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"The Alamo"s Status?

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Allansfirebird, Oct 10, 2013.

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  1. ljgranberry

    ljgranberry Second Unit

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    John Wayne's daughter is a prominent attorney in Los Angeles - surely she would also be interested in preserving the film.
     
  2. JoeDoakes

    JoeDoakes Cinematographer

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    A couple of things:

    1. Am I mistaken, or did you once manage a website for the Wayne estate or something like that (someone around here did)?

    2. What would be the appraised value of something like The Alamo? As it's deal with TGG shows, MGM seems particularly interested in cash generating projects, but my guess is that the cost of purchasing the film rights and all of the elements would be fairly high.

    3. I think I read somewhere that the Wayne estate earns a couple of million a year, and there are a lot of family members who probably have an interest in it. I would think that a project that involves them putting up a lot of money up front would be very difficult to carry off.

    4. Part of the problem is whatever calculation MGM has made about the film. If they are willing to turn down funds to pay for the restoration, they must have somethinking behind it. Perhaps they have the Roadshow version insured for a lot and they are hoping it will be a total loss that they can collect the cash from it.

    These points aside, I would wish anyone lots of luck who can do something like you suggest.
     
  3. Jacksmyname

    Jacksmyname Second Unit

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    Ditto (except in my case, it 's a DVD).
    In fact, I watched my DVD yesterday. Obviously it needs a lot of work, but it's reasonably watchable and enjoyable. Better than nothing I guess.
     
  4. jim_falconer

    jim_falconer Supporting Actor

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    Hi Joe,
    No, I'm just an avid John Wayne fan, who is sick over the thought of The Alamo Roadshow film elements turning into glue in some warehouse in southern California.
     
  5. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Just so that wild rumors don't come into play, MGM vaults their elements properly. No original negs sitting around in dank, musty rooms.RAH
     
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  6. sonomatom1

    sonomatom1 Stunt Coordinator

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    Reed Grele: I'm really conflicted by your last sentence "Better than nothing I guess". Is a half-baked cake better than no cake at all; or, more to the point, do we do the creative personalities who create a work of art (in this case, a motion picture) a terrible disservice by distributing a bastardized version of their creation? Think of Orson Welles and "The Magnificent Ambersons" - as it exists today after its studio mutilation, it's a B movie, nothing more - and this from the man who created "Citizen Kane"!

    If you want to watch a Saturday afternoon, B-western, then watch the bowdlerized cut of "The Alamo". Please understand, Mr. Grele, I mean no offense; it's more of a comment on the studios who are focused on product and not content.

    I'm of the conviction that film is America's enduring art form (ok, we can argue about Jazz later...), but the industry that has created that art form shows only a minimal interest in the preservation of that art. I shudder to think what the state of legacy films would be if we didn't have the National Film Registry, National Film Preservation Foundation, Scorsese's Film Foundation (i direct all of you to Wikipedia's article on "Film preservation"), and scores more. Though MGM continues to get bad rap from writers on this Forum (myself included), it would disingenuous if I didn't share the following paragraph from the Wikipedia article (Mr. Harris can either confirm or deny the veracity of its statement):

    Beginning in the 1970s, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, aware that the original negatives to many of its Golden Age films had been destroyed in a fire, began a preservation program to restore and preserve all of its films by using whatever negatives survived, or, in many cases, the next best available elements (whether it be a fine-grain master positive or mint archival print). From the onset, it was determined that if some films had to be preserved, then it would have to be all of them. In 1986, when Ted Turner acquired MGM's library (which by then had included Warner Bros.' pre-1950,[24][nb 1] MGM's pre-1986, and a majority of the RKO Radio Pictures catalogs), he vowed to continue the preservation work MGM had started. Time Warner, the current owner of Turner Entertainment, continues this work today.


    "The Alamo", as John Wayne envisioned it, is lost; it's gone (but thank God for the laserdisc of the complete film --- put copies of that LD along with a couple good players in a cold storage vault and lock it up!). But its demise is an object lesson for other films that are teetering on the edge of extinction (I'm sure Robert Harris could talk for hours on that subject).

    I guess my point is, Mr. Grele, that I will never watch cut version of the film, but if MGM insists on distributing that version of the film, then print a disclaimer on the box informing potential viewers that what their about to watch is not the film the artists involved in its making intended their audiences to see.
     
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  7. Reed Grele

    Reed Grele Screenwriter

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    Just for the record "Jacksmyname" wrote: "Better than nothing I guess". Not I.

    I proudly own, and will be watching the LD roadshow version of The ALAMO. :)
     
  8. John Hermes

    John Hermes Screenwriter

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  9. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie

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    Alas, MGM cannot be held accountable (nor should they be) for prior regime's behaviour, so the trashing of trims and other behaviour go to the grave with the people who engaged in such behaviour.
     
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  10. Lromero1396

    Lromero1396 Supporting Actor

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    It's a shame we still talk about the sad state of The Alamo five years after a restoration was due to happen. At this point, I've lost hope that the roadshow version will ever see the light of day again.
     
