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  1. Originally Posted by dellsam34 View Post
    From Betainfoguide: "In the 70's Magnetic Video Corp. acquired the rights to 50 Twentieth-Century Fox movies, and released them on Beta cassettes, available only thru mail-order. They incorporated an electronic signal in the tape, called "Stop-Copy" and "Copyguard," so the tapes couldn't be copied....an early version of Macrovision".
    As with many elements of of video past, the details of early copy protection have been forgotten, with most histories sloppily referring to them as "early versions of Macrovision". This is not accurate: the CopyGuard variations had nothing to do with MacroVision. While it is true Beta decks largely ignored Macrovision, they did not ignore the earlier CopyGuard. While they are similar in the respect of both intentionally damaging the sync, CopyGuard was far less uniform (and had no luma/chroma pulsing). Many of the Magnetic Video era tapes (both Beta and VHS) have excessive CopyGuard sync tampering, to the point they played like crap (jittering, tearing, rolling) into any television from any Betamax or VHS deck. Dedicated heavy-duty stabilizers were available (I still have my ancient Showtime Video Ventures unit), which even today work better for correcting vintage CopyGuard than many TBCs or MacroVision filters. But its often impossible to fully stabilize these tapes: the sync is damaged beyond correction (tho I haven't tried patching them thru the legendary Panasonic ES-10, that might help a lot).

    I wish LetThemEatCake success in his quest: every film fan should have the print they prefer of their favorites. But my experience with ye olde Magnetic Video beta tapes was not encouraging: they played lousy in 1979 from an SL-8600 to a 19" Trinitron, and I don't imagine a PC digital encoder will like them any better 40 years later. If theres even a playable signal left: at minimum, expect a distracting hailstorm of dropouts from a decades-old L750.
    Last edited by orsetto; 5th Sep 2019 at 13:03.

  2. Mountains of gear vaporeon800's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by LetThemEatCake View Post
    Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
    Is this it it? http://www.videocollector.co.uk/cleopatra/29651. Though the running time is stated to be 176mins, not 195min.
    yes this is it
    Possibly worth noting that 176m @ 25fps = ~183m @ 24fps, assuming they used speedup rather than pulldown.

    ... Though, if this Magnetic Video was truly awful, their UK division may have taken the US video edit master, if it existed, and field-blended it. Or whatever tech was used back then for 60 to 50.

  3. Once again, I agree with everything Orsetto said in his last two posts, and will add this observation, followed by a recommendation.

    First, the observation: there is no "right" when it comes to cutting Cleopatra. Thus, trying to match this cut or that cut of the movie is a fools errand (that is a phrase, not a comment on the OP). What makes any of the existing cuts "gospel?" This is especially true given the accounts everyone has given (and that you can read on IMDB) as to how these various versions came into being.

    Not exactly the stuff of great artistry, craftsmanship, vision, etc.

    This leads me to the recommendation: start with the longest cut you can find, hopefully widescreen (why would ANYONE want the scan and pan version???). Make sure it is nicely restored (no matter what sort of grading they did, it will be better than non-restored versions).

    Then cut out what YOU think is excessive, boring, etc. Make your own cut. Heck, you can even re-grade the movie, if you have the skill and the inclination. However, a cuts-only exercise wouldn't take more than a few hours (a lot less time than you've put into this already). You could even rearrange a few scenes, if you really get into it.

    It all comes down to the old Ricky Nelson song "You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself."


    BTW, since we are talking about movies that are considered a fine mess, too long, but which might benefit from some editing, and since we briefly talked about Spielberg, my vote would be to re-edit "1941." I have always thought that there is an amazing, incredible movie lurking in there somewhere. Spielberg ought to give it over to some promising film student, and give him/her access to all the outtakes and other material that didn't make it into the final cut. Good as he is, I don't think Spielberg ever really understood comedy the way the Farley brothers or the Zuckers do.

    To repeat: there is a great movie in there.

    As for "Touch of Evil's" famous opening shot, the single take was totally pointless, unlike some of Lean's and Kubrik's famous lengthy takes.
    Last edited by johnmeyer; 5th Sep 2019 at 14:42.

  4. Ah, "1941"... the "Cleopatra" of the late '70s!

    The really weird thing about "1941" is that it sorta required two viewings to fully register, spaced a week or so apart. I've compared notes over the years with other fans of it, and several had the same reaction: upon first viewing, it felt like you were run over by a Mack truck- nothing really clicks, its too manic, too overwhelming. But it percolates in the back of your mind for days after, and if you were the type to give films a second chance, you went back for another look (if it hadn't already bombed out of your local theater). The second time, you were mentally prepared: it wasn't so overwhelming, and individual scenes and performances came into focus. Sometimes you even laughed, and when it ended you sat there thinking "wow". You still didn't know what the hell you just watched, but it was really spectacular.

    It would be hard to fix the many problems "1941" has: I'm not sure even the most gifted inspired re-edit could make it more palatable to those who despise it. For one thing, its the first of Spielberg's homages to older films, and the first to fail precisely because it misguidedly apes a film that didn't work at all the first time ("Its A Mad Mad Mad Mad World" of 1963). There is something in the already-dated, carnival-barker, all-star, frenetic-at-all-cost, exaggerated overblown style that viscerally repels a lot of people. The beautifully detailed period recreation is at odds with the jarring overlay of blatantly late '70s Animal House frat comedy. And as you say, Spielberg had no head for the type of comic timing and stylization required to make the whole mess actually land.

    Writers Bob Zemeckis and Bob Gale relentlessly pitched him to make "1941" his next opus, while he was still finishing the gargantuan, out-of-control "Close Encounters". Had they paused to rub the stars out of their eyes, they might have realized Spielberg was the wrong director at the wrong time for their movie: he can be very funny and sly, but at that point in his career wasn't ready to orchestrate an all-comedy all-the-time period epic. And he really needed a break after the colossal three year grind of "Close Encounters". Jumping directly into another bloated mega-expensive epic project, that he had zero emotional attachment to, wasn't the best choice.

    Flash forward, throw in today's overbearing inflexible PC audience climate, and "1941" is doomed. The film is riddled with (often bad) ethnic and sexist humor, the women depicted as man-hungry maniacs or "objects for the male gaze" (ugh- how I hate this BS lingo). Spielberg also had an odd, near-total inability to convey believable male-female relationship dynamics: he wouldn't develop this skill until years later, and the lack makes "1941" weirdly stilted and lopsided in terms of characterization. "1941" is still a fascinating curio for those willing to tackle it on its own terms, but I wonder how many would really be willing/able to do so today. Its also one of those movies that pretty much requires the big theatrical screen: its key selling point of spectacle (and intricate model work) tends to evaporate when viewed at home. Whatever its faults, "1941" plays out on a large canvas optimized for the theater experience: it can't be fully appreciated on a 50" LCD.
    Last edited by orsetto; 5th Sep 2019 at 16:20.

  5. Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    Ah, "1941"... the "Cleopatra" of the late '70s!

    The really weird thing about "1941" is that <snip> it percolates in the back of your mind for days after.
    For me, that's exactly what happened, and its still percolating twenty years after I rented it on laserdisc (I didn't see it in theaters because it got so mercilessly trashed by the critics).

