On the day that Marlon Brando's One-Eyed Jacks opened (3.30.61), a 35mm print was sent to the Kennedy mansion in Palm Beach (1095 North Ocean Drive). JFK flew down from Washington that morning, arriving around 11:30 am. He joined his father (Joseph P. Kennedy), Peter Lawford and Bing Crosby for some golf that afternoon. They all had dinner and then watched Brando's film in the private screening room, which had been installed by Kennedy Sr., a Hollywood mogul in the 20s and 30s, after buying the home in 1933. Login with Patreon to view this post
I somehow missed this, a brief Martin Scorsese tutorial about Marlon Brando‘s One-Eyed Jacks (1961), when it popped ten days ago. Scorsese, who oversaw the One-Eyed Jacks restoration with Steven Spielberg, defends the “painstaking” decision to go with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio (the film could have easily and harmlessly been cropped at 1.75:1 or, better yet, 1.66:1) because that’s how it was projected at Leows’ Capitol in 1961. (Or something like that.) This despite Scorsese’s admission that he initially thought 1.66:1 would have been more appropriate. I’ve mentioned three or four times that Criterion’s OEJ Bluray will pop on 11.22 — one more time!
Universal Home Video and Martin Scorsese‘s The Film Foundation oversaw the restoration of Marlon Brando‘s One-Eyed Jacks, but Criterion, not Universal, will release the Bluray. The 4K digital restoration will pop on 11.22.
Extras include (a) an introduction by Scorsese, (b) excerpts from voice-recordings Brando made during the film’s production; (c) “new video essays on the film’s production history and its potent combination of the stage and screen icon Brando with the classic Hollywood western”; (d) a trailer, and (e) an essay by film critic Howard Hampton.
“Yes, that includes the aspect ratio. I’ve been arguing that the restorers, Universal Home Video and The Film Foundation, should have gone with a somewhat more liberal 1.75 or 1.78 a.r. instead of an announced cropping of 1.85. My tried-and-true “why needlessly slice off that luscious head room?” argument was posted time and again.
I’m told by a reliable source that the One-Eyed Jacks restoration, which began last fall under the aegis of Universal and Martin Scorsese‘s The Film Foundation, will be completed “sometime in April.” And yet the classic Marlon Brando western will not have its first-time-anywhere screening at the TCM Classic Film Festival (4.28 thru 5.1), which is generally regarded as a prized destination for recently restored classic films.
The source states that while Jacks “will not premiere at TCM, it should have its first theatrical viewings “in late spring and/or early summer.” The Jacks Bluray, he says, will “more than likely not be coming out until early fall after a series of screenings that are currently being planned in conjunction with TFF.”
My guess (and it’s only a guess) is that One-Eyed Jacks might have its big premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off two months hence. I’m figuring that with Scorsese expected to be in Cannes for the world premiere of Silence, which I’ve heard is a likely festival pick, it would make sense for him to also introduce and bring attention to Jacks. A Cannes debut would obviously result in a bigger, broader journalistic impression than a showing at TCM, which is basically a gray-haired film buff event that only resonates nationally.
Another suspicion is that the restored Jacks might have some kind of special screening at the 2016 Toronto Film Festival, at which Silence may possibly be shown.
About 10 days ago I spoke to a Universal source about the progress of the forthcoming One-Eyed Jacks Bluray, a joint restoration between Universal Home Video and the Film Foundation that I’m assuming will street sometime in the spring or summer. (Work began last July.) The big question is what aspect ratio will they decide upon — 1.85:1, 1.78:1 or 1.66:1? I’m presuming that my personal preference of 1.66 will be passed over in favor of 1.78, which I can live with. It breaks my heart but I can take it. As long as they don’t whack it down to the dreaded 1.85:1.
I’m told that when work began on Marlon Brando‘s sole directorial effort it was scanned at the full VistaVision aperture, or 1.5:1. Universal was waiting for input from Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, who were both in the process of reviewing the restoration (or about to review it), when I reached out.
Some weeks ago Austin Wilkin, a Brando estate representative who had been asked by Universal for an aspect-ratio preference, sought my opinion. I said it should be 1.66 if the sides aren’t sliced off. Why throw away all that beautiful VistaVision footage on the tops and bottoms of the frames?
We all know One-Eyed Jacks was primarily projected at 1.85 but that dp Jack Lang‘s compositions were made with an understanding that the full aperture would be 1.5:1, that 1.66 was very much in play at the time (the aperture plates were certainly present and being used in theatre booths all over) and that the boxy TV aspect ratio had to be considered. My guess, as noted, is that Universal and The Film Foundation are going to go for a 1.78:1 as this fits 16 x 9 high-def screens, and it at least allows for a bit more height than 1.85.
