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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 4:10 pm 
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Peacock wrote:
I think the problem more is that David Hare and others proved quite clearly that widescreen cuts out specific lighting effects and other things, making it clear that Welles very likely intended this for 4:3.

Isn't this kind of 'father knows best' thinking what got us into trouble to begin with and what MoC is specifically trying to address / counteract with their edition?

Any open matte print is always going to include 'things' that a more restrictive format cuts out, and the better the director and cinematographer are the better that extra space is going to look, particularly if they're keeping half an eye on future television screenings, or 16mm reductions or so forth, but it doesn't make open matte necessarily correct, so there's no substitute for a side-by-side comparison of the actual film. Anybody can cherry-pick screengrabs to argue for one aspect ratio or the other, too, so that's not always reliable as evidence either.


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:35 am 
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Anchor Bay did this with Evil Dead, BFI did this with Herostratus, and I'm not going to count all those old "Widescreen and Fullscreen on the same disc" editions, but I think it's fine for the option for films especially made during the mid to late 50s films as this one.

I watched an old 50's Universal film, "Monster On The Campus" in 1.33:1 and it was definitely made considering the 1.85:1 ratio... Not a classic Jack Arnold film by the way...


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:41 am 
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There's a treasurable bit on the Basket Case commentary in which Frank Henenlotter revealed that he didn't have a clue that the film had been cropped to widescreen for cinema screenings until the telecine operator raised the issue with him when the DVD transfer was put together! He shot it on full-frame 16mm, and had no idea that this wouldn't be respected in cinemas.

John Waters' early films should also by rights be 4:3, for the same reason, though I think the DVDs are all cropped. Mind you, he's hardly a master of precise visual composition, so it's not an especially big deal.


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:11 pm 
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MichaelB wrote:
John Waters' early films should also by rights be 4:3, for the same reason, though I think the DVDs are all cropped. Mind you, he's hardly a master of precise visual composition, so it's not an especially big deal.

Looking through that Region 1 "Very Crudely Yours" box of the films that came out in 2005 Desperate Living is in 4:3 but the other early films, Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble, had been presented in 16:9.


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:31 am 
not perpee
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Unfortunately, due to insurmountable technical problems with the 1.37:1 master of the Preview version, we will only be including the 1.85:1 ratio of the Preview version.

Both 1.37:1 and 1.85:1 ratios for the 1958 theatrical version, and the 1998 reconstruction, will be included as previously announced.

We've updated the catalogue page at the website accordingly.


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:42 am 

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And the booklet is down from 80 to 56 pages.


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:14 am 
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I really hope a commentary track will be included as well as featurettes about the different versions of the film.


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:19 am 
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Sorry, this has probably been covered endlessly, but can anyone tell me more about the preview version... what makes it preferable to the original studio cut, and if it's also preferable/closer to Welles' original vision than the reconstruction?

Sad that the 1:37:1 version won't be included of this cut, but oh well. Guess it means a higher bitrate for the films on the full frame disk ;)


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 1:36 pm 
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Wasn't the preview version released fullframe in the UK on VHS? Presumably a master exists, even if it's not up to Bluray standards. Couldn't you include this as a bonus? As this is the one I grew up on (screened fullframe), I'd be grateful for it even in a version of inferior quality. IMO, it's far superior to both the original theatrical version and the highly problematic reconstruction.


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 1:58 pm 
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Peacock wrote:
Sorry, this has probably been covered endlessly, but can anyone tell me more about the preview version... what makes it preferable to the original studio cut, and if it's also preferable/closer to Welles' original vision than the reconstruction?

Sad that the 1:37:1 version won't be included of this cut, but oh well. Guess it means a higher bitrate for the films on the full frame disk

The only one I haven't taken the time to watch is the theatrical. But The original studio cut and the preview version are both edits made by the studio after they barred Orson Welles from coming on the set. From what I've read, they were pretty much fine with the movie as they got daily reports/shots of it, and then when seeing the final version were horrified and barred Welles.

The preview version was discovered in the mid-70s and released to theaters in 1976 as the film's fame rose. It dates from AFTER Welles's memo but before the final studio cut. There are some Welles scenes present that aren't in the theatrical version, but there's also more shots that Welles didn't make.

