Dad gummit! I got sidetracked and COMPLETELY FORGOT about this chat! Durn durn durn! Well, it was fun to read the postings slightly after the fact, anyhow...
Here's the lastest from London. Your take was dead on the money:
"Many thanks for your email, and apologies for the late reply; it's been a very busy week.
Thanks for the suggestion of a film noir season. I'll give it some thought and discuss it with our programming team, though I should advise you that we programme seasons very far ahead. I doubt we'd be able to afford to invite Eddie Muller over to host the season, but then we probably wouldn't need to as there are many noir enthusiasts around. (Indeed, one of the very first fairly long pieces of writing on film I myself did was an essay to go with a massive season of film noir I programmed at the Electric Cinema back in the 70s!)
Anyway, we'll give the idea some thought; thanks again.
I think it's great you've managed to get Eddie to do this here... and how I regret not being able to chime in last night. I've been a huge fan of his books and commentaries for years now, and hope I can participate next time around. (I do have to admit I was a little crushed to read Eddie's take on KISS ME DEADLY however. It remains a personal fave of mine.)
Thanks for the scoops. Can't wait for THE PROWLER dvd!!!
Looking forward to a DVD/Blu-ray release of 'Cry Danger' (1951). Any info?
Let me add a question to Cry Danger. The movie is - even though marked as distributed by RKO - not part of the Warner library?
Warner Brothers does not own the rights to Cry Danger
I was asking myself how does the FNF decide which movie(s) to restore? Are there specific criterias like availability, quality of the existing prints and so on? Are you currently working on a movie? And finally is there a list of movies that have been restored through the FNF or with the help of the FNF?
There is all sorts of criteria used to determine what films we WANT to restore, and what films can BE restored. We try to balance the rarity of a film with its historical significance, its quality, and the availability and condition of source material. Sometimes it is necessary to resist the urge to restore something just for the sake of maintaining a schedule––this could lead to an unfortunate situation in which you have committed donors' money to a project only to have elements of a more worthwhile film suddenly be discovered. Another significant factor is the question of who holds the rights to the film. In some cases, we diplomatically try to persuade the rights holder that it is in their interest to preserve the film, i.e.: if you ensure there is a new print of the film, we will screen it at various noir festivals and pay you for the privilege. Typically, the films most likely to need our funding efforts are those that were independently produced back in the 1940s and 1950s––films like THE PROWLER and CRY DANGER and TOO LATE FOR TEARS. In the case of the latter, we are on indefinite hold because even though we have secured three 35mm prints of varying quality, we have reason to believe there is a pristine print in the possession of a private collector who, for whatever reason, wishes to remain anonymous. Since the three prints we have are all flawed in some way, we are hesitant to commit a great deal of our donors money to a very complicated restoration when things could be made much easier if we could “rent” this collector's print.
In a best case scenario, we are able to act as “lobbyists”––convincing the rights holder to at the very least make a new print of a film, ensuring that a 35mm print exists. We have managed to do this with films such as NOBODY LIVES FOREVER, THE WINDOW, SHAKEDOWN, JOHNNY STOOL PIGEON, NIGHT HAS 1000 EYES, ALIAS NICK BEAL, and STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT, among others. (And to answer your next question: this doesn't automatically mean that the film will ever emerge on DVD.)
Frankly, it is pretty amazing what we have been able to accomplish in a few short years, given that we have no corporate underwriting, nor are we operating under the auspices of a wealthy patron. Our funding comes entirely through ticket sales at NOIR CITY festivals (primarily San Francisco) and the donations of incredibly generous and dedicated donors, who number only in the hundreds. And this is possible, of course, because those of us who actually operate the foundation take no salary. All contributions go to the restoration and preservation of films.
I hope this answers some of your questions.
At least the FNF got mentioned last night by the UCLA archivist after the screening of THE PROWLER on TCM. Having viewed this now about 4-5 times, I have to say that Van Heflin is one of the biggest schmucks in all of noir. He makes Widmark's Harry Fabian seem like a debonair happening kind of guy.
It’s incomprehensible trying to figure out why some collector would hoard TOO LATE FOR TEARS and not share it with the world.
It seems so damn selfish and more than a little perverse.
Thanks for your answer, Eddie.
Hi Eddie, just wondering if you have any more non fiction Film Noir books in the works? I've read Dark City, The Art of Noir, and I'm half way through Dark City Dames, enjoyed them all, great to read books on Film Noir that are entertaining, rather than dry academic essays.
Thanks, SuperDan. There are only two more books on noir that I'm interested in doing, but it remains to be seen if I ever will. They are both time consuming to research and prepare and quite frankly there are no publishers (at least in the US) that would be interested in doing them properly ... so the issue is whether or not I'll just do them myself in limited editions and perhaps as e-books. I don't want to discuss what they are, however ... don't want someone to steal the ideas (although it might be a moot point if I wait too long.) Producing the NOIR CITY e-magazine (and doing all the festivals) has sort of supplanted my own efforts these days. It's nice getting some valuable new voices in the mix.
I hope they see the light of day at some point. Thanks for the response.
any news from the standard DVD Noir front?
We know Sony is doing a third Noir set, which is fantastic and I hope they don't abandon this plan. Will it be released in 2011?
I think we can conclude that Warner is done releasing Noirs on standard DVD, so are Fox and MGM.
What about Universal? They look like the most incosistent major and they're sitting on a ton of movies.
Can we expect more Paramount titles being licensed to indies like Olive Films?
Last but not least, when will Criterion start to release all the Robert Siodmak noirs?
Well, you seemed to cover every possible option there ... and I hate to be elusive, but the answer in every case is "nobody knows" -- not even the studios themselves. The market is just too volatile right now, at least the way the game is played in the United States. In France, for example, I've actually been given a contract (something unheard of in the States) to create a line of DVDs called "The Art of Noir" that is part of the Classics Confidential imprint produced by Wild Side Video. They are hardcover books with the DVD packaged inside. The first edition, THE PROWLER, will be released in October, with at least three more to follow. The difference is that Wild Side's head honcho, Manuel Chiche, thinks about films first, numbers second. He's a film-lover AND a very savvy businessman. He will produce a high-quality product and he will NOT lose money. I have been told many, many times by people in the home entertainment business here, that there simply are no longer enough zeroes in the profit estimates to generate any interest in putting out "special edition" DVDs and such. It seems to me that many studios will go the MOD route, following the Warner Archive model. I expect to see Universal doing that, as well. I believe the days of studios spending money on classic titles is over; they'd rather get the most they can out of the people who want them, without spending anything to make the product more attractive.
To my knowledge, Criterion has (or had) the rights to CRY OF THE CITY and THE FILE ON THELMA JORDON, but I have no idea if they plan to release either title. The rights to other Siodmak films are at various studios, mostly Universal. Although Disney has the rights to THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE.
Thanks Eddie for your answer. Those Wild Side Video releases are very neat indeed. Unfortunately they tend to produce them with forced French subtitles which is very irritating to say the least. Their Wind Across the Everglades set looks so awesome but the subtitle thing keeps me away from buying it.
By the way the fact that you avoided my Sony question makes me a bit nervous, because Sony's Columbia Classics page is down for at least a month as well...
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