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Old 05-04-2005, 21:10   #1
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The Samuel Bronston Thread

Do any of you out there know the real situation regarding El Cid, 55 Days at Peking and The Fall of the Roman Empire - are these movies ever likely to have a proper DVD release? Or is there a copyright problem, a copyright lapse or maybe some technical problem with source materials. Watching El Cid on BBC2 last weekend I thought how wonderful and stirring it remains after 40-odd years. This and the other two Bronston epics are perhaps the biggest gaps in my DVD collection.
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Old 05-04-2005, 22:51   #2
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April 2004 Anchor Bay UK announced:

"In the near future there will be Special Editions of movie classics such as Magic (starring Anthony Hopkins), The Night Porter (Dirk Bogarde/Charlotte Rampling), El Cid (Charlton Heston), The Fall of the Roman Empire and Pele The Conqueror"

...but since then nothing.

Check out this thread at the HTF for info on the Korean releases, and there is a poor R2 release of 'Fall' if you're desperate.
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Old 05-04-2005, 23:13   #3
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I reviewed the Danish R2 of the marvellous "Fall Of The Roman Empire" - my favourite of all the epics - for DVD Times. It cost about a fiver, is in non-anamorphic widescreen and while disappointing, it's still better than the current UK R2 release. The "El Cid" release, from the same company, On Air, is pan and scan though and should be avoided.

I gather there's a better German release of both films available.
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Old 17-06-2005, 14:22   #4
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Damn. It looks like El Cid is coming, but not from Anchor Bay...see the 'Upcoming' thread here
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Old 17-06-2005, 20:32   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Hodson
Damn. It looks like El Cid is coming, but not from Anchor Bay...see the 'Upcoming' thread here
Yes - but this is from Universal UK who issued terrible DVDs of EL CID and FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE previously. This is certain to be the same transfer as before.

The problem with the Samuel Bronston films is that they were financed independently from various sources (the Rank Organisation partly financed and distributed them in the UK) and released by different studios depending on the country of release. Because no major studio kept control of the original negatives and sound elements, it is difficult for any company to locate decent elements in order to issue a decent DVD.

The rights to EL CID, FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, 55 DAYS IN PEKING and CIRCUS WORLD (known as THE MAGNIFICENT SHOWMAN in the UK) are controlled by P.C. Films Corp. who are based in New York. This company was set up by Samuel Bronston's creditors following his bankruptcy in 1967. The creditors included Bronston's major backer Pierre Du Pont, Paramount Pictures, Sun Oil and various banks (as reported by Variety).

In the UK Polygram obtained home video rights of these four films. Polygram was acquired by Universal Pictures UK hence their releases of EL CID and FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE on DVD. The USA rights are held by Miramax Films.

A complete roadshow version of EL CID was issued on laser disc by Miramax and complete roadshow versions of FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, CIRCUS WORLD and 55 DAYS IN PEKING were issued on laser disc by Image.

Our only hope is that Miramax eventually give these films the treatment they deserve on R1 DVDs. I think we can forget the idea that worthwhile versions will appear in the UK.
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Old 14-07-2005, 15:20   #6
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DVD Beaver has reviewed the Japanese The Fall of The Roman Empire here; looks surprisingly decent (and Mike's review gets a namecheck too )

Reviews too for the Japanese discs of El Cid, 55 Days at Peking and Circus World.

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Old 14-07-2005, 18:44   #7
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I have those Japanese releases (except Circus World) and while they are better than nothing it is important to note that none of them is the full roadshow version. El Cid has overture and exit music but no intermission. Also the colours are totally off on all three releases and the sound on 55 Days is a disaster. And they're very expensive.
A far cheaper route to go if you want these are the German discs. As far as I know the German El Cid is the full roadshow version (so it includes the intermission) and picture quality looks to be at least as good as the Japanese disc: http://www.1a-dvdshop.ch/scs.asp?idf...ne%5Frc2&ss=24
Interestingly, Warner Germany will re-release the Bronston epics in August. They're probably the same discs as the currently available ones but who knows.
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Old 14-07-2005, 18:54   #8
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Okay; we looking at these?

El Cid
The Fall of The Roman Empire
55 Days in Peking
Circus World (aka The Magnificent Showman)

Are the current versions not up to much then HF?

