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 Posted:   Aug 31, 2007 - 1:21 PM   
 By:   recordwracked   (Member)

I just (Wed. evening) saw HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE at the Arclight in Hollywood, an AFI screening.

Seeing this presentation really gave you vivid impression of the scope of CinemaScope, it’s BIG.

Only disappointment was the print was not in stereo, and it was distracting (at least to me) to watch two people at opposite sides of the screen with their voices coming from the middle.

It seemed like the opening Street Scene was in stereo, but then the actual film track reverted to mono. (or so it seemed, I was quite dazzled by the huge ‘Scope image at first).

At any rate, in this case (dialogue) the use of stereo actually had a functional side as well.

The biggest disappointment was not hearing the vivacious Newman/Newman/Mockridge/Darby score in STEREO, however. (Well, as a good friend said afterwards, we can go home and do that with the FSM release).

I enjoyed the screening immensely but did notice fluctuation in the visual quality.

Outdoor (location) shots were particularly grainy, and the color was sometimes slightly “off”.

Was this due to the quality/type of film they were using then? Any comments or observations?

The interior (studio soundstage) shots were mostly gorgeous, that luscious creamy Fox color and design.

Also, in early ‘Scope pictures the image seems to darken a bit (or go grainy) just before fading out on a scene change. Anyone know why?

This was the second CinemaScope film released. Maybe they were still testing the waters.

Before MILLIONAIRE I also saw Danny Boyle’s incredible SUNSHINE again. I had seen it in a local theater but the Arclight screening was tremendous in both image and sound.

The film is not perfect but I’ve really come to like it and this is the ultimate way to see it. (It’s pretty much vanished at any other theaters otherwise).

The score and sound mix of course were peak.

Seeing both these films in one day was an awesome experience in the true sense of the word.

 
 Posted:   Aug 31, 2007 - 1:39 PM   
 By:   Saul Pincus   (Member)

Also, in early ‘Scope pictures the image seems to darken a bit (or go grainy) just before fading out on a scene change. Anyone know why?

Scope pictures from the 50s (and even early 60s) created their fades and dissolves by duplicating the original negative at the point of transition and then cutting that piece of dupe negative directly into the original negative. This would result in vast jump in quality several frames before and after each transition effect; the dupe neg appearing contrasty, grainy and lacking in fine color reproduction when juxtaposed directly with the original negative.

 
 Posted:   Sep 1, 2007 - 2:05 PM   
 By:   PhiladelphiaSon   (Member)

Although HTMAM was the second Cinemascope film to be released, it was the first to be filmed. Fox felt The Robe was "more important" and decided to introduce their new screen process with that film.

 
 Posted:   Sep 1, 2007 - 3:39 PM   
 By:   CH-CD   (Member)

In our city (Sheffield,U.K.), "Millionaire" actually beat "The Robe" by two weeks.

They had opened in London in October/November,1953 and were released to the other major cities early in 1954.
"How to Marry a Millionaire" opened here on Feb 1st,1954 and ran for two weeks. "The Robe" opened here on Feb 15th,1954 and ran for eight weeks. (A huge run, when most movies back then usually only ran for one week).

It's hard to convey to people today what a HUGE event CinemaScope was to moviegoers back then. Going to see it for the first time was an awesome experience. Not only because of the giant screen, but also for the impact of Stereophonic Sound.

I really MUST get that time machine of mine finished !


Two original 1953 English Lobby Cards (FOH). Notice how the CinemaScope logo is bigger than the movie's title.





 
 Posted:   Sep 1, 2007 - 4:59 PM   
 By:   PhiladelphiaSon   (Member)

Regardless of what Fox thought, 'Millionaire' is the better film, imo.

 
 Posted:   Sep 1, 2007 - 5:15 PM   
 By:   CH-CD   (Member)

Regardless of what Fox thought, 'Millionaire' is the better film, imo.

