Frank Perry

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Awesome Welles
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 6:02 am
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Last Summer & The Swimmer

#26 Post by Awesome Welles » Tue Aug 21, 2007 11:52 am

From IMDB:
There was a Frank Perry retrospective last year at the Yerba Buena Arts Center in San Francisco and this is what they said about it:

"Last Summer is one of Perry's most important films, yet all prints of the film are lost. Because the film is so important in Perry's ouvre, we will present Last Summer on vhs tape as a FREE screening. We would not normally screen anything on vhs, as it is generally not a suitable format for public exhibition, but we're making this one-time exception. Last Summer is a frank coming-of-age tale, in which a group of aimless teens get together for sex, drugs and rock-and-roll on Fire Island. Timid, overweight Rhonda (Catherine Burns) is goaded into dangerous behavior by her friends, especially the promiscuous Sandy (a very young Barbara Hershey), and the group is bound together for life by a terrible secret. Rated X on its original release, this shocking psycho-drama is worlds away from the brain-dead teen films of today."
Not so good news to say the least. Hard to believe all the prints have been destroyed in my opinion, I think it would be difficult to definitively say that.

On the topic of Perry's other films. I must say I enjoyed The Swimmer but felt that it was a flawed film that didn't have the strength to be as biting as it could/should have been (maybe? I think I'll have to see it again, I haven't seen it in ages). What stands out most for me was of course Lancaster's performance.

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Dylan
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:28 pm

Last Summer

#27 Post by Dylan » Tue Aug 21, 2007 3:34 pm

FSimeoni wrote:Not so good news to say the least. Hard to believe all the prints have been destroyed in my opinion, I think it would be difficult to definitively say that.
Keep in mind that Warner did say in a chat a year or two ago that they were considering releasing "Last Summer," and I don't believe they would go out and say that if 'all prints' were lost (and even if all prints were, how about the negatives, the dupes, etc.?). In the same sentence they mentioned Coppola's "You're a Big Boy Now," another intriguing mid-late 60's drama - maybe they're working on some kind of "1960's Drama" boxset (or perhaps boxsets of Frank Perry and early Coppola)?

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lord_clyde
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Last Summer

#28 Post by lord_clyde » Tue Aug 21, 2007 8:08 pm

Dylan wrote:Warner did say in a chat a year or two ago that they were considering releasing "Last Summer," and I don't believe they would go out and say that if 'all prints' were lost (and even if all prints were, how about the negatives, the dupes, etc.?). In the same sentence they mentioned Coppola's "You're a Big Boy Now," another intriguing mid-late 60's drama - maybe they're working on some kind of "1960's Drama" boxset (or perhaps boxsets of Frank Perry and early Coppola)?
Even if the negative if gone a decent transfer can still be done in this day and age, and I find it hard to believe not a single frame of celluloid exists for the film.

AisleSeat
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The Swimmer & Last Summer

#29 Post by AisleSeat » Sat Aug 02, 2008 3:27 pm

Sony's DVD release of The Swimmer (1968) has been out of print since 2007. Though dated to some extent, it still retains considerable bite and offers a memorable rebuke to the "keep up with the Joneses" mentality of the 1950s and early 1960s. Burt Lancaster is in top form as a handsome former businessman whose life dreams have begun to fade.

Perry's Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970) is another memorable late 1960-ish film. Carrie Snodgress, as the eponymous title character, more than acquits herself, and the scenes between her and dashing co-star Frank Langella sparkle with charged and witty dialogue. Richard Benjamin over plays his role, unfortunately, and nearly sinks the film. But if this can be put aside—and, yes, it is somewhat challenging to do so—the film's many merits manifest themselves. Diary has never received a DVD release. To be completely appreciated, it requires that it be viewed uncut, as some of the best scenes contain nudity and frank language. Forget about watching it on late night TV and track down a full-version VCR copy.

