Rouben Mamoulian's Applause (1929) and Love Me Tonight (1932) on November 25th

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Bill Burns, Oct 22, 2003.

  1. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    I didn't want to say anything until the titles showed up on either Kino's website or at e-tailers, and they finally have (the latter, not yet the former):

    Applause (1929):
    http://www.dvdplanet.com/product_lis...780&format=DVD

    Love Me Tonight (1932):
    http://www.dvdplanet.com/product_lis...781&format=DVD

    Those links are to DVDPlanet, but don't yet contain any real information beyond title, studio, language, and release date. I'm just providing them as a reference; I've never used that e-tailer.

    For further reference, here are the films' IMDB pages:

    Applause (1929):
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0019644/

    Love Me Tonight (1932):
    http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0023158/

    Kino announced both of these in their e-mail newsletter of a week or two ago. "Patience," they cautioned, preorders would be accepted shortly. Well, again, the films are not yet up on the Kino website (as of this writing), but they've hit two of the four e-tailers I've checked (DVDPlanet and DeepDiscountDVD). I'm sure the others will fall into line shortly.

    No word was given about supplements; I'm sure more info will be forthcoming, particularly once the titles appear on Kino's website, but I'll close here with a quote from that e-mail: "Rouben Mamoulian Classic Universal (Paramount) Musicals." Now that says it all. [​IMG]

    P.S. November 25th also marks the release of the Photoplay restoration of It (1927), which will be brought to DVD by Milestone (published by Image).
     
  2. Roderick Gauci

    Roderick Gauci Stunt Coordinator

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    Bill, while there’s still no sign of either of them on Kino’s website, I managed to come up with a list of specs for both discs, which I hope are correct (thanks to Digital Eyes):


    APPLAUSE (1929)

    ·Excerpt from "Glorifying the American Girl" (1929) starring Helen Morgan
    ·Newsreel Footage of Helen Morgan singing "What I Wouldn't Do for that Man"
    ·Interview with director Rouben Mamoulian
    ·Text/Photo Galleries: Photo Gallery; Promotional Materials
    ·Booklet Essay - Miles Kreuger


    LOVE ME TONIGHT (1932)

    ·Excerpts from the Paramount Newsreel HOLLYWOOD ON PARADE with Maurice Chevalier performing "Louise" and Jeanette MacDonald singing "Love Me Tonight"
    ·Audio Commentary by Miles Kreuger, Founder and President of the Institute of the American Musical Inc.
    ·Original Theatrical Trailer
    ·Text/Photo Galleries: Screenplay excerpts of deleted scenes; Production Documents and Censorship Records; Photo Gallery and Promotional Material
    ·Booklet Essay by Miles Kreuger


    Typically for Kino, the supplements sound very promising but what is worrying me here is the fact that the running time for LOVE ME TONIGHT is given at several online retailers as 89 minutes when the film was originally released at 104 (according to All Movie Guide, IMDB and Leslie Halliwell)! Leonard Maltin and Time Out Film Guide then show a 96-minute running time, although the latter does mention that it was originally 8 minutes longer! To further confuse the issue, the ‘Rotten Tomatoes’ website does state a running time of 89 minutes for LOVE ME TONIGHT! The mind boggles…

    There was talk of Kino following a lead on where the missing footage could be located but, unfortunately, it seems that this enterprise didn’t reap the desired results. I know that a quarter of an hour is an awful lot of footage (and I sincerely hope that online retailers are mistaken) but, having never seen either of these films, and given the amount of extras included, I’ll be purchasing them regardless.

    After all, it wouldn’t really be the first time that I have knowingly purchased a cut, altered or otherwise incomplete version of a film because it was a SE DVD: Image’s 2-Disc Set of DR. MABUSE, THE GAMBLER (1922), Kino’s METROPOLIS (1926), Criterion’s A` NOUS LA LIBERTE` (1931), Universal’s BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935), Warners/MK2s 2-Disc Sets of MODERN TIMES (1936) and LIMELIGHT (1952), Columbia’s LOST HORIZON (1937), Disney’s FANTASIA (1940), Criterion’s ORPHEUS (1949), MGM’s THE COMEDY OF TERRORS (1964) and THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (1964), Fox’s THE SAND PEBBLES (1966), MGM’s THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1970), Image’s LISA AND THE DEVIL (1972), All Day’s GANJA AND HESS (1973), Anchor Bay’s TENEBRE (1982) and, more recently, Paramount’s SE DVD of Terence Fisher’s FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL (1974), which I’ve just received in the mail today, by the way!

    But, to get back on topic, I'm pleased to note a resurgence of interest of late in the unjustly neglected Rouben Mamoulian’s exceptional work via the DVD format: apart from Kino's own APPLAUSE and LOVE ME TONIGHT discs, this year will have brought us not only his last completed film, SILK STOCKINGS (1957), but also perhaps his most enjoyable one, THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940), while next year Warners will be releasing his masterful version of DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1931), undoubtedly the finest ever film adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's horror classic and, possibly, Mamoulian’s own masterpiece.

    I’ve watched 7 of his 16 films so far but I’ve got BECKY SHARP (1935) and SUMMER HOLIDAY (1948) lying unwatched on VHS. I know that THE GAY DESPERADO (1936) is available on DVD from Image but I’m not too sure whether I should get it or not. Still, I reckon I'm not the only one here who wishes that DVD releases of CITY STREETS (1931) and QUEEN CHRISTINA (1933), the most notable absentees on this format from Mamoulian’s curriculum, be just around the corner!

    P.S. Bill, have you grabbed Kino’s DVD of THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (1928) yet? I think it’s an excellent disc for a superb film and it currently holds the No. 3 spot on my “Top 10 DVD releases for 2003” after two Criterions, TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1932) and THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER (1941). Speaking of Kino, I really hope that they do a good job on (my favorite film director) Luis Bunuel’s L’AGE D’OR (1930) which should come out in a few months or so…
     
  3. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the details, Roderick -- that's the first I've heard of any. [​IMG] Both discs sound like winners (I only hope their PQ mimics The Love Trap and not the poor source materials of Counsellor At Law), and given that Universal supplied the elements and/or masters, I wouldn't anticipate any PAL issues (see below; I say "anticipate" because I've found them in so many unlikely places, such as Topper -- again, see below -- that I refuse to express great confidence until I've actually seen any particular disc in question! [​IMG]), so I'm very much looking forward to them. My track record with Universal licensees to Kino hasn't been great, as you may recall -- the disc itself was missing in my copy of The Good Fairy, and there's a brief digital glitch on the otherwise excellent The Love Trap; the only title of that Wyler bunch to show up and play flawlessly was Counsellor At Law, and of course the available source material for that film was rather poor, probably 16mm, I'd guess -- but I'm sure (hoping) those will prove isolated, anomalous incidents.