1954 audiences didn't think so.
Whilst "Millionaire" was a big,big hit, "The Robe" was a super, colossal, MEGA hit !

Even though today it does seem a little pompous and long-winded, I still love it, and the art direction and costumes are superb.
I also love "HTMAM" which, 54 years on is still a pure delight.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 2, 2007 - 4:10 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....Although HTMAM was the second Cinemascope film to be released, it was the first to be filmed.....


This "Hollywood" urban legend is not documented anywhere that I have ever found in my searches and seems to have first surfaced in the 1980s.

THE ROBE was prepared and started shooting first, not only in CinemaScope, but as a simultaneously-shot flat version---because they were somewhat privately mistrustful of the process and wanted to make sure they could get at least one format out to the theatres for their considerable investment.

HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE started shooting second, but was shot concurrently with THE ROBE.

HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE (because it was a faster, cheaper and simpler film) was completed shooting first, but posted second.

THE ROBE was completed shooting second, but posted first to meet the release date in September, 1953.

(If you are a film technique freak, you can plainly see the experimental technical errors in THE ROBE, from the focus problems in a few shots, to the camera lens flare problems caused by soundstage backlights hitting the lens because they weren't properly eliminated by the early matte-box fittings. These problems were resolved fairly quickly after early dailies screenings on THE ROBE, and don't appear to any degree in HTMAM.)

There was NEVER any intent to CHOOSE the best picture to show off the process---it was a foregone plan for THE ROBE right from the beginning.

It is my understanding that there were 3 original Chretien (1920s) CinemaScope lenses during this first shooting period. One was assigned to THE ROBE, a second was assigned to HTMAM, and a third was given to Fox cameraman Charles G. Clarke for his special-effects- rigged Fox-Simplex camera to take to locations in Idaho (where he shot winter sequences with doubles), and New York/Connecticut (where he shot travelling shots, bridge plates and passbys and New York skyline and street shots), all eventually used in HTMAM. (The "New York Skyline" shot became a "classic" and appeared regularly in Fox films of the fifties.) Clarke then went to Silver Springs Florida with his camera and crew to shoot 2nd-Unit location and underwater footage for BENEATH THE 12-MILE REEF, then to London to shoot the "Coronation Parade" short in CinemaScope, then moved on to Italy, following behind the first unit of THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN, and shot the Venice sequence (with doubles) and the entire prologue fountain opening for the Sinatra vocal.

On film short-ends left over from the COINS first-unit he put together and shot a CinemaScope short eventually called VESUVIUS EXPRESS which was nominated for an Oscar. (Clarke has said that producer-director Otto Lang, credited on this short, was at no time involved. Clarke and flyer Paul Mantz assembled the whole thing.) During this European jaunt Clarke apparently shot the European backgrounds, plates and passbys for HELL AND HIGH WATER, and, apparently stayed in Europe to begin work on PRINCE VALIANT.

All these Clarke "extras" were done fairly quickly and the footage shipped back to the studio on a daily/weekly basis so that studio-shooting and post-production work could be completed on these first few films so they could be released on a regular schedule.

The history of this period---20th Century-Fox and CinemaScope---is something to marvel at, what with the incredibly brave and gutsy pouring of the studio's investment and resources into an as yet untried commercial venture.

 
 Posted:   Sep 2, 2007 - 5:21 AM   
 By:   PhiladelphiaSon   (Member)

You'll have to tell that one to Lauren Bacall, who started the "legend". Since she was there, I'll take her word for it. It's not really that important, otherwise.

 
 Posted:   Sep 2, 2007 - 5:51 AM   
 By:   Doug Raynes   (Member)

In our city (Sheffield,U.K.), "Millionaire" actually beat "The Robe" by two weeks.

It's hard to convey to people today what a HUGE event CinemaScope was to moviegoers back then. Going to see it for the first time was an awesome experience. Not only because of the giant screen, but also for the impact of Stereophonic Sound.


