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Film preservation curiosity

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Film preservation curiosity

Old 06-07-15, 05:56 PM
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Film preservation curiosity

Been watching a lot of American-International BDs lately. These low budget, 40-50 year old films from a second tier studio look gorgeous. I find it hard to believe tens of thousands of dollars are being spent to restore these old drive-in flicks. Why do they survive in such near pristine condition?
Why do major studio films, like Bond, have to undergo massive restoration to bring them up to the quality of stuff like Frogs?
Why are the original elements of the first three Die Hards in worse condition than the elements of older films like X The Man With X-Ray Eyes?
The AIP Poe films were produced around the same time as Dr. No, FRWL, and Goldfinger yet didn't require the big restore job the Bonds did.
Old 06-07-15, 06:00 PM
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Re: Film preservation curiosity

hrmmmmm... good question.
Old 06-07-15, 06:20 PM
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Re: Film preservation curiosity

Curious about that myself, it seems like the masters on some smaller movies are better intact than the masters on several high profile releases. Is it because the master has been used for more things or does preservation in big studios just suck?

There was a recent Drafthouse re-release of Roar (1981) and it looks absolutely pristine, and I know Drafthouse doesn't do huge restorations.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/9RmnuHTJI9U" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Old 06-07-15, 06:39 PM
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Re: Film preservation curiosity

hell... think about Hong Kong. So much of their shit is amazing to see that they even still have it at all. Hong Kong produced SO MUCH so quickly that once the film was out of theaters they put them cans and in storage and that was that for those films. They never really developed a film culture like ours. It didn't rise up by how the studios kept pumping them out.

In the US, major studios kept their shit cuz they're a company and they keep their stuff, for the the most part. I'm looking at you, Universal, for losing the Chaney Phantom of the Opera. Smaller studios, and the OLD ass independent studios especially, I honestly don't know how they worked. I can get big studios. The more prestigious stuff typically got looked at every once in a while. So they were mostly alright. Once we hit DVD and BD where we're able to see MAJOR issues w/ prints that is when a studio got worried. Add in that sometimes? In the shuffle of moving material or whatever, they'd lose the prints just cuz of the mass quantity of material they have. It's honestly amazing sometimes that we still have some of the very old stuff from the major studios at times. Also take into account that bigger films got much more use out of the prints than the old ones and add in time in storage, in whatever condition, may have affected the quality. While something like... Ms. 45 probably didn't get much use after it was relased and whatever home video market got out of it.

I dunno. I'm just guessing here. Playing the history of the industry and how our movie culture rolled w/ moves.
Old 06-07-15, 07:40 PM
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Re: Film preservation curiosity

Originally Posted by rw2516 View Post
Been watching a lot of American-International BDs lately. These low budget, 40-50 year old films from a second tier studio look gorgeous. I find it hard to believe tens of thousands of dollars are being spent to restore these old drive-in flicks. Why do they survive in such near pristine condition?
Why do major studio films, like Bond, have to undergo massive restoration to bring them up to the quality of stuff like Frogs?
Why are the original elements of the first three Die Hards in worse condition than the elements of older films like X The Man With X-Ray Eyes?
The AIP Poe films were produced around the same time as Dr. No, FRWL, and Goldfinger yet didn't require the big restore job the Bonds did.
I'll take a crack at this question. My guess is that because the AIP film library kept getting transferred from one copyright owner to another (AIP to Orion to Filmways to MGM, with probably a couple in between), it was in each new copyright owner's interest to keep the library in good condition because that was their chief asset. There was always a market for these films from theaters to television to repertory theaters to film schools to museum film programs (MOMA did a massive AIP retrospective in 1979--I went to a lot of those screenings) to home video to DVD to Blu-ray to streaming. Plus, there was a lot of remake activity around these films over the years, so it was good to have pristine copies of the originals on hand. Plus, Roger Corman and Samuel Z. Arkoff were routinely interviewed about these films over the years, as Corman continues to be, so there was always an eye on their legacy. They weren't suddenly rediscovered after a long period the way, say, classic Shaw Bros. films were.

Major studios, on the other hand, always have their eye on current productions and have enormous libraries to keep track of, so things fall between the cracks, if they don't have fully staffed full-time preservation departments at work. (Do any studios have such a department?)

I wonder how Toho Pictures has done with preservation. We see good copies of the Godzilla films because those films have always been in circulation in one form or another. But what about their lesser-known films? Even there, when I've bought, say, R2 DVDs of obscure color J-pop musicals that Toho made in the 1950s, those look excellent also. Has Toho ever let any of its films fall between the cracks? I wish I knew who to ask.

