Butchering of Films

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
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earlytalkiebuffRob

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Re: Butchering of Films

PostWed Sep 27, 2017 2:52 pm

Re the Wellman A STAR IS BORN, I saw this on the BBC IN 1975, and the Technicolor was perfectly fine, as when it was repeated a few years after. The DVDs are another matter as I have never come across a decent one. I was also disappointed with the video which was reportedly from an AFI restoration. I may have a video of it somewhere (which needs running through for removal of the white mould), which I must search for sometime.
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Donald Binks

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Re: Butchering of Films

PostWed Sep 27, 2017 3:13 pm

silentfilm wrote:Films were (and still are) cut for airline use. ........


My warped mind works in mysterious ways for I always thought it would be a wicked wheeze to screen the "Airport" pictures on an aeroplane - or what about the "Flying High" series?

If you are travelling aboard a ship what about a screening of "The Poseidon Adventure" in the ship's cinema?

:D
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Ray Faiola

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Re: Butchering of Films

PostWed Sep 27, 2017 3:27 pm

I have an airline print of AIRPORT. In the negative, they left in the "BJ" but cut the faux pilot's grin. ?!?!?!

Also, network features that were broadcast in 35mm were also distributed to stations in 16mm edited versions. I have a (now restored) network version of WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION. Also a network print, uncut but with additional fades for commercial breaks printed-in, of THE HUSTLER.
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostWed Sep 27, 2017 4:29 pm

MattBarry wrote:

Just curious, what's missing from A STAR IS BORN? (I assume you're talking about the 1937 version here, not the 1954?)



Sorry Matt, I should have specified the 1954 version. The "restored" version that's available on DVD makes clear exactly what is missing; I believe it's one of the Garland musical numbers, for which audio, but no picture, exists. There were a number of other cuts as well. There is also a good book about the film, called "A Star is Born," by Ronald Haver, which details the making of the film and its 1983 restoration. It's available from Amazon, among other sellers. SETH
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostWed Sep 27, 2017 6:07 pm

Butchering of films is completely reprehensible; but such butcherers who had or have an ounce of culture could respond to their critics by pointing to a long production history of respectable stage plays (Shakespeare in particular), ballets, operas, and musical comedies (Show Boat!) being chopped, sliced, and diced to fit the whims of whatever powers that be for individual productions. (And let's not even go into such changes as giving Swan Lake a happy ending!) Seeing a complete production of anything of Shakespeare's not only reveals hitherto unsuspected nuances but also, simply because the original proportionality has been restored, aesthetically enhances the whole play; and the same thing goes for operas, musical comedies, and ballets. There seems to be--proceeding at a glacial pace--an increasing respect in cultural circles for presenting the original completeness in plays, ballets, and operas (or maybe my optimism is deluding me); let's hope that this increased respect gains strength in cinema (and musical comedies!) as well. But this longtime practice of chopping up such an icon as Shakespeare probably made such butchery in movies less shocking than it otherwise would have seemed.
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostWed Sep 27, 2017 8:02 pm

Donald Binks wrote:I am therefore more interested in why the industry itself seemed to allow the films to be cut up?


Often they did not "allow" it - they DID it themselves. It is "Show Business."
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostWed Sep 27, 2017 9:49 pm

sethb wrote:
MattBarry wrote:

Just curious, what's missing from A STAR IS BORN? (I assume you're talking about the 1937 version here, not the 1954?)



Sorry Matt, I should have specified the 1954 version. The "restored" version that's available on DVD makes clear exactly what is missing; I believe it's one of the Garland musical numbers, for which audio, but no picture, exists. There were a number of other cuts as well. There is also a good book about the film, called "A Star is Born," by Ronald Haver, which details the making of the film and its 1983 restoration. It's available from Amazon, among other sellers. SETH


Oh ok, yes, I'm familiar with that.
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostThu Sep 28, 2017 4:38 am

I am old enough to remember the bad old days when films were aways cut to fit the commercials and available slots. Long films like SEA HAWK (1940) fared worse. I never saw a print longer than 85 minutes of that one (it runs 127!) Until my old friend Rudy Behlmer ran his own print for me in 1975.

