Jump to content


Photo

"McCabe & Mrs. Miller" one of my favorite films


  • Please log in to reply
8 replies to this topic

#1 Joe Taylor

Joe Taylor
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 397 posts
  • Other

Posted 12 July 2006 - 09:06 PM

I'm watching it now on DVD on my HD set, I and am distracted by how ugly the cinematography is. I've read articles about how they flashed the neg and so. The set design, costumes and excellent and apporpriate to the period, but the cinematography is so garish and grainy. I't almost as if the shot with available light. One scene in a brothel they used super red gels on the lights that are totally unmotivated.
  • 0

#2 Joe Taylor

Joe Taylor
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 397 posts
  • Other

Posted 12 July 2006 - 09:56 PM

Maybe if I had teh experience to see McCab & Mrs. Miller in a theatre setting with a pristine print I'd feel better, but I'm thinking (hoping) the reason the DVD looks so rough is because it is made from old source material.

Perhaps we'll get a more respectful DVD (HDDVD) release in the future. Such a great film.
  • 0

#3 Sakari Suuronen

Sakari Suuronen
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 53 posts
  • Student
  • Tampere, Finland

Posted 13 July 2006 - 05:13 AM

I'm no expert on this one, but I remember reading somewhere, might have been Raging Bulls, Easy Riders that the movie looked just the way Robert Altman wanted and the studio really hated it. He wanted the movie look really muddy and the studio was terrified by it (they wanted the stars to look beautiful.) I'm sure someone can continue from here.


Respect to Altman for always walking his own path.
  • 0

#4 Mitch Gross

Mitch Gross
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2873 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 13 July 2006 - 11:48 AM

Wow, and here I go thinking that it is a very lovely-looking film.

It's all about context, and in this regard I think that the look fits in very well with the production design, sound design storytelling technique and general atmosphere. The only weakness I find is with the ancient F/X capabilities on the final sequence where they had add falling snow to some shots. Other than that I think it looks great. Soft, muddy tones with little to no contrast or color saturation. A bit of smokey diffusion to further thicken the air. You can almost SMELL the film. It would be entirely inappropriate to look like Silverado. Look at how dank and muddy the end of "Unforgiven" looks -- which is a beautiful movie. Right for the scene.
  • 0

#5 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19769 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 13 July 2006 - 11:55 AM

The visual concept was that the movie would look both harshly realistic and also like a faded photograph. So the grain, the fogginess, the pastel quality to the exteriors are all by design. If it looks garish and overly chromatic, then somethings wrong with your TV set -- there are only a few scenes in particularly saturated colored light. Most of the movie is smokey and warm-looking inside.

Over the years, it seems that the exterior shots have been timed warmer than the older prints though.
  • 0

#6 Max Jacoby

Max Jacoby
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2955 posts
  • Other

Posted 13 July 2006 - 04:02 PM

I'm no expert on this one, but I remember reading somewhere, might have been Raging Bulls, Easy Riders that the movie looked just the way Robert Altman wanted and the studio really hated it. He wanted the movie look really muddy and the studio was terrified by it (they wanted the stars to look beautiful.) I'm sure someone can continue from here.
Respect to Altman for always walking his own path.

They were shooting on locaiton and using a local lab and apparently Altman, in order to keep the studio at bay, told them that it was the local labs fault, the finished film would look much better.
  • 0

#7 Bob Hayes

Bob Hayes
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1087 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Culver City, California

Posted 14 July 2006 - 01:31 AM

I think it was the transfer you saw. When I saw McCabe in the theater it blew me away. It was one of the first uses of pre-flashing and the look was stunning in the theater. It felt so realistic and so period when it came out. If anything I remember it being desaturated and not the Technicolor look that was so popular at the time. It was one of the films that heralded a movement to more realistic and gritty photography and stories.
  • 0

#8 Greg Lowry

Greg Lowry
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 52 posts
  • Other
  • Vancouver

Posted 14 July 2006 - 02:07 AM

I saw it several times in the theater when it was released and a few times since then. There's no doubt that it's a grainy film, but the video transfers I've seen definitely don't do it justice. It's really one of the great films of the 70s IMO.

Alpha Cine in Vancouver did the front end work including the preflashing.

I recall the story that Altman tells of running into Kubrick at a multiplex in London where they were, coincidentially, seeing each other's movies. Kubrick wanted to know all about the slow zooms in McCabe.
  • 0

#9 Mitch Gross

Mitch Gross
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2873 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 14 July 2006 - 04:16 PM

Funny, I know both these stories. I did a dissertation on Altam back in college (specifically his overlapping sound use). There were some major problems with the first prints that came out of Alpha Cine but these were on check prints of the finished film and the problem was apparently a bad audio optical track.

When Kubrick & Altman ran into each other at the movie theater (Stanley was on the way out), Kubrick asked how Altman was able to control the zooms in order to get the framing he wanted at the right time (this was pre-videotap days). Altman responded that he let the operator run the zoom and trusted him. And anyone who knows anything about Stanley Kubrick can understand how mindbending a concept this would be to him.
  • 0


Aerial Filmworks

Ritter Battery

rebotnix Technologies

CineTape

Willys Widgets

Wooden Camera

Metropolis Post

Rig Wheels Passport

Glidecam

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

The Slider

Visual Products

Paralinx LLC

CineLab

Tai Audio

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Broadcast Solutions Inc

FJS International, LLC

Opal

Abel Cine

Technodolly

CineTape

Technodolly

Opal

Rig Wheels Passport

Tai Audio

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

The Slider

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

rebotnix Technologies

Metropolis Post

Visual Products

CineLab

FJS International, LLC

Paralinx LLC

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

Willys Widgets

Wooden Camera

Abel Cine

Ritter Battery

Aerial Filmworks