Forthcoming: the Magnificent Ambersons

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Roger Ryan
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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#126 Post by Roger Ryan » Fri Sep 16, 2011 8:51 am

manicsounds wrote:dvdbeaver compares

It looks like the US release is far better than the UK or French. For people who really want this version, it's the only way to go.
It's good to see that comparison...and, yes, the new DVD seems to be the best edition as far as picture quality. Note, however, that the Warner disc image is cropped more than the UK issue.

Someone mentioned in another forum that the copyright info scroll that appears at the end of the new DVD is the same one used on VHS tapes twenty years ago and continued to show up during the early years of DVD production. I'm wondering if this transfer is one that was completed a decade ago (or more) when WHV was first considering releasing the film? That might explain the occasional video conversion artifacts as well as the fact that Warner has not made a big deal about the release. This could be a situation where they are still working on putting together an acceptable HD version, but issued this version since they already had an old transfer on hand collecting dust.

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#127 Post by atcolomb » Fri Sep 16, 2011 12:53 pm

Roger Ryan wrote:
manicsounds wrote:dvdbeaver compares

It looks like the US release is far better than the UK or French. For people who really want this version, it's the only way to go.
It's good to see that comparison...and, yes, the new DVD seems to be the best edition as far as picture quality. Note, however, that the Warner disc image is cropped more than the UK issue.

Someone mentioned in another forum that the copyright info scroll that appears at the end of the new DVD is the same one used on VHS tapes twenty years ago and continued to show up during the early years of DVD production. I'm wondering if this transfer is one that was completed a decade ago (or more) when WHV was first considering releasing the film? That might explain the occasional video conversion artifacts as well as the fact that Warner has not made a big deal about the release. This could be a situation where they are still working on putting together an acceptable HD version, but issued this version since they already had an old transfer on hand collecting dust.
It does look almost like the Criterion laserdisc transfer when i did my comparison so i think they did use a old transfer...and to me when i saw the new dvd for the first time i knew that it did not look like a fresh copy of the movie was made...and i have seen the movie many times.

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#128 Post by movielocke » Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:31 pm

Roger Ryan wrote:
manicsounds wrote:dvdbeaver compares

It looks like the US release is far better than the UK or French. For people who really want this version, it's the only way to go.
It's good to see that comparison...and, yes, the new DVD seems to be the best edition as far as picture quality. Note, however, that the Warner disc image is cropped more than the UK issue.

Someone mentioned in another forum that the copyright info scroll that appears at the end of the new DVD is the same one used on VHS tapes twenty years ago and continued to show up during the early years of DVD production. I'm wondering if this transfer is one that was completed a decade ago (or more) when WHV was first considering releasing the film? That might explain the occasional video conversion artifacts as well as the fact that Warner has not made a big deal about the release. This could be a situation where they are still working on putting together an acceptable HD version, but issued this version since they already had an old transfer on hand collecting dust.
yeah, if you look at beaver you see three examples of the difference in tape/transfer source for each of these. the first/top one on the beaver comparison is obviously from a BETACAMSP source, the second one looks like a DIGIBETA source to me, and the third one is likely plain HDCAM (not HDCAMSR) and the telecine was probably made around the time of the Citizen Kane release (thus limited to 1080i). If WB is planning a release for next year, they'll have done a new telecine, presumably from new elements. But even if done from the same source, scanning tech and tape stock have improved so radically in the last ten years that there should be a substantial improvement, even in SD.

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#129 Post by Feego » Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:44 pm

I wonder, if Warner has any plans to release a better edition in the future, will they base it on how successful this edition is? Which of course means that if people don't buy this edition in hopes of a Blu-ray, or at least a special edition DVD somewhere down the line, there won't be one.

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#130 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Sun Sep 18, 2011 12:20 pm

Roger Ryan wrote:Someone mentioned in another forum that the copyright info scroll that appears at the end of the new DVD is the same one used on VHS tapes twenty years ago and continued to show up during the early years of DVD production.
What copyright scroll would this be? WB's DVDs continued to use an outdated scroll well after the early years of DVD -- I just checked my copy of Invictus (the newest WB DVD I own that I can recall off the top of my head), and the copyright notice on that one is a distinctly analog-looking thing with a blue background, which I'm pretty sure is what I usually see on WB titles.

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#131 Post by movielocke » Sun Sep 18, 2011 12:56 pm

The Fanciful Norwegian wrote:What copyright scroll would this be?
This one

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#132 Post by Roger Ryan » Mon Sep 19, 2011 11:52 am

I was simply throwing that "copyright" text thing out there; I haven't really paid much attention to that sort of thing myself, although I thought most WB discs now have static white-on-blue text (with a drop shadow) instead of text scrolling up the screen.