The dinner scene from DECEPTION (1946) was always cut, and as for CAPTAIN BLOOD (1935) that was only ever seen in its 90 minute post war re-release version (it originally ran 119).

Only recently have these films been restored to their full original length.

The one title I am hoping will be restored is JUAREZ - the dvd is 120 mins (the first video release was only 106) and it should be 132 minutes!!

Let us hope that Warner retains a full nitrate somewhere....
"Korngold has so much talent he could give half away and still have enough left for himself..." Giacomo Puccini (1921)
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostThu Sep 28, 2017 5:39 am

Ray Faiola wrote:I have an airline print of AIRPORT. In the negative, they left in the "BJ" but cut the faux pilot's grin. ?!?!?!


I think you mean Airplane!, not Airport.

Jim
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westegg

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Re: Butchering of Films

PostThu Sep 28, 2017 6:39 am

I can top the worst movie edits with this doozy: 2001, where the famous jump cut from a prehistoric bone being tossed to a space station had a fade to a commercial break inbetween!!!

:shock:
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostThu Sep 28, 2017 6:46 am

Scott Eckhardt wrote:The most irritating thing about modern commercial breaks is the wretched habit of repeating the same commercial twice in the same break.



Absolutely. It's hateful.

It's bad enough a specific commercial is run 2,876,564,187 times over a six month stretch. Don't advertisers realize we've long stopped listening?
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostFri Sep 29, 2017 6:00 pm

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) played on This Network this month.
It was in a 4 hour time-slot although the movie is listed as 205 minutes.
I didn't bother to watch it to see what was butchered because they were
using a Pan and Scan print. Why are these new digital networks still using
prints from the days of academy ratio television? 95% of televisions used
these days are 16X9. Did No Child Left Behind penetrate the broadcast
industry? Is it economics? Are bean counters making the decisions? Whatever
the reason, it really makes those networks look third rate. I have to commend
Me TV. They sheared some information off of the top and bottom of the AR
tv shows they broadcast. It prevents them from stretching the frame and eliminates
geometric distortion in the image. A shame. IAMMMMW is a very wide movie where
car chases and gags are meant to be seen on as wide a screen as possible. The best
viewing would be on the Cinerama Dome screen the movie premiered on in some
cities. At least it is on Blu-ray in a decent restoration.
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Ray Faiola

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Re: Butchering of Films

PostSat Sep 30, 2017 6:17 am

Jim Roots wrote:
Ray Faiola wrote:I have an airline print of AIRPORT. In the negative, they left in the "BJ" but cut the faux pilot's grin. ?!?!?!


I think you mean Airplane!, not Airport.

Jim


Yes, Jim, my very most bad!!

Speaking of THE SEA HAWK, Warners reissued it, cutting it from 127 to 122. Then Dominant reissued it in '56 cutting it further to 106. When Key Video released it on Beta/VHS they initially released the Dominant print!! Fortunately the outcry was so strong that they recalled it and replaced it with a print from the BFI that was not only complete, it included the tinted sequences.
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostSat Sep 30, 2017 2:42 pm

A few notes on the subject - I remember when WOR New York ran Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW and VERTIGO in the late 80s after they had been ot of circulation for years. They actually ADDED scenes to REAR WINDOW to pad the running time to fill the long time slot. Every time James Stewart dozed off in the early part of the film, we got a lengthy "dream sequence" of repeated scenes we had already seen once. Also the opening credits were slowed down with the main title music repeated at least twice. There was a huge uproar in the local papers after this showing.

Another NY station, maybe WPIX, would often start movies cold with the first scene and then splice the opening credits on after the end of the film.

KISS ME KATE was once run in NY with ALL the dance numbers cut. The song vocals would abruptly cut to a commercial and then continue after the dances. Duh. Local NY stations always butchered SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, cutting from the beginning to the end of the lengthy "Broadway Ballet," saving about 12 minutes.

In my childhood viewing days, WPIX would usually cut most of the musical numbers from ABBOTT & COSTELLO films. HOLD THAT GHOST would start with the gas station scene after the opening musical sequence with Ted Lewis & the Andrews Sisters. Lou would be saying how someday he'd like to open a nightclub with Ted Lewis & the Andrews Sisters and I wondered why he wanted those particular performers. Then they'd show up for the finale with no explanation made!