    I was unaware of the missing footage -- as I just mentioned, Universal has licensed both of these to Kino, so I'm sure if the studio had anything more of Applause, they'd have included it. Perhaps more will one day turn up in an archive, as you suggested. Until then, this edition of Applause should still prove very entertaining.

    I've been hesitant in picking up The Man Who Laughs due to a passing comment by Randy Salas here:

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...60#post1778560

    That's post #81. I wasn't certain if he was describing true PAL conversion or simply the movement blur any rapid object would create when captured by film, something seen in just about every picture, and perfectly natural; I'm not sure just how to articulate its causes within the science of photography, but it must have something to do with the fact that an object is moving too fast in relation to the film speed of the camera and the position of the lens for individual frames to lock focus on the object: frame grabs of The Great Dictator over at DVDBeaver -- found here -- are a fine example; the final comparison shows Charlie toying with a globe balloon, and while the balloon, in motion, "naturally" blurs in all three frames, only the frame from the PAL-NTSC conversion "ghosts" Charlie's arm, creating what looks like a double exposure, and would look like very unnatural blur in full motion, which is to say that the blurring effects of this "ghosting" are distinct at full motion from the usual photographic blur of objects moving rapidly in relation to the position of the camera, which itself might be better thought of as a motion-related loss in focus (this is what "natural blur" looks like, at any rate). That DVDBeaver comparison (and those of other films in which screen captures show objects in motion) is just an easily referenced example, and freeze framing any native PAL or native NTSC film with scenes of rapid motion will reveal the "natural" blur I'm eager to ensure no one confuses with conversion blur (freeze frame "ghosting" or double exposure); the former is intrinsic to film, while the latter is, to my eye, very un-filmlike.

    At any rate, as I wasn't quite sure if Randy's description suggested true PAL conversion or not, I passed up the title for the time being. I've yet to find any reviews or other comments that further determine the matter. As I'm sure you know, Roderick, PAL conversion is a big thorn in my side, and one I'd managed to evade, unknowingly, until landing upon The Iron Mask a couple of years ago (one of only two titles in my "conversion collection" I consider of sufficient quality, both as a film and in its other transfer parameters, to justify purchasing, given the blur). If there's cause to fear a PAL conversion has been undertaken for a video master, I always want to get to the bottom of it and either prove or disprove the point as well as is realistically feasible before investing money (Hallmark's master and/or transfer for Artisan's edition of Topper on Topper / Topper Returns continues to gnaw at me); and, of course, if a conversion is verified, I generally put my purchasing dollar elsewhere.

    So ... do you see any blur on this title, or, specifically (and most easily determined, even on titles with minimal blur), any still frame "ghosting," which usually manifests on one frame or two frames in every three or four during scenes of any notable motion relative to the camera, but most clearly scenes of rapid motion? I think you mentioned having watched The Iron Mask, which is a rather severe example of blurring (whereas WB's Region 1 of The Gold Rush is a mild example). If it's free of doubled images/ghosting ("blurring" in freeze frame, blurring at full motion ... many of these terms are interchangeable, and are really just descriptive ways of saying "PAL-NTSC or, for those in PAL territories, NTSC-PAL conversions" ... or, by Dennis Doros' explanation of an alternate source for the trouble, an inferior method of speed correction involving tape-to-tape manipulations*), I'd love to pick up a copy of The Man Who Laughs (in the New Year; I'm pretty well tapped out with pre-orders for the rest of 2003, and WB's Lon Chaney Collection just arrived today -- I can't wait to dig into that). Any feedback on this front would be of great help. [​IMG]

    * I've speculated at length (great length, I'm sure tiresome length [​IMG]) about this here (throughout the short thread, but particularly in post #8):

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...hreadid=164680

    P.S. I couldn't agree more about Mamoulian's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Roderick -- an absolutely mesmerizing masterpiece of cinema, perhaps the finest performance of one of cinema's finest and most versatile actors, Fredric March, and one of the great triumphs of a year that produced many, 1931 (there's some confusion here, as the IMDB lists a December 31st premiere in an unspecified location, followed by a January 2nd, 1932 premiere in New York, but assuming it was shown publicly somewhere in '31, and given that all photography and post production work, including the final premiere edit, were obviously completed in '31, I'll go ahead and count it among that year's films). Among the others are Little Caesar, A Free Soul, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Public Enemy ... and more. I was thrilled to learn a few weeks ago that a slightly more complete version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (not only a bit more complete, but also in better shape thanks to the use of superior elements for certain scenes) was made possible by info provided by fans of the film to Warner Bros., and the last minute, dedicated work of the studio. [​IMG] Its January 6th release to DVD (reportedly accompanying the 1941 remake) will mark a great day for the format, to say nothing of other gems releasing the same day (WB's The Postman Always Rings Twice, a film I love, Fox's My Darling Clementine, a film I've yet to see but of terrific reputation, and others).
     
  4. Roderick Gauci

    Roderick Gauci Stunt Coordinator

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    Quote (originally posted by Bill Burns):

    “Thanks for the details, Roderick -- that's the first I've heard of any. Both discs sound like winners (I only hope their PQ mimics The Love Trap and not the poor source materials of Counsellor At Law), and given that Universal supplied the elements and/or masters, I wouldn't anticipate any PAL issues (see below; I say ‘anticipate’ because I've found them in so many unlikely places, such as Topper -- again, see below -- that I refuse to express great confidence until I've actually seen any particular disc in question! ), so I'm very much looking forward to them. My track record with Universal licensees to Kino hasn't been great, as you may recall -- the disc itself was missing in my copy of The Good Fairy, and there's a brief digital glitch on the otherwise excellent The Love Trap; the only title of that Wyler bunch to show up and play flawlessly was Counsellor At Law, and of course the available source material for that film was rather poor, probably 16mm, I'd guess -- but I'm sure (hoping) those will prove isolated, anomalous incidents.

    I was unaware of the missing footage -- as I just mentioned, Universal has licensed both of these to Kino, so I'm sure if the studio had anything more of Applause, they'd have included it. Perhaps more will one day turn up in an archive, as you suggested. Until then, this edition of Applause should still prove very entertaining.”

    Actually, Bill, it’s LOVE ME TONIGHT (1932) that’s incomplete and not APPLAUSE (1929) – I thought I had made it clear enough in my earlier post[​IMG]!

