Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

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Scott J

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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostThu Feb 18, 2016 11:18 am

It has been so long I had actually forgotten about that important piece of info - which is another good reason to put this project on the backburner.

As much as I would enjoy working on my own personal cleanup and presentation, it seems it would just be a waste if Universal is actually working on a proper restoration with their huge resources and the original color negatives. Of course, we don't know if this is actually going on - it has not been officially announced, but it is likely given a few factors:

    A few reliable sources (EW.com, Jack Theakston) say that the color negatives were found in Universal's archives

    This was announced in May of 2015 - "During the next four years, the studio will restore approximately 15 silent film titles from Universal’s early years. The complete list of films is still in development in collaboration with outside film historians, institutions, and preservationists. Partners and collaborators in the initiative include the Library of Congress, The Film Foundation, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, George Eastman House, UCLA Film & Television Archives, Association of Moving Image Archivists, and Hollywood Heritage.
    http://www.comingsoon.net/movies/news/444985-universal-pictures-to-restore-15-classic-titles

    This is arguably Universal's most famous silent film - still very much a money-maker - so why wouldn't it be one of those 15 silent films mentioned?

So the George Eastman House 35mm Print, the UCLA 16mm Hampton Originals, David Shepard's Technicolor Bal Masque sequence, and the Universal Color 35mm Negatives. All restored with state-of-the-art technology - Yowza! Just the thought of it :D It would be hard for me to ask for anyone's hard-earned money knowing this may be coming within 4 years. I can just see me finally getting everything in place - finally raising all the money necessary - or worse, being weeks away from finishing my presentation - and then Universal finally announces their amazing restoration that has been secretly in the works for years. Can you imagine? :shock:
Last edited by Scott J on Fri Feb 19, 2016 7:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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wich2

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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostThu Feb 18, 2016 1:17 pm

Scott, I'm with you right down the line. Except...

>This is arguably Universal's most famous silent film - still very much a money-maker - so why wouldn't it be one of those 15 silent films mentioned?<

Studios sometimes shy away from spending money on films that have already driven buyers to the well many times in the PD realm. But the hope here is, that Uni could trumpet, "and for the first time ever on home video in a form not seen since its original release!"
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Great Hierophant

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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostThu Feb 18, 2016 7:13 pm

The concept of seeking copyright in a film restoration is hardly new, although legally speaking there does not seem to be a lot of case law precedent to guide the copyright claimant as to what circumstances a restoration of a public domain film can achieve its own copyright once you remove any score added to the film.

The claim that Universal found the missing color footage to the 1925 version of Phantom comes from a single sentence from an Entertainment Weekly article written back in 2012. Considering the lack of detail in the article, the potential of confusion with the color footage previously found by David Shepard in the 1970s and no official announcement of such an important find from Universal, I would suggest that this claim be treated as a claim and not as fact.
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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostThu Feb 18, 2016 7:54 pm

Great Hierophant wrote:The concept of seeking copyright in a film restoration is hardly new, although legally speaking there does not seem to be a lot of case law precedent to guide the copyright claimant as to what circumstances a restoration of a public domain film can achieve its own copyright once you remove any score added to the film.

The claim that Universal found the missing color footage to the 1925 version of Phantom comes from a single sentence from an Entertainment Weekly article written back in 2012. Considering the lack of detail in the article, the potential of confusion with the color footage previously found by David Shepard in the 1970s and no official announcement of such an important find from Universal, I would suggest that this claim be treated as a claim and not as fact.


Jack Theakston has also gone on record here as stating that from what he understands, Universal has found all of the color footage from PHANTOM. Needless to say, Jack is an extremely reliable source.
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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostThu Feb 18, 2016 8:43 pm

One presumes that if Universal puts all the new footage together - (and hopefully it is the original 1925 format of the film) and then places an orchestral soundtrack to the film - they would be able to copyright this new version as by virtue of the soundtrack it is a different article from the PD version?

It is absolutely wonderful news that the original Phantom is lurking out there....
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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostThu Feb 18, 2016 9:48 pm

WaverBoy wrote:Jack Theakston has also gone on record here as stating that from what he understands, Universal has found all of the color footage from PHANTOM. Needless to say, Jack is an extremely reliable source.