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Old 14-07-2005, 19:24   #9
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The German EL CID is closest to the Roadshow version but is still not complete because it cuts short the end of Act 1 leading to the Intermission. None of the other German releases are the roadshow versions. 55 Days in Peking is mono and I suspect Circus World is as well - although I don't have that one. The August releases look the same as the previous issues.
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Old 14-07-2005, 20:46   #10
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Aaarghhhh! Thank you Douglas...
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Old 15-07-2005, 05:31   #11
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Thanks for the continuing updates, sad though they are. I just drool and weep with sadness at the thought of my friend's laser discs of all the Bronston pix now languishing unloved and unwatched in his garage.
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Old 15-07-2005, 06:38   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Hodson

Are the current versions not up to much then HF?
I've owned the original UK P&S abominations, the French releases and now the Japanese discs. Picture quality was best on the French discs, especially the colours were much better than the Japanese. The French discs have MPEG sound which I remember as being very good as well. Of course the French discs are not the roadshows either and they have subtitles that can't be switched off which caused me to buy the Japanese discs. The Japanese El Cid and Fall Of The Roman Empire are comparable to the French discs except for the colours which are very faded. The Japanese 55 Days is simply a disaster. Sound and picture are miles below the French disc.
I've never seen the current German versions so I can only judge them from screencaps but they look at least as good as the Japanese discs to my eyes and perhaps as importantly, they're much cheaper.
No sense in discussing the quality of the Universal UK discs me thinks .

I hope that we someday see a definite release of these films but Anchor Bay UK is suspiciously quiet, not to speak of a R1 release which was rumoured 3 or 4 years ago but of course never materialized.
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Old 12-12-2006, 11:19   #13
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From the 'Upcoming' thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by CinéKarine
From MoviesUnlimited (11/12):

Question: Any chance we’ll see Land Of The Pharaohs on DVD soon?

Answer: We sure get lots of requests for the Howard Hawks 1955 costume epic, and we’re told it’s getting some serious restoration attention, so DVD release may not be that far down the road. The great, all-purpose director Hawks couldn’t quite get a handle on this type of picture, particularly with such lavish production values, great expense, and screenplay input by many writers (including William Faulkner). Still, the film has delights, such as great British actor Jack Hawkins as the Pharaoh and a va-va-voom Joan Collins as the wily vixen with the bejeweled navel. Fans of this type of saga, however, may be pleased to know that The Weinstein Group has acquired the rights to The Fall Of The Roman Empire and El Cid (as well as 55 Days At Peking and Circus World), and are planning a mid-2007 DVD release!
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Old 12-12-2006, 12:58   #14
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Excellent news....after all this time! Hopefully we will at last get the complete original roadshow versions of the Bronston epics.
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Old 12-12-2006, 14:13   #15
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Here's hoping. And hopping, too!
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Old 12-12-2006, 18:28   #16
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I have just found this Samuel Bronston thread and am puzzled that no-one seems interested in "King Of Kings". In case anyone is unaware, there is a good Region 1 DVD of "King Of Kings". I bought it a year or so from DVD Discount for about 9 dollars plus postage. It may well be still available.

I have the French "official" DVDs of "Circus World" and "El Cid". The colours are less than perfect, but overall the quality is acceptable. At least they are not pan-and-scan abominations like those served up here by Universal. They are on permanent offer on eBay from a reliable supplier trading under the name DVD Solutions.

Last edited by Bish; 12-12-2006 at 23:37.
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Old 12-12-2006, 18:39   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoelCairo
I have just found this Samuel Bronston thread and am puzzled that no-one seems interested in "King Of Kings".
Because the OP's concerns are about specific titles unavailable on DVD up to a decent standard?

King of Kings is available, indeed it's a gorgeous transfer; it's just not one of the 'problem' Bronston titles.
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Old 12-12-2006, 19:22   #18
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I hope the Weinstein Company give these movies the care they deserve. If they do, I'll quadruple dip.
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Old 12-12-2006, 23:26   #19
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My long-time crusade to persuade people that Fall of the Roman Empire is one of the greatest films ever made might finally have a chance of succeeding then
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Old 13-12-2006, 00:07   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hitch_fan
I hope the Weinstein Company give these movies the care they deserve. If they do, I'll quadruple dip.
Can't agree with you more, that these masterpieces, in particular El Cid, have not had an appropriate release on DVD is almost mindbongling. While I don't like comparing movies, I feel the Cid is in the same rarefied level as Ben-Hur.

i own an oriental copy of El Cid, an Aussie copy of 55 Days, both just end making me angry as to the missing quality.

let us hope..
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