    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    ... it's the first of Spielberg's homages to older films, and the first to fail precisely because it misguidedly apes a film that didn't work at all the first time ("Its A Mad Mad Mad Mad World" of 1963). .
    I see what you're getting at. I too never fully appreciated Mad4 World for exactly that reason: its grandiose scale overwhelmed the plot. Having said that, there were a LOT of comedies of that era that had somewhat that same feel, but did work (for me): "Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines," and "The Great Race" (a perfectly cast movie if there ever was one), to name two.

    As a side note, there was another movie that was not so much an homage as an outright remake of "Mad" and that is "Rat Race." I've seen a lot of negative reviews, but I absolutely howled the first time I saw it. I guess a lot of people object because the various set pieces appear contrived. I don't disagree, but they are very funny skits, and the skits are held together by the treasure hunt, so it works for me.


    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    Writers Bob Zemeckis and Bob Gale relentlessly pitched him to make "1941" his next opus ...
    They were involved in 1941? I never knew that. Too bad they didn't stay involved.

    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    One need only look at the absurd reaction to Tarantino's latest for a taste of this: people are actually offended that some of the female Manson cultists are brutally killed while savagely attacking their intended murder victims.
    Well, I just learned another thing: I had no idea that Tarantino made a movie that includes the Manson killing. I lived next door to Melcher for twenty years, until his death about ten years ago, so I know the backstory of the Manson killings. There is plenty to be offended at, but not at any of the Manson people getting hurt which, AFAIK, never happened, at least not during the actual Tate (etc.) murders.


    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    "1941" is still a fascinating curio for those willing to tackle it on its own terms, but I wonder how many would really be willing/able to do so today. Its also one of those movies that pretty much requires the big theatrical screen: its key selling point of spectacle (and intricate model work) tends to evaporate when viewed at home. Whatever its faults, "1941" plays out on a large canvas optimized for the theater experience: it can't be fully appreciated on a 50" LCD.
    This is the only point where we disagree. I think the "bigness" and scope could be largely handled by editing. After all, what makes Cleopatra, Ben Hur, Dr. Zhivago, and Lawrence of Arabia (to name a few) epic? I'm sure we could write an essay to answer that, but my short answer uses the antonym of that word, multiple times: long running time; long takes; and long shots. Comedy is cut fast and features a lot of close-up reaction shots, and medium shots (think "There's Something About Mary").

    So cut, cut, cut, especially a lot of the big expensive scenes, like the house going over the cliff. I'm not saying to cut it completely, but I think that scene, along with a dozen others, stayed on the screen way too long probably because the director/producer knew how much time and money it took to shoot, and just had to show it off in all its glory, even if it made the audience yawn.

    As proof of the importance of speed for most (not all) comedic material, think Robin Williams. If you watch any of his stand-up, a large part of what he says is not remarkably funny, but he gets to the gag and then on to the next one so quickly that the process is funny, even if the material isn't necessarily all that clever.
    Last edited by johnmeyer; 5th Sep 2019 at 17:53.

  6. Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    Originally Posted by LetThemEatCake View Post
    I did try making my own 3 hour Cleopatra from the bluray, it just didn't work, it felt butchered, maybe the official three hour version will feel that way too, but I still wish to see it, hope it works.
    Well, thats kind of the point people have been trying to make with you, here and at your thread on the Turner Classic Movies forum. This bedeviled film was improvised as it was shot, into an hours-long self-indulgent mess. Some such projects are improved by the studio cutting them down shorter, others like this aren't. Between the accursed production snafus, cast changes, and lack of script: Cleopatra is what it is. In its day, the mega budget visual spectacle (and publicity from the Taylor/Burton scandal) was enough to carry it with 1963 audiences. It was a big hit, only losing money because it cost more to make than any film could have possibly earned in 1963. Today, not so much: for those not old enough to have a soft spot for the people and production wonders involved, its a snoozefest at any length (176 mins of boredom is not going to grab them any better than 250 mins of boredom, esp if the 250 mins at least makes more sense).

    You seem convinced that showing the shorter version would make more people appreciate the film, but length is not the problem: its generational audience change. This Cleo does not speak the visual and moral language of today, so it alienates many viewers below retirement age: they turn against it after the first 30 mins. Running time edits beyond that will not change their minds: they find it ponderous and dated. Much as the attempts to make Shakespeare more popular with today's audience are doomed to failure (Joss Whedon, anyone?): to the modern ear, the dialog d-r-a-g-s, nobody ever gets to the point, the plots are considered offensively misogynistic, etc, etc. Sure, there's a self-selecting audience in every generation that does appreciate such works as classics in the context they were created, but its almost impossible to grow that niche audience into a mass audience.

    Also, people don't prefer the shorter tv version because no such version exists. The theatrical cut version of Cleopatra hasn't been seen since it was in theaters back in 1963.
    You're splitting hairs: the 192 min theatrical cut BECAME the syndicated TV cut. No other version was shown (in USA) until we were well into the '90s era of TCM and dvd/bluray restorations, when the four-hour-plus cut became standard. As noted earlier, the Magnetic Video version is the syndicated (not network premiere) TV print, right down to the Overture, Intermission, and Exit sequences being deleted (because they would make no sense in an afternoon or late night TV broadcast). Ninety-five percent of "Cleopatra" enthusiasts want more, not less: the appeal of this film is its very excess. You crave a shorter, tighter version in hopes it would make a more compelling experience that would attract more of a following, but it isn't that kind of a film (it never had a solid core of screenplay). The shorter you make Cleo, the less it has to offer: you reduce it to just another rushed historical hack job. The thing that makes it interesting (to those who still care) is the extravagance, the unusual length taken to tell the tale, the splendor. Chopping any of that off is like chopping the top off a Christmas tree.

    As opposed to "Apocalypse Now", which had similar production issues and similar editing dilemmas. With "Apocalypse" many do feel less is more, and do prefer the original theatrical cut (which works well almost in spite of itself). Every time Coppola reworks it and adds footage back in, the additions are interesting in themselves but dilute the impact of the film as a whole. "Apocalypse" was always intended as more an experience than a movie, so perversely benefits from being tightened and focused. "Cleopatra", OTOH, was intended to be a bog-standard traditional narrative movie. But when it collapsed into a scrambled production mess, it lost its footing and structure as a traditional film, instead becoming a legendary showcase of excess. Since the storytelling went south, all thats left is that excess, and fans want as much of it as the studio can recover. There is little to no market demand for a shorter Cleopatra, which is why it was withdrawn years ago: most of the world dismisses it now as a joke, those that do appreciate it want the longest cut possible. Follow the money, and you'll see why the 176-194 min version has disappeared.
    I only partially agree, it is true that the production of Cleopatra was chaotic and there was not a finalized script when it began, Joseph L. Mankiewicz would write by night and shoot the next day. You can say he got carried away, and wanted to show the complete story, after all Shakespeare's Antony & Cleopatra play runs 3 hours and 20 minutes, for most productions. Mankiewicz was incredibly talented and what he managed to create was GOOD, so I don't agree that the only point of Cleopatra was the spectacle. No, everyone wanted to make this the greatest film ever made, and I think they succeeded, fortunately the original finalized script survives online and it is good: you can read it here if you are interested: http://elizabethtaylorthelegend.com/Elizabeth%20Taylor%20-%20Restored%20Cleopatra%20Main%20Page.html

    If anyone wants more of Cleopatra just to see spectacle, they are being foolish in my opinion. I want more of Cleopatra because the 4 hour version DOES NOT WORK. A 5 hour and a half film, cut down to 4 hours is not going to work, but it may work at 3. Either way, audiences enjoyed what they saw back then in 1963.

