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 Posted:   Jun 15, 2012 - 8:39 PM   
 By:   Bob Furmanek   (Member)

That last post is one of the MOST important statements on this period of transition.

There's a very valid reason why Universal-International and Warner Bros. shut down for one to three months while they adapted. The others pretty much maintained production but at a snails pace.

Unfortunately, we've had 50+ years of 1.37:1 viewing of these films on television and in repertory. That's how people believe they should be seen. It's hard for some to accept the facts.

Myths are hard to bust and we've got an uphill battle with this one. We've been fighting the "3-D Movies of the 1950's were all shown anaglyph" for close to 20 years now. The hype and spin with Real-D and AVATAR only made it worse. When you've got respected newspapers and trade journals buying into it, you've got a tough nut to crack.

Jack Theakston wrote the following on his blog in 2007:

In a September, 1996 issue of 3D News, Marvin Jones told this amusing story in his article about the misconceptions of red and blue-- anaglyph-- 3-D glasses, and the general attitude towards 3-D movies by "critics," which I believe will illustrate my point for this article beautifully:

This came to a head a few weeks ago when, in a cable-TV special on movie gimmicks, film critic, Roger Ebert, commented that one of the things that killed 3D movies was the dislike of the audience for those pesky red and blue glasses.

Jones went onto an Internet forum which Ebert frequented and set the facts straight, only to find a truism about posting facts on the web-- there will always be a million monkeys with a million keyboards to "set you straight":

Immediately the bulletin board was filled with messages from literally dozens of people who clearly and without any doubt remembered going to 3D movies as kids, and watching them through red and blue glasses! One man had absolute proof-- when he saw HOUSE OF WAX, he became so frightened that he removed the glasses and saw the images on the screen fringed in color, proving that they could not possibly have been anything but red and blue glasses he so clearly remembered anyway!

Another man had seen the Polaroid system for the very first time only a couple of years ago at a business conference and he had commented at that time that if this technology had been available in the 1950s, 3D movies might have survived, a sentiment shared by the dozens of others at the meeting.

Many made the point that Roger Ebert should certainly know what he was talking about and is much more to be believed than some obstinate no-nothing like me who refused to accept the testimony of dozens of reliable eye witnesses.

Mr. Ebert still repeats that anaglyph statement!

May I utilize your last post on other websites, please? If so, to whom should I credit that statement? The fact that you were a cameraman adds much validity to those words.


 Posted:   Jun 16, 2012 - 1:34 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Regarding the wrong aspect ratios in the AFI books; if there is somebody I should speak to in order to correct those mistakes, please pass along that information. The fact that TCM is relying on that for their site and people are relying on TCM to be accurate, it seems a good idea to correct that information at the source.


Here is the contact information for the AFI Catalog:

Bob Birchard
Editor AFI Catalog of Feature Films
PH #: 323.856.7735
FAX #: 323.856.7750

I've e-mailed Mr. Birchard a number of times regarding corrections and additions to the Catalog and have found him to be courteous and responsive.

Bob DiMucci

 Posted:   Jun 18, 2012 - 12:52 PM   
 By:   Bob Furmanek   (Member)

Thank you, Bob. I'll drop him a line.


 Posted:   Jul 16, 2012 - 10:00 AM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

Manderley - your second story reminds me of the time I was tossed out of the Bergen Mall cinema because I went up to the booth and went inside to focus a showing that I was attending. I figured since the booth was empty, and the manager had been unable to fix it earlier, that they needed help. smile

Pete, the mere mention of that place has me LOL and ROTF and the fact you did what you did makes it worse...let me compose...OK...I rarely went to that theatre as it felt like maybe 1/2 notch above Cinema 35 across the streeteek...anyway, last flick I saw there was Birdy, I'm pretty sure...I mean the place had what Kay Thompson called the "sinister" look or something I dunno...

...ANYWAY, finally saw Summertime via its most recent TCM airing last week and was blown away. Yet another film never seen until now of which I've been well aware of half my film-viewing life. I've rewatched it 3x past few days alone. Can only imagine what it would be like in its original widescreen ratio considering how much I've enjoyed the cropped er whatever version. The cinematography is beyond stunning. Oh, my.

 Posted:   May 8, 2013 - 9:45 PM   
 By:   Bob Furmanek   (Member)

From Variety: June 16, 1954

"Picture is budgeted for $1,000,000. It will be shot for widescreen presentation and in Eastman color."

 Posted:   May 8, 2013 - 11:34 PM   
 By:   Mark R. Y.   (Member)

I've become quite fascinated with the subject of proper framing recently, so I find this thread very absorbing. Criterion has recently released ON THE WATERFRONT in a package with three presentations of the film - in 1.33:1, 1.66:1 and 1.85:1. I will be watching this DVD soon, and I wish to ask Mr. Furmanek, Manderley, and/or anyone else in the know what they think about this presentation, and which is the correct intended aspect ratio for WATERFRONT.

Thank you!

 Posted:   May 8, 2013 - 11:57 PM   
 By:   Bob Furmanek   (Member)

It was recommended for 1.85:1 in 1954.

