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At Long Last: The Definitive Version of "At Long Last Love"

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by Peter Bogdanovich
June 6, 2013 10:00 AM
43 Comments
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Way back in 1975, 20th Century-Fox released a musical comedy I had written and directed, which was suggested by, and consisted of, numerous songs by Cole Porter. Like the recent Les Miserables, all the singing was performed live---as opposed to lip-syncing pre-recorded tracks---and a great many of the numbers were done in long, continuous shots, without much cutting.  It was actually the first time anyone had done a musical live like that since the early '30s. The studio loved the dailies, and rushed to get a great New York booking at the glorious Radio City Music Hall. Unlike all original Broadway musicals, which preview out-of-town for weeks sometimes, we had exactly two previews and consequently were never able to get the picture into the right balance between songs and dialog scenes---which is the toughest and most important thing to perfect in a musical---and so we were rushed into opening a show that really wasn't ready at all.

We were killed. At Long Last Love was deplored by the majority of critics: the Village Voice headline summed it up: "At Long Last Lousy". The glee implicit in this phrase was part of the climate of that time regarding Cybill Shepherd (one of the stars) and me---we were living together then---and the press was fed up with our much publicized romance. One TV critic said it was "written, produced, directed and ruined by Peter Bogdanovich." A small minority saw the good qualities: Roger Ebert enjoyed it quite a bit, the Newsweek critic was kind, and the picture did very well in its Radio City run, but that was it. Woody Allen told me (many years after) that he'd gone to see it three or four times at the Music Hall and later did a musical inspired by it. But the studio pulled the film out of release. Cybill and I came to refer to our movie as "the debacle." Kidding around, I always called it "At Long Last Turkey."

It had all started because of a large coffee-table book of Cole Porter lyrics, which Cybill gave me as a present. One song in particular sparked the idea for a musical-comedy  about requited and unrequited love between a quartet of men and women; a little-known ballad titled "I Loved Him (But He Didn't Love Me)" inspired the story, and the first thing I wrote was a dialog between the two main women (Cybill and the wonderful Madeline Kahn) which led into that song. This scene would end up as the penultimate sequence in the finished work. In other words, I practically wrote the ending before anything else. Yet, as an example of how disjointed our thinking was at the time of the film's theatrical release, this key passage ---and among my personal favorites---was eliminated.

Abashed and quite miserable, Cybill and I flew to Europe for a couple of weeks. When we returned, I went to the Music Hall to see the picture with a fresher perspective. I hated it. We went back to Los Angeles and I told the studio head (it was Alan Ladd, Jr.) that I felt we had wrecked the work, and that I would like to recut it at my own expense. He said to go ahead but didn't let me pay for this revised edition, which I thereafter referred to as "the TV version." To be honest, I wasn't that happy with this pass either, but felt it was certainly far better than the theatrical release. And that was that. I moved on.

Years went by. Occasionally someone would come up to me and say that they had seen At Long Last Love on TV and liked it very much; why, they asked, had it received such bad notices? I explained that what they had seen was quite different from the version which opened. As decades passed, more people would praise the picture to me and say they really loved it. I would shrug and say thanks very much. It was never released on Videotape or on DVD, though I heard it was shown a few times on cable: Showtime and Starz both aired it more than once.

Then, just a couple of years ago, a friend called to tell me that Netflix was streaming At Long Last Love on their system. I decided to take a look at it that way; I hadn't seen the movie in 35 years. This led to an astonishing discovery: Watching the movie as it streamed by, I quickly began to realize that it was quite a different version than either the theatrical or the TV editions. Scenes and sequences that I had removed were back in; scenes I had left in were out; some of the song numbers were shortened, and some were lengthened. It was an edit that, if anything, was much closer to the very first preview cut which we had discarded in dismay. But it was sharper, better. In fact, it was the best version of the movie I had ever seen. And I loved it!

Where on earth had this come from? I got in touch with Schawn Belston in the editorial department at Fox, and asked him a myriad of questions, to which he answered that he'd get back to me shortly after researching the issue.

Well, eventually I was able to piece together what had happened: A man named James Blakely had been in charge of the Fox editorial department for something like 50 years, and he had passed away just a couple of years before. It seems that as a youngster he had been involved as a performer in a number of stage musicals, and that he was a die-hard fan of Cole Porter's songs. Obviously, he had liked the dailies of our film as they came in, and was apparently less than pleased with the editing we did on any of the versions. After the shouting had died down, it looks like he went about restructuring the movie, following the original script, specifically making sure that the story-line of the characters was clear and that extraneous numbers were deleted, but relevant songs reinstated or expanded. When he was happy with the result, he turned that version over to distribution. And his cut was being seen (on TV and cable) as early as 1979, less than four years after the initial release. So, all those times people came over to me and praised the film they had seen, they were not referring to any cut of mine, but to Jim Blakely's!

Now, of course, Blakely never told anyone what he had done because contractually I had final cut so his actions officially put the studio in breach. Well, I called 20th Century Fox chairman Jim Gianopulos, who is a friend, and told him the whole story. He was as amazed as I had been. "You mean there's a cut of the picture you didn't control or approve and you like it?!" Yes, I said. "Well," he responded, accurately, "that's one for the history books!"

As luck would have it, the Temecula (California) Film Festival was honoring me that year with a Lifetime Award and asked me who I'd like to present it, and which film of mine they should screen. I suggested Cybill Shepherd, and the brand new version of At Long Last Love. So they did, and it was a tremendous success with the sizeable audience there. Then Fox had a big screening on the lot in the Zanuck Theatre for over 300 people, and they loved it! Cybill said, tearfully, that it was like having a mutilated child miraculously returned to us whole again.

The studio's home entertainment department, decided to release the picture on Blu-ray on June 4, and we went about cleaning it up, fixing certain passages and adding one more important sequence, lasting a minute and a half, but in need of considerable restoration work, which is probably why Jim Blakely had left it out. The result is an absolute joy for those of us who toiled so hard on it, lo those many moons ago. Burt Reynolds (the top-billed star) said it was like an entirely new picture. And he is right. It's the movie we had wanted to make, in all its intended glory, resurrected by a man none of us had ever met, but to whom we will be eternally grateful.

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43 Comments

  • Paul Brennan | September 6, 2013 8:16 PMReply

    To Dan, leg-conoisseur, below: I remember some bare legs in swimming cossies, jumping into the pool. Very brief, but not a leg-number.

    To Paul Aguirre: At the start of the 35mm theatrical print (which deleted 90th Floor and Tomorrow) the credits end in Kitty's apartment with a slow pan to a clock, then a jump cut to the clock-like dial above the elevator from which Cybill is heard chatting to the elevator kid and the doors open.

    The section deleted from Which when Cybill changes out of a dress into a bathgown was edited between the doorways. It was not in any print I ever saw, but apparently was intact when it first opened Easter 75 at Radio City, only.

    Etiquette only ever appears in the cable print. It truly does not work.

    Kate The Great seems not to be filmed. But only Mr Bogdanovich would know. I assume he reads these blogs.

  • Dan N. | August 17, 2013 12:11 AMReply

    I love film musicals and am sad that they have fallen from grace in recent decades. So, in 1975 when I read that Peter Bogdanovich had created a new musical, and with some of my favorite stars, I made sure to see it on the big screen. And unfortunately, that experience left me cold.
    Maybe it had to do with some of the edits and changes of pace that PB mentions in his recent essay, or maybe it was something else. Thinking back, I suspect my disappointment was due to this: There were no legs in the film.

    Hear me out, I won't stay too long. Over the years, one of the big attractions of film musicals was the chance to see pretty chorines dancing around in short costumes and showing off their legs. Think of "42nd Street" (1933). Or "Flying Down to Rio" (same year, 1933). Think of the first film musical, "The Broadway Melody" (1929). Lots of legs to go along with the drama.

    In later years, the Ann Miller musicals always gave us a lot of pretty calves and knees. Beautiful dancers such as Virginia Mayo and Patrice Wymore gave us a legstravaganza in their 1950s films. We enjoyed the films, of course, but the eye candy provided by the girl dancers was always welcome, and always made the films seem better.

    But I don't remember seeing any legs in "At Long Last Love." That is my recollection, but of course I haven't had a chance to see it again in recent years. Maybe there was a dance number that I don't recall?

    Anyway, though film musicals are an endangered species these days, when they do come around we do get pretty legs in the background, and sometimes front and center. Think of the Oscar-winning "Chicago" (2002). Think of "Burlesque" (2010). The directors of those films knew that pretty legs were an important asset in a musical film. I wish they all knew that.

