Wanted: Ulzana's Raid

(Stanton) #21

But it is the version everybody prefers (probably).

It would be important to reconstruct the Lancaster version before all film elements are too damaged for a proper reconstruction.

Whatever, not to bring the Composite version in whatever quality as a bonus is a big missed chance. And remember, Universal had released this version “officially” in the late 90s at least once on VHS.

(Sebastian) #22

The movie business isn’t a democracy :slight_smile: We get the versions that either survive the market or are the vision of the makers. If the versions everybody likes were made, we’d have Han Solo shooting first (again), and all these nice things. I guess there was a reason back then for them to release two official versions for two large movie markets at the time, and whatever TV stations did later, they did it autonomously, without the directors’ approvals (or probably the studios), so that’s pretty much the level of fan edits… it would be nice to see these, or at least the materials, but I’d much rather see the director’s versions than whatever some guy from a broadcasting company cut together from magnetic tape material they have on file

(ENNIOO) #23

Both cuts of the film our interesting, and just as interesting was the fact the Lancaster cut come about as Lancaster was not 100% happy with the Aldrich cut. So Lancaster was allowed to prepare a European release which was released here in the UK ( not sure about other european countries).

But whether official or not the composite version makes more sense as a film and flows better. The composite version leaves less ambiguity to some key scenes in the film aswell.

(Stanton) #24

Lancaster’s version was the European version, definitely also the German version. Don’t know about the rest of the world.

It is also more critical in the presentation of the army.

The composite version is more complex and has overall a better pace than the shorter versions, cause this film benefits from more length. Even in that longer version it is Aldrich’s shortest film since the early 60s. And I think also for the years after.

(The Man With a Name) #25

I don’t agree personally. Here’s a comparison between the UK DVD and the first UK VHS:

There are official composites on DVD where the quality of the footage is even worse (for example, the Shameless release of The Designated Victim) but most fans would rather have that than nothing at all. If it really was important, a composite between two VHS tapes could be made to ensure that the quality was more or less the same but I still don’t think fans would care. I remember the quality on the last UK VHS release in the 90s is also clearer than these screen-shots, which are taken from the 1980s CIC release.

The fact that the composite was used for TV screenings is more justification for a proper release. TV cuts are being offered as bonus features quite often. The Repo Man Blu-rays included both the theatrical and the TV cuts and the Death Wish 2 Blu-Ray from Australia included the TV cut on DVD. Such bonus features usually boost sales out of film fans’ curiosity.

As Stanton said, it’s more critical in its presentation of the army. The additional scene with the Captain and the Major is sorely missed from Aldrich’s cut and offers better character development:

The scene with Ulzana messing around with his son makes the Apaches less one-dimensional, showing us a more human side to Ulzana:

And the scene showing us the death of Miller helps to fill in some plot holes:

There are certainly more flaws in Lancaster’s version. I would disagree with Stanton and argue that the pace is better in Aldrich’s cut. Lancaster shortens too many good scenes and prolongs others to ensure he always has the last say. It does come across as a bit of an ego trip at times but I think some scenes were better when prolonged. The additional dialogue from Lancaster about the mission ahead works better for me:

The only scene I would cut is the additional dialogue between DeBuin and MacIntosh right after Mrs. Riordan attempts suicide:

The scene works better when it cuts right after DeBuin says, “I want him.” In Lancaster’s version, it ends with MacIntosh saying “just sayin’ my say” and it feels like Lancaster only included the additional dialogue for that very reason, to ensure he had the last say.

Both versions have advantages and disadvantages. A composite can only make it a better film since the material is all very good and helps to fill in the gaps. Even still, Lancaster’s cut should be restored since it was the version released on European cinemas. It’s also the first version of the film I remember watching on UK television.

(Stanton) #26

That was mistakable. I meant that the composite version has a better pace than the shorter versions, cause the film benefits from the additional scenes.
But again, for me both of the shorter versions also work very well, but the longer version adds a lot of flesh to the film’s characters and the film’s themes.
And remember, I don’t belong to the “longer is always better” team. But here it is definitely so.

Btw I would not call the scene with the death of Miller a plot hole. It is now shown, while in Aldrich’s cut we only know about that via dialogues, and can only guess how it happened. But again the scene deepens the way we get into the story and the characters.

Actually I have no idea why Aldrich cut all these wonderful scenes, or why Lancaster also failed to create a substantial longer version. Again, with only 103 min Ulzana’s Raid is considerably shorter than any other Aldrich film made in the 60s and 70s (which often enough run up to 130 - 150 min).
But according to the books about Aldrich, there was no pressure on him to shorten the film, nor was their any studio interference in the film’s editing.

(ENNIOO) #27

Interesting. Does make you wonder then why he made the film with a shorter running time to films of his from the same period.

(Stanton) #28

Aldrich said in 1976 that apart from 2 little exceptions (in The Longest Yard and in Baby Jane) “nobody’s ever changed any picture of mine in the last 10 or 15 years”.
About the Lancaster cut he said that “Burt Lancaster changed the foreign version of UR, for what reason I don’t know, but not the American version”.

As he worked again with Burt only a year later, it seems he wasn’t too peeved at him for these changes.

What Wiki writes about the differences is obviously wrong:
“There are many subtle differences between the two versions although the overall running times are similar and most of the changes involve alterations of shots or lines of dialogue within scenes.”

For those who are interested, 3 of the 4 scenes not to be found in Aldrich’s cut can be watched on Youtube. The 4th is apparently blocked for unknown reasons.

(The Man With a Name) #29

Yeah, that was a misuse of words,sorry. I didn’t quite mean that. I just meant, as you said, that it helps us get more into the story and characters.

(The Man With a Name) #30

I tried uploading the full Lancaster cut on various sites but Unviersal blocked it immediately.

(The Man With a Name) #31

So, since the last time I posted on this thread, I have acquired Lancaster’s version uncut (German DVD is cut) and the WDR television version (only in German). I have also acquired the fan project, which is very badly edited unfortunately with the same scenes and dialogue inserted multiple times just because they’re at a different angle (why anyone would do this is beyond me).

I’ve discovered that there’s a lot of fans out there and one particular company that is keen to release Lancaster’s version (this print is in desperate need of preservation) is Powerhouse Films/Indicator. They told me the only reluctance stems from the awareness it has to be cut to be approved by the BBFC. I suggested that they could do what Warner did with Conan - make it so that it responds to region A players playing the uncut version and lock the cut one to region B. Maybe if more fans request this title from them with the same suggestion, they might seriously start considering it.

(Stanton) #32

Ok, yes you said once that was taken from a cut UK VHS tape, too bad. I assume the horse falls were cut, like always?

And from which source is the uncut version? And in which quality?

(The Man With a Name) #33

If you mean the Lancaster version, it’s just the Belgian CIC release, so it’s identical to the UK VHS but with the horse falls intact.

(Stanton) #34

How’s the picture compared to the version from the German disc?

(The Man With a Name) #35

It’s the same print.