This brings us to another Frank Perry film that never been released on DVD—the compelling and noteworthy Last Summer (1969). This film is in Warner's catalog, and it is mystifying why they've continued to sit on it. Last Summer is a subtle coming-of-age film that packs a concluding punch that is both disturbing and unforgettable. The simplistic story, in which the close bond between three adolescents (two boys and a girl) is disrupted by a forth (another girl), touches on themes of growing up that many of us can relate to. Perry is masterful in his unfolding of the tension among the four protagonists, leading up to the shattering climax.

Each of these three films deserves a DVD release. In some respects, they are important as they offer glimpses of the late 1960s that are both realistic and not often portrayed on film. The three together would make for an excellent Eclipse set, with unjustly ignored Last Summer warranting consideration for a release under the main Criterion label.

It's been nearly a year since the last post about Last Summer. Has anyone heard anything further whether Last Summer will be released on DVD?

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souvenir
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 12:20 pm

#30 Post by souvenir » Sun Sep 14, 2008 1:29 am

What about Doc, Perry's film written by Pete Hamill on Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp, but really about LBJ? It's just been released by Optimum in R2 and, despite being not entirely successful, the film doesn't deserve to be completely forgotten either.

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domino harvey
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Re: Frank Perry

#31 Post by domino harvey » Mon Mar 29, 2010 10:43 pm

From the newest Warner Archives newsletter:
LAST SUMMER is one of the most highly requested titles in our vast library, and we planned to make it available last year when we launched the Warner Archive Collection. When we were unable to secure a good quality master which retained the film's original theatrical aspect ratio, the release was postponed. Fortunately, the issue is resolved and we look forward to announcing its DVD premiere later this year.

Perkins Cobb
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Re: Frank Perry

#32 Post by Perkins Cobb » Tue Mar 30, 2010 1:55 am

That's funny, they forgot to put "DVD" in quotation marks.

Meanwhile: Katy Perry is Frank Perry's niece?!?

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GaryC
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Re: Frank Perry

#33 Post by GaryC » Tue Mar 30, 2010 5:09 am

It's worth mentioning that Metrodome released David and Lisa on DVD in the UK in 2008. I can't say much more as I haven't seen a copy - we tried and failed to get a review copy for DVD Times at the time.

beamish13
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Re: Frank Perry

#34 Post by beamish13 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 2:01 pm

domino harvey wrote:From the newest Warner Archives newsletter:
LAST SUMMER is one of the most highly requested titles in our vast library, and we planned to make it available last year when we launched the Warner Archive Collection. When we were unable to secure a good quality master which retained the film's original theatrical aspect ratio, the release was postponed. Fortunately, the issue is resolved and we look forward to announcing its DVD premiere later this year.
Hopefully this also means that they will be releasing the uncensored version.

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Dylan
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Re: Frank Perry

#35 Post by Dylan » Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:18 pm

Not having read any news about it in a while, and having missed the chat with George Feltenstein yesterday, I asked Warner Archive on their Facebook page about the status of Frank Perry's 1969 Last Summer. Their response:
No news. FWIW, we are working with 35mm negative.
Way to downplay, WAC: this is HUGE news!! Last we heard all they had to work with was a 16mm print recovered in Australia (which until now was the only known film print in the world of the original x-rated version) and a cropped/edited TV version that showed up on TCM a couple years ago. If they're working from the 35mm negative then that's the exact dichotomy of the situation this title has been in since the 80s. I mean - rejoice! Last Summer has been saved in its original glory and will eventually be release completely restored and looking better than it has since the year it came out. This is awesome!

Here are some older thoughts of mine about the film Last Summer and its decades-long MIA situation (from the WAC thread, but I believe they're more at home here).
Many people at Warner love Last Summer, but there's been a lot of trouble finding any elements - and this title has been a project over there for over a decade. Currently, there is an "edited for TV" version that has very good picture quality (this aired on TCM in HD last year, albeit in 1.33:1 - either open matte or cropped from 1.66 or 1.85 - and I must say that the editing ruins the final scene and renders it almost completely incomprehensible) but the only-known copy of the original 1969 x-rated version is a single 16mm print, which was only discovered last year (and in Australia, no less). The 1985 Key Video VHS is an R-rated version with more footage than the TV version, but the visual quality is poor & apparently it has a few cuts too. I would assume that WB will attempt a composite edit of the TV version and the 16mm print, but if they're in different aspect ratios or if they have alternate takes/footage that may prove impossible.