    Regarding the tv cut, again, I do not know why everyone is just flat out not listening to me. I know people who saw when Cleopatra premiered for TV back in 1968 I believe, after networks paying a record breaking 5 million fee for the rights to show it, and they saw the four hour version. The people I know where shocked when they saw the new footage, one of those being the scene at Cleopatra's spa between Caesar and Cleopatra. The theatrical version of Cleopatra, 3 hours long, HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN SINCE IT LEFT THEATERS IN 1963. It's a historical fact. I don't know what else to say.

  7. Originally Posted by johnmeyer View Post
    Once again, I agree with everything Orsetto said in his last two posts, and will add this observation, followed by a recommendation.

    First, the observation: there is no "right" when it comes to cutting Cleopatra. Thus, trying to match this cut or that cut of the movie is a fools errand (that is a phrase, not a comment on the OP). What makes any of the existing cuts "gospel?" This is especially true given the accounts everyone has given (and that you can read on IMDB) as to how these various versions came into being.

    Not exactly the stuff of great artistry, craftsmanship, vision, etc.

    This leads me to the recommendation: start with the longest cut you can find, hopefully widescreen (why would ANYONE want the scan and pan version???). Make sure it is nicely restored (no matter what sort of grading they did, it will be better than non-restored versions).

    Then cut out what YOU think is excessive, boring, etc. Make your own cut. Heck, you can even re-grade the movie, if you have the skill and the inclination. However, a cuts-only exercise wouldn't take more than a few hours (a lot less time than you've put into this already). You could even rearrange a few scenes, if you really get into it.

    It all comes down to the old Ricky Nelson song "You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself."


    BTW, since we are talking about movies that are considered a fine mess, too long, but which might benefit from some editing, and since we briefly talked about Spielberg, my vote would be to re-edit "1941." I have always thought that there is an amazing, incredible movie lurking in there somewhere. Spielberg ought to give it over to some promising film student, and give him/her access to all the outtakes and other material that didn't make it into the final cut. Good as he is, I don't think Spielberg ever really understood comedy the way the Farley brothers or the Zuckers do.

    To repeat: there is a great movie in there.

    As for "Touch of Evil's" famous opening shot, the single take was totally pointless, unlike some of Lean's and Kubrik's famous lengthy takes.
    that's what I did initially lol, the result was terrible and it actually make me long for the longest version. I am not saying that the theatrical cut will be in any way better, it may be terrible, but if it's something that hasn't been seen since 1963 and an official release, shouldn't it be rescued?

    I will say this, my efforts in editing down Cleopatra made me understand, FINALLY, golden age hollywood cinematic language. I just didn't understand it. I didn't understand why the lack of closeups, why the camera was always so static, why the long shots, I just didn't understand. Like A FOOL I thought Hollywood needed the new wave of Bonnie and Clyde and French New Wave to rescue it and make it better. I was such a damn fool. I never understood that the point of a film like Cleopatra and everything that came before it, was for people TO FORGET there was a camera. To forget that there was a movie, to offer a 100% immersive experience in the storytelling. And you know what?? It works!! It absolutely works, to the point where watching modern films to me is jarring because all I can see is the director intruding into the shots. A writer I greatly admire when commenting on poetry said that a poem needs to be dissasembled and reassembled just like you would a car engine to understand its functioning. I can't speak for anyone else but when I completely tore Cleopatra apart in my efforts to re-edit it, I had this transformative experience. Cinematic language finally clicked for me. And Cleopatra clicked for me too, I love the 4 hour existing cut, but I realize that Mankiewicz was unto something with his original cut, now gone forever.

  8. Originally Posted by LetThemEatCake View Post
    I only partially agree, it is true that the production of Cleopatra was chaotic and there was not a finalized script when it began, Joseph L. Mankiewicz would write by night and shoot the next day. You can say he got carried away, and wanted to show the complete story, after all Shakespeare's Antony & Cleopatra play runs 3 hours and 20 minutes, for most productions. Mankiewicz was incredibly talented and what he managed to create was GOOD, so I don't agree that the only point of Cleopatra was the spectacle.
    This production of this movie "broke" everyone involved with it, no matter how talented: Manckiewicz included. One of the greatest writers in Hollywood history (All About Eve, Letter To Three Wives, Ghost & Mrs Muir), yet too foolish to see this was fundamentally a studio cash grab to exploit Liz' cleavage and some battle scenes. In the face of mountainous debt and some terrible acting chemistry (Rex Harrison? really?), poor Mankiewicz kept trying to turn this by-the-numbers star vehicle into a fusion of the Shakespeare and Shaw interpretations. Something had to give, and it did: the film is fascinating in its way, but doesn't work.

    Some projects are just cursed, and if the studio throws good money after bad the curse just gets bigger. When Liz practically died ten minutes after filming began, stalling everything for months, breaking up the more interesting original cast and reducing the original multi-million-dollar sets to rubble: that was the cue to eat the loss and call the insurance company. No way rebuilding the entire enterprise all over again with another director (and the two preferable leading men replaced) was going to lead to anything but a horrific money pit and lots of stress, which inevitably happened. Insisting on completing a film that Fox knew (positively, absolutely, forgone conclusion) would never break even was clinically insane. I.E., if the most any film had grossed in history to that point was 90 million, making Cleopatra for 300 million was fiscally irresponsible at every imaginable level. Its not like there was any secondary market to fall back on in those days: a hit movie played theaters for six-eight months, then was gone until its TV premiere, and after two network airings was reduced to forgotten local syndication and Late Show fodder (with exceptions like GWTW and Wizard Of Oz).

    Regarding the tv cut, again, I do not know why everyone is just flat out not listening to me. I know people who saw when Cleopatra premiered for TV back in 1968 I believe, after networks paying a record breaking 5 million fee for the rights to show it, and they saw the four hour version. The people I know where shocked when they saw the new footage, one of those being the scene at Cleopatra's spa between Caesar and Cleopatra. The theatrical version of Cleopatra, 3 hours long, HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN SINCE IT LEFT THEATERS IN 1963. It's a historical fact. I don't know what else to say.
    We are listening: you are not listening back. The whole crux of this thread is your obsession with the shorter mainstream theatrical cut, but you are so fixated on its current unavailability that you can't or won't hear us when we tell you it wasn't always unavailable, it was in fact the most common version on American TV and the version most people over 40 have seen (and based their opinion on). It isn't clear from your posts whether you are a native of Panama, or moved there from USA, so perhaps you don't fully understand how American TV handled the film. Yes, when it premiered as a nationwide network broadcast it was shown as the expanded version over two nights. After the premiere, it was re-broadcast a couple more times in this form. But after a few years, as you get into the 1970s, it had faded as any kind of contemporary attraction and moved into the indignity of syndication, like most other movies. Syndication in the 70s thru mid-80s meant afternoon airings by local stations, prime time airings by local stations, and "Late Show" airings.

