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Old 12-03-2005, 21:13   #81
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Interesting piece by Glenn Erikson over at DVD Talk:

There's a bit of a fuss this week over the new mini-release of Sam Peckinpah's MAJOR DUNDEE which will hit New York and Los Angeles on April 15. Music score expert John Burlingame had an article entitled Resettling an Old Score in Thursday's Variety, discussing the displeasure of the president of the Society of Composers & Lyricists, Dan Foliart, over the re-scoring of the movie with an entirely new composition by Christopher Caliendo. Foliart stated that the revised DUNDEE had set a dangerous precedent, that future holders of old movies might be tempted to replace classic scores with contemporary ones. Burlingame said that studios have been known to replace the odd cue here and there when music rights were expensive or couldn't be located but that replacing an entire score was rare.

I'm not aware of too many full-score replacements either. I know of a lot of partial replacements, such as THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST, for which certain Barry McGuire songs were replaced, and a (Eurythmics?) pop score that was replaced for home video for 1984.

There are probably other examples of full score swap-outs but the ones Savant is familiar with are several English AIP pictures, most notably THE WITCHFINDER GENERAL (THE CONQUEROR WORM), for which Orion dropped the original tracks in favor of synthesizer soundalikes. THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST and PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES were restored for DVD, but 1984 was not. WITCHFINDER has been restored, but no DVD has been yet announced.

Columbia pictures had plenty of ammunition to justify their experiment with DUNDEE, as Sam Peckinpah's biographers affirm that the director hated Daniele Amfitheatrof's original score. It had been imposed on the film in post-production along with 1001 other outrages to his vision of the film. It doesn't take an expert to realize that the one most prominent factor crippling audience appreciation of DUNDEE has always been the music. The themes are reasonably good (my opinion) but grossly overused, while scene after scene that would play better in silence is drowned out by inappropriate noodlings or discordant phrases of Civil War-era themes. The crowning outrage was the producer's use of Mitch Miller's Sing-Along Gang. They chant the film's main theme, a mindless, jaunty march that inexplicably plays out over the aftermath of a bloody massacre.

Watching Peckinpah's epic always meant trying ignore the over-emphatic and distracting music. Nobody forgets the electronic "door chime" that goes off every time Major Dundee's Apache nemesis Sierra Charriba is mentioned - it makes the film play like Pee Wee's Playhouse.

I have seen the longer version (with the old score) and am very happy that twelve more minutes could be restored - it's an original extended cut from 1965, fully scored with Amfitheatrof music. The new scenes go a long way toward making the story coherent and satisfying.

It is a troublesome thought to think of future producers rescoring films and tossing out the old tracks. I don't think that will happen in any regular way for a couple of reasons.

The expense of arranging and recording a new score is prohibitive; DUNDEE used two different-sized orchestras and a new Mariachi band and is definitely not something whipped up on a keyboard. The Mariachis really help, by the way, as a ten-minute party sequence was previously backed by an inane Mexican cue repeated several times to fill up the time.

There are technical limitations as well. A few famous films previous to the late 1960s (like GONE WITH THE WIND, Foliart's worst-case example) have the original audio elements required to actually replace the music, but most older pictures exist only in composite tracks that will not allow the music to be separated cleanly. Perhaps future technology could make this possible, I suppose.

I also don't think marketers would consider that old movies could have a new life in release if the music were replaced ... what are they going to do, put in rap music or calypso beats or something? WUTHERING HEIGHTS isn't going to seem more modern or more commerical with new music. I don't believe Columbia approached the DUNDEE problem from that angle; I heard some of the discussion before the decision was taken.

The safe bet is always for not altering an old movie, but I think the new MAJOR DUNDEE will be of interest as an isolated experiment. I'll want to hear what the response to the new score is - personally, I have the feeling that I'll need several showings to shake the old music free from my memories ... this is one picture I've seen far too many times. I've been recutting the movie offline on my own for years, trying to see what would happen if the story were streamlined, or the narration removed. I'd like to hear what happens when the old score is backgrounded more, and with at least a third of it left out entirely. Dramatic scenes and battles could play on their own. Mitch Miller could be heard only over the end titles, or not at all.