The current situation of Last Summer is surprising to everybody - it received almost exclusively positive reviews at the time, performed fairly well at the box office, and was nominated for an Oscar. And yet, all of the elements and every single 35mm print have just vanished. It's a salvage operation and WB are sitting on some tough decisions regarding a release - either use the TV edit and 16mm print as elements, or keep searching. The fact that they've opted for the latter suggests that they haven't exhausted their resources. A documentary about all of this would be fascinating, now that I think about it.
And one more post from that older discussion. I'm curious if I was right about the speculation that it was part of the Allied Artists library that might've ended up at Orion for a while?
Last Summer is a masterpiece. One could see this as a cynical look at teens, but I think it's more primal than that. It touches on something either natural within people or basic to how the natural has been distorted by civilization (depending on which is the real cause). Lord of the Flies and Our Mother's House deal with some of this too, but I think Last Summer is the superior work. Evan Hunter's original novel is also great, as is the sequel Come Winter.

I'm guessing that at some point the Allied Artists library, or a portion of it, ended up in somebody's hands other than WB, and somehow the materials for this film were carelessly shoved into some larger collection that ended up somewhere in the world owned by people who probably don't know what they have. And perhaps they passed it down to somebody else who boxed it up in storage or got rid of it. Just one scenario.

Years ago all the Allied Artists films were available from some company whose name I can't recall now. But up until 1980, you could get 16mm copies of this to rent through them, probably even 35mm. Something else is telling me that all of this material ended up at Orion for a while. Who bought out all the Orion material? Somebody told me that they remember talking with Orion when they closed asking them what was going to happen to the films and they said some of it was going to be tossed. Sad to think that it got junked or is sitting in some warehouse in LA somewhere with everyone looking for it and no one being able to track it down. My guess is also that the existing print from Australia was not the one used for the VHS but that came from this Allied Artists stash. It was copied then and returned to where it came from to be lost. The Australian copy is probably something someone no longer had a company to return it to and so they kept it.

kneelzod
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Re: Frank Perry

#36 Post by kneelzod » Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:43 pm

Wonderful news, if accurate. I read Hunter's novel fairly recently, which really whetted my appetite for a good, uncut presentation of the film on physical media. I've got the old Key VHS. Didn't realize it had footage that wasn't included in the recent TCM print. I also didn't realize that the aforementioned Australian 16mm print was uncut. I have, but have not yet read, Hunter's sequel COME WINTER. I know there were plans to film it at some point, but they never came to fruition. One of the best LAST SUMMER stories I read recently was from an interview with Bruce Davison in Shock Cinema in which he stated that Perry's direction to the young actors was that they should think of themselves as the children of Ned Merrill, from Perry's previous film THE SWIMMER. Really makes perfect sense and, of course, makes a double feature of SWIMMER and LAST SUMMER all the more resonant.

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Dylan
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Re: Frank Perry

