The Magnificent Ambersons (what's the possibility of a 2003 release?)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Carrol, Feb 19, 2003.

  1. Carrol

    Carrol Agent

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2003
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    Has anyone heard any rumblings about a possible release of Welles' THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS? It seemed like the momentum was built in for a release in 2002 (60th anniversary, Warner had just released CITIZEN KANE to great praise, etc). And then, nothing.

    My gosh folks, there are about 4 editions of both AMERICAN PIE films (I'm exaggerating a bit, I know) and countless other titles with multiple releases of basically the same material. Yet, Warner Bros chooses to set on one of the all time greatest films, I don't get it. Not one release, I would even be happy with a single disc release with a decent transfer, in a snapper case (I actually like them) with a trailer and filmography. That would make me a happy gent.

    There absolutely must be something on this title brewing, right?

    One thing that I thought I would make note of...this dove tails with this subject...does the law suit by Welles' daughter affect 'just' CITIZEN KANE or all of the titles that RKO owned, that are now Warner (I.E. also AMBERSONS)?

    If that's the case then this post is in vein.

    At any rate, any news or info would be great. There's a gaping whole in my collection between LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and LE MILLION just waiting for this film. [​IMG]

    Carrol
     
  2. Harry Lime

    Harry Lime Auditioning

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2003
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Actually, Beatrice Welles wants either ownership or royalties for Citizen Kane and only royalties for The Magnificent Ambersons. Those are the only two RKO films in question. When RKO first gave a contract to Orson Welles it was for two pictures. After rejecting a lot of his ideas/scripts like Heart Of Darkness, Smiler With A Knife, The Way To Santiago, ect... These were the two films he made under such a contract. Too bad with The Magnificent Ambersons the studio took away his final cut. Right now we could have been seeing the 130+ min version.

    I'm a huge Orson Welles fan as you can see, and knowing about all of Beatrice's past dealings around town, I can tell you she doesn't care about anything but money. Look what she did to Othello and look at what she has done to The Other Side Of The Wind. By now we could have seen The Other Side Of The Wind, but Beatrice interfered with a plan set up by Oja Kodar and Showtime.

    My opinion is that in the end she will get paid "something" for both films. I bet it will be settled before even going to court.

    Here is more on the Beatrice Welles situation for you -

    The daughter of filmmaker Orson Welles is suing two studios over the rights to "Citizen Kane," saying that a newly discovered 1944 document gave her the copyright to the classic film.

    The lawsuit brought by Beatrice Welles, the youngest of the director's three children, also claims RKO Pictures and Turner Entertainment failed to pay royalties as part of a previous agreement for "Citizen Kane" and "The Magnificent Ambersons."

    Steven Ames Brown, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, said the case stems from a recent discovery of a 1944 deal that nullified a 1939 agreement in which Welles transferred copyright of "Citizen Kane" from the director to RKO.

    If the judge declines to award Welles' daughter rights to "Citizen Kane" then Brown argued his client is at least owed profits under the 1939 agreement. The lawsuit alleges Welles had a 20 percent profit-sharing agreement for "Citizen Kane" and a 25 percent royalty deal for the other film.

    Brown added his client is only seeking royalties, not ownership, from "The Magnificent Ambersons." He declined to speculate on how much the royalties and copyright might be worth.
     
  3. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 19, 2001
    Messages:
    1,568
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, being my number one favourite film and all, I'd be kinda interested in seeing this on a decent DVD (the French disc is pretty appalling, but it's all there is).

    Just as speculation, for what its worth, I think the 131-minute version as detailed in Robert Carringer's book runs slightly too long (that scene with George's boys' club near the start has no business being there). I think at around or just over 120 minutes the film would have been exquisite beyond words, and considered the Finest Ever Made.

    Even the truncated cut still takes my breath away without fail every time.
     
  4. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 1999
    Messages:
    8,800
    Likes Received:
    3
    I'd love it if they could (digitally?) recreate the supposed original ending with its hauting camera-pull-back from the house/town...
     