  • Paul Aguirre | July 31, 2013 5:54 PMReply

    A question to PB, or anyone else who can shed light: For those of us who treasure AT LONG LAST LOVE, but were too young to see the evolvement of it over the years, can anyone differentiate in detail between the different incarnations? As far as I can tell, there were three. First is Blakely's. Second, the original theatrical release: The song list on both the original one-sheet poster and the RCA soundtrack LP indicate that "Down in the Depths" and "Tomorrow" were cut from the theatrical release print. So what was the running time at Radio City Music Hall? And what footage was cut that Blakely reinstated afterward? What was there originally that Blakely deleted? Were "It Ain't Etiquette" and "Kate the Great" ever part of that, or any, print? Third: The 98-minute print that was leased to cable TV that cuts the entire "Which?" sequence, the first section of Kahn and Reynolds' "You're the Top," the entire "Friendship" nightclub scene, the reprise of "De-Lovely" and "Let's Misbehave," as well as some significant dialogue trimming in the Reynolds-Shepherd garden scene following "Well, Did You Evah?" No one ever discusses this print, which I have, and I wonder whose cut this was. The audio is mixed, quite sophisticatedly, to match the cuts, so this was no hack job. Could it be that the 98-minute version is the original theatrical release? Any concrete answers - as opposed to speculation - would be appreciated!

  • Paul Aguirre | August 12, 2013 12:51 PM

    Thanks, Paul, for the info. But there is a discrepancy. I have the 98 minute TV version, and it definitely does not include "It Ain't Etiquette." I'm reasonably sure this song has never appeared in any U.S. edition of ALLL, which makes me wonder if there is yet another version of the film in circulation. Where the original U.S. theatrical release is concerned, I wonder two things: The slow pan at the end of the overture ("Just One of Those Things") travels across Kitty's apartment, ending with the moment she opens the door. In the theatrical release, how did the editing transition into the elevator reveal of Brooke? Was there a segue between the two scenes, or was the pan across Kitty's apartment deleted? Secondly, the entire, unedited soundtrack of "Which?" exists on the RCA LP release, which leads me to believe the footage also exists. Why hasn't anyone either found or reinstated that missing bridge so that "Which?" can emerge as complete? I would love to track down the original theatrical release print, as I've always felt the film should start with Brooke, move to Pritchard, allowing Kahn's introduction to be the revolving door, and Del Prete's intro to be his reveal at the racetrack. This is in keeping with the way character reveals happened in actual 1930s musicals. Final note: the credits in the main title have been altered on the new Blu-ray. Frank Marshall is no longer listed as associate producer, but now shares producing credit with Bogdanovich. There is also a "suggested by the songs of Cole Porter" inserted before the director credit. The soundtrack album and original press materials did not use any of these credits, so I assume they were recreated for the Blu-ray. Truth to tell, it is maddening how many liberties, small and large, have been taken with this film in the past 38 years. It will take an archaeologist to figure it out! In any event, for history's sake, it would be nice to see this film again exactly as it premiered at the Music Hall.

  • Paul Brennan | August 12, 2013 12:49 AM

    I might not be the PB you want to hear from, but I can answer your question. I am the PB from Australia (below) who screened ALLL over and over at my cinema. The 98 minute version is not the original theatrical release, it was cut for US TV to minimise Cybill Shepherd's focus and to boost the other stars, probably in response to the vitriolic reviews. This 98 minute version was only ever seen on US TV. However this awful 98 minute version has ETIQUETTE in it... and it is just terrible. Etiquette is sung by Elizabeth at the racetrack exit just before Johnny honks the car horn. The original 35mm cinema release also deleted 90th Floor and Tomorrow and commenced with the elevator doors opening and Cybill arriving home to sing Which. Everything else including the reprises and extended songs was in it, but not Etiquette. The only clips deleted were: a few frames from Which when Cybill undresses and emerges in a bathgown and immediately removes it again to get in the bath, and oddly, after From Alpha To Omega the lovely tap shuffle in the park from Kitty and Johnny. 16mm prints here were the same except that I LOVED HIM was also deleted. On Aust TV we have the complete Blakely version minus Etiquette and the park tap shuffle. KATE THE GREAT never appeared anywhere and I do not believe it was filmed. It is Blakeley's magnificent contribution to the reprise and rescue of ALLL that I now treasure on Blu ray. THese are the versions I know of, have seen, have screened and have on my shelf of favourites at home.

