details. It is impossible for me to retype every word of the editing history of this film as reported in the various books into this thread, so I generalized as best I could. This is not the place to retype the entire text of three or four books, and I don't think my generalization is inaccurate.
    The commentaries by the Peckinpah Posse -- Simmons, Seydor, and Weddle -- are what most people are going by who own these DVD's. They may not have a library of Peckinpah books to refer to.
    I'm sure you'll agree that a documentary feature which compares the Workprint to the Theatrical Release would have cleared up a lot of confusion? Would you also agree that Seydor's Version adds to the confusion? Would you also agree that the commentaries add to the confusion?
     
  3. OliverK

    OliverK Producer

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    Until a new version is out I go with the cut that feels the most Peckinpah-ish to me, for lack of a better expression.
    This for me is the work print and I look forward to the next entry for the title of 'coming closest to what the director intended' [​IMG]
     
  4. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Yes; yes and yes. I in no way intended to admonish you Richard, and at the same time I blame neither listener nor 'teller' when I used the word 'misinterpret'; I was just pointing out that it's easily done, and I agree the facts could have been laid out much better for fans new to Peckinpah or to 'Garrett' iteself.
    I share your anger, and sheer bewilderment that, of all people, Paul Seydor was involved in this. He knows full well just how vein bulgingly furious Peckinpah was with Spottiswoode and Woolfe, how he accosted the latter and belitted him for being involved in the editing, which lead to an acrimonious split Sam almost instantly regretted.
    How Seydor could bring himself, then, to make the editorial decisions he did, how the 'posse' could 'rubber-stamp' it, I'll never know.
     
  5. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned
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    I agree wholeheartedly. It's a sheer bloody masterpiece.
    Last night I watched Peckinpah's Workprint on disc 2. While it is not the Director's final cut, or even a finished edit, it states his intentions quite clearly. In fact, the problems are mechanical and routinely fixed. It might take two weeks to finish this edit, working full time. The audio would take a little longer. Any experienced editor who takes the time to do a proper job can do a proper job. It's a matter of polishing, NOT CUTTING. Garrett's visit to his wife needs to be re-instated. The script girl's continuity notes would help. But this is not mandatory. Of course it helps to know Peckinpah's editing style before one starts. The question of slow-motion has to be addressed -- did he do it in post or in the camera or both and what the timing is. The point is that it doesn't take some mysterious inner knowledge or Herculean efforts to put this Workprint into shape because Peckinpah has shown the way in the Workprint itself.
    Sadly, as much as I respect Paul Seydor and the Peckinpah Posse, I do not think they should be involved in the process. Instead, let WHV / MGM engage an editor to do the job and a restoration expert -- preferably Robert Harris -- to clean up the print damage and bring the color timing up to Peckinpah's specs. Mr. Harris has a keen eye for aesthetics. The intent is to make the Workprint glow with the autumnal color of the Theatrical Release, which was a breathtaking experience on the big screen in 1973.
    Several actors and technicians who worked on the film are still with us and may be willing to contribute commentaries. Editor Roger Spottiswoode and secretary Katy Haber should share a commentary of their own. It is inconceivable to me that they do not participate in the present disc. Actors Kris Kristofferson, Rutanya Alda, Matt Clark, Charles Martin Smith, Harry Dean Stanton, Rita Coolidge, and L.Q. Jones are still very much alive. In view of the importance of this particular film, I would hope WHV / MGM would be willing to bring some of the key crew people up from Mexico, particularly 2nd unit camera man and Peckinpah assistant Gabriel Torres, assistant director Jesús María Bello, legendary boss wrangler 'Chema' Hernandez and actress Aurora Clavel. The Mexicans know a LOT about how this film was made and can contribute a great deal of knowledge and insight. Instead of historians interpreting what they have to say, let's just hear what they have to say. Jogging their memory with call sheets and shooting schedules before the session wouldn't hurt.
    PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID's influence on other film makers and story tellers, and its reputation as a masterpiece, has been growing over the years since the laser disc was released in 1988. There is widespread dissatisfaction with the DVD. With so many other films being released and re-released and remastered, why not give PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID another chance. Peckinpah's Workprint deserves better.
     
  6. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

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    While I agree that the current Warner release does not do justice to this great film, the last thing that should be done is attempt to 'sort out' the workprint by 'tightening', 'fine-tuning' or what have you. By all means reinstate the scene with Garrett's wife and sort out the colour timing and glitches on the soundtrack, but leave the actual film alone. The film is permanently unfinished (much like Jean Vigo's Zero de Conduite and L'Atalante), but Peckinpah was proud enough of the workprint version to allow his personal and only print to be screened to students and be used for television screenings. That should be good enough for anyone, surely.
     