Whether the transfer is old or not, it is the best one out there currently.

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#133 Post by atcolomb » Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:34 pm

Roger Ryan wrote:I was simply throwing that "copyright" text thing out there; I haven't really paid much attention to that sort of thing myself, although I thought most WB discs now have static white-on-blue text (with a drop shadow) instead of text scrolling up the screen.

Whether the transfer is old or not, it is the best one out there currently.
..And we should be thankfull to Warner Bros. for releasing it at all since there is no better version out there..for now. If Welles's "weakest" film "The Stranger" was released on blu-ray then i have high hopes Ambersons will...lets hope it's done by a Warners or Criterion.

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#134 Post by Drucker » Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:20 pm

I wouldn't go so far to think there's a chance in hell Criterion will get this film.
But is it impossible to imagine that perhaps there IS a 4K/excellent blu-ray transfer that they've been holding out on for the 70th year anniversary all along, and for a sneak peek they let some of us who wanted it on DVD so badly to just have a chance to grab it a year early? I know this is ridiculously optimistic, but I will not feel bad if I double-dip next year for an excellent looking blu-ray, even though I bought the deluxe edition.

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Whither Ambersons?

#135 Post by kinjitsu » Sat Oct 08, 2011 10:44 pm

knives wrote:
Jeff wrote:Sold on the Best Buy version then. Who needs a shelf-hogging box of crap? I'm sure Ambersons will turn up on its own eventually.
Be prepared to eat your words, Warners sure do seem to want to stick it to their fanbase.
Jeff, I'm inclined to agree with you regarding Ambersons, although I'll likely be eating my words just as knives predicts. The new disc appears far from what I had hoped, and am (almost) willing to hold out for an eventual Blu-ray replete with relevant supplements, and hopefully in my lifetime. That said, I suppose we're stuck with a merely watchable DVD transfer for now, but hell, it's been five years since Warners said:
We're still looking for better materials on AMBERSONS. We waited for KONG and KANE and it was worth it. It will be worth it for the AMBERSONS, and yes,we will release JOURNEY INTO FEAR when we do AMBERSONS.
Whither Ambersons? Indeed.

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#136 Post by Jeff » Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:41 am


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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#137 Post by Fred Holywell » Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:02 am

Well, finally... but talk about a lackluster edition. Not a single extra. Not even a "70th Anniversary Edition" banner to trumpet the release. Guess no one at Warner gives a damn about "Ambersons" (just like the folks at the old RKO).

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#138 Post by atcolomb » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:52 am

It's too bad that Warner Bros. won't give Ambersons to Criterion to release a nice DVD or Blu-ray. I still have the Criterion laserdiscs which had some very nice extras and a commentary too.

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#139 Post by nolanoe » Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:22 pm

They are waiting for better versions - somebody working for Warner in the restoration process has, apparently, said that he can't say anything further about it.

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#140 Post by Drucker » Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:31 pm

nolanoe wrote:They are waiting for better versions - somebody working for Warner in the restoration process has, apparently, said that he can't say anything further about it.
Do you have any information even this was said? Recently?

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#141 Post by Jeff » Fri Jan 27, 2012 9:41 pm


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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#142 Post by hearthesilence » Tue Aug 28, 2012 3:50 pm

Is there a digital or at least a PDF version of Welles' shooting script (i.e. the one used for "his" version of the film, not the theatrical version)? I was under the impression that Criterion's LaserDisc actually included one, albeit only viewable on your television set.

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#143 Post by Ishmael » Tue Aug 28, 2012 4:53 pm

hearthesilence wrote:Is there a digital or at least a PDF version of Welles' shooting script (i.e. the one used for "his" version of the film, not the theatrical version)? I was under the impression that Criterion's LaserDisc actually included one, albeit only viewable on your television set.
The laserdisc included the screenplay pages for the deleted scenes only. But, yes, they were only viewable on your TV.

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#144 Post by Roger Ryan » Wed Aug 29, 2012 9:01 am

hearthesilence wrote:Is there a digital or at least a PDF version of Welles' shooting script (i.e. the one used for "his" version of the film, not the theatrical version)? I was under the impression that Criterion's LaserDisc actually included one, albeit only viewable on your television set.
Although you may be aware of this, the final shooting script (completed October, 1941) represents the film that Welles intended to shoot but differs from what became his initial long edit. For example, the closing "boarding house" scene is not found in the shooting script (the scene was presumably scripted by Welles at some point after shooting began). Other scenes found in the shooting script were shot but discarded by Welles himself early in the editing process. The "March 12th, 1942" cutting continuity script is the document that precisely details what was in the 131 min. edit that Welles consulted on (a cutting continuity for the 88 min. released version exists as well).