I remember reading a 60s Cleveland Amory piece in TV Guide on this subject and he mentioned several spectacular incidences of local TV cutting. One midwestern station saved an hour of time once. They played a film (maybe THE EGG AND I?) that had a sequence showing a family watching a Hollywood film on screen in their living room. The cutter then CUT TO THAT MOVIE and stayed with it to the finish. Viewers were puzzled, to say the least.
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Mike Gebert

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Re: Butchering of Films

PostSat Sep 30, 2017 2:55 pm

What amazes me is... local time was cheap to begin with, why are you desperately trying to save it? Like, instead of cutting Bedlam for an hour slot to show it 4 times... why not show it 3 times, filling 4-1/2 hours? I just don't see the advantage.
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostSat Sep 30, 2017 3:04 pm

djwein wrote:Another NY station, maybe WPIX, would often start movies cold with the first scene and then splice the opening credits on after the end of the film.


For some time in the 60s at least this was SOP with ABC, both network and their owned and operated local stations. I remember seeing it done on both network and local showings via KGO-7 in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I'd heard reports of other ABC O & O stations doing it.
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostSat Sep 30, 2017 3:17 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:
Why didn't anyone care? Because it was fungible entertainment, not art to be preserved forever. That seems hard to understand to us now, but it's how it was then.


For all their talk about art, most studios measured the lifespan of a film in weeks and months, and when it had exhausted its appear in second or third run houses it might as well have vanished.
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostSat Sep 30, 2017 8:01 pm

djwein wrote:A few notes on the subject - I remember when WOR New York ran Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW and VERTIGO in the late 80s after they had been ot of circulation for years. They actually ADDED scenes to REAR WINDOW to pad the running time to fill the long time slot. Every time James Stewart dozed off in the early part of the film, we got a lengthy "dream sequence" of repeated scenes we had already seen once. Also the opening credits were slowed down with the main title music repeated at least twice. There was a huge uproar in the local papers after this showing.


This was done by Universal, the distributor when they first released Rear Window to television.
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostSun Oct 01, 2017 3:14 am

BBC TV here in the UK for many years ran a print of the Astaire/Rogers "Follow the Fleet" with Harriet Hilliard's song "Get Thee Behind Me, Satan" cut to ribbons to remove the word "Satan" from the lyrics - it was a travesty of the original! Apparently the censors in Britain at the time of the film's original release in 1936 refused to let the word Satan be mentioned. Thankfully the last time I saw it on TV here they used a complete print.
What cinemagoers of the time thought when they saw the cut print remains a mystery!
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostSun Oct 01, 2017 8:11 pm

Paul Penna wrote:
djwein wrote:Another NY station, maybe WPIX, would often start movies cold with the first scene and then splice the opening credits on after the end of the film.


For some time in the 60s at least this was SOP with ABC, both network and their owned and operated local stations. I remember seeing it done on both network and local showings via KGO-7 in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I'd heard reports of other ABC O & O stations doing it.

WBBM tv, the Chicago CBS affiliate used to show their 10:30 pm Saturday night films under the title THE BEST OF CBS. If the film was in color, the familiar CBS color logo would start things off, the voice over declaring: "The following is a channel 2 color presentation." Then the film would start sans opening credits. The credits would run at the end, with the original music replaced by some jazzy tune and a voice over saying what next Saturday's movie would be.
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostSun Oct 01, 2017 8:19 pm

Which is pretty much how sitcoms work now—they know people will get itchy remote fingers if they're forced to sit through an opening song and scene-setting footage, so they jump right in.
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostMon Oct 02, 2017 6:18 am

Sort of related, but how many recall when pan and scan prints on TV were nonetheless presented with windowboxed credits upfront with wallpaper type borders? In my more ignorant days I wondered if this is what the theatrical presentation looked like too.

:?
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostMon Oct 02, 2017 6:22 am

Mike Gebert wrote:Which is pretty much how sitcoms work now—they know people will get itchy remote fingers if they're forced to sit through an opening song and scene-setting footage, so they jump right in.


On YouTube there's a late '60s TV pilot with an interminable set-up intro/credits that would be hell to sit through every week.

