The Magnificent Ambersons

Discuss internationally-released DVDs and Blu-rays or other international DVD and Blu-ray-related topics.
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Narshty
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:27 pm
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#1 Post by Narshty » Wed Jun 29, 2005 4:51 pm

The BBFC has just classifed an "Interview with Bill Krohn" as extras for an upcoming edition of The Magnificent Ambersons from Universal. The only thing that concerns me at this point is that the Bill Krohn thing seems to be taken from the pretty dire French DVD. Fingers crossed they don't use the same gloopy analog-NTSC to PAL conversion.
Last edited by Narshty on Sun Jan 14, 2007 1:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

atcolomb
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#2 Post by atcolomb » Fri Jul 01, 2005 12:57 pm

I have a Chinese bootleg version of the French dvd release with the front cover artwork being the same. The picture was ok looking but no better than my Criterion laserdisc or the version i taped of the cable station TCM (Turner Classic Movies). I hear that Warner Bros. is looking for a better print to release on dvd region 1.

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david hare
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#3 Post by david hare » Fri Jul 01, 2005 6:58 pm

To be honest, apart from extras (like the complete screenplay which was included with the CC Laserdisc) I can't imagine print quality of this getting much better than the Editions Montparnasse (which is admittedly slightly overscanned, like the TV broadcasts.) Perhaps at best Warner canl "beauty shop" the image a little.

yoshimori
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#4 Post by yoshimori » Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:45 pm

And now, in the correct venue:
Just noticed that an r2uk of, supposedly, Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, and Magnificent Ambersons is listed on the MoC site as a September release from Universal. What?!

I can't seem to find confirmation of this info however. No listings at amazon, sendit, bensons, etc. Also not listed on Mr Brown's DVD list on this site.

Help?

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FilmFanSea
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:37 pm
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#5 Post by FilmFanSea » Wed Oct 12, 2005 2:54 am

The Orson Welles Boxset is up for preorder at Movie Mail:
A collection of three features from Orson Welles, the landmark Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, and, for the first time on UK DVD, The Magnificent Ambersons. The latter was misunderstood and consequently hacked about by RKO Studios when first released, but this immaculate period reconstruction is still a subtle and innovative film about social change at the turn of the century.

DVD Extras:

Four discs; Citizen Kane Bonus Disc including Anatomy Of A Classic – Presented by Barry Norman; What Kane Cost; Photo Gallery; Cast and Crew Profiles; Theatrical Trailer.
Image

atcolomb
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#6 Post by atcolomb » Wed Oct 12, 2005 12:49 pm

.....i wonder why the delay? It was to be released in september but now they have a new release date of january of 2006. I hope Warner Bros. does release a region 1 soon.

Narshty
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#7 Post by Narshty » Sun Jan 14, 2007 8:10 am

I've now got the UK disc (currently £4.99 at Play) and it's a step up from anything released so far, but still far from ideal. It's an NTSC-PAL transfer (looks far better though) and the sound is slightly crackly at points but sounds less processed and harsh than the French disc.

I've certainly noticed new things I'd never seen before with the clearer image. At the start of the ballroom sequence when Uncle John's talking loudly ("That's where they'll put the Major when his time comes!"), that's all dialogue that's been invented in post-production - I've no idea what he's mouthing but the lip movements aren't even vaguely close until he starts talking to George.

It's still the best film ever made. Scene for scene, what can top it?

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ellipsis7
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#8 Post by ellipsis7 » Sun Jan 14, 2007 10:34 am

I watched it through with Carringer's book, THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS - A RECONSTRUCTION, in front of me... A fascinating exercise, highlighting the changes such as mentioned... Also giving a notion of the even greater film that is lost...

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Scharphedin2
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#9 Post by Scharphedin2 » Sun Jan 14, 2007 7:20 pm

Narshty wrote:I've now got the UK disc (currently £4.99 at Play) and it's a step up from anything released so far, but still far from ideal. It's an NTSC-PAL transfer (looks far better though) and the sound is slightly crackly at points but sounds less processed and harsh than the French disc...

It's still the best film ever made. Scene for scene, what can top it?
What an opportune moment for you to bring up this film, Narshty. I have been going back and forth between Magnificent Ambersons and Citizen Kane in my mind recently with respect to the lists project. They were amongst the first '40s films I ever saw, and I have viewed both many times on laserdisc.