He is indeed.

I believe we've been down this road before; and the doubting of Jack's word is as without basis now, as it was then.

-Craig
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Great Hierophant

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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostThu Feb 18, 2016 10:48 pm

Does he have information from a source other than the Entertainment Weekly article?
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Scoundrel

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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostFri Feb 19, 2016 5:34 am

" I believe we've been down this road before; and the doubting of Jack's word is as without basis now,
as it was then...."

Nonsense.

I'll believe the claim is more than just a rumor when additional info comes available,
not just "Somebody told me."
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wich2

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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostFri Feb 19, 2016 9:28 am

Wow.

Just remarkable, when a guy has Jack's track record.
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Jack Theakston

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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostFri Feb 19, 2016 1:12 pm

Universal Pictures has confirmed that the "found footage" is Reel 1 of the 1925 version of the film (picking up on the first interior shot of the lobby, ending with the end of the ballet), from the original Technicolor negative. Preservation has been done.
J. Theakston
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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostFri Feb 19, 2016 3:09 pm

Scoundrel wrote:Nonsense.


Thanks for the sense, Jack.
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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostFri Feb 19, 2016 4:16 pm

Jack, you're the man. Thank you sir!
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Scott J

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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostFri Feb 19, 2016 7:30 pm

Drool...just drool. Thank you Jack. :D
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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostSat Feb 20, 2016 2:42 am

Jack Theakston wrote:Universal Pictures has confirmed that the "found footage" is Reel 1 of the 1925 version of the film (picking up on the first interior shot of the lobby, ending with the end of the ballet), from the original Technicolor negative. Preservation has been done.



If this is 100% true, my month has just been made!!

And even if the other reels of Technicolor [I thought I read somewhere that the auditorium / opera scenes were in Prizma, but I may be mistaken], they can just colorize it properly, as they did with the Bal Masque scene and voila, we have all of the color back!!!

Part of my gut is saying that this somehow isn't true, or that Universal won't do a damn thing about restoration, but my God, my fingers are crossed awfully hard right now!
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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostSat Feb 20, 2016 6:00 am

>Part of my gut is saying that this somehow isn't true<

Why, Chris?

>or that Universal won't do a damn thing about restoration<

Well - THAT'S a different issue...

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-Craig
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ChrisStockslager

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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostSat Feb 20, 2016 12:12 pm

wich2 wrote:>Part of my gut is saying that this somehow isn't true<

Why, Chris?

>or that Universal won't do a damn thing about restoration<

Well - THAT'S a different issue...

Best,
-Craig



Because I've gotten skeptical with all the damn "London After Midnight has been found!!" crap over the years. Haha. And with the whole public domain status, I worry Universal, Image, BFI, nor UCLA will not care to restore anything since most of those institutions have just released their own editions. And it sure seems like no one but us film junkies care about the NYGR print, and they'd prefer to restore the blasted 1929 edit umpteen times...


I REALLY hope I'm wrong, though!!


Also, bit of a subject change - does anyone know if the Bal Masque color sequence has survived via a 1925 silent print or 1929 sound print? I've always wondered. I also wonder if said color sequence looked exactly the same in both editions, or if Universal messed with it during the 4 years in between.
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wich2

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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostSat Feb 20, 2016 5:16 pm

Wasn't the Sound re-do a B & W-only release?
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Great Hierophant

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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostSat Feb 20, 2016 10:30 pm

Jack Theakston or someone with a similar level of authority has not said that London After Midnight has been found :cry: I mean no disrespect but I must note that authority does not equal infallibility.

Those Bal Masque sequences were extremely expensive. The comparatively modestly budgeted additions from 1929 would not have included reshot Bal Masque scenes, which are primarily made up of crowds which they could dub with stock effects of crowd talk. Whatever they shot in color they also shot in B&W, so they appear in B&W on the unaltered George Eastman House Print.
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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostSat Feb 20, 2016 11:01 pm

Great Hierophant wrote:Jack Theakston or someone with a similar level of authority has not said that London After Midnight has been found :cry: I mean no disrespect but I must note that authority does not equal infallibility.