  • Paul Brennan | July 15, 2013 2:56 AMReply

    I was lucky enough in the mid 70s to be only 20 and ran my own seaside holiday resort cinema which was a wreck in progress, having been damaged in a storm. One of the films I loved to show was At Long Last Love. the resort was small and well heeled so we always got a sophisticated audience who usually loved the film. I stacked everything in it's favor with a mid week timeslot on a warm summer night with an audience who lived like the film's characters. it became a repeat favourite and almost a running gag that I ran one of the few cinemas that regularly ran At Long Last Love. In Australia we had different versions on 35mm 16mm on Tv and US TV versions sent by likeminded fans. The cinema version started with Which. The Aust TV versions had everything except Etiquette, which has never appeared in any version apart from a really bad US TV edit. I kept ALLL on screen for years, and even contacted Mr Bogdanovich about it, hence the kind letters he sent to me. Now I have the glorious Blu Ray shipped to me by Joe Baltake, the film's greatest supporter I have ever known. Even in 1975 I thought the film was funny. (Genuinely). I loved it then and I treasure it now and almost everyone I showed it to then and now adopts ALLL as a delicious fizzy champagne comedy and one of the most beautiful genuine art deco musicals ever made. Well done Mr Bogdanovich, and a valentine from Paul Brennan in Sydney Australia, again, after all those years of utter happiness this film has bought me and almost everyone I know.

  • Paul Brennan | July 17, 2013 6:58 PM

    The comments here about screening ALLL to Summer Holiday audiences in an Australian seaside holiday resort cinema from 1975-79 are true: the cinema was The Avoca Beach Theatre, still in operation today.

  • Michael Eckart | July 15, 2013 9:08 PM

    I enjoy reading positive posts about this film and I envy your Seaside Holiday Resort Cinema Wreck in Progress! What an amazing time that must have been!

  • Paul Brennan | July 15, 2013 2:56 AMReply

    I was lucky enough in the mid 70s to be only 20 and ran my own seaside holiday resort cinema which was a wreck in progress, having been damaged in a storm. One of the films I loved to show was At Long Last Love. the resort was small and well heeled so we always got a sophisticated audience who usually loved the film. I stacked everything in it's favor with a mid week timeslot on a warm summer night with an audience who lived like the film's characters. it became a repeat favourite and almost a running gag that I ran one of the few cinemas that regularly ran At Long Last Love. In Australia we had different versions on 35mm 16mm on Tv and US TV versions sent by likeminded fans. The cinema version started with Which. The Aust TV versions had everything except Etiquette, which has never appeared in any version apart from a really bad US TV edit. I kept ALLL on screen for years, and even contacted Mr Bogdanovich about it, hence the kind letters he sent to me. Now I have the glorious Blu Ray shipped to me by Joe Baltake, the film's greatest supporter I have ever known. Even in 1975 I thought the film was funny. (Genuinely). I loved it then and I treasure it now and almost everyone I showed it to then and now adopts ALLL as a delicious fizzy champagne comedy and one of the most beautiful genuine art deco musicals ever made. Well done Mr Bogdanovich, and a valentine from Paul Brennan in Sydney Australia, again, after all those years of utter happiness this film has bought me and almost everyone I know.

  • Charly Mann | June 26, 2013 11:31 AMReply

    I think AT LONG LAST LOVE is Bogdanovich's CITIZEN KANE. Both were panned by most critics when first released and failed to recoup their costs at the box office. It is truly an innovative masterpiece, unlike any movie before or after. No other movie has so many great songs used in such a sophisticated manner to tell a story. In addition to this all the actors sings very well including Burt Reynolds, and the film's soundtrack is another rare treasure.

    I have seen the movie at least fifty times. First at the theater and then I paid to have a 35mm print converted to ¾ inch video tape in 1976. Over the years I have shown the film to dozens of people - many of whom also now count it as among their favorites. The updated version of the movie which was shown on Cinemax in about 2000 contained three additional songs "Tomorrow" and "Down in Depths" at the start of the film, and "I Love Him But He Doesn't Love Me" right before the last scene. This also seems to be the same version that we now have on BLU-RAY. I really wonder why "It Ain't Etiquette" which was supposed to come after the racetrack scene is not included. You can see how wonderful it is by viewing it on YOUTUBE.

    A classic movie is one that holds up after repeated viewings, and this film certainly does so. While it may always be too sophisticated to appeal to a broad audience it is a treasured and unforgettable cinematic experience. I think it is more fresh and vital today than it was in 1975, and its seven primary cast members have more chemistry and emotional connection than I have seen in any other film.

