"Horsefeathers" restoration?

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Phillyrich

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"Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostTue Nov 17, 2015 7:51 pm

I understand a restoration of "Horsefeathers" is scheduled to be unveiled in 2016 at the TCM Classic Film Festival.

Anyone know the details, and what footage is being restored?
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Paul Penna

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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostTue Nov 17, 2015 8:46 pm

A thread on the Home Theater Forum, starting with this post:

http://www.hometheaterforum.com/topic/341921-universal-preparing-the-marx-brothers-and-movie-monsters-2-collections-and-more-for-hd/?p=4315776

has a seemingly authoritative report that no new footage has been unearthed. The restoration will be done in 4K using best available elements.
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The Blackbird

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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostWed Nov 18, 2015 4:43 am

I'm still baffled and frustrated by all the talk of the footage you never see from the long sequence in Thelma Todd's apartment (with Groucho jumping out the window) being lost without trace, because I saw the film on television in Los Angeles in the early 1980's and IT WAS INTACT!!!!!
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Jim Reid

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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostWed Nov 18, 2015 1:31 pm

Are you positive about that? I've been a Marxist since the mid-60s and I've never seen an undamaged print of Horse Feathers.
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostWed Nov 18, 2015 1:39 pm

Not possible to have seen on television the excised portion of that scene. It was physically cut out of the negative circa 1936-38 for post-code release,so two decades before prints were made for television. Similarly, several folks have said they saw CONVENTION CITY on television in thew fifties or later, but Warner Bros copy decomposed and was discarded in 1948.

Chalk it up to a rosy memory.
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JFK

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"Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostWed Nov 18, 2015 3:54 pm

A lost film, or excised scene, won't be recovered any more quickly if we discount the memories and tips of folks who've said they've seen one. There's no reason, legal or otherwise, that a station, particularly one in Los Angeles, might not have had a copy of a complete print of Horsefeathers, a copy not possessed by other stations in the hinterlands. And stations, especially those non-coastal, could sometimes fly under the studios' radar. Animal Crackers, for instance, was broadcast at least once in Chicago during the period (1958-1974) when it would have been unlawful to have done so. Anyway, it should be easy enough to contact the Los Angeles stations that had the rights to Horsefeathers and discover which collector wound up with the print.

And while we're rooting around in the California closets and attics, have the families of all who worked on the film been contacted to see if they might own a complete copy without being aware of it ? Someone somewhere must have the film complete- perhaps long unviewed- unaware of its rarity (as was the recent case of L & H's {
The Battle of the Century).

And maybe, when all the daily papers and TV Guides of the 1950s are online, CONVENTION CITY will show up in the television listings of some city in Nebraska.
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostWed Nov 18, 2015 4:41 pm

JFK wrote:A lost film, or excised scene, won't be recovered any more quickly if we discount the memories and tips of folks who've said they've seen one. There's no reason, legal or otherwise, that a station, particularly one in Los Angeles, might not have had a copy of a complete print of Horsefeathers, a copy not possessed by other stations in the hinterlands. And stations, especially those non-coastal, could sometimes fly under the studios' radar. Animal Crackers, for instance, was broadcast at least once in Chicago during the period (1958-1974) when it would have been unlawful to have done so. Anyway, it should be easy enough to contact the Los Angeles stations that had the rights to Horsefeathers and discover which collector wound up with the print.

And while we're rooting around in the California closets and attics, have the families of all who worked on the film been contacted to see if they might own a complete copy without being aware of it ? Someone somewhere must have the film complete- perhaps long unviewed- unaware of its rarity (as was the recent case of L & H's {
The Battle of the Century).

And maybe, when all the daily papers and TV Guides of the 1950s are online, CONVENTION CITY will show up in the television listings of some city in Nebraska.


I first saw ANIMAL CRACKERS (1930) on BBC-TV circa 1971. Was this illegal, or was it ok in England? I also recall it listed in NFT booklets of the time (before I was a member), but of course the BFI / NFT was a non-commercial organisation so perhaps exempt.
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostWed Nov 18, 2015 6:13 pm

vitaphone wrote:Not possible to have seen on television the excised portion of that scene. It was physically cut out of the negative circa 1936-38 for post-code release,so two decades before prints were made for television. Similarly, several folks have said they saw CONVENTION CITY on television in thew fifties or later, but Warner Bros copy decomposed and was discarded in 1948.

Chalk it up to a rosy memory.


Chalk it up nothing, I saw it.
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostThu Nov 19, 2015 9:26 am

It's always a question of balance:

Yes, odd one-off prints and broadcasts HAVE happened.

