THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST : Has the original music been restored for DVD?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Peter M Fitzgerald, May 20, 2004.

  1. Peter M Fitzgerald

    Peter M Fitzgerald Screenwriter

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    The R1 DVD of THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST won't street until June 8. From the specs, it looks like it will get "bare-bones" treatment (no trailer), but will be in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Paramount's Martin Blythe indicated on these boards last year that the attempt was going to be made to clear the music rights issues to the 2 songs (performed on-screen) that have previously left the film in compromised form (substituted music, edited footage) thus far on VHS and LD. They've been successful recently in similar efforts to restore the proper music for PAPER MOON and DAISY MILLER.

    Does anyone here know if Paramount's attempt to fix this problem has been successful? Has anyone in the DVD review community here received a screener copy yet, to confirm that the original music is intact on the DVD? Much as I'd like to pre-order THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST, I want to be sure the film is presented in its proper form before I do so. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Louis C

    Louis C Supporting Actor

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    From looking at the DVD specs, the running time suggests we are going to get the hacked-up VHS version [​IMG]
     
  3. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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  4. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    I can't comment on the audio issue, since I haven't seen the disc, yet.

    This review site, however, is violating Paramount's standard review date blackouts.

    -Scott
     
  5. Peter M Fitzgerald

    Peter M Fitzgerald Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the link, Gordon. That out-of-synch sound problem is worrisome, unless that's a flaw limited to advance screener copies (or a problem unique to his DVD player). If not, it looks like a product recall/exchange will be in order.

    Unfortunately, that DVD reviewer gives no indication as to whether the original music has been restored or not (he may be someone unaware of this long-standing problem with the film). In any event, I posted a reply to his review, bringing up this topic; hopefully he'll read it and respond.

    Or better yet, perhaps Martin Blythe will see this thread and provide answers.
     
  6. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    I received the disc today. After about a one-minute spot-check, I was NOT able to discern any problems with audio sync.

    Peter, I'm not familiar enough with this film to know about the music in question. I can tell you that the running time, as listed on the box, is 102 minutes. Tell me what I should be looking for when I give this disc a proper review this weekend...

    -Scott
     
  7. Peter M Fitzgerald

    Peter M Fitzgerald Screenwriter

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    Scott,

    Cool to read about the lack of a synch problem. Also, the listed 102-minute running time on the packaging is a good sign, as my DVD-R of the un-cut "original music" version (from the good old commercial-free days of AMC, before that channel self-destructed) clocks in at about 102 minutes & 43 seconds.

    Fortunately, the music that has normally been changed for home video occurs in three scenes that are very close together; here's what to look/listen for:

    Scene I (at about the 58-minute mark)

    After heavy-set actors Godfrey Cambridge (black American) & Severn Darden (white Soviet) finish their nighttime investigation/discussion and part ways, the film cuts to a daytime shot of James Coburn and a hippie band parked on the edge of a country meadow, where the band plays a tune.

    In the proper theatrical version (also shown on broadcast/cable TV), this is an instrumental tune, featuring an electric bass guitar, clicking drumsticks at the beginning, and a rolling drumbeat style throughout.

    In the "music changed" version (all previous VHS and LD releases of the film), this is also an instrumental, though it sounds more modern... like a modern band trying to recreate a sixties sound (not bad, but noticeable). The drumbeat style is a somewhat steadier beat, like a drum machine. No film footage is edited here, just different music over the same scene.

    Scene II (at about the 60-minute mark)

    Still in the meadow, James Coburn makes love to hippie chick, "Snow White" (Jill Banner), as blond mustachioed hippie, "Old Wrangler" (Barry McGuire), sits on some cushions/pillows elsewhere in the meadow, playing his acoustic guitar and singing a tune that plays over the events that are about to unfold (the film periodically cuts back to Mcguire singing/playing, as the events occur).

    In the proper theatrical version, his song goes like this:

    "The changes that keep going down
    And they always will
    I can get my fill
    If I go along with the changes
    That go round and round
    It's all there to see..." (etc)

    In the "music changed" version, McGuire is completely edited out, the music is by an anonymous group who sound a lot like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in style, with heavy use of a flute, and the lyrics go like this:

    "In our own little world
    Feelings fly, to the sky, to the sky...
    In our own little world
    We share love, you and I, You and I...
    We've come far awayyyy, far awayyyy, from here..." (etc)

    Scene III (at about the 66-minute mark)

    We cut to a nightclub, where Coburn and the hippies meet "The Pudlians", a British Invasion-type group (the main member is almost a dead ringer for Davy Jones from The Monkees here). The hippies and The Pudlians exchange drugs, with the main Pudlian holding up a blue vial of LSD and saying "Mother's milk!", and we cut to the hippie band performing for a packed house at the club (with Coburn playing the gong).

    In the proper theatrical version, the electric bass guitar is the most prominent instrument, and the lyrics go like this:

    "There was a time she needed me to lean on
    There was a time, but now it's past and gone--"

    [portion of singing partially obscured by dialogue: "Blue ice cubes? How degenerate!]

