Eureka delivers a Splendid DVD of Orson Welles’ F FOR FAKE
Who are the experts? Elmyr de Hory had dramatized the question of whether or not art exists. It has always existed, but today I believe that man cannot escape his destiny to create whatever it is we make—jazz, a wooden spoon, or graffiti on the wall. All of these are expressions of man's creativity, proof that man has not yet been destroyed by technology. But are we making things for the people of our epoch or repeating what has been done before? And finally, is the question itself important? We must ask ourselves that. The most important thing is always to doubt the importance of the question.
Thanks to "Store" and "Ste" for the information in the message board thread about Eureka's Masters of Cinema UK version of F For Fake. I actually contributed some F For Fake material to Craig Keller, who designed the beautiful 40-page full color booklet that comes with the DVD (which is far superior to Criterion's skimpy little booklet), but when I received a copy of the Eureka DVD, I somehow never got around to looking at it, since I had just recently watched the Criterion version. But after reading Ste's report about the hidden "Easter egg" on the Eureka disc, I quickly gave it a look for the first time and I must say that this hidden feature alone, makes the UK version a must have DVD. Here you get to see Welles mini-masterpiece of a trailer, restored to all it's glory in beautiful color by the Munich film archive, which is far superior to the awful version on the Criterion disc. As Bill Krohn notes in his commentary talk with Gary Graver, he likes the trailer more than the movie! So having it restored in gorgeous color is really something quite special.
Now, I've heard that Criterion was not only offered the beautifully restored F For Fake trailer for their own DVD, but also the original 50-minute Francois Reichenbach documentary, Elmyr: The True Picture, that was first shown on the BBC in 1970. Since Reichenbach's documentary forms a great deal of the various "found" footage that Welles used in putting F For Fake together, it seems nearly criminal that Criterion opted not to include either of these two gems on their own DVD.
Unfortunately, it seems like Criterion has a habit of making some very poor choices when it comes to their Welles DVD's. In fact, it was mostly due to Wellesnet's influence, that Criterion finally agreed to put out all three versions of their widely hailed Mr. Arkadin 3-DVD set. But, originally, due to some sort of behind the scenes "office politics" the Munich restoration was not going to be included on what was initially planned to be only a two-disc set. It represents the kind of idiotic thinking that plagued Welles projects throughout his career, and now seems to continue plaguing most of Welles films from coming out, long after he is gone.
However, what I really found most interesting on the Eureka F For Fake disc, was Peter Tonguette's interview with one of the editors of the trailer, Bill Haugse. According to Haugse, he was still working with Welles editing the trailer in 1978, which meant the film had already opened in America and failed badly at the box-office. If this time sequence is correct, here is yet another "fake" story to correct regarding the film. A small distributor, like Specialty films in Seattle, would obviously never make prints for a 9-minute trailer in 1978, months after they had already failed with the film. (It first opened in several U.S. cities in January and February of 1977).
It seems more likely that Welles was simply exercising his art, and wanted to shoot a short film for a possible (but unlikely) re-issue of F For Fake. As Gary Graver says in his commentary with Bill Krohn, Welles didn't even tell him initially what they were shooting!
Also, since both the Criterion and Eureka DVD booklets fail to give us anything close to the the film's definitive credits, for the record, here they are, as recorded in the press material from the Specialty Films release of 1977:
Francois Reichenbach presents
a film by ORSON WELLES
F FOR FAKE
ORSON WELLES - OJA KODAR
ELMYR de HORY - CLIFFORD IRVING
EDITH IRVING - FRANCOIS REICHENBACH
Numerous others playing THEMSELVES have contributed their special assistance to this film:
Joseph COTTEN - Richard WILSON
Paul STEWART - Sasa DEVCIC
Gary GRAVER - Laurence HARVEY
Andres Vincente GOMEZ - Julio PALINKAS
Christian ODASSO - Francoise WIDOFF
And through not seen in the film:
Peter BOGDANOVICH - William ALLAND
Directors of Photography:
Gary GRAVER (United States and Toussaint)
Christian ODASSO (France and Ibiza)
Music: Michel LEGRAND
Film Editors: Marie-Sophie DUBUS, Dominique ENGERER
Assistant Editors: Anne-Marie ENGERER, Dominique BOISCHOT, Elizabeth MOULINIER
Sound Mixer: Paul BERTAULT
a LES FILMS DE L'ASTROPHORE and JANUS FILMS Presentation
Released by Mountain View Properties,
Distributed by Specialty Films. Inc. (Seattle)