Hi, i'm long-time reader, former member but lost my password and id ...
anyways, i attended the 10th anniversary screening of Touch of Evil, presented by Rick Schmidlin and the Vancouver Int'l Film Festival Theatre.
Schmidlin has relocated to our fine city to teach at UBC, where his wife is a professor.
Anyways, here are some notes I took from his discussion before and after -- doubt there's anything groundbreaking here but just thought you might be interested...
I didn't take notes in his introduction, but as I recall:
this was (Saturday) the 10th anniversary to the day of TOE's restored version and he was extremely happy to be able to present it in his new hometown (Vancouver - he's going to be teaching a film course at UBC, where his wife is a professor). He related briefly his career prior to TOE - he'd worked on some Doors' films and made some important contacts in the industry. In the big laserdisc days he volunteered to help produce a re-edit of TOE, to little interest. The company was more interested in 'Frances the Talking Mule, Deanna Durbin films". The related history as to Welles' involvement in TOE - whether it was a card game with Albert Zugsmith or Heston's insistence, leading to Welles' directing the film - both have grains of truth to them, he said. While the preview edition was cut (based, he said, on a tart comment from one woman who thought the movie was a mess) from 109m to 96m, it's structure was rearranged to strip a lot of Welles' narrative. It was quickly released and closed in North America. The release version was what won the top prize at the Brussels World Fair - where the judges happened to be Truffault and Godard. That launched its reputation in Europe. A request to show it to a film school in 1974 led to the discovery of the 'preview' version, and that became the popular version until a discovery (by Bogdanovich) of the famous 58-page note. Schmidlin and Rosenbaum tried to get universal to put it on their production schedule for a new release; a fortuitous meeting between Schmidlin, his wife and an Italian American executive (who really wanted to meet Schmidlin's Italian wife) sparked the eventual decision. When he requested an editor, he was assigned a rehabbed acid film editor. RS asked if he had any other choices and was told that if he could get someone for scale, that would be his other option. RS was ecstatic to have Murch take on the job and work with him. RS related the experience of the restored TOE at Telluride film festival - Janet Leigh, Peter Bogdanovich and his family (referring to meeting the sister and mother of local starlet Dorothy Stratten), and seeing a winnebago pull up at the premiere, with a couple wearing rhinestone cowboy-suits emerging... It was Dennis Weaver and his wife, who lived in a recycled house outside of Telluride.
then the movie played....
I took notes for the Q&A after:
Q-The process of the re-editing and the most significant edits?
A- What happened all began with the 58-page memo from OW; Schmidlin asked a Fitzgerald if there was anything in the archives that had not been seen before and he was shown the text-less opening, that they kept for foreign language release versions. They found the original negative with sound on the original release, and had a newer negative preview version; the sound separation on the latter was very important to the re-editing of the opening sequence. The other main re-edit was done in the sequence following the Linaker explosion, where the story line (in release version) had Vargas-Quinlan, followed by the Janet Leigh-Tamiroff storylines, run one after the other (which muddled and confused the story arc). Their main edit changes, as per note, was to intercut the two storylines to show things as they were occurring in Welles' story, jumping from one to the other and back. Those were the most significant edits.
Schmidlin also noted that in the Eddie Farnham sequence on the jobsite, there was a piece missing that OW intended to seque to the interrogation scene - a key reference to the lawyer of Farnham, who would then appear at Ms Linaker's house. They re-instated that clip.
In the motel attack scene, they also went to OW notes that wanted more dramatic cutting, instead of showing all the people coming into JL's room, OW asked that the cutting to go back to JL between the teens filing into the room - increased the sense of JL's terror.
Another edit was in Tamiroff's death scene, when JL awakes to find him over her. In the release version, there was about 7-second continuous shot of AT's (wax) head that caused awkward laughter at screenings. OW's note asked for a quicker cut away so they reduced the shot of AT to 3 seconds.
In the opening sequence, OW wanted only original source music and sounds, not Mancini's score. Removing that score was the biggest change.
OW was also very intuned with technology of the day, as evident by his placing a TV on top of the pianolo. He had interest in working in television. From one version of modern entertainment to the present. It was filmed 1-85 but also for full frame, as Universal (Wasserman) was very aware of television useage of its films.
The elevator scene was very interesting. OW had put a camera in the small elevator, but because of the space restrictions (and sound of the lift) it was a camera with no audio. The actors asked what lines should they be speaking and OW told them to recite the Declaration of Independence. RS said that if you look closely you can catch a little of that.
Q- There was a re-recording credit in the restoration credits - what for?
A- There were 2 instances. Ass't director Nims, who worked with OW on The Stranger, had told RS how OW recorded music and then re-recorded it off a tinny speaker to give it a 'radio' sound. There were also seven pages of sound notes that were faxed to Walter Murch's while they worked on the re-edit in his barn/studio. Murch who was considered a rock, almost began to cry when the memo arrived. He called his wife (from the house) to talk about it. Murch had always been interested in radio, and in The Godfather he developed Sound Design, a manner to record music from another source to give it that 'radio' sound. He was taken back by the fact that he and OW had shared in this technological invention, a decade apart.
The other instance was a discovery of a legal note that related to what Grande heard on the radio while driving behind JL. The recording of a news story that related his brother's story - to show why he's interested in following JL - was missing, so they hired an actor, recorded it in mono, then went into an alley and recorded it off a speaker.
Q- Of Beatrice's involvement?
A- OW had been not close to Beatrice, much to do with his leaving her mother for Oja Kodar. When the Re-edited version was to have its Cannes debut, BW's lawyer used the Victor Hugo clause to have it halted. She is represented by the same lawyer who represented Robin Astaire, who refused to allow any FA footage be shown at a Ginger Rogers tribute and sold his image to sell vacuums.
In a screening in LA RS attended with Oja K, he was ecstatic when she turned and said Orson would have loved it. That was the seal of approval.
Q- Did Bogdanovich find the 108m preview copy?
A- Not true. He and OW were estranged during the mid-70s, and while they would talk it wasn't a close relationship. PB did find the memo, but he submitted an edited version to Rosenbaum/Film Quarterly that was published. Only after Heston - who subscribed to FQ - contacted the publisher, did they know about the extensive notes OW had written after viewing the eventual release version (OW took no notes during his screening but managed to compile a whole accurate list of scenes that he wished to address).
Q- What of The Other Side Of The Wind?
A- There remain too many hurdles to overcome he felt; BW's lawyer was demanding $10million dollars. RS had viewed a 2-hour edit of it and felt it was not viable as a 'movie release'; "I have seen a two-hour version of the film, I don't think it's a masterpiece" -it was an exercise for Welles to show he was still working at the time. It had many unique elements but unlike TOE, there was no cohesive means inwhich to put it in the order that OW would have. He feels it would work best as a documentary, however both BW's demands and the passing of so many of its principles made completion almost impossible.
"As I understand it, we're presenting these men with medals for doing a lousy job. Is that right?