CineSavant Column

Saturday April 28, 2018


The news this week is that Janus films, The Academy Film Archive and the Film Foundation have restored Edgar G. Ulmer’s Detour, the most celebrated ‘B’ noir on the books. The Criterion website describes the restoration process thusly:

“The restoration team began by examining potential sources, including: a 35mm dupe negative from The Museum of Modern Art, which was incomplete and riddled with jump cuts; a 35mm safety composite print from the Cinematheque Française; and a 35mm nitrate print from the Cinematheque Royale de Belgique. That print, thought to have been made from the original camera negative, was clearly the best element in terms of image clarity, contrast, and density, but had never been considered as a source for preservation because it contained burned-in French and Flemish subtitles.”

“This obstacle was overcome by scanning all of the print elements to 4K, then compositing frames from the MoMA print over the matching subtitled frames from the Belgian print. Where frames from the MoMA print were missing, and in shots that contained significant movement within the frame, the subtitles were removed by dedicated and talented digital artists using digital painting techniques.”

I’ll be very interested in seeing how that process works — we need to see that enormous grimy coffee cup in the Reno diner looking perfect, jump cuts and all. The Academy’s Michael Pogorzelski says he’s been keen to restore Detour for quite awhile. Official rights for the old PRC feature may have been established by now. Previously it was my understanding that it is a Public Domain title, and that the big problem with earlier restoration efforts has been that some of the better film elements have been tied up with private collectors.

The full story can be read at Ryan Gallagher’s Criterion article, Janus Films to Tour New 4K Restoration of Edgar G. Ulmer’s DETOUR.

Dick Dinman has another timely DVD Classics Corner On the Air show online, this time about two new Warner Archive Collection releases: Dick Dinman & Eddie Muller dispense a double dose of Dana. In other words, Dinman and Muller talk about Dana Andrews’ career with special emphasis on the new WAC Blu-rays of Fritz Lang’s While the City Sleeps and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

A set of links to other Dinman DVD Classics Corner On the Air shows is at this address.

I’ll be Out of Action this weekend, doing an inventory in the depths of the CineSavant vaults, with a friend driving in from out of state to help make it happen. So expect new reviews from myself, and I think Charlie Largent, perhaps next Wednesday.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson