Bruce Eder

Active - 2006  |   Born - in New York, NY  |   Genres - Music [nf]

Share on


Bruce Eder is a writer, journalist, critic, and film and music scholar whose film commentaries and supplements have appeared on DVD (and, earlier, on laser disc), specifically through The Criterion Collection since the late '80s; additionally, his articles on film and music have appeared in newspapers and periodicals, including The Village Voice, Newsday, Current Biography, Interview, and Video Magazine.

Born in New York City in 1955, Eder grew up in Whitestone, Queens, and started attending movies at the age of five, but even before that, he'd been fascinated by the movies that he saw on television, amid the first big wave of major studio films that started showing up on television in the second half of the 1950s, on programs such as Million Dollar Movie and Chiller Theater. It was through such programs that he saw his first films by John Ford (The Searchers), Jean Renoir (Swamp Water), John Farrow (The Big Clock), and Elia Kazan (Panic in the Streets), among numerous other filmmakers. Still, Eder was born on the wrong coast to do much with that interest, and he graduated from Queens College (CUNY) in 1978 with a degree in English literature.

Eder began his professional writing career at the end of the 1970s as a freelancer at Our Town writing about music, and The Aquarian Weekly writing about movies and television. He later became an associate editor at the latter newspaper. After resigning from The Aquarian in May 1984, he moved on to The Village Voice the following month as a freelancer and was also hired as the writer-in-residence at Janus Films, an independent distribution and production company. He remained with the Voice for nine years, through 1993, during which time he also joined Newsday, the Long Island-based daily paper, as a freelance reporter in the arts and entertainment section; he subsequently had a weekly column on home video in the latter paper's Sunday television supplement.

Additionally, Eder's writing appeared in Current Biography, Interview, Video, Video Review, Goldmine (where he also had a column during the late '80s), and Video Business. After 1986, with the formation of Voyager Company (later rechristened The Criterion Collection) by Janus Films, he began devising and annotating laser-disc releases, starting with A Hard Day's Night. He subsequently moved from the writer's desk to supervising film-to-video transfers for the laser-disc releases of such movies as Black Orpheus, Richard III, and Help! The latter film was also a major technical landmark (and triumph) in the video field; up to that time, as a money-saving move, it was routine for laser discs to be mastered from video sources done to a much lower VHS standard, with the expected substandard results, akin to mastering a CD off of an audio-cassette source. But Help! reversed that unacceptable and unsuitable process, adhering to a much higher laser-disc standard; and as a result, not only did the resulting Criterion laser disc look sensational, but so did the MPI VHS version made from the same laser disc-quality master.

At the end of the 1980s, Eder moved into writing and producing commentary tracks on Voyager's Criterion Collection laser discs, including award-nominated and award-winning special editions of such movies as The Great Escape, Dr. No, Goldfinger (although, through a typographical error, that commentary is credited on the jacket to Steve Rubin), and Jason and the Argonauts. And in 1992, with Karen Stetler producing, Eder also did a joint commentary track with director Martin Scorsese on Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's 1951 opera/ballet extravaganza The Tales of Hoffmann. Eder served as the writer and principal researcher on Voyager's CD-ROM release of A Hard Day's Night, providing many thousands of words of embellishment, critical and historical, to the movie, its makers, the musicians, and the songs.

He was active in film restoration as well during this period, preparing and assembling Laurence Olivier's Richard III (1956) for its first full-length presentation since the early '60s. Additionally, Eder oversaw the restoration of William Dieterle's The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), which had been cut down to 84 minutes in the early '50s, to its original 104-minute running time. Following the laser disc's release in 1991, Eder made his first appearance on national television, on Entertainment Tonight, discussing the restoration with Leonard Maltin. That same year, at the American Museum of the Moving Image, Eder hosted the first theatrical showing of the full-length Devil and Daniel Webster in at least 40 years, before a capacity crowd. And independent of his work for Criterion and Janus, he wrote and recorded commentary tracks used on five laser-disc releases from Republic Pictures Home Video, including Orson Welles' Macbeth (1948), the Oscar-nominated boxing drama Champion (1949), and the 15-chapter serial Nyoka and the Tigermen (1942).

In the audio field during this same period, from 1990 through 1994, Eder worked as a freelance producer and writer at Sony Music Special Products, helping to oversee and prepare CD reissues of the MGM and United Artists soundtrack libraries in restored and expanded editions. He also worked on CD reissues of music by Byrds co-founder Gene Clark, 1960s psychedelic music legend Skip Spence, and garage punk pioneers the Flamin' Groovies; on the reissues of 1960s British bands the Nice, the Small Faces, and the Yardbirds that he annotated and co-produced, these were the first CDs ever issued on these artists that were produced from proper master tapes, rather than vinyl sources. Eder also worked with classical music during this period in collaboration with producer R. Peter Munves, at both Sony Classical and Polygram Classics. And totally separate from those projects, Eder provided annotation to the original release of the Rolling Stones box setThe Singles Collection.

By the late '90s, he had moved over to the DVD field as a writer/commentator on such Criterion titles as Olivier's Henry V, Anthony Asquith's The Browning Version, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's The Tales of Hoffmann and 49th Parallel, Irvin S. Yeaworth's The Blob, and Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes.Eder's 21st century projects have included the documentary Classic Artists: The Moody Blues, for which he wrote the script, and the Criterion Collection DVD release of Alexander Korda's The Thief of Bagdad (1940), for which he provided a commentary track done in coordination with commentaries by directors Martin Scorsese and Francis Coppola.