A giant CinemaScope screen in Sheffield in the '50s. Are you sure? When I was temporarily living in Sheffield in the mid-sixties, Rank's Gaumont cinema still had to REDUCE the height of the screen in order to accomodate wide screen films - so you actually ended up with a smaller picture!

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 2, 2007 - 1:53 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....You'll have to tell that one to Lauren Bacall, who started the "legend". Since she was there, I'll take her word for it.....


Yes. And I, and many others at the first 3-D Festival here in Los Angeles several years ago, heard stars Kathryn Grayson and Tommy Rall, on the dais, agree with each other in saying that KISS ME KATE had to be shot twice---once in 3-D and once in 2-D!---when, of course, it was only shot once---only in 3-D---and the only thing actually done for "flat" exhibition was to run either the left or right eye print.

You quickly realize when you talk with most performers in the industry that they have very little knowledge of the overall flow of the technical processes of filmmaking beyond their momentary performance issues.

You will also read in Debbie Reynolds' biography how she worked so hard on SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, and then, with only a few days relaxation, was called back to the studio to begin MR. IMPERIUM with Lana Turner. In reality, of course, Reynolds worked hard on TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE, was called back for MR. IMPERIUM, and only AFTER those began SINGIN' IN THE RAIN. The erroneous history certainly makes a better dramatic story though. smile

 
 Posted:   Sep 2, 2007 - 4:15 PM   
 By:   CH-CD   (Member)

In our city (Sheffield,U.K.), "Millionaire" actually beat "The Robe" by two weeks.

It's hard to convey to people today what a HUGE event CinemaScope was to moviegoers back then. Going to see it for the first time was an awesome experience. Not only because of the giant screen, but also for the impact of Stereophonic Sound.


A giant CinemaScope screen in Sheffield in the '50s. Are you sure? When I was temporarily living in Sheffield in the mid-sixties, Rank's Gaumont cinema still had to REDUCE the height of the screen in order to accomodate wide screen films - so you actually ended up with a smaller picture!


Well Doug....small world eh?
As I have no width specifications to hand,I can't vouch for the exact size of the Gaumont's CinemaScope screen back in 1954, (which is where that first showing of "Millionaire" took place),although, I never noticed any problems with it in later years. The photo below shows the auditorium in 1965, after it had been re-decorated. The screen though was still the same size it had been in 1954.
The only note I have on the Gaumont's CinemaScope installation is as follows:
"In 1928,when the theatre opened, projection was from the lower part of the dome. Twenty six years later, the management was faced with a problem in the run up to CinemaScope. The angle of projection was too great to obtain a sharp picture over the whole of the greatly enlarged screen, and it was found necessary to reposition the projection booth to the back of the circle."

The thing is, my early memories of CinemaScope are not of the Gaumont, but of The Palace,on Union Street. For that is the theatre that became the exclusive home (for several years) of Fox's CinemaScope movies.
Whilst these movies should have gone to the Rank Organisation's theatres (Gaumont/Odeon,etc,and indeed, in some parts of the country the initial screenings of the first 2 or 3 movies did go to these theatres), J.Arthur Rank himself had fallen out with 20th Century Fox over the installation of Stereophonic Sound. He said he didn't think it was worth the extra expense of installing this, as well as the new screens. Fox told him that he couldn't have one without the other....so he didn't have either!
Fox then arranged for independant theatres in each town to take their new product. These cinemas, of course jumped at it, and this became known as the "Fox Circuit".

The Palace, Union Street was ours, and that's where "The Robe" and all the subsequent early CinemaScope movies played, for quite some time.
This theatre closed in 1964,and I don't have any photos of it's interior, so maybe you wouldn't remember it Doug?
I only know that to a 7 year old me, that screen looked pretty darn BIG!!


The Gaumont auditorium in 1965, seen from about half way back in the Stalls (Orchestra).
(Look at all those ash trays on the back of the seats. Ugh !!!)

