Todd & Roger:
I advised on the Spider Pit recreation, at an early phase (I'm sitting next to Pete on the dvd and shooting my mouth off, but as a stop-motion veteran I defend myself by saying I was caught up in the moment). I did feel that the puppets were off-model (cartoonist's term, I think, it means a given drawing of a character looks nothing like the model sheet used to define the character's appearance), and much bigger than indicated by the drawings produced under O'Brien's supervision.
I agree it was better to leave KONG "as-was", rather than presuming to drop that arachnid forgery into the movie.
But the Spider Pit (another Holy Grail from the RKO trim bin, of course: maybe it's mouldering in the same vault as the AMBERSONS deletions...nawww, just kidding) was excised by the film's creative supervisor as being undesirably extraneous. Footage from AMBERSONS was excised at the behest of the studio's ADMINISTRATIVE supervisors, and is this a different kettle of fish.
If these scenes could be intellegently re-created, they'd NEED to be inserted into the film itself, for only by viewing them in context can the effect of what Welles was going for (no matter how theoretical) be achieved. In my opinion.
God knows the Bremner recording of Herrmann's full score hints at a film with a much different feel. Roger, I've not seen your reconstruction, but I applaud any attempt to throw light on what Welles was up to. I think the ARKADIN reconstruction is a very good job and makes the film (one of my favorites, despite that makeup!) more watchable (to me) than the previously extant versions.
The computer has put sophisticated editing of old films into the hands of many, of course, so we'll see more travesties and more revelations as time plods along. And someday the ability to create photorealistic humans will be in the hands of many, as well. I just don't think that day is here, unless there's unlimited time and money.
Were one to tackle it now, one would do well to build a database of scenes of Cotten, Holt, Moorehead and the rest, culled from other films. Using these, the digital doubles could be roto'd for appropriate key actions, which would at least give one a starting point for the production of forged scenes. Such a database would also be an imperative tool for studying the process of said actors. Intelligent extrapolations would have to be made, naturally, for those actors never played those scenes, or those characters, in other films.
But it'd be a start.
How I wish these amazing tools had been available 35 years ago, when Moorehead & Cotten & Welles were still alive! Makes me want to kick the wastebasket when i think what Welles could have done, rummaging around in the toolbox we lesser talents exploit so successfully today.
Anyway, thanks for including me in the group. I have been reading your posts for a couple of years and feel as though I know you all. It's wonderfull that the amazing work Welles left us is still being discussed, and appreciated.