About 10 days ago I spoke to a Universal source about the progress of the forthcoming One-Eyed Jacks Bluray, a joint restoration between Universal Home Video and the Film Foundation that I’m assuming will street sometime in the spring or summer. (Work began last July.) The big question is what aspect ratio will they decide upon — 1.85:1, 1.78:1 or 1.66:1? I’m presuming that my personal preference of 1.66 will be passed over in favor of 1.78, which I can live with. It breaks my heart but I can take it. As long as they don’t whack it down to the dreaded 1.85:1.
I’m told that when work began on Marlon Brando‘s sole directorial effort it was scanned at the full VistaVision aperture, or 1.5:1. Universal was waiting for input from Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, who were both in the process of reviewing the restoration (or about to review it), when I reached out.
Some weeks ago Austin Wilkin, a Brando estate representative who had been asked by Universal for an aspect-ratio preference, sought my opinion. I said it should be 1.66 if the sides aren’t sliced off. Why throw away all that beautiful VistaVision footage on the tops and bottoms of the frames?
We all know One-Eyed Jacks was primarily projected at 1.85 but that dp Jack Lang‘s compositions were made with an understanding that the full aperture would be 1.5:1, that 1.66 was very much in play at the time (the aperture plates were certainly present and being used in theatre booths all over) and that the boxy TV aspect ratio had to be considered. My guess, as noted, is that Universal and The Film Foundation are going to go for a 1.78:1 as this fits 16 x 9 high-def screens, and it at least allows for a bit more height than 1.85.
I was also told that some kind of limited theatrical exhibition will occur prior to or concurrent with with the release of the Bluray.
Toby Roan has been working on a self-published book called “A Million Feet of Film: The Making of One-Eyed Jacks“. The poor guy’s been working on it for two or three years, trying to build, add and refine on weeknights and weekends. Here’s the copy from the Tumblr page:
“What happens when ‘the world’s greatest actor’ directs a cowboy movie?
“More than three years from contracts to premiere. Six months of shooting. A thousand takes. Almost 200 miles of negative exposed. A revolving door of personnel, including Rod Serling, Sam Peckinpah and Stanley Kubrick — who’d all be gone before the first frame was shot. And a budget that ballooned from $1.8 million to $6 million.
“’If you wrote a book about what’s been happening on this movie, you could make $1,000,000.’ — Marlon Brando.
“A Million Feet Of Film” is the story of One-Eyed Jacks (1961), Marlon Brando’s first, and only, time as a director and a picture that may be better known for its troubled production than its merits as a film.
“If we’d made it the way Marlon wanted it made, it could have been a breakthrough Western.” — Karl Malden.
“It’s also the story of the picture’s influence on the Westerns and filmmakers that came after it.
“’One-Eyed Jacks is one of my favorite films of all time.’ — Terry Gilliam.
“Watch this page for updates or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more. Also, check out A Million Feet Of Film on Facebook.”