    I do remember your unfortunate incident concerning THE GOOD FAIRY (1935). Still, I’m slightly worried by your description of the print utilized for the DVD transfer of COUNSELLOR-AT-LAW (1933)[​IMG]! I’ve been meaning to pick it up since the day of its release and, in any case, I guess we should be grateful it’s been made available at all…God knows it’s never been shown on TV over here! Which reminds me: a couple of weeks ago, I was shocked to discover that a local TV channel was showing the John Barrymore Silent film TEMPEST (1928) as part of an ongoing program entitled simply “Odeon Sundays”. I was completely unaware of its being on the schedule and, subsequently, I learned that another Silent film had preceded it on that same day – the famous documentary BERLIN, SYMPHONY OF A GREAT CITY (1927). I’ve never watched either of these films (though I guess they’re readily available on DVD) and, so, I immediately e-mailed a fuming letter to the owner of the channel in question, requesting not only that the films be aired once again but also that he tell me what other films had been shown in the past – because, for all I know, this weekly double-feature of Silent films had been going on for months already!! Needless to say, I’ve received no reply. Anyway, the following week, two masterworks of German horror cinema were shown – NOSFERATU (1922) and METROPOLIS (1926) – but, in this case, I was familiar with the films and, in any case, the prints were atrocious and both films were severely edited (with the former barely over an hour in length!). Last Sunday, it was GOSTA BERLINGS SAGA aka THE ATONEMENT OF GOSTA BERLING (1924) – where the intertitles (superimposed on the image and obfuscated by the logo of the TV channel itself) were virtually impossible to read! – and the Lon Chaney vehicle THE SHOCK (1923), which came at a propitious moment as I should receive Warners’ THE LON CHANEY COLLECTION soon and, so, I’ll be watching it then…


    Quote (originally posted by Bill Burns):

    “I've been hesitant in picking up The Man Who Laughs due to a passing comment by Randy Salas here:

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htf...560#post1778560

    That's post #81. I wasn't certain if he was describing true PAL conversion or simply the movement blur any rapid object would create when captured by film, something seen in just about every picture, and perfectly natural; I'm not sure just how to articulate its causes within the science of photography, but it must have something to do with the fact that an object is moving too fast in relation to the film speed of the camera and the position of the lens for individual frames to lock focus on the object: frame grabs of The Great Dictator over at DVDBeaver -- found here -- are a fine example; the final comparison shows Charlie toying with a globe balloon, and while the balloon, in motion, ‘naturally’ blurs in all three frames, only the frame from the PAL-NTSC conversion ‘ghosts’ Charlie's arm, creating what looks like a double exposure, and would look like very unnatural blur in full motion, which is to say that the blurring effects of this ‘ghosting’ are distinct at full motion from the usual photographic blur of objects moving rapidly in relation to the position of the camera, which itself might be better thought of as a motion-related loss in focus (this is what ‘natural blur’ looks like, at any rate). That DVDBeaver comparison (and those of other films in which screen captures show objects in motion) is just an easily referenced example, and freeze framing any native PAL or native NTSC film with scenes of rapid motion will reveal the ‘natural’ blur I'm eager to ensure no one confuses with conversion blur (freeze frame ‘ghosting’ or double exposure); the former is intrinsic to film, while the latter is, to my eye, very un-filmlike.

    At any rate, as I wasn't quite sure if Randy's description suggested true PAL conversion or not, I passed up the title for the time being. I've yet to find any reviews or other comments that further determine the matter. As I'm sure you know, Roderick, PAL conversion is a big thorn in my side, and one I'd managed to evade, unknowingly, until landing upon The Iron Mask a couple of years ago (one of only two titles in my ‘conversion collection’ I consider of sufficient quality, both as a film and in its other transfer parameters, to justify purchasing, given the blur). If there's cause to fear a PAL conversion has been undertaken for a video master, I always want to get to the bottom of it and either prove or disprove the point as well as is realistically feasible before investing money (Hallmark's master and/or transfer for Artisan's edition of Topper on Topper / Topper Returns continues to gnaw at me); and, of course, if a conversion is verified, I generally put my purchasing dollar elsewhere.

    So ... do you see any blur on this title, or, specifically (and most easily determined, even on titles with minimal blur), any still frame ‘ghosting’ which usually manifests on one frame or two frames in every three or four during scenes of any notable motion relative to the camera, but most clearly scenes of rapid motion? I think you mentioned having watched The Iron Mask, which is a rather severe example of blurring (whereas WB's Region 1 of The Gold Rush is a mild example). If it's free of doubled images/ghosting (‘blurring’ in freeze frame, blurring at full motion ... many of these terms are interchangeable, and are really just descriptive ways of saying ‘PAL-NTSC or, for those in PAL territories, NTSC-PAL conversions’ ... or, by Dennis Doros' explanation of an alternate source for the trouble, an inferior method of speed correction involving tape-to-tape manipulations*), I'd love to pick up a copy of The Man Who Laughs (in the New Year; I'm pretty well tapped out with pre-orders for the rest of 2003, and WB's Lon Chaney Collection just arrived today -- I can't wait to dig into that). Any feedback on this front would be of great help.

    * I've speculated at length (great length, I'm sure tiresome length ) about this here (throughout the short thread, but particularly in post #8):

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htf...threadid=164680”

    Bill, I KNOW how you feel about the whole ‘motion blur/ghosting’ issue but I need to point out that, first of all, I didn’t notice any (and, frankly, I’m not in the habit of pausing a disc and advance it frame-by-frame just to see how it looks!) and, secondly, as was the case with THE CHESS PLAYER (1927), I hadn’t watched the film before so my attention wasn’t allowed to deviate, as it were, from enjoying my first encounter with it (which, here, concerns a title I had been craving for since childhood!), so I hope you can understand that…

    Still, I need to be frank here, Bill, and say that since the Kino DVD is the only available option at the moment (and quite possibly for a long time to come), I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass me by, ghosting or no ghosting! Ditto the original Silent versions of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925; available on Milestone’s 2-Disc Set) and THE GOLD RUSH (1925; available on the Warner/MK2 double-disc set) – both of which, as you know very well, bear unmistakable evidence of the dreaded ‘motion blur/ghosting’…though, actually, I’ve yet to check them out myself (they’ve been lying in my “To Watch” pile for some time already!). After all, we won’t be around forever[​IMG]!

    Still, to tide you over for the moment, here’s the only available (as far as I could find) online review of the Kino DVD of THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (1928):

    http://www.imagesjournal.com/2003/reviews/manwholaughs/

    I don’t know whether you’re already familiar with the film or not, Bill, but take my word for it – it’s one of the finest Silent pictures you’ll ever see! I hope I can find some time to sit down and write a proper review of the film and disc in the near future…


    Quote (originally posted by Bill Burns):

    “P.S. I couldn't agree more about Mamoulian's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Roderick -- an absolutely mesmerizing masterpiece of cinema, perhaps the finest performance of one of cinema's finest and most versatile actors, Fredric March, and one of the great triumphs of a year that produced many, 1931 (there's some confusion here, as the IMDB lists a December 31st premiere in an unspecified location, followed by a January 2nd, 1932 premiere in New York, but assuming it was shown publicly somewhere in '31, and given that all photography and post production work, including the final premiere edit, were obviously completed in '31, I'll go ahead and count it among that year's films). Among the others are Little Caesar, A Free Soul, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Public Enemy ... and more. I was thrilled to learn a few weeks ago that a slightly more complete version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (not only a bit more complete, but also in better shape thanks to the use of superior elements for certain scenes) was made possible by info provided by fans of the film to Warner Bros., and the last minute, dedicated work of the studio. Its January 6th release to DVD (reportedly accompanying the 1941 remake) will mark a great day for the format, to say nothing of other gems releasing the same day (WB's The Postman Always Rings Twice, a film I love, Fox's My Darling Clementine, a film I've yet to see but of terrific reputation, and others).”