I rather hope the controversy over the score gets some more attention because I like that idea that more people might become curious about MAJOR DUNDEE. With the new reel of footage and Christopher Caliendo's reinterpreted soundtrack, it's going to be a new experience.

I am told that Sony Pictures' eventual DVD will have both scores encoded, so the viewer will be able to compare and choose on their own.
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Old 21-03-2005, 14:29   #82
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Cover art for Major Dundee available through a link here.
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Old 24-03-2005, 18:40   #83
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News from the Criterion Forum, most of which we know but interesting nonetheless:

Here's some new gossip:

I attended the screening at The American Cinematheque in LA last night. Paul Seydor, Nick Redman, and several other Peckinpah fanatics were there. They said:

1. That Warners is working on a Peckinpah box set
2. The box set will contain all of Warner's Peckinpah holdings: The Wild Bunch, Cable Hogue, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Ride the High Country, and The Getaway
3. That the DVD and box set have been delayed and will be released 1 year from now in Feb. 2006
4. To much astonishment, Nick Redman said that the Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid DVD will contain a NEW cut of the film. How this will differ from Roger Spottiswood's extended cut from the mid-80's was not indicated
5. Nick Redman's new doc about The Wild Bunch (A Simple Adventure Story) will be on the Wild Bunch DVD
6. We were shown the new trailer for Colombia's rerelease of Major Dundee. LQ Jones nararates the trailer. It's kind of a lame trailer, but the picture quality and the bits of the new score were excellent. I can't wait for this.
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Old 25-03-2005, 15:35   #84
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There are some excellent scenes from "Pat Garrett" not in Spottiswoode's cut, notably a great one between Garrett and his wife. I assume the new cut might include this.
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Old 26-03-2005, 23:26   #85
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Mike :
What other scenes might be included in this new version? The only full scene I can think of not in the Spottiswoode cut is from the original version in the brothel with Garrett and Ruthie Lee?
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Old 17-04-2005, 11:20   #86
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I wonder if Sony now realises that it now owns enough Peckinpah to make a decent box set (providing that they improve on some of the exisiting MGM transfers); Major Dundee and thanks to the MGM takeover, The Killer Elite, Straw Dogs, Junior Bonner and Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia.

Some months before the Warners box hits the streets; plenty of time for Sony to get its act together and cash in. Just a thought.
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Old 24-04-2005, 14:37   #87
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Hodson
2. The box set will contain all of Warner's Peckinpah holdings: The Wild Bunch, Cable Hogue, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Ride the High Country, and The Getaway
Isn't "The Getaway" also going to feature in the forthcoming Steve McQueen boxset? A bit odd really, as I'd imagine many people (myself included) would want both sets but this will mean buying two copies of the same film.
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Old 24-04-2005, 18:28   #88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenMTaylor
Isn't "The Getaway" also going to feature in the forthcoming Steve McQueen boxset? A bit odd really, as I'd imagine many people (myself included) would want both sets but this will mean buying two copies of the same film.
Nothing has been officially confirmed on the contents; this is all 'leaks'. But those that are leaking are insisting that The Getaway will feature in both sets. It's some months away, though, and there's lots of time for Warners to change their minds. I'm rather more interested right now in confirming whether this...

Peckinpah expert Nick Redman is preparing a multi-box DVD set of Peckinpah films to be released later this year. One of the highlights for film music fans will be the DVD of THE GETAWAY, which is expected to feature the film's rejected Jerry Fielding score isolated on a separate audio track, spotted exactly as Fielding intended. The supplementary material will include one sequence from the film with Fielding's music mixed back in, and a documentary on Fielding's collaboration with Peckinpah and the rejection of the Getaway score, featuring interviews with Fielding's wife and daughter

...from page three of this thread will happen as planned, because it hasn't been officially confirmed as yet.
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Old 10-05-2005, 22:22   #89
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Smile Peckinpah recommendations?