Those Bal Masque sequences were extremely expensive. The comparatively modestly budgeted additions from 1929 would not have included reshot Bal Masque scenes, which are primarily made up of crowds which they could dub with stock effects of crowd talk. Whatever they shot in color they also shot in B&W, so they appear in B&W on the unaltered George Eastman House Print.


Apparently the ballet scenes which appear in the sound re-issue were re-photographed. The original scenes in colour from 1925 are what have been found according to Universal.

When all is put together it will be version No. 2,456 of "The Phantom of the Opera" ! :D
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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostSun Feb 21, 2016 4:01 pm

>Jack Theakston or someone with a similar level of authority has not said that London After Midnight has been found :cry: I mean no disrespect but I must note that authority does not equal infallibility.<

But such a person - with such an estimable track record - has earned common courtesy, and the benefit of the doubt.

-Craig

P.S. - "When all is put together it will be version No. 2,456 of "The Phantom of the Opera" !" Well, Donald, it SEEMS that way, because of all the PD releases; but as far as actual EDIT VERSIONS of the film, you can pretty much count them on one hand. And if yet another one FINALLY gets us as back as close as possible back to #1, I am all for it!
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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostTue Feb 23, 2016 5:25 pm

If I'm understanding Jack correctly then, what's been found is only part of the Technicolor footage that originally was there, but not all of it (given the reference to "Reel 1".)
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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostTue Feb 23, 2016 7:05 pm

Well, even if that is the case, we already have the material from the Bal Masque sequence - and in the current best version, it looks good.
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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostTue Mar 01, 2016 12:42 am

Image
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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostSat Apr 16, 2016 3:24 pm

radiotelefonia wrote:Image



A. In all my years of Phantomy nerdiness, I've NEVER seen this photo before!! Fabulous!
B. Where did you find this photo?
C. Has this been colored recently, or is it original?
D. If the latter, is this from the newly-found reel, or is it just a publicity photo?
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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostMon Apr 18, 2016 7:01 am

ChrisStockslager wrote:
radiotelefonia wrote:Image



A. In all my years of Phantomy nerdiness, I've NEVER seen this photo before!! Fabulous!
B. Where did you find this photo?
C. Has this been colored recently, or is it original?
D. If the latter, is this from the newly-found reel, or is it just a publicity photo?


It's from a deleted scene, I think. There's a part in the available fifth draft where Raoul flirts with La Sorelli before he looks over his shoulder and sees Christine for the first time in years.
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Scott J

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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostThu Mar 23, 2017 8:52 pm

I had forgotten about the previous photograph when tried my hand at colorizing this short scene:

Seems I wasn't too far off. Hard to determine though if the photograph features true 2-strip color (if a bit faded) or if it has been colored later. I'll keep it in mind though as I refine my technique.

Also a cleanup comparison:
Last edited by silentfilm on Fri Mar 24, 2017 11:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Embedded YouTube links
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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostThu Mar 23, 2017 9:08 pm

Scott J wrote:I had forgotten about the previous photograph when tried my hand at colorizing this short scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6Pjow9VeH4" target="_blank

Seems I wasn't too far off. Hard to determine though if the photograph features true 2-strip color (if a bit faded) or if it has been colored later. I'll keep it in mind though as I refine my technique.

Also a cleanup comparison: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rdLnBeKUbA" target="_blank" target="_blank


It must have taken you a month of Sundays to do that colouring! Thanks for posting.
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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostThu Mar 23, 2017 9:34 pm

Surprisingly, it took much less time to colourize that clip to that degree than it did to clean it up! :o
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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostThu Mar 23, 2017 9:56 pm

Scott J wrote:Surprisingly, it took much less time to colourize that clip to that degree than it did to clean it up! :o


I have seen on You Tube where someone has coloured the unmasking scene - which I think can be got away with as it was originally intended to be in Technicolor - only the hot lights melted Mr. Chaney's make-up. So, when do you think you will have the rest of the film finished? :D
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Re: Tinkering with the 1925 cut of Phantom of the Opera

PostFri Mar 24, 2017 7:50 am

" the unmasking scene - which I think can be got away with as it was originally intended to be in Technicolor .."

What is your source for this information ...?
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