But so have faulty "received memories" - scenes from one horror film misremembered into another, etc.

"The trouble with memory is not that it fails but that it so generously creates."
—Walter Kerr
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The Blackbird

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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostThu Nov 19, 2015 9:29 am

I understand that, believe me.
I saw it.
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JFK

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"Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostThu Nov 19, 2015 1:57 pm

cinecon.org/cinecon_chaplinfilm.html
"Chaplin is officially credited with appearing in thirty-five films during his year at Keystone in 1914, but he claimed in various interviews that he had also played bit roles as a cop and a barber while at the studio--but he did not name the films, and although there has been some speculation about the possibility of additional Chaplin-Keystone appearances, none has turned up until now. Film collector Paul Gierucki found a 16mm film print in a trunk at a Taylor, Michigan, antique store last year. "I could tell it was a Keystone comedy, so I haggled and got it for $100," says Gierucki, but he didn't get around to looking at the print for several months. When he did put it on a projector this past March, he was astonished when Chaplin appeared as a cop about six minutes into the film for an extended two-minute cameo. "My heart stopped," Gierucki recalls. "I recognized him immediately.""
The above excerpt is from a page promoting the Cinecon 46 screening of A Thief Catcher.
1. It seems that up until that film's discovery, Chaplin's "memories" of having played a cop, and barber, for Keystone, if not exactly gainsaid, were for the most part widely ignored.
How many Chaplin filmographies/biographies of the past century mentioned the possibility of such a Chaplin Keystone cop film (A Thief Catcher) having existed?
2. And if there is a Keystone film in which Chaplin portrayed a barber - maybe still unidentified- aren't the (perhaps slim) chances of unearthing it slightly greater if we at least assume it once existed ? Has anyone, for example, ever done a search of newspaper and trade magazine reviews using such keywords as "Sennett" "Keystone" "barber"...?

My (repeated) point is, "lost film" hunters ignore at their own risk any tips - whether from film makers, filmgoers, or even fabulists like F. Gwynplaine Mac.

Besides, what could be easier/cheaper than calling/emailng the Los Angeles area stations to see if they had/have a print of Horsefeathers, and if anyone on staff, now or in the past, knew of such a print and its fate?
For fun, hint of a cash reward.

Wikipedia List/Links of Los Angeles television stations
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostThu Nov 19, 2015 5:30 pm

Lots of movies have benefited from the "lore" of claims that uncut versions, with scenes not available in today's prints, aired on television in the past. The spider pit sequence in "KING KONG" and additional footage from "HORSE FEATHERS" among them. And no one -- I repeat -- no one has yet to produce any positive proof -- just "memories."

Funny thing. A friend of mine recorded the audio of "A NIGHT AT THE OPERA" with the Marx Bros. off television in the seventies and he recalled a scene in the movie that does not exist in the prints televised today, and on DVD. His audio is proof positive that there was a scene in the movie that is not on today's DVD. But regarding "HORSE FEATHERS," no one has yet to prove there are missing scenes.

The reel with Thelma Todd has always been damaged and evident on the existing commercial prints. Here's hoping the studio puts an effort and uses the highest quality software to digitally fix most of those defects. That is what I will be looking for when I view the movie at TCM's Film Festival.
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostSat Nov 21, 2015 5:55 am

There was definitely an intact print of Horse Feathers still circulating on London's Classic Cinema chain in the 1950s. My brother clearly remembers seeing it and Allen Eyles describes the lost scenes in some detail in his 1966 book THE MARX BROTHERS - THEIR WORLD OF COMEDY, as follows:
(Harpo's Dog Catcher scenes)
He lures one wire-terrier into his cart by simply letting it chase him there. It is clear when he goes after an alsatian sitting patiently on the other side of the street that he doesn't restrict himself to strays but rounds up every dog in sight. He has a consistent dislike for dogs and he probably works more for pleasure than for the money. He carries a set of different sized fake lamp posts to interest dogs and lies in wait for them like a big-game hunter. Unfortunately, the version of Horse Feathers released to television only takes up this scene at the very end when a tramp asks Harpo for help to get a cup of coffee.
(Connie's scene)
The television copy ends here but actually the scene goes on, first with Harpo and Connie and the cut version deprives Harpo of another of his best scenes. "What do you want?" asks Connie sharply as Harpo reappears. Harpo points at her. Connie decides, like Penelope, to play up to him. "Are you a good boy?" she asks, and Harpo shakes his head. "You're bashful," she observes, presumably because he hasn't spoken. In answer, Harpo nods, looks bashful. and stands on his head in Connie's lap. She cries for him to get off her and he does, sitting alongside her on the sofa with one foot tucked under him. She tells him to take his foot off the sofa. Harpo shakes his head defiantly and makes his "gookie" expression, so she tries to pull it off. Harpo pulls her leg in return. She slaps him, a knock is heard, and he pulls her on to his lap. It is Groucho, looking for his hat and rubbers. Connie points in one direction, while the hidden Harpo points in another. Connie seems to be slapping herself as Harpo's hands become playful. "Come now, where's my hat?" asks Groucho and Connie seems to point in three directions at once. Groucho then finds his rubbers on Harpo's feet, sticking out from underneath Connie, and mistakes them for hers. Eyeing the expanse of muscular leg (Harpo's trousers are rolled up) he comments, "We could use you in the football team." Groucho takes off the rubbers and tries to put them on his own feet, but Harpo's feet are so positioned that he puts them back where they came from, on Harpo. Chico and Jennings come back. Connie stands up, revealing Harpo, clutching a block of ice beneath her. Groucho rushes to the window while Chico and Harpo dart out of the door. Arriving below the window, Chico encourages Groucho to jump. Harpo brings out a dog catcher's net to arrest his fall. Groucho jumps. Harpo hears a dog barking and gives chase, letting Groucho thud to the ground.
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostSat Nov 21, 2015 6:55 am