  5. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2002
    Messages:
    7,626
    Likes Received:
    1
    thanks for the update about the lawsuit folks.

    Jon

    where can I get a copy of the DVD ?

    Thanks

    Oscar

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 19, 2001
    Messages:
    1,568
    Likes Received:
    0
    I got mine from Amazon.fr, but I'd just hold out for now until something better comes along. It's taken from an old NTSC analog transfer and looks none too hot.

    In Welles' filmed ending (no matter what was in the original script), as transcribed in Robert Carringer's book, Eugene simply drives off from Fanny's boarding house into the distance through the new, bustling town.
     
  7. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Messages:
    7,549
    Likes Received:
    179
    Location:
    Georgia (the state)
    Real Name:
    Patrick McCart
    Since Turner has spent good money on reconstructions of Greed and London After Midnight, I think they'd try their best to get the film back to the original cut by whatever means possible.

    This includes using stills, re-enacted scenes, digital work, audio clips, music, and perhaps even finding footage. It's been rumored that the deleted scenes from Welles' version have been in a vault somewhere all these years. It may very well be there, but the question is... is it even usable? The negatives to those scenes (and work print trims if they were made) could be decomposed by now and totally useless.

    If the long lost scenes can't be found, reconstructing by the means I mentioned before would be just as good. Perhaps have the theatrical cut and the reconstruction on opposite sides of a disc.

    Trust me, they're not neglecting or just sitting on this title. Would releasing a trailer-only non-Director's cut of the film on DVD prove that Turner Entertainment cares?

    If it takes them until 2004 to get the best possible release, that's fine. This is one title that needs more attention than, perhaps, Citizen Kane for DVD mechanics.
     
  8. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 19, 2001
    Messages:
    1,568
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've no problem with a lengthy wait, as long as I know something's actually in the works.

    However, I truly doubt any kind of reconstruction will get underway without Beatrice Welles-Smith doing her very best to legally sabotage it.
     
  9. Harry Lime

    Harry Lime Auditioning

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2003
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Actually, there have been talks of a reconstruction but that will probably never happen. This is the BEST site regarding information on The Magnificent Ambersons - http://www.ambersons.com/ Wait till you guys read the memos as to why they cut the film to pieces while Orson Welles was in Brazil shooting It's All True. And another shame is that It's All True is sitting in UCLA rotting away. There are thousands of feet of footage just sitting there without restoration because nobody can find funds or wants to do it.

    But getting back on the Ambersons, There is no surviving footage because it was lost in a fire at RKO. You can see some stills at that Ambersons site posted above. Even the Amberson trailer has a few seconds here and there that is not in the movie. What we can only hope on is the super wild rumor that Orson Welles had the complete cut and lost it in Brazil. Even so... Can you imagine any film surving in those climates all these years?

    One time, when Orson Welles and a group of friends were flipping through the channels The Magnificent Ambersons was on in one of them. Orson kept flipping through, but his friends persuaded him to go back to the Ambersons. He did and started telling them where all the scenes were cut. At one point Orson couldn't stand it anymore and left the room. One of his friends said he saw tears in Orson's eyes...

    I can't imagine what he must have felt like... Orson Welles always did say that in it's complete form The Magnificent Ambersons was better than Citizen Kane. It's a true shame that this happened.
     
  10. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2002
    Messages:
    7,626
    Likes Received:
    1
    Harry

    Great site indeed.

    Jon

    I just might take the plunge with amazon as I have never seen the film and very intrigued simply because while watching The battle for Citizen Kane on the R1 is reason enough

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 19, 2001
    Messages:
    1,568
    Likes Received:
    0
    Oscar - trust me on this; don't. It's about the most beautiful black-and-white film I can think of and it needs a transfer that has had exceptional care taken with it to really get the full effect. Anything else, and you're simply not doing the film justice.
     
