The Exquisite View From the Terrace

March 12, 2016 | By

Twilight Time’s been going through Fox’s recent HD transfers of their CinemaScope gems, replacing the older (but no less decent) DVD releases, and among my personal favourites is From the Terrace, the 1960 film adapted by Ernest Lehman from John O’Hara’s reportedly 900 page monster novel.

FromTheTerrace_Woodward_mI’ve never read the author’s work, but the film certain pricks an interest in seeing what massive details were so cleverly distilled into one of the best melodramas produced by the studio. It’s classic, gorgeous, and features Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward together on screen, with Ina Balin as the wedge that ultimately turns a self-destructive man into a decent being. The fact Terrace (the film) isn’t a full tragedy is kind of a welcome because the real joy resides in the layers of discontent that affect a wronged son whose childhood still decides the kind of relationships he chooses.

It’s also a fine example of Mark Robson’s direction when he was at the peak of his producing-directing success at Fox, having started out as an editor at RKO (Cat People) before moving towards directing (Bedlam) in the studio’s Val Lewton horror unit.

Robson tackled dramas, war films, biographies, and literary adaptations, but like many of his contemporaries, once the seventies set in, there wasn’t much being offered to a director of big stars, large budgets, and epic melodramas. Well, there was Earthquake (1974), a classic yet completely boneheaded disaster epic with a massive cast of aging stars, but in that film he seemed more of a producer-wrangler, supervising second unit effects teams and departments, ego-driven stars, and making sure the film would successfully meet Universal’s desire to launch their new Sensurround bass-rumbling system with a bang.

Speaking of Sensurround, Shout / Scream Factory announced the underrated thriller Rollercoaster (1977) will get the HD treatment on Blu June 21st, and Two-Minute Warning (1976) will also makes its debut on Blu June 28th. With regards to the latter, Shout should REALLY do what they can and dig up those extensive extra scenes shot to pad out the film for a two-evening, two-part network TV airing that was popular at the time.

The procedure treated star-studded films like events – even Superman (1978) contained loads of extra footage for its two-night debut – and for networks, allowed them to earn extra ad revenue for what were two 2 hour or one 3 hour time slot. The extra cash certainly helped pay for the hefty rights to air the film, whereas the rights also helped cover the studio’s own expense in creating alternate dub tracks where any potty words and exclamatory religious references (Oh God, Jesus Christ, Holy Shit, etc., etc.) were replaced, and snipping out adult-themed material and slotting in neutral deleted footage that arguably worked better when the film was repeatedly broken up with ad breaks.

Two-Minute Warning isn’t a great film (in fact, many of the films I’m mentioning are lesser works), and the extra scenes really drag out the story, but they’re part of the film’s history and deserved to be archived in HD.

The Deep (1978) was similarly aired with extra footage, but the Blu-ray contains maybe half of the TV version scenes. Fans of that wet t-shirt classic are still waiting for a full-on special edition. Same goes for the 1976 King Kong remake, of which some deleted scenes were reportedly on the French HD-DVD release. The extra scenes Robson shot for Earthquake also remained orphaned, as does the longer TV cut of Irwin Allen’s epic stinker Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979), whereas the extra footage for Kevin Costner’s Waterworld (1995) debacle exist on a DVD special edition – but not on Blu.

The point? If a studio or an indie label is already going through the trouble to release a Blu-ray edition, just do it right the first time round. And keep it in print for a while. No steel book, no limited run, no merchant / online exclusive deal.

Just do it right, bullshit-free.

Coming next: the schoolgirl-in-peril trilogy that began with What Have You Done to Solange? (1972) from Arrow / MVD, and lumbered along in two sequels of sorts, What Have They Done to Your Daughters (1974) and Virgin Killer (1978).




Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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