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Re: Aspect ratios of 50s and 60s films

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  • david hare
    ... films ... Ultimately one would hope such documentation might settle this entire vexed area of 50s Widescreen ratios, and perhaps also settle some heated
    Message 1 of 27 , May 31, 2007
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      --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, Joseph Kaufman <joka@...> wrote:
      >
      > Though I'm not arguing that TOUCH OF EVIL or ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS
      > ought to be shown wider than 1.37 (especially taking into
      > consideration what Welles told Bill K. personally), many other
      films
      > from the mid-'50s on have significant unused headroom, obviously
      > intended to be cropped away in theaters. One can deduce that there
      > were viewfinder markings that d.p.s and operators used as guides.
      > Perhaps one of the early editions of the AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER
      > MANUAL or articles from AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER from the period
      > would provide contemporary evidence one way or the other.
      > --
      >
      > - Joe Kaufman
      >
      Ultimately one would hope such documentation might settle this entire
      vexed area of 50s Widescreen ratios, and perhaps also settle some
      heated arguments Ive recently had over the 2.00:1 screenings of
      Magnificent Obsession this year in LA (same AR as the appalling
      British DVD from early this year.) One of the more adversarial
      posters to me sent links to these sites which are posted towards the
      bottom of this page:

      http://www.criterionforum.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5461&start=25

      Unfortunately the principal document cited from HTF which reproduces
      Universal's 1954 Screening ratios appear to me to be either a
      publicity document, or at best a list of INTENDED screning ratios by
      Universal, who were clearly commercially concerned about competition
      from Scope. The point is that this document proves nothing
      whatsoever about actual screening practices (indeed how many cinemas
      in the USA were fitted with masking apparatus by late 1954?)

      Im afraid however that my arguments in favor of retaining the 1.37 AR
      on MagObs fell on largely deaf ears, despite posting comparative
      screencaps with a 1.33 TV version in that thread, and arguments based
      on Sirk and Metty' frequent lighting through vertical planes,
      composition, and movement. That the picture is massacred by the 2:1
      masking is an understatement.

      By the time of Imitation of Life the 1.85 ratio looks right. In fact
      I recall screening a 16mm print of this in the late 70s which was
      hard matted to that AR. But Im increasingly inclined to wish we had
      far less wide DVDs of All that Heaven and Written on the Wind (not to
      mention the freaking Welles - I still hang onto the Laser from 1996
      which was the 78 "version" in Academy Ratio.)
      But the question remains - where are some authoritative records,
      interviews, whatever with survivors of the early to late 50s
      production teams who could help settle arguments on this. I find no
      matter how hard I try to - I guess too poorly - argue via mise en
      scene or aesthetics with some of the younger film school grad posters
      I am simply not convincing them.
    • thebradstevens
      Does anyone know why films were shot soft matte? Was it purely so that they could be unmasked for television screenings? That seems to me an unlikely
      Message 2 of 27 , Jun 1, 2007
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        Does anyone know why films were shot soft matte? Was it purely so
        that they could be unmasked for television screenings? That seems to
        me an unlikely consideration for the 1950s, when TV was seen as the
        enemy, but I guess it's not impossible.

        It's worth pointing out that certain directors shot films in hard
        matte 1.85 throughout their careers. Sidney Lumet and Robert Aldrich
        are two notable examples, though there are exceptions to this rule in
        their filmographies (certainly TOO LATE THE HERO)
      • Joseph Kaufman
        ... Yes, admittedly not a 1950s situation, but if you know Truffaut s FAHRENHEIT 451 diary, published in CAHIERS DU CINEMA and reprinted in Sarris s
        Message 3 of 27 , Jun 1, 2007
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          Brad wrote:

          >Does anyone know why films were shot soft matte? Was it purely so
          >that they could be unmasked for television screenings?

          Yes, admittedly not a 1950s situation, but if you know Truffaut's
          FAHRENHEIT 451 diary, published in CAHIERS DU CINEMA and reprinted in
          Sarris's English-language edition, he ran up against Universal's
          insistence that he shoot open-matte for television viewing. As I
          recall he eventually won the fight to shoot with hard mattes.
          --

          - Joe Kaufman
        • peterhenne
          I m glad we re in agreement on ATHA, Fred, as I ve made several detailed posts here on why 1.33 is its preferred aspect ratio. I don t think there can be any
          Message 4 of 27 , Jun 1, 2007
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            I'm glad we're in agreement on ATHA, Fred, as I've made several
            detailed posts here on why 1.33 is its preferred aspect ratio.