    Actually, Bill, I meant to write down 1931 as the year of release for DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE! I seem to remember that the James Whale biography “A New World Of Gods and Monsters” (which I’m currently reading, and where the film’s performance at the box-office is compared with that of Whale’s FRANKENSTEIN [1931]) expressly mentioned 12/31 as the date of its first showing, so that WOULD make it a ’31 release, I suppose…

    By the way, Bill, it HAS been confirmed that both versions owned by Warners will be on that January DVD (and extras should include an Audio Commentary by historian Gregory W. Mank, though I’m not certain at this stage whether both films will be getting the same attention on this front), as can be seen from the cover art here:

    http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=5770

    As for MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946), that’s definitely one of John Ford’s finest films and one of the most elegiac of all Westerns. I’m looking forward a great deal too to William Wellman’s THE OX-BOW INCIDENT (1943), another classic Western starring Henry Fonda, but which I’ve yet to see myself; it’s due out next week from Fox.
     
  5. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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  6. Roderick Gauci

    Roderick Gauci Stunt Coordinator

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    Quote (originally posted by Bill Burns):

    ”Indeed you did -- my mistake. Applause being the older of the two and, perhaps, the lesser known, I read Love Me Tonight and, when I went to post, remembered it as Applause. Or then, perhaps it was my unwillingness to accept that I might be missing anything of Jeanette MacDonald .... ”

    Bill, if I wanted to be really cynical here, I’d say that at least we’d be spared a couple of her musical numbers[​IMG]!

    The truth is that Musicals are hardly my favorite genre (those would be Horror, Comedies, Film Noir, Westerns, Silents and World Cinema) and, while I was very much into them when I was a child, ever since listening to the likes of Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Lou Reed (to name but three artists) all through my adolescence and up to the present day, I can’t help but find the songs in most Hollywood Musicals as being rather quaint nowadays. There are a couple of Musicals which still work for me but they are decidedly of a more recent vintage – WEST SIDE STORY (1961), CABARET (1972) and THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975).

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got Warners’ 2-Disc Set of SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952) in my collection (but which I’ve yet to go through!) and I should be receiving YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942) too in the next couple of days. Neither did this factor stop me from acquiring (and enjoying) Criterion’s three Rene` Clair Musicals – UNDER THE ROOFS OF PARIS (1930), LE MILLION (1931), A` NOUS LA LIBERTE` (1931) – as well as Warners’ THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939), Universal’s STAR SPANGLED RHYTHM (1942; although I REALLY got that disc for the same year’s MY FAVORITE BLONDE[​IMG]) Universal’s PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1943), Criterion’s THE RULING CLASS (1971; not truly a Musical per se but it does feature several impromptu musical numbers) and most of the classic Disney animated features SE DVDs.

    Besides, as I said in my earlier post, admiring Rouben Mamoulian’s work as I do, not much prodding is needed for me to purchase LOVE ME TONIGHT (1932) sight unseen, especially given its reputation. And, after all, I have already watched quite a few of the charming musical comedies Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald did for Ernst Lubitsch during the same period – THE LOVE PARADE (1929), MONTE CARLO (1930; with Jack Buchanan instead of Chevalier), ONE HOUR WITH YOU (1932) and THE MERRY WIDOW (1934) – and, if anything, Mamoulian’s film is said to be even better! And, to her credit, Miss MacDonald looked lovely in these films…as well as in SAN FRANCISCO (1936) and in the Technicolor-ed SWEETHEARTS (1938)!


    Quote (originally posted by Bill Burns):

    “Of interesting note is that the IMDB lists Mamoulian as an uncredited editor on only one film in his entire career ... this film! And on-line sources reveal a surprising variety of running times, as you mentioned, Roderick -- I've found listings for 88 minutes, 89 minutes, 96 minutes, and several for 104 minutes, and yet none (save one, see below) mention anything about cuts or alternate versions, including the IMDB. Ack. The only clue I've found is here ...
    http://www.dandugan.com/maytime/f-loveme.html

    ... where they mention the cutting of a number, "The Man For Me," prior to release, and the removal of a reprise of "Mime" sung by Myrna Loy (one of my favorite actresses in all of cinema -- I'd overlooked the fact that she was in this picture; it's now a priority purchase) for reissue prints in the 50's due to the scandalous discovery that her navel was showing! Those two segments couldn't account for fifteen minutes of footage, but they might account for several minutes.”

    Thanks for the link, Bill…interesting reading. Actually, Kino have today updated their website to include the two Mamoulian titles and, unfortunately, an 89-minute running time for LOVE ME TONIGHT has been confirmed. At least, there seem to be even more supplements included on APPLAUSE (1929).


    Quote (originally posted by Bill Burns):

    ”It's a great film, well written and well performed. I believe I've read that these materials are the best known to exist, but that may have been a passing comment in an on-line review somewhere, so take it with a grain of salt -- still, though, the DVD is welcome and the charms of the picture come through all the same.”

    Sometimes you have to make do with whatever you’re offered and, I guess, if you want to watch a particular movie that bad, it won’t matter in the end.


    Quote (originally posted by Bill Burns):

    ”I wrote up a recommendation for David Shepard's disc, released through Image ...
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htf...threadid=149869

    ... which I find outstanding, but be aware that the entire film is beset by very heavy print damage (as I mention in the recommendation, but I don't really emphasize it, because it shouldn't, in my view, stand between any potential customers and the disc); I don't find it troubling, as it always looks like film damage, rather than anything the matter on the video side of things, and so long as a presentation looks like film, even badly damaged film, I'm content. Naturally, if better materials can be found or created, I'd gladly purchase a product derived from same, but the quality of the film (and those Camilla Horn eyes) come across very well as it is.”

    I knew you had reviewed the TEMPEST (1928) DVD on HTF but I hadn’t read it all the way through yet. I’ll gladly do so presently[​IMG].


    Quote (originally posted by Bill Burns):

    “The Gold Rush is the second of the two ‘conversion collection’ items I mentioned earlier -- so good I'm not sorry I bought it, though I remain disappointed that WB didn't ensure optimal image quality with a native NTSC transfer.

    Aren't you in a PAL territory, though, Roderick? The PAL MK2 release of The Gold Rush should be absent all image blur on the reissue version (the '25 may still have it if there's credence to this ‘tape to tape’ explanation, and I'll of course give Dennis Doros the benefit of the doubt and assume there is; I still haven't found any info concerning just how many Photoplay restorations may have used this methodology for the creation of available masters).”