You might enjoy our new article on the widescreen boom of 1953:

 Posted:   May 9, 2013 - 1:05 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

Yes, I agree with Bob Furmanek re: ON THE WATERFRONT.

With a production period of November-1953 through January-1954, I can't imagine it would
be anything but 1.85-1.

Re: zooming of the image in transfer: In the really old days of the '50s, if you wanted to run a spherical widescreen film on TV, and IT HADN'T BEEN FULLY PROTECTED FOR 1.37 in the original shooting, the technology was not really there where you could transfer it with a slight zoom in to cut off head room, mike boom errors, or incomplete sets, as it ran. (And, in fact, in the earliest days, there was no videotape or other TV medium to transfer it to, anyway.)

So.....the optical department of the studio had to make a film blowup from the widescreen composed camera negative which would present a full, if compromised, screen frame in the 4x3 television ratio. This would logically be a finegrain---in B+W---or an interpositive---in color---which would then be used to make a new TV negative to create prints to air in various TV markets.

I've never done the research, and can't prove this---maybe Bob has---but I've often had the suspicion that some of these re-formatted TV full-screen NEGATIVES of spherical widescreen pictures got vaulted without proper ID, and then 30 years later, in some instances, had accidentally been pulled and used to make new video masters instead of the proper originals.

When complaints arose, the production house could honestly say, "Yeah, you say it's supposed to be 1.85-1, but when we tried transferring it that way, all the heads were cut off, so you must be wrong! It's exactly like our negative!" Though their transfer was, indeed, off a vaulted negative or finegrain, it was the WRONG negative---and not the original camera negative!

There's an interesting variation of this case which runs on TCM occasionally.

In the latter '50s, ca. 1957-58-59, MGM decided it could save some money (???) by shooting its B+W CinemaScope pictures full-frame, composing them for CinemaScope, and then cropping an image from that camera negative to 2.35 in the Metro lab , utilizing the Panavision printing lenses to create a final, squeezed CinemaScope negative for each film. This was, in effect, a form of SuperScope 235. Because of licensing agreements, Fox still had to get its CinemaScope commission and a screen and ad credit, but this was reduced in size on the films and ad pages.

Pictures like JAILHOUSE ROCK, THIS MUST BE THE NIGHT, and others were apparently a part of this procedure. Another one was THE SEVENTH SIN, with Eleanor Parker (and score by Rozsa). Unless a new transfer has been made (of which I am unaware), this film has played on TCM for years and years in the following way: The main titles are in CinemaScope dimensions (within the full-frame), but the body of the film is full-frame. It is NOT, however, a pan-and-scan job in the full-frame section.

So it appears that the transfer they have made utilizes the CinemaScope negative for the main (and end?) titles, and the body of the film comes from the original open-matte full-frame camera negative! Since most of their other B+W CinemaScope films of this period seem to run in the Scope format, it is possible that, A) the properly-framed Scope dupe negative no longer exists, or, B) someone has unknowingly pulled the "flat" negative of the film for the video transfer.

One wonders exactly why MGM shot these films this way, though it may be that they simply wanted a full-frame negative for TV and non-theatrical use without panning-and-scanning a Scope format. There is no record of any of their color films having been done this way, so they probably thought they could get away with it in B+W, and, in fact, on a big screen they don't look bad at all, and you'd probably not guess this was how they were shot.

MGM certainly had a history of shooting spherical material on its earliest CinemaScope films for protection in the non-theatrical and few lagging small-town markets. At least ROSE MARIE, STUDENT PRINCE, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, BRIGADOON, MOONFLEET, BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK, and MANY RIVERS TO CROSS, appear to have been double-shot---in CinemaScope---and in full-frame, composed for 1.75. There are variations in the camera set-ups and "takes" (and, occasionally, performances), and in the main title credit cards for these twin-shot films---much like OKLAHOMA in 1955 (which was, curiously, also mounted, partially shot, and posted at MGM).

Another curious transfer is MGM's fine all-star drama EXECUTIVE SUITE. Years ago, the original VHS videotape master of this widescreen-composed film presented a full-frame transfer of the original negative, complete with lots of head room and occasional glimpses of incomplete tops of sets and soundstage rafters. The laserdisc presented the film properly in 1.75/1.85 widescreen format, but then the DVD went back to the full-frame presentation, but this time zooming the image enough to eliminate the overshooting and extra head-room of the full-frame original. One wonders if we will ever get a proper widescreen transfer of this film again.

 Posted:   May 9, 2013 - 10:12 AM   
 By:   Mark R. Y.   (Member)

Thank you for the info, Bob and Manderley. smile

 Posted:   May 10, 2013 - 6:59 PM   
 By:   Bob Furmanek   (Member)

Take a look at the kind of nonsense we deal with in trying to get the facts out there:

 Posted:   Mar 22, 2014 - 8:44 AM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

Just watched it again in the wrong ratio, still dreaming of seeing it in the correct ratio, and in the meantime loving every post and link here. I don't know what's worse, false film music fans or false film fans.

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