Otto Preminger

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Cold Bishop
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#51 Post by Cold Bishop » Fri Jan 04, 2008 3:47 pm

Jeff wrote:Just a friendly reminder to set your Tivos to record Skidoo on TCM at 2:00 A.M. Eastern Time tonight.
I expect to see decent bootlegs emerge of this soon for those of us without TCM... :-$

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Dylan
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#52 Post by Dylan » Fri Jan 04, 2008 4:56 pm

I'm hoping for a few clips of the restored version to show up on YouTube, as well (like the main titles...surely it has a good title sequence as most of Preminger's films do).

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Jeff
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#53 Post by Jeff » Sat Jan 05, 2008 4:16 am

It's pan-and-scan! WTF, TCM?

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justeleblanc
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#54 Post by justeleblanc » Sat Jan 05, 2008 9:24 am

Jeff wrote:It's pan-and-scan! WTF, TCM?
Sounds like they played my ebay bootleg version.

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Dylan
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#55 Post by Dylan » Sat Jan 05, 2008 11:12 am

Jeff wrote:It's pan-and-scan! WTF, TCM?
Maybe it was shot open matte?

TCM is known for mistakes every once in a while...remember them airing The Conformist with the English dub?

BrianInAtlanta
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#56 Post by BrianInAtlanta » Sat Jan 05, 2008 1:14 pm

I'll check with them on Monday but I bet pan-and-scan was the only way the distributor has it for broadcast at this time. TCM will show it that way if it's the only way they can get it.

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souvenir
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#57 Post by souvenir » Sat Jan 05, 2008 1:32 pm

I went trawling through the TCM message boards and found this from a programmer:
bad news - I'm sorry to say that it won't be in letterbox; we tried and we thought we'd be able to get a letterboxed version, and based on the initial cost estimates we were willing to pay to create a letterbox transfer, but the cost ended up being several times that amount and we couldn't do it

from what I understand, the picture quality itself is good but it won't be letterboxed

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Jeff
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#58 Post by Jeff » Sat Jan 05, 2008 3:01 pm

Dylan wrote:Maybe it was shot open matte?
It was shot anamorphic 2.35. This, of course, means about 44% of the image was cropped, rendering it virtually unwatchable.

And right now, they're showing Thomas Carr's The Tall Stranger (another 2.35 film) horribly cropped as well. I always thought that if TCM couldn't get an appropriately mastered transfer, they just didn't bother with the film. I hope they're not turning in to AMC.

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Cold Bishop
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#59 Post by Cold Bishop » Sat Jan 05, 2008 4:57 pm

Jeff wrote:
Dylan wrote:Maybe it was shot open matte?
It was shot anamorphic 2.35. This, of course, means about 44% of the image was cropped, rendering it virtually unwatchable.

And right now, they're showing Thomas Carr's The Tall Stranger (another 2.35 film) horribly cropped as well. I always thought that if TCM couldn't get an appropriately mastered transfer, they just didn't bother with the film. I hope they're not turning in to AMC.
This has happened numerous times, and always with harder-to-see films.

I think it is the case they don't bother showing a film if its not in its intended format, but it changes when they announce and program the film thinking they will have the letterbox transfer THEN discover that a letterbox is out of the question.

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jsteffe
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#60 Post by jsteffe » Mon Jan 07, 2008 3:59 pm

Jeff wrote:It was shot anamorphic 2.35. This, of course, means about 44% of the image was cropped, rendering it virtually unwatchable.
I'm also an dedicated proponent of letterboxing, but isn't that just a bit over-dramatized? SKIDOO is hardly BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING, and it certainly ain't REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. I watched TCM's P & S broadcast and thought the film's wonderful wackiness came off quite well despite the cropping. Also, the color and detail looked fine.

Too bad that TCM wasn't able to get a letterboxed transfer for a reasonable sum of money. We all know that they're pretty conscientious about showing letterboxed versions whenever possible. As others here have suggested, this particular film is unlikely to show up on DVD any time soon. Count me as more pleased than disappointed in this particular case.

