matrixschmatrix wrote: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.
Welles hated the score the most, but SHANGHAI suffered from significant reworking. Welles was forced to re-shoot quite a few scenes simply because Harry Cohn wanted more glamor close-ups of Rita Hayworth, so there are much more questionable process shots done in the studio than there should be. Having read through the cutting continuity for the film as assembled prior to the re-shoots and re-editing, it is clear that Welles' initial cut was a lot more coherent and interesting. Amazingly, numerous transition scenes that clarified the film's actions were eliminated (probably amounting to less than 5 or 6 minutes of screentime). Major set-pieces were bungled: Welles originally handled the climb up the mountain in Acapulco as a series of long tracking shots in which various tourists weave in and out of the frame all discussing money or lack thereof as Grisby tells O'Hara of his plan. The current scene is an awkward mess of original footage interrupted by poorly done process shot inserts with the interesting tourist subtext wiped out. So many important expository scenes were eliminated that Welles had to write a first-person narration to cover all the gaps (his original cut did not feature O'Hara as a narrator).
Drucker wrote: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?
Yes, the original edit and footage are long gone.
Back on topic, I would say that TOUCH OF EVIL is really the film that wasn't changed that much from what Welles wanted. We may question the authenticity of the sound mix or the changes in Mancini's score (Welles liked this score by the way), but the film is not missing 30 or more minutes like SHANGHAI and the re-shoots not done by Welles amount to less than five minutes (in the reconstruction version). The story arc and all the main set-pieces are what Welles intended. Also, I might add, if there was a "royally screwed" version, it was the one screened for Welles, which apparently suffered from a number of continuity issues. Welles addressed these and those problems, for the most part, were fixed for the preview version.
While I agree that the reconstruction was not an attempt to restore a "Director's Cut", I suspect that if we were able to compare it to a pure Welles edit we wouldn't see significant differences.