:cry:
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Ray Faiola

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Re: Butchering of Films

PostMon Oct 02, 2017 6:32 am

westegg wrote:Sort of related, but how many recall when pan and scan prints on TV were nonetheless presented with windowboxed credits upfront with wallpaper type borders? In my more ignorant days I wondered if this is what the theatrical presentation looked like too.

:?



Universal had their "infinity ribbon" which bordered the top and bottom of the adapted-scope main titles. They switched this for THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN and had spooky stuff on the top and bottom.
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostMon Oct 02, 2017 7:13 am

Universal had their "infinity ribbon" which bordered the top and bottom of the adapted-scope main titles.


Yes! It was a surprise to me the first time I saw something theatrically at a film society that I'd seen on TV, and that was missing. "Why are you messing with the director's vision, which included gold brocade around the beginning of his action movie?"
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostMon Oct 02, 2017 9:11 am

syd wrote:It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) played on This Network this month.
It was in a 4 hour time-slot although the movie is listed as 205 minutes.
I didn't bother to watch it to see what was butchered because they were
using a Pan and Scan print. Why are these new digital networks still using
prints from the days of academy ratio television? 95% of televisions used
these days are 16X9. Did No Child Left Behind penetrate the broadcast
industry? Is it economics? Are bean counters making the decisions? Whatever
the reason, it really makes those networks look third rate. I have to commend
Me TV. They sheared some information off of the top and bottom of the AR
tv shows they broadcast. It prevents them from stretching the frame and eliminates
geometric distortion in the image. A shame. IAMMMMW is a very wide movie where
car chases and gags are meant to be seen on as wide a screen as possible. The best
viewing would be on the Cinerama Dome screen the movie premiered on in some
cities. At least it is on Blu-ray in a decent restoration.

Stations like THIS TV are often formatted to show only 4×3 pictures which is why IAMMMMW would be presented that way. On the other side of the coin, ME TV now shows everything in a widescreen format which crops the image on shows like ANDY GRIFFITH. This is, presumably, to satisfy those who own widescreens to get every corner of their screens filled. (Although the widescreen presentations on ME TV still have slight vertical black bars on both sides of the screen). This whole thing makes me glad for DVDs and Blurays which preserve original screen aspect ratios.
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostMon Oct 02, 2017 12:45 pm

This topic reminds me of the much-missed Foster Brooks who appeared on the Steve Allen Show described as 'an influential executive in the early days of television.' Brooks' drunk act has other guests on the show completely bewildered as they obviously didn't know of him. He says, recalling his early days: "I had something to do with cutting movies to fit the commercials as you would know if you've ever seen that great epic The Three Commandments." You can see it on Youtube.
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George O'Brien

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Re: Butchering of Films

PostTue Oct 03, 2017 5:58 pm

Growing up in the NYC area, watching films on local TV with my parents, my mother would often cry out, "They really cut this one!" Howard Thompson's wonderful capsule reviews in the New York Times daily TV listings often ended with the warning, "Beware cuts". The Astaire'/Rogers films, Follow The Fleet" and "Roberta", were very obviously cut, even to a kid who had never seen them before.

All the tales of footage cut and thrown away are cringe inducing. That the material censored from "Baby Face"(1933) was able to be found is something of a miracle. MGM did a far better job with their catalogue than any of the other studios, but even they could falter. Garbo's 1932 hit, "Mata Hari", does not exist. The only print we have today is from a late 1930's post code reissue with several minutes scissored out.
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Re: Butchering of Films

PostSat Oct 07, 2017 10:59 am

To all of this, it was amusing on some level when they started including the upfront logo that spelled out the damage done to the film you were about to watch: "This film has been chopped for content and to fit into its time slot, and while we are at it, we have also mutilated its aspect ratio to 'fit your TV'"...somehow, by being "honest", this would make it better?
One hopes it at least woke up a few people with regards to what was going on.

C.
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oldposterho

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Re: Butchering of Films

PostSat Oct 07, 2017 11:26 am

The ultimate irony is that I complained bitterly when widescreen films were cropped for flat old-timey TVs and now I complain bitterly when flat TV shows are cropped to fit my widescreen TV.

Film nerds just can't catch a break.
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