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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Miracle Can Happen


Today I was feeling like Félicie, the heroine of Eric Rohmer's Conte D'Hiver , because, you know, I found out that it's worth waiting for miracles to happen, even if the chances are seemingly infinitesimal.

What happened, then? Well, you may remember that a couple of years ago there was talk about a new DVD release of The Night of The Hunter. The project seemed shelved shortly after its announcement, and I crossed my fingers in case that cancellation was for the better.

And then today, Professional Tourist most kindly e-mailed me the news. Well, fasten your seatbelts!:

Night of the Hunter will be released in november in a two-disk DVD and Blu-Ray edition. By Criterion. With loads of extras.

I will confess that a NOTH edition by Criterion was the ultimate dream of many film-lovers. Personally, the actual release comes very near to my wildest cinephile dreams :


:: New, restored high-definition digital transfer (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
:: Audio commentary featuring assistant director Terry Sanders, film critic F. X. Feeney, archivist Robert Gitt, and author Preston Neal Jones
:: Charles Laughton Directs “The Night of the Hunter,” a two-and-a-half-hour archival treasure trove of outtakes from the film
:: New documentary featuring interviews with producer Paul Gregory, Sanders, Jones, and author Jeffrey Couchman
:: New video interview with Simon Callow, author of Charles Laughton: A Difficult Actor
:: Clip from the The Ed Sullivan Show, in which cast members perform live a scene that was deleted from the film
F:: ifteen-minute episode of the BBC show Moving Pictures about the film
:: Archival interview with cinematographer Stanley Cortez
:: Gallery of sketches by author Davis Grubb
:: New video conversation between Gitt and film critic Leonard Maltin about Charles Laughton Directs “The Night of the Hunter”
:: Original theatrical trailer
:: PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critics Terrence Rafferty and Michael Sragow


You see, the extras are substantial in amount and quality: One the most welcome features are Robert Gitt's documentary Charles Laughton Directs The Night of the Hunter, containing precious outtakes of the film, and the comments, interviews and contributions by first-rate Laughtonians and people who participated in the making of the film.

One still would have wished a few more items: I feel that Simon Callow's 1987 documentary about Charles Laughton would have been a fine addition to the luxuriant list of extras, and hopes that the interview can make up for it. I'd also liked that there was an extra disk containing the original soundtrack... Still, this upcoming release sounds like near perfection, and will certainly be welcomed by most.

I'd like to thank anyone who ever spread the love for this film, and particularly, those who joined this blog's campaign, which I hope helped at least to send the right vibes for the thing to happen, also to a few choice entities who have obviously been very thankful for their wax candles. And thanks indeed to the guys of Criterion, for taking the challenge and making a dream come true!

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Querida Gloria:
Soy Alceo y me has alegrado mi aniversario (hoy hacemos ya 20 años!). Me encanta saber de esa noticia. Mi única duda es si la veta va a hacerse también en España o es para UK o USA. Perdona mi torpeza al respecto: seguramente lo has dado a entender y no lo he pillado. Me alegra saber, por otro lado, que das señales de vida...echo de menos tus "sabios" correos.
Un fuerte abrazo, así como agradecimientos múltiples, porque sabemos que detrás de todas estas empresas está siempre tu empeño.

David said...

Felicidades. Hasta salieron en el show de Ed Sullivan (y no salen los Beatles).
Lo pillaré en cuanto llegue por aquí. Y bueno, firmé petición como pedías, aunque dudo mucho que el milagro ocurriera por las firmas...
Un saludo.

Matthew Coniam said...

Hurrah!

Gloria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gloria said...

Hola Alceo

En lo que respecta al DVD, Criterion edita en Zona 1 (Los USA, y el resto del orbe para quien tenga un reproductor multizona), pero por supuesto que se podrá comprar desde aquí via sitios como Amazon, Play o DVDPlanet.

Tampoco estaria mal que algún distribuidor español o europeo tuviera el detalle de editar la versión en Zona 2, claro. Te puedo decir al respecto que, por ejemplo, la estupenda edición en DVD de Espartaco que hizo Criterion la hemos podido disfrutar por aquí distribuida por Universal, así que a ver si hay suerte.

P.S.: Estoy en lo tuyo, que conste, y te tengo reservada una sorpresa ;D.

Gloria said...

Gracias David,

Así entre nosotros, tampoco creo que un blog perdido en el ciberespacio pueda ser demasiado influyente, pero agradezco a todos los que os unísteis a la petición: nunca está de más enviar buenas vibraciones y, como decía mi madre, un grano no hace granero, pero ayuda al compañero ;D

(El milagro, por cierto, lo han propiciado unos cirios bien gordos que le puse a unos cuantos santos estratégicamente seleccionados... de eso no me cabe ninguna duda :p)

Lo de Ed Sullivan tiene gracia, ya que fue precisamente una aparición de Laughton allà por 1949 en su programa la que propició que Paul Gregory se pusiera en contacto con él y se convirtiera en su manager-productor... Vamos, que igual "La noche del cazador" debe su misma existencia al programa del Sr. Sullivan. Es posible que sepas que la hisórica primera aparición de Elvis en el Show de Ed Sullivan no la presentó él sino el bueno de Charles. Sullivan estaba pachucho aquel dia y Laughton le hizo de sustituto.