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Jeff
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#61 Post by Jeff » Mon Jan 07, 2008 8:01 pm

jsteffe wrote:I'm also an dedicated proponent of letterboxing, but isn't that just a bit over-dramatized? SKIDOO is hardly BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING, and it certainly ain't REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. I watched TCM's P & S broadcast and thought the film's wonderful wackiness came off quite well despite the cropping. Also, the color and detail looked fine.
Well, nearly half of the frame was missing, and that's enough to make it unwatchable to me, but I understand that it may not bother others. I don't really understand the relevance of Bunny Lake or Rebel.

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domino harvey
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#62 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jan 07, 2008 8:05 pm

Bunny Lake is very very 2.35
Personally I refuse to watch any film that isn't in it's original aspect ratio. At best I'll watch VHS copies that are open matte but any pan/scanning is immediately out of question.

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Jeff
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#63 Post by Jeff » Mon Jan 07, 2008 8:10 pm

domino harvey wrote:Bunny Lake is very very 2.35
Personally I refuse to watch any film that isn't in it's original aspect ratio. At best I'll watch VHS copies that are open matte but any pan/scanning is immediately out of question.
Skidoo is also very very 2.35. Rebel is 2.55, but I don't really find the fact that Skidoo was shot 8% narrower makes a pan-and-scan version of it any more palatable. I have the same policy as Domino regarding open-matte transfers, but I find much more frustration than pleasure in films that have been this severely cropped.

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jsteffe
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#64 Post by jsteffe » Mon Jan 07, 2008 9:07 pm

Jeff wrote:
jsteffe wrote:I'm also an dedicated proponent of letterboxing, but isn't that just a bit over-dramatized? SKIDOO is hardly BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING, and it certainly ain't REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. I watched TCM's P & S broadcast and thought the film's wonderful wackiness came off quite well despite the cropping. Also, the color and detail looked fine.
Well, nearly half of the frame was missing, and that's enough to make it unwatchable to me, but I understand that it may not bother others. I don't really understand the relevance of Bunny Lake or Rebel.
The reason why I mentioned those two films is that not even the staunchest defender could argue that SKIDOO operates on the same level of artistic depth as other "very very widescreen" films like Preminger's BUNNY LAKE and Ray's REBEL, or for that matter, Jack Clayton's THE INNOCENTS. The script and acting are simply not as nuanced and rewarding as those films, though SKIDOO is actually pretty good in its own way.

Yes, you can bemoan the cropping and the resultant loss of Preminger's compositions. I just happen to think that what's probably best about SKIDOO--its wacky, free-for-all comedy--managed to hold up very well. Would I rather see it letterboxed? Of course I would! But I'm also glad I saw TCM's broadcast and I enjoyed the film mightily even as I recognized it was a relatively compromsed product.

Anyway, unless someone has seen a true 'scope print in the past, how would he or she know the extent to which Preminger really takes advangtage of the widescreen format in SKIDOO? Perhaps the compositions in this particular film are looser than the were in some of his earlier widescreen films?

I think it's telling that I didn't get angry and frustrated watching SKIDOO pan & scan the same way I did when I saw a cropped VHS of LA DOLCE VITA years ago. Then I could immediately tell that I was getting cheated, and the film didn't even work for me. This time, SKIDOO did.

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david hare
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#65 Post by david hare » Mon Jan 07, 2008 9:26 pm

I really don't agree with this. For one thing Skidoo has it's defenders, including DavidE, although Im ambivalent about the picture to put it mildly. But Preminger is one of the masters of widscreen mise en scene, regardles of how many drugs people were taking on and off the set of Skidoo.

And here's another example - can anyone imagine the Scope Queen of Outer Space cropped (directed by the far less illustrious Edward Bernds for AIP.) Half the joy of this rechannelling Ed Woodian madness would be lost if the movie were cropped - you could never get the feel for the director's total inability to block and stage and light.

Integrity! Always integrity!