More directly to your question, I'm not aware of a digital or PDF file that exists of the 131 min. cutting continuity (reproduced in Robert Carringer's book THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS: A RECONSTRUCTION).

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#145 Post by nolanoe » Wed Oct 24, 2012 8:48 am

Drucker wrote:
nolanoe wrote:They are waiting for better versions - somebody working for Warner in the restoration process has, apparently, said that he can't say anything further about it.
Do you have any information even this was said? Recently?
Sorry to post that late.

When the DVD came out, somebody asked, and a Warner response equaled "We waited with Citizen Kane, and it was worth it. With Ambersons, the search for a print that meets our standards continues, and it will be worth it."

There were news some time ago, from somebody rather trustworthy (I believe a south american film historian), that "damaged Ambersons parts" were supposedly found somewhere in Brazil. Now, we all know the interwebz and their inner webs, so it might all just be heresy. But if Warner has a lead, and are working on turning up more, it would explain why they not just go with the print they used for the DVD (and yes, they could just have it scanned and restored for a good BD).
With Ambersons' history, I could see a bit turn up here and there, and Warner going after it without too much ado, else imagine the frustration if they found 20 seconds from the old man ramble, yet nothing else, but released news of a restored long version to come out too early. ](*,)

So that's my guess: they found some bits and pieces (again: probably only seconds), and are now keeping the ball low, trying to figure out what to do about these bits.

Here is the bit:
http://www.wellesnet.com/phpbb2/viewtop ... f=1&t=1555" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
roberto
Date: 05/13/2008
DVD in 2008/09.
Warner will be releasing the 131 minute restored version of Ambersons in late 2008 or early 2009. A complete print was located in a Brazilian film archive. The print is undergoing the 4k restoration process.

roberto
Date: 05/24/2008
Ameberson film
Ambersons film sent to Welles at his hotel the Copacabana Palace. Film did not leave Brazil after that due to customs problems. Adhemar Gonzaga did not destroy fil as directed, unclear why. So film ends up back at the Palace. Hotel finds film cans after the war and for whatever reason sends film to the Cinemateca. Sometime between 1946 and 1976(?) film probably in unauthorized private hands beacause if still at Cinemateca it would have burned in 1957 fires. It ends up at the São Paulo Cinemateque in 1976(?), cans labeled correctly but ignored by over-worked local perservation staff which assumed it was regular print of film. In 2006 their archivist contacted Warner about film cans which turned out ot be complete print in poor but salvagable condition. Film flown to US once Warner gets o.k. from Brazilan court.

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#146 Post by albucat » Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:06 pm

There's a reason why everyone on Wellesnet largely dismissed this claim, since had this happened Warners would've made a very big deal out of it. Everyone dreams that some remnants of the original cut still exists somewhere in Brazil, but it's long been considered a lost cause.

Also: the print they distribute for Ambersons right now is beautiful and they've struck new ones in the past decade. I don't think there's a materials reason as to why no blu-ray has been made. That's just how Warners has always been about Ambersons, for some stupid reason.

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#147 Post by Brianruns10 » Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:24 pm

albucat wrote:There's a reason why everyone on Wellesnet largely dismissed this claim, since had this happened Warners would've made a very big deal out of it. Everyone dreams that some remnants of the original cut still exists somewhere in Brazil, but it's long been considered a lost cause.

Also: the print they distribute for Ambersons right now is beautiful and they've struck new ones in the past decade. I don't think there's a materials reason as to why no blu-ray has been made. That's just how Warners has always been about Ambersons, for some stupid reason.
And I believe they even screened a new digital restoration of the film at one of the past TCM Classic Film Festivals...

I agree with you Warner's has treated that film terribly. By releasing The Magnificent Ambersons as a bonus feature for Citizen Kane, by treating it as a curio for diehards only, they whether intentionally or not, are doing a grave disservice to Welles's legacy by perpetuating the nonsense that only made two great films (Kane, and Touch of Evil) and the rest are flawed or compromised. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and his body of work stands against any other top director. Why, I would argue that Kane isn't even his best, not by far. Chimes at Midnight, or my personal favorite, F for Fake, could both rightfully lay claim to being his greatest achievements.

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#148 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:33 pm

Last year, Film Forum screened this in 35mm as part of a double feature in their Bernard Herrmann retrospective. I doubt the print was that new, due to the wear during the reel changes, but it looked GREAT. Robert Harris says the original negative (for the released cut, obviously) is still around and I think in Warner's hands, so absolutely, they should re-do it and give it the deluxe treatment. No, it's not going to sell like Casablanca but it's still a great landmark, and giving it such lazy, shoddy treatment will only ensure that it'll become far less profitable in the long run.

