Ye Olde Dragon here, and I’ve got me Irish up!
Last night, Sunday, March 15, 2015, our friends at Turner Classic Movies presented the latest edition of the Leonard Maltin hosted “Treasures from the Disney Vault”. The first film of the evening was Robert Stephenson‘s DARBY O’GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE (1960).
I had made sure to mention this airing (considering it was shown with the companion promotional episode of WALT DISNEY PRESENTS) as a highlight when I posted my Imagi-Movies schedule for March. I also tweeted about it, posted it on Facebook and wrote a special reminder blog post yesterday. As could be expected, there was a large impromptu gathering of the #TCMParty faithful eagerly looking forward to the broadcast of this beloved classic, singing the praises of TCM making this arrangement with Disney. We soon discovered, however, that we were seemingly the victims of a Leprechaun’s trick as our Crock O’ Gold quickly turned out to be a crock of something else.
I couldn’t quite put my finger on the problem after the first of Darby‘s scenes, but I felt that something was not quite right. Fellow film blogger and #TCMParty goer Will McKinley soon posted that the aspect ratio was off from what it was supposed to be. Within the next two minutes I realized what the problem was that was nagging at me: Albert Sharpe’s (Darby) voice was different. His high-pitched lilting brogue was gone. Within minutes, I noticed the same to be true for Jimmy O’Dea (King Brian). I then realized that the lines spoken in Gaelic were also removed and the music was somewhat different.
Apparently, it turns out that there was a version that was made for re-release which also included filtering key scenes with a supernatural bent to have a blue tone, including the scenes with the Banshee, Darby and Michael (Sean Connery, in his film debut) climbing the hill to look for Katie (Janet Munro) and The Death Coach approaching Darby as another major difference from the original release.
Here’s an entry I found on IMDB.com:
“After the modest returns during its first run, it was felt that younger viewers had trouble understanding the thick Irish accents. The film was re-dubbed, replacing some of the Irish with English and softening the Irish accents, for reissues. “
THIS must be the version that was aired.
I actually turned the TCM broadcast off and put in my DVD – the 2004 release – and synchronized it to within a few seconds. I flipped back and forth for comparisons and that’s why noticed the difference in the coloring.
The differences became even more obvious to those who did not have the availability of the DVD (or access to Amazon prime which streams the original version as well) with the airing of the episode of WALT DISNEY PRESENTS that promoted the original release, titled I Captured the King of the Leprechauns, which featured all of the original voices and soundtrack.
To say I was surprised is an understatement. To say that I was mad doesn’t begin to cover it. I can easily count on one hand the times that TCM has irked me. It is, indeed, very rare that they do something which upsets me.This time, however, I am not alone in my frustration. A number of us were venting all over twitter and Facebook, some of us promising to send emails to address the situation. I am not intending to speak for anyone else in the #TCMParty, but I am merely informing you of the discontent of many who were in attendance last night.
I for one, would like an answer from the powers that be at Turner Classic Movies to this question:
Was this the version that Disney gave/authorized you to air?
If so, then you have a bone of contention to pick with them, considering this was supposed to be something special from their “vault“. Your viewers expected the original and were presented with a far inferior duplicate. If this is the kind of content that Disney provides you with, I do not know if I can in good faith promote their participation, nor do I know anyone else who will. I actually apologized on my Facebook timeline for recommending the movie, as it was clearly not what was advertised. Considering the integrity that you usually put into your presentations we were all quite shocked and disappointed last night.
I certainly hope that we will not be placed in this situation again.
I remain a fan,
… End of Line…