New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - May 22, 1997, New Braunfels, Texas
MOYIE CLOSE-UP: ‘Vertigo’
By Richard Ashton Copley News Service
I* • * 3>-"‘*ft ■ " "j
' Earlier this year, amid great ■ fanfare, Universal unveiled a newly restored version of > Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1 “Vertigo.” The 1958 psycho-1 logical thriller starring James 1 Stewart has become a cult ' favorite in the 39 years since its release, but it is a film that was nearly lost.
« It’s hard to believe, but
* Hollywood does not look after ‘ its own product. Many classic
• films, even box-office blockbusters, are left to decay in damp, forgotten vaults. In the case of “Vertigo,” film restorers James Katz and Robert james §tewart? a former police dective with an acute fear of heights, is hired by an old college pal Harris got the classic just in ^ tn|| ys mysterious wife, Rim Novak, in Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller, “Vertigo.”
the nick of time.
Vernon. Directed by Jacques Demy. 1964 (Fox Lorber Home Video - 91 minutes).
Director Agnes , Varda painstakingly restored Demy’s classic musical. This film won top honors at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival and still is remarkable because every line of dialogue is sung. Funded by the French
Herbert Loin. Directed by Anthony Mann. 1961 (Criterion Laserdisc - 184 minutes).
Martin Scorsese produced the restoration of Mann’s action drama. One of the last great epics of the big-epic era, “El Cid” has been something of an orphan. The Voyager Co.’s Criterion Laserdisc is a
Ministry of Culture, this long- spectacular way to see the
“Vertigo’s” Technicolor neg- saving Judy Garland’s “A Star
alives had shrunk and were in is ^ film had 5een
dire need of repair. Left much cut over ^ years> with whole
longer, there would have been Song-and-dance sequences
no way to restore this gem. jost aj0ng the way. But Haver
But Universal dug deep into was a^|e (0 fmd many of the
their pockets and budgeted $ I jost sequency and the film at
million to the “Vertigo jast mafces sense. Sadly, some
restoration. scenes are lost forever and are
The result is a spectacularly fined wjdl still photo mon-
colorful and detailed print. In tages
many ways “Vertigo” looks better today than it did in , 1958. It certainly sounds bet
ter. The original elements of the
for Dolby surround sound, and new sound effects were rerecorded to give the Film a crisp freshness. The new print dazzles by comparison to the previous video release.
watch, and their success will lead to rescuing other films in need of restoration.
- “Vertigo” starring James Stewart, Rim Novak and Barbara Bel Geddes. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. 1958 (Universal Home Video -128 minutes).
Stewart plays a detective hired to keep tabs on the mysterious Novak. He falls in love with her and takes her to a
But one film really proved there was a mass audience for classic films: “Lawrence of Arabia.”
Katz and Harris found it in Sf&nlkft mission church in an very poor condition, and the effort to solve the riddle of her
1980s’ video had added insult to injury by “flipping” one of the reels so the action was reversed. The restoration was painstaking, but the film was
•While this is great news for f|naiiy restored to its original fans of “Vertigo,” this r“mm* video release just goes
show what bad shape most films are in. Compared to the new edition of “Vertigo,” Hitchcock’s “Mamie,” “Tom Curtain” and “The Birds” appear to be in dire need of restoration, too. If these films are in the same sad condition “Vertigo” was, we may never see them as they were intend-i ed.
But there’s hope. With its ‘ theatrical rerelease, and the
• new video release, “Vertigo” should easily surpass its $1
! million restoration price tag. t And studios are discovering \ that there’s money to be made I in old classics.
Indeed, “Star Wars” and its
• sequels were digitally remas-; tered and revamped at an esti-
• mated cost of $15 million. “Star Wars” alone grossed more than $100 million on its rerelease - you can do the math.
The business of modern film restoration really has its roots in the early 1980s. Two Acy films were restored as a labor of love and found great success when released theatrical-
The first was “Napoleon,” Abel Gance’s silent film of 1927. British film historian Kevin Brownlow spent years reassembling the forgotten film from sources scattered around the globe.
Around the same time, Ronald Haver was working on
When it was shown to the aging David Lean, he stunned the restorers by demanding that they cut it. Lean explained that he had not had enough time to finish the film as he had wanted. So, 30 years later, he got to finish his classic.
Taking the restoration process to its extreme was Stanley Kubrick, who restored his landmark film, “Dr. Strangelove,” by rephotographing each and every frame of the film with a Nikon still camera. That’s dedication.
The following films, all available on home video, are classics saved from decay. Today, they look more colorful, sharper and brighter than ever before. They’re a treat to
past. When she runs up a bell tower, his debilitating vertigo prevents him from following. Then he witnesses Novak’s fall to her death.
Months later, Stewart finds a woman who looks remarkably like Novak. He forces her to take on Novak’s appearance as his obsession gets out of control.
- "Lawrence of Arabia” starring Peter O’Toole, Alec
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Guinness and Anthony Quinn. Directed by David Lean. 1962 (Columbia/Tri-Star Home Video and Criterion Laserdisc - 216 minutes).
British cartographer T.E. Lawrence advises the warring Arab tribes to unite and help the British during World War I. Lawrence leads the Arabs as they take back their lands, ultimately coming into conflict with the British interests in Arabia.
O’Toole made a dazzling debut as Lawrence in one of the greatest adventures ever made.
- “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” starring
Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo and Anne
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lost classic is now available to rent again.
- “My Fair Lady” starring Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway and Wilfrid Hyde-White. Directed by George Cukor. 1964 (Fox Video - 170 minutes).
One of the biggest boxoffice hits of all time was tom, scratched and shrunken. But Katz and Harris performed miracles, working with computers to hide the scratches and the Scotch tape holding the frayed film together. Included on the “special edition” version is an hour-long documentary on the restoration process.
- “El Cid” starring Sophia Loren, Chariton Heston and
restored version. Heston stars as the hero who drove the evil Moors from lith century Spain.
- “A Star Is Bom” starring Judy Garland, James Mason and Jack Carson. Directed by George Cukor. 1954 (Warner Home Video -154 minutes). (Continued p. 7)
SAI NI I kl Al 11
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