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William Friedkin Says 'Sorcerer' Finally Getting Digital Transfer, But Won't Be On Criterion

The Playlist By Charlie Schmidlin | The Playlist February 12, 2013 at 10:01AM

2012 proved by turns an odd and triumphant year for director William Friedkin, who fashioned Matthew McConaughey's performance in the shockingly good “Killer Joe,” but also was forced into dealing with his troubled past, namely the 1977 suspense drama “Sorcerer.” Legal difficulties and lawsuits surrounding the film have plagued the past 12 months for the filmmaker, but now it appears Friedkin may finally gain some peace with his underseen gem.
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William Friedkin Sorcerer

2012 proved by turns an odd and triumphant year for director William Friedkin, who fashioned Matthew McConaughey's performance in the shockingly good “Killer Joe,” but also was forced into dealing with his troubled past, namely the 1977 suspense drama “Sorcerer.” Legal difficulties and lawsuits surrounding the film have plagued the past 12 months for the filmmaker, but now it appears Friedkin may finally gain some peace with his underseen gem.

A remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot's impeccable “The Wages of Fear,” “Sorcerer” has heretofore remained in the fabled margins of Friedkin's career, mostly due to its tumultuous production and squabbles with leads Roy Scheider and Bruno Cremer. It also flopped at the box office, taking in just $12 million on a $22 million budget. However, as Friedkin recently tried to revive the film for a new audience, he found that domestic and international partners Paramount and Universal hadn't claimed the rights to the film in over 20 years. Understandably frustrated, he filed a lawsuit last May “simply to free the picture,” and after an extended period of silence, it appears the director has finally succeeded.

“Re: 'Sorcerer.' The original negative is in good condition, and it's now being budgeted to make a new digital master,” Friedkin tweeted yesterday, before following up shortly with news that the film “will not be released by Criterion.”

An extensive DVD version of the film has obviously been in Friedkin's purview for quite a while, so while Criterion may not be putting the disc out, it's probably safe to say it will have a host of great bonus features in addition to the transfer. A proper behind-the-scenes doc would be absolutely key, and maybe some deleted scenes (some of which are floating out there already), but more intriguing for fans is the idea that “Sorcerer” will finally fill a gap in Friedkin's filmography.

This article is related to: William Friedkin, The Criterion Collection, Sorcerer, Paramount, Universal