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coffeedan

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Posts posted by coffeedan

  1. > {quote:title=filmlover wrote:}{quote}

    > This could turn out to be great or a total bust...but VCI is going to be releasing *Meet John Doe (70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition)* DVD on Nov. 30th.

    >

    > There have been so many prints over the year that were mediocre - and it is in the public domain - I am not sure yet how this will turn out.

    >

    > I would love for this to be great but that bit about "yielding a fully watchable picture" doesn't strike me that it is going to very good. "Fully watchable", whoa, what a recommendation.

     

    Filmlover, don't worry. I have the original 2001 UK release of this version of MEET JOHN DOE, and it is the very best digital restoration I have ever seen. Razor-sharp with hardly a murky frame anywhere -- you will not believe that the movie could look this good. It's been OOP for the last few years, and I'm glad VCI is making it available in this country. In their hands, it might look even better.

     

    Granted, production values are lacking on the extras -- not quite up to the level of a WHV or Fox release -- but they're entertaining and informative. Ken Barnes' audio commentary is top-notch, but the UK version doesn't have Frank Capra's "archival comments" -- this should be interesting.

  2. > {quote:title=filmlover wrote:}{quote}

    > I think we could soon be seeing some changes to the Archives. You could say I have an inside track on this because I was one of a number of people who attended a special roundtable discussion with the Archive's marketing people.

    >

    > They asked our opinions about all sorts of things over two hours, but the primary subjects the participants being questioned agreed about was they need to do better cover art, lower the price, add special features and remaster the videos, offer value paks of our choosing, dig more into their vaults, and work on the Archive website so it is more user friendly.

    >

    > They seemed to be quite receptive to our opinions. So we just have to wait and see.

     

    Filmlover, not long ago I filled out an online survey on the Warner Archive that addressed many of the same issues. Since this was a third-party survey (I had filled out an "in-house" survey earlier), I can't say a lot about it, but apparently they are very sensitive to the price issue and seek to do something about it that will be cost-effective and fun for their most frequent customers, and make it easier for them to acquire their favorite films from the Warner Archive.

     

    After that and reading the New York Post article posted earlier, I would agree that Warner Home Video is unusually receptive to our opinions about the Warner Archive. Clearly, they realize what a unique program this is and are seeking to make it better. The world needs more home video execs like George Feltenstein and his associates.

  3. > {quote:title=goldensilents wrote:}{quote}

    > Ummmm, isn't it about time we restore the rightful director name to this enterprise? LOL!

    >

    > Roscoe Arbuckle.

    >

    > It's no longer a dirty name, ya know. ;)

     

     

     

    Actually, Roscoe Arbuckle didn't direct a single foot of the finished version of THE RED MILL. Several years ago, I found a series of articles in Variety and The Exhibitor's Herald which told this very sad story.

     

    True enough, Marion Davies was instrumental in getting this plum directing job for Arbuckle, but right from the start, it was more than he could handle. He couldn't coordinate the crowd and ensemble scenes in the picture, putting him way behind schedule. Two other directors, King Vidor and Ulrich Busch, were brought in to help Arbuckle with these scenes, while Arbuckle worked with the principals. However, when Arbuckle's dailies were screened, they were deemed unusable, and the remainder of the film had to be reshot by a third director (probably Hobart Henley, who was assigned to direct Davies' next feature, TILLIE THE TOILER). Arbuckle's nom de cine, William Goodrich (from his father's first and middle names) was retained in the credits for contractual reasons.

     

    This was no isolated incident. In his post-scandal career, many of Arbuckle's friends tried to get him work, and he did direct and star in many two-reel comedies. After Arbuckle was acquitted in his last wrongful death trial, Buster Keaton put him in the director's chair for SHERLOCK JR. But Arbuckle was still emotionally spent from the trial, and Keaton felt that it was throwing off his comic judgement. So he took Arbuckle off the picture after a few weeks, and told him to get some rest.