  11. rsmithjr

    rsmithjr Screenwriter

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    The 480i tapes used for the roadshow LD apparently still exist. These would likely support a DVD release or even a Blu-ray release if one were tolerant about the quality. I also understand that the soundtrack has been preserved.

    I have the roadshow edition LD, and it is watchable and certainly listenable. The roadshow version is far better than the standard version, the story makes sense and the dynamics of the story flow are more natural.

    There is one for sale on Ebay now for about $10.

    Perhaps it is time to settle for the thing that we can have.
     
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  12. mark brown

    mark brown Stunt Coordinator

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    Who is ultimately responsible at MGM for making the decision that the Roadshow ALAMO will cease to exist?
     
  13. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Cinematographer

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    The Daughters of the Republic of Texas are the caretakers of The Alamo (the real one in San Antonio). If MGM wanted to get a corporate sponsor for a major restoration and reissue on board, I would think they could contact an organization such as this one and make *something* happen, however compromised it might be. I would think there would be quite a few Texans willing to do whatever it takes to see that this film survives into the next century one form or another.
     
  14. sonomatom1

    sonomatom1 Stunt Coordinator

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    I think we've gone around this tree one too many times. The "Roadshow" cut will never be restored. RAH has made it abundantly clear that the remaining elements are nothing more than soup. A 35mm print of the truncated version does still exist, but who cares? I've purchased a DVD-transfer from the LD of the "Roadshow" edition - that ends the story for me unless Mr. Harris stumbles across an extant, viable copy of the 202-minute version (very unlikely), and he announces the premiere of its restoration for the 75th anniversary of the film.

    Sadly, el alamo - adiós a la película
     
  15. Dr Griffin

    Dr Griffin Cinematographer

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    While the feeling of helplessness is palpable in this thread, there are industry insiders here - maybe a kidnapping of the film elements is in order.
     
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  16. Jacksmyname

    Jacksmyname Second Unit

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    I'm in! :cool:
     
  17. Richard V

    Richard V Cinematographer

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    Best answer!!!
     
  18. mark brown

    mark brown Stunt Coordinator

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    No idea. Totally up to MGM. Probably not likely, as budget gets worse every time film is examined, as it's degrading rapidly. Five or six years ago, the film could have reached an 80% quality. Now 65 tops, with no holds barred budget.
    RAH


    As long as there is 65% life left in these elements i prefer to be hopeful. I remember a time when no one thought the roadshow would ever be seen again!
     
  19. sonomatom1

    sonomatom1 Stunt Coordinator

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    Mark Brown: with only a 65% probability of creating a viable print, and a budget of perhaps $2m (a very uneducated guess), and how many months, if not years, of renewed restoration, how many copies of the finished product do you think MGM (or whomever) could possibly sell, but more to the point, how many copies would they have to sell to recoup their investment?

    Face it, Mark, there isn't a very large market for this film. That probably explains why companies like "Twilight Time" only release their films in a very limited release (for example, "Khartoum" is only 3000 copies). So, just for a giggle or two, if they restored and released "The Alamo" on blu-ray at $50 a copy, they're going to make a whopping $150,000! And at $50 a copy, they would have to sell 40k copies just to recoup an estimated $2m budget. How likely is that?

    Yes, it's all about preserving an important cinematic artifact, but in this very critical time when we can't even get unemployment extended, and school lunches are being cut, who would possibly "green light" such a questionable project? The clock is ticking, the elements are degrading as we speak, so if you want this to happen, you better find a sympathetic and deep-pocketed non-profit ASAP.

    And one last point, with RAH's sterling reputation and credentials, don't you think if anyone could have found the funding, he's your guy? And from the tone of his few posts on this forum, I think he's lost interest in the topic and would rather move on to films that can still be salvaged and restored before they reach their expiration date. Sorry that I can't be more optimistic.

    P.S. While writing this, I'm watching a very good DVD transfer of the LD "Roadshow" edition. It's the first time I've seen the complete film in over ten years. And, my fellow aging fanboys, I strongly suggest that you go out and do the same. Yes, it's only 480i, there are a few specs and flickers, it's not anamorphic, the inserted 'lost' elements show some fading, but just watch final attack, and hear Dimitri Tiomkin's incredible Entr' Acte, FInale, and Exit Music, but it's still 202 glorious minutes of film making. So what are you waiting for?
     
  20. atfree

    atfree Producer

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    I agree.....it would apparently be nothing short of impossible to recoup the restoration costs based on sales of most catalog BD's. As an avid classic film buff, it still amazes me that EVERY Twilight Time release doesn't sell out. They can't sell 3000 copies of most titles in a nation of over 300 million people....so recouping costs on a huge restoration for "The Alamo" seems highly unlikely.

    I've come to realize that I (and the rest of us on this forum) are a VERY small and (in the eyes of the studios) insignificant segment of the movie watching public. In a land where a BD of "Dude, Where's My Car" probably sells more discs than "Lawrence of Arabia", I am but a sad, lonely collector.
     
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