            I don't think there can be any doubt that many non-Scope Hollywood
            films from 1954 to around 1958 were composed such that masking was
            acceptable, if not always preferable from the artistic point of
            view. The general evidence is that masked films in this period
            consistently do not look awkward by the standards of "actors walking
            around talking," as you might put it--commercial audiences want to
            see faces in a medium shot, for example. However, for a sizable
            number of these films, the space at the top and/or bottom hidden by
            masking is not an excess but contributes to the artistry and meaning
            of the film. I think the safe presumption is that when in doubt,
            keep it in. As I've already argued a couple of times, a director's
            name went on the full-frame version anyway, and prima facie that
            authorizes it as work to take seriously.

            Side note: How often was 1.66 the intended ratio for American films
            in the 1950s? Wasn't 1.85 much more common? Bordwell and Thompson
            call 1.66 European widescreen.

            Peter Henne


            --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, Fred Camper <f@...> wrote:
            >
            > I've raised this before here, but it has come up again in
            conjunction
            > with a screening last night of a 35mm print of Douglas Sirk's "All
            That
            > Heaven Allows" at Doc Films here in Chicago.
            >
            > I had previously tested 1.85:1 versus 1.66:1 with another 35mm
            print of
            > this film, and 1.66:1 was clearly better, even though supposedly
            > theaters in the US anyway were masking to 1.85:1. Last night
            before the
            > screening we ran the last reel at 1.66:1 and then at 1.33:1.
            Despite the
            > fact that the Criterion DVD is masked to 1.85 I believe, it seemed
            > really clear that 1.33:1 (technically, it's 1.37:1, but "1.33" is
            in
            > common usage) was correct. Things that seemed obviously an
            intended part
            > of the image were only visible at 1:33, and this wasn't one of
            those
            > case where showing at 1.33 also revealed lights and stuff.
            >
            > Fred Camper
            >
          • Jaime N. Christley
            David Hare, from another board, wrote: This is a minefield of a subject and everyone needs to be aware that until the late 50s at least, widescreen masking -
            Message 5 of 27 , Jun 1, 2007
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              David Hare, from another board, wrote:

              "This is a minefield of a subject and everyone needs to be aware that
              until the late 50s at least, widescreen masking - by fiat as it were -
              is a no mans land of contention. In the end everything up to 1960
              (except Scope and Vistavision) was still being shot optically in 35mm
              and if in any doubt at all, 1.37 is the preferred framing option in my
              view. At least up to 1957."

              I'm glad we're able to get that out of the way, at least up to 1957.

              Jaime
            • david hare
              ... Jaime, in the course of that thread (which began over the 2:1 screenings and the UK DVD of Magnificent Obsession) I cited a number of reissues of movies,
              Message 6 of 27 , Jun 1, 2007
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                --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "Jaime N. Christley"
                <j_christley@...> wrote:
                >
                > David Hare, from another board, wrote:
                >
                > "This is a minefield of a subject and everyone needs to be aware that
                > until the late 50s at least, widescreen masking - by fiat as it were -
                > is a no mans land of contention. In the end everything up to 1960
                > (except Scope and Vistavision) was still being shot optically in 35mm
                > and if in any doubt at all, 1.37 is the preferred framing option in my
                > view. At least up to 1957."
                >
                > I'm glad we're able to get that out of the way, at least up to 1957.
                >
                > Jaime
                >
                Jaime, in the course of that thread (which began over the 2:1
                screenings and the UK DVD of Magnificent Obsession) I cited a number of
                reissues of movies, and for argument's sake looked at the period 53 to
                58, which had all been clumsily remastered for 1.85 for DVD: notably
                Dial M for Murder (the PAL version), All that Heaven and Written on the
                Wind, The Wrong Man and Touch of Evil. In the context of those posts it
                seemed clear to me that 1.85 was becoming the favored alternative
                widescreen mask by the late 50s for 35mm Optical movies, presumably as
                more theatres adapted for the masking technology. There are many more
                problematic titles from the period - Invasion of the Body Snatchers and
                even Anatomy of a Murder (as late as 59) which circulate in both
                widescreen and 1.37 versions. Added to which the use of the old
                Superscope process in either 1.85 or 2:1, which was even inflcted
                retrospectively upon pre 53 (shot) titles like Jet Pilot. I was merely
                drawing an arbitrary line at 57/58, but my position, like others here
                is that where there is the slightest doubt, the movies should be
                released in full frame. OR - as Warners have done with Pajama Game for
                instance, in both versions. (In that case I prefer the 1.85.)