     

    Following THE RED MILL, Arbuckle started working at Paramount in 1927 and befriended one of its up-and-coming stars, Eddie Cantor, who asked him to direct his second feature, SPECIAL DELIVERY. Again, Arbuckle fell so far behind schedule that the New York premiere of the film was postponed for four weeks. On top of this, he had to begin a previously-scheduled vaudeville tour, leaving the picture unfinished. In his stead, Larry Semon was called in to complete SPECIAL DELIVERY and cut it for release.

     

    Although Arbuckle continued to work until his death in 1933, he never got another assignment to direct a feature-length film. It's not hard to see why.

  4. > {quote:title=goldensilents wrote:}{quote}

    > But still, kudos to TCM for preparing and scoring another silent film -- it's been TOO LONG!

     

    How long is too long? This is the fourth TCM premiere of a silent film this year -- after BEAU BRUMMEL, BIG STAKES, and THE WHITE SISTER.

  5. > {quote:title=goldensilents wrote:}{quote}

    > Great, but I really don't feel like buying yet another collection just to get the one Barrymore film I like the best out of all those, The Beloved Rogue.

     

    You don't have to. THE BELOVED ROGUE and the other titles in this collection are also available separately.

  6. Still working my way through The John Barrymore Collection on Kino, I just finished watching THE BELOVED ROGUE (1927), comparing the new Kino release to the currently available DVD of the film released by Image Entertainment.??I will also compare them to a print I saw on the big screen at Cinevent last month.

     

    In all three of these cases, the material came from the Killiam collection.??The notes in the Cinevent program said that all surviving prints of THE BELOVED ROGUE come from a single 35mm nitrate print once owned by Edgar Bergen(!).??There's some evidence of nitrate decomposition in some scenes, and maybe some toning in the opening reels.??But as a whole, the print is in very good condition.

     

    Kino's new transfer of the print corrects a lot of errors made in the Image DVD.??Image tried to tone down the tints in the Killiam print, but that left a grayish or even purplish tinge that blurred the image.??The Kino release has the tints restored to their original appearance, and the image is clear, if a little soft.

     

    The Image DVD also suffers from bad framing, which cut off the text of the opening credits and titles at the bottom and sides of the screen.??Kino has reframed the credits and titles with a border of black all around, so the full texts can be easily read.

     

    Both releases feature the melodic and evocative 1971 piano score by William P, Perry, which sounds muffled on the Image DVD, but bright and clear on Kino.??It is also better synched to the action in the film on the Kino disc.

     

    The Image disc has no extras, but the Kino features Orson Welles' intro and outro for THE BELOVED ROGUE from the Killiam Silent Classics series.

     

    All told, the Kino transfer wins, hands down.??It is the closest thing to the print I saw at Cinevent??-- and the following day, I saw a lot of people asking for the DVD at the Kino booth!??There is only one drawback: The menu on the Image disc has 13 chapter stops.??The Kino disc has only 6.

     

    I say, if you have the Image release of THE BELOVED ROGUE, replace it as soon as you can with the new Kino release.??It's a definite improvement.

     

    PS: In my spot comparisons of the Kino and Image versions of TEMPEST, the fourth and final film in The John Barrymore Collection, the Kino transfer of the film seems less scratchy than Image, and I noticed two subtitles in the Kino print that were not present in the Image print.??More on this later . . .

  7. Jill, Ed --

     

    Looks like I came on a little stronger than I intended.??I'm sorry.??The post was originally much longer than what it was -- perhaps I edited it too severely.??It wasn't meant to be a personal attack.??Jill, I won't deny that I have benefited from your largesse, and I probably haven't thanked you enough.??Ed, I have also benefited from your knowledge and just hashing things out with you on these boards, and for that, I'm thankful, too.??My intent was to spark the conversation, but it turned into a forest fire.??Again, my apologies.

     

    The point I was trying to make was that I don't think it's productive to criticize the Warner Archive project in terms of what we have or don't have in our personal collections.??I have a sizable collection too, but saying "I have this already"??doesn't add anything meaningful to the conversation.??What we should be saying is "Get this" or "Don't get that," based on our own viewing of the films.??After all, there's probably more people who don't have these films than do, and they come to these boards for guidance, among other things.??We should alert them to the good stuff.