#37 Post by Dylan » Thu Aug 15, 2013 4:48 pm

Wonderful news, if accurate.
There is something odd about their low-key revelation of now working with the 35mm negative after over a decade of set-backs from not knowing whether or not there was even a measly print of the x-rated version in existence much less original materials. But maybe they're just being quiet because it isn't known yet exactly what sort of release this will have. There is always the possibility (*crosses fingers*) that after such a decades-long search and rescue it won't be a WB or WAC title, but one licensed to another label as they recently said they'll be doing more of. This is also what I can see happening to Letty Lynton.
I read Hunter's novel fairly recently, which really whetted my appetite for a good, uncut presentation of the film on physical media.
It's a great novel and Evan Hunter is a brilliant writer, but I even prefer the film experience to the literary one.
I've got the old Key VHS. Didn't realize it had footage that wasn't included in the recent TCM print.
Yes, quite a lot. The ending is a horrid mess with the cuts. You can't tell at all
SpoilerShow
what happened to Catherine Burns' character in that finale. The TV version is so chopped up and what it does show just leads you to believe that they've killed her in some way. Oddly, though, some of the partial nudity from earlier parts of the film is still intact, leading me to believe that this may have been cut for paid cable but the station still wanted the rape cut down.
I also didn't realize that the aforementioned Australian 16mm print was uncut.
Apparently it was a 16mm dupe of a 35mm print of the original x-rated version. It was screened in LA last year at The Egyptian with Barbara Hershey in attendance and hosted by writer Larry Karaszewski (Ed Wood).
I have, but have not yet read, Hunter's sequel COME WINTER. I know there were plans to film it at some point, but they never came to fruition.
Yes, the hard cover version of Come Winter says on the back cover I believe that Evan Hunter himself was adapting it to the screen but it was obviously scrapped. I liked this novel quite a bit - it's quite startling where these three end up...
One of the best LAST SUMMER stories I read recently was from an interview with Bruce Davison in Shock Cinema in which he stated that Perry's direction to the young actors was that they should think of themselves as the children of Ned Merrill, from Perry's previous film THE SWIMMER. Really makes perfect sense and, of course, makes a double feature of SWIMMER and LAST SUMMER all the more resonant.
That is a great story. What's interesting to me are the differences between both films. The Swimmer is stylized to 11 with every kind of camera trick and montage device in the book & all sorts of wacky angles and crazy shots & it has this huge, lush, loud, theme-y wall-to-wall score (my favorite part about the film, actually - Marvin Hamlisch's best work and gorgeous on disc too). Last Summer isn't a particularly visual film - it's shot completely straight - and there are exactly two late sixties rock-ish score cues and one of those is the end credits. There are a few songs, but it's largely a quiet soundtrack. It's also the better film, in my opinion - Catherine Burns' monologue is just spectacular.

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Re: Frank Perry

#38 Post by kneelzod » Thu Aug 15, 2013 11:03 pm

Dylan wrote:There is something odd about their low-key revelation of now working with the 35mm negative after over a decade of set-backs from not knowing whether or not there was even a measly print of the x-rated version in existence much less original materials. But maybe they're just being quiet because it isn't known yet exactly what sort of release this will have.
Agreed.
There is always the possibility (*crosses fingers*) that after such a decades-long search and rescue it won't be a WB or WAC title, but one licensed to another label as they recently said they'll be doing more of. This is also what I can see happening to Letty Lynton.
I don't care if WB, WAC, or a third party releases it...what I'd really like is a Blu-ray of the original X-rated version.
It's a great novel and Evan Hunter is a brilliant writer, but I even prefer the film experience to the literary one.
Loved LAST SUMMER when I first saw it in the '90s. Haven't actually re-watched the film in well over 15 years even though I've owned the VHS the entire time. Been waiting on a DVD. But, the memory's stuck with me. That said, when I watch the film again--hopefully via a new Blu-ray--I'll better be able to compare it with the novel.
Yes, quite a lot. The ending is a horrid mess with the cuts. You can't tell at all
SpoilerShow
what happened to Catherine Burns' character in that finale. The TV version is so chopped up and what it does show just leads you to believe that they've killed her in some way. Oddly, though, some of the partial nudity from earlier parts of the film is still intact, leading me to believe that this may have been cut for paid cable but the station still wanted the rape cut down.
Yeah, I'm not surprised. It's a very difficult scene, even in the book.
Apparently it was a 16mm dupe of a 35mm print of the original x-rated version. It was screened in LA last year at The Egyptian with Barbara Hershey in attendance and hosted by writer Larry Karaszewski (Ed Wood).
Yes, I was quite aware of this screening. Wish I could've been on the coast for it. Larry has good taste, which is in evidence at Trailers From Hell.
I liked this novel quite a bit - it's quite startling where these three end up...
Need to finally read this one. I have a paperback copy with a silver cover.
That is a great story. What's interesting to me are the differences between both films. The Swimmer is stylized to 11 with every kind of camera trick and montage device in the book & all sorts of wacky angles and crazy shots & it has this huge, lush, loud, theme-y wall-to-wall score (my favorite part about the film, actually - Marvin Hamlisch's best work and gorgeous on disc too). Last Summer isn't a particularly visual film - it's shot completely straight - and there are exactly two late sixties rock-ish score cues and one of those is the end credits. There are a few songs, but it's largely a quiet soundtrack. It's also the better film, in my opinion - Catherine Burns' monologue is just spectacular.
You're right about the style of THE SWIMMER, a troubled production to say the least, but still one of my very favorite films (can't wait for that Grindhouse Blu-ray). Some of the camera trickery and trippy opticals, I imagine, owe to the idea that Ned has checked out of reality and embarked on a "journey" based on his fantasies and delusions. Love Hamlisch's score as well. Got the vinyl and then the great FSM CD that came out several years ago. The LAST SUMMER soundtrack is a little harder to come by; I'd like to get the LP one of these days. The latter is a more restrained film, I concur. I really hold both of these films dearly. Couldn't pick one over the other. Burns was so good here, got that nomination, reunited with co-star Richard Thomas in RED SKY AT MORNING, and went into a tv career that faded out by the early '80s.