I was also told that some kind of limited theatrical exhibition will occur prior to or concurrent with with the release of the Bluray.
How many times have I written about the ongoing visual tragedy of Marlon Brando‘s One-Eyed Jacks? For too many years the 8-perf VistaVision splendor of this classic 1961 western, shot by Charles Lang, has been unviewable due to the film rights having lapsed into public domain, which has resulted in several atrocious-looking DVD dupes (largely sourced from a decent-looking Paramount laser disc issued in the ’90s) flooding the market. Well, this nightmare is finally at an end with Universal and Martin Scorsese‘s The Film Foundation having recently agreed to join forces on a 4K “restoration” of One Eyed Jacks.
A Universal Q2 report divulged the basics earlier this month, and this morning Film Foundation managing director Jennifer Ahn confirmed that the One-Eyed Jacks project is a definite go.
Yes, Universal and not Paramount, the original distributor. I’ve assumed all along that Paramount had retained rights but apparently not. The rights issue turned out to be “much more complicated than it seems,” Ahn says, “but ultimately we figured out that they belonged to Universal.” The Q2 report divulged that Universal and the Film Foundation have “begun film element research and scan tests” with an assessment report to follow, and then it’ll be off to the races. If all goes well (and it should) the One-Eyed Jacks Bluray will probably be released sometime next year.
I wasn’t paying attention when the celebrated One-Eyed Jacks, the only film Marlon Brando ever directed, played at the New Beverly on April 2nd and 3rd. What was I thinking? I blew a chance to see an allegedly first-rate 35mm print (provided by Quentin Tarantino), which was a rare opportunity indeed. There’s no way to see a decent version of this 1961 VistaVision-shot western as the rights fell into public domain a few years ago and the market has since been flooded with abysmal-looking DVDs. Paramount has the elements in a vault but they’ll almost certainly never pay for a restoration effort, which would probably cost between $90K and $100K all in.
Let’s face it — I’m never again going to see this film in any kind of decent shape (vibrant VistaVision color, crisp focus, 1.66 or 1.85 aspect ratio) unless I attend a theatrical showing here or at MOMA or someplace like that. The chances of a handsome-looking DVD or Bluray being created are probably close to non-existent. Jacks is dead and gone unless Paramount decides to license it to a company that will to spend the money to assemble a first-rate remastering. In a pig’s eye!
The only way to bask in this landmark film right now is to beg Tarantino to offer his print for a special Hollywood Elsewhere theatre or screening-room showing. Maybe at the New Beverly or Cinefamily or Aidikoff or the Wilshire Screening Room. I’ll cough up for the rental fees. How about it, Quentin? For the sake of solemn Brando worship?
I’m a fool for slick, modernized trailers of classic films, and Lord knows there are easily a couple hundred out there. But when Dan McBride’s One-Eyed Jacks trailer surfaced four years ago, I knew right away that it was triple grade-A. McBride: “[Looking to] breathe new life into older, forgotten or overlooked films. Mainly to spread awareness and hopefully inspire more people to seek them out.”
I should’ve watched Dave Chapelle: Sticks & Stones before going to Telluride, but I didn’t. Napping, shopping, watching a comfort film, distracted, caught up in this or that. And then Telluride happened. Then I returned Monday night (actually around 1:30 am) and worked yesterday. Then I finally watched it last night.
And I LQTM’ed all through it. Or at least, you know, smirked. I actually laughed out loud (not loudly but vocally) during the Jussie Smollet bit. But mostly I happily smirked. Partly at the material itself (although not at the “I don’t believe Michael Jackson‘s HBO accusers, and even if he did molest them he was still Michael Jackson” riff…I didn’t believe a single word of that) and partly in celebration of his skillful tweaking of the Outrage Police. Right now and for the foreseeable future, anyone and anything that riles cancel culture is good. And this, bless him, is what Chapelle does with casual but wonderful expertise.
“All The Worst White People Love Dave Chappelle’s Sticks & Stones“…really? I disagreed with a good 50% or perhaps even 60% of what Chappelle said during the show, and I loved it anyway. Because he agitates and aggravates the honorable descendants of Maximilien Robespierre.
Thank you, dearest Dave, for your snowflake imitation: “‘Duhhh…hey, duhhh…if you do anything wrong in your life, and I find out about it, I’m gonna try and take everything away from you….if I find out, you’re fucking finished.’ (To audience) Who’s that? That’s you. That’s what the audience sounds like to me. You are the worst motherfuckers I’ve ever tried to entertain in my fucking life.”
