The first-anywhere unveiling of the restored version of Marlon Brando‘s One-Eyed Jacks happened late last night, and it looked truly wonderful in every respect. Yes, that includes the aspect ratio. I’ve been arguing that the restorers, Universal Home Video and The Film Foundation, should have gone with a somewhat more liberal 1.75 or 1.78 a.r. instead of an announced cropping of 1.85. My tried-and-true “why needlessly slice off that luscious head room?” argument was posted time and again.
Well, guess what? The Jacks a.r. didn’t look like 1.85 to me — it definitely looked more like 1.75. Speaking as an ex-projectionist and an a.r. fanatic second to none I know exactly and precisely what 1.85 vs. 1.75 are shaped like, and I’m telling you there’s an ample amount of headroom in every shot. To my enormous relief Jacks didn’t feel cut off or cramped in the slightest. And that, to me, spells 1.75.
My guess is that the film was indeed shown at 1.75. I was sitting right there in the second row, repeatedly calibrating the a.r. with my eye and my gut, tilting my head 90 degrees to the right and assessing the geometry, and I can’t accept that what I saw last night was cropped at 1.85. My guess is that the film was screened at 1.75 (the French have their own ways) but that the Bluray will pop at 1.85, or with a tiny bit less height. I’ve got an email out to Universal’s Peter Schade and The Film Foundation’s Margaret Bodde (both of whom delivered opening remarks) to suss this out.
Before the film began a taped introduction by Martin Scorsese was shown, discussing the film’s merits and offering a summary of the restoration work and who was responsible. Steven Spielberg was passionately involved also.
Incidentally: Unlike UHV’s Bluray of Psycho which begins with the old Paramount logo at the beginning even though Universal has owned the distribution rights for ages, the Paramount logo is gone from the very beginning of One-Eyed Jacks. Not a tragedy but it would have been a tiny bit nicer if they’d kept it.