short takes (4)

Try to figure this one out: If you saw New York, New York in New York," you saw more of it than anybody else. I'll explain. When the musical "New York, New York's opened in 1977 -- premiering in New York -- it was two hours and 35 minutes long. But its promoters decided to cut it, hoping to boost its appeal. This trimmed its running time to two hours and 17 minutes, which became the official length.

But of film had its admirers, who wanted to see morem of it, not less. And now they will have their wish. United Artists Classics is reissuing the picture in the longest version of all -- a full two hours and 43 minutes.

So it's happy days for fans of director Martin Scorsese, and stars Robert de Niro and Liza Minnelli, who romp through the bittersweet story of an unlikely couple coping with life, work, music, the '40s, and each other. The movie was inspired by scorsese's love of '40s. musicals, whose jumpy tunes and glossy styles he deliberately evokes and comments on. It's not an imitation of a '40s musical -- a misunderstanding which turned some people against it. Rather it's a young filmmaker's meditation on a kind of movie that used to be, and now exists only as a delirious late-night-TV echo.

Incidentally, much of the restored footage is from the splashy "Happy Endings" production number, including an appearance by Larry Kert that was excised from the original cut. The new edition is now slated for an exclusive run in New York, but if it catches on, maybe moviegoers everywhere will eventually get a look at this fleshed-out version of a truly fascinating film.

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