The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Discussion On All Aspects Of The Film.

Moderator: NefariousNed

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby RLC-GTT on Sun Jun 15, 2014 7:23 pm

bill chemerka wrote:Nicely done!

Imagine if both Alamo Plaza and John Wayne's The Alamo get the necessary and appropriatre restoration efforts. Before 2036.

"Go Ahead!"

Hey, we've got three (count them: 3) "saves" in process: Alamo Plaza, John Wayne's The Alamo and Alamo Village.
User avatar
RLC-GTT
 
Posts: 17412
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:03 am

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby K Hale on Sun Jun 15, 2014 7:27 pm

RLC-GTT wrote:The transcript on the website left off one very important part of my interview. Here is what the transcript says:

"That movie did more to further Alamo history than anything they have done at The Alamo," Curilla said.

If you listen to the video, I finished the sentence with "until recently." Makes a big difference. ;)

Quite a difference. Good video, though I'm not sure who's seeing it. "Time Warner Cable News"? Is this a channel?
Verum non in verbus, sed in testimonium.
User avatar
K Hale
 
Posts: 9021
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 5:17 pm
Location: Texas

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby RLC-GTT on Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:33 pm

K Hale wrote:
RLC-GTT wrote:The transcript on the website left off one very important part of my interview. Here is what the transcript says:

"That movie did more to further Alamo history than anything they have done at The Alamo," Curilla said.

If you listen to the video, I finished the sentence with "until recently." Makes a big difference. ;)

Quite a difference. Good video, though I'm not sure who's seeing it. "Time Warner Cable News"? Is this a channel?

Ya got me. Maybe just Internet.... the new era.
User avatar
RLC-GTT
 
Posts: 17412
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:03 am

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby NefariousNed on Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:36 pm

Well, John Wayne's THE ALAMO put the Alamo in San Antonio on the world map. Tourists continue to flock to San Antonio from all corners of the globe
thanks to John Wayne and his film. Before the film's release, precious few outside of Texas even knew what an alamo was. (Save for a handful of Davy
Crockett/Fess Parker fans.) Like it, or not, we are a very small group.
The "OUTSIDE THE ALAMO, Songs of Ned Huthmacher Performed by John Beland" CD Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OutsideTheAlamo/
User avatar
NefariousNed
Moderator
 
Posts: 50713
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 9:48 pm

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby RLC-GTT on Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:42 pm

NefariousNed wrote:Well, John Wayne's THE ALAMO put the Alamo in San Antonio on the world map. Tourists continue to flock to San Antonio from all corners of the globe
thanks to John Wayne and his film. Before the film's release, precious few outside of Texas even knew what an alamo was. (Save for a handful of Davy
Crockett/Fess Parker fans.) Like it, or not, we are a very small group.

Yep. The world imagination (it's no long a national one) is limited by a screen in the palm of people's hands.
User avatar
RLC-GTT
 
Posts: 17412
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:03 am

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby Doc on Thu Jun 19, 2014 3:25 pm

There's an interesting article about restoration of The Alamo at http://www.northwestchicagofilmsociety.org


Remember The Alamo? Movies, Markets, and Misaligned Incentives
Posted on June 8, 2014 by Kyle Westphal

ALAMO 70mm

Film preservation is rarely a sexy endeavor, the fantasies of archivists themselves notwithstanding. Preserving or restoring a film often requires years of semi-scholastic drudgery—research, grant-writing, lab tests, hair-splitting assessments of continuity and color-timing. The reward at the end of the process is posterity—for the film, not the preservationist, who must be content with providing a sound bite on a DVD extra. (Bonus points allotted if the preservationist is shown at a messy desk, futzing with an ornery reel or holding it up to the light for inspection, like a fastidious jeweler.)

Point being, preservation work is a consummate behind-the-scenes job. On a certain level, that work should be invisible: if the goal is to return a film as close as possible to its original state, then eluding audience detection through seamless tradecraft is a mark of success. Hiding the gulf between disparate source elements and suppressing the ravages of time are laudable, essentially self-effacing, achievements. Film restoration hews closely to the physician’s Hippocratic Oath—first, do no harm. (By this standard, touting a new surround sound remix, digitally removing the intrinsic grain structure of the image, or valiantly intuiting a long-dead filmmaker’s unrealized intentions would automatically command suspicion, to say nothing of colorization, integration of new footage, and the like.) The highest compliment is not to be noticed at all.

The deliberations behind a restoration are even more obscure. They are almost always private and sometimes even proprietary: convincing a foundation that a particular film is culturally auspicious enough to merit underwriting its preservation, persuading a superior to allocate scarce discretionary funds to an emergency salvage project, negotiating a fair licensing agreement with a copyright holder. These are inherently delicate situations, so it’s no surprise that they don’t often unfold in the public square.

Alamo Half SheetThat’s why it’s novel that the preservation status of The Alamo, John Wayne’s large-scale 1960 directorial debut, has aroused so much public interest. For a film not often revived north of the Mason-Dixon line, the perilous survival of The Alamo has developed a broad, social media-abetted following. Last week a friend with no industry affiliation asked me about the ongoing woe of The Alamo at a State Street bus stop.

In some sense, The Alamo deserves nothing less. It’s only appropriate that Wayne’s film leaves this world on a note of public clamor and hot tempers—a parallel to The Alamo’s scorched earth 1960/1961 Oscar campaign that birthed the cutthroat awards season template we still recognize today. Employing the same publicist who’d sold Gone with the Wind two decades earlier, Wayne waged a valiantly Crockett-esque campaign in the trade press, reminding the industry that The Alamo represented a distinctly American feat of epic filmmaking—in contrast to the year’s other major three-hour road shows, Spartacus and Exodus, both penned by newly unblacklisted, unrepentant comsymp Dalton Trumbo. (Fittingly, Wayne’s only other directorial effort was even more provocative: The Green Berets, a pro-Vietnam combat picture released at the height of the conflict.) Ultimately, The Alamo finagled seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, but only took home a single statuette, for Best Sound.

Before diving into #SavetheAlamo, some additional background is in order. Wayne’s Alamo was an elaborate production, budgeted at an astronomical $12 million and photographed in large-format Todd-AO. Through distributor United Artists, The Alamo saw road show bookings in 70mm, but was eventually delivered to general audiences in a shortened 35mm version. The original version—192 minutes, plus overture, entr’acte, and exit music—was cut down to 161 minutes. As was customary at the time, the original 65mm negative was eventually conformed to the shorter version as well, as were the 65mm separation masters and the 35mm internegatives. The trims were discarded and most of the circulating 70mm prints were altered as well.

In essence, once the short version of The Alamo was locked down, the studio made it very, very difficult to reprint or reassemble the 192-minute original cut—not out of malice, per se, but a failure of imagination. If the shorter cut meant better box office, then why would anyone ever want to make another print of that gargantuan road show version? This thinking wasn’t exclusive to United Artists—similar calculations prevailed for A Star is Born, Lawrence of Arabia, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and any number of other classics that simply proved too cumbersome for studio tastes in their original version.

Alamo LDIn the case of The Alamo, the road show version was presumed lost for three decades. In 1991, a 70mm print of the road show cut was discovered at a film warehouse in Toronto. This print served as the basis for a video transfer that was released on a letterboxed laserdisc in 1993, but otherwise the original version vanished again. The 70mm print was not used to produce new photochemical protection material or a new print. The road show version was likewise missing from the new ancillary marketplace—not available on DVD, Blu-ray, or streaming platforms.

Over the last two decades, nothing has improved—for either the road show version or the general release version. Most all of the relevant Alamo elements have deteriorated: the 65mm original negative, conformed to the short version, cannot be printed. The 65mm separation masters were improperly manufactured back in 1960 and have never been a viable source. The sole 70mm print of the road show version is now almost entirely faded, and will soon be beyond salvage due to vinegar syndrome. The 35mm internegative can still be used, but this source lacks much of the original footage, as well as the inherent resolution of the original large-format elements.

Given the limitations of the surviving film elements, it’s hardly surprising that a comprehensive restoration project has failed to materialize. Even the most lavishly-funded restoration would still yield mediocre results, leaving fans complaining and donors scratching their heads. And yet the longer we wait, the worse the options become: with each year, the film elements deteriorate and a rescue job becomes less and less viable.