    As it happened, since I had managed to score most of the OOP Chaplin Image DVDs – except for THE KID (1921)/A DOG’S LIFE (1918) and MONSIEUR VERDOUX (1947) [​IMG] – I did not want to spend all that much for Warners/MK2’s re-issues and, so, when I found a great price for the Box Set at DVD Soon, I grabbed it immediately. Sure enough, the complete R2 Set was announced just a few days later but by then, the R1 discs had already shipped!!


    Quote (originally posted by Bill Burns):

    ”While I'll understand if anyone would like to rake me over the coals for this, as a dedicated fan of classic westerns, I have to tell ya' ... I found nothing at all to hold my interest in The Ox-Bow Incident. It was on television here a while back, in a fairly good print, and I watched the first fifteen or twenty minutes ... but the dialogue was stiff and uninvolving, the anti-mob justice message blatant and lacking in wit (and telegraphed very early in the film, as you can see) -- while no titles are jumping to mind just now, I know I've seen exceptionally compelling anti-mob message movies over the years ... oh yes, well, even Branagh's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein ... and from what I could see in the first section of this film, The Ox-Bow Incident wasn't going to join their ranks -- and the cinematography run-of-the-mill for the genre. Now, I didn't watch the entire film, and it's important to emphasize that -- things may have improved considerably further in. But there was nothing in that first fifteen or twenty minutes to keep me watching, and so, personally, I can't say I'd seek out the film on disc. As a great fan of Ford, though, and given the inclusion of two cuts of the picture, My Darling Clementine is one I'll gladly buy sight unseen.”

    Well, I’m only going by reputation in the case of THE OX-BOW INCIDENT (1943) – but I’m sorry it didn’t do anything for you and I do hope you give it another chance on DVD nonetheless …after all, Fox’s prices for their “Studio Classics” line is pretty affordable, wouldn’t you say?
     
  7. Rob Ray

    Rob Ray Agent

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    Apparently Kino tried to track down the missing footage for Love Me Tonight but to no avail. I've discussed this release at length with Miles Kreuger (and, in fact, alerted him the day this was announced by Kino, hoping in vain that he could track down a complete print from some European source.)

    In his audio commentary, he will go into minute detail as to what exactly is missing and will point out nearly all the lines that were cut for censorship, from a shooting script. Rouben Mamoulian was one of his many mentors and he has more information on Love Me Tonight that you could possibly want.

    Trust me -- you will love this release and it will be the last word on the subject unless a complete print turns up somewhere. (I still think a European archive may have one. The cuts were done for US censorship.)
     
  8. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    Roderick wrote:
     
  9. Rob Ray

    Rob Ray Agent

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    Bill asked:

     
  10. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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  11. Rob Ray

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    I'm constantly amazed at the high quality video "spruce-ups" (I know Robert Harris would point out that most of these are not true film "restorations") we're seeing on DVD. How Warner managed to get "Little Women" looking as good as it does is amazing.

    Studio by studio, it's the ones who have been committed to preservation from day one who have beautiful prints of vintage films. Disney's films have always looked nice. (I'm talking original film elements here, not necessarily video transfers, which have been atrocious at times). MGM took care of their films, and the Warner titles have benefitted from Ted Turner's ownership.

    But Councellor At Law is a Universal title. I remember from the heyday of revival houses that Universal and Columbia titles were always the diciest. And it's because they were just a couple of steps above poverty-row during the studio era and had no interest in film preservation.

    For a Universal title from 1934, Councellor At Law looks fine. If it's from 16mm, it's a very good 16 and not a dupe. The Good Fairy looks incredible, but I think there's been a lot video cleanup on that one. Kino's Jessica Rosner has said that Councellor At Law was a last minute release from Kino, replacing another Wyler title (one of his silents) that couldn't be acquired for some reason. Councellor At Law was the consolation prize, thus its transfer was probably straightforward with little time spent with video cleanup.

    Even when studios take care of their source materials, you always run into the "Mutiny on the Bounty" or "King Kong" rule: any film that proved to be perennially popular in re-release will look much more weather-beaten than those 1932 Columbia B's Sony's Mike Schlesinger is always bringing to Cinecon. In the case of Harlow, "Wife vs. Secretary" will always look better than "Dinner at Eight." (I love "Wife vs. Secretary, by the way. It's a glimpse at the sort of roles Harlow would have matured into, had she lived.)

    Sorry I was vague about "the Lubitsch Box". I was referring to the laserdisc box set that became a must-have for all Lubitsch/MacDonald/Chevalier fans about seven years ago. There are no plans that I know of to release them on DVD as yet. By the way, I viewed a VHS tape that Kino sent Miles Kreuger for proofing. I have no idea if that transfer is the final one that will appear on DVD. We'll have to wait a few weeks and see.
     
  12. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    Oh, Robert Harris and I have had our fair share of discussions about digital restoration around here (LDI's work in particular). He and I disagree on a few points and the quality of a few discs, but that's the fun of a debate, after all, and his expertise is always much appreciated. I imagine (I won't presume to speak for him) that he and I agree on this, though: video "clean-up" is really a matter of removing dirt and scratches, Rob, the very things I said never really bother me. Restoration is a process of returning a film to something more closely approximating its original state (restoring proper densities, detail, reversing the effects of fading and duping, bringing out an approximation of original grain structure -- usually a question of reducing excess grain from dupes -- and other indicators of what I'd think of as photochemical image "stability," restoring material cut after the fact, etc.), and then preserving that for the future. I praised those titles I listed for their recreation of 35mm nitrate -- are you suggesting that every film I named earlier has been restored, by this definition? I know for a fact that just isn't so, yet even "poverty row" studio Columbia warranted several inclusions, among them what I characterized as the very best product of the era on DVD from any studio: Only Angels Have Wings and His Girl Friday (the latter of which survives in original negative form, as mentioned on the box; I presume the same is true of the former, which looks just as good).

    I'm happy to see any classic film embraced, but Counsellor At Law, if it survives in anything but 16mm, could look a lot better. There is stellar, unrestored product out there from 1929, 1931, 1932, from 1934 (off the top of my head, and including titles cited in my earlier post) ... there's nothing to make 1933 exempt from image quality standards. The film isn't particularly scratch or dirt ridden, so cleaning won't do much for it. Detail is fuzzy, contrast is flat, highlights dull ... short of true restoration (perhaps a marriage of digital restoration and photochemical restoration ... the nature of surviving elements would determine the viability of restoration at all), little can be done to improve these areas. They're intrinsic in the element, which is why I'm fairly sure it must be a 16mm reduction. If not, it's a duped, faded, poor 35mm element. I have to stand by what I indicated earlier: of every film I named in that post, all of which are product from the same era (the list offers examples as far back as 1927's The General, which of course was happily preserved in Buster's own backyard vault until the 60's, I believe it was, but in point of fact there are many silent films which look worse, and many which look better, depending on the nature of surviving materials), Counsellor At Law looks the worst. It looks much worse than a number of films on disc from the years immediately preceeding it, among them (to move away from major studio product, such as Warner's Little Women of the same year, which clearly survives in fine 35mm print quality), UA's Street Scene and City Lights, both of which I named earlier (the latter restored by David Shepard, but as his "quick and dirty" unrestored projects demonstrate from surrounding years, these materials often survive in beautiful form). Is it Kino's fault that Counsellor At Law doesn't measure up to films on disc from the years just before and the years just after its release? No, of course not, it's the fault of the element, as I said -- but it doesn't look like good 35mm, and all of the others I named do.