  7. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Absolutely; any 'retuning' would involve second guessing one of the 20th century's great directors - unless Peckinpah left clear notes, or if Spottiswoode himself has a very clear idea of any changes that Sam wanted made, I wouldn't want to go down that route again.
    Look, it's highly unlikely that Warners will want to spend any money on this again for any considerable time, but at the very least a campaign should be started to prevent Seydor's cut from taking the place of the workprint at screenings, festivals etc. It's a bloody disgrace; like hawking round a bad copy of the Mona Lisa and calling it a da Vinci.
     
  8. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned
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    I don't disagree with your position, and I understand what you mean about leaving it as an unfinished film.
    The editing I refer to is minimal. Less is more. Simple mechanics. Tiny little things that audiences don't consciously notice but that influence how they receive a film. Even if Peckinpah didn't keep an edit log, even if there are no continuity notes, anyone who is experienced at cutting film can see where Peckinpah's going in his Workprint. There's no "second guessing" involved, and no mystery, either. The audio is another matter. That might take some work. Roger Spottiswoode was a discerning editor before he became a discerning director, and he is still making films. Spottiswoode participated in those meetings with Peckinpah and with Peckinpah and Aubrey, so he knows where the ax fell.
    I'm not suggesting the film be recut or re-edited, only that certain procedures Peckipah started but didn't complete be completed insofar as they can be in accord with standard practice and his standard practice. It doesn't require much talent to do the obvious anyhow. Cleaning up the print damage and fine-tuning the color timing is routine. Assembling a documentary that compares the two different versions, and a supplement that collects alternative footage, is a simple task.
    If WHV can remaster and re-release THE WILD BUNCH and THE SEARCHERS and RIO BRAVO and SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON and THE MALTESE FALCON and OKLAHOMA! and all these other DVD's why not Sam Peckinpah's Workprint of PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID.
     
  9. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

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    Well, quite. As far as I'm concerned the proper 2-disc set of this film hasn't yet appeared. Proper, restored transfers of the 1973 theatrical release and complete preview version, along with special features that have some semblance of taste and judgement. But it seems sadly unlikely.
     
  10. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned
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    Someone sent me a PM to alert me to this well-informed review of WHV's PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID :
    http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=60755
    I recommend everyone take the time to read it.
    I share in the sentiments expressed and agree with 90% of the observations made.
     
  11. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned
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  12. mike siegel

    mike siegel Auditioning

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    I remember discussing the versions with Paul Seydor in 2000. Basically we shared the same opinions. I don't know what went wrong in the end, but it is in good Peckinpah tradition: A fine mess.

    I always liked the 73 version and thought that restored and extended it would result in a good version of a film that would/could never come close to Peckinpahs best work (because of the troubled shooting. and unlike RIDE, BUNCH or BONNER not everything fell right into place).

    Maybe Seydor got carried away. He cut out too much and some stuff was sloppily done like the wrong music cues and even some bad sound fading after the scene with Jason Robards (in the 73 version the sound fades away into the next scene showing Billy riding. in the 2005 version it's just an awful sound cut.).

    I always thought that the Turner-version wasn't trimmed enough. In terms of many takes just being a few frames too long. Also there were alternative angles which I found better in the 73 version. But to take out so much?? Some scenes, like Walter Kelleys or Peckinpahs scene, just don't work anymore at that length. Seydor also cut down the wife-scene by approx 50% by the way. The US TV version was twice as long. But this time it worked - the 4 minute version of that scene is far to long.

    I was never a big fan of the look of the Turner-version (I know, some love it..). It looks faded, not enough colors left. But the 2005 version, although much more alive looking, is too dark, cropped and has to MUCH color. Like WILD BUNCH (compared to the 90's DVD: too dark, cropped etc. BULLITT too.).

    Regarding the fact that the Western-Box was planned for some six or more years, I was dissappointed. CABLE wasn't restored at all, the PAT-cut interesting if seriousely flawed, the documentaries amateurish...

    RIDE is the best-looking print, but RIDE was restored many years ago!

    Oh I'd love to see PAT GARRETT restored the right way.
     
  13. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Hello Mike [​IMG]
    I was very interested in Richard's comment that 'Seydor's Version has also replaced the Theatrical Release and Peckinpah's Workprint for repertory screenings and festivals'.
    What's your opinion on that?
     