The problem is that The Alamo is owned by MGM, the studio that bought out the United Artists library. As recently as ten years ago, MGM had a comprehensive asset management program in place, with robust photochemical preservation work and new 35mm prints produced at a regular clip under John Kirk. Unfortunately, the last decade has been a rocky one for MGM, with the studio facing bankruptcy, ownership changes, and mass layoffs. (It was heartbreaking trying to book repertory prints from MGM throughout most of 2011; whenever we called the studio, we would be informed that our previous contact had been laid off the week before. Eventually, MGM licensed its theatrical and non-theatrical rights to Park Circus Films, which has been doing a very admirable job of keeping this vast library as accessible as possible, in 35mm and DCP.)

It’s not incomprehensible that such a complicated and expensive undertaking as the restoration of The Alamo would fall through the cracks in this kind of environment. The problem is the shifting explanation for inaction.

For the last five years, freelance restorationist Robert Harris (responsible for much-touted, and occasionally controversial, revamped versions of Vertigo, The Godfather, Spartacus, Rear Window, My Fair Lady, and others) has been trying to persuade MGM to properly restore The Alamo. In 2009, Harris wrote a column on the state of The Alamo for The Digital Bits, reported MGM’s support for the restoration project, and solicited donations to fully fund the endeavor.

MGM LogoNothing much happened after that, though periodic Alamo pronouncements from Harris on the Home Theater Forum were not cause for optimism. The case exploded again at the end of May when The Digital Bits reported that, per Harris, MGM was now unwilling to support the restoration, but also refusing to accept funding from other sources, such as foundation grants and Kickstarter campaigns. Soon MGM was bombarded with tweets and Facebook messages, which prompted the studio to issue a boilerplate statement that The Alamo, contra Harris, “is not in danger of being lost.” MGM’s Technical Services staff “proactively and routinely monitor and assess the condition of the various elements of all of MGM’s films and take steps as needed to protect and preserve them.”

What accounts for the discrepancy? A simple misunderstanding? Conflicting definitions of preservation? Familiar Yankee treachery and deception?

The Alamo now represents an exceptional situation in all respects. Public pressure is quite rare in preservation circles, where most decisions are made behind closed doors. It’s the last resort in seemingly intractable situations—whether (successfully) shaming Kodak into developing a low-fade color print stock or (fruitlessly) pushing George Lucas to restore the theatrical versions of the original Star Wars trilogy. #SavetheAlamo is unique insofar as the studio claims that the restoration work is unnecessary and redundant in the first place. (At least Lucas claimed that the original version of Star Wars was irretrievably lost and he wanted it that way, thank you very much.) It’s also notable that most of the information, if not the agitation, is coming from Harris—a contractor who has essentially appealed a rejected project bid to the court of public opinion. Suffice it to say, full-time preservationists working at, say, the Academy Film Archive or the Museum of Modern Art don’t have this option when a beloved project goes south.

The knottier issue arises from what we mean when we say that a film is “not in danger of being lost.” So long as MGM has some printable 35mm element for The Alamo, this is technically true. Do they have an obligation to preserve the best version of The Alamo, rather than a version of The Alamo? Must every variant version be preserved as well? Where does it end, especially in today’s age of Director’s Cuts, Ultimate Cuts, and Extended Editions?

Moroder MetropolisThis is scarcely an academic question. For many years, scholar William K. Everson lamented that although Herbert Brenon’s A Kiss for Cinderella had been pre- served, a reputable archive sat idle while a beautifully tinted version rotted in their collection.The other surviving copies failed to convey the full quality of the original. So was A Kiss for Cinderella lost, preserved, or something in between?

Subpar restorations sometimes represent an indifferent end game, other times a necessary stop gap. Consider the case of Metropolis, where there’s a direct lineage connecting Giorgio Moroder’s 1984 MTV-inflected revamp to the 2002 reconstruction which substituted descriptive title cards for missing footage to the 2010 restoration which incorporated roughly half an hour of footage from a 16mm negative found in Argentina. Some show of faith by MGM on The Alamo—basic preservation work now that could make a more comprehensive overhaul possible later—would obviously help matters immensely.

Can MGM simply not afford to do the necessary work? Although they’ve had great difficulties over the past decade, their intellectual property portfolio has effectively resurrected the company. To wit, MGM’s immensely profitable stake in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Skyfall allowed them to contemplate a post-bankruptcy IPO last year, with analysts predicting an opening price of $70 a share. If any studio understands the bottom-line importance of catalog assets, it’s MGM.

Surely MGM can reap some income from The Alamo: selling DVD and Blu-ray editions, licensing it as part of cable television package, leasing streaming and VOD rights, booking theatrical screenings. Stubbornly, though, we must pose a modified version of our earlier question: do they need the best version to see a return on investment or can they get by simply licensing a version of The Alamo? Will Amazon Instant Video reject MGM’s digital master because it’s not the road show edition, or because it’s not derived from a 4K or 8K scan? (Indeed, the unrestored, general release version is available for streaming on Amazon right now for a $2.99 rental or a $9.99 purchase.) Can the market even reward MGM for producing an improved version of The Alamo when we’re moving away from physical media sales (which provided a crude vote-your-wallet barometer on individual titles) to a paradigm based on packaging hundreds or thousands of titles together for streaming agreements?

There’s also another long-term threat to catalog salability—and by extension, studio-sponsored preservation and restoration—aimed directly at MGM right now. Soon enough, its implications will be felt throughout the industry. It’s Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., the Supreme Court decision handed down last month.

Stated simply, Petrella removes a major legal tactic from the studio roster when it comes to defending itself against copyright infringement claims. Contrary to a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, the Supreme Court found that, the doctrine of laches—or unreasonable delay, prejudicial to the defendant—is not sufficient in itself to dismiss copyright suits.

Raging Bull PosterThe background of the case is fairly convoluted. The late writer Frank Petrella (aka Peter Savage, aka Peter Petrillo, aka porno auteur Armand Peters) collaborated with the middle-weight boxer Jake LaMotta on several works based upon the latter’s life. Their collaborations included a 1963 screenplay, an autobiography published in 1970, and another screenplay from 1973. All were registered for copyright, with Petrella as the sole claimant for the 1963 screenplay. In 1978, Petrella and LaMotta assigned rights to all three iterations to Chartoff-Winkler Productions, which was then in the midst of producing the movie that became Raging Bull, distributed in 1980 by United Artists. When UA acquired the rights to the Raging Bull source material, the contract term was unambiguous: “exclusiv[e] and forever, including all periods of copyright and renewals and extensions thereof.”

Through a quirk of copyright law, forever didn’t last very long. As Justice Ginsburg summarized in the Court’s majority opinion:

Frank Petrella died in 1981, during the initial terms of the copyrights in the screenplays and book. As this Court’s decision in Stewart confirmed, Frank Petrella’s renewal rights reverted to his heirs, who could renew the copyrights unburdened by any assignment previously made by the author . . . .

Learning of this Court’s decision in Stewart, [Petrella’s daughter, Paula] Petrella engaged an attorney who, in 1991, renewed the copyright in the 1963 screenplay. Because the copyrights in the 1973 screenplay and the 1970 book were not timely renewed, the infringement claims in this case rest exclusively on the screenplay registered in 1963. Petrella is now sole owner of the copyright in that work.

Petrella’s attorney alerted MGM, subsequent owner of UA and Raging Bull, to his client’s claim to the screenplay in 1998. MGM variously ignored or denied the claim. Petrella finally filed suit in 2009—29 years after the release of the film, 18 years after the renewal of the screenplay, and 11 years after the initial complaint. MGM’s argument—that Petrella simply waited too long to file suit, depriving the defendant of access to key documents, witnesses, and other evidence—was found insufficient.

Anyone familiar with Raging Bull will find this turn of events odd, as the gestation of the project is nearly as famous as the movie itself. The idea began with Robert De Niro, who read LaMotta’s 1970 autobiography during a film shoot; he found the writing weak but the subject compelling. De Niro repeatedly pushed Martin Scorsese to make a film out of the book, a request to which he finally acquiesced after several years. Scorsese associate Mardik Martin was commissioned to write the screenplay. UA rejected Martin’s script, which led Scorsese to hire Paul Schrader to undertake a rewrite. Schrader’s draft added several important incidents and characters, but still wasn’t entirely satisfactory. Ultimately, Scorsese and De Niro made another pass at the screenplay themselves, holing up for two and a half weeks and coming away with something that more or less resembles Raging Bull.