                In a related vein there's another problem with reissues of movies in
                1.33 which were surely intended for widescreen. Examples la Notte - on
                the R1 DVD in 1.66 (but should surely be 1.85 - Antonioni himself talks
                about the freedom widescreen gave him to plan lateral tracks, and
                explore the width of the frame horizontally. (The Australian DVD of
                this is 1.85 and has more visual information on the sides, as will the
                forthcoming MoC disc.) Criterion's DVD of l'Avventura has also
                attracted criticism for being too narrow. Lang's two Indian pictures,
                despite the gorgeous Technicolor prints used for the Fantoma discs look
                like they should have been masked to a wider aspect than 1.33, at least
                to 1.66. The headroom looks fine but the bottom of the frame in most
                of the interiors appears unused and even barely dressed.
              • peterhenne
                But do you know for sure about the two Langs? Cropping the bottom would change the horizontal centering of actors in the films, which seems crucial to the
                Message 7 of 27 , Jun 1, 2007
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                  But do you know for sure about the two Langs? Cropping the bottom
                  would change the horizontal centering of actors in the films, which
                  seems crucial to the aesthetic balance of the compositions. I think
                  Lang is going for simplicity and monumentality in his arrangements
                  of objects and people, and playing that against the striking color
                  schemes.

                  I agree wholeheartedly with what you say about the Antonioni films,
                  by the way.

                  Peter Henne



                  --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "david hare" <davidhare@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > In a related vein there's another problem with reissues of movies
                  in
                  > 1.33 which were surely intended for widescreen. Examples la Notte -
                  on
                  > the R1 DVD in 1.66 (but should surely be 1.85 - Antonioni himself
                  talks
                  > about the freedom widescreen gave him to plan lateral tracks, and
                  > explore the width of the frame horizontally. (The Australian DVD
                  of
                  > this is 1.85 and has more visual information on the sides, as will
                  the
                  > forthcoming MoC disc.) Criterion's DVD of l'Avventura has also
                  > attracted criticism for being too narrow. Lang's two Indian
                  pictures,
                  > despite the gorgeous Technicolor prints used for the Fantoma discs
                  look
                  > like they should have been masked to a wider aspect than 1.33, at
                  least
                  > to 1.66. The headroom looks fine but the bottom of the frame in
                  most
                  > of the interiors appears unused and even barely dressed.
                  >
                • david hare
                  ... No, no certainty at all, in fact you re right - the exteriors also seem to need both head and foot room for the epic scale of the processions etc. But the
                  Message 8 of 27 , Jun 1, 2007
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                    --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "peterhenne" <peterhenne@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > But do you know for sure about the two Langs? Cropping the bottom
                    > would change the horizontal centering of actors in the films, which
                    > seems crucial to the aesthetic balance of the compositions. I think
                    > Lang is going for simplicity and monumentality in his arrangements
                    > of objects and people, and playing that against the striking color
                    > schemes.
                    >
                    > I agree wholeheartedly with what you say about the Antonioni films,
                    > by the way.
                    >
                    > Peter Henne
                    >
                    No, no certainty at all, in fact you're right - the exteriors also
                    seem to need both head and foot room for the epic scale of the
                    processions etc. But the interiors - take Paget's two dance sequences
                    as examples - leave the studio floor virtually undressed! Of course
                    Lang wasn't happy with the DP Richard Angst so there may have been
                    some problem with communication of intentions. I can only suspect
                    1.66 might have been intended, but they still look magnificent in
                    full frame. And I've only ever seen them (including the cut US
                    version) in 1.33. And there is the question of when 1.66 became a
                    popular widescreen ratio in Europe. (and for how long it persisted.)