    I can tell you from personal memory: in New York City the 192 minute version aired multiple times on different local TV stations, though not entirely intact (additional edits were made to fit commercials or time slot constraints). Usually in a four-hour slot with commercials, sometimes split over two days. Some stations would cut it further to fit odd slots like 3 hours 20 mins. A couple afternoon "4:30 Movie" broadcasts were heavily trimmed to air it in two 90 minute time slots over two days.

    You are correct in one sense: the 192 min theatrical version has perhaps not been seen completely intact and in proper wide screen format since its original run. But in another sense, you are mistaken: it did not disappear., but was actually the basis for the most commonly-seen local TV broadcasts in America. For some fifteen years, during which time it had passed into legend as an iconic flop and crashing bore to sit thru. Much of that low opinion was caused by the cropping necessary to make ultra-wide-screen films fit the old square 4:3 television format: in those days, there was no such thing as "letterboxed" broadcasts. Also in those days, many people still had black and white televisions. Cleopatra with the sides cut off (and perhaps no color) loses all its visual splendor and sense of scale: whats left is a trite tedious tale of politics and romance, which the actors alone can't convey in a constricted crop. Liz has no chemistry whatsoever with Rex Harrison, who seems to think he's making a sequel to "My Fair Lady", and Richard Burton's ludicrous acting style began dating badly even before the movie went into TV syndication. The theatrical cut, butchered into a 4:3 crop and broadcast with commercials interrupting it every ten minutes, is the version remembered by nearly everyone old enough to have seen it.

    At some point in the late 1980s, American local TV stations became absorbed into secondary new nationwide networks. Afternoon and prime time movie slots were replaced by scripted series and games, late shows were replaced with talk shows. Unpopular older films faded from broadcast television, in some cases like "Cleopatra" vanishing for several years. By the time paid cable tv and satellite service went mainstream in the mid-90s, "Cleopatra" had been out of circulation so long it became interesting again. Dedicated vintage film channels like "American Movie Classics" and "Turner Classic Movies" began showing the four hour cut, letterboxed (later anamorphically coded) to present the entire wide screen composition. This finally earned it some respect as something other than the punchline to a Hollywood joke, and the badly cropped 176/192 min version that had made a generation hate "Cleopatra" finally got buried. Probably never to be seen again, now that the entire world has moved to large 16:9 televisions, and cable airings/blu-ray can fill that screen properly.

    Do not underestimate the damage done to "Cleopatra" by that cropping for 4:3 CRT televisions, as that is what's recorded on the Magnetic Video tape you acquired. You will be horribly disappointed by this format, which can't even fit two actors speaking in the frame at the same time (instead the frame whiplashes from side to side). Which is why everyone is suggesting you simply use it as a template for your own edit of a better widescreen source. Assuming, of course, you actually do like the pacing and contents of the Magnetic Video cut. You may not after all, but that would also be OK: you could return to the now-standard 4-hour cut, with peace of mind knowing with certainty you didn't miss out on a mysterious better version.
    Last edited by orsetto; 6th Sep 2019 at 12:40.

  9. Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    Originally Posted by LetThemEatCake View Post
    I only partially agree, it is true that the production of Cleopatra was chaotic and there was not a finalized script when it began, Joseph L. Mankiewicz would write by night and shoot the next day. You can say he got carried away, and wanted to show the complete story, after all Shakespeare's Antony & Cleopatra play runs 3 hours and 20 minutes, for most productions. Mankiewicz was incredibly talented and what he managed to create was GOOD, so I don't agree that the only point of Cleopatra was the spectacle.
    This production of this movie "broke" everyone involved with it, no matter how talented: Manckiewicz included. One of the greatest writers in Hollywood history (All About Eve, Letter To Three Wives, Ghost & Mrs Muir), yet too foolish to see this was fundamentally a studio cash grab to exploit Liz' cleavage and some battle scenes. In the face of mountainous debt and some terrible acting chemistry (Rex Harrison? really?), poor Mankiewicz kept trying to turn this by-the-numbers star vehicle into a fusion of the Shakespeare and Shaw interpretations. Something had to give, and it did: the film is fascinating in its way, but doesn't work.

    Some projects are just cursed, and if the studio throws good money after bad the curse just gets bigger. When Liz practically died ten minutes after filming began, stalling everything for months, breaking up the more interesting original cast and reducing the original multi-million-dollar sets to rubble: that was the cue to eat the loss and call the insurance company. No way rebuilding the entire enterprise all over again with another director (and the two preferable leading men replaced) was going to lead to anything but a horrific money pit and lots of stress, which inevitably happened. Insisting on completing a film that Fox knew (positively, absolutely, forgone conclusion) would never break even was clinically insane. I.E., if the most any film had grossed in history to that point was 90 million, making Cleopatra for 300 million was fiscally irresponsible at every imaginable level. Its not like there was any secondary market to fall back on in those days: a hit movie played theaters for six-eight months, then was gone until its TV premiere, and after two network airings was reduced to forgotten local syndication and Late Show fodder (with exceptions like GWTW and Wizard Of Oz).

    Regarding the tv cut, again, I do not know why everyone is just flat out not listening to me. I know people who saw when Cleopatra premiered for TV back in 1968 I believe, after networks paying a record breaking 5 million fee for the rights to show it, and they saw the four hour version. The people I know where shocked when they saw the new footage, one of those being the scene at Cleopatra's spa between Caesar and Cleopatra. The theatrical version of Cleopatra, 3 hours long, HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN SINCE IT LEFT THEATERS IN 1963. It's a historical fact. I don't know what else to say.
    We are listening: you are not listening back. The whole crux of this thread is your obsession with the shorter mainstream theatrical cut, but you are so fixated on its current unavailability that you can't or won't hear us when we tell you it wasn't always unavailable, it was in fact the most common version on American TV and the version most people over 40 have seen (and based their opinion on). It isn't clear from your posts whether you are a native of Panama, or moved there from USA, so perhaps you don't fully understand how American TV handled the film. Yes, when it premiered as a nationwide network broadcast it was shown as the expanded version over two nights. After the premiere, it was re-broadcast a couple more times in this form. But after a few years, as you get into the 1970s, it had faded as any kind of contemporary attraction and moved into the indignity of syndication, like most other movies. Syndication in the 70s thru mid-80s meant afternoon airings by local stations, prime time airings by local stations, and "Late Show" airings.

    I can tell you from personal memory: in New York City the 192 minute version aired multiple times on different local TV stations, though not entirely intact (additional edits were made to fit commercials or time slot constraints). Usually in a four-hour slot with commercials, sometimes split over two days. Some stations would cut it further to fit odd slots like 3 hours 20 mins. A couple afternoon "4:30 Movie" broadcasts were heavily trimmed to air it in two 90 minute time slots over two days.

    You are correct in one sense: the 192 min theatrical version has perhaps not been seen completely intact and in proper wide screen format since its original run. But in another sense, you are mistaken: it did not disappear., but was actually the basis for the most commonly-seen local TV broadcasts in America. For some fifteen years, during which time it had passed into legend as an iconic flop and crashing bore to sit thru. Much of that low opinion was caused by the cropping necessary to fit ultra-wide-screen films to fit square 4:3 television format: in those days, there was no such thing as "letterboxed" broadcasts. Cleopatra with the sides cut off loses all its visual splendor and sense of scale: whats left is a trite tedious tale of politics and romance, which the actors alone can't convey in a constricted crop. Liz has no chemistry whatsoever with Rex Harrison, who seems to think he's making a sequel to "My Fair Lady", and Richard Burton's ludicrous acting style began dating badly even before the movie went into TV syndication. The theatrical cut, butchered into a 4:3 crop and broadcast with commercials interrupting it every ten minutes, is the version remembered by nearly everyone old enough to have seen it.