The reconstruction took place in the late-90s. Using materials available and working from the memo, it was an attempt to reconstruct the film as close to Welles' vision as possible. This version is absolutely excellent and is the only version where the credits don't scroll on the screen during the opening scene. It still features SOME shots that Welles didn't shoot, but not an incredible amount, and he even liked one or two of them (the scene with Heston at the top of the stairs with the DA). There are musical differences between this and the preview version as well (first time Welles visits Dietrich there is music in the preview version; no music in the reconstruction). Hope that helps!


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 4:04 pm 
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Thanks guys, Otis, could you go into more detail about what you prefer about the preview version over the reconstruction?

I too hope MoC will reconsider not including the 4:3 preview cut, even if only in SD or flawed in whatever way; as I can't see myself watching the widescreen cut willingly!


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 6:03 pm 

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peerpee wrote:
Both 1.37:1 and 1.85:1 ratios for the 1958 theatrical version, and the 1998 reconstruction, will be included as previously announced..

Interested in the technical point of the production:
how will you manage to include 5 times 95-112 Minute cuts (in hopefully healthy bitrates) in1080p (+ extras) on 2 BRs?

Seamless branching with one 1.37:1 and one 1.85:1 BR would be possible, but probably too expensive.
peerpee can you unveil the secret?


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 6:06 pm 
not perpee
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It's not out for 3 months! Happy to go into detail when it's released.


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:15 am 
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Rick Schmidlin goes into detail on the commentary on specific changes and differences in the commentary track, and one of the featurettes on the Universal disc has examples. And by the way, the 1.85:1 version does look very good. Schmidlin also goes and talks about in the commentary that Welles knew this would be projected that way in some places.


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 12:36 pm 
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I would say the preview version is definitely not closer to Welles' original intentions than the reconstruction version. It does contain more footage (for better and worse) than the original theatrical release, but it's not any "purer" than the 1998 reconstruction. The preview edit is probably an improvement over the initial studio cut screened for Welles (which no longer exists) since the studio actually took to heart some of Welles' comments about reworking the film.

Drucker is accurate in his description of the preview edit. It is very close to what became the reconstruction version, but the credits are superimposed over the opening 3.5 minute tracking shot (which kind of ruins the suspense of the shot). The major difference is that the preview edit contains more bland expository scenes shot by Harry Keller after Welles' departure (primarily moments where Heston synopsizes the plot for Leigh since she and the viewer are supposedly too slow-witted to follow it). The reconstruction eliminates most of these, leaving only the ones that replaced needed expository scenes that Welles shot himself. The reconstruction also inter-cuts certain scenes that play out individually in the preview edit; Welles requested the inter-cutting as a way of quickening the film's pace and to offer a more interesting counter-point. The preview version is also missing a portion of a scene included in the original theatrical release and restored in the reconstruction. Only a few seconds of Welles-shot footage (found in the preview and theatrical edits) was trimmed for the reconstruction (this occurs during the scene where Heston confronts the Joseph Calleia character in the file room); again this was at Welles' request (to an extent) and it is probably the most controversial of the changes (while the deletion is unavoidably sloppy from a sound editing aspect, it does eliminate a dramatically awkward moment that I suspect Welles had reservations with). As previously mentioned, the reconstruction makes quite a few changes in regards to music and sound effects, virtually all of which were requested or inspired by Welles' notes.


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 12:58 pm 
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Also, do I remember hearing correctly in the commentary that the shots of people driving that aren't placed against a backdrop were also NOT filmed by Welles? The only one he did being of Vargas and the DA driving through the streets after Welles and Grande are about to go into the restaurant?


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 5:35 pm 
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Drucker wrote:
Also, do I remember hearing correctly in the commentary that the shots of people driving that aren't placed against a backdrop were also NOT filmed by Welles? The only one he did being of Vargas and the DA driving through the streets after Welles and Grande are about to go into the restaurant?

Welles did not shoot any rear-screen projection driving shots for TOE as far as I know; it was all done on location (very effectively with Vargas and the DA, I might add). The rear-screen projection shots that remain in the reconstruction are Harry Keller re-shoots that cover the same content that Welles' footage did but presumably contain slightly different line readings or something that the studio thought was imperative to have as part of the scene. Basically, any exterior location re-shoots were done rear-projection in the studio to save money. Fortunately, there aren't too many of these left in the reconstruction.