Off topic, but why would CONVENTION CITY have decomposed by 1948 while hundreds of other WB pre-codes remain in sparkling condition?

:?:
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostSat Nov 21, 2015 8:51 am

westegg wrote:Off topic, but why would CONVENTION CITY have decomposed by 1948 while hundreds of other WB pre-codes remain in sparkling condition?

:?:


Just one of the vagaries of nitrate film and (at one time) its less than ideal storage conditions, I suspect. In "The Legion of the Condemned: Why American Silent Films Perished", David Pierce notes that the original negatives to mid-1920s Warner silents like Broadway After Dark and Bobbed Hair were discarded in 1936 and Wolf's Clothing in 1938, but the negative to Lady Windermere's Fan managed to survive until 1961. And like Windermere, there are other films surviving today whose original elements had already decayed/been junked in the 1940s, 50s or 60s.

None of the foregoing should reflect on the studios' present stance on film preservation. But it does shed light on the often random nature of film preservation when there wasn't as much institutional support or public awareness surrounding it.

-HA
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostThu Mar 24, 2016 8:36 pm

I just found a book in a second hand shop called "Why a Duck" by Richard J. Anobile. Printed in 1971 and it has the complete dialogue of the scene in Thelma Todd's room with photos. But no other missing scenes other people have talked about. Does that mean he was watching the complete version in '71?
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostThu Mar 24, 2016 11:14 pm

hagl75 wrote:I just found a book in a second hand shop called "Why a Duck" by Richard J. Anobile. Printed in 1971 and it has the complete dialogue of the scene in Thelma Todd's room with photos. But no other missing scenes other people have talked about. Does that mean he was watching the complete version in '71?


No. I remember watching the damaged scenes prior to 1971. He probably got the dialogue from the script. I have all Anobile's frame blow up books on the shelf. He did bunches of those books.
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostFri Mar 25, 2016 11:22 am

I guess so. It's interesting what someone said about memory playing tricks on you. The first Marx Brothers film I saw was "A Day at the Races" back in 1986 on Australian television. I only remember the year because it was my 11th birthday. There was a scene early in the film where Groucho, Harpo and Chico were in the middle of the race track playing cards while the horses ran past them. Many years later when I watched it again broadcasted on a different channel that scene wasn't there and I wondered why. When I purchased the dvd years after that, the scene wasn't there. I have researched it and there is no proof that this scene ever happened so I put it down to a weird memory I must have invented in 1986.
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostFri Mar 25, 2016 12:20 pm

hagl75 wrote:I guess so. It's interesting what someone said about memory playing tricks on you. The first Marx Brothers film I saw was "A Day at the Races" back in 1986 on Australian television. I only remember the year because it was my 11th birthday. There was a scene early in the film where Groucho, Harpo and Chico were in the middle of the race track playing cards while the horses ran past them. Many years later when I watched it again broadcasted on a different channel that scene wasn't there and I wondered why. When I purchased the dvd years after that, the scene wasn't there. I have researched it and there is no proof that this scene ever happened so I put it down to a weird memory I must have invented in 1986.