Los mozos de Liverpool siempre me han gustado mucho, y mira por donde, son chicos del norte, como Charles.

Gloria said...

Hurrah indeed, Matthew, hurrah indeed!

Thank the gods for Criterion and similarly film-concerned DVD houses for things like that!

Eudora said...

Estupendo, sabía que era cuestión de tiempo que hicieran este dvd. Bueno, yo por mi parte espero la edición española, que tampoco creo que tarde mucho después del estreno.

Enhorabuena Gloria, no hay perder la ilusión...!!!

miquel zueras said...

Hola, Gloria. Pensé en usted la semana pasada en Dublín cuando en la TV de allá vi "Vessel of Wrath" con Laughton y Lanchester (yo hice la portada para Inglaterra de esa novela de Maugham) y pensé: le diré a Gloria que a ver si actualiza ya su blog "All this ..." que ya toca, leñes. Bueno, un saludo. Borgo.

Gloria said...

Eudora, esperemos que algún distribuidor hispano tenga el detalle (y la valentía) de distribuir por estos lares tan estupendo DVD.

Ahora a ver si se produce el milagro con otros títulos de Laughton. O con la obra de Erich von Stroheim, puestos a pedir

Gloria said...

Miquel, espero que le gustara la película: yo de momento sólo la he visto en una versión en VHS transferida muy posiblemente de una mala copia en 16 mm... A ver si Criterion, Kino o alguna casa similarse anima a lanzar un transfer decente: Creo que Charles, Elsa, Eric Pommer y William Somerset Maugham no se merecen menos.

Me gustaría, por cierto, ver su portada de Vessel of Wrath ;D


Ya tiene el blog chufero actualizado, ya me perdonará, es que que últimamente ando liada por asuntos varios en el mundo exterior, a ver si amaina el temporal y llego a saber lo que es un trabajo como Diso manda...

miquel zueras said...

Me alegra que haya vuelto con sus blogs, Gloria. Muy buena la entrada sobre los tuneados, y la foto. Encontraré la manera de mostrar la portada de Veesel of Wrath que es para una recopilación de relatos de Maugham. Saludos. Borgo.

Gloria said...

Avíseme cuando la tenga ;D

miquel zueras said...

Gloria, lo prometido es deuda: ya puede ver en Borgo mi portada de The Vessel of Wrath. No es como yo la hubiera querido, había bocetado una escena de la película con un personaje parecido a Laughton en un barquito pero los ingleses querían una imagen más colonial (todos los relatos transcurren en el Pacífico) y sofisticada. Saludos. Borgo.

Harpo said...

¡Maravillosa noticia, Gloria! Ojalá podamos tenerla pronto en España. Si no, habrá que hacer un pedido al otro lado del charco. Un saludo!

Bob Byrne said...

Voy a compralo pronto!

Damien said...

Hi,

I wish to pour some thoughts about this new presentation which is a true event and deserves the widest recognition as possible. I will share the same thoughts with the criterion community, Criterion being responsible for this happiness.

There appears to be no need to add more information about the quality of the blu-ray transfer as all the reviews available seem to point in the same direction: lots of devotion was put into this, and the image is more cinema like, clean but not overly so (there is more grain than ever), than ever.

What could be said however is that the improvements have in my opinion more to do with the copy itself than the blu-ray. Of course the blu-ray is marvelous but there is no point to compare it the the previous MGM DVD, R1 or even R2 (the european edition is rather different as all the grain was taken away). But only a comparison between this blu-ray and the new Criterion DVD would be fair so that the buyer knows what will rock his boat.

The main issue is that the MGM DVD was not faithfull to the cinematography. There is no bright landscapes in The Night of the Hunter, the shots during the river sequence all convey an end of the day feeling, even the long shots shot by Terry Sanders' crew in Virginia. That is in my opinion something new, something you could not know if your main reference was the MGM material.

What maybe should direct the viewer more toward the blu-ray is the unusual attention to the depth of field in The Night of the Hunter. There seems to be a constant attention to the play of shadows in the background, to little details that are obviously there not by random. The cellar sequence has appeared in a new light to me.

Of course the blacks are blacker than ever but we already knew about Tri-X film and the wishes of Stanley Cortez, we could already guess what we would get with a proper restoration in our hands.

So I can only congratulate the restoration team and Criterion team to have given us what we could expect and more.

The "Charles Laughton directs" is the most precious gift ever. Lillian Gish told more than once about the gift made by Charles to the world, this is the most precious gift I ever received as a movie fan and a movie critic who has had the privilege to publish a book about the picture (no need to look in your local library, you wonn't find it, it is in french).

I only regret that R. Gitt has not chosen to put footage of the barn sequence which contains the most famous shot of the picture. The river sequence should have gotten more coverage as it is the beating heart of the film. Very interesting recording of Pretty Fly by Sally Jane Bruce though.

One final word about the audio commentary. It is not the first time I hear that Night of the Hunter was such a brilliant success for a first picture, this can be read in Preston Jones' book (not his own words but those found in the interviews). But to hear it again is rather surprising after more than fifty years have passed since the initial release. If you have any idea how to improve the film, how it should have been done had it been made under the supervision of a more skilled director, please let me know!