TCM Partners on a documentary on the search for Orson Welles’ long-lost “The Magnificent Ambersons” cut; Will debut 80th anniversary in 2022


EXCLUSIVE: It’s only been about a quarter of a century since it started, but filmmaker Joshua Grossman’s Quixotic has documented the documented quest to find the original impression of Orson Welles’ 1942 classic. The magnificent Amberons enlisted a powerful media partner to help him on his long journey to finally solve one of cinema’s great mysteries.

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is teaming up with Grossberg to complete its documentary on the search for what many film historians consider to be the “Holy Grail,” which is Welles’ original imprint as a preview of the film, his following the iconic 1941 Citizen Kane, which made him fire by RKO Studios after screenings of tests which would have been disastrous. The studio then took control, cut 43 minutes and shot new scenes including a new ending, all without the approval or input from its director. The original excised footage was melted down for its nitrate for use during World War II. The resulting film, even in its truncated form, still managed to live on as a certifiable classic and was even nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture and three more, but the missed opportunity to see it as Welles had. planned has been on the to-do list for moviegoers for almost 80 years. Welles said he thought in his original form The magnificent Amberons overcome Citizen Kane, a film still considered by many to be the greatest of all time, as well as the inspiration for David Fincher’s current film of its creation, Mank which leads everyone else in Oscar nominations this year.

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Watch a full version of the documentary on Grossman’s long gestational dreams The search for the lost imprint: the making of Orson Welles’ magnificent Ambersons as a perfect vehicle to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Amber next year was irresistible for TCM, and a natural fit. As TCM points out, the legend of Welles’ director’s cut only rose when moviegoers discovered details gleaned from production photos and firsthand accounts of those who viewed them. Film historians now regard this lost version as Welles’ second masterpiece, which the author has indeed once proclaimed as even better than Citizen Kane, if only the studio had left him alone. “They destroyed Amber and it destroyed me. This is what Orson Welles said, who also criticized him for his lack of work for many years following the debacle of his post-production.

“We know it’s a long way, but if these guys were able to find Orson Welles’ version of the movie, it would be one of the greatest discoveries in movie history,” Charlie said. Tabesh, Senior Vice President, Programming and Content. strategy for Turner Classic Movies (TCM). “It’s too important not to try.”

As part of this initiative, TCM will sponsor Grossberg’s research trip to Brazil, where he believes the Welles version exists somewhere, even perhaps sitting in a collector’s attic, to follow the leads he has. developed during its 25 years of research. At the same time, the writer-director recounts his quest in the feature-length documentary which will be broadcast on TCM in July 2022. If somehow the non-massacred version of the film is indeed find and in viable condition, Grossberg and TCM will premiere it in conjunction with the documentary’s premiere. The film, produced by Joseph Schroeder and Gary Greenblatt under the production banner of Grossberg Under the Dome Ltd., will not only follow Grossberg’s quest to find the original version, but will also explore the legend surrounding the lost print, Amber‘troubled production and Welles’ exile from Hollywood – the critical turning point in a career that would see this movie giant make its way to more independent cinema.

There is always hope. “Given the missing full version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis was discovered in an Argentinian museum in 2008, it is quite possible that the lost imprint of Amber survived somewhere in Brazil, ”said writer-director Joshua Grossberg. “Being able to finally find the leads that I have developed is exciting and I am grateful to TCM for their support.”

At Deadline’s New York Contenders Film 2019 event, Greenblatt actually approached me and told me about his plans for the documentary, then in pre-production, and he followed up later in July 2020 to share a “Sizzling reel” they had mounted even as the pandemic delayed the project and their trip to Brazil to complete filming. You can find the sizzle coil here:

Finding the Lost Footprint: The Making of Orson Welles, The Magnificent Ambersons – Sizzle

Many other films, cut by their studios in different ways, managed to regain a semblance of glory, the years 1954. A star is born being reduced to at least part of its original life after the discovery of film boxes and missing audio tracks (photos must have been used for part of its restoration).

In the mid-1990s, Grossberg stumbled upon some tantalizing leads regarding his whereabouts: a film archivist working at a Brazilian film distributor claimed to have seen boxes containing the 131-minute version in the 1960s; TCM and Grossman are hopeful that this and other news may lead to pure Sherlock in the lost impression, one that even the then editor-in-chief, the late Robert Wise who put it together, had said he thought she might still be somewhere in this country she was delivered to. to Welles who was working on a new movie at the time.

Grossberg’s return trip to Brazil will (hopefully) begin in the summer of 2021, although Brazil’s dire situation at Covid is not ideal to say the least. He will tell it as he renews his search for the lost imprint and questions other key players.

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