Last edited by Ash Ketchum; 06-07-15 at 07:50 PM.
Old 06-07-15, 09:05 PM
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Re: Film preservation curiosity

....doesn't Toho have a US office or something?

You can contact Toho in Japan. But... just for the hell of it... I'd contact Criterion and ask them about that, maybe go from there? Sony sounds like a bitch to get through but Criterion might be able to help you out, Holmes.
Old 06-07-15, 11:22 PM
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I understand from hearing many horror stories about getting U.S. masters that apparently many Japanese companies are extremely difficult to deal with.
Old 06-08-15, 09:15 AM
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Re: Film preservation curiosity

Originally Posted by rw2516 View Post
Why are the original elements of the first three Die Hards in worse condition than the elements of older films like X The Man With X-Ray Eyes?
Well, it's hard to say definitively that this is the case. It's unknown what condition films like X The Man With X-Ray Eyes were in before the HD remaster. They may have needed just as much care.

One thing is that major studios are quick to released popular titles, often without bothering to do the proper work on them, since they know people will buy it anyway, and they can sell a remaster later down the road. Meanwhile, smaller titles are likely to only see one release on a video format, so more care is often taken by the smaller distributors to make sure their one shot is the best it can be.

Overhead plays a factor in this too. A remaster at a major studio likely costs more than at a smaller distributor. Timelines can also play a factor, as the major studios have so much stuff that they can't afford to give each individual film the attention it might need.


Here's an interesting quote:
http://somecamerunning.typepad.com/s...mes-white.html
Zombie Flesh Eaters was quite a bit different, in that it's a film that's been widely available for years, most recently in a fairly decent Blu-ray presentation from Blue Underground. But Arrow felt strongly that the film deserved better, so they decided to fund a new restoration of the film on the basis that we would be granted access to the original Techniscope negatives. A little digging revealed that these elements hadn't been made available for transfer since the film's original print run (contrary to a good deal of misinformation that's been circulating on the web), so we had a good opportunity to correct for some home-video crimes of the past and restore the film to its original release presentation.
I think a bit of irony is that lower-budget films likely had a few interpositives made from the negatives, and then the negatives were put away and likely never used again. So theater goers got progressively worse prints from the degrading interpositives and such, including early video releases. Major studios, meanwhile, likely went back to the negatives to print more interpositives in order to keep the quality of the prints up. So the major titles likely saw more negative wear than smaller titles.


Finally, there's people like this guy who do small film restoration simply for the love of it:
http://www.indystar.com/story/news/l...time/20086029/
This is how Grayson is saving old movies, one frame at a time.

And not just the classics. Grayson digs forgotten films movies that shed light on our past or teach us something about the early days of cinema. Not for any artistic value, because as he's quick to admit some are just plain bad, but for their historic value.

He could be earning a good salary as an electrical engineer or an information technology specialist. Instead, Grayson hosts film showings and spends hundreds of hours repairing and rescuing old film for little pay.
Old 06-08-15, 09:23 AM
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Re: Film preservation curiosity

That makes sense Jay. G.
Old 06-08-15, 09:48 AM
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Re: Film preservation curiosity

It's interesting in that low-budget, public domain works get a lot of passionate restoration work from people just because they can do work on these titles; major studios keep anyone but their employees from working on their titles.

I mean, look at the work that a guy went into restoring Manos: Hands of Fate simply because he stumbled across a quality workprint of the title:
http://www.manosinhd.com/why-im-savi...hands-of-fate/
Old 06-08-15, 11:18 AM
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Re: Film preservation curiosity

I've seen on another forum people getting their hands on Disney film reels, and the colors and detail smoke the commercial releases, it's unbelievable. And these are people who are hobbyists (for the most part).

Why major studios can't or won't do the same boggles my mind. I guess everything has to look shiny for the masses.
Old 06-08-15, 12:23 PM
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Re: Film preservation curiosity

Originally Posted by rw2516 View Post
Been watching a lot of American-International BDs lately. These low budget, 40-50 year old films from a second tier studio look gorgeous. I find it hard to believe tens of thousands of dollars are being spent to restore these old drive-in flicks. Why do they survive in such near pristine condition?
Why do major studio films, like Bond, have to undergo massive restoration to bring them up to the quality of stuff like Frogs?
Why are the original elements of the first three Die Hards in worse condition than the elements of older films like X The Man With X-Ray Eyes?
The AIP Poe films were produced around the same time as Dr. No, FRWL, and Goldfinger yet didn't require the big restore job the Bonds did.
The latest Video Watchdog has a detailed article by Tim Lucas on new Blu-rays featuring the films Vincent Price made for AIP, including the Poe cycle, evidence of continued marketing and new releases of these films.


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