Hollywood Elsewhere to anyone who can shed light, but particularly Howard Hawks biographers Joseph McBride and Todd McCarthy: The forthcoming Criterion Bluray of Howard Hawks‘ Red River (’48) is described on the Criterion website as being a “4K digital restoration of the rarely presented original theatrical release version” that runs 127 minutes, as opposed to 133-minute version that was on the Masters of Cinema Bluray that streeted on 10.28.13.
The Criterion disc will also include a 2K restoration of the “longer version” (i.e., 133 minutes), which is the same version found on the Masters of Cinema Bluray.
If I’m remembering correctly, Hawks said that he preferred a version of the film that Walter Brennan‘s character, Groot, vocally narrates, as opposed to the more commonly seen version that shows pages of a journal telling portions of the story.
A comment from Curtis Tsui, the producer of Criterion’s Red River Bluray: “Jeffrey’s recollection that the Brennan v.o. version — the original 1948 theatrical release sans journal pages — is Hawks’s preferred version is correct. That’s our primary presentation of the film, the 127-minute cut.
“However there’s a lot of appreciation for the longer version — which is a pre-release/”preview” version of the movie that Hawks had made but didn’t like — so that cut is being presented as well.
“The theatrical/preferred version is, in fact, shorter than the ‘journal’ preview version. We’ll also be presenting an April 1972 audio interview with Hawks conducted by Peter Bogdanovich that features the former explaining that the preview version was “too long” and too slow to his tastes, hence the subsequent trimming and v.o. narration.”
It just seems surprising that the vocally narrated version (if in fact this is what Criterion will be delivering) is a full six minutes shorter than the 133-minute version. There isn’t that much footage of journal pages flipping by. Maybe a minute’s worth, two at the outside. So the 4K Criterion version must contain other trims than just the absence of the journal pages.
Criterion’s Red River Bluray comes out on 5.27.14.
I was quite underwhelmed by the grainy textures of the Masters of Cinema Bluray of Red River. Here’s my 11.7.13 review.