     

    Since the Warner Archive project is still very new, there's still a lot of time and space for everybody's favorites to appear.??Personally, I'm glad to see all the Marie Dressler titles that have been released thus far.??Everyone needs to see EMMA.??I'm also glad to see THE SEA HAWK and the John Barrymore silents.??I've got a lot of hope in the project, and I also realize I may have to wait for some of my favorites to appear.??It may take some patience and emails to WHV, but the plans are for everything to be available eventually.

     

    While it doesn't hurt to occasionally muse on what titles aren't there, it shouldn't take up all of our time. It's far more important to concentrate on the doughnut, and not the hole.

     

    All right, can we be friends again?

  8. Jeff. both THE BELOVED ROGUE and TEMPEST have piano scores by William Perry, recorded in 1971 and remastered for this set. As much as I like Phil Carli's work, I have to admit that Perry outdoes him with a more evocative score for TEMPEST.

  9. I picked up a copy of The John Barrymore Collection at the Kino booth at Cinevent over the Memorial Day weekend. So far, I've watched only SHERLOCK HOLMES, but that one alone is worth the price of the set. The George Eastman House did a super job on the restoration. The film is based on the play by William Gillette, which draws its story line from several of the Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, especially A Scandal in Bohemia.

     

    John Barrymore is splendid in the title role, but Gustav von Seyffertitz is easily a match for him in the role of Professor Moriarty. So much so, that when the picture was released in England, it was retitled MORIARTY.

     

    The DVD of the 1920 DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE is the same one that has been in the Kino catalog for almost 10 years now, and if you don't have it yet, you need it. It's the most complete version available, and it's loaded with extras -- beware the public domain discs.

     

    As for THE BELOVED ROGUE and TEMPEST, the Kino people tell me that although these are taken from the same material as the Image Entertainment releases, they are better transfers. I've looked at only a couple of scenes in each picture, but what I've seen so far seems to bear this out. I'll have more to say when I've watched the Image and Kino releases of both pictures and do a side-by-side comparison.

  10. > {quote:title=goldensilents wrote:}{quote}

    > I thought I saw James pop in here and talk about writing a score for The White Sister. Maybe my memory is faulty.

     

    He did, but he was talking about his new score for MOCKERY, the Lon Chaney picture that debuts in July.

  11. > {quote:title=MissGulch wrote:}{quote}

    > ...wonder why BEAU BRUMMEL with Schafer's score isn't included in the new John Barrymore set?

    >

     

    Because two different companies are involved. Warner Home Video owns the rightrs to BEAU BRUMMEL, and The John Barrymore Collection is being released by Kino.

  12. I honestly think that Lee Tracy was not only the fastest talker in the movies during the pre-code era, but the most underrated actor of his time. His secret was a deep, abiding charm that could not only make you laugh, but move you deeply. THE NUISANCE and TURN BACK THE CLOCK are two of the best examples of Tracy's double-barreled talent. It's hard to believe that Tracy is in only two scenes with John Barrymore in DINNER AT EIGHT, but he makes such an impact (largely dramatic) in those scenes that you think he takes up more of the film than that. MGM was clearly grooming him for stardom in 1933-34, and it's a shame he (literally) **** it all away.

     

    His 1940 RKO programmer MILLIONAIRES IN PRISON has been mentioned here, and it contains one of his best acting performances. He plays the "fixer" of the prison, and in one scene (a card game, I think), he persuades two of the millionaires to fund a medical project headed by his friend, the prison's doctor. He slyly hints that he knows Dominic, the prison chef, and that if he tells Dominic that he doesn't like a certain prisoner, Dominic will poison his food. Needless to say, the millionaires soon come through with the funding for the project.

     

    What is amazing about this scene is the way it is directed and played by Tracy. It is shot in one take, in medium close-up, and Tracy hardly moves in the scene. He conveys an air of subtle menace solely through his face and voice, managing to be threatening and funny at the same time. I could count on one hand the actors who could do that scene even 1/10 as effectively as Tracy in that small space -- and still have fingers left.