FWIW, I don't think it's hard to visualize what could have been with this picture. The footage may be lost, but there's plenty of other material - script pages for the lost footage, lots of production stills (I think Bogdanovich claimed the ones he looked at when he was looking for the footage back in the '70s were from the film itself), detailed descriptions of the tracking shot(s) that were broken up in the studio's re-editing) - that do a thorough job of detailing that content.

Based on those materials, I don't think it's a stretch to say that Ambersons would likely have been his greatest film. It's heartbreaking to watch the released version with all this in mind, because you notice how much has been cut and re-shot, and the changes pile up very quickly somewhere around the halfway point. (That's still no excuse to forgo a proper reissue though.)

Not to bring up Ray Carney again, but when he found that first cut of Shadows, he said watching it wasn't revelatory because he already knew what he was going to see from prior extensive research - watching the print just confirmed what he already pictured in his head. If the long cut of Ambersons is ever found, I imagine plenty of Welles scholars would have a similar experience.
Last edited by hearthesilence on Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#149 Post by Drucker » Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:44 pm

A great read from years ago in Vanity Fair.

A passage from the article shows that there is little hope for any lost footage:
The last, best hope for discovering the missing footage in Welles’s lifetime came in the person of Fred Chandler, an employee in Paramount’s postproduction department. It had been Chandler who made the much-ballyhooed discovery of the missing It’s All True footage in the early 80s; a young Welles aficionado, he came upon a bunch of cans in the Paramount vaults labeled BRAZIL, unspooled the film inside one of them, and recognized what he saw—frames depicting fishermen floating on a homemade raft— to be the “Four Men on a Raft” segment (about four poor fishermen who sailed all the way from northern Brazil to Rio to plead for workers’ rights) of Welles’s long-lost South American movie. A couple of years earlier, Chandler had made Welles’s acquaintance when he presented the director with another of his finds, a virgin print (never run on a projector) of Welles’s 1962 film, The Trial, which he’d salvaged from the garbage. The appreciative Welles enlisted Chandler to do some archival work on his behalf, and, as Chandler puts it, “he put a bug in my ear that if ever a search for Ambersons was done, he would have to know about it.”

The hoped-for opportunity arose in 1984, when the lab where Paramount got its film developed, Movielab, went out of business. This necessitated the return to Paramount of some 80,000 cans of film negative that Movielab had been storing for years. More important for Welles’s purposes, this influx of new material into Paramount’s vaults meant that everything already in the vaults had to be examined and catalogued, to see what should be kept, what should be moved elsewhere, and what should be thrown out. “My job was to check all the cans and see what was inside them,” says Chandler, who is now a senior vice president of postproduction at Fox. “I had the whole inventory of RKO and Paramount at my fingertips.”

Alas, he found nothing. “And I had five or six people checking every can,” he says. He even, through discreet inquiries, located a woman, by then retired, who had worked in the stock-film library throughout the RKO and Desilu regimes, and who claimed to have destroyed the negatives of The Magnificent Ambersons herself. “Her name was Hazel something—I don’t remember what,” Chandler says. “She was afraid to talk about it. She was very guarded, an old, retired lady. She just said, ‘I was given a directive. I took the negative and incinerated it.’” This would make sense: making a few discreet inquiries myself, I learned that the head of RKO’s stock-film library in the Ambersons era was a woman named Hazel Marshall. David Shepard knew her many years ago, and he says it’s entirely plausible that she would have incinerated the negative; studios in those days often burned unneeded nitrate film to salvage the silver in the emulsion. (Although there’s also a persistent rumor, which I was unable to verify, that Desilu indiscriminately dumped loads of RKO materials, including Ambersons footage, into the Santa Monica Bay upon its acquisition of the studio’s lot in the 1950s. Say it ain’t so, Lucy!)
Not that this is the be-all end-all of any hope, obviously...but getting worked up about Ambersons footage I feel is an easy way to let yourself down.
Last edited by Drucker on Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#150 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:48 pm

Drucker wrote:A great read from years ago in Vanity Fair.
(Although there’s also a persistent rumor, which I was unable to verify, that Desilu indiscriminately dumped loads of RKO materials, including Ambersons footage, into the Santa Monica Bay upon its acquisition of the studio’s lot in the 1950s. Say it ain’t so, Lucy!)
[/quote]

*sigh*...I doubt deep sea diving would do any good...

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