                    Interestingly I have burns of the last two Lang American pictures.
                    (Both RKO who were frequently using Superscope.) While the City
                    Sleeps (from the Laser) looks fine in 1.78. However the Cable print
                    from TCM of Beyond a Reasonable Doubt also looks fine in 1.33! And
                    the Spanish DVD of Humans Desire is 1.85! (Lousy image quality
                    sadly.)
                  • thebradstevens
                    ... There are many more ... and ... My understanding is that Siegel shot INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS in 1.37, and that the studio decided to mask the prints
                    Message 9 of 27 , Jun 2, 2007
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                      --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "david hare" <davidhare@...> w

                      There are many more
                      > problematic titles from the period - Invasion of the Body Snatchers
                      and
                      > even Anatomy of a Murder (as late as 59) which circulate in both
                      > widescreen and 1.37 versions. Added to which the use of the old
                      > Superscope process in either 1.85 or 2:1, which was even inflcted
                      > retrospectively upon pre 53 (shot) titles like Jet Pilot

                      My understanding is that Siegel shot INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
                      in 1.37, and that the studio decided to mask the prints to 2.35. But
                      I don't believe that the film ever circulated in 1.37, and it seems
                      that the materials which would enable the film to be seen in this
                      ratio no longer exist.

                      I've never seen or heard of ANATOMY OF A MURDER being shown at 2.35.
                      The DVD is masked to 1.85, and even feels cramped at that ratio, with
                      the tops of the actors' heads constantly being bisected by the upper
                      matte. Unmasked full-screen television versions look far better.
                    • Richard Modiano
                      ... My understanding is that Siegel shot INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS in 1.37, and that the studio decided to mask the prints to 2.35. But I don t believe
                      Message 10 of 27 , Jun 2, 2007
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                        --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "thebradstevens" <bradstevens22@...>
                        wrote:
                        >
                        "My understanding is that Siegel shot INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
                        in 1.37, and that the studio decided to mask the prints to 2.35. But
                        I don't believe that the film ever circulated in 1.37, and it seems
                        that the materials which would enable the film to be seen in this
                        ratio no longer exist."

                        In the US there are extant in 16mm prints of INVASION OF THE BODDY
                        SNATCHERS that are unmasked.

                        I've never seen or heard of ANATOMY OF A MURDER being shown at 2.35.
                        The DVD is masked to 1.85, and even feels cramped at that ratio, with
                        the tops of the actors' heads constantly being bisected by the upper
                        matte. Unmasked full-screen television versions look far better."

                        The last time I saw ANATOMY OF A MUDER projected (at the Los Angeles
                        County Museum of Art) it was screened full frame and did indeed look
                        far better than the cropped DVD.

                        Richard
                      • samfilms2003
                        ... If the 1.85 has more info on the sides then that stuff should be there in the 1.66, (I don t know which AR is right) the only difference should be top and
                        Message 11 of 27 , Jun 2, 2007
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                          > In a related vein there's another problem with reissues of movies in
                          > 1.33 which were surely intended for widescreen. Examples la Notte - on
                          > the R1 DVD in 1.66 (but should surely be 1.85 - Antonioni himself talks
                          > about the freedom widescreen gave him to plan lateral tracks, and
                          > explore the width of the frame horizontally. (The Australian DVD of
                          > this is 1.85 and has more visual information on the sides, as will the
                          > forthcoming MoC disc.)

                          If the 1.85 has more info on the sides then that stuff should be there in the 1.66,
                          (I don't know which AR is right) the only difference should be top and bottom.

                          1.85 and 1.66 are crops of 1.37 should not be reductions AFAIK

                          -Sam
                        • thebradstevens
                          ... Are you sure these prints weren t created by simply cropping the 2.35 version? The BBC used to regularly screen a panned-and-scanned transfer of the
                          Message 12 of 27 , Jun 2, 2007
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                            --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "Richard Modiano" <tharpa2002@...>
                            wrote:

                            >
                            > In the US there are extant in 16mm prints of INVASION OF THE BODDY
                            > SNATCHERS that are unmasked.
                            >

                            Are you sure these prints weren't created by simply cropping the 2.35
                            version? The BBC used to regularly screen a panned-and-scanned
                            transfer of the already cropped Scope print!