    My big regret is that Peter Bogdanovich does not do a commentary with the film. There is so much that is intriguing about this movie and no one does better film commentaries than Bogdanovich. Perhaps we can start a Kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary funds to induce him to do one. I would certainly make a substantial contribution. Then we could have the definitive version of AT LONG LAST LOVE.

  • Michael Eckart | June 21, 2013 10:56 PMReply

    Dear Mr Bogdanovich,
    I saw this film in San Francisco upon it's initial release. It played in a small back street theater called, if I remember correctly, The Music Hall Theater. I was 18 years old and lived with my mother down the Peninsula. Back then, going to San Francisco was a event (Creature from the Black Lagoon in 3D, Buffy Sainte-Marie at the Great American Music Hall etc). I was already a fan of What's Up Doc, Paper Moon, Madeline Kahn and a record album I owned titled Cybill Does it to Cole Porter. I was sitting on kittens waiting for my mom to get off work so we could make the 30 minute drive and see your film and I was mesmerized! The amazing long takes, the live singing, the over the top sets and wardrobe and the fact that it was all designed in black and white then filmed in color; such a piece of art! Much to my horror the film had a very short run but I was able to see it a second time. I caught it once on Cable a few years ago and it stood up just as well as I remembered. I am now so happy to own it on Blu-Ray, thank you for giving this piece of my youth a new life.

  • bios | June 21, 2013 7:03 AMReply

    JIM: Maybe he was being sarcastic?

    Anyway, i'm disappointed this blu-ray doesn't have a commentary.

    His commentaries are usually great to listen to.

  • Tony B | June 15, 2013 1:03 PMReply

    I've always wanted to see this film, so this new restoration is welcome news. It seems that there are a lot of "restored" versions of your work on DVD. I have yet to see the new version of Nickelodeon, which I thought was unfairly maligned. However, the studio packaged it with The Last Picture Show, which most of us undoubtedly have. Hopefully, a bluray will surface of that as a standalone. And Saint Jack, one of my personal favorites, which is badly in need of restoration. The DVD in circulation is a rough print, indeed.

  • Philip Wissbeck | June 11, 2013 10:30 AMReply

    I don't know anyone with a Blue Ray machine so I guess I'll have to wait for the pleasure of this new ".....Love."

  • Andy Williamson | June 10, 2013 7:53 PMReply

    Great article, Peter! And wonderful news! As a longtime fan of your films, 'At Long Last Love' is one I have always been curious about, but have never seen. I will be picking up the Blu-ray posthaste.

    By the by (since no one else seems to know the answer to this question), are there any plans to release 'Paper Moon' and 'Mask' on Blu-ray? Your fans want to know.

  • Tugo | June 10, 2013 1:22 PMReply

    Hi there Mr. Bogdanovich, I was just wondering, since you brought up the subject, if your new movie will ever hit brazilian theaters (I will be devasted if it doesn't).

  • Richard | June 9, 2013 12:04 PMReply

    Re: Jim's comment down below. Bogdanovich's attitude towards the film has changed, and rather abruptly. Alert readers of this site will note that its the only title not listed in his bio here. Even the TV stuff is acknowledged.

  • Sean | June 8, 2013 4:08 PMReply

    This is so telling what a great artist Mr. Bogdanovich is. I was one of those people who brought up "At Long Last Love" to him once. He was such a gentleman, shaking my hand and even having a self-deprecating sense of humor about the film.

    We met in one of those circumstances which would mean nothing to him, but everything to a young kid. I sold him a CD in the lobby of a Broadway theater. He walked by and I couldn't help myself. Here was one of the greats. Bogdanovich, Scorcese, Coppola, Allen. These were the guys who both loved movies and knew how to make them. From all of them, but especially Bogdanovich, there is a scholarly love of film that never forgets that the medium entertains. I had to bring up this film not knowing it might be a wound that couldn't heal for him.

    The memory I told him of "At Long Last Love" was of the "But In The Morning, No" sequence with Eileen Brennan and John Hillerman. The direction of these terrific actors, the camera following their servant duties through the house, and every outward action and every subtext was played perfectly. It was truly sublime. It was also something I wanted to revisit. But sadly, it wasn't available.

    Periodically, I would go back and read old reviews of the film. You know how you get obsessed with finding out more when you don't have access to the actual thing? I would scan every art house listing trying to find where and when I might see it again. (Tangentially, I was this way with "Picnic at Hanging Rock" too before that was re-released. Peter Weir belongs in that list of greats too.)