Im completely serious!

mattkc
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#66 Post by mattkc » Mon Jan 07, 2008 9:37 pm

davidhare wrote:But Preminger is one of the masters of widscreen mise en scene, regardles of how many drugs people were taking on and off the set of Skidoo.
Absolutely agree, and as someone who thinks this is a very great film and who has seen a 35mm print, it is in my opinion absolutely essential to see it in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Like all Premingers, it makes full use of the frame.
jsteffe wrote:The reason why I mentioned those two films is that not even the staunchest defender could argue that SKIDOO operates on the same level of artistic depth as other "very very widescreen" films like Preminger's BUNNY LAKE and Ray's REBEL, or for that matter, Jack Clayton's THE INNOCENTS. The script and acting are simply not as nuanced and rewarding as those films, though SKIDOO is actually pretty good in its own way.
Some would argue that the "script and acting" are not equal to "artistic depth."

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fiddlesticks
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#67 Post by fiddlesticks » Tue Jan 08, 2008 12:14 am

I agree with Domino Harvey, I won't watch a PS movie if I know that's what's being offered. I'm not nearly as cinema-literate as practically everyone in here, so I suppose I could be fooled from time to time; but it seems that most PS films look like The Tall Stranger, shown in 1.33 by TCM the other day--it was intolerable, and I know nothing at all about that film.

If a film (i.e., a work of cinematic art) was intended to be viewed in 2.35 then I'll watch it in 2.35 or not at all. It doesn't matter to me if it still "works" panned and scanned down to 1.33; to me, that's like saying that the Reader's Digest Condensed Books version of War & Peace still "works," and is therefore an acceptable substitute for the original. For some, maybe, but for me, no.

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jsteffe
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#68 Post by jsteffe » Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:42 am

davidhare wrote:I really don't agree with this. For one thing Skidoo has it's defenders, including DavidE, although Im ambivalent about the picture to put it mildly. But Preminger is one of the masters of widscreen mise en scene, regardles of how many drugs people were taking on and off the set of Skidoo.

And here's another example - can anyone imagine the Scope Queen of Outer Space cropped (directed by the far less illustrious Edward Bernds for AIP.) Half the joy of this rechannelling Ed Woodian madness would be lost if the movie were cropped - you could never get the feel for the director's total inability to block and stage and light.

Integrity! Always integrity!

Im completely serious!
You have an interesting point here--I just saw that very same marvelous letterboxed DVD of QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE and was utterly delighted by it. I wonder if its camp perfection would hold up under a pan & scan transfer? Obviously you think it wouldn't. I think it would certainly lose quite a bit, but there are lots of fans out there who somehow managed to cherish the film's camp value on old pan & scan videocassettes.
mattkc wrote:Absolutely agree, and as someone who thinks this is a very great film and who has seen a 35mm print, it is in my opinion absolutely essential to see it in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Like all Premingers, it makes full use of the frame.
That's helpful to know. As you know, many later widescreen films are deliberately framed so they can also hold up under "full screen" television viewing, so I don't think you can take such a question for granted.
mattkc wrote:Some would argue that the "script and acting" are not equal to "artistic depth."
Certainly script and acting don't equal "artistic depth"--otherwise that would exclude a great film like Stan Brakhage's "Mothlight" from consideration. But they're often part of what makes up artistic depth, and they're both extremely important parts of most narrative feature films produced in Hollywood.

I guess what I'm trying to get at is that while cropping widescreen films obviously does them damage, I don't think the degree of damage is always equal. It depends on the individual film.

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domino harvey
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#69 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:46 am

I think nothing you could do to a film could harm it more

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tryavna
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#70 Post by tryavna » Tue Jan 08, 2008 6:06 pm

As much as I hate pan/scanning too, am I the only one who enjoyed the irony of Skidoo being presented cropped and virtually the first words out of Carol Channing's mouth (and virtually the first words of the film) being "I don't like watching movies on TV. They always cut them to pieces"?

As for the film itself, I think you either like it or you don't. I did not, but I can see other people having an appreciation for that sort of thing.