    "--I'd be proud to see what she's come to be
    She's ready to be free
    It's too plain to see
    She's through needing mee-eee..." (etc)

    In the "music changed" version, the same tune heard as an instrumental in the altered version of Scene I resurfaces here, but with lyrics added, which go like this:

    "Inside out, outside in
    A Cheshire cat with a Cheshire grin
    Inside out, outside in--"

    [portion obscured by "Blue ice cubes?" line]

    "--I'm melting into the furniture
    And it feels so fine
    I'm stepping right through the looking glass
    It's so groovy, hey, what's your sign?" (etc)

    Much quick activity occurs in this scene (which I won't spoil) but film footage is edited in the "music changed" version of the scene, the music doesn't match what the performers are doing (and Coburn's gong is silent, though there are several prominent shots of him playing the instrument), and the new song sounds just like what it is: a modern band trying to fake (very unsuccessfully, IMHO) a late sixties-style tune.

    That's all. Scenes II and III are hurt most by the "music changed" version, as footage is cut in both, and the original music is a crucial part of the pacing/editing of these sequences. Lalo Schifrin's fun soundtrack music is identical in both versions of the film, however, so no worries there.

    Hopefully this DVD will be the home video debut of the proper version.
     
  8. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

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    Peter, could you possibly give Scott a little more detail on what the changes were[​IMG]

    Excellent job Peter!

    I'm crossing my fgingers that Scott comes back with some good news.
     
  9. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    what is so good about the film itself ?
     
  10. Peter M Fitzgerald

    Peter M Fitzgerald Screenwriter

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    Jay,

    Hey, excruciating detail of THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST is my specialty! [​IMG]

    Seriously though, describing unfamiliar music entirely through text is a sticky wicket (especially since my knowledge of proper musical terms is very limited), so erring toward more detail is imperative. Plus, I figure Scott's probably a busy guy, so the easier I can make it for him to scan/search for the scenes in question, the better.

    Thanks for the good words. My fingers (and toes) are crossed, too. Whether Paramount gets my $10 completely rides on what happens here next! [​IMG]
     
  11. Peter M Fitzgerald

    Peter M Fitzgerald Screenwriter

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    It's generally considered one of the funniest/wittiest/craziest films of the 1960s (although not well known by the general public), and one of the best satires ever filmed. Most film guides give it a 4-star review (or the equivalent). I agree with the assessment that it is a brilliant film; it knocked my socks off the first time I caught it on TV, and I've found it to have very high replay value since then.

    Of course, the subjective nature of comedy tempers this assertion. As is often stated, "Your mileage may vary". Definitely worth a look, though, if you've never seen it before.
     
  12. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    I agree - it's a fantastic satire. If you are worried about large multinational corporations having more power than some governements, wait until you see the ending of this film. [​IMG]
     
  13. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    Nice detail, Peter.

    Not to get your hopes up, but I'm pretty sure I saw "Old Wrangler" playing guitar in the meadow during my quick scan for audio sync. I'll confirm this ASAP.

    I hope to have the time to spin this one up tonight. I saw it once on TV several years ago, and I'm looking forward to seeing it in its proper aspect ratio.

    -Scott
     
  14. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    Hi Peter

    Thanks for the comments about this movie



    [​IMG]
     
  15. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Oscar,

    AND it had an unusual role for James Coburn. Which he did splendidly and shed a new light on his talent as an actor.

    Cees
     
  16. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    Hi Cees

    thanks for the comments

    [​IMG]
     
  17. David_Blackwell

    David_Blackwell Screenwriter

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    I love this movie and hope this is the unchanged music version for DVD. this is a rather brillant movie with some great satire.
     
  18. Peter M Fitzgerald

    Peter M Fitzgerald Screenwriter

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    Oscar,

    You're welcome. The film is both ahead-of-it's-time and dated, in some of its aspects. If you like DR. STRANGELOVE, you'll probably like THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST (I enjoy STRANGELOVE a great deal, but actually find ANALYST wilder & funnier). It skewers many different targets (some political), so whether you're on the left or right side of the ideological spectrum, you'll probably find much to enjoy in the film.

    Since the film was takes place in the year it was made, 1967, there are three things (which aren't necessarily spoilers) a first-time viewer (especially younger viewers) should bear in mind while watching:

    1) The U.S. president is Lyndon B. Johnson (though you never actually see the president in the film, and he's never referred to as "LBJ").

    2) It's the Cold War, so Russia is still the Soviet Union (The Iron Curtain, the KGB, and all that jazz).

    3) Bell Telephone is the sole phone company, a complete monopoly. Sprint, AT & T, and the other phone companies that emerged after the break-up of Ma Bell do not exist yet.

    --I'll also say that, if the upcoming DVD turns out to be the "music changed" version, it's still well worth seeing, generally speaking (though I'd be personally sticking with my DVD-R of the proper version, if that ends up being the case). Once seen, you'll never forget the "scene in the meadow", regardless of the music used. I'll say no more...
     
  19. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

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    Yup. I remember walking past dad watching this movie on tv while that scene was playing. I had never seen the movie but the second I saw what was happening in that scene, I was immediately seized with a need to see the whole movie from the beginning. It's a movie with many striking scenes [​IMG]
     
  20. Randy_M

    Randy_M Supporting Actor

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    The 'hippie' group is a real band called 'Clear Light' who made one terrific album in 1967, which is now available on CD from Collector's Choice records. They played their song called "She's Ready to be Free" in this film (which is included on the CD as a bonus track).

    The band personnel included Doug Lubahn, bass player who helped out on most of The Doors LP's, Ralph Schuckett, a studio keyboardist who played for Carly Simon among others, and lead singer Cliff DeYoung, who became quite a prolific TV movie actor.

    Those interested in the music of the period should greatly enjoy this record.

    Cheers
     

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