That sounds like something that might have been shot just for a trailer. Did you check that?
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostFri Mar 25, 2016 3:06 pm

Sometimes we remember films differently from the first time we saw them.
Also we need to consider that films have gone through so many hands and edited according to the "morals" of the areas they have been shown in the past, so there is that.
I was about maybe nine years old when I saw 'The Mystery Of The Blue Room' on TV and I caught up with it recently and my memory of it consisted of scenes mixed in with a spanish film with similar plot.
Now if anyone has the VHS of Garbo's 'Anna Karenina' knows that the scene with Anna & Vronsky on a gondola ride is incomplete on the DVD. So far, no word from Warner about this issue.
So anything is possible, maybe our memories are vague and/or some folks actually have seen certain films with scenes a lot of us regard as something that never happen.
"it's a Kafka high, you feel like a bug"
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostFri Mar 25, 2016 3:11 pm

I remember seeing a lot of good films when I was in my twenties. Seeing them again in the last decade or so I have found them to be absolute rubbish!

:D
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostFri Mar 25, 2016 3:48 pm

Donald Binks wrote:I remember seeing a lot of good films when I was in my twenties. Seeing them again in the last decade or so I have found them to be absolute rubbish!

:D


Sir Donald, I assume from threads elsewhere, that those could not possibly have been VINTAGE films? Because as we know, vintage films were by their very nature intrinsically superior to complementary films!

(I kid, I kid!)


-Craig
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostFri Mar 25, 2016 4:04 pm

wich2 wrote:
Donald Binks wrote:I remember seeing a lot of good films when I was in my twenties. Seeing them again in the last decade or so I have found them to be absolute rubbish!

:D


Sir Donald, I assume from threads elsewhere, that those could not possibly have been VINTAGE films? Because as we know, vintage films were by their very nature intrinsically superior to complementary films!

(I kid, I kid!)


-Craig


(huge guffaw!) One film I can remember from about 1966 was "Blow Up" with Vanessa Redgrave and David Hemmings, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. When I saw this at the pictures in my salad days I thought it was the ant's pants. When I fairly recently got a copy on DVD and watched it, I found my enthusiasm had paled so significantly I found the film near to excruciating.

I must say that some "vintage" films, made before my time, I have found equally excruciating. One early British talker I watched the other day "The Lady From the Sea" (1929) was decidedly awful.

I suppose it's because generally only the good films from the "vintage" period seem to make it to DVD's (the rubbish is purposely left out) is why we can say we think the films of that era are "superior". Modern films are not generally weeded out in the same manner, so we are bound to have to make our way through the weeds to get to the chaff. I do get to see some modern films I like - but not often.
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostSat Mar 26, 2016 12:53 am

Jim Reid wrote:
hagl75 wrote:I guess so. It's interesting what someone said about memory playing tricks on you. The first Marx Brothers film I saw was "A Day at the Races" back in 1986 on Australian television. I only remember the year because it was my 11th birthday. There was a scene early in the film where Groucho, Harpo and Chico were in the middle of the race track playing cards while the horses ran past them. Many years later when I watched it again broadcasted on a different channel that scene wasn't there and I wondered why. When I purchased the dvd years after that, the scene wasn't there. I have researched it and there is no proof that this scene ever happened so I put it down to a weird memory I must have invented in 1986.


That sounds like something that might have been shot just for a trailer. Did you check that?


I've watched the trailer on the DVD and it doesn't have it. The same thing happened when I watched the Blu Ray of "Roar" with Tippi Hedren. There was a scene missing near the start with the brothers fighting at the airport. I went back to my Dads house to search for the 30 year old VHS taped off TV, found it, played it and there was the scene in all it's 4:3 glory. If only I taped A Day at the Races then. I can't see how a scene like that would even fit into the film. Strange memory.
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostSat Mar 26, 2016 3:09 am

When I first saw Day at the Races on BBC tv the water ballet sequence was shown but I have never seen it since.Also there is a song which has cut which Groucho reprises at the finale.I wonder if the original number exists.
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostSun Mar 27, 2016 2:34 am

From the point of view of missing films, one can look at the BFI Collections listings and see a lot of films(British) that they give a TV screening date or dates but the films are not at the BFI and have not been located elsewhere since. I know the BBC bought up some old films and that is noted with at least one of the first films George Formby made in London for a small Manchester company whose negatives were dumped, supposedly, in a London lake when the film lab who held them went out of business and the producing company did not answer the call to collect their materials/element. Now the family of the producer is looking to fill the missing gaps but not much luck. However some British films have reappeared from 'lost' status in the past year or so(with some more ready for release as discussed in Nitrateville recently). Those films are mostly from small producers or even a one off production by someone. I always like to get the discs of these because of their otherwise rarity until now and often they have been interesting films. They still seem to be looking for two WW2 RKO films made in UK with Ann Dvorak and the BBC has put out feelers for them but nothing.