To go back to Preminger more generally, I guess I'm a bit of an odd-ball, in that I love some of his movies tremendously (Laura, Anatomy of a Murder, and especially Advise and Consent), but I'm left utterly cold by others mentioned in the same breath (Angel Face, Bonjour Tristesse, etc.). There are very few other directors whose work falls into that sort of 50-50 division with me.

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souvenir
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#71 Post by souvenir » Tue Jan 08, 2008 6:14 pm

tryavna wrote:As much as I hate pan/scanning too, am I the only one who enjoyed the irony of Skidoo being presented cropped and virtually the first words out of Carol Channing's mouth (and virtually the first words of the film) being "I don't like watching movies on TV. They always cut them to pieces"?
Oh the humanity! Preminger threw that in there, for anyone unaware of his legal battle, because he had sued Columbia in a 1966 New York state case for licensing an edited version of Anatomy of a Murder for television broadcast.

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domino harvey
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#72 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jul 10, 2008 6:07 am

Finally watched the BFI Preminger double feature tonight.

Margin For Error was awful. I went in with a lot of good will and the film passed by easily enough, but Preminger clearly was still getting his feet wet and the whole project was a huge whatever-- no pacing, no style, no interest. Even Preminger's acting, which I'd hoped would be at least somewhat bombastic, was nothing more than competent.

But A Royal Scandal, wow! Obviously the entire affair is basically Lubitsch's film in staging and script, but the gloss of Preminger's fantastic camera movements makes it a truly beautiful event. Funnier than half of the Eclipse Lubitsch set, the film has so many things going for it-- Charles Coburn gives one of his greatest performances, Anne Baxter has a lot of fun with her small role, and there's some predictably terrific exchanges that are classic Lubitsch: "I realized that someone must have thrown something at Her Majesty. And with only the two of us in the room, naturally the suspicion fell on me!"

che-etienne
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#73 Post by che-etienne » Sat Aug 30, 2008 1:35 am

Does anyone have the R2 disc of "The Human Factor"? How's the image quality on that baby?

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domino harvey
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Re: Otto Preminger

#74 Post by domino harvey » Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:59 pm

Recently watched the new BFI disc of the Fan and holy smokes, it instantly shot up to the top tier of Preminger films for me. What a masterpiece built on speed and fluidity this is, with some of the best camera work of his career. The actors deliver their lines like they're speaking into an answering machine, racing towards the finish at every moment. This is Mamet before there was Mamet.

And the DVD is certainly far more serviceable than DVDBeaver would lead you to believe-- if you're even remotely interested in Preminger, this disc is currently quite cheap and worth twice the price.

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domino harvey
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Re: Otto Preminger

#75 Post by domino harvey » Thu Apr 16, 2009 11:25 pm

Caught up on a pair of Premingers this week thanks to ILL:

Forever Amber is pretty minor Preminger, but what a weird energy the film has! An overlong, riotously episodic costume drama filtered through the director's smirking nosethumbing-- Sanders' droll to the point of being catatonic performance seems to be a stand in for Preminger himself. It's all pretty silly stuff, but the film is smuttier than I was expecting, and there's some brilliant Technicolor moments-- this one'll look beautiful on DVD! There's some fun to be had in casting (every paramour save one looks identical to the point that you can only really tell Cornell Wilde apart from the rest) and the ludicrous plot shifts become intoxicating as the film rolls along. The picture strikes me as a pretty good parody of Gone With the Wind's excesses more than anything.

The Moon is Blue comes awfully close to being the Lubitsch film it wishes it was several times, but can never quite seal the deal. Despite it not being particularly funny, I was still surprised at how charmed I found myself by the picture's end. The three leads are quite good, particularly McNamera's exhausting flibbertigibbet, and I'm a sucker for films that unfold in something resembling real time. As a bonus, my VHS had a vintage EPK for the film that showed an old woman walking up to the ticket counter and asking the movie theatre employee what the film was about. The ticketseller tries telling the woman, only to have the specifics drowned out by the laughter inside the theatre. The old woman buys her ticket and then sits next to a live bear in the audience. Yes, that certainly was one way to sell the film...

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