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Not Quite "Forever Amber"


WaldoLydecker
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Recently I watched the VHS ?Fox Studio Classics? version of the 1947 bodice ripper ?Forever Amber? directed by Otto Preminger. After ?The End? flashed on the screen, David Raksin?s sweeping score continued to play over the manufacturer?s FBI warning! I?m guessing that this was ?Exit Music? composed for the film?s original theatrical release? I?m also aghast that Fox would be so disrespectful of Miss Linda Darnell and the other illustrious Golden Age talents involved to present the music in such an uncaring and uncreative way. Would it really have blown their budget to have Raksin?s superb orchestrations play over still images from the film ? or at the very least a blank screen?

 

This kind of blatantly unfeeling ?trashing? of Hollywood history reminds me of a conversation I had with a Paramount Pictures video publicist a few months ago. When I inquired why very few Paramount home video releases of classic films contain supplemental or bonus features (making of documentaries, audio commentaries or even the original trailers) he said, ?It?s too expensive to include that stuff and the older titles don?t earn enough money back to warrant that kind of expenditure.? I suppose if you look at the situation from purely a dollar sign perspective, that may be true but what Mr. Publicist seems to be forgetting is that Paramount built their studio on the backs of people like Marlene Dietrich, Mae West and Carole Lombard! How quickly we forget?

 

One last thought: The Fox VHS of ?Forever Amber? lists the running time as ?approximately" 140 minutes but my screening clocked in at only 134 minutes. Is it possible that they shaved about six minutes off the tape by dumping the exit music and perhaps an instrumental overture? If anyone knows for certain what happened in this instance, I?d be very curious to know. Thanks in advance.

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Possibly upon original release of FOREVER AMBER the film had a 140 minute running time. I know several minutes at the closing of this 1947 film were cut to satisfy the censors. So this could have been the pre-release running time. FOX was to have released the missing footage of the film upon its release on VHS but never did. Hopefully, when and if this film finds its way to DVD we will finally see the cut version.

 

The music you heard at the end of AMBER might have been the end credits theme. But why FOX chose to run this music over the FBI warning is ridiculous. The only explanation is that someone, somehow goofed along the line.

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"...reminds me of a conversation I had with a Paramount Pictures video publicist a few months ago. When I inquired why very few Paramount home video releases of classic films contain supplemental or bonus features (making of documentaries, audio commentaries or even the original trailers) he said, ?It?s too expensive to include that stuff and the older titles don?t earn enough money back to warrant that kind of expenditure.?

 

How interesting. I don't buy DVDs unless they have supplemental material, and these added pieces are the first thing I watch on the DVDs I have bought. Even one short subject is enough to tempt me into a purchase. Some of these movies I've seen to death, but add an audio commentary and I'll buy 'em again. They're missing an opportunity and a market...

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I have the VHS with 140 min. running time. It ends abruptly with Amber closing the window as she watched Bruce (Cornel Wilde) walk off with their child. There is no exit music. Not even final cast credits, as was usual at the time. Instead, before the window is even fully shut, "The End" flashes on the screen.

 

I suspect something was cut for the video release, including additional footage at the conclusion of the film which ends much too abruptly. I can't believe this is how the actual theatrical version ended. Perhaps the needed footage is now missing.

 

Neil

 

P.S. - I have the CD of David Raskin's memorable score. What a gem!

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If I am not mistaken, this is how the film ended in theatres after censorship problems. The film does seem to end abruptly. I think its highly unlikely the studio cut minutes out of the video release. Supposedly the studio has the missing footage in their vaults.

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It would be nice to see a DVD release with some of the restored footage (unless it was all discarded). Also a chance to see how the film looked after three weeks of filming with Peggy Cummins in the Amber role. In my opinion, Linda Darnell was a good replacement for Cummins and made a more shapely, more suitable Amber than the youthful looking Peggy. I believe Vincent Price was originally cast in the George Sanders role as Charles II and wonder if any of his footage exists.

 

Definitely worth a DVD transfer.

 

Neil

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Preminger originally wanted Lana Turner to play Amber, but I believe Zanuck wanted to use someone under contact to FOX to play the title role. I think it is probably unlikely that any footage still exists from the Peggy Cummins filming of FOREVER AMBER.

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