The film itself credits Martin and Schrader (but not Scorsese or De Niro) for the screenplay. The official credits also cite LaMotta’s 1970 book, but not Petrella’s 1963 screenplay. Whether Martin, Scorsese, or anybody else even consulted this early draft or simply started from scratch is unclear. It would hardly be uncommon for a studio to acquire rights to all iterations of a story to cover their bases and protect against future claims of infringement.

Obviously, the opposite happened in this case: a screenplay with a potentially tenuous connection to a film produced 17 years later is now the basis of an infringement suit, even though the studio thought they owned the script in perpetuity.

De Niro_RB

Petrella may or may not wind up victorious in her claim. The Supreme Court did not reach the merits of this particular lawsuit, instead remanding the case to the Ninth Circuit with instructions to ignore MGM’s unreasonable delay argument. Even if Petrella’s claim of infringement is ultimately judged frivolous, the damage has already been done: studios cannot plead unreasonable delay when a litigant brings a decades-old copyright infringement claim to court. How many will now come out of the woodwork to claim a piece of the popular chestnuts?

Over at Forbes, Brad Newberg does a good job of assessing the impact of this new precedent:

Because any company that uses a work for many years might now be sued decades after the first use, businesses need to have good document retention systems and keep files related to each creative work or artist. They should paper all aspects of creation and production, including taking notes, making records of meetings, and retaining drafts showing the creative process . . . . [I]f any claims or threats are received over time, they should be kept in the work’s file even if the claimant takes no action. That way, the business people twenty years later can undertake a risk/reward analysis before they put resources into marketing a re-release or anniversary edition of a work.

This is a victory for artist’s rights, but a potentially catastrophic development for the preservation field. As The Alamo demonstrates, it’s already difficult enough to persuade a corporation to invest in the preservation of its own asset library. If bringing out a restored version of a film opens the door to litigation, very, very few titles would merit the risk. Would streaming deals be anywhere near as lucrative if every title could come under a cloud of legal wrangling at any time without warning?

Films, especially Hollywood films, are ultimately business propositions—speculative ventures and commercial products that also happen to carry considerable artistic, cultural, and historical weight. If a corporation created a film, perhaps it’s also the corporation’s right to let it disappear. Yet such an unsentimental fate sounds disturbing and disappointing to us—if a film is capable of transcending its commercial origins through craft and insight, shouldn’t its long-term survival likewise transcend the whims of the shareholders? The market has failed, but we cannot simply leave it at that. Robust public funding for non-profit archives and exhibitors becomes essential—not only to fill in the cracks, but to point towards a different paradigm.
This entry was posted in Blog and tagged Editorials, Restorations. Bookmark the permalink.
User avatar
Doc
 
Posts: 273
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:40 pm

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby RLC-GTT on Thu Jun 19, 2014 8:55 pm

Fascinating analysis. It do seem to describe the industry as I sort of know it -- and the problem for The Alamo -- better than anything I've heard thus far. I don't like the not-so-subtle slam against Robert Harris, who comes out lilly-white in my estimation. At worst, he's trying to find irresistible force against an immovable object so that progress can be made, and that seems to be the only thing anybody can do at this point, as the result of MGM's near-sightedness and ignorance.

What does become clear in this article is the nebulous business of distribution and marketing of a motion picture. It is a lucid description of the process that I have been trying (unsuccessfully) to convey on the forum for some time (because I don't understand it fully either). They own it. They can do what they want with it. They have business goals, not art or preservation goals. If they can still take it down off a shelf and see it, they've saved it. It may be their view, but it just ain't true.
User avatar
RLC-GTT
 
Posts: 17412
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:03 am

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby Doc on Thu Jun 19, 2014 9:19 pm

There's another posting at www.thedigitalbits.com today. It seems that Bill Hunt spent some time with Robert Harris yesterday.
User avatar
Doc
 
Posts: 273
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:40 pm

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby michaelalamo on Wed Jul 02, 2014 7:58 pm

I just read this in the June 27 installment of MY TWO CENTS by Bill Hunt at DIGITAL BITS.

"Also today, more media outlets have begun to cover MGM vs. The Alamo restoration story including The Northwest Chicago Film Society, Chris Hamby’s At the Matinee (see here and here), the website for TV station KENS 5 in San Antonio, Time Warner Cable News – Austin, and Breitbart.com. Plus Jeffrey Welles at Hollywood Elsewhere has weighed in again on the topic and his post is a doozy. But here’s the kicker: Welles has further drafted a letter to MGM CEO Gary Barber in support of the film’s restoration and a number of prominent directors have already signed onto it including JJ Abrams (director of Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Wars: Episode VII), Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Rian Johnson (Star Wars: Episode VIII), Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim), Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity) and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman). More are being added all the time. Rest assured we’re going to have another column on this very topic next week. The point is, if you’re a fan of classic film or this film in particular, keep the pressure on MGM on Facebook and Twitter (@MGM_Studios). It’s certainly mounting."
Image
I didn't read it...I heard it !!!
User avatar
michaelalamo
 
Posts: 392
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2009 7:29 pm

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby RLC-GTT on Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:58 pm

I just posted the following on MGM Studio's Facebook page Timeline:

"I just watched John Wayne's THE ALAMO last night for the umpteenth time and am very disappointed in the fact that MGM is unwilling to pick up the ball and help create a closest-to-original-format restoration that will assure archival FILM elements to carry this classic and landmark motion picture into future generations (and technologies). My position (for 30 years) as historian and entertainment director at Alamo Village (the Brackettville, Texas, movie sets built for the film by John Wayne's Batjac Productions and local rancher J.T. "Happy" Shahan and still extant) has put me in daily touch with people from all over the world (not just the United States) who appreciate this exquisite motion picture and have had a life-time love for it. Folks have continually traveled hundreds (sometimes thousands) of miles out of their way on vacation simply to visit the set. Many know exactly where every scene in the movie was filmed, can recite the dialogue verbatum and (in my own case) whistle the complete Dimitri Tiomkin score including counterpoint themes. There is no film like it, either in concept or creation, and the current DVD version simply does not do it justice or preserve the original elements. MGM, you are the greatest! Apparently this all starts with you, so please step in and help! The years of effort to restore the film thus far exhibited by the unparalleled Robert Harris should speak for themselves. We all believe in its importance to American Film History as he does and know he can succeed -- if green-lighted."
User avatar
RLC-GTT
 
Posts: 17412
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:03 am

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby mcgregor steph on Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:58 pm

RLC-GTT wrote:I just posted the following on MGM Studio's Facebook page Timeline:

"I just watched John Wayne's THE ALAMO last night for the umpteenth time and am very disappointed in the fact that MGM is unwilling to pick up the ball and help create a closest-to-original-format restoration that will assure archival FILM elements to carry this classic and landmark motion picture into future generations (and technologies). My position (for 30 years) as historian and entertainment director at Alamo Village (the Brackettville, Texas, movie sets built for the film by John Wayne's Batjac Productions and local rancher J.T. "Happy" Shahan and still extant) has put me in daily touch with people from all over the world (not just the United States) who appreciate this exquisite motion picture and have had a life-time love for it. Folks have continually traveled hundreds (sometimes thousands) of miles out of their way on vacation simply to visit the set. Many know exactly where every scene in the movie was filmed, can recite the dialogue verbatum and (in my own case) whistle the complete Dimitri Tiomkin score including counterpoint themes. There is no film like it, either in concept or creation, and the current DVD version simply does not do it justice or preserve the original elements. MGM, you are the greatest! Apparently this all starts with you, so please step in and help! The years of effort to restore the film thus far exhibited by the unparalleled Robert Harris should speak for themselves. We all believe in its importance to American Film History as he does and know he can succeed -- if green-lighted."


HEAR HEAR !!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)
mcgregor steph
 
Posts: 49
Joined: Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:51 pm

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby Seguin on Thu Jul 03, 2014 2:14 am

RLC-GTT wrote:I just posted the following on MGM Studio's Facebook page Timeline:

"I just watched John Wayne's THE ALAMO last night for the umpteenth time and am very disappointed in the fact that MGM is unwilling to pick up the ball and help create a closest-to-original-format restoration that will assure archival FILM elements to carry this classic and landmark motion picture into future generations (and technologies). My position (for 30 years) as historian and entertainment director at Alamo Village (the Brackettville, Texas, movie sets built for the film by John Wayne's Batjac Productions and local rancher J.T. "Happy" Shahan and still extant) has put me in daily touch with people from all over the world (not just the United States) who appreciate this exquisite motion picture and have had a life-time love for it. Folks have continually traveled hundreds (sometimes thousands) of miles out of their way on vacation simply to visit the set. Many know exactly where every scene in the movie was filmed, can recite the dialogue verbatum and (in my own case) whistle the complete Dimitri Tiomkin score including counterpoint themes. There is no film like it, either in concept or creation, and the current DVD version simply does not do it justice or preserve the original elements. MGM, you are the greatest! Apparently this all starts with you, so please step in and help! The years of effort to restore the film thus far exhibited by the unparalleled Robert Harris should speak for themselves. We all believe in its importance to American Film History as he does and know he can succeed -- if green-lighted."