    Dinner At Eight doesn't look like much, to my understanding, because the surviving elements are poor (I've forgotten the details now -- as with so many early nitrate productions, wasn't there a fire that destroyed the negative? From broadcast prints, I'd dare say it survives in poor 35mm -- probably safety print{s} many decades old -- or decent 16mm). The Public Enemy, by comparison, looks quite good from two years earlier. Harlow's own Platinum Blonde, also released two years or so before Dinner at Eight ('31 versus '33 -- I haven't checked the months of release), is due on disc from Columbia this Tuesday -- I'm eager to see how that turns out. A mere five years separate both of these from Wife vs. Secretary, and only two years separate them from Counsellor At Law.

    I only emphasize my disagreement for the benefit of those looking to buy a few classics (those who aren't planning to buy everything), and for whom the fidelity of an image to an original release print is a concern. Counsellor At Law is a great film, but it looks like reduction, and perhaps duped, 16mm (which looks much worse than native 16mm) -- I'd invite anyone to look at any of the films I named earlier and compare them to Counsellor At Law. As I mentioned before, Kino's own Love Trap (1929, four years prior to Counsellor At Law) looks absolutely glorious, and video "cleaning" has little to do with that -- it was obviously taken from lovely 35mm nitrate elements, or direct and recent safety copies of those elements. Could Counsellor At Law look any better? Video clean-up isn't going to do it -- as John Lowry himself has said, even the best digital work can't invent detail that isn't there in the element. You can do a lot for fading, damage, chemical deterioration -- but if the source element is "dirty" reduction 16mm, the best it's going to look is "clean" reduction 16mm. [​IMG] Counsellor At Law is a welcome addition to the DVD library, but ... buyer beware. I hope superior elements are one day found.

    And speaking of John Barrymore pictures ... here's looking forward to (hoping for) a stellar edition of Twentieth Century in the near future. I trust that one will find its way to DVD. [​IMG]

    Thanks for the Lubitsch Box clarification -- I'm sorry I missed that on laser (I wasn't even on the internet until 1997, so my resources were few beyond the massive laserdisc catalogues at which I'd occasionally marvel and scratch my head -- who could say what was worth the money and what wasn't?). I happened upon a few great boxed sets in the early 90's, when I first got into laser, but missed that one (and the Show Boat box, and ... and ... sigh, so many others). I very much hope the films themselves, even if not as part of a single set, are released to DVD one day soon.
     
  13. Rob Ray

    Rob Ray Agent

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  14. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    We disagree, Rob. With excellent pre-code Universal material on disc (The Love Trap is a fine example of pre-Code material that wouldn't have been reissued, yet survives in absolutely stunning shape, whereas material that looks pretty shoddy, such as their Paramount Trouble in Paradise, still looks better than Counsellor At Law), Counsellor At Law's origin is a below average element (among surviving films of the era currently on disc, and among those I've seen in total). If it's all that survives, it's of great value, as I've said all along -- but "fine" suggests nominal, and 16mm reduction is rarely nominal. That it's the worst looking Universal property on DVD (outside of some of the few surviving Universal silents) and the worst on disc of the pre-Code talkie era from any studio, including Columbia (notably excepting, as I mentioned a few posts ago, RKO material as issued by Roan, and also certain other non-studio release, additional examples of which would include the recommended but very poor Image/Wade Williams 365 Nights in Hollywood and Things to Come -- but those Roan RKOs are in by far the worst condition of any major studio film, or more accurately video masters derived from major studio film elements, I've seen from the sound era), belies any sense of normalcy. I'd agree that it looks fine for surviving reduction 16mm of pictures made in the 1930's, but that's a significant qualifier. I haven't seen them yet, but I'd bet dollars to donuts (if I were a betting man, and happily, I'm not) that Applause and Love Me Tonight, of essentially the same vintage, survive in 35mm and will look superior as well (that's a gut response -- I don't have any info to back up that prediction). Love Me Tonight, of course, was reissued, and it's the reissue that survives, but was Applause ever reissued? We'll know how they turn out at the end of the month, when the titles can be readily A/B'd.

    The early Edisons look great because of copyright law at the time, which necessitated registering the films with the Library of Congress on photographic paper. Those photographic submissions were preserved, whereas Edisons original materials (for the most part, anyway -- I don't know if there are exceptions among his company's early output, but I imagine there are from some of its later material) were not. That's another matter from the question of whether an all-talkie (Counsellor At Law), released six years into talking pictures and whose original elements, so far as I know, were never the victim of intentional destruction (unlike Universal's silver reclamation project on "unmarketable" silents, from what I've read), and in fact featured one of the great stars of its era, John Barrymore, was tossed out or otherwise destroyed at some point -- as to that, only the archivists know. Perhaps Universal did willfully destroy A pictures from the 30's -- but I've never heard that. Few studios really understood any imperative in preservation at the time (Chaplin's vaults -- which may or may not have included other UA materials, I dunno; David Shepard would probably know the answer to that -- were one very notable exception, though even they later destroyed outtake materials), so natural decomp, neglect, and fire (as I mentioned in relation to Dinner at Eight, though I'm not certain of that) claimed a tremendous number of casualties throughout the industry even when such destruction was not the intent of the parent studio -- the records for each studio and each film are far too many for a simple film lover like me to plough through. [​IMG] A matter for the archivists, as I said. But with one good to great 35mm early talkie after another emerging from Universal on disc (not to be confused with their early Paramount offerings, many of which are emerging in fantastic condition, others less so -- The Lady Eve, Trouble in Paradise; I was mistaken earlier, TiP is actually a Paramount production), I can't call Counsellor At Law "fine," as if it were of a kind with its brethren on the format (and from the pre-Code talkie era). Among all surviving pre-Code Universal properties, it may be "normal" or "fine" (do the majority of surviving Universal films of pre-'34 survive in 16mm alone?), but I'm not prepared to say that, as I haven't been to the archives to check it all. Among material on disc, Counsellor is decidedly below average. But that's my opinion -- as I say, we disagree, and there's nothing whatever wrong with that. [​IMG]

    Here's looking forward to Kino's end-of-month releases.
     
