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"Vertigo," other classics coming back to theaters

vertigo October 8, 1996
Web posted at: 10:55 p.m. EDT

From Correspondent Sherri Dean

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A look through the current movie listings might give an old- time movie buff a feeling of nostalgia: the movie pages are filled with re-releases of the classics.

Kim Novak's performance in the Alfred Hitchcock classic "Vertigo" will not die, thanks to a million-dollar plus restoration followed by its current re-release. "Every time you watch it, you find new things. That was what was so great about Hitchcock," the actress recently told CNN.


Audiences who regularly watch old films on videotape may not realize that more than half of the movies made before 1950 are lost forever. Films made between 1950 and 1975 are also in danger of fading away.

So film restoration experts James Katz and Robert Harris are playing their part in keeping some of the classics alive. They spent two years restoring "Vertigo," frame by frame.

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"Everything we do is patchwork," said Katz. "Every scene has a different problem and a different requirement, and every aspect of the sound track has a different problem."

When Vertigo was first released in 1958, it did poorly at the box office after receiving negative reviews. Today's critics are calling the movie a masterpiece.


Other movies in the same period suffered similar fates, often undeservedly. "Those were the great days of movies in the period of 'Vertigo,'" said Walter Cronkite. "It's time for some of those to come back."

"Giant" is another classic that is staging a comeback, bringing Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean back to the big screen. Taylor looks as lovely as ever in the newly restored George Stevens classic, now coming to a theater near you.

Belle de Jour

The French film "Belle de Jour," which starred Catherine Deneuve as a housewife who led a double life as a prostitute, shocked audiences when it was first released in 1967. Last year in re-release, it pulled in $4 million.

Distributor Miramax Films said its multimillion dollar take made it a hit, considering that most non-English language films earn less than $1 million each in the United States. "I think in America people are more ready to see the film than 25 years ago," Deneuve said.

How do restorers decide whether a film should be re-released? "It has to be a film that has some lasting value, that it wasn't the trendy film of 1960 or 1970," said George Stevens, Jr., son of the "Giant" filmmaker.

Other classics are being prepared for their second release in theaters. One, the 1971 Oscar winner "The Garden of the Finzi- Continis," is scheduled for November release. There are reportedly plans to bring back "Bonnie and Clyde."

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