Robert Harris on The Bits - 6/2/03 column - OFFICIAL THREAD

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Bill Hunt, Jun 2, 2003.

  1. Bill Hunt

    Bill Hunt Insider
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    Robert Harris' latest column is now available at The Digital Bits. This time around, Robert looks at closer look at Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America, soon to be released as a 2-disc DVD special edition by Warner Home Video.

    Once Upon a Time...

    As always, click on the link to read Robert's comments and then come on back here to this official thread at the HTF to discuss, give feedback, ask questions of Robert and sound off as you will. Enjoy!
     
  2. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    Thanks for the word on this. Am I delusional, or was the Cannes cut in some limited arthouse release in the US? My recollection is seeing something that purported to be a 'restored European version' back perhaps a year after the original release, and I was thinking that it ran about three and a half hours. In any event, it was powerful filmmaking and I'm glad to hear that it's been given a good transfer.[​IMG]
     
  3. Mark_vdH

    Mark_vdH Screenwriter

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    I believe the original version was indeed released in American theaters, but it was still not quite the complete "original version": It was still edited for sex and/or violence.

    I could be wrong though....
     
  4. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Excellent article.

    The film is a towering cinematic masterpiece. It defies convention and was crafted by a master filmmaker giving all he had at the height of his unique powers.

    Dare I say it: Better than The Godfather I & II! [​IMG]

    Well, at least equal to those astonishing films. [​IMG]


    Gordy
     
  5. Craig S

    Craig S Producer

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    I've seen this film twice - once on VHS and then again on the original full-frame laser (sorry, there were no alternatives), which I still own. Both were labeled as
     
  6. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    At 229 minutes, this cut is some two minutes longer than the version screened at Cannes in 1984 with the approval of Mr. Leone after some trims.

    I'm led to believe by those who know better than I, that this was, and would have been the intended cut. While I'm not an expert on this particular film, there is footage that I do not recall from the laser disc release.

    This is a film that is more than the sum of its parts and that within a realm of pretenders, is one of a handful which can and should be considered as art.
     
  7. ChristopherBlig

    ChristopherBlig Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm very much looking forward to this release...I wonder if it includes a trailer, other extras???

    btw, a side note for Robert...I know this might be a few years ago but loved your commentary track on Vertigo.
     
  8. Mark_vdH

    Mark_vdH Screenwriter

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  9. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    Thanks for the review, and I am eagerly awaiting this dvd to arrive at my doorstep any time now

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Just wanted to say that I like the new designation of "rah" as worth of a "blind purchase!"

    Too true for this movie, thanks Mr. Harris for the wonderful article!
     
  11. Jefferson Morris

    Jefferson Morris Supporting Actor

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    Mark_vdH,

    That scene did go one somewhat longer in the American OAR laserdisc (Was that the "Cannes cut"?) than it did in the 225 minute "uncut" American version, which I owned and treasured for many years on VHS. There were other extra bits scattered throughout as well, including a slightly extended death scene for Eve (Noodle's girlfriend).

    I guess we'll have to wait and see if that particular (devastating) scene you mentioned is extended even further on the upcoming DVD. Either way, I'm greatly looking forward to this release. Quite possibly the best film of the 1980s.

    --Jefferson Morris
     
  12. Michel_Hafner

    Michel_Hafner Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the review and comments. A masterpiece in my
    eyes as well.
    I have been waiting many years for this DVD but now I think
    I will wait a bit more. Since WB have certainly done a
    HD transfer I will wait for it on TV or HD DVD. I'm less
    sure I will do that for "Sunrise". [​IMG]
     
  13. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    I watched the film last night. Amazing piece of work by a master filmmaker - no doubt about it.

    Very nice transfer.

    Disc 1 ends a bit abruptlywhen Noodles fires his last shot into the goon in the cotton factory.


    And disc 2 begins with the the shot of the other dead goon through the car window.


    Disc 2 contains the intermission.

    Theatrically, the intermission occurs at 160 minutes, with 69 minutes remaining. The disc change occurs at 120 minutes. It isn't really bothersome at all.


    Gordy
     
  14. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    I received an email yesterday that mine has shipped, so hopefully tomorrow

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Rob Willey

    Rob Willey Screenwriter

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    I spent a good part of the weekend with this one. After waiting years for a DVD release, it was great to finally drop this one in and give it a spin. My first time seeing one of my favorite films in its OAR and it was an incredible experience.

    The interior box art claims the first disc goes all the way to the Intermission (don't they proofread these things!?), but as Gordon says above, the first disc ends abruptly amongst the feathers. The second disc then continues, with the Intermission about forty minutes in. A little clunky, but not too bad.

    The additional running time (229 minutes vs. 227) seems to all come from slightly longer cuts of existing scenes (Eve's murder, the rape, and a flashback when Secretary Bailey places the gun on the table in front of Noodles).

    The Making of featurette included here was kind of interesting. It has a lot of reminiscences about Leone's efforts to get the film made. Apparently he could describe every shot in the film (all three and three-quarters hours of it!) long before pre-production began. That's how he got his producer, Arnon Milchan, to finance it. Milchan turns up in the movie as the chauffer.

    Highly recommended!

    Rob
     
  16. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I don't believe that the discrepancy of information on interior box art and disc is a problem of proofreading.

    Package design, ancillary material on the discs and the film itself all come together via separate paths. There seemed to be an assumption that the first "half" of the film could be made to fit on a disc; only to be re-directed to the second disc to hold the quality. The printed matter was probably well along when the change was made.

    As I mentioned earlier, I agree fully with the odd break as it helps measureably with quality.
     
  17. Rob Willey

    Rob Willey Screenwriter

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    RAH,

    I agree. It's not a matter of simple proofreading. I know enough about DVD creation to understand that it is more of a "right hand/left hand" sort of error than a proofreader's mistake. I should have made that clearer.

    Rob
     
  18. BruceKimmel

    BruceKimmel Stunt Coordinator

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    There seems to be so much confusion about the two extra minutes and so many people THINK they know this film and apparently don't. There are NO additional shots of violence, they were all there in the original "long" version released on VHS and laserdisc. What was NOT in any "long" version ever shown in the United States was the flashback at the end of the film (during the penultimate scene between DeNiro and Woods). In fact, the only time I'd ever seen that scene prior to this DVD was on a videotape of the Japanese release (which itself was only 204 minutes, shorn mostly of sex and violence). The film is not quite the same without the flashback and I have often been baffled why it was left out of all the previous releases of the US "long" version. It was always meant to be there and is, in fact, in the script, which I have a copy of. I think that the flashback comprises the entirety of the two additional minutes - I don't believe there are any extra shots save for that sequence.
     
  19. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    this is one of those movies that i have refused to watch, do to not being able to watch the true version any time in my past.
    i'm glad to finally be able to see it for the first time in it's entirety.

    great article Mr. Harris. thanks.
     
  20. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Just a few thoughts on one of my favorite films.

    I didn't notice any extension to the scenes of Eve's death or Debra's rape from the LD release I am familiar with. The only change I noticed was the flashback at the end of the film, which had me feeling I had lost my mind, since I didn't remember ever seeing it before.

    I found the disc change fairly disturbing. I don't think they needed to go all the way to the intermission, but they certainly could have found a better spot, rather than right in the middle of a sequence. There are over 2GB of unused capacity on disc 1. They had plenty of available space for a better cut.

    I think this film is easily better that either of the first 2 Godfathers in many ways, though not necessarily all ways. I think it is easily more passionate.

    It occasionally looked a bit bright for what I expected.

    What a great film!
     

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