How many times have I written about the ongoing visual tragedy of Marlon Brando‘s One-Eyed Jacks? For too many years the 8-perf VistaVision splendor of this classic 1961 western, shot by Charles Lang, has been unviewable due to the film rights having lapsed into public domain, which has resulted in several atrocious-looking DVD dupes (largely sourced from a decent-looking Paramount laser disc issued in the ’90s) flooding the market. Well, this nightmare is finally at an end with Universal and Martin Scorsese‘s The Film Foundation having recently agreed to join forces on a 4K “restoration” of One Eyed Jacks.
A Universal Q2 report divulged the basics earlier this month, and this morning Film Foundation managing director Jennifer Ahn confirmed that the One-Eyed Jacks project is a definite go.
Yes, Universal and not Paramount, the original distributor. I’ve assumed all along that Paramount had retained rights but apparently not. The rights issue turned out to be “much more complicated than it seems,” Ahn says, “but ultimately we figured out that they belonged to Universal.” The Q2 report divulged that Universal and the Film Foundation have “begun film element research and scan tests” with an assessment report to follow, and then it’ll be off to the races. If all goes well (and it should) the One-Eyed Jacks Bluray will probably be released sometime next year.
Ahn will work with Universal senior vp technical operations Michael Daruty.
My understanding is that the original negative (pic was shot on Eastman 5248) has been sitting in a professionally-maintained Paramount vault ever since, and so a “restoration” is probably not going to be necessary. The work will mainly involve fine-tuning — digital cleanup, a telecine transfer, stabilization, color correction, etc.
Before the work commences I want one thing clearly understood. The aspect ratio of the One-Eyed Jacks Bluray has to be 1.66:1 and not 1.85:1. Please, no monkeying around on this point. 8-perf VistaVision, which was more or less Paramount’s “house” process during the burgeoning widescreen days of the mid 1950s, delivered an in-camera aspect ratio of 1.5 but was mastered in 1.66:1 from the mid to late ’50s. One-Eyed Jacks was actually the last VistaVision film ever shot. If there’s too much pushback against 1.66, at least crop the film at 1.78. No 1.85!