  12. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2002
    Messages:
    7,626
    Likes Received:
    1
    okay Jon I will get something else then.

    What is another Orson Welles movie that you can recommend for me on dvd then

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Cinematographer
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 1999
    Messages:
    2,938
    Likes Received:
    664
    Hi, my name is not "Jon," but I would like to say that
    of the Orson Welles directed films on DVD, here are the
    ones that love and suggest to others:

    1) Touch of Evil
    Other than Citizen Kane this is considered
    the other great Welles film by most critics. The DVD is
    an attempt to restore the film to Welles original version.

    (What is facinating to me, is that Heston,
    who I cannot stand, is actually the person responsible
    for getting Welles to direct the film.)

    2) The Lady From Shang-Hai
    While the film is not nearly as good as Citizen Kane
    or Touch of Evil, if your a lover of film noir, it
    has some truly fantastic moments: the mirror scene and
    those shots in sealife park.

    Columbia's DVD features a little intro by Welles pal,
    Peter Bogdonovich stating Welles issues with the studios
    butchering of the film, which, per Bogdonovich, seems more
    about audio and the abbreviation of the fun house scene
    than anything else.

    3) The Third Man
    Yes, this is Carol Reed's film, not Orson Welles's, but
    Welles steals the show, and the film shows the influence
    of Citizen Kane on other directors very clearly.
    Criterion's DVD of this film is easily one of the most
    watched films in my collection.

    Regards,

    Mark
     
  14. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2000
    Messages:
    12,251
    Likes Received:
    1
    It damn near breaks my heart knowing that we'll never see Welles' version of The Magnificent Ambersons. Still, I'm looking forward to the eventual DVD release of the version we have - despite the butchering, it's still a great film.


    Oscar, I'll recommend The Trial. A surreal and fascinating movie. Difficult perhaps, but well worth a look as Welles is one of the few directors with the talent to successfully capture the mind of Franz Kafka on film.
     
  15. Mark_vdH

    Mark_vdH Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 9, 2001
    Messages:
    1,035
    Likes Received:
    0
     
  16. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2002
    Messages:
    7,626
    Likes Received:
    1
    Mark

    bedankt voor je PM

    Mark Walker

    Thanks for your suggestions and will look into Touch of Evil. Isn't this the restored cut done by Walter Murch ?




    [​IMG]
     
  17. Carrol

    Carrol Agent

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2003
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the info from sites like www.ambersons.com and www.welles.net

    It's appreciated! I guess we can surmise from all of this that no deluxe edition would be done. But what about a decent release by Warner Bros. as a single disc? After all, the VHS tape I own isn't bad and it's the only version of the film I've ever known. We all know that no other version of Welles' version will probably ever surface, so, why not go forward with the version that we all know and accept?

    After all, it's that version that was selected in 1972 and 1982 by the critics' polled for the preeminent British Magazine Sight & Sound as one of the ten greatest films ever.

    This fact alone makes me curious as to why, if they won't probably create a two-disc SE, won't they just go ahead and issue a decent transfer of the version that's been accepted for 61 years.

    Come on now, let's hear it, a single disc version in a snapper case with a trailer and a filmography.

    It's better than no Ambersons, on dvd, at all...

    Carrol
     
  18. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Messages:
    7,549
    Likes Received:
    179
    Location:
    Georgia (the state)
    Real Name:
    Patrick McCart
     
  19. Jeff Howard

    Jeff Howard Agent

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2002
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    The best version of The Trial is the one put out by Image Entertainment.
     
  20. AlanP

    AlanP Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2003
    Messages:
    832
    Likes Received:
    64
    Vanity Fair last year-2001-December I THINK.
    Did a reconstruction of the film, in an article,
    the way WELLES wanted it done. It was so fascinating.
    If you can get your HANDS on the issue, it is EXCELLENT.
    I am not sure of the date of the issue, but, it was
    from 2001 and near the end of the year, either NOVEMBER OR
    DECEMBER.
     

Share This Page