That´s not a bad stab of putting it into words!
Recuerden El Alamo!
User avatar
Seguin
 
Posts: 16098
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 7:40 pm
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark.

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby MUSTANG on Fri Jul 04, 2014 3:17 am

Well said!!!! Alas, I fear the deaf ears at MGM have no intention of putting up the funds to correctly restore this film. Perhaps the grass roots ground swell of outrage and pleas may force them to reconsider but, if they haven't done so after all these years, I wouldn't hold my breath.
User avatar
MUSTANG
 
Posts: 1921
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 1:49 am

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby Doc on Fri Jul 04, 2014 4:53 am

I concur that MGM will not be shamed into a restoration even though they are touting their 90th anniversary. I've posted several pleas because I can't stand the thought of doing nothing. Why not?
User avatar
Doc
 
Posts: 273
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:40 pm

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby michaelalamo on Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:04 am

I just read this in the June 27 installment of MY TWO CENTS by Bill Hunt at DIGITAL BITS.
"Also today, more media outlets have begun to cover MGM vs. The Alamo restoration story including The Northwest Chicago Film Society, Chris Hamby’s At the Matinee (see here and here), the website for TV station KENS 5 in San Antonio, Time Warner Cable News – Austin, and Breitbart.com. Plus Jeffrey Welles at Hollywood Elsewhere has weighed in again on the topic and his post is a doozy. But here’s the kicker: Welles has further drafted a letter to MGM CEO Gary Barber in support of the film’s restoration and a number of prominent directors have already signed onto it including JJ Abrams (director of Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Wars: Episode VII), Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Rian Johnson (Star Wars: Episode VIII), Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim), Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity) and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman). More are being added all the time. Rest assured we’re going to have another column on this very topic next week. The point is, if you’re a fan of classic film or this film in particular, keep the pressure on MGM on Facebook and Twitter (@MGM_Studios). It’s certainly mounting."
Image
I didn't read it...I heard it !!!
User avatar
michaelalamo
 
Posts: 392
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2009 7:29 pm

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby michaelalamo on Fri Jul 11, 2014 3:16 am

This was just posted on The Digital Bits . I apologize for the length but it is well worth the read. The actual article has wonderful graphics on The Alamo . So I would recommend going to their website.

http://thedigitalbits.com/columns/view- ... nder-siege

Here is the article by Bud Elder:

Anybody know a good screenwriter? Here’s true scenario that would offer a perfect studio pitch.

And it’s a thriller, in a way, with a determined adventurer racing against time to seek justice for a hero from a past generation – one who sacrificed finances, reputation and goodwill to slay a dragon that was, in the long run, perhaps beyond even his reach.
This story is about John Wayne. This story is about Robert Harris. This story is about America and the importance of its cultural maintenance. And, ok, it’s also about personal obsession. Duke Wayne did what he said. No backing out. No cutting corners. No half assed. [Read on here...]
There are those who will argue that a poll be taken today, some 35 years after he died, John Wayne would remain the number one star in the world. In Scott Eyman’s compulsory new book John Wayne, he is described as a thoughtful, literate and savvy motion picture business insider workhorse who was among the first superstars to produce his own films as well as a hell of a fine actor.
In the late 1940s, a after triumphant rise and astonishing fall resulting from a huge 1930 dud called The Big Trail, Wayne was back on top after being cast in the still influential western Stagecoach and was a contract star for Herbert Yates at Republic pictures when he announced that he wanted to star and direct a film about the 1836 battle of the Alamo. While the subject matter was important to Wayne, according to Eyman, the star also knew to sustain in his particular field he would have to diversify.
“Actors aren’t supposed to have a brain in their heads, but I had enough to know if I was going to stay in the business I was going to have to start moving up the ladder,” he said.
Yates, after making promise after promise to Wayne, finally passed on the Alamo project and that same day, the Duke packed up his offices and never made another film for Republic, although it was during this next chapter in his life that he would do some his finest and most financially rewarding work – from Red River to Fort Apache and from The Quiet Man for which Wayne directed a scene or two, to The Searchers. So toxic was Wayne’s Alamo project that Warner Brothers, the studio which presented The Searchers and which housed Wayne’s production company Batjac, passed on the project. It didn’t matter. John Wayne was going to produce and direct The Alamo no matter what anyone said.
And so in 1956, saying that his career, personal fortune and standing in the business were at stake, John Wayne made deal after deal with United Artists, who invested $2.5 million of the ultimately $12 million budget, Texas oilmen and other independent investors. He began what became a year-long project to build his set and oversaw every single dimension of the film’s creation. Recognizing what a chore it would be to bring his dream project to the screen, Wayne was initially only going to make a cameo appearance in the movie – it was only after United Artists made his starring in the movie a proviso for box office insurance that he decided to play Davy Crockett.
Wayne spared no production expense. Every dollar spent is on the screen. The production was historic and Wayne used his almost, at the time, 30 years in the film business to get the look and accuracy he wanted. The Alamo began production on September 9, 1959 and wrapped December 18 of that same year, some 17 days over schedule. Wayne shot a whopping 560,000 feet of film and lost twenty pounds while filming. He also continued mortgaging everything he owned to pump into the budget, while, at the same time, accepted other funds that would eventually diminish his ownership of the film.
“I have everything I own in it,” Wayne was quoted as saying.
As Wayne was editing the picture, he released a statement which might shed some insight into his determination to make the film at all costs.
“The best reminder of what makes this a great nation is what took place at the Alamo in San Antonio. It was there that 182 Americans holed up in an Adobe mission fought for 13 days and nights against 5,000 troops of the dictator Santa Anna. These 182 men killed 1,700 of the enemy before they were slaughtered because they didn’t think a bully should push them around.”
No grit, John Wayne? Not much.
When the picture opened, it was reviewed as a majestic achievement, with a subpar script. Even with luminaries such as John Ford and William Wyler telling him to edit the script before shooting, Wayne was so loyal to its writer James Edward Grant that The Alamo was shot as written, including speeches that were too long, romantic subplots that were meaningless and an overall sense of, well, cornball.

The Alamo was originally slated by UA to play a “roadshow engagement” with expensive reserved seats, however the type of people who attended those pictures, like Oklahoma! and Porgy and Bess were not necessarily John Wayne fans and it was ironic that a subpar Wayne film North to Alaska, in release at the same time, was outperforming The Alamo at the box office. The Alamo eventually went into general release in both domestic and foreign markets, where it amassed $15 million, which, what with prints, advertising and other costs represented a $2 million dollar loss.
In 1967, Wayne’s company, Batjac, sold all of its final ownership to UA and the studio owned the movie outright. After some thought of putting The Alamo back on screens in those pre home video days, the movie finally premiered on NBC television almost 11 years after it was released.
This is actually how our story begins.
After being created in 1919 by then superstars Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith, United Artists studio was on lean times when it was taken over by attorneys turned producers Arthur Krim and Robert Benjamin in 1951. From that point, it became a Hollywood mainstay – starting with The African Queen and later becoming home to such disparate artists as Burt Lancaster, Billy Wilder, Otto Preminger and Stanley Kramer. Its first Best Picture Oscar was for Marty and the studio would later win for West Side Story and The Apartment. UA was the home for the James Bond films, the Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns and the Pink Panther series. In the 70s, the studio was home to Woody Allen and Last Tango in Paris.
Krim and Benjamin, in 1978, left UA to form a company called Orion with Warner Brothers. The new team at UA immediately sank all the company’s resources into a little film called Heaven’s Gate.