I've been getting into Sam Peckinpah films lately. Thus far I've seen The Wild Bunch DC, Straw Dogs and bought/seen Cross of Iron R4. Bloody good films and his action direction is superb. I plan to get either Straw Dogs R2 SE or R1 Criterion in the immediate future. The Getaway is the next in my rental queue (at the rental site I subscribe to).

How are Convoy, Killer Elite, Junior Bonner, Alfredo Garcia and Osterman Weekend? I've read MikeSutton's excellent DVDTimes reviews but some more opinions would be nice. Convoy (*cringe* I hope I can bear that awful C.W. McCall song) and Killer Elite (sounds awful but still want to see it) are readily available in R4, but I would have to go out of my and blind import Junior Bonner (there's an R4 release, but it's P&S), Alfredo Garcia and Osterman Weekend - I'd hate to be stuck with a dud film which would be a pain to return. Thanks.

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Old 11-05-2005, 06:46   #90
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Hard to disagree with the reviews of Osterman Weekend and Junior Bonner, and I was particularly surprised at how good the image is on the latter, despite it being non-anamorphic. I think the film itself is quite, quite beautiful and McQueen was rarely better. TOW package - the R1 has a mono soundtrack the R2 lacks - is excellent, the film is messy at times and reflects totally Peckinpah's state of mind; in the list on page two of this thread, you'll see that the German R2 of Convoy is said to be the best to go for, while The Killer Elite is still struggling to get a decent release, though the R1 MGM just shaves it. You'll also see that the Criterion Straw Dogs is long OOP - the cheap MGM R1 is said to equal it in image quality, the Fremantle R2 has excellent extras. I love Straw Dogs, and both the Criterion and Fremantle releases have their merits - if you can pick up the former from some source for less than silly money, it's worth while.

The R1 of Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia has generally got the thumbs up, but Mike's full review is imminent I believe. It's one of Peckinpah's best IMHO, complex, wonderfully realised and effortlessly entertaining.

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Old 12-05-2005, 07:43   #91
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Hodson
You'll also see that the Criterion Straw Dogs is long OOP - the cheap MGM R1 is said to equal it in image quality, the Fremantle R2 has excellent extras. I love Straw Dogs, and both the Criterion and Fremantle releases have their merits - if you can pick up the former from some source for less than silly money, it's worth while.
Just ordered Straw Dogs Criterion from Amazon Marketplace for a good price (IMO) - $35USD (inc shipping).

Quote:
while The Killer Elite is still struggling to get a decent release, though the R1 MGM just shaves it.
The R1 is superior cuz it has an insert booklet? LOL.

I see that R1 Alfredo Garcia is pretty cheap on cd-wow, I'll pick that up sometime for the anamorphic transfer and commentary.

What's your opinion on the Steven Prince commentary on the SD Criterion? Your opinion on the commentaries by the posse of Peckinpah biographers on TOW, Alfredo Garcia, Junior Bonner and SD R2 Fremantle?

Thanks.

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Old 12-05-2005, 08:48   #92
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Prince is a fervant Peckinpah supporter and his commentary is enthusiastic and scholarly but always interesting. Although I've yet to hear the Peckinpah 'posse' on BMTHOAG, their other contributions have always been entertaining - they have a hell of a good time - and informative IMHO.
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Old 12-05-2005, 09:33   #93
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Not listen to the Criterion commentery yet but I did the two Freemantle ones back to back. They're both top draw with the Katy Haber commentary just pipping it.

Here's a snippet.

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Old 12-05-2005, 12:36   #94
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garry Cowell
Here's a snippet.

