Ep. 37: Restoring in 4K: Jack Theakston on Becky Sharp • Mike Pogorzelski and Heather Linville on Detour

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Ep. 37: Restoring in 4K: Jack Theakston on Becky Sharp • Mike Pogorzelski and Heather Linville on Detour

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Fri Mar 15, 2019 8:19 am



NitrateVille Radio Episode 37: Restoring in 4K: Jack Theakston on Becky Sharp • Mike Pogorzelski and Heather Linville on Detour

What really goes into taking an 70+ year old movie and making it into a gorgeous, pristine-seeming 4K restoration on blu-ray, DVD or streaming? In this episode we dig deep into the process on two new releases—one a lavish big budget spectacle in Technicolor, the other the most legendary of no-budget noirs. (80:20)

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Right: Jack Theakston

(1:53) 1935's Becky Sharp had an instant place in film history as the first three-strip Technicolor feature. But a box office flop, it was mistreated over the years that followed, edited down and reduced to two color processes, until UCLA's Bob Gitt started an effort to recover elements from around the world and put them back together in the 1990s and early 2000s. Kino Lorber's release, out April 16th, represents a continuation of Gitt's restoration work using the latest technology, as film historian and past guest Jack Theakston, who does the commentary track on the release, explains.

Here's Becky Sharp from Kino Lorber. Here's The Road to Morocco, which Jack also does a commentary track for; it will be out on March 26.


Here's the trailer heard in the episode. We promise Kino's version will look better!

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(44:58) Filmed in just six days at the most poverty-stricken of Poverty Row studios, 1945's Detour has transcended its ignoble origins to be recognized as one of the most poetic of no-money, hard luck crime yarns—despite the poor quality of available DVDs for this public domain film. Finally, a good version of Detour comes out from Criterion on March 19!

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Mike Pogorzelski and Heather Linville with Thelma Schoonmaker Powell

Mike Pogorzelski, president of the Academy Film Archive in Los Angeles, and Heather Linville, who was then a film preservationist at the Academy (but is now at the Packard Center of the Library of Congress in Culpeper, Virginia), teamed up on the restoration, which was done by the Academy with the Film Foundation, the Cinémathèque Française, and with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation. They tell its story—and, in the process, how new digital tools have changed how archives approach restoration projects.

Here's Detour at Criterion, and here's the new restoration trailer:



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Re: Ep. 37: Restoring in 4K: Jack Theakston on Becky Sharp • Mike Pogorzelski and Heather Linville on Detour

Unread post by boblipton » Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:39 am

Great interviews, as always, and some fascinating looks into the technical issues and processes. I still think Detour is a shoddily produced piece of c**p — that voiceover is as stupid as can be. However, different strokes.

Bob
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Re: Ep. 37: Restoring in 4K: Jack Theakston on Becky Sharp • Mike Pogorzelski and Heather Linville on Detour

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Fri Mar 15, 2019 11:52 am

It's not my favorite-- either for noir or Ulmer-- but it's the mostest, the most German fatalism on the cheapest Ed Wood budget, so I can see the interest-- and the story of rescuing it that Pogorzelski and Linville tell is pretty heroic to me.

That said, the upcoming noir release by a veteran of late silent/early sound era German film I'm most looking forward to is Phantom Lady. A little more money-- but not too much more.
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Re: Ep. 37: Restoring in 4K: Jack Theakston on Becky Sharp • Mike Pogorzelski and Heather Linville on Detour

Unread post by mwalls » Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:22 pm

boblipton wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:39 am
Great interviews, as always, and some fascinating looks into the technical issues and processes. I still think Detour is a shoddily produced piece of c**p — that voiceover is as stupid as can be. However, different strokes.

Bob
Indeed, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I greatly enjoy Detour and am very much looking forward to the release of the restoration as well as listening to the interview.

Matthew

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Re: Ep. 37: Restoring in 4K: Jack Theakston on Becky Sharp • Mike Pogorzelski and Heather Linville on Detour

Unread post by Brooksie » Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:01 pm

One of the things that interests me about Detour is how and why certain films end up designated as classics, while others - arguably as deserving of attention - get consigned to the dustbin of history.

For example, I wondered why Rene Clair's The Italian Straw Hat (1928) was so highly regarded by Australian cinephiles when silents were starting to be rediscovered. Simple - it happened to be one of the few silent films that was available from the National Library at the time. A similar thing seems to have happened in Europe with DeMille's The Cheat (1915). I know many consider The Golden Chance (1915) a superior film, but The Cheat was what was available, so that was the one the arbiters of taste decided was a timeless masterpiece.

To bring this back to Detour - PRC was producing some solid pictures during the war (alongside a lot of forgettable rubbish, to be fair). Detour was one - but only one. The film they produced just after it, William Berke's Why Girls Leave Home (1945), is almost as good and seems to have been more commercially successful ... and yet, who has heard of Why Girls Leave Home?

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Re: Ep. 37: Restoring in 4K: Jack Theakston on Becky Sharp • Mike Pogorzelski and Heather Linville on Detour

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Mar 20, 2019 3:28 pm

I went to the Criterion site to see what they're offering as the pre-start special. It's the 4K restoration of Detour, looking as good as it ever did (eh!) with its stupid Andy-Rooney-style voice-over narrative recapitulating everything on the screen as you watch it.

Bob
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Re: Ep. 37: Restoring in 4K: Jack Theakston on Becky Sharp • Mike Pogorzelski and Heather Linville on Detour

Unread post by mwalls » Thu Mar 21, 2019 8:50 am

Mike, great episode. Very much enjoyed the interview with Michael and Heather regarding the restoration of Detour. The perseverance they showed, and ultimately the solution, is amazing. When I watched Detour I tried to detect the composite or the painting at several points during the film and could not detect any. It was entirely seamless, and as you pointed out the matching of the tone between the prints was perfect.

Thanks for getting them together for the interview.

Matthew

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Re: Ep. 37: Restoring in 4K: Jack Theakston on Becky Sharp • Mike Pogorzelski and Heather Linville on Detour

Unread post by Salty Dog » Thu Mar 21, 2019 8:05 pm

Regarding what what was in the long screenplay of Detour, it was written by Martin Goldsmith, from his novel, and the material that was not used in the film followed Al Robert's girlfriend and her experiences in Hollywood. The longer screenplay was used by Wade Williams in the 1992 remake of Detour, which starred Tom Neal's lookalike son, Tom Neal, Jr. I saw the remake years ago at the Film Forum, and honestly I don't remember too much about it, except that it was not that good. Anyway, I look forward to seeing the Criterion restoration, it sounds great.
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Re: Ep. 37: Restoring in 4K: Jack Theakston on Becky Sharp • Mike Pogorzelski and Heather Linville on Detour

Unread post by Zepfanman » Fri Mar 22, 2019 8:04 am

Brooksie wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:01 pm
One of the things that interests me about Detour is how and why certain films end up designated as classics, while others - arguably as deserving of attention - get consigned to the dustbin of history.
Great point! Availability makes a big difference on how a film is received, particularly over the years.

Also, just wanted to mention that this was another great episode. It's amazing to me all the work that goes into restoring just one film.

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