United Artists was eventually sold to an MGM studio to form MGM/UA Entertainment. In 1985 Ted Turner bought the company for $1.5 billion and it was renamed MGM Entertainment Co. Turner then sold the UA portion of the studio to studio investor Kirk Kerkorian, while keeping the pre 1986 MGM film library for himself, which included all pre 1950 Warner Brothers pictures and all from RKO. The new Kerkorian led MGM Entertainment Co. had some produced hits in the 80s, such as the Bond film The Living Daylights and Rain Man but eventually became dormant.
In the early 90s an Italian promoter named Giancarlo Parretti bought the company but soon his bank, Credit Lyonais had to take over due to non payment and began production on new Bond and Pink Panther films. The studio bounced around again, at one time it was managed by Tom Cruise, but, by this point, UA is completely under the MGM logo and was listed as a co-producer of Fame, a remake of an MGM release, and Hot Tub Time Machine.
Today MGM is co financing movies and letting other studios distribute. It distributes those properties to international television as well as its other titles, which include product from, listen up here, United Artists, Orion, American International (Roger Corman pictures), Filmways (Dressed to Kill), The Cannon Group (52 Pickup), The Samuel Goldwyn Company (Sid and Nancy), Polygram (Fargo), Hemdale (The Terminator), Gladden (Fabulous Baker Boys), Castle Rock (Misery) and Island (Trip to Bountiful). It also owns Blue Velvet and Manhunter.

And, either because the classic films known by their MGM brand are now owned by Turner, or because management doesn’t see it as a profitable enterprise or because, after so many ownership groups have held the MGM name, there is no emotional investment, MGM, the all new MGM and owners of all the pictures we’ve been talking about like Sweet Smell of Success or Network or The Fortune Cookie or Annie Hall or, yes, The Alamo does not in any form or fashion have a film restoration department and, as we hear from the front lines, there are no plans to form such at all.
Enter now our digital dreamer, a righter of studio malfeasance – a sort of John T. Chance or Hondo Lane or Ethan Edwards. He restores pictures.

Robert A. Harris, perhaps the world’s most distinguished film preservationist wants to get his hands on The Alamo. He has taken on the big dogs like Lawrence of Arabia, Spartacus and My Fair Lady and using his latest book of digital magic tricks has used modern technology to make them shine like, well, better than new.

Mr. Harris says that The Alamo is the highest profile studio film in the worst shape. He has preached non-stop to all of consequence that every day spent not restoring The Alamo is another day toward that film’s disintegration for all time. And, for some, he’s been saying it for too long.

The Alamo’s original negative is faded, missing a high percentage of its yellow layer, which controls blue and contrast, therefore yielding no true blacks and Crustacean-like facial highlights. Any attempt to pump color back into an analogue print turns the skies a muddy green, as yellow is added,” he said. “The negative also has additional damage due to improperly prepared black leader used in negative cutting, which has chemically attacked the emulsion through the two outermost dye layers. The original negative is unusable to make either prints or preservation elements. Add to those problems, a continuously moving discoloration coming in from both sides of the image.”





In an article he wrote for The Digital Bits in 2009 (see link), Harris explained how The Alamo was treated upon release.

“The Alamo was released to roadshow audiences with an original running time of 192 minutes plus Overture, Entr’acte and Exit music. For general release, the film was cut by 30 minutes,” he said.

Harris says that as Wayne himself was in Africa shooting Hatari, a picture into which he immediately went into to help stabilize his finances, Michael Wayne, who was John Wayne’s son and the president of his production company Batjac, along with The Alamo editor Stuart Gilmore shortened the movie themselves.

“Because the 6 track audio could only be either cut or slightly remixed, a detailed fine cut was not an option. Those involved in the cut were led to believe that the extant 70mm prints would be trimmed and resounded, and new printing matrices produced for the 35mm release in the shorter form – but that the original negative would not be harmed or modified,” he said. “That is not what occurred. The original negative and all protection elements, inclusive of the 65mm separation masters, were cut to conform to the new 161-minute length; the trims and deletions were destroyed – and the original 65mm separation masters, which would normally have served as an ultimate backup, were improperly produced and have focus issues.”

According to Harris, for over 30 years the pre-cut Roadshow version was lost until, in 1991, a lone surviving 70mm print was found in remarkably good condition in a film exchange in Toronto. This version of the film was released both VHS and Laser Disc, both extremely poor cousins of the digital platforms films enjoy today, and was then, well, discarded. Trashed. Dumped. Left for dead.

And Harris, because he’s the best at what he does in the world and because, well, he loves movies, wants this darn thing fixed for audiences to enjoy all over again, even though he understands that Wayne’s epic is most certainly not in the same league as, well, Lawrence of Arabia.

“Unfortunately, that unique remaining 70mm print is now totally faded,” he said, “and to better prepare for its transfer for laserdisc decades ago, it was chemically treated, which exacerbates vinegar syndrome, which eventually destroys film. While modern Eastman elements are robust with a long life expectancy, this is simply not the case for films made before the creation of Eastman 5250 color negative stock in 1961. All Eastman color stocks created before that point fade. Some more, some less, dependent upon a number of technical and storage factors, but the absolute is – they fade.”





So Harris, for longer than he would care to admit, knows the problem and knows how to fix it. And he would be in the laboratory at this very moment strengthening the sparkle in the old Duke’s eyes, but for one thing – the studio who owns the movie, remember them?, refuses to pay for its refurbishing, or allow donations to be made to save the film.

“For whatever reason, they do not see the benefit in restoring their films,” Harris said.

A very recent plea to MGM on behalf of The Alamo by Harris was, well, dismissed.

“We had discussion about the studio finally allowing the use of outside funding, but then they doubled back, and decided to take a ‘wait and see’ attitude. ‘Wait and see,’ for The Alamo, means losing the film in its large format glory. If there is no restoration effort at this time, it means that there may never be a restoration effort,” Harris said. “Several people have raised the concept of going to outside sources for funding. MGM has no interest in this mission, even if the film turns into industrial waste.”

Here would be Harris’ plan for the restoration.

“Our work would take about 10 to 12 months and the final result would be two versions of the film – the original Roadshow and the General Release, both with Overture, Intermission, Entr’acte and Exit Music,” he said. “I could see a major theatrical event projected restored in Digital Cinema in 4K that would come close to replicating the visual and aural splendor of The Alamo as it originally premiered in San Antonio on October 24, 1960, albeit in the general release version. The Roadshow cut of the film would be suitable for home video market, based upon the lower quality of extant elements. The general release version could go the 4k route.”

And the cost for all this? With a grimace, Harris says that it might be as high as $1.5 million.

What? That’s all?

To put it in perspective, the bottled water on your latest Tom Hanks’ picture has a higher budget.

MGM has given no response, other than that from Trish Francis, Sr. VP Library Rights Management. Her message reads:

“Thank you for your email. I have spoken with our Technical Services staff who assured me that the film is not in danger of being lost. They proactively and routinely monitor and assess the condition of the various elements of all of MGM’s films and take steps as needed to protect and preserve them. The film is a valuable part of film history and naturally want to protect it. We appreciate your interest in The Alamo. I will mention your concerns to the appropriate people.”

One can’t imagine them turning down a single or cumulative donation specifically toward the restoration of The Alamo. But, according to Harris, the thought has been given no traction.

“One of the most important ways people know of the extraordinary gift of freedom given to Texas and our nation by those who defended the Alamo is by virtue of this film,” he said. “Although an imperfect representation historically, John Wayne’s work brilliantly portrays that larger than life tale, capturing the hearts and creating lasting memories for all who experience this great film. We are attempting to pull this important film back from the very brink of extinction and preserve it for generations to come.”

All concerned wish there was a quick happy ending – that MGM would fork over a pittance or allow Harris and his band of renegades the opportunity to find the money through other avenues and then allow the master magician to perform his magic.

However, after visiting with Robert Harris, one is reminded of the terrific line Rooster Cogburn says to young Mattie Ross as she heads down to get water from a creek unescorted in True Grit:

“Better for you than whoever comes up against you.”