    Finally, I got to see it again on Netflix. I am so happy to read that Mr. Bogdanovich is pleased with this cut. I am too. The film is funny. It sings naturally. The casting is excellent.

    Is it his best film? I'll leave that for him to decide. But I am happy that it has the chance to be included with his best. I would gladly shake his hand again.

  • Carlye | June 8, 2013 11:55 AMReply

    "I Loved Him (But He Didn't Love Me)" was in "At Long Last Love" when first released but was cut during its initial run. I saw the film at Radio City Music Hall - a couple weeks apart - and saw two different versions there. Also eliminated was a brief middle section of "Which." Neither deletion made much sense to me.

  • Garan Grey | June 10, 2013 1:35 PM

    Yes that cut in "Which" bothers me too. isn't that called a "jump" cut? Whatever the reason - what might have been be considered a gain in pacing - doesn't erase the odd visual continuity anomaly in an otherwise classy film. I do hope that's finally been fixed.

  • Richard | June 9, 2013 12:02 PM

    I forgot to mention that I agree with Carlye. The deletion, which involves less than a minute, doesn't make sense. It would make even less sense if it isn't reinstated in the BluRay "definitive" edition.

  • Richard | June 9, 2013 12:00 PM

    Originally, in the "Which" number, Cybill moves from her living room to her bedroom where, briefly, she slips into her bathrobe, and then moves into the bathroom. After the film was out for a couple weeks, "Which" was slightly abbreviated so that she seemed to move from her living room directly into the bathroom, bypassing the bedroom. Miraculously, she's wearing her bathrobe.

  • Bill Harris | June 8, 2013 6:00 AMReply

    One Sunday, in Cleveland, Peter Bogdanovich came for a talk to the Cleveland Public Library downtown. It was about a book he'd just written. This had to be about twelve or so years ago. I brought my original movie poster of At Long Last Love & my original LP soundtrack of Paper Moon. I not only wanted to get his autograph on both (which I did), but I just wanted to tell him EXACTLY what I thought of At long Last Love. I said how this film was a brilliant amalgamation of both the RKO-Pandro S. Berman musicals of Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, and relations between the sexes circa the sexual reveloution of the 1970's. This film is one of the best I've ever seen about intrapersonal communication between and amoungst the sexes, using the lyrics of Cole Porter (a brilliant composer and closeted homosexual who had lyrics with hidden meanings rampant throughout his entire career--lyrics designed to express true feelings and yearnings without being too too literal). In spite of this, the film appears to be, superficially, a light and frothy period piece. I love all the performances, but, let's be frank, they are uneven at best. There are those who feel Cybill Shepherd can sing and dance, and those who do not. There is NO inbetween! I feel she can...As I do about Burt Reynolds--but he really can't. I feel his charms work in spite of this, some people do not (I guess it's all in the eye of the beholder)...The rest of the cast I feel is stellar, in particular the byplay between Eileen Brennan & John Hillerman. Brilliant! Madeline Kahn is her usual magnificent self. And, about Mr. Bogdanovich's brave and foolhardy decision to spend approx. $6 million of 20th Century-Fox's money to film his cast LIVE singing and dancing before the camera...? In hindsight, I will forever be sorry it changed his career the way that it did, but I always felt, and will always feel, it made for a more real and feeling finished product. I hope this will be revisited and re-evaluated now for the great auteur piece this truly is, but I'm sure there will be those who will find it the ghastly mess that history would like them to believe it is (like "Cleopatra"...?). That's ok too...I'm just happy it has a second chance...

  • Bill Desowitz | June 7, 2013 1:18 PMReply

    How serendipitous: At Long Last Love finally on Blu-ray in the best possible version and Peter's favorite Lubitsch, The Merry Widow, available on DVD from the Warner Bros. Archive.

  • PB | June 8, 2013 1:03 AM

    Yes, it is my favorite Lubitsch: it's sublime. And it's doubly serendipitous, Bill, because the one director who most influenced me in the making of "At Long Last Love" was the great Ernst Lubitsch, in particular his five musicals (in order of appearance): "The Love Parade", "Monte
    Carlo", "The Smiling Lieutenant", "One Hour with You", and the topper, "The Merry Widow".
    All of these are now available on DVD, thank goodness, Criterion, and Warner Bros. Archive.

