Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Saving Stagecoach

Peter Bogdanovich's massive ego makes it hard to judge the validity of this story, but according to him, he managed to save the only existing pristine copy of Stagecoach when he found it in John Wayne's garage:

For a movie buff, it was a heady moment.  I said something like, “Jesus Christ, Duke, do you have 35mm prints of all your pictures!?”  He said, “No, but just about.  It’s been part of my regular deal for a long time—the studio’s gotta give me a print off the original negative.”  A light went on in my head.  I looked around and saw quite near me a canister marked “STAGECOACH.”  Knowing the original negative of that classic film—-the one which turned Wayne into a major star—-had been lost or destroyed, I got excited:  “Is that print of Stagecoach from the original negative?”  Wayne said, “I believe it is—don’t even think it’s ever been run.”

Well, this was golden news for film lovers because, as I told Wayne, his print—-which did turn out to be a mint copy—-could be used to create a new negative, producing a better result than anything in existence.  I knew that if he would actually contribute his Stagecoach print to a non-profit institution like the AFI, he would get a very good tax write-off.  After a new negative had been made, a new copy could then be sent to him.  Duke was enthusiastic, especially about the tax break.  Indeed, what I outlined in the garage did happen, and just that accidentally is how Stagecoach got saved.