- Bud Elder
Image
I didn't read it...I heard it !!!
User avatar
michaelalamo
 
Posts: 392
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2009 7:29 pm

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby RLC-GTT on Fri Jul 11, 2014 5:01 am

Fantastic article! Thanks, Mike.
User avatar
RLC-GTT
 
Posts: 17412
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:03 am

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby Doc on Sat Jul 12, 2014 4:59 pm

Stumbled across an update about this. MGM issued a new response which was shredded by Robert Harris. I don't know how to post the article here, so I'll try and send a link and perhaps one of my Alamo cousins can conjure it up. It's worth reading.
www.hollywood-elsewhere.com. Scroll down to the Alamo article.
User avatar
Doc
 
Posts: 273
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:40 pm

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby Rick on Sat Jul 12, 2014 5:43 pm

Good find, Doc. Sounds like the youngsters running MGM don't know their butts from a hole in the ground.
Last edited by Rick on Sun Jul 13, 2014 2:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
"I haven't seen the Democrats this angry since we freed the slaves."
Rick
 
Posts: 958
Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2008 2:48 am

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby MartyB on Sat Jul 12, 2014 6:30 pm

Doc wrote:Stumbled across an update about this. MGM issued a new response which was shredded by Robert Harris. I don't know how to post the article here, so I'll try and send a link and perhaps one of my Alamo cousins can conjure it up. It's worth reading.
http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com. Scroll down to the Alamo article.
Rick wrote:Good fine, Doc. Sounds like the youngsters running MGM don't know their butts from a hole in the ground.


:D ...



"MGM Goes On Record As Alamo Restoration Campaign Enters Fifth Dimension

Posted 5:48 PM on Friday, July 11, 2014 by Jeffrey Wells
http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com/2014 ... more-50916

The Alamo restoration campaign was idling this week. HE’s effort to gather more signatures of brand-name directors in support of Robert Harris‘s attempt to persuade MGM honchos to allow an independently-funded restoration of 65mm elements was…well, awaiting the next adrenaline shot. Darren Aronfosky, JJ Abrams, Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron, Rian Johnson, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Bill Paxton, Bob Gale and Matt Reeves were still wearing Team Alamo T-shirts, so to speak, but others were thinking it over. And then something happened. I heard about an article being prepared about the Alamo situation for a major publication, and then a friend graciously suggested that I write MGM’s p.r. reps at Rubenstein Public Relations for a clarification of MGM’s position.

And then late Wednesday afternoon the Rubenstein guys passed along an official statement from Beverly Faucher, MGM’s VP of Asset Management and Delivery Services, and here’s what it said:

“We are proud to say that the original 65 mm theatrical elements of The Alamo are in fine condition and are not in need of restoration. We are currently restoring the additional 20 minutes found in the 70 mm ‘roadshow’ version of the film. Once this process is complete, all of the elements of the original content will be intact and there will not be a need for further restoration of the film at this time.”

I’m sorry, but as I was reading the above my eyeballs popped out of their sockets and went boiiinnnnggg!

I sent along Ms. Faucher’s statement to Harris, and he replied Wednesday night around 9 pm. For reasons best not explained I decided yesterday morning to hold this article for a day or so, but no longer. Here is Harris’s reply, chapter and verse:

“I have no idea where Ms. Faucher is getting her information, but beyond the oddly worded comment of ‘currently restoring the additional 20 minutes’, which I can’t comment upon, not one of her statements rings true.

“Everything is incorrect.

“Let’s take her missive one point at a time.

“The 65mm theatrical elements of The Alamo are some of the worst mid-20th century film elements that I’ve ever had the unfortunate displeasure to examine. This is not opinion. It is fact. And obvious to any archival professional.

“If she is currently restoring the film to the original ‘roadshow’ version of the film, she is going to find herself short if she is restoring 20 minutes. The original 65mm roadshow version of John Wayne‘s 1960 film, which ran approximately 192 minutes **, was cut by approximately 2,916 feet plus 11 frames. That equates of a running time of approximately 32 minutes, 25 seconds. This would mathematically leave us with a general release print of 159 minutes and 35 seconds, but a myriad of changes (dissolves, recuts, extra shots) put into the general-release version resulted in a running time of 161 minutes. The final difference, therefore, is 31 minutes.
“But that’s just a running-time issue. Here is the plain, unfettered truth about The Alamo elements:

“The original 65mm camera negative was cut from the 192-minute ‘roadshow’ version ** to the 161-minute general release version, and all trims and deletions were junked, presumably along with original magnetic track stems and trims.

“The only remaining example of the ‘roadshow’ is a long-faded 70mm print, which was in superb condition when discovered in Toronto in 1992, but then, after being moved to Los Angeles, was taken from its cold storage resting place, and rejuvenated and mishandled toward the production of home video elements.

“I re-located the Toronto print in 2001 and had MGM move it to cold storage, but the majority of damage had already been done, as it had been stored as a miscellaneous print, after MGM’s mishandling.

“I inspected the original camera negative of of The Alamo a couple of months ago. The negative is heavily faded in its yellow dye layer down about 70%, with additional fade in the magenta dye layer.

“When the negative was originally cut and conformed in 1960 at Technicolor, it was cut using black leader that had not been properly washed, and was not chemically inert. The result of this mistake was chemical damage at the head and tail of every shot, appearing as color fluctuations. That damage cuts through the yellow dye layer heavily, and continues in moderation into the magenta dye layer. It is not removable.

“Additional damage is seen, especially in motion, as a differential fade that moves in and out from both sides of the film, probably entering the image 10% to 15% on each side. It appears to have come from odd oxidation of the stock over the decades, most probably from poor storage in the decades between leaving Technicolor and making its way to its current storage facility. Or possibly due to heat damage.

“As the problems are many, there is no way to simply drop the missing footage back into the general release version of the film, as that version is no longer printable to strike anything near a sufficiently quality-level image.

“The only element that MGM may have with anything close to decent color remaining would be a 35mm reduction element, which is unsuitable for any kind of restorative consideration, as the resolution of any such element would yield about 25% of the 65mm elements, if they were printable. The 35mm element would also be in the incorrect aspect ratio (i.e., 2.35:1 vs. the 65mm a.r. of 2.21:1).

“The black & white separation masters have also been cut to the general release version of the film, and have unfortunately been produced slightly out of focus, yielding an image that is not up to large format standards. Tests of recombines have not yielded true large format results.

“While I’m presuming that Ms. Faucher (or someone else at MGM) has personally examined all of the elements in question and has come away with her appraisal of the situation, it does not mesh in any way with mine.

“I invite her to examine the elements with me, and to view my tests. If her appraisal is still that the elements are in ‘fine condition,’ God help the rest of the MGM library.
“Lastly, the final verbiage in her statement may be the most frightening, to wit: ‘There will not be a need for further restoration of the film at this time.’
“What she is saying is that she and MGM are going to allow the film to die on their watch. Will MGM permit a process that will lead to The Alamo‘s restoration? Doubtful, as they don’t feel there’s a problem.”

** Wikipedia and other sources have reported that the 1992 Toronto roadshow print of The Alamo ran 202 minutes, not 192 minutes. This discrepancy is due to Dimitri Tiomkin‘s overture, entr’acte and exit music, which were attached to the roadshow version. The overture is 280 feet exactly, which translates to 3.1 minutes as film runs at 90 feet per minute. The Alamo‘s entr’acte music (i.e., played just before Part Two begins) runs 344 feet plus two frames or 3.8 minutes. The exit music runs 300 feet plus one frame, or 3.33 minutes. Grand music total: 10.2 minutes."
Attachments
8_001.jpg
8_001.jpg (84.52 KiB) Viewed 7249 times
8_002.jpg
8_002.jpg (78.43 KiB) Viewed 7256 times
8_003.jpg
8_003.jpg (111.93 KiB) Viewed 7256 times
Marty Brazil
Our past is not a dead past, but still lives. Our forefathers created the present by their sacrifice of the past. What they dreamed, we live…and…what they lived we dream.
User avatar
MartyB
 
Posts: 6077
Joined: Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:01 pm
Location: Biloxi Mississippi

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby Doc on Sat Jul 12, 2014 7:02 pm

"Thank you kindly, Marty".
User avatar
Doc
 
Posts: 273
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:40 pm

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby RLC-GTT on Sat Jul 12, 2014 7:29 pm

Absolutely unacceptable "evaluation" by MGM. Their powers that be now must all be car dealers (notice that I don't say auto mechanics, who would have the integrity to try and repair something if it's broken.)
User avatar
RLC-GTT
 
Posts: 17412
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:03 am

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby Fargo Fenwyck on Sat Jul 12, 2014 8:54 pm

Let me throw this out there. MGM owns the rights but do they have ALL the copies???? Is it not possible that an unknown privately owned copy is sitting in somebody's house?
Wayne himself had a copy of "Wings".
Would they be in trouble legally if they do have a copy?
There's a color version of the Lone Ranger origin made for TV when Jack Wrather took over the series. . . Mr. Moore and I discussed it via phone .That show has to be someplace.
SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO there is a possibility or am I off base here?
User avatar
Fargo Fenwyck
 