  13. The main problem with MEET JOHN DOE is that the original negative has not survived.??In December of 1945, Frank Capra and Robert Riskin sold all the rights to Goodwill Pictures.??They did not store the negative well, and over the years it deteriorated and was eventually junked.

     

    In the mid-1970s, the American Film Institute undertook a partial restoration of MEET JOHN DOE, using what remained of Goodwill's 35mm nitrate prints and a studio print from Warner Brothers.??From these, the AFI made a fresh duplicate negative, which is now housed in the Library of Congress.

     

    About five years ago, Sanctuary Digital Entertainment in the UK released a digitally-restored version of MEET JOHN DOE with a lot of extras.??The picture quality is the best I've seen, bar none, and it's a Region 0 disc that will play anywhere.??Sadly, it is now out of print, but it occasionally turns up on eBay, plus it can be had from third-party sellers on Amazon UK.??Used copies start at 17.99 GBP (that's about $26.41 American).??Yes, it's a bit pricey, but if you love this film as I do, it's worth it.

     

    Click here for more information.??Good luck!

  14. > {quote:title=goldensilents wrote:}{quote} I love parts of King of Kings and absolutely hate others. The parts suggesting Judas had an affair with Mary Magdalene are absolutely shocking to me. That's not in the Bible! I usually skip right over those parts.

     

    To paraphrase the Immortal Bard, there are more things in heaven and earth, Jill, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Whoever said that all human history is contained in the Bible? We know very little about the backstories of the people in the gospels -- just what we need to know, actually -- so who's to say that Judas and Mary Magdelene didn't have an affair? Maybe yes, maybe no. Personally, I think it's a great plot device to steer us into the real story . . .

     

    It's certainly no more ludicrous (or any less, for that matter) than that whole thing between Noah's son Japheth and the pagan girl in NOAH'S ARK (1929). I need to watch that movie again!

  15. Well, I dunno . . . I don't see GLORIOUS BETSY on any of the posted TCM schedules. And the page on GLORIOUS BETSY in the TCM Database says it isn't currently scheduled. I usually keep a close eye on the TCM schedules -- it must have come and gone fairly quickly . . .

     

    What? You mean you didn't hear about FLAMING YOUTH? (Okay, okay . . . I'll stop now . . .)

  16. > {quote:title=gagman66 wrote:}{quote}

    > Jill, Ed,

    >

    > Have you seen this stuff? These are apparently not April fool's jokes? Why is Universal being such a Pain in the butt by denying people access to this material?

     

    Um . . . Jeffrey . . . I hate to tell you this, but those WERE April Fool's jokes . . .

  17. I think a future FH collection should spotlight director William Dieterle, who made some of the fastest, grittiest and most stylish pre-code pictures at Warner Brothers. I'd gladly shell out for a collection that featured (to name a few) THE LAST FLIGHT, JEWEL ROBBERY, FOG OVER FRISCO, MAN WANTED, THE CRASH, and FASHIONS OF 1934.

  18. Steph, I wrote my first high school term paper on the transition from silence to sound in the cinema way back in -- well, I feel safe in saying I have been researching this period of cinema history longer than you've been around.

     

    When I started, I was really swimming upstream. I had to battle most of the truisms associated with the period (e.g., actors' careers were decimated overnight due to funny voices) using mainly primary sources (magazine and newspaper articles and ads). I had little access to the films I wanted to see, so I had to document them from the trades, the popular press and the occasional library screening or TV airing.

     

    When I submitted my first bibliography for the paper, my teacher was rankled that I didn't include any modern scholarly retellings of the coming of sound. I explained to her several times that my research showed the so-called experts didn't know what they were talking about, and often grossly misinterpreted the actual history. Nevertheless, I turned in a good paper, and my teacher had to admit it was better than she expected.

     

    You, too, have a lot of ground to cover, and I can't tell you how to do it in one post. Send me a personal message through this board, and I can help you get started . . .

     

    Message was edited by: coffeedan (who frets over every word)

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