frankperryauthor
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Re: Frank Perry

#39 Post by frankperryauthor » Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:36 am

This is a great thread.

I've been working on a book about Frank and Eleanor Perry for many months now and I've interviewed almost the entire cast and crew that worked on LAST SUMMER (1969). In fact, let me say Thanks for the nice mention of my interview with Bruce Davison from the recent Shock Cinema Magazine as it was pointed out here. That interview with Bruce in SC is very partial, and only the tip of what he had to say about LAST SUMMER. The rest will be in my book about The Perrys which is slated for release in Spring 2015. I've interviewed over 50 people that knew and worked with them.

In addition, to what has been said here....ELEANOR considered Jonathan Belser in DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE (1969) to be the pre-cursor to Ned Merrill from THE SWIMMER (1968). She said that Ned was Jonathan 5-6 years in the future.

I'm very optimistic about Warner's releasing LAST SUMMER on DVD, but I'm not so sure that they'll ever be able to get the X cut restored. I was told in my interviews for the film by one of the films producers that Frank destroyed all of his outtakes for the film. Because of the time that has passed since the film's release, and with many deceased that worked on the film, Frank didn't originally have final cut on the picture, as it was produced for 750,000 dollars, but he went over 30,000 dollars, making the total budget 780,000 dollars. He had put together a cut of the film, and then took it into NY to screen it for one of the producers there was an fight, which no one today knows what it was exactly about, but Frank came back to the editing room and took out about 7-8 minutes of the film, then burnt his outtakes. The big scene that he cut..... We see the tail end of it in the film today, in which, we see the kids on the beach at night and Bruce has a guitar and they're all sitting by the fire? The camera opens that sequence with a pan from left starting on a faraway shot of a party at the house on Fire Island, moving to the right onto the kids, what came before that, was a 6-7 minute sequence inside that house of all of the island's adults talking about just how disconnected they were from their kids. Frank, and the producer that told me about this said that they both felt the scene was absolutely pivotal to the film in terms of what they thought was one of the key themes in Evan Hunter's novel. BTW, Hunter wrote a screenplay for his sequel for the story COME WINTER, but was never able to get it off the ground. The rape scene was shot on a soundstage on 61st street in NYC, which Frank and Eleanor lived right around the corner from on Broadway.