    At some point in the late 1980s, American local TV stations became absorbed into secondary new nationwide networks. Afternoon and prime time movie slots were replaced by scripted series and games, late shows were replaced with talk shows. Unpopular older films faded from broadcast television, in some cases like "Cleopatra" vanishing for several years. By the time paid cable tv and satellite service went mainstream in the mid-90s, "Cleopatra" had been unavailable so long it became interesting again. Dedicated vintage film channels like "American Movie Classics" and "Turner Classic Movies" began showing the four hour cut, letterboxed (later anamorphically coded) to present the entire wide screen composition. This finally earned it some respect as something other than the punchline to a Hollywood joke, and the badly cropped 192 min version that had made a generation hate "Cleopatra" finally got buried. Probably never to be seen again, now that the entire world has moved to large 16:9 televisions, and cable airings/blu-ray can fill that screen properly.

    Do not underestimate the damage done to "Cleopatra" by that cropping for 4:3 CRT televisions, as that is what's recorded on the Magnetic Video tape you acquired. You will be horribly disappointed by this format, which can't even fit two actors speaking in the frame at the same time (instead the frame whiplashes from side to side). Which is why everyone is suggesting you simply use it as a template for your own edit of a better widescreen source. Assuming, of course, you actually do like the pacing and contents of the Magnetic Video cut. You may not after all, but that would also be OK: you could return to the now-standard 4-hour cut, with peace of mind knowing with certainty you didn't miss out on a mysterious better version.
    Interesting, well I stand corrected. If you remember the theatrical cut, tell us what are your thoughts on it? It's ok, I doubt the magnetic tape will disappoint me, if the digitizing works, I've run the gamut of emotions with Cleopatra, from absolute loathing to absolute loving it, so I don't think it will disappoint me whatever is there.

    I do feel Mankiewicz did everything he could to not make Cleopatra just a cashgrab which is what the studio initially wanted.

  10. If the Magnetic Tape version you are going to transfer is 4:3 (which I'm sure it is), this whole enterprise and this whole thread is a complete waste of time (except for Oresetto's brilliant film history lessons). In what alternate universe is one of the ultimate widescreen epics going to have any interest whatsoever when reduced to 4:3 pan and scan, standard definition, with the noise and garbage as only a consumer videotape can provide?

    You might as well watch "Cinerama" in 4:3 on your cellphone.
    Last edited by johnmeyer; 6th Sep 2019 at 13:03. Reason: typo

  11. Member DB83's Avatar
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    On a side note IIRC the Pinewood back-lot sets had some use before they were destroyed.

    The Carry On Gang moved in and produced 'Carry on Cleo'. How subtle was that ?

  12. Originally Posted by LetThemEatCake View Post
    If you remember the theatrical cut, tell us what are your thoughts on it?
    I'm not sure my opinion of the shorter cut would really apply anymore, or that I would even still agree with myself. The time gap between my seeing the different versions, compounded by the ghastly pan/scan TV crop of the theatrical cut, renders my opinion of the shorter cut somewhat irrelevant now. That said: for many years, I was in agreement with the widely-held view that Cleopatra "stunk on ice". The shorter version shown on commercial TV had no coherence, the pan/scan crop revealed nothing of the money and effort that went into set design and background extras. The actors were frequently framed in a vacuum, as the camera pan/scan cut from one to the other in the middle of a conversation. There was no sense of immersion in the story, or scale, or history. And while I had liked all three leads in other projects, they seemed terrible thrown together here. The commercial cropped TV print of the shorter theater cut strips away everything that makes Cleopatra at all interesting to watch, resulting in an overlong movie that visually resembled a daytime soap opera (only with more stilted dialog). Like millions of others, I wrote off this "Cleopatra" as a misbegotten travesty: it wasn't in the same class as the earlier Claudette Colbert or Vivien Leigh attempts.

    Twenty years later, TCM made a big deal about showing it in restored widescreen glory in a longer four-hour cut. Robert Osborne had never steered me wrong yet, so I tuned in that night. To my absolute shock, I became totally absorbed: it was a very different film. The scope and scale was like nothing I had ever seen, the wider frame allowing all the actors to appear simultaneously, with all the scenery, costuming, body language and non-verbal reactions blending as intended. I was finally able to appreciate this Cleopatra for what it was: the last historical epic Hollywood would ever attempt on such a huge scale, a deeply flawed but valiant try at bridging the traditional swords-and-cleavage blockbuster with rapidly evolving modern sensibility. Not quite a classic, but not the dismal failure of legend either. It isn't a film I'll go out of my way to watch, but a few years after the TCM airing I did pay to see it again on the big screen at a revival theater: obviously the best venue if you've never yet had the chance to catch up with it.

    But I still feel the 1963 Cleopatra isn't as endlessly re-watchable and involving as the 1934 Claudette Colbert version, not only because of its daunting length. The older film benefits greatly from being entirely of its own time (instead of trying to straddle two cultural eras), and Cecil B. DeMille's inimitable skill at directing such historical epics. Despite its age, Colbert's interpretation of Cleopatra seems oddly fresher, slyer, more contemporary than Liz Taylor's. Colbert as an actress carried no baggage from being a sex symbol, which in some respects freed her to be more effortlessly seductive than Taylor (and more able to transcend her hammy Antony). When Colbert asks her handmaids for the asp, and dies, you really feel something: the film is tight enough that you can hold her whole story in your mind throughout and react to the tragedy.

    The 1963 version better conveys the grandiose lifestyle of Egyptian royalty and the Roman rulers, and fleshes out more of the complex political machinations Cleopatra was beset with. And it has some good flashes of Mankiewicz' distinctive dialog and staging at his best. But it goes on for so long, you lose your core interest in what happens to Cleopatra, and get distracted by other elements (and bored by some of the now-predictable political treachery). Taylor is just a tad too ripe and voluptuous at some story beats, which makes you wonder how anyone would not see right thru her scheming. And the on-again, off-again, on-again romance with Antony gets fatiguing: she at turns seems so much smarter than him, then a besotted numbskull. The film swings wildly between bodice-ripping sensuality, politics, highfalutin dialog, naturalism, woefully mismatched acting styles, intimacy, and spectacle. As a viewer, to enjoy it you need the ability to take in the whole without getting bogged down in the disparate parts. Not everyone can do this: those that can will find many things to engage them, those that can't will always find the 1963 Cleo an incoherent ponderous mess (no matter which cut). Both are valid reactions.
    Last edited by orsetto; 6th Sep 2019 at 15:20.

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    Originally Posted by LetThemEatCake View Post
    Originally Posted by johnmeyer View Post
    Once again, I agree with everything Orsetto said in his last two posts, and will add this observation, followed by a recommendation.

    First, the observation: there is no "right" when it comes to cutting Cleopatra. Thus, trying to match this cut or that cut of the movie is a fools errand (that is a phrase, not a comment on the OP). What makes any of the existing cuts "gospel?" This is especially true given the accounts everyone has given (and that you can read on IMDB) as to how these various versions came into being.

