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

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

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.

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Northern Star

There were certainly tumultuous incidents during the production of 'Sorcerer' – it was during this time, Friedkin got the nickname 'Hurricane Billy' – but the rumors of a falling out with the late Roy Scheider are just that, rumors, an urban myth has developed that Scheider didn't like Friedkin cutting a subplot from the movie that showed Scheider's character in a more sympathetic light, hence why the late actor wouldn't comment on his involvement on 'Sorcerer'… no such subplot ever existed, either in Walon Green's screenplay or shot during production, and thus is a bunk story. Let's hope that Billy Friedkin clears whatever legalities remain on 'Sorcerer' and we can get a beautifully remastered new digital print of this truly remarkable (almost) forgotten masterpiece on DVD and Blu Ray so everyone who wants to can see some REAL film-making of the kind Hollyweird used to excel at… before the studios were bought by conglomerates and decided to largely make live-action toy commercials and/or video games instead of proper movies.


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