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 2, 2007 - 5:13 PM   
 By:   paulw   (Member)


The history of this period---20th Century-Fox and CinemaScope---is something to marvel at, what with the incredibly brave and gutsy pouring of the studio's investment and resources into an as yet untried commercial venture.


It may not have been as brave as you suggest in the fact the Fox was reacting to the widescreen success of This Is Cinerama a year or two before. They wanted to jump on the widescreen bandwagon as well..

 
 Posted:   Sep 2, 2007 - 11:02 PM   
 By:   Doug Raynes   (Member)

The Palace, Union Street was ours, and that's where "The Robe" and all the subsequent early CinemaScope movies played, for quite some time.
This theatre closed in 1964,and I don't have any photos of it's interior, so maybe you wouldn't remember it Doug?
I only know that to a 7 year old me, that screen looked pretty darn BIG!!


CH-CD - Many thanks for the information - fascinating stuff. That photograph of the Gaumont certainly brings back memories. I was in Sheffield from 1965-1971 so missed seeing The Palace cinema. I used to go mainly to the ABC and Odeon, both huge, impressive cinemas, where I saw many 70mm presentations. Being interested in cinema architecture I used to also visit cinemas in Manchester and Leeds. I still visit Sheffield because I have relatives there but, like everywhere, multiplexes have taken over from those great old cinemas.

 
 Posted:   Sep 3, 2007 - 10:56 AM   
 By:   CH-CD   (Member)

The Palace, Union Street was ours, and that's where "The Robe" and all the subsequent early CinemaScope movies played, for quite some time.
This theatre closed in 1964,and I don't have any photos of it's interior, so maybe you wouldn't remember it Doug?
I only know that to a 7 year old me, that screen looked pretty darn BIG!!


CH-CD - Many thanks for the information - fascinating stuff. That photograph of the Gaumont certainly brings back memories. I was in Sheffield from 1965-1971 so missed seeing The Palace cinema. I used to go mainly to the ABC and Odeon, both huge, impressive cinemas, where I saw many 70mm presentations. Being interested in cinema architecture I used to also visit cinemas in Manchester and Leeds. I still visit Sheffield because I have relatives there but, like everywhere, multiplexes have taken over from those great old cinemas.


Here is a little more nostalgia for you Doug.....Sheffield's Odeon and ABC theatres were two of the finest cinemas outside London's West End.
Their sound and projection systems were second to none, and they did full justice to all those magnificent Overtures and Main Titles of the great epics.
Today's Multiplexes just can't begin to compete with these REAL cinemas.

The Odeon, opened in July,1956. Home to all the Fox,Columbia,United Artists and Bronston 70mm Epics.


The ABC, opened in May,1961. Home to all the MGM, Warner and Paramount 70mm Epics.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 5, 2007 - 7:06 AM   
 By:   Joe Caps   (Member)

MANDERLEY - You should write a boook about the early years of filming scope.

Question - Clarke is in Italy to film the scenes in venise with double. The close ups in the film on the condola are thr principals. How were they shot - with separate camers in the goldonla, or back in hollywood with background plate.

If back in Hollywood, why were the leads not actually shot in venise, as they really were there for much of the shoot anyway?

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 5, 2007 - 1:30 PM   
 By:   Preston Neal Jones   (Member)

I can't remember if I was able to videotape it or not, but many years ago a cable channel here in L.A. broadcast an archival series of brief teaser trailers for THE ROBE, each one consisting of a Fox star -- Richard Widmark is the only one I recall specifically -- in a library, holding a copy of the Douglas novel, and urging cinema audiences not to miss "THE ROBE -- in Cinemascope!"

***

Owners of the FSM CD will recognize that lobby card from MILLIONAIRE. Looking at it again, one can plainly see that the actors are all singing. But what? There's no group sing in the final cut of that last scene. Anybody have a copy of the script who can tell us what they're all warbling? Too bad that track never turned up when Lukas and company were preparing the wonderful CD. I mean, we've got the few seconds of the prospective customer noodling on the piano, but not that missing song. So, the disc turns out to be ALMOST but not quite exactly complete...

