“Never’s Gonna Be Too Soon For Me, Shorty”

Occasionally Criterion jacket-cover art will convey an alternate-universe take on a well-known film that half convinces you that you haven’t quite absorbed everything the film has to offer, even though you’ve seen it 15 or 20 times. The white birds (which have to be seagulls and not pigeons) are an interesting invention. Their presence suggests that Elia Kazan‘s 1954 Oscar-winner was directed by Vittorio De Sica or Roberto Rossellini.

The goodies: (a) new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition, (b) presented in 1.66, 1.33 and 1.85 aspect ratios (a landmark decision that brought about, in my humble view, the eternal discrediting of Bob Furmanek‘s research-fortified 1.85 fascism, and thank God in heaven for this), (c) commentary from Richard Schickel and Jeff Young, (d) new conversation between filmmaker Martin Scorsese and critic Kent Jones, (e) Elia Kazan: Outsider (1982), an hour-long documentary, (f) New documentary on the making of the film, featuring interviews with scholar Leo Braudy, critic David Thomson, and others, (g) New interview with actress Eva Marie Saint, (h) Interview with director Elia Kazan from 2001, (i), Contender, a 2001 documentary on the film’s most famous scene, and (j) New interview with author James T. Fisher (On the Irish Waterfront) about the real-life people and places behind the film.

Plus a booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Almereyda and reprints of Kazan’s 1952 ad in the New York Times defending his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee, one of the 1948 New York Sun articles by Malcolm Johnson on which the film was based, and a 1953 Commonweal piece by screenwriter Budd Schulberg.

15 thoughts on ““Never’s Gonna Be Too Soon For Me, Shorty”

  1. The names of actors or writers don’t usually share the Criterion covers with the filmmaker’s, but Schulberg definitely earned his spot, and of course the most important element in this entire production is Brando’s performance.

  2. I’d like to eat that cover. Gorgeous. Reminiscent of certain pulp novel covers/mid-20th century newspaper ad art. Gray is the perfect color thematically, as well.

  3. They are absolutely pigeons and NOT seagulls. Seagulls have narrower, longer wings.

    Add that the contextual common sense of them flying over Brando on the rooftop and the significance of pigeons in the film and there you have it.

  4. “The names of actors or writers don’t usually share the Criterion covers with the filmmaker’s, but Schulberg definitely earned his spot, and of course the most important element in this entire production is Brando’s performance.”

    Almost certainly contractual, too. There was a breakdown on how Sweet Smell of Success’ Criterion cover was designed with the contract info in mind (Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster’s heads had to be displayed roughly the same size). Harold and Maude’s cover had to be redone because it didn’t meet the contractual credit stipulations. (I have the original, uncorrected cover.)

  5. I have never endorsed an overall non-anamorphic widescreen standard of 1.85:1. I have always recommended honoring the ratio intended by the director and DP which would have been dictated by studio policy at the time of production. That can vary anywhere from 1.65:1 to 2.00:1.

    Paramount was the first studio to officially adopt 1.66:1 as their house ratio on March 24, 1953. The only other studios to utilize that ratio domestically were RKO and Republic, both converting to widescreen cinematography in May of 1953.

    Paramount retained 1.66:1 as their house ratio until September 21, 1953 when WHITE CHRISTMAS began filming in VistaVision and was recommended for 1.85:1.

    SABRINA is the odd AR title in Paramount’s output at that time.
    Wilder initially announced 2.00:1 but settled on 1.75:1 as his preferred ratio when production commenced in New York on September 28, 1953.

    In the UK, the initial widescreen ratio was 1.65:1. That remained in effect from June 1953 until late 1954 when it changed to 1.66:1. At that time, the Cinema Exhibitors Association recommended the UK standardization of 1.75:1 which would remain in effect throughout the 1960′s. Documents can be found on this page: http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/319469/aspect-ratio-research/1140#post_3989270

    Every studio had their own policy. For information on Warner Bros, check out http://www.3dfilmarchive.com/dial-m-blu-ray-review

    Information on Universal-International can be found here: http://www.3dfilmarchive.com/an-in-depth-look-at-creature-from-the-black-lagoon-1

    You might like to know that shorts, cartoons and newsreels were also changed to widescreen composition in 1953: http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/319469/aspect-ratio-research/720#post_3974959

  6. “a landmark decision that brought about, in my humble view, the eternal discrediting of Bob Furmanek’s research-fortified 1.85 fascism, and thank God in heaven for this”

    Jesus, Wells, your deranged obsession with Furmanek is slithering appallingly close to libelous. Neither he nor you had anything to do with this decision. If they had only released it in 1.33:1, it might–repeat, might–have a grain of possibility, but neither Criterion nor Grover Crisp give a rat’s ass what Jeffrey Wells thinks the correct AR should be.

    Once again–stop sliming Bob Furmanek. And while you’re at it, quit calling yourself a liberal. Your behavior in this matter is no different than those Tea Party thugs who claim that gay people cause hurricanes and pregnancy-by-rape is a gift from God.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>