  14. mike siegel

    mike siegel Auditioning

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    Warner Home VP Brian Jamieson left the studio, he was a guy I met and respected. As most of the studio guys dealing with 'classics', I'm sure he had a though job doing everything he could to get the budgets for decent releases. The stuff that was done when he was active, DEAN, LEE, KUBRICK and so much more, came out so good.

    I know they had problems with the Sam-Box, as well as with the GETAWAY SE (Nick Redman made a featurette for it which wasn't used. Don't think because of the quality because they used that kind of stuff for the Western-Box anyway...To get it released he had to include it with the CD-release).

    Some of those Dog-Brothers I do like. Some of them are a bit arrogant and think Peckinpah belongs to them. But that kind of attitude is very common in the business, once you are into film history you'll always encouter those types. I know at least two biographers who think they protect their 'hero' when they successfully prevent a meeting or an interview (or somebody else working on the heros output so to speak.). Seydor made one of the best documentaries ever (ALBUM IN MONTAGE) and I'd wish he would have done the documentaries for the box and edited PAT with the help of Robert Harris or Garth Craven or somebody else who doesn't seem to claim to have the ultimate wisdom.

    One of the reasons why the cuts in 1973 weren't as good as they should have been was the time factor. MGM needed cash badly for their grand hotel in Vegas. So I agree with Richard - Sam's preview cut would have needed polishing. Restauration. The missing scene back into the film. Sound. Trimming. Alternate angles. Not CUTTING. Of course the 'two' deaths of PAT at the end are critical. But to cut it out (besides so much else) is wrong. Thinking of the many many mistakes they made now, it's very ironic for me: Now they had the time and still it's a mess.

    To replace the Turner-cut with Seydors would have been o.k. if the new version wasn't that flawed and ignorant. To recut a bad film is something I dreamt of myself many times. To recut a good film is dangerous to say the least. I miss respect here.

    As for me, I never touched the Box again after the second day. Hurts. Especially when I think of the fact that this was their one chance and they blew it. I'm happy I was part of the DUNDEE DVD and could produce the new STRAW DOGS SE. They also have some minor flaws, 'hard to prevent those. But nowhere as serious as that Box that should have made my DVD-year...
     
  15. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Thank you Mike; and I wish you every success with the German R2 of Straw Dogs - it looks like a superb production.
     
  16. mike siegel

    mike siegel Auditioning

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    In case anybody is interested in my book PASSION & POETRY - SAM PECKINPAH IN PICTURES: At AMAZON.DE they're practically giving away some left-over books!

    I'm sure it's just for a very short time, the price is unbelievable: about 8,00 Euro. That's over 70% less! (29,90 is the regular price.). And there won't be a 2nd printing, that's for sure.

    The writing is in German but it is basically a photo-book with over 1000 images, 300 in color. It is very heavy, 3 pounds, with 576 pages. The filmography is more exlizit than in any of the other books. And those who want the read about the Man or the Films surely own the great publications by Garner Simmons, David Weddle & Paul Seydor.

    On my website you can take a look inside the book:

    eldorado-film.de

    (they won't let me post links here to avoid spam, oh boy...)
     
  17. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Diect link to the book is here.
    Don't forget that using Amazon.de is just like using Amazon.com - if you've bought from the latter, just log in and order away.
     
  18. Bob Graham

    Bob Graham Supporting Actor

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    The "bad news" on Mike's book is that Amazon.de charges 14 euros to ship it to the USA, but what the hell, I ordered it anyway. Mike has been an enthusiastic participant on the Peckinpah board and so I figure it will be worth it. Mike, if you're still out there, any chance your documentary on Sam (a portion of which was included on the MAJOR DUNDEE DVD) will be released on DVD in its entirety?
     
  19. mike siegel

    mike siegel Auditioning

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    I'm sure you'll like it. In the end you still pay much less than buyers paid over here in the book shops. 2 years ago over-sea buyers had to pay about $55.00-60.00 as I recall. Still nobody complained once they had it in their hands.
    PASSION played int. festivals in 2006 and will be released on DVD in 2008. Unfortunately it is not alone my decision. But to fill the gap there's the new STRAW DOGS SE for which I produced a documentary and featurettes (altogether about 65 minutes)..
     
  20. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Whatever happened to the Peckinpah board, BTW? It seemed to disappear last year; has it been resurrected? Can't even remember the URL...
     

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