    Not exactly the stuff of great artistry, craftsmanship, vision, etc.

    This leads me to the recommendation: start with the longest cut you can find, hopefully widescreen (why would ANYONE want the scan and pan version???). Make sure it is nicely restored (no matter what sort of grading they did, it will be better than non-restored versions).

    Then cut out what YOU think is excessive, boring, etc. Make your own cut. Heck, you can even re-grade the movie, if you have the skill and the inclination. However, a cuts-only exercise wouldn't take more than a few hours (a lot less time than you've put into this already). You could even rearrange a few scenes, if you really get into it.

    It all comes down to the old Ricky Nelson song "You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself."


    BTW, since we are talking about movies that are considered a fine mess, too long, but which might benefit from some editing, and since we briefly talked about Spielberg, my vote would be to re-edit "1941." I have always thought that there is an amazing, incredible movie lurking in there somewhere. Spielberg ought to give it over to some promising film student, and give him/her access to all the outtakes and other material that didn't make it into the final cut. Good as he is, I don't think Spielberg ever really understood comedy the way the Farley brothers or the Zuckers do.

    To repeat: there is a great movie in there.

    As for "Touch of Evil's" famous opening shot, the single take was totally pointless, unlike some of Lean's and Kubrik's famous lengthy takes.
    that's what I did initially lol, the result was terrible and it actually make me long for the longest version. I am not saying that the theatrical cut will be in any way better, it may be terrible, but if it's something that hasn't been seen since 1963 and an official release, shouldn't it be rescued?

    I will say this, my efforts in editing down Cleopatra made me understand, FINALLY, golden age hollywood cinematic language. I just didn't understand it. I didn't understand why the lack of closeups, why the camera was always so static, why the long shots, I just didn't understand. Like A FOOL I thought Hollywood needed the new wave of Bonnie and Clyde and French New Wave to rescue it and make it better. I was such a damn fool. I never understood that the point of a film like Cleopatra and everything that came before it, was for people TO FORGET there was a camera. To forget that there was a movie, to offer a 100% immersive experience in the storytelling. And you know what?? It works!! It absolutely works, to the point where watching modern films to me is jarring because all I can see is the director intruding into the shots. A writer I greatly admire when commenting on poetry said that a poem needs to be dissasembled and reassembled just like you would a car engine to understand its functioning. I can't speak for anyone else but when I completely tore Cleopatra apart in my efforts to re-edit it, I had this transformative experience. Cinematic language finally clicked for me. And Cleopatra clicked for me too, I love the 4 hour existing cut, but I realize that Mankiewicz was unto something with his original cut, now gone forever.
    I don't know what types of modern movies you watch, but what I watch, most Asian films, captivate me for an 1 1/2 to two hours with it's cinematography, direction and storyline. It's not all about grandeur either. One of my favorite films is the Korean Actresses, an unscripted pseudo-documentary where a group of actresses in the second half of the film sit around the dinner table and discuss their careers and themselves. At no point in the film does the camerawork intrude. You're a bystander watching what is either real emotions and reactions or absolutely brilliant acting!

  14. The real treat would be to see the long lost Theda Bara version.

  15. Member dellsam34's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by LetThemEatCake View Post
    I will say this, my efforts in editing down Cleopatra made me understand, FINALLY, golden age hollywood cinematic language. I just didn't understand it. I didn't understand why the lack of closeups, why the camera was always so static, why the long shots, I just didn't understand. Like A FOOL I thought Hollywood needed the new wave of Bonnie and Clyde and French New Wave to rescue it and make it better. I was such a damn fool. I never understood that the point of a film like Cleopatra and everything that came before it, was for people TO FORGET there was a camera. To forget that there was a movie, to offer a 100% immersive experience in the storytelling. And you know what?? It works!! It absolutely works, to the point where watching modern films to me is jarring because all I can see is the director intruding into the shots. A writer I greatly admire when commenting on poetry said that a poem needs to be dissasembled and reassembled just like you would a car engine to understand its functioning. I can't speak for anyone else but when I completely tore Cleopatra apart in my efforts to re-edit it, I had this transformative experience. Cinematic language finally clicked for me. And Cleopatra clicked for me too, I love the 4 hour existing cut, but I realize that Mankiewicz was unto something with his original cut, now gone forever.
    Editing using a frame accurate software such as SmartCutter is not that hard and it's completely lossless, You drop the m2ts file (if a blu-ray) in the program mark your in and out scenes frame by frame and when done hit save, the process is fast because it doesn't re-encode the video, The only hard part is ripping the movie to the hard drive which requires a special ripping software for the copy protection.

    I do this all the time since we are a conservative family we don't watch nude scenes, so I cut them all out before I watch the movie with the kids.
    Last edited by dellsam34; 6th Sep 2019 at 22:28.

  16. Originally Posted by smrpix View Post
    The real treat would be to see the long lost Theda Bara version.
    I didn't know about that one. Here is the few seconds of surviving footage:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWn7L2pL5dI&t=40s

  17. Member DB83's Avatar
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    Reading (and contributing) to this topic has had the (possibility unintentional) result.

    Whilst I am sure that I have seen this filum in whatever ratio that the provider show I really need to see this again.

    But I need to see this as complete as available (complete with available axtras - which are usually more valuable than the feature).

    But unless I misread the descripts I can not.

    Whilst in the near future I will visit a store I will not be tempted by the various fleabay listings which can not decide what filum/video they actually promoie.

  18. Originally Posted by johnmeyer View Post
    If the Magnetic Tape version you are going to transfer is 4:3 (which I'm sure it is), this whole enterprise and this whole thread is a complete waste of time (except for Oresetto's brilliant film history lessons). In what alternate universe is one of the ultimate widescreen epics going to have any interest whatsoever when reduced to 4:3 pan and scan, standard definition, with the noise and garbage as only a consumer videotape can provide?

    You might as well watch "Cinerama" in 4:3 on your cellphone.
    I don't mind that at all, I know it won't have any quality, it's about rescuing a lost different cut of the movie. Furthermore, the bluray of Cleopatra is as far removed as the original film in terms of color and texture thanks to revisionist restoration as this tape is, so I'm not losing anything.

  19. Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    Originally Posted by LetThemEatCake View Post
    If you remember the theatrical cut, tell us what are your thoughts on it?
    I'm not sure my opinion of the shorter cut would really apply anymore, or that I would even still agree with myself. The time gap between my seeing the different versions, compounded by the ghastly pan/scan TV crop of the theatrical cut, renders my opinion of the shorter cut somewhat irrelevant now. That said: for many years, I was in agreement with the widely-held view that Cleopatra "stunk on ice". The shorter version shown on commercial TV had no coherence, the pan/scan crop revealed nothing of the money and effort that went into set design and background extras. The actors were frequently framed in a vacuum, as the camera pan/scan cut from one to the other in the middle of a conversation. There was no sense of immersion in the story, or scale, or history. And while I had liked all three leads in other projects, they seemed terrible thrown together here. The commercial cropped TV print of the shorter theater cut strips away everything that makes Cleopatra at all interesting to watch, resulting in an overlong movie that visually resembled a daytime soap opera (only with more stilted dialog). Like millions of others, I wrote off this "Cleopatra" as a misbegotten travesty: it wasn't in the same class as the earlier Claudette Colbert or Vivien Leigh attempts.

