Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Primrose Path intro

I watched Primrose Path on Sunday as part of Ginger Rogers' day in Summer Under the Stars. One thing really intrigued me: at the beginning, even before the RKO logo, there was a card from the British film board saying that the movie had been passed for showing, and given a rating of A, for adult audiences. The other classification that seems to show up on films from the UK censors is U for universal. Primrose Path certainly deserves its A based on the subject material, even though the material had to be watered down significantly from the source novel on which it was based in order to pass the Production Code. I didn't pay attention to which of the TV content rating classifications Primrose Path received.

The interesting thing, of course, is that it's the British censors whose rating card appeared at the beginning of the print. Primrose Path is an RKO movie with a fully American cast and crew, and would presumably have been in the Warner Library from the time Ted Turner acquired it. The only thing I can think of is that somewhere along the way, the powers that be were looking for a print to restore the movie -- I'd guess that would date to when the people at the Warner Archive decided to include this movie in the collection; the Warner Archive DVD saw its release in February 2011. In tht case, it would be perfectly reasonable for the best print to be someplace arbitrary other than the rightsholder's archive.

Another example of this is A Man to Remember, although that movie has a different provenance. It's a remake of One Man's Journey. The earlier movie was one that Merian C. Cooper decided to retain the rights to when he left RKO, as part of his severance agreement. A Man to Remember being a remake, it would have had rights issues which resulted in Cooper ending up with the rights to it as well. But apparently the prints also left RKO's possession, and who knows what happened to whatever prints Cooper ended up with? When it came time to disentangle the rights situation, the one surviving print of A Man to Remember was found in the Netherlands, complete with bad 1930s era subtitles. I don't believe, however, that there was any rights situation with Primrose Path.

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