Old Chapelle: “I give all married men the same advice, gay or straight. Get a dog. A dog will love you all the time, but she’s not going to.”
Ten years ago I wrote a similar-sounding sentence — “life would be heavenly and rhapsodic if women had the personality and temperament of dogs” — and I’ve been paying in spilt arterial blood for that ever since. All I meant was that constant, non-judgmental love (which is what dogs and cats will give you if you show them tender love from the get-go) is a very soothing and comforting thing. My mistake was implying that I wanted to control women like some owners control their dogs. I’ve only had one dog in my entire life, and I never trained her to do a damn thing. I never said “sit” or “heel” or “roll over” to her…never. What I should have said was cats, not dogs. Because I’ve been a cat man all my life. Cats do whatever they want, but if you’re kind and loving they’ll always reciprocate in kind. And it’s wonderful to be loved without being judged and scolded and side-eyed half the time.
Chapelle is wonderful because he says risky stuff despite the risks. We’re all living through The Terror right now, and most people are saying “showflake twitter terror is wonderful because only the bad people are paying the price!” Chapelle knows this and says what he says anyway. I didn’t agree with half of what he says in Stick & Stones, but I love him for being who he is.
“It’s a sign of where America is now at as a culture that we’ve gone from Han Solo to watching an actor as frictionless and badass-free as Alden Ehrenreich pretending to be Han Solo…and finding that perfectly acceptable! Why not? We’re still at a Star Wars movie! I’ve got my 64-ounce Coke, and the dude is all right. He’ll do! That’s exactly the attitude that could plunge the Democrats into disaster when they choose their next presidential candidate. He’ll do. (Or She’ll do.)
“Where have you gone, Harrison Ford? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”
The preceding is the best paragraph from Owen Gleiberman‘s “It’s Official: Deadpool Is Now Cooler Than Han Solo,” posted an hour ago (5.26, 10 am Pacific) in Variety.
Here are seven almost-as-goodies:
“It’s not every day that I feel sorry for an actor, especially one who’s lucky enough to have landed the lead role in a Star Wars film. But I honestly began to feel a little bad for Ehrenreich in Solo: A Star Wars Story. It was during the scene where, acting opposite Emilia Clarke (who looks like she could eat him alive, and would happily do so as foreplay), he attempts to signify the Awesome Casual Cockiness Of His Inner Being by slouching against a wall, hands on hips, his fingers spread out just so, in a John Wayne-meets-Clark Gable sort of swashbuckling cowboy-stud pose.
“At that moment, Ehrenreich doesn’t seem remotely like a young version of Harrison Ford’s lone-wolf space pilot; he seems like a sculpture of it. You don’t see the acting — you see the coaching. ‘Let it hang out a bit more, Alden…that’s right, spread those fingers…just keep thinking, I’m the man!’)
“I felt bad for Ehrenreich because it’s not his fault that some executive board meeting signed off on the looks-good-on-paper decision to cast him as a junior version of the ballsiest renegade of the blockbuster epoch.
The first-anywhere unveiling of the restored version of Marlon Brando‘s One-Eyed Jacks happened late last night, and it looked truly wonderful in every respect. Yes, that includes the aspect ratio. I’ve been arguing that the restorers, Universal Home Video and The Film Foundation, should have gone with a somewhat more liberal 1.75 or 1.78 a.r. instead of an announced cropping of 1.85. My tried-and-true “why needlessly slice off that luscious head room?” argument was posted time and again.
Well, guess what? The Jacks a.r. didn’t look like 1.85 to me — it definitely looked more like 1.75. Speaking as an ex-projectionist and an a.r. fanatic second to none I know exactly and precisely what 1.85 vs. 1.75 are shaped like, and I’m telling you there’s an ample amount of headroom in every shot. To my enormous relief Jacks didn’t feel cut off or cramped in the slightest. And that, to me, spells 1.75.
My guess is that the film was indeed shown at 1.75. I was sitting right there in the second row, repeatedly calibrating the a.r. with my eye and my gut, tilting my head 90 degrees to the right and assessing the geometry, and I can’t accept that what I saw last night was cropped at 1.85. My guess is that the film was screened at 1.75 (the French have their own ways) but that the Bluray will pop at 1.85, or with a tiny bit less height. I’ve got an email out to Universal’s Peter Schade and The Film Foundation’s Margaret Bodde (both of whom delivered opening remarks) to suss this out.