  15. Rob Ray

    Rob Ray Agent

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    I love to argue with you, Bill! Nothing wrong with that at all! Let's keep this thread alive so that others on the forum will be curious enough to want to check out "Love Me Tonight" and "Applause" when they arrive on the 25th.

    I'm not aware of any significant reissue of Applause over the years. And if Miles Kreuger's screener is any indication, while it will look better than the prints that have run on cable TV, you're apt to be disappointed if you're expecting it to look like Chaplin's The Circus. Mamoulian's camera movement while making use of sound is technologically sophisticated for 1929, but it's very much of its time as far as the print quality goes.

    My use of the word "fine" to describe "Counsellor at Law" is based on:

    1. It was a very "pre-code" film released early in 1934, one that was unreleasable after July 1934, thus few 35mm prints were struck after its initial release and few are in existence. A friend has 16mm print in his collection and this DVD blows his print out of the water.

    2. Universal was on the verge of bankruptcy at this point and changed regimes several times afterward. Preservation was never a consideration for any titles except the horrors, Abbott and Costello and maybe the Deanna Durbin titles. You can probably thank MGM for the condition of the 1936 "Show Boat" because they bought the property from Universal in the early 40s before the nitrate started decomposing.

    You call it the worst looking Universal property on DVD. Well, nearly all of the other Universal titles on DVD are the bread and butter horrors for which Universal spent princely sums doing restorations and video cleanups. (Let me say, I was shocked at how good "The Good Fairy" looked and don't hold that as a realistic benchmark.) "Counsellor at Law" is a marginal title that you, me and five other people on this board will buy. Universal doesn't care about it. That's why they let Kino have it. I'm going to look at it again tonight, but it sure looked like a nice, pleasant unremarkable 35mm copy to me. Not great -- certainly not on a par with what Warner Home Video is doing-- but "fine" for a film of this vintage and pedigree.

    By the way, I wouldn't be shocked at all to hear that the majority of Universal's early 30s output only survives in 16mm. Sure, they made 35mm protection material on the monster movies, but I'll bet they shrugged at the thought of making preservation copies of most everything else way back when MGM and others were routinely doing it. Until home video, some studios only cared about generating 16mm prints for sale to TV and even well into the home video era, decent video masters were thought to be good enough.

    To give an idea of how highly these films are regarded even today -- a friend of mine who used to distribute the Laurel and Hardy films in Europe received a phone call from somebody at Hallmark several months back. The person said, "Do you want the nitrate negatives to the Hal Roach films we own? We don't have room for them and if you don't want them, we're going to throw them away." Phone calls were hastily made and now the nitrate negs to most of the most beloved Laurel and Hardy films from the 1930s are at UCLA and not the dump.

    Universal today is at the forefront of film preservation and should be enthusiastically encouraged and congratulated. But they are having to deal with decades of neglect by their forebears, especially on titles such as "Counsellor at Law."
     
  16. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    “Can you see through this?”
    “I’m afraid you can, Miss.”
    “I’ll wear it!”
    -- Jean Harlow
    Red-Headed Woman (1932)

    [​IMG]


    Quote:



    1. It was a very "pre-code" film released early in 1934, one that was unreleasable after July 1934, thus few 35mm prints were struck after its initial release and few are in existence.





    Yes, but this is true of every "problematic" Pre-Code film from every studio (some of which were re-released, but edited, as with Love Me Tonight). There were Pre-Code films that didn't violate the Production Code Hays brought to bear in '34 (problem-free), of course. The question, I think, is what became of the release prints for Counsellor At Law from 1933 (has anything been found in a sentimental projectionist's attic, etc.), and what became of Universal's original materials.


    Quote:



    2. Universal was on the verge of bankruptcy at this point and changed regimes several times afterward. Preservation was never a consideration for any titles except the horrors, Abbott and Costello and maybe the Deanna Durbin titles. You can probably thank MGM for the condition of the 1936 "Show Boat" because they bought the property from Universal in the early 40s before the nitrate started decomposing.





    So was Columbia, I believe (more than once, it seems, but I can't claim to be an expert in the history of any of the studios), yet their pre-Code material is appearing on DVD in generally marvelous shape, as are the many films released after the Code that were smaller, B pictures rarely if ever re-released. Again, I really think it becomes an issue of the fate of original materials, release prints, and of course international prints/dupe negatives, rather than a question of latter-day safety and re-release duping/printing.


    Quote:



    You call it the worst looking Universal property on DVD. Well, nearly all of the other Universal titles on DVD are the bread and butter horrors for which Universal spent princely sums doing restorations and video cleanups.





    Their OOP DVDs of the great monster classics (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, and The Invisible Man) are all in pretty bad shape. They look better than Counsellor At Law because they offer a greater contrast range (well ... see below -- I wouldn't want to say this unequivocally without revisiting them), brighter highlights, and at least somewhat superior detail, but they are scratched and scuffed six ways from Sunday (nearly to a point where it even begins to annoy me [​IMG]), some look faded, contrasts, while perhaps a bit more varied, per above, will sometimes plug right up into blacks lacking in all detail (flat), and all look like mediocre 35mm prints, many steps below original print and certainly negative materials (there are even those out-of-balance Dracula shots, thanks to the use not of an original negative source, which I presume no longer exists, but a release -- or, from the condition of the film as seen on disc, I'd dare say re-release, multi-generation -- print with an optical soundtrack not accounted for in the shooting of the picture) -- by comparison, The Love Trap looks like it was made yesterday (and it doesn't look quite that good). However, the second wave of monster titles, most of which (excepting notably Werewolf of London and She-Wolf of London) were sequels, look better by leaps and bounds, and She-Wolf in particular looks fabulous (the others I've seen are Son of Frankenstein/Ghost of Frankenstein and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man/House of Frankenstein) -- if Universal has put great time and effort into restoring their monster films, methinks they began with the sequels and worked their way backward (because some of the above titles are 30's films, while others are 40's works, I'd guess the lovely condition of all of them is due to a combination of changing studio policies and latter-day restoration/preservation work). Perhaps their eventual re-issues of the originals will reflect such time and effort, but the original DVD releases do not (I should note that I haven't seen their DVD of Bride of Frankenstein, which is why I left it out above, nor have I seen their pair of double feature Mummy sequel DVDs -- four features in all -- and the double-feature disc of Dracula sequels). The one exception is the Spanish Dracula, released on the same disc with its English language cousin; I believe David Skal, in his commentary, noted that it survives in negative form, and this is why its presentation is so remarkably superior, visually, to that of Browning's Dracula).