After KANE and AMBERSONS, Welles tended to avoid rear-screen projection unless he was using it for a surreal effect such as the aquarium scenes in LADY FROM SHANGHAI. There are plenty of examples of more tradition rear-screen projection in that film, but that's because Welles was forced by the studio to do re-shoots himself of footage he had already filmed on location.


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 6:40 pm 
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Roger Ryan wrote:
I would say the preview version is definitely not closer to Welles' original intentions than the reconstruction version. It does contain more footage (for better and worse) than the original theatrical release, but it's not any "purer" than the 1998 reconstruction.

It's important to remember that the most recent 'reconstruction' was not, and was never intended to be, a recreation of Welles' original 'director's cut' (though that's inevitably how it came to be promoted), but rather a following of the suggestions Welles made in an extraordinarily detailed pleading memo to the studio after they had already royally screwed with the film. So it's more like a 'director's ambulance-at-the-bottom-of-the-cliff cut', which I think is a good thing, since following the director's very specific written instructions - even in a situation of extreme compromise - tends to give a clearer picture of his actual intentions than a speculative 'original version'.


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:58 pm 
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zedz wrote:
It's important to remember that the most recent 'reconstruction' was not, and was never intended to be, a recreation of Welles' original 'director's cut' (though that's inevitably how it came to be promoted), but rather a following of the suggestions Welles made in an extraordinarily detailed pleading memo to the studio after they had already royally screwed with the film.

Still, it's the "royally screwed" version that was "re-discovered" and praised when TOE was revived as a classic. As much as I like the attempt at a reconstruction, I can't watch that opening sequence without hearing that Mancini score, whether it's there or not. That's how I grew accustomed to watching it.


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:12 pm 
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That's an interesting tradition in film appreciation: Metropolis through the ages; the 'B-Roll' version of Passion of Joan of Arc becoming the timeless classic and so on.


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:14 pm 
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Has anyone with good memory of it actually seen the B-roll version of Joan? I imagine it's not radically different but am interested to be proven wrong.


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:30 pm 
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Roger Ryan wrote:
After KANE and AMBERSONS, Welles tended to avoid rear-screen projection unless he was using it for a surreal effect such as the aquarium scenes in LADY FROM SHANGHAI. There are plenty of examples of more tradition rear-screen projection in that film, but that's because Welles was forced by the studio to do re-shoots himself of footage he had already filmed on location.

Though not on topic exactly, why ISN'T there a cult around lost Shanghai footage? Wasn't the original cut 2.5 hours? Or was that all erased/destroyed like...during filming?


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:33 pm 
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In the Bogdonovich interview, Welles said that one hadn't been changed much- I think he said the major alterations were a shitty score they'd put on and a tour de force funhouse sequence they'd cut out.


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:50 pm 
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knives wrote:
Has anyone with good memory of it actually seen the B-roll version of Joan? I imagine it's not radically different but am interested to be proven wrong.

It was the main version in circulation until the mid-nineties or so, so I imagine a lot of people have. I saw it twice in the 80s and 90s and it works very much the same, mainly because it was, I assume, originally intended to be as close as possible to a recreation of the original with the available material (so it's no Divertimento!) When you see a scene-by-scene comparison it's easy to see why a lot of the shots used were not the first choice, and if I recall correctly the film runs a lot shorter, but I think that's more a case of trimmed or skipped shots than whole passages being missing or rearranged.


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 Post subject: Re: BD 25 Touch of Evil
PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:49 am 
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If memory serves, one problem with the 1998 re-edit is the changes to the soundtrack - the sound quality in the opening scene (and others) is far too "modern", and simply doesn't correspond to the technical possibilities of 1958. It's even more jarring than the reworked Vertigo soundtrack, which so many people have (rightly) complained about. I also felt that it simply didn't play as well as the preview version. This is, of course, subjective, but the crosscutting of the scene with Leigh and Tamiroff with other material was really clumsy, and destroyed the mood. In addition, I object to it on historical grounds. Welles didn't have final cut on the film, and (for whatever reasons) it was taken away from him. Mancini was commissioned to write a score and did a brilliant job. Reworking the film to fit into an auteurist's fantasy of cinema history is a distortion.


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