The embargo part was true. The rest, less so. Stone clarified in an email that the library has only partial negatives: 13 cans (almost 90 minutes) of unedited camera rushes without sound. (It also has behind-the-scenes footage.)
“It’s kind of like nowadays when you go to a museum and they have this whole dinosaur and you find out that, well, no, really all you’ve got is the kneecap,” Stone said in a phone interview.
And copyright concerns persist: Stone said he had been contacted by someone describing himself as a rights holder, and he plans to consult with lawyers before deciding whether material can be viewed.
Despite the legal murkiness, outside interest abides. About 10 years ago, Bob Murawski, who edited “The Other Side of the Wind” (he shares credit with Welles), began writing to Jerry Lewis about the project.
Early inquiries with foreign studios dead-ended in a thicket of legal fears and uncertainty over who — if anyone — possessed the missing material. In 2010, Murawski’s lawyer finally heard back from Lewis, who, in apparent contradiction with earlier statements, insisted that he alone was preventing the release.
If that were true, Lewis’s death might have opened some possibilities. But Chris Lewis said he had no idea what the copyright situation actually was, or whether the missing material still existed. Anyway, the Lewis family has no opinions now on whether the film should ever be completed, he said.
Murawski, though, still has hope — and a good track record.
“It wouldn’t be the same without Jerry being involved,” he said. “But, I mean, Orson Welles wasn’t around on ‘Other Side of the Wind,’ either, and it was definitely a worthy project.”