With Citizen Kane there is this marvelous energy, as of the wunderkind Welles taking his gigantic toy train set out for the first time, and pulling all the stops. There is something exciting about every shot, every scene, in this film. And, of course, he was given completely free reign.

Then there is The Magnificent Ambersons, which needless to say was compromised in post production, but still, even with almost half of the film as Welles shot it gone, down to individual shots truncated, and scenes filmed by other directors and inserted, there is a depth of emotion in Magnificent Ambersons that easily goes beyond that of Kane.

I have not done so in a while, but I used to take out the laserdisc of Ambersons at regular intervals to view select moments. Some that readily come to mind are that wonderful opening sequence that packs so much information about the time and setting and the history of the Ambersons into just a few minutes of screen time, with one of Welles' greatest performances ever (as the narrational voice); that long tracking shot, when we enter the Amberson mansion for the ball early in the film -- the doors swinging open to welcome the camera, with the chandelier swaying in the gust of wind from the open door; that incredible monologue by the Major about the "sun"; the backwards tracking shot that follows (if I remember correctly) as the family is thrown into grief; Agnes Moorehead's great moment late in the film in the kitchen; Tim Holt's long walk home through the changing town toward the end. I can easily agree with you that shot for shot, it is difficult to find Magnificent Ambersons cinematic peers.

Narshty, you spoke about the UK DVD release above. Are you familiar with the quality of Criterion's old laserdisc release? Do you think the UK DVD is significantly better, or, do you think there is any reason to think that something even better is on the not distant horizon?

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Awesome Welles
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 6:02 am
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#10 Post by Awesome Welles » Wed May 02, 2007 2:31 pm

Finally - I can post messages, no one told me my account had been activated. Sorry I had to get that off my chest.

Does anyone know of the likelihood that someone will release The Magnificent Ambersons with intertitles indicating what is missing from the available cut of the film. I've never seen the Criterion LD, but from what I hear, basically a replication of that on DVD would be lovely.

Features something like:

Including a cut as close as possible to Welles's intentions with the mentioned intertitles, the RKO cut (in comparison, on a second disc) Commentary by Jonathan Rosenbaum, James Naremore, V.F. Perkins or Joseph McBride (whoever is available or has the most expertise in this area). An introduction by Peter Bogdanovich (just to give him something to do). A newly produced featurette examining a look at Welles's original vision and script with a look at story boards and how the scenes might have looked, plus an examination of whatever material may still be available, production stills etc. A reprint of Robert Carringer's wonderful book 'The Magnificent Ambersons: A Reconstruction'.

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skuhn8
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#11 Post by skuhn8 » Wed May 02, 2007 2:42 pm

FSimeoni wrote:An introduction by Peter Bogdanovich (just to give him something to do).
I wholeheartedly second an edition like the one you suggest, but I would like to see a branching feature that allows us to watch the film as it exists or to view it with documentary insight where scenes are missing.

But the Bogdanovich comment just gave me a much needed chuckle. You pretty much can't do anything Lang or Welles related without Cpt. Ascot in attendance. I always picture him with his cute little handkerchief wrapped around his neck and a Radio Shack single speaker tape player clutched to his chest outside the studio like Syd Barrett waiting for one last ride outside Abbey Road.

atcolomb
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#12 Post by atcolomb » Wed May 02, 2007 3:45 pm

Warner Bros. will release Ambersons next year (why next year?) and as to what will be on the dvd who knows!. I do have the Criterion CAV laserdisc and i hope that Warner Bros. will put some nice extras on it like the Criterion disc. Lets cross our fingers!!

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Awesome Welles
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#13 Post by Awesome Welles » Wed May 02, 2007 6:22 pm

skuhn8 wrote:
FSimeoni wrote:An introduction by Peter Bogdanovich (just to give him something to do).
I wholeheartedly second an edition like the one you suggest, but I would like to see a branching feature that allows us to watch the film as it exists or to view it with documentary insight where scenes are missing.
I agree entirely. My thoughts were when I outlined suggested special features were to have a newly produced documentary on the subject, but your suggestion brews an idea in my mind, it would be a great feature to be able to not only watch a new documentary on its own but also to be able to splice relevant sections of the documentary into the feature. So where we might come to a section of the film that is missing we cut to the documentary where we see a five minute retrospective look into what should be there then cut back to the film and so on...

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kinjitsu
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#14 Post by kinjitsu » Wed May 02, 2007 7:15 pm

Criterion's CAV edition also contains:

• The shooting script of the film
• Complete storyboards for all scenes, including those cut by the studio for the film's theatrical release, and subsequently lost
• Silent film and radio treatments of the Ambersons story

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tavernier
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#15 Post by tavernier » Thu May 03, 2007 12:54 am

skuhn8 wrote:But the Bogdanovich comment just gave me a much needed chuckle. You pretty much can't do anything Lang or Welles related without Cpt. Ascot in attendance. I always picture him with his cute little handkerchief wrapped around his neck and a Radio Shack single speaker tape player clutched to his chest outside the studio like Syd Barrett waiting for one last ride outside Abbey Road.
Isn't it sad that Syd is gone and Capt. Ascot is still haunting our Criterion discs?

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BenCheshire
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#16 Post by BenCheshire » Tue Jun 19, 2007 4:00 am

I second that, except Syd wasn't much good to anyone but his mum, and Peter's still at least making movies.

Narshty
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#17 Post by Narshty » Fri Jul 13, 2007 6:07 am

Scharphedin2 wrote:Narshty, you spoke about the UK DVD release above. Are you familiar with the quality of Criterion's old laserdisc release?
Oh, I wish. More than once I've been on the verge of buying a laserdisc player simply to get that disc.
Scharphedin2 wrote:Do you think the UK DVD is significantly better, or, do you think there is any reason to think that something even better is on the not distant horizon?
Warner's will trounce it, I've no doubt of that. However, the idea that some sort of reconstruction should "replace" the current version is a horrible one. This is the movie we've got, and all the storyboards and voiceovers and daydreaming in the world isn't going to change that, nor should it. Even if all the scenes were found, the movie will remain permanently unfinished - Welles never got beyond a preview rough cut. It's imperfect, but its damaged status makes the good stuff in it all the more precious.

I think my favourite scene is Uncle Jack's goodbye to George at the train station - it's one of the best and most moving speeches in any movie ever.

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ellipsis7
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#18 Post by ellipsis7 » Fri Jul 13, 2007 7:39 am

To get an idea of how the film evolved, I watch the Universal disc while following it through reading Robert Carringer's The Magnificent Ambersons: A Reconstruction at the same time... That's the closest we'll get to Welles' intentions, and even then it's not his absolutely definitive cut - he himself changed some stuff after previews - this script is the Cutting Continuity of March 12, 1942, with subsequent changes indicated by Carringer, including the recuts and reshoots that didn't involve Welles...

Narshty
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#19 Post by Narshty » Fri Jul 13, 2007 7:43 am

Get hold of Herrmann's complete soundtrack (there's an OOP re-recording on CD from the early 90s) and synch it up while you're reading the script. It gives an amazingly vivid idea of how the lost scenes would have played.

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Dr. Snaut
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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#20 Post by Dr. Snaut » Mon Aug 03, 2009 12:46 pm

Are there any plans for this to be released on R1? I have read this thread and it does mention how WB was supposed to release the film in 2008, which clearly has not happened yet. I need this film in my collection so badly it hurts.

atcolomb
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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#21 Post by atcolomb » Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:01 pm

I think Warner Bros. is still working on this for 2009 release and trying to find the best print of the film. Maybe they need more time for the extras since there is a lot on the making and botched release of the film? I do have the Criterion laserdiscs of the film and the print used by Criterion is in good shape but would love to see it on dvd or blu-ray!

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Matt
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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#22 Post by Matt » Tue Aug 04, 2009 4:52 pm

The official word from Warner Bros. (according to the March 23, 2009 Home Theater Forum chat with Warner Bros. Home Video) is this: "AMBERSONS is still in the development stages...our plans for supplementary materials require much more time (and money) than expected."

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swo17
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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#23 Post by swo17 » Tue Aug 04, 2009 5:09 pm

Why doesn't Warner turn this over to Criterion?

atcolomb
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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#24 Post by atcolomb » Wed Aug 05, 2009 12:59 pm

Poor Orson....29 years after his death he still has a hard time having his movies released for the public to see in his own country like Ambersons or Chimes at Midnight for the dvd market.

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swo17
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Re: The Magnificent Ambersons

#25 Post by swo17 » Wed Aug 05, 2009 1:11 pm

Not to mention the fact that most kids today couldn't even tell you who Unicron is. Sad times we're living in.

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