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BWHAHA!
I'm double-dipping somewhere down the line for sure.
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Old 12-05-2005, 16:55   #95
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The mid-90s UK laserdisc release of JUNIOR BONNER featured a different title song to Rod Hart's "Arizona Morning" (that I had got used to and liked). The earlier UK VHS tape had "Arizona Morning" and so, as far as I know, has every TV broadcast. I remember feeling a mixture of pleasure and disappointment at the time at, on the one hand, seeing the film in its proper aspect ratio for the first time but, on the other, seeing McQueen's drive across the plains accompanied by an unfamilar song!
Do the DVDs that are out now - R1 and R2 - feature Arizona Morning?
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Old 16-05-2005, 17:30   #96
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedspin
Do the DVDs that are out now - R1 and R2 - feature Arizona Morning?
The R1 does; I've no idea about the (p&s) R2.
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Old 17-05-2005, 14:52   #97
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Anyone got this book?

The first photo collection of Sam Peckinpah's work features hundreds of previously unpublished photographs that impressively document the creation of motion pictures like The Wild Bunch, Getaway, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, and Cross of Iron. A large number of the photos came from private archives and has never been published before. With over 900 photographs, "Passion and Poetry" illustrates the life and work of one of the most talented and most controversial film artists of the 20th century.

The only downside is that the text is in German and there's little or no chance of an English version - but hey, as a 'picture book' it sounds pretty good anyway.
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Old 18-05-2005, 07:59   #98
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Yes, terrific photographic record of the great man's career, mainly from unpublished sources. Be careful though it is a softback and the whole cover disengaged and fell off mine within a few days of receiving it. Told the publishers in Germany but got no help at all with replacing it
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Old 18-05-2005, 10:57   #99
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Tonight on TCM there is a docu "Sam Peckinpah's West: Legacy Of A Hollywood Renegade" (at 9pm) sandwiched between "Ride the High Country" (at 7pm) and "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" (at 10.45pm)
Apologies if this has already been mentioned!
http://www.tcmonline.co.uk/listings/index.jsp
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Old 18-05-2005, 16:52   #100
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From today's Grauniad, in their Cannes feature:

Peckinpah, the wild one
It's late afternoon and Monte Hellman is reminiscing about his old friend Sam Peckinpah, whose film Ride the High Country has just been screened in a new print as part of a special festival tribute. "One night Sam came in at 10 o'clock. The first thing he did was **** out of the window," says Hellman, recalling his first day editing Peckinpah's martial-arts thriller, The Killer Elite. "He was so drunk, you would think it impossible he'd have an intelligent thing to say. But the opposite was the case. You couldn't believe that this kind of coherence was coming out of this seeming incoherence."

In Ride the High Country, which Hellman calls his favourite Peckinpah movie, Joel McCrea plays Steve Judd, an ageing cowboy. Judd is hired by a bank to take gold from a lawless mining town in the mountains back to the bank. In the film's most famous scene, Judd admits to his old misdeeds while talking about dignity, self-respect and his work ethic. "All I want is to enter my house justified," he declares to Gil Westrum (Randolph Scott), another old-timer with a chequered past, as they ride through a sublime western landscape. It's a magical moment, combining nobility and pathos.

These words take on an ironic resonance when one considers Peckinpah's declining years. The image Hellman offers is of a browbeating alcoholic who treated his colleagues abominably. Some say he was broken after seeing his film Major Dundee cut to pieces by the studios. Some blame the effort of making The Wild Bunch for the change in his personality. But he still inspired extraordinary loyalty.

"You couldn't help but be aware of his humanity," says Hellman, whose classic Two-Lane Blacktop screens in Cannes this week. "No matter how much he tried to hide it, it came through. He moved me to tears in his films and he moved me to tears in our relationship. He was always a poet, hiding behind a mask of machismo."
Geoffrey Macnab

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Bring Me the Head of Alfredo, Convoy, Cross of Iron, Junior Bonner, Major Dundee, Noon Wine, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Ride the High Country, Sam Peckinpah, Straw Dogs, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, The Deadly Companions, The Getaway, The Killer Elite, The Wild Bunch

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