Posts: 2270
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 1:25 pm
Location: Northwood, Ohio

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby RLC-GTT on Sat Jul 12, 2014 9:46 pm

Fenny, MGM owns it. Period. I can't address the property ownership rights of individuals, but, from the Hollywood distribution and copyright point-of-view, it was not possible to legally "own" a print of any movie back then -- back when they were making distribution prints on film. Nor would somebody's illegally salted-away print be of any use. No 35 mm print or internegative (and definitely no 16 mm reduction print) would be of the least bit of use in creating an archival, original-format, 70 mm. version of the film. Of course, for the masses of TV viewers who don't even know the difference between widescreen and pan-and-scan, or good color and bad color, or monaural or stereo sound, it would make no difference, but we've already got those DVD's and VHS's. That is not what film restoration and archiving is about. That is not what Robert Harris does or is talking about.
User avatar
RLC-GTT
 
Posts: 17412
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:03 am

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby RLC-GTT on Sat Jul 12, 2014 9:51 pm

But it IS beginning to look like MGM's staff has now been relegated to the TV audience mentioned above. They seem to have no earthly idea what film preservation is all about.
User avatar
RLC-GTT
 
Posts: 17412
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:03 am

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby Doc on Sat Jul 12, 2014 11:47 pm

Very disturbing. Trying to look for a bright spot. at least it's comforting to know that the private sector is just as incompetent and misinformed as the Federal government.
User avatar
Doc
 
Posts: 273
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:40 pm

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby RLC-GTT on Sun Jul 13, 2014 12:27 am

Doc wrote:Very disturbing. Trying to look for a bright spot. at least it's comforting to know that the private sector is just as incompetent and misinformed as the Federal government.

Um..... That's a bright spot? :lol:
User avatar
RLC-GTT
 
Posts: 17412
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:03 am

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby Seguin on Sun Jul 13, 2014 5:16 am

“We are proud to say that the original 65 mm theatrical elements of The Alamo are in fine condition and are not in need of restoration. We are currently restoring the additional 20 minutes found in the 70 mm ‘roadshow’ version of the film. Once this process is complete, all of the elements of the original content will be intact and there will not be a need for further restoration of the film at this time.”


Nice, "Everything´s fine, so shut up Alamo movie buffs!", message. :roll:
Recuerden El Alamo!
User avatar
Seguin
 
Posts: 16098
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 7:40 pm
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark.

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby RLC-GTT on Sun Jul 13, 2014 7:34 am

More like "This is the kind of hogwash I get paid to put out for our fine company -- and don't bother me about film preservation."
User avatar
RLC-GTT
 
Posts: 17412
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:03 am

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby Fargo Fenwyck on Sun Jul 13, 2014 2:49 pm

How many do overs of "The Wizard of Oz" did MGM do???? A couple of hundred at least ;) . How about "GWTW"?? . I think "Plan 9 from Outer Space" will get the restoration before "The Alamo".
User avatar
Fargo Fenwyck
 
Posts: 2270
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 1:25 pm
Location: Northwood, Ohio

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby RLC-GTT on Sun Jul 13, 2014 5:31 pm

Fargo Fenwyck wrote:How many do overs of "The Wizard of Oz" did MGM do???? A couple of hundred at least ;) . How about "GWTW"?? . I think "Plan 9 from Outer Space" will get the restoration before "The Alamo".

I am very afraid that you are absolutely right. :(
User avatar
RLC-GTT
 
Posts: 17412
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:03 am

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby Fargo Fenwyck on Mon Jul 14, 2014 1:41 pm

Do any of you remember how the Director's cut of "1776" came about? Jack L. Warner's secretary "discovered deleted footage" from a private source and that footage was put back into the film for the LASER DISC. (the DVD has some of It but only quality elements) It wasn't pristine. However it did fill in gaps that Warner had edited out.
Yes I know that is NOT restoration as Rich mentions. The point I was trying to make is that I gotta believe somebody has a copy. We all know of those rare finds in a storage vault somewhere in the world that had been forgotten. It is a possibility. Now before you tell me that exhausted searchers have been conducted I'm just saying a copy MIGHT be out there somewhere.
Remember I'm just a movie buff and don't have the know how about the business or the technical end of it. With the tech that is around today I still can't understand why the Laser Disc copy can't be used. Don't get upset :roll: If I can copy my Laser Disc to a DVD without enhancement and it comes out pretty good........ :?:
Okay start the chastisement.
User avatar
Fargo Fenwyck
 
Posts: 2270
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 1:25 pm
Location: Northwood, Ohio

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby RLC-GTT on Mon Jul 14, 2014 4:21 pm

Fargo Fenwyck wrote:Do any of you remember how the Director's cut of "1776" came about? Jack L. Warner's secretary "discovered deleted footage" from a private source and that footage was put back into the film for the LASER DISC. (the DVD has some of It but only quality elements) It wasn't pristine. However it did fill in gaps that Warner had edited out.
Yes I know that is NOT restoration as Rich mentions. The point I was trying to make is that I gotta believe somebody has a copy. We all know of those rare finds in a storage vault somewhere in the world that had been forgotten. It is a possibility. Now before you tell me that exhausted searchers have been conducted I'm just saying a copy MIGHT be out there somewhere.
Remember I'm just a movie buff and don't have the know how about the business or the technical end of it. With the tech that is around today I still can't understand why the Laser Disc copy can't be used. Don't get upset :roll: If I can copy my Laser Disc to a DVD without enhancement and it comes out pretty good........ :?:
Okay start the chastisement.

Chastise he says! No chastisement. You got the point already and understand the difference even if not the significance of what Harris is trying to do and what this thread is about.
User avatar
RLC-GTT
 
Posts: 17412
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:03 am

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby Doc on Tue Aug 05, 2014 3:10 pm

Robert Harris left a rather cryptic remark today over at The Home Theater Forum - "Presume plans are in place for roadshow to premiere on Blu-ray,
"fully restored". Takes under six weeks to do entire job".

Sounds as if our efforts prompted MGM into doing the bare minimum by giving us our blu-ray but abandoning restoration of the original film elements.
User avatar
Doc
 
Posts: 273
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:40 pm

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby NefariousNed on Fri Sep 26, 2014 6:48 pm

http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact ... =og.shares

John Wayne’s 'The Alamo' and the Devoted Slave (Should the Film be Saved?)
Shadow And Act On Cinema Of The African Diaspora

Shadow and Act By Sergio | Shadow and Act June 12, 2014 at 8:55AM
Some films deserved to be preserved, but is there a case for 'The Alamo'? Maybe not so much.

So right now you’re probably saying to yourself, there he goes again talking about some old movie made before I was born.
True, but I can’t help it. It’s what I love and grew up with, and those old films still have a bigger impact on me than a lot
the stuff that comes out nowadays. So here I go with another one.

But, as always, a bit of background first.

Robert A. Harris is true film savior. The legendary film restoration and preservation archivist has been responsible for saving
some of the most important films made during the 1960’s and 1970’s as film prints, archival footage and material rapidly
deteriorate. Once they’re gone, the film is too.

His work on restoring and preserving the original theatrical versions of films as such the "Godfather I" and "II," David Lean’s
"Lawrence of Arabia," Hitchcock’s "Vertigo" and "Rear Window." George Cukor’s "My Fair Lady" and, most recently, Stanley
Kramer’s 1963 three-and-a-half-hour slapstick comedy epic "It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World," deserve nothing but praises.

However, for the past few years, Harris has been on a mission to restore and preserve a rather unlikely contender - the 1960
United Artists road show epic "The Alamo," starring and directed by John Wayne, about the 13-day siege of the fort in 1836,
while defended by Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and a bunch of other volunteers, fighting for Texas' freedom from Mexico.

The film was a passion project for Wayne for many years, and finally, in 1959, he made the film, for what was then the
astounding amount of $6 million, half of it from UA, with Wayne and his production company Batjac, providing the other half.
The film was actually a box office hit, but it wiped out Wayne financially, and it took him years to recover.

The film is one of those huge road show epics, popular during the 50's and 60's, at the time shot in the 70MM Todd-AO anamorphic
film process, and ran, originally, some 202 minutes, including an overture, intermission and exit music, though UA later recut the
film to a more manageable 167 minutes for general screenings, TV broadcasts and later home video

However, several years ago, a 70 MM print of the original 202 minute version was discovered and put into storage, where it’s been
deteriorating ever since, and Harris has been trying to restore this version to its full glory, before it’s lost forever. However it’s
been a struggle for various reasons, including a genuine lack of interest.

