CineSavant Column

Saturday January 21, 2023



We start your day with a classy music recital . . .  Advisor-correspondent Craig Reardon forwards this YouTube encoding of a concert recording from a PBS Broadway to Hollywood show, entitled Scene D’amour from Vertigo by Bernard Herrmann for Piano Solo.

It was first posted in 2015, so it only took CineSavant 8 years to find it. The pianist’s name is Richard Glazier. Thanks Irv Lerner and ‘B.’



The news from the 3-D Film Archive via Bob Furmanek is very good — officially in the works for Blu-ray 3-D is a Golden-Era 3-D western. The 1954 United Artists release Southwest Passage is an unusual oater featuring an authentic piece of history, the attempt to introduce camels as pack animals, even as replacements for horses. That bit of lore wasn’t touched on again until Ride the High Country — that film’s ‘racing camel’ wasn’t necessarily a circus animal, as abandoned camels persisted in the wild for decades.

Original poster art reveals that United Artists apparently saw no advantage in promoting the camel angle, foolishly ignoring America’s all-consuming dromedary obsession.

Actually, not many remember seeing Southwest Passage flat or 3-D. The title was a no-show in the famed Hollywood 3-D Expositions because no print was known to exist. Furmanek has confirmed that the ‘four missing reels from the right side were located in a UK film lab in 2018 by Darren Gross of MGM.’ Darren reportedly tracked them down by referencing the UK title, Wagons West.

That’s nice to read, as CineSavant normally can’t blab insider news about studio preservation achievements — it’s all proprietary information. I met Darren Gross quite a while back when he volunteered to search for missing scenes from the then-still incomplete Major Dundee. From that point on he became a regular Film Detective. Darren’s exploits promoting the restoration of original cuts of Dan Curtis’s Night of Dark Shadows are also well known.

Southwest Passage promises to be interesting — the cast is certainly good. One of the best classic 3-D discs was a western, Taza, Son of Cochise. It must be the scenery. The 3-D Film Archive is currently working on the cult favorite Robot Monster, which we look forward to reviewing, hopefully before Summer gets here.



CineSavant correspondent Michael McQuarrie points us to a YouTube encoding of an original “1941” theatrical trailer that I’ve never before seen. I thought I’d seen all of them.

When I began cutting TV spots and promos at Cannon for film advertising specialist Richard A. Smith, we discovered we’d crossed paths nine years earlier on the set of “1941.” He was trying to shoot BTS footage, an effort that Steven Spielberg cut short. Richard developed several teaser trailers for the film, as did Robert Zemeckis. The most expensive of Richard’s teasers was brilliant — but hardly ever shown, even though prints were made up in 70mm stereo.

The ‘giant letters’ of the title coming up through the ground were part of Richard’s efforts — the idea being to make “1941” look important with a classy Saul Bass-like approach. Dynamic imagery worked well for Close Encounters, with that mysterious road graphic filmed by motion control camera ace David Stewart.  

Nope, I never saw a “1941” trailer back in the day — the movie arrived under a cloud of industry disapproval. The only glimpse we got was a TV spot that showed on Saturday Night Live, that barely made a blip. I don’t even think it was a full 30 seconds long. John Belushi yelled and triggered an explosion, the adorable Wendie Jo Sperber said “That’s the guy for me!” and it was all over.

By my thinking this lengthy trailer is a mess that smacks of desperation. Steven Spielberg’s name is repeated, along with clips from his big hits, as if begging: ‘honest, you’ll like it!  The narration tries to be flip about the chaotic storyline, and the jokes get no traction. When a studio panics — in this case two studios — committees come up with this kind of sell.

We’re just glad that Bob Gale, with the help of Mike Matessino, reconstructed an authoritative full-length version of “1941”.  As I’ve said, I love the movie, but the consensus seems to be that any 20 minutes is spectacular fun until the migraines set in. Maybe it should re-edited as serial chapters, formatted in B&W and with five or six cliff-hangers, as if it had been produced by Republic Pictures.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson