Saturday 19 November 2016

On Blu-ray - David Hare on Marlon Brando and the restored ONE EYED JACKS (and the Kings Cross Gaiety)

(click to enlarge)
At this point in the movies I think Brando was the most beautiful man who ever walked the earth. The screen (left) of course is from the new 4K restoration of One-Eyed Jacks which premmed at Cannes this year. now on Criterion Blu Ray. I only wish the company was already at the 4K/UHD disc stage of releasing so we could get this in a totally ultra premium format. 
Meanwhile I have to make do with the fabbo new Panny UHD TV uprezzing the image and giving it the caboodle of HDR and other magic tricks. The 4K was taken from scans of the original 8 perf Vistavision element, so they started with the best, and even beyond the sheer effort of restoration the disc is like a long lost treasure trove of extra material including 33 minutes of extracts from Brando's own daily voice recording shooting notes during the filming. There's so much more, and I have barely had time to scratch around the perimeters. 
Technically the BD is superb, mastered at a a steady 30mbPs bitrate which gives the image completely optimal presentation in terms of grain, sharpness, stability, depth, dynamic range, tone and density. It's perfect. Andt the color palette which had initially bothered me slightly from screens, is meticulously rendered.
I have only the haziest memory of seeing this before once in my life, in 35mm and almost certainly a Tech IB print, at the Gaiety Theatrette in Sydney's Kings Cross back in the late sixties. At that stage the manager of that establishment was doing both unpredictable programming and also things like re masking everything regardless of original provenance to a pseudo Scope ratio with top and bottom curtains. While it operated like a mini cinematheque the projection was abysmal, wildly unreliable at the best of times. 
The Kings Cross Gaiety, circa the 60s

The fondly remembered Gaiety also served a broad church of action movie loving audiences those days, including spivs, petty crims, cruising gays, drag divas, hookers, school kids playing hookey like me, and that weirdest of living forms, the lone cinephile. And I confess I shared the audience's bewilderment at the time in large part at the movie along with a kind of breathless awe at the sheer beauty of such an intensely personal spectacle (Brando's own riff on Garrett and Billy the Kid) given within such a sumptuous and staggeringly beautiful large form. I am going to watch this tonight very eagerly. And while I look forward to comments from anyone old enough to remember sixties era screenings and color qualities, I hope to become sufficiently immersed to forget about such trivia, along with earthquakes, the vile Trump and other disasters.


  1. Fabulous photo Geoff.... "warm inside!". The guy on the left looks liek William Burroughs. And the pencil tight skinny jeans on the guy on the right suggests mid sixties.

  2. I'm taken by the man in the raincoat...!

  3. My only previous screening was a 16mm copy at a MUFS screening before seeing it in the Arlecchino Cinema in Bologna this year in all glory.... Back in the 60s it was one of those films which some people, not necessarily the hard core buffs, saw repeatedly and knew all the lines. Sweet Smell of Success was another such as was Penn's The Chase.....


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