  • Ashley | June 7, 2013 11:00 AMReply

    I have such an excitement for the release of this movie on Blu Ray I can't stand it. I saw the television version and loved it so much. It's a really fun movie movie. And I love Madeline Kahn so much. I have the blu ray ordered already. Cannot wait to see the additional footage and have it in my hands soon! Thank god for that guy at 20th Century Fox so future fans can now see this wonderful movie as it should have been.

  • Jim Murphy, Melbourne Australia | June 6, 2013 8:23 PMReply

    I have always loved At Long Last Love from the time I saw it in first release in the cinema, then through hiring it several times on 16-mm. and later recording it from TV on VHS (the re-cut), which I subsequently transferred to DVD. As a tribute to Cole Porter's skill with words and music it has not been bettered, and its tone and style in guying the vapid film musicals of the 1930s is a delicious pleasure. Can we look forward to a sparkling Blu-Ray reincarnation of it, from Mr Blakely's restored version?

  • David Redbeard Simmons | June 6, 2013 6:06 PMReply

    Bravo, Mr. B., for surviving the collateral damage associated with this unfairly scorned picture. As a baby film nerd and huge fan, I hated hearing the vicious attacks leveled against you during the fallout from ALLL. They said you were arrogant and deserved the comeuppance, but that never jibed with my impression of a busy Hollywood director who nevertheless took the time to answer each and every letter sent to you by a precocious, starstruck brat from North Carolina. From the age of 9 to 18 (or from "What's Up, Doc?" to "They All Laughed"), I used to pester you with fan mail. And rejoice every time a reply showed up in my mailbox -- often including paperbacks, press kits, sheet music and other swag from your movies. Pretty sure I still have all those letters in a drawer somewhere ... typewritten by you or your assistant (Mae Woods?) with embossed Art Deco letterheads. I've always regretted letting our correspondence lapse, but I got old enough to realize you had more important things to do.

    So I'm REALLY excited about revisiting "At Long Last Love," which I saw last on its opening weekend in Winston-Salem. Oddly, I distinctly remember scenes and musical numbers -- including "I Loved Him" -- being intact in that print. Or maybe it's early dementia. Anyway, I got rid of my turntable and vinyl albums years ago, but the double-LP gatefold soundtrack is still in my possession ... warped and uplayable, but a vivid reminder of a cherished pen pal. With this loquacious blog comment, some 30 years later, I send all my respect, affection and admiration. You're a super guy, Peter, and I'm so happy that ALLL has a happy ending, at long last.

  • PB | June 9, 2013 1:30 PM

    Hello, David---Long time, no write! How nice of you to say hi this way after all those years. There's been a lot of water under the dam since then, but I hope you're well. I'm in NYC,
    about to start a picture with Owen Wilson & Jennifer Aniston, titled "Squirrels to the Nuts", the first movie I've conceived and (co-)written (with Louise Stratten) since "They All Laughed"
    and, again, it's about the cross-currents of love. But this one is pretty wild. Cybill has a funny supporting role. Again, thanks for the memory, and good luck to you!

  • Randy Skretvedt | June 6, 2013 4:44 PMReply

    This is an amazing story--and hats off to you, Mr. Bogdanovich, for giving credit where it was due. Thank you also for enriching my life with "Paper Moon," with your Orson Welles book, and with "Who the Devil Made It." As a biographer of Laurel & Hardy, I am particularly grateful to you for interviewing Leo McCarey in 1968 and '69. Many, many thanks.

  • Tara | June 6, 2013 4:44 PMReply

    I was always a fan of Long Last Love, so it’s really interesting that the version I saw wasn’t the one that was in theaters nor the one that will be on the DVD

  • Brandon | June 6, 2013 4:16 PMReply

    Were you able to give Mr. Blakely a credit on the new cut of the film, even if it's just a Special Thanks? (I know guild bylaws probably prevent him for getting credit as an editor).

  • Garan Grey | June 6, 2013 3:09 PMReply

    I've liked the movie all along, I've liked Ms. Shepherd (and her singing) And Mr. Reynolds (and his)... but yeah, I only got to see At Long Last, Love on video or cable, so I never saw the original release cut. The story of this being finally fixed up is a joy to read, Jim Blakely is a hero who should be remembered in the credits, and I ordered the disc the minute it went on sale. Strange thing about all the changes in the availability date, but hey, we've waited this long...