                            The BBC also used to screen a pan-and-scan version of THE TALL T
                            which was taken from an already cropped 2.35 print. Fortunately,
                            unmasked 1.33 transfers do still exist - Scorsese used some correctly
                            framed 1.33 clips from this film in his documentary on American
                            cinema.
                          • jess_l_amortell
                            ... You did mean 2.0 (SuperScope), right? I know this is getting pedantic, I m just curious since it s the first I d heard of a CinemaScope ratio being
                            Message 13 of 27 , Jun 2, 2007
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                              --- <bradstevens22@>
                              > wrote:
                              > >
                              > "My understanding is that Siegel shot INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
                              > in 1.37, and that the studio decided to mask the prints to 2.35.

                              You did mean 2.0 (SuperScope), right? I know this is getting
                              pedantic, I'm just curious since it's the first I'd heard of a
                              CinemaScope ratio being extracted from the frame in the 1950s. IMDB
                              gives SuperScope/2:1`for the Siegel. (I find I remember it as NON-
                              widescreen, but it's been a long time and I'm not sure what gage I saw
                              it in..)
                            • thebradstevens
                              ... SNATCHERS ... saw ... I have a version that I taped off ARTE which is letterboxed at approximately 2.35. I compared this with the BBC transfer, and the
                              Message 14 of 27 , Jun 2, 2007
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                                --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "jess_l_amortell" <monterone1@...>
                                wrote:
                                >
                                > --- <bradstevens22@>
                                > > wrote:
                                > > >
                                > > "My understanding is that Siegel shot INVASION OF THE BODY
                                SNATCHERS
                                > > in 1.37, and that the studio decided to mask the prints to 2.35.
                                >
                                > You did mean 2.0 (SuperScope), right? I know this is getting
                                > pedantic, I'm just curious since it's the first I'd heard of a
                                > CinemaScope ratio being extracted from the frame in the 1950s. IMDB
                                > gives SuperScope/2:1`for the Siegel. (I find I remember it as NON-
                                > widescreen, but it's been a long time and I'm not sure what gage I
                                saw
                                > it in..)
                                >

                                I have a version that I taped off ARTE which is letterboxed at
                                approximately 2.35. I compared this with the BBC transfer, and the
                                latter was definitely panned and scanned.
                              • Richard Modiano
                                ... wrote: Are you sure these prints [16mm prints of INVASION OF THE BODDY SNATCHERS that are unmasked] weren t created by simply cropping the 2.35 version?
                                Message 15 of 27 , Jun 2, 2007
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                                  --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "thebradstevens" <bradstevens22@...>
                                  wrote:

                                  "Are you sure these prints [16mm prints of INVASION OF THE BODDY
                                  SNATCHERS that are unmasked] weren't created by simply cropping the
                                  2.35 version?"

                                  I'm sure of it. The print I saw was an early 1960s original struck for
                                  the local US TV market. It belonged to a collector who boasted of its
                                  rarity, and he claimed that there were a few other 16 mm originals of
                                  INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS in the proper aspect ratio circulating
                                  among film collectors. This print was definitely not cropped.

                                  Richard
                                • david hare
                                  ... Snatchers ... But ... 2.35. ... with ... upper ... Brad, Anatomy is also available on DVD in 1.37. There is a lot of head room but it s completely viable,
                                  Message 16 of 27 , Jun 2, 2007
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                                    --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "thebradstevens"
                                    <bradstevens22@...> wrote:
                                    >
                                    > --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "david hare" <davidhare@> w
                                    >
                                    > There are many more
                                    > > problematic titles from the period - Invasion of the Body
                                    Snatchers
                                    > and
                                    > > even Anatomy of a Murder (as late as 59) which circulate in both
                                    > > widescreen and 1.37 versions. Added to which the use of the old
                                    > > Superscope process in either 1.85 or 2:1, which was even inflcted
                                    > > retrospectively upon pre 53 (shot) titles like Jet Pilot
                                    >
                                    > My understanding is that Siegel shot INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
                                    > in 1.37, and that the studio decided to mask the prints to 2.35.
                                    But
                                    > I don't believe that the film ever circulated in 1.37, and it seems
                                    > that the materials which would enable the film to be seen in this
                                    > ratio no longer exist.
                                    >
                                    > I've never seen or heard of ANATOMY OF A MURDER being shown at
                                    2.35.
                                    > The