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 5, 2007 - 4:27 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....MANDERLEY - You should write a boook about the early years of filming scope.

Question - Clarke is in Italy to film the scenes in venise with double. The close ups in the film on the condola are thr principals. How were they shot - with separate camers in the goldonla, or back in hollywood with background plate.

If back in Hollywood, why were the leads not actually shot in venise, as they really were there for much of the shoot anyway?.....



Venice location passbys and feeding pigeons in St. Marks' Square shot with doubles---dialog close-ups on the gondola, star inserts in St. Marks' Square, as well as Venice cafe sequence shot back at the studio in rear process with previously-shot Clarke/Venice background plates.

I haven't looked at this film in awhile, but I'm guessing---and this is only a guess---that Venice is a 2nd Unit because the shooting schedule around Rome does not appear to be very lengthy, even of itself, and they probably didn't want to bother to ship everything and set up new production facilities in Venice for such a short sequence.

There is a wonderful Italian ambience in this film---and it, and the next year's TO CATCH A THIEF---caused a real stampede to the Mediterranean area by tourists from the US in the mid-50s. When you analyze THREE COINS, however, you realize that much of this film takes place in studio interiors (many on revamped sets from HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE and THE ROBE), and most of the rest uses the stars, on location in Italy, but is mostly silent medium and long-shots of the stars against the scenery, and when they get to the dialog moments, they are mostly accomplished in process---even around the key set-piece, the Fountain of Trevi. Perhaps the lengthiest Italian-shot sequence is of Jean Peters and Rossano Brazzi taking their jaunt to a family picnic in the Italian countryside.

That intermingling of location and studio work was a hallmark of old Hollywood, and, of course, is one of the primary reasons 40 films of fairly excellent production quality could be ground out by a studio each year, often at a fraction---even allowing for inflation---of a similar group of films today.

 
 Posted:   Sep 6, 2007 - 8:07 AM   
 By:   msmith   (Member)

MANDERLEY - You should write a boook about the early years of filming scope.





There is a book called "Wide Screen Movies" by Robert E. Carr and R.M. Hays.
Although the book was published 20 years ago, it's the most comprehensive book I've ever read on the subject of widescreen movies.
You might want to check it out:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0899502423/thewidescreemovi

 
 Posted:   Sep 6, 2007 - 8:15 AM   
 By:   Saul Pincus   (Member)

There is a book called "Wide Screen Movies" by Robert E. Carr and R.M. Hays.
Although the book was published 20 years ago, it's the most comprehensive book I've ever read on the subject of widescreen movies.


"Wide Screen Movies" is certainly comprehensive – but it's also full of errors. John Belton's "Widescreen Cinema" – while not attempting to offer lists of titles released in various Widscreen formats as "Wide screen Movies" does – is also pretty good.

Another great resource are projection manuals from the mid-to-late 1950s, which go into exhaustive detail explaining the overwhelming wave of new technology of the time. Not unlike today, really!

 
 Posted:   Sep 6, 2007 - 8:27 AM   
 By:   msmith   (Member)

There is a book called "Wide Screen Movies" by Robert E. Carr and R.M. Hays.
Although the book was published 20 years ago, it's the most comprehensive book I've ever read on the subject of widescreen movies.


"Wide Screen Movies" is certainly comprehensive – but it's also full of errors.


I didn't know that.


John Belton's "Widescreen Cinema" – while not attempting to offer lists of titles released in various Widscreen formats as "Wide screen Movies" does – is also pretty good.

I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the info and the advice.

Another great resource are projection manuals from the mid-to-late 1950s, which go into exhaustive detail explaining the overwhelming wave of new technology of the time. Not unlike today, really!

 
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