I have heard nothing lately about the print of MGM's a Night at the Opera found in Hungary with scenes not in the US version. MGM's Broadway Melody(1929) has a shortened opening credit sequence when compared to the surviving film disc. Hollywood Revue of 1929 has some difference. Freaks(1932) has missing scenes supposedly. Love Me Tonight was edited post-code for re-release but the release did not happen and the edited scenes(like Jeanette's breast) were discarded like so much else at Paramount.

With Warner films, and I have mentioned this before, they used to have the Warner logo in front of trailers on TV when Australian TV(Ch7 Melbourne) first got the package 50 plus years ago. I have never seen a WB logo on a trailer since, not VHS, not Laserdisc, not DVD or Blu Ray. Funny that. Often otherwise original were not shown for these films but I think MGM ones were on the same station along with MGM shorts and News of the Day clips from Hearst Metrotone News in varying length when ad breaks were less and time to fill in half hour blocks.
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostMon Apr 04, 2016 7:46 pm

wich2 wrote:It's always a question of balance:

Yes, odd one-off prints and broadcasts HAVE happened.

But so have faulty "received memories" - scenes from one horror film misremembered into another, etc.

"The trouble with memory is not that it fails but that it so generously creates."
—Walter Kerr

I seem to have "disremembered" seeing a scene in the 1936 Mae West vehicle KLONDIKE ANNIE. I had an off-the-air Beta tape from a local Chicago station that I made around 1984. I could swear that I saw the scene where Frisco Doll stabs dead her Oriental lover. Today I purchased and watched a used DVD of this film, and the screen goes (abruptly) black just before this occurs. Looking at Wikipedia, it says that scene was cut by the censors (along with others) in order to get the film released, and this footage was permanently destroyed back then. Getting older is not fun.
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostTue Apr 05, 2016 9:27 am

Scott Eckhardt wrote: [...] Getting older is not fun.


But the alternative is worse--relatives don't always come up with a good epitaph...
_____
"She confessed subsequently to Cottard that she found me remarkably enthusiastic; he replied that I was too emotional, that I needed sedatives, and that I ought to take up knitting." —Marcel Proust (Cities of the Plain).
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostTue Apr 05, 2016 12:09 pm

Quote:" My (repeated) point is, "lost film" hunters ignore at their own risk any tips - whether from film makers, filmgoers, or even fabulists like F. Gwynplaine Mac. "

I utterly agree. And I can give many examples. The first one wasn't a "lost" film but a damaged one. When MGM decided to release Paramount's DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE (1932) on DVD they took extensive paints to restore some cut snippets, and the results were so-so, with bits of dialogue inaudible. At the same period, the movie, totally uncut, played on British television and the print was immaculate. Example 2: TEN YEARS before the recent METROPOLIS restoration, the Murnau restorers in Berlin got a first letter from the Argentinian Film Archives, telling about their 16mm complete print, but they ignored / rejected this mail, so the restoration was delayed for ten years. Example 3: any "film hunter" will tell you that Robert Wiene's GENUINE only exists in a shortened 43mins version. False. A complete French print, with French titles, can be found on the Web (I got it) and its running time exceeds 80mins. Example 4: Two years ago I mentioned the existence of a French-dubbed print of the "lost" movie THE MONKEY'S PAW (RKO 1932) on the forum Classic Horror Film Board and was treated as a liar. I just posted screen caps from this print on NitrateVille today. Example 5: All British sources claims that only "4 or 5" épisodes of the TV series FABIAN OF THE YARD are still existing. Totally false. The ENTIRE series (39 épisodes, and not 36 as mentioned everywhere, even on IMDb) are preserved in the Canadian Film Archives and the 16mm prints are in excellent shape. I mentioned it to some British DVD companies that were "interested" for releasing the series on DVD, I gave them all the informations, and never got an answer. Example 6: well before KING KONG was restored in the USA, it was re-released in France and ALL the "censored scenes" (NO, not the "Spiders" sequence !) were in the prints. Example 7: Many years before the restoration of Whale's FRANKENSTEIN, the Cinémathèque Française once showed a print with the complete "blasphem" not only audible, but subtitled in French. Etc etc. I could continue for the rest of the evening, believe me.
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Re: "Horsefeathers" restoration?

PostWed Apr 06, 2016 2:12 am

Oh - I almost forgot. There is an incredible numbers of differences between the current US prints (and DVD) of the Spencer Tracy remake of DR JEKYLL & MR HYDE, and the German print. So many in fact that an entire web page exists with screen caps of all the additional shots, scenes, etc. that don't exist in the current American prints.
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