    Incidentally, I'm not one to jump up and down about Chaplin's The Circus, and I'm here to tell ya' -- WB's 42nd Street, Kino The Love Trap, even Kino's The General are all in better visual shape (than Image's Shepard presentation; those in PAL regions might find a much superior product in MK2's PAL native -- video? -- restoration), allowing for advances in lighting and film. If Applause approaches the quality of something like The Love Trap, I'll be ecstatic. If it accomplishes an image as pleasing as Fox's Sunrise or WB's The Thin Man, I'll be thrilled. If it looks like early generation 35mm, in reasonably good shape, I'll be more than satisfied, and this is what I'd expect if the film survives in original print form. I never expect more than what surviving elements can offer, but I know what great, good, ordinary, and poor looks like for studio films of the vintage. The review to question is the one that says Alice Adams is a disappointment because there's a scratch somewhere during the running time (yep, there was such a review on-line), or The Shop Around the Corner seems a little grainy (oh, the horror! [​IMG] That's my sole indulgence of scarcasm for the day), not the one that says Stagecoach looks quite poor when compared with WB's earlier 42nd Street -- surviving elements aren't up to snuff, and let's hope something better can be located in the future, or further restoration performed on what is now known to survive.

    When you pick up a copy of Kino's Italian import The Last Days of Pompeii and marvel at the overall condition of its visuals (which are really quite stunning, excepting only some late decomp), or those of the oldest surviving American feature, Richard III (also from Kino, courtesy of a sole surviving print held by a private collector), and then ask why a film hailing from twenty years later looks like a fuzzy 16mm reduction (perhaps better than fan copies or college prints, given -- some of those might be duped off of other 16mm sources -- but for studio 16mm reduction ... standard) ... "Pre-Code" just isn't a valid explanation. Universal's management rises to the top of the heap of possible explanations, but still doesn't specifically address why Pre-Code, rarely-if-ever re-released material like The Love Trap looks so absolutely beautiful, and a major star vehicle like Counsellor can only be located in such relatively poor condition. One for the archivists (I seem to be saying that rather frequently). But if on-line reviews are accurate (I still haven't seen it), it's clear that The Good Fairy also survives in original, well-preserved print condition, at the least, if not original negative (or early dupe negative, such as an international negative). What forces combined to make this true for some of Universal's Pre-Code properties, but not for others, given that many in a wildly varying state of preservation were never re-released? I'm inclined to think again to the "sentimental projectionist" or international archive (international print/negative) excuse, but those are old stand-bys -- it could be any number of reasons. Whatever they are, with each new, unexpectedly beautiful release, hopes run high that titles of similar pedigree not yet on shelves will fair as well. I'd dare say that, with DVD (where it is even more true than it was for laserdisc), there are a surprising (delightfully surprising) number of studio properties both major and minor finding themselves suddenly and unexpectedly presented in a state that marvelously recaptures what original audiences would have enjoyed -- Kino's release of Intolerance is another fine example, improving mightily on what already seemed a very good transfer from David Shepard/Image. Who knew? But thank God for the unknown! [​IMG]

    On another tack:


    Quote:



    ... "Wife vs. Secretary" had one afternoon in the sun in 1936 and then it's negative was tucked away in the MGM vaults and pulled out again no more frequently than any minor MGM title ....





    There must be more to the story of this film's preservation, because I've seen ... oh, too many to count, dozens upon dozens, perhaps hundreds, of M-G-M and WB films of the 20s-50's in broadcast and on disc, and nothing looks as good as the TCM broadcast of Wife vs. Secretary -- no other Jean Harlow film (I missed a few in their month-long showcase a few years ago, but only a few), no other Clark Gable film, no other Myrna Loy film that I've caught -- whether we're speaking of an obscure title that also had but "one day in the sun," or a title as popular as The Thin Man. Most of the Dick Powell (no relation to Bill ... no, no, that other Bill) features I've seen on TCM are never spoken of elsewhere, titles forgotten to all but his devoted fans -- and thus titles that I presume have been locked in cans not far away from those holding Wife vs. Secretary. Ditto for ... oh, sheerly guessing, as I don't have any statistics in front of me, 90% or more of the pictures made between 1930 and 1940. Yet, with all of those films similarly released once to theatres and never again, sitting in the same or similar vaults, Wife vs. Secretary, which I'm happy to say occupies a slot on my top ten list of all films from all eras of filmmaking, looks like it could have been released in 1996 (if they were still shooting on nitrate in 1996 [​IMG]), not 1936. It's a marvel to behold. A miracle. I'd love to know its history, and the exact conditions of its storage (if no active preservation/restoration not afforded other features of its era was undertaken), if only to point and say "even today, in 2003, studios could learn something here." I'll know more if ("when" -- it's too good to pass up for release, I trust) it's given a release on DVD from the best surviving materials, hopefully from a new downconverted hi def master. Then I could most accurately put it up against the best the format has yet offered of films from that period. But apart from the extraordinary quality of the content, the extraordinary quality of the film's condition remains a source of wonder to me. [​IMG]

    P.S.


    Quote:



    ... a friend of mine who used to distribute the Laurel and Hardy films in Europe received a phone call from somebody at Hallmark several months back. The person said, "Do you want the nitrate negatives to the Hal Roach films we own? We don't have room for them and if you don't want them, we're going to throw them away."





    Based solely on the state of Hallmark's Topper video master on Artisan's Topper / Topper Returns, this doesn't surprise me in the least. It's an attitude far too common in the past, and far too common today -- assets, unlike art, lose their appeal when they lose any clear monetary value. It's all a question of who owns what, and what they believe their responsibilities include as the owner.

    Can you imagine the uproar if someone phoned and said "you know, I have all of these Rembrandt originals in a warehouse, and they're a fire hazard, and no one cares, the prints are everywhere ... I'm just going to junk 'em if no one will buy 'em, and fast"? It's easy to laugh, because that would never happen. It should never happen to original film elements, either. As we thank the past for the paintings they preserved, so too will the future thank us for the film we preserve (no slight intended to modern day painters, of course [​IMG]).
     
  17. Rob Ray

    Rob Ray Agent

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    Who knows why "The Love Trap" looks so nice? The film got a lucky break somewhere. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that it's a hybrid film like Universal's "Lonesome" (which I would kill to have on DVD). The nitrate didn't get trashed because it's a talkie. The nitrate didn't get thrashed because it's a silent. So it just sat in some cool, dry corner somewhere waiting to be saved by preservationists who happened to get to it in time.

    It sounds like "Wife vs. Secretary" has been digitally spruced up by Warner. Could a DVD release be in the offing? [​IMG]

    Oh, and turn off your computer and go buy "The Good Fairy." The picture quality is stunning.
    ***
    "If you don't want men to make passes at you, why do you wear that low cut blouse and that tight skirt? If you don't want us to salute, stop raisin' yer flag!" -- James Dunn to Sally Eilers in "Bad Girl".
     
  18. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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  19. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    The Good Fairy is a marvelous gem and looks very nice indeed on the Kino DVD. One of the biggest joys of a sight unseen disc I've ever found.

    In other old movie news, my review of Laugh with Max Linder is up at http://www.digitallyobsessed.com/sho...w.php3?ID=5250 (Bill, no ghosting [​IMG] ) Excellent disc of a forgotten comic.
     
  20. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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