    Twenty years later, TCM made a big deal about showing it in restored widescreen glory in a longer four-hour cut. Robert Osborne had never steered me wrong yet, so I tuned in that night. To my absolute shock, I became totally absorbed: it was a very different film. The scope and scale was like nothing I had ever seen, the wider frame allowing all the actors to appear simultaneously, with all the scenery, costuming, body language and non-verbal reactions blending as intended. I was finally able to appreciate this Cleopatra for what it was: the last historical epic Hollywood would ever attempt on such a huge scale, a deeply flawed but valiant try at bridging the traditional swords-and-cleavage blockbuster with rapidly evolving modern sensibility. Not quite a classic, but not the dismal failure of legend either. It isn't a film I'll go out of my way to watch, but a few years after the TCM airing I did pay to see it again on the big screen at a revival theater: obviously the best venue if you've never yet had the chance to catch up with it.

    But I still feel the 1963 Cleopatra isn't as endlessly re-watchable and involving as the 1934 Claudette Colbert version, not only because of its daunting length. The older film benefits greatly from being entirely of its own time (instead of trying to straddle two cultural eras), and Cecil B. DeMille's inimitable skill at directing such historical epics. Despite its age, Colbert's interpretation of Cleopatra seems oddly fresher, slyer, more contemporary than Liz Taylor's. Colbert as an actress carried no baggage from being a sex symbol, which in some respects freed her to be more effortlessly seductive than Taylor (and more able to transcend her hammy Antony). When Colbert asks her handmaids for the asp, and dies, you really feel something: the film is tight enough that you can hold her whole story in your mind throughout and react to the tragedy.

    The 1963 version better conveys the grandiose lifestyle of Egyptian royalty and the Roman rulers, and fleshes out more of the complex political machinations Cleopatra was beset with. And it has some good flashes of Mankiewicz' distinctive dialog and staging at his best. But it goes on for so long, you lose your core interest in what happens to Cleopatra, and get distracted by other elements (and bored by some of the now-predictable political treachery). Taylor is just a tad too ripe and voluptuous at some story beats, which makes you wonder how anyone would not see right thru her scheming. And the on-again, off-again, on-again romance with Antony gets fatiguing: she at turns seems so much smarter than him, then a besotted numbskull. The film swings wildly between bodice-ripping sensuality, politics, highfalutin dialog, naturalism, woefully mismatched acting styles, intimacy, and spectacle. As a viewer, to enjoy it you need the ability to take in the whole without getting bogged down in the disparate parts. Not everyone can do this: those that can will find many things to engage them, those that can't will always find the 1963 Cleo an incoherent ponderous mess (no matter which cut). Both are valid reactions.
    hopefully the missing footage will be found some day. I just don't see it that way, I like the DeMille's Cleopatra but it is missing lots of history, which is not a flaw but I like the complete picture. I think Taylor is fabulous as Cleopatra, but so much is missing, how can one properly judge?
    Last edited by LetThemEatCake; 7th Sep 2019 at 10:12.

  20. Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
    Originally Posted by LetThemEatCake View Post
    Originally Posted by johnmeyer View Post
    Once again, I agree with everything Orsetto said in his last two posts, and will add this observation, followed by a recommendation.

    First, the observation: there is no "right" when it comes to cutting Cleopatra. Thus, trying to match this cut or that cut of the movie is a fools errand (that is a phrase, not a comment on the OP). What makes any of the existing cuts "gospel?" This is especially true given the accounts everyone has given (and that you can read on IMDB) as to how these various versions came into being.

    Not exactly the stuff of great artistry, craftsmanship, vision, etc.

    This leads me to the recommendation: start with the longest cut you can find, hopefully widescreen (why would ANYONE want the scan and pan version???). Make sure it is nicely restored (no matter what sort of grading they did, it will be better than non-restored versions).

    Then cut out what YOU think is excessive, boring, etc. Make your own cut. Heck, you can even re-grade the movie, if you have the skill and the inclination. However, a cuts-only exercise wouldn't take more than a few hours (a lot less time than you've put into this already). You could even rearrange a few scenes, if you really get into it.

    It all comes down to the old Ricky Nelson song "You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself."


    BTW, since we are talking about movies that are considered a fine mess, too long, but which might benefit from some editing, and since we briefly talked about Spielberg, my vote would be to re-edit "1941." I have always thought that there is an amazing, incredible movie lurking in there somewhere. Spielberg ought to give it over to some promising film student, and give him/her access to all the outtakes and other material that didn't make it into the final cut. Good as he is, I don't think Spielberg ever really understood comedy the way the Farley brothers or the Zuckers do.

    To repeat: there is a great movie in there.

    As for "Touch of Evil's" famous opening shot, the single take was totally pointless, unlike some of Lean's and Kubrik's famous lengthy takes.
    that's what I did initially lol, the result was terrible and it actually make me long for the longest version. I am not saying that the theatrical cut will be in any way better, it may be terrible, but if it's something that hasn't been seen since 1963 and an official release, shouldn't it be rescued?

    I will say this, my efforts in editing down Cleopatra made me understand, FINALLY, golden age hollywood cinematic language. I just didn't understand it. I didn't understand why the lack of closeups, why the camera was always so static, why the long shots, I just didn't understand. Like A FOOL I thought Hollywood needed the new wave of Bonnie and Clyde and French New Wave to rescue it and make it better. I was such a damn fool. I never understood that the point of a film like Cleopatra and everything that came before it, was for people TO FORGET there was a camera. To forget that there was a movie, to offer a 100% immersive experience in the storytelling. And you know what?? It works!! It absolutely works, to the point where watching modern films to me is jarring because all I can see is the director intruding into the shots. A writer I greatly admire when commenting on poetry said that a poem needs to be dissasembled and reassembled just like you would a car engine to understand its functioning. I can't speak for anyone else but when I completely tore Cleopatra apart in my efforts to re-edit it, I had this transformative experience. Cinematic language finally clicked for me. And Cleopatra clicked for me too, I love the 4 hour existing cut, but I realize that Mankiewicz was unto something with his original cut, now gone forever.
    I don't know what types of modern movies you watch, but what I watch, most Asian films, captivate me for an 1 1/2 to two hours with it's cinematography, direction and storyline. It's not all about grandeur either. One of my favorite films is the Korean Actresses, an unscripted pseudo-documentary where a group of actresses in the second half of the film sit around the dinner table and discuss their careers and themselves. At no point in the film does the camerawork intrude. You're a bystander watching what is either real emotions and reactions or absolutely brilliant acting!
    all modern films, from 1968 to today pale in comparison to golden age hollywood and its visual language, in my opinion.