I have lots of other good info on the film, but I'm saying it for the book. Anyhow, thanks again for mentioning my Davison piece in SC.

Considering that Frank destroyed his outtakes, I will be shocked and happily surprised if Warners actually will be able to put together an X cut, if one even existed. I've heard stories from those that worked on the film that it never existed, and the "R" VHS cut was what was released into theaters in the Summer of 1969.

Raymond Marble
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Re: Frank Perry

#40 Post by Raymond Marble » Mon Feb 27, 2017 5:44 pm

For those of you in Los Angeles, the New Beverly is running a handful of Frank Perry's films from film prints in March; they even have that Australian 16mm print of Last Summer that sometimes turns up, and which I want to say is a different cut of the film than the one that sometimes surfaces on TCM. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) Elsewhere, they have Ladybug Ladybug, Diary of a Mad Housewife, Play it as it Lays, Doc, and Rancho Deluxe.

Edit: Sorry, I didn't catch that it clearly says a few posts above mine that yes, the Australian 16mm print is the original X-rated cut, and differs from the TCM cut.

yoshimori
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Re: Frank Perry

#41 Post by yoshimori » Mon Feb 27, 2017 9:53 pm

Thanks for the heads up. There was talk of a Carlotta (?) Plays It As It Lays blu a few years back, but it never materialized. Amazing film.

beamish13
Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:31 am

Re: Frank Perry

#42 Post by beamish13 » Tue Feb 28, 2017 2:40 pm

Incredibly excited about these New Beverly screenings; I've already got my ticket for Diary of a Mad Housewife. Quentin Tarantino said on Facebook that he'd tried to include Man on a Swing and Compromising Positions as well, but that Paramount has no prints of either. It's astonishing that there are no 35mm copies of Ladybug, Ladybug, but thank goodness the Academy Film Archive has a 16mm copy that was donated by Joe Dante and Jon Davison.

Regarding Last Summer, I was at that Cinematheque screening with Hershey, and there is some debate about whether or not even THAT is the full, completely unexpurgated version of the film that initially screened in 1969.

I'm looking forward to the book on the Perry's!

beamish13
Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:31 am

Re: Frank Perry

#43 Post by beamish13 » Mon Mar 06, 2017 12:24 pm

I caught Ladybug, Ladybug last night at the New Beverly. What an incredibly film. Even in a well-loved 16mm print that was deposited at the Academy Film Archive by Joe Dante and Jon Davison, it completely captivated me. The large cast of children and then-unknown adult actors, including William Daniels (playing an educator 30 years before Boy Meets World debuted) and Estelle Parsons, are uniformly excellent. There are some wonderful, mordant bits involving the running of a school that made me laugh, and its spare runtime of just over 80 minutes is incredibly dense with ideas. It references the most famous shot from The Seventh Seal, which is appropriate given how they're both about mankind's comeuppance/final judgment.

Why this film remains buried is beyond me. Like Robert Downey, Sr.'s Pound, it's a UA/MGM title that never appeared on VHS, but it briefly streamed on Amazon.

steveakaflip
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Re: Frank Perry

#44 Post by steveakaflip » Mon Jun 05, 2017 2:45 am

Big fan of Perry's work, and that his masterful work is so underrepresented on home video is frustrating. The Australian 16mm print of "Last Summer" was screened tonight at the newly re-opened Quad Cinema in NYC. It was the first time I'd seen the film, and is was astonishing. Still, I don't think this print is the full length version. When researching tonight, I came across the still image from a scene where two men make love in the dunes while Barbara Hershey and Bruce Davison look on. It's a scene in the book as well, but it was not in the print I saw tonight. Now I'm wondering how much else is still missing. Though the forest scene at the end has a lot of nudity, and is undeniably brutal once it got to the brutal act of rape, it was very choppy. Was that the way it played in the original? How does it play in the TCM broadcast? Add me to the chorus of those who would welcome a restored complete version of the film. Even as it stands now in the version I saw, It's a powerful shattering experience.

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