This is topic GORKY PARK!! Super 8mm optical sound feature in forum 8mm Print Reviews at 8mm Forum.

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Posted by Osi Osgood (Member # 424) on February 25, 2017, 11:38 AM:
This has long been a favorite film of mine from the early 80’s.

It starts with a bang and never lets up. Three bodies are found in the self-same Gorky park in Russia, with their faces peeled off! A dogged Russian detective, (played by the very reliable William Hurt) is put on the case. He is sent on a spiraling chase, only to find that the trail leads to the highest levels of Russian government and cuts to his very heart.

A friend of the three victims (who knows more than she’s letting on about, played by Joanna Pacula), becomes Hurts love interest, but she is also involved with an American businessman, (played by the awesome Lee Marvin in, in my opinion, his last really good role), who’s also involved heavily in the situation. She wants Marvin to take her to the U.S.

It all centers around the illegal smuggling out of some fuzzy little creatures that they make lovely fur hats and coats out of, (worth millions if they can be smuggled out alive), and the person that the whole story centers around, kills the three to be rid of any extra “witnesses” to the activity. To add to the drama, a hard hitting American cop, (played by Brian Dennehey), is "hunting" about in Russia as well for, you see, one of the three victims was his brother. Hurt and Dennehy end up “partnering” up to catch the bad guys.

It all leads up to a final confrontation between Hurt, Marvin and Pacula. It’s certainly one of the best examples of action and detective yarn from the early 80’s to be sure.

Gorky, thankfully for us, ended up being one of the optical sound airline features of the early 80’s. As with all of these “R” rated features, this one was edited down by about 10 minutes, (originally running 127 minutes, and optical sound features had to run slightly less than 120 minutes to fit in the cartridges for the airline projectors), but thankfully, the edited out material was not central to the over-all story arc. A two minute sex scene between Hurt and Paccula is out, a 3 minute scene between Hurt and another friend of his is out, (which was not essential to the story), and part of a scene in the autopsy room where there were more graphic shots of the three corpses is out, and that pretty much makes up the edits out of it, so they did a pretty good job of the edit and since as soon as these films were released, they would already be making versions presentable for TV, this might well have been taken from the TV edit.

Now, the sad part of this feature.

This film, as stated before, came out in 1983. This was right at the period in which the film stocks were changing for the better. Eastman low fade L.P.P. had already been introduced to super 8 by mid to late 1982, but many optical sound super 8 film labs were choosing to use the, no doubt, cheaper old Eastman quick fade stock. After all, these optical sound prints were never expected to be used beyond their few month usage on the airlines, (and it is now 34 years since this was printed) …

So, they used the quick fade Eastman. This is a shame as the blacks are no longer there. What is curious is that most of the other colors are prominently there. One scene in particular, in the smugglers room, there are nearly brilliant hues and his plant in his window has perfect yellows and greens, so, if the blacks had not have faded, this print would have looked fantastic. I have had three prints of this feature on super 8, and all of them have looked the exact same. Perhaps if I found one cored, not used and just stored in someone’s basement, I might have an off-chance of finding it with better blacks, but I doubt it.

Another curiosity is that for the first two shots in the film, (after the credits) are VERY faded, but then it goes to the better color of the rest of the print after that. One other curiosity of this print is that I at first compared the color to the bluray of this, but then, I had a few snippets of 35MM from the feature, (I used to have the 35MM version of this many years ago and had to make a few splices), and the original color of the feature is certainly different than that of the bluray. The 35MM was a lovely L.P.P. print, so it was unfaded, but, as with all blurays, they change the color to a greater or lesser extant to appeal to modern audience desires. So this is another case of “don’t compare you’re film print to a bluray/DVD” caution.

Gorky Park is a product of it’s time period. The cold war was still a very real thing, (as with the scene with the smuggler house with all of his illegal merchandise). The film shows the food shortages of the late comunistic era. Helsinki was actually used to simulate Russia’s climate but was done so well that you’d never notice the difference.

I still hold out hopes of finding a, at least, decent color print of this on optical sound super 8. Good luck on finding one.

And, as always …

Posted by Tom Photiou (Member # 130) on March 05, 2017, 09:08 AM:
Great review Osi, i have only seen this movie once and it was a very good film. Lee Marvin is one of my favourite actors, i cant ever remember seeing a movie with him in it and not liking it.
I recently purchased, (for a small sum of a tenner) the scope super 8 trailer to Point Blank, great quality to. [Wink]
Posted by David Guest (Member # 2791) on March 05, 2017, 05:37 PM:
I have this on 16mm and its for sale
Posted by Simon Balderston (Member # 5106) on March 06, 2017, 05:52 AM:
i had it on 16mm for 15 years great film
Posted by Osi Osgood (Member # 424) on March 06, 2017, 11:40 AM:
I actually have the full feature of "Point Blank" on super 8 optical sound. it was a very early Super 8 optical sound release and though from 1968, (the actual print), the color is about 7 out of 10 or better. The optical track is a little lighter than it used to be but still pretty darned good.

These early MGM super 8 optical sound features tended to be slightly letterboxed as well.
Posted by Clinton Hunt (Member # 2072) on March 06, 2017, 11:15 PM:
Tell me Osi ...
I have only one Super 8mm film with optical sound and it is Grizzly Adams (as you probably remember)
I read somewhere online or maybe in this great forum that the optical sound can fade?
What have you discovered?
Posted by Osi Osgood (Member # 424) on March 07, 2017, 11:35 AM:
Yes, that is one of the downsides to optical soubnd super 8. The optical track can fade. Sometimes, you'll still have a very good picture, while the optical soundtrack has went from a nice extremely dark purplish/black, to a light pink. It still has the sound, but the lighter the optical soundtrack becomes, the weaker the audio becomes and with how dirt and dust can affect optical sound, you can have a soundtrack that has more noise than soundtrack.

As a general rule, the optical tracks tend to hold up better than the picture on the film, but there are times, especially with older super 8 opticals, where the optical track fades first.

From what I understand (from those more learned than I), after awhile, those who made the super 8 optical sound prints, would add an extra coating or layer on the soundtracks to in fact makke sure that the optical sound wouldn't fade and that is gernally the rule. I'd say somewhere in the early to mid 70's was when they started doing this. Thanks for the question!

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