Then two weeks ago, Harris created a controversy on the blogosphere and among film geeks, when he wrote that the film print and
other materials were rapidly decaying at a more rapid pace, and that MGM/UA basically didn’t care if the original version of the film
was lost for good.

MGM immediately replied, saying that Harris’ accusations were not true, and that they keep constant tabs on the condition of the
materials, and that there’s nothing to worry about. Although, they vaguely implied that it’s not a top priority for them to restore the
film right now. That may be somewhat understandable, considering the studio is strapped for cash and can’t really afford to spend
millions to restore a 202 minute version of a film that would have limited appeal.

So, all right and good, right? But what does this have to do with anything? I’ll get to that in minute.

The question to ask is, why aren’t MGM/UA and other people so anxious to restore "The Alamo"? Well, there is one good reason; one
that even Harris himself has somewhat reluctantly admitted.

The fact of the matter is that, "The Alamo" just isn’t good. In fact it sucks! Believe me, I know. I’ve seen it more than once to know
that, and if you don’t believe, me take a look below at what director John Landis says about the film, courtesy of the Trailers from
Hell website.

Now consider "Lawrence of Arabia," "The Godfather" films, and "Vertigo." Those are genuine classics. Great films by master filmmakers
worthy of being preserved. "The Alamo," directed Wayne, who was a lousy director when he occasionally stepped behind the camera in
films he starred in, like his 1968 film "The Green Berets," is flatfooted and clumsy.

Granted the film’s battle sequences as directed by Wayne and his army of second unit directors, including John Ford, are exciting and
impressive, with a real epic sense of grandeur. It’s just that, all the stuff leading up to those sequences, is stiff, dull, with terrible
dialogue, as characters give endless speeches about "Freedom, Library and Republic," instead of having real, meaningful dialogue.
It’s like a Tea Party convention instead of a movie.

However, there’s another reason why there is not such a great desire to restore the film. It’s not very PC either..

In particular, I’m referring to Jethro, the slave of Jim Bowie, played by Jester Hairston, who, some of you might remember, played the
role of Rolly Forbes for years on the NBC sit-com "Amen," during the late 80’s (He's on the far-right/upfront in the above photo).

Now you could argue that it's a historically accurate depiction; that the founding fathers of the America were hypocrites, who always talked
about freedom and liberty for all men… except for black people, that is, who they believed were better off being slaves.

And the character Jethro is not just routine old slave, but a truly devoted one to Bowie, following him everywhere he goes. I can’t even
recall if he has a single line of dialogue, but he’s always just there.

And, of course, there's the classic scene at the climax where Bowie, in bed, seriously wounded during the Alamo surge, is attacked by
Mexican soldiers with bayonets, as his slave Jethro, ever devoted to the end, runs and throws himself in front of the soldiers to protect
Massa, only to be killed along with Bowie. Even as a kid, when I saw the scene on TV for the first time, I thought to myself: “Really?”

Interestingly, Richard Widmark - who played Bowie, and who worked with Sidney Poitier on several films, like "The Long Ships," "The
Bedford Incident" and "No Way Out," and who was a lifelong friend of Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis - was a well-known and quite vocal liberal,
who was very progressive on social issues. So you would think he would have had second thoughts about playing the Bowie character; but
it doesn't appear that he did.

Also, remember, this film came out in 1960, not 1940 or 1950, so the image of the devoted slave in a big budget Hollywood movie during
the height of the Civil Rights Movement, in the midst of racial turmoil in the country, wasn’t a good idea, you would think. Then again,
Wayne was a very well known hard-line right-winger, and it’s very possible that he consciously had Jethro in the film to tell audiences that,
all the "equal rights" stuff was a load of nonsense, and that black people should follow Jethro's example, and go back to being devoted and
subservient.

And this is why I’m not that keen on seeing a restored 202 minute version of "The Alamo" on the big screen, or on Blu-ray. O.K. maybe I'll
take a look at it once, if only for curiosity's sake, and I'm sure it’ll look impressive, but is it really worth it?

Here's John Landis on The Alamo:

This article is related to: Things That Make You Go Hmm...

Comments
TC Kirkham Jun 12, 2014 11:17am
In my view, PC issues should not come into reasoning when it is time to decide about the restoration of a classic film; PC issues are a point
of view, and a product of their time, that's it. Period. Not everyone will agree with everything - and if they did, it would be a truly boring world.
For example, despite being not just overly un-PC but out and out racist, you would be hard pressed to make an argument that Birth Of A Nation
wouldn't deserve to be preserved because of it's status as a film overall. Only quality should be the giving factor when it comes to preservation.
If a film is a quality work, the hell with PC issues, restore the film, and use the opportunity to explain WHY the film is the way it is, why it is
no longer PC and how it can be corrected. Use the opportunity to discuss, not discard. Just my 2 cents...

F. R. Otis Jun 12, 2014 12:47pm
My views are similar to those of TC in the being politically correct or not should not be part of the decision to save the original version of a film
or not. John Wayne was a unique person in the history of movies and America. Just from the standpoint history the orignal version of the movie
should be saved. I was not a big supporter of the movie "Reds" or of it's director as it has specific political point of view but I believe it should
also be saved in it's original version. Film history is that film history each film has its own unique place besides being entertainment it says much
about the makers (producers, directors, writers, and actors) and gives us a glimpse ourselves and society at a point and place in time.

chris Jun 18, 2014 3:34pm
Django Unchained, filmed 50 years after The Alamo, had a 'devoted slave' character played by Samuel Jackson. You might think it's not 'PC' but it
MAY be historically accurate. (I hate the idea of abused wives who remain devoted to their abusing husbands, but we know that happens too.)
The PC argument is very weak. As for Landis, isn't he the guy responsible for the deaths of Vic Morrow and two children? Like I really care for his
opinion. The Alamo is a film by and starring one of the greatest stars in Hollywood history! It deserves to be restored! These PC arguments drive
me potty.

Jack Jul 25, 2014 10:05pm
Well, you may think it's a lousy film, but you are certainly in the minority. Wayne's version of The Alamo, while probably the least accurate, is the
most entertaining. As for Jethro having no dialog, I suggest you watch it again, as he does. And not PC? Really? That's why you think it shouldn't
be restored? Good grief. As for Landis, he's also in the minority. There are plenty of film makers with much better track records who support a
restoration of The Alamo.
The "OUTSIDE THE ALAMO, Songs of Ned Huthmacher Performed by John Beland" CD Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OutsideTheAlamo/
User avatar
NefariousNed
Moderator
 
Posts: 50713
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 9:48 pm

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby RLC-GTT on Fri Sep 26, 2014 7:20 pm

As long as the "buzz" continues, regardless of the attitude, there is hope for the film.
User avatar
RLC-GTT
 
Posts: 17412
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:03 am

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby K Hale on Fri Sep 26, 2014 7:29 pm

I don't think he understands the point of preservation of historical objects.
Verum non in verbus, sed in testimonium.
User avatar
K Hale
 
Posts: 9021
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 5:17 pm
Location: Texas

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby Doc on Fri Sep 26, 2014 7:33 pm

Good grief. Thanks for posting this article, Nef. I'm particularly glad that the four replies were ported over. I cannot stomach Landis and will not check out his comments.
Ever since I read the book "Outrageous Conduct" about the Twilight Zone case and his callous indifference and arrogance regarding the deaths of three people, the man makes me livid with his egotism and lies.
Maybe be oughta saddle up and pay these guys a visit.
User avatar
Doc
 
Posts: 273
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:40 pm

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby RLC-GTT on Fri Sep 26, 2014 7:48 pm

K Hale wrote:I don't think he understands the point of preservation of historical objects.

And particularly of Film preservation for posterity.
User avatar
RLC-GTT
 
Posts: 17412
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:03 am

Re: The Reconstruction and Restoration of THE ALAMO

Postby gh1836 on Wed Nov 05, 2014 2:31 pm

Here's some video of a 70mm print being prepared for projection Just thought some of you might be interested. http://filmmakermagazine.com/88196-watc ... FolJfnF-So
Gary Heck
User avatar
gh1836
 
Posts: 312
Joined: Wed Sep 15, 2010 11:59 pm
Location: Claude Texas

PreviousNext

Return to The Alamo ( 1960 )

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest