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 Posted:   Jun 13, 2012 - 8:47 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

I've just seen some frame captures from the new Criterion Blu-ray of Lean's SUMMERTIME over on the DVDBeaver site.

Is there NO ONE on the staff of Criterion who is/was a legitimate cameraman, or someone who has an acute visual eye, to perceive that this film was shot/composed for widescreen???

Criterion has NEVER released this film on video in widescreen and, in fact, all the IMDB and AFI references seem to think it is 1.37-1, too. So much for film research and history.

It is so obvious from the live-action footage that there is an inordinate amount of headroom on the shots---and then the image framing/centering of the main title element is simply back-up confirmation.

The film is probably composed at 1.85-1, maybe 1.75-1, but most certainly not 1.66-1 or 1.37-1.

What's your opinion?.....

.....and what do we have to do today to convince the youngsters of how these films were shot in the 1950s???



(PS......This is not the first time Criterion has screwed up the ratios on one of their widescreen films. Alec Guinness' THE LADYKILLERS is incorrect, and there are others. Perhaps they need to drop their academic reference books and actually talk to some of the technicians who shot these kinds of things every day in the fifties. Frankly, I'm personally kind of tired of cutting big pieces of matte board to put over my 60" flatscreen TV to see the films the way they were intended. smile Of course, it's not just Criterion: The DVDs of THE LONG, LONG TRAILER, EXECUTIVE SUITE, KISS ME KATE, BETRAYED (1954), THE NAKED JUNGLE, and THE BRIDGES AT TOKO-RI (among others) are incorrect, too.)

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 13, 2012 - 8:58 PM   
 By:   eriknelson   (Member)

I'm certainly no expert, but don't the studios still have release prints of SUMMERTIME from 1955, even if they're in bad shape? Wouldn't the DVD producers at least have a look at them in order to see how the film was presented back then? I assume the prints were manufactured in the correct aspect ratio, and the projectionist didn't have to do anything. Forgive me if I'm too naive.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 13, 2012 - 9:26 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....I'm certainly no expert, but don't the studios still have release prints of SUMMERTIME from 1955, even if they're in bad shape? Wouldn't the DVD producers at least have a look at them in order to see how the film was presented back then? I assume the prints were manufactured in the correct aspect ratio, and the projectionist didn't have to do anything. Forgive me if I'm too naive.....

The original prints are likely full-aperture/open-matte prints, and not printed with a widescreen masking. The only way to really identify the aspect ratio is if it is printed on the leader, or the information is supplied by the production company, or the skilled projectionist looks out his projection port.

In fact, the projectionist was the key man and had to do EVERYTHING and he was, in the end, the final arbiter of how the film hit the screen. Eventually some producers didn't like to give the projectionist this power, and so a hard matte would be introduced into the printing process to keep him from having a choice other than to project the film in its proper ratio.

If the projectionist was skilled in the business, he also was aware of current standards and knew---at least in the major, first-run, flagship theatres---that widescreen movies were first-shot around April-May, 1953, and virtually all major studio films were composed/photographed to be projected in widescreen from that time onward. (The only films which didn't come under that rule were those which had been put into production BEFORE the April-May period, but which were released after. Some of those were projected in faux widescreen in some venues, others were still projected at 1.37-1.)

The most important thing to remember is that with a spherically-shot, non-anamorphic film, the shape of the image on the negative or print has relatively little to do with the aspect ratio. The AR is solely determined by how the Director of Photography composed the image in the taking camera. Unfortunately, in those days, this kind of information was rarely written down. It was common knowledge. If you worked in the industry, either in production or exhibition, you were expected to know it automatically.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 13, 2012 - 9:47 PM   
 By:   eriknelson   (Member)

Thanks Manderley! I had always assumed that projectionists passively exhibited the films. I had no idea that they had role in composing the image that we in the audience saw. You have taught me a lot during the few years I've been here on this board, and I deeply appreciate your taking the time to write thoughtful responses to questions from those of us who are amateurs looking into the business from the outside.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 13, 2012 - 10:40 PM   
 By:   Bob Furmanek   (Member)

Gentlemen:

SUMMERTIME began shooting mid-July 1954 in Venice. It would most certainly have been composed for widescreen. According to Boxoffice, it should be 1.85:1.



For more information on the dawn of widescreen cinematography, check out Myth #7 on this page:

http://www.3dfilmarchive.com/home/top-10-3-d-myths

http://www.3dfilmarchive.com/home/top-10-3-d-myths/early-widescreen

I hope that I've answered your question. If there are any more inquiries on aspect ratios from this period, I'll be glad to help in any way I can.

Best,
Bob

 
 Posted:   Jun 13, 2012 - 10:41 PM   
 By:   Ray Faiola   (Member)

I don't think Bob has ever visited this forum. He's over at the 35mm Forum and, occasionally, Nitrateville.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 13, 2012 - 11:55 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

I don't think Bob has ever visited this forum. He's over at the 35mm Forum and, occasionally, Nitrateville.

He's also a regular on the Home Theater Forum.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 14, 2012 - 12:02 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

I've just seen some frame captures from the new Criterion Blu-ray of Lean's SUMMERTIME over on the DVDBeaver site.

. . .all the IMDB and AFI references seem to think it is 1.37-1, too. So much for film research and history.


The AFI Catalog entry on the film says the following:

Widescreen/ratio: 1.85:1

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 14, 2012 - 12:24 AM   
 By:   Bob Furmanek   (Member)

The AFI listings are not always accurate. Many of the early non-anamorphic widescreen films from 1953/54 are listed as 1.37:1 in their catalog.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 14, 2012 - 12:31 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

The AFI listings are not always accurate. Many of the early non-anamorphic widescreen films from 1953/54 are listed as 1.37:1 in their catalog.

Only saying that they got THIS one right.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 14, 2012 - 12:45 AM   
 By:   Bob Furmanek   (Member)

Thank goodness for that!

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 14, 2012 - 12:49 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.......all the IMDB and AFI references seem to think it is 1.37-1, too. So much for film research and history.


The AFI Catalog entry on the film says the following:

Widescreen/ratio: 1.85:1.....



Interesting, Bob DiMucci!

The TCM Database I referred to ("powered by AFI" or so it claims) believes the ratio is 1.37-1.

So, as always, there is confusion out there. There shouldn't be this kind of confusion with
Criterion, however---they're supposed to be on top of these kinds of things.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 14, 2012 - 12:57 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....I don't think Bob has ever visited this forum. He's over at the 35mm Forum and, occasionally, Nitrateville.....


I kinda' lured Bob over here sometime back with our discussion of WarnerPhonic surround sound, so he's no longer an FSM virgin. smile

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 14, 2012 - 1:14 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....The AFI listings are not always accurate. Many of the early non-anamorphic widescreen films from 1953/54 are listed as 1.37:1 in their catalog.....

Bob Furmanek is quite correct.

One of my close friends worked as a researcher on several editions of the AFI Index over the years. He was often appalled at the disregard of commonly-known and accurate information on various film titles by the chief editor of the Index, who apparently was a fine librarian, but not technically movie-wise enough to pass proper judgments in some areas.

One of his favorite examples was the continuing argument over Sepia in films of the period.
The Editor seemed to think that when the ads or main titles said, "Filmed in Sepia Tone," there was actually a sepiatone negative stock in the camera, rather than it simply being a laboratory toning process for release prints after-the-fact. He tried to correct as many of these and other errors as he could, but, sadly, quite a few slipped by!

The AFI Index is a marvelous research tool, but the mistakes are numerous and most are careless and obvious errors by a few researchers who didn't know the simple machinery and techniques of filmmaking, and who weren't corrected by the Editor-in-Chief.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 14, 2012 - 5:17 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

.....The AFI listings are not always accurate. Many of the early non-anamorphic widescreen films from 1953/54 are listed as 1.37:1 in their catalog.....

Bob Furmanek is quite correct.

One of my close friends worked as a researcher on several editions of the AFI Index over the years. He was often appalled at the disregard of commonly-known and accurate information on various film titles by the chief editor of the Index, who apparently was a fine librarian, but not technically movie-wise enough to pass proper judgments in some areas.

One of his favorite examples was the continuing argument over Sepia in films of the period.
The Editor seemed to think that when the ads or main titles said, "Filmed in Sepia Tone," there was actually a sepiatone negative stock in the camera, rather than it simply being a laboratory toning process for release prints after-the-fact. He tried to correct as many of these and other errors as he could, but, sadly, quite a few slipped by!

The AFI Index is a marvelous research tool, but the mistakes are numerous and most are careless and obvious errors by a few researchers who didn't know the simple machinery and techniques of filmmaking, and who weren't corrected by the Editor-in-Chief.



Well, the AFI Catalog has a new editor now. I've communicated with him via e-mail numerous times and have found him quite willing to correct errors and make necessary additions. I hope that after Bob publishes his article on aspect ratios that he will provide the AFI with the information necessary to correct any errors in the Catalog.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 14, 2012 - 5:19 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

.......all the IMDB and AFI references seem to think it is 1.37-1, too. So much for film research and history.


The AFI Catalog entry on the film says the following:

Widescreen/ratio: 1.85:1.....



Interesting, Bob DiMucci!

The TCM Database I referred to ("powered by AFI" or so it claims) believes the ratio is 1.37-1.

So, as always, there is confusion out there. There shouldn't be this kind of confusion with
Criterion, however---they're supposed to be on top of these kinds of things.



The on-line AFI Catalog is updated periodically. Perhaps the TCM Database is not refreshed as often.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 14, 2012 - 11:34 AM   
 By:   Bob Furmanek   (Member)

Our plans to do an article have changed and we are now writing a book. This amount of data (which is so inaccurate in books and on the Internet) needs to be in a permanent place.

The 3-D Film Archive owns DRAGONFLY SQUADRON and I can confirm that it's composed for 1.85:1. Check out the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RIDvciB-GM&feature=g-upl

UPDATE: New data has been uncovered which confirms 1.66:1 as the correct AR for DRAGONFLY SQUADRON.

I've written to TCM several times to update their listing for 1.37:1 and it's never been changed. They claim it was provided by the AFI which got their information from the studios so it can't possibly be wrong. I explained that many studio databases (I've seen them) list 1.37 for widescreen movies as late as the 1960's. The reason? The database listing is for image area on the film, not the intended composition or projection ratio.

I just had a discussion with a writer who reviewed the Blu-ray of HONDO. He wrote how the film is definitely not widescreen and despite all the documentation that I was able to provide, he would not update his review.

His sources for 1.37 being correct? The 2007 Paramount DVD release ("the studio had to know what they were doing") and the TCM website.

There are times you just have to move on...

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 14, 2012 - 1:09 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....Our plans to do an article have changed and we are now writing a book. This amount of data (which is so inaccurate in books and on the Internet) needs to be in a permanent place.

The 3-D Film Archive owns DRAGONFLY SQUADRON and I can confirm that it's composed for 1.85:1. Check out the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RIDvciB-GM&feature=g-upl

I've written to TCM several times to update their listing for 1.37:1 and it's never been changed. They claim it was provided by the AFI which got their information from the studios so it can't possibly be wrong. I explained that many studio databases (I've seen them) list 1.37 for widescreen movies as late as the 1960's. The reason? The database listing is for image area on the film, not the intended composition or projection ratio.

I just had a discussion with a writer who reviewed the Blu-ray of HONDO. He wrote how the film is definitely not widescreen and despite all the documentation that I was able to provide, he would not update his review.

His sources for 1.37 being correct? The 2007 Paramount DVD release ("the studio had to know what they were doing") and the TCM website.

There are times you just have to move on......



It's maddening, isn't it, Bob? frown

There are those of us who were there, and who know a lot about this stuff, and who are still alive. All they have to do is ask!

Unfortunately, most of the time they don't know what questions to ask, or, if they do, how to apply the answers that are given.

Another strange thing is that, at least in relation to ratios, and even after taking film classes, they don't know enough about camera composition to understand how something looks when it is mis-framed. Odd.

The trailer for DRAGONFLY SQUADRON is fabulous! DRAGONFLY SQUADRON was an Allied Artists picture as I recall. Wherever did you find the master elements???; I am stunned by your discovery! (Not likely in the Warner Bros/Lorimar holdings I'd think.)

The 3-D Film Archive, of which you're a part, is a tremendously valuable historical resource. You are all doing a tremendous job finding and documenting these films so many years after the fact. And your own work on the documentation of all kinds of widescreen films of this period is equally valuable.

(I hope the high-def transfer of DRAGONFLY implies you will be doing a 3-D Blu-ray of the film.
I think the release of some of the early-1950s 3-D films on Blu-ray might help spur the sales of 3-D home video equipment, at least among film buffs, and I hope you, and others who have control over this kind of material, are considering this.)

Are there any 3-D elements left on LOUISIANA TERRITORY? I once saw a bit of it in 2-D black-and-white on TCM and couldn't watch very long---it seemed very amateurish.

Incidentally.....thank you for your participation on this FSM site, Bob.

There are a few of us regulars around here who worked in the industry, and we sometimes alternately confound or bore some of the others with our endless technical discussions. It's nice to have your voice here, too, when you can drop by.

 
 Posted:   Jun 14, 2012 - 2:04 PM   
 By:   Ron Pulliam   (Member)

.......all the IMDB and AFI references seem to think it is 1.37-1, too. So much for film research and history.


The AFI Catalog entry on the film says the following:

Widescreen/ratio: 1.85:1.....



Interesting, Bob DiMucci!

The TCM Database I referred to ("powered by AFI" or so it claims) believes the ratio is 1.37-1.

So, as always, there is confusion out there. There shouldn't be this kind of confusion with
Criterion, however---they're supposed to be on top of these kinds of things.


I remember this airing on TCM. IIRC, Robert Osborne addressed this issue. From what I can remember (and this is perception rather than factual memory), he said that Lean was not interested in addressing wide-screen composition at the time, but shot it in a way that allowed exhibitors to crop it top and bottom if they desired to show it that way. That's perception, mind you...not fact.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 14, 2012 - 5:16 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

I remember this airing on TCM. IIRC, Robert Osborne addressed this issue. From what I can remember (and this is perception rather than factual memory), he said that Lean was not interested in addressing wide-screen composition at the time, but shot it in a way that allowed exhibitors to crop it top and bottom if they desired to show it that way. That's perception, mind you...not fact.


If Lean protected for 1.85:1 on 1955's "Summertime," I wonder what he did for the prior year's "Hobson's Choice."

 
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