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    Hello all,
    Some info I retrived in the 80's when I used some betamax, beta Hifi and Superbeta recorders for recording and cutting videos (camcorder records). As I know, the professional made beta tapes where often recorded with some modified versions of consumer machines, these I know of was all sony recorders. They record in playback tape speed for NTSC OR PAL that is different, 3h for NTSC and 3h15min for PAL on L750 tape. Due to the tape speed difference the video record/playback head drum alignment is different so there was a PAL head and a NTSC Video drum head. Due to this as I know there was never a NTSC and PAL/SECAM capable beta player or recorder. The modified recorders had 3 major differences to the consumer version , a selectable input and a manually level adjustment of audio and sometime a video level switch or adjustment potentiomenter and a remote control port. The video level adjustment possibility made these recorders able to record every (analog video signal) copy protection, that did not have any affect on the beta player itself, only copying to another (VHS was the main target for the copy protection) recorder by overloading the auto video gain circuit. A PAL superbeta is able to read any PAL betamax tape if the tape contains a still readable tracking signal
    Last edited by 4your:only; 8th Sep 2019 at 12:53.

  22. Member DB83's Avatar
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    ^^ Not so sure about that.

    Earlier in this thread there is a link to a site that offers for sale multi-standard Betamax vcrs. Maybe you simply refer to the convention of PAL vcrs playing NTSC tapes but your argument could equally apply to VHS since there is also a timing difference there.

    How do I know this ? Well just a few days ago I did a NTSC transfer of a VHS under PAL60 conditions. The tape shows the running time at 2hr 4mins. However the transfer was 1hr 58mins and I attribute that to PAL-speedup which fits that timing rather neatly.

    Just waiting for the OP to come back confirming that the guy who attempted the transfer has still failed.

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    Originally Posted by 4your:only View Post
    Hello all,
    Some info I retrived in the 80's when I used some betamax, beta Hifi and Superbeta recorders for recording and cutting videos (camcorder records). As I know, the professional made beta tapes where often recorded with some modified versions of consumer machines, these I know of was all sony recorders. They record in playback tape speed for NTSC OR PAL that is different, 3h for NTSC and 3h15min for PAL on L750 tape. Due to the tape speed difference the video record/playback head drum alignment is different so there was a PAL head and a NTSC Video drum head. Due to this as I know there was never a NTSC and PAL/SECAM capable beta player or recorder. The modified recorders had 3 major differences to the consumer version , a selectable input and a manually level adjustment of audio and sometime a video level switch or adjustment potentiomenter and a remote control port. The video level adjustment possibility made these recorders able to record every (analog video signal) copy protection, that did not have any affect on the beta player itself, only copying to another (VHS was the main target for the copy protection) recorder by overloading the auto video gain circuit. A PAL superbeta is able to read any PAL betamax tape if the tape contains a still readable tracking signal
    There was nothing special about the duplicator Betamax(s) other than they were tunerless, somewhere between professional and consumer models. Some small duplication companies (possibly even Magnetic Video) used lower cost consumer machines, especially in 1978 when the OP's tape was created.

    As I stated, most consumer Sony Betamax(s) ignored Macrovision because of the way the AGC (Automatic Gain Control) worked. No manual video adjustment other than tracking was available on these machines. The Macrovision signal wasn't removed and would kick in if you tried to copy a Beta recording to VHS. As I recall, the SL-HF2100 (which was one of the last Betamax(s)) and some of the later machines (after the SL-HF900) were twarted by Macrovision.

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    I cant't remember a sony catalog here in Germany with multi standard muti speed recorders. I still have two SL-HF950ES PAL units used in the 80th for video cutting and one SL-HF100ES with PCM-501ES for digital audio recording, not used now for decades but saved with the tapes after transfer to SVCD and later DVD. Agree, the dublicator machines were tunerless, the switch on the consumer machines that switches between tuner and line input was the line input selector on the dub machines. But I can remember that the dublicator machines I saw were PAL only (dublicator version of the SL-HF100ES around 1985). I had to replace the head drum of one SL-HF950ES at the end of the 80's and the part number of the PAL and the NTSC beta Hifi head drum were different, same with the tuner, servo, HF board and so on. The SL-HF-950ES played all mono, stereo and Hifi PAL tapes and additionally the superbeta PAL recording (switch setting). Never saw a commercial tape recorded in superbeta. The unit refused to play the tape if the track with the tracking signal on the tape was damaged (Hifi audio and video muted). A few of the stored betamax tapes are not playable anymore, the magnetic and the glue is falling apart after 35 years or more...

  25. Member
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    Go to this site: http://mrbetamax.com/, click on Betas for Sale, then Specials for multi-system Betamax(s).

    AFAIK, there were no stereo Betamax(s), though I think I vaguely think I remember a non-Sony machine, possibly a Toshiba that may have had it. Officially, Sony skipped linear stereo and went directly to Beta Hi-FI after VHS offered linear stereo.

    The reason prerecorded SuperBeta tapes weren't offered is because they were incompatible with early non-SuperBeta machines like my SL-HF2700 and SL-5800 which exhibited the herringbone patter I mentioned earlier.

    Edit: Because of Sony, the Beta market was largely focused on the Japan and the U.S. since they used NTSC (though the tuners were different). Most of the Betamax(s) were never produced for the PAL market which was largely VHS. Grundig and Phillips marketed their Video 2000 (V-2000) system in Europe until the mid-80's when they switched to VHS. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_2000
    Last edited by lingyi; 9th Sep 2019 at 03:43.

  26. Originally Posted by DB83 View Post
    ^^ Not so sure about that.

    Earlier in this thread there is a link to a site that offers for sale multi-standard Betamax vcrs. Maybe you simply refer to the convention of PAL vcrs playing NTSC tapes but your argument could equally apply to VHS since there is also a timing difference there.

    How do I know this ? Well just a few days ago I did a NTSC transfer of a VHS under PAL60 conditions. The tape shows the running time at 2hr 4mins. However the transfer was 1hr 58mins and I attribute that to PAL-speedup which fits that timing rather neatly.

    Just waiting for the OP to come back confirming that the guy who attempted the transfer has still failed.
    no word yet but if he fails what should I do?

  27. Member DB83's Avatar
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    ^^ I already told you atleast twice.

    Either, find a service in the US that can handle PAL Betamax (rare I would think) AND are prepared to digitize a commercial tape

    or

    Contact that service in the UK that appear to be prepared to do it

    Neither can guarantee any success given that this tape is 40 years old. Better really to cut your losses now and keep looking. A VHS (NTSC) might turn up one day.

  28. Originally Posted by LetThemEatCake View Post
    no word yet but if he fails what should I do?
    I really hate to be snippy, but if after all the advice you've been given, I agree with DB83: you've received at least half a dozen answers of what to do. It's time to either do something or get on to something else.

    So, given your response, my final piece of advice is to find something else to do. I feel like I've wasted my time.

  29. Originally Posted by DB83 View Post
    ^^ I already told you atleast twice.

    Either, find a service in the US that can handle PAL Betamax (rare I would think) AND are prepared to digitize a commercial tape

    or

    Contact that service in the UK that appear to be prepared to do it

    Neither can guarantee any success given that this tape is 40 years old. Better really to cut your losses now and keep looking. A VHS (NTSC) might turn up one day.
    thanks, someone offered to do it in the UK so I'll see if it works here first.

  30. Originally Posted by johnmeyer View Post
    Originally Posted by LetThemEatCake View Post
    no word yet but if he fails what should I do?
    I really hate to be snippy, but if after all the advice you've been given, I agree with DB83: you've received at least half a dozen answers of what to do. It's time to either do something or get on to something else.

    So, given your response, my final piece of advice is to find something else to do. I feel like I've wasted my time.
    Highly technical advice that I don't understand, but thank you very much!




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