    Since several different versions of this film have been around, and people know about other missing numbers (like It Ain't Etiquette, Kate the Great, a big medley and another love song by Madeline Kahn) my only disappointment now is that whatever songs Mr, B. has left out as his ultimate creative choice may be lost to the ages (or at least YouTube) where it would have been very nice to have them as extras. Those of us who like the movie and the cast would still enjoy seeing those extra performances, even though they may not have worked in the film. I imagine the next time Home Video upgrades enough in format/quality, those extra numbers (and director/cast commentary, interviews, production short, etc. please) would be a good excuse to get us to buy this movie again.

    PS: the soundtrack album to "At Long Last, Love" is owned by Sony Music Entertainment and the fun "Cybill Does it..." album (which seems to be the only one of her albums that remains unavailable) is owned by Universal Music Enterprises. Titles like these, known as "deep catalog" are now commonly being made available as Manufactured on Demand CD or digital download. Let's let Sony and Universal know we'd like to give them some more money if they let us buy those albums!

  • John Griffin | June 6, 2013 2:53 PMReply

    Can't wait to see this version. The score has always been, to use Porter's own phrase, "the top."

  • Garan Grey | June 10, 2013 5:08 PM

    Record albums are a separate product from the film they represent, and the contracts do not expire when an album goes out of print. RCA Records assets were acquired by Sony, and the soundtrack album of "At Long Last, Love" is Sony's to release, just as Sony now has the soundtrack album to "The Sound of Music."

    Additionally "Cybill Does It..." was first released on Paramount Records, and that label was sold to Universal Music.

  • Stewart Gooderman | June 10, 2013 2:18 PM

    The soundtrack recording to "At Long Last Love" was originally released by RCA Victor as a 2 Lp set. Generally, the soundtrack tapes are created by the studio and given to the record company for disk mastering and pressing. They are not owned by the pressing company. So, once the recording goes off catalog, the rights revert back to the studio.

    I would assume that those soundtrack tapes are now owned by 20th Century Fox/News Corporation.

  • Stewart Gooderman | June 10, 2013 2:18 PM

    The soundtrack recording to "At Long Last Love" was originally released by RCA Victor as a 2 Lp set. Generally, the soundtrack tapes are created by the studio and given to the record company for disk mastering and pressing. They are not owned by the pressing company. So, once the recording goes off catalog, the rights revert back to the studio.

    I would assume that those soundtrack tapes are now owned by 20th Century Fox/News Corporation.

  • Stewart Gooderman | June 10, 2013 2:17 PM

    The soundtrack recording to "At Long Last Love" was originally released by RCA Victor as a 2 Lp set. Generally, the soundtrack tapes are created by the studio and given to the record company for disk mastering and pressing. They are not owned by the pressing company. So, once the recording goes off catalog, the rights revert back to the studio.

    I would assume that those soundtrack tapes are now owned by 20th Century Fox/News Corporation.

  • Stewart Gooderman | June 10, 2013 2:16 PM

    The soundtrack recording to "At Long Last Love" was originally released by RCA Victor as a 2 Lp set. Generally, the soundtrack tapes are created by the studio and given to the record company for disk mastering and pressing. They are not owned by the pressing company. So, once the recording goes off catalog, the rights revert back to the studio.

    I would assume that those soundtrack tapes are now owned by 20th Century Fox/News Corporation.

  • jim fields | June 6, 2013 1:21 PMReply

    It's funny how Bogdanovich's attitude towards this movie has suddenly changed. Five years ago, he gave one of his lectures in my hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska, and when I asked him about the movie and sound process to record the singing live, he got visibly upset and said, "only odd and weird people ask me about that film and say they love it," causing the entire audience to laugh at my expensive. I guess time changes everything, huh?

  • christa fuller | October 18, 2013 1:04 PM

    THERE IS A PREGNANT LADY FILLING THE SCREEN AT ONE POINT and that
    was the part I really liked........
    am anxious to see the new version and COLE PORTER really deserves being watched
    and listened to all over again. Hope that the great PETER BOGDANOVICH will send
    a signed copy to the FULLER GIRLS ........A FULLER LIFE docu by SAMANTHA FULLER

  • Richard | June 9, 2013 11:56 AM

    Yes, Bogdanovich's attitude towards the film has changed, and rather abruptly. Alert readers of this site will note that its the only title not listed in his bio here. Even the TV stuff is acknowledged.

  • Tara | June 6, 2013 4:44 PM

    That was indeed harsh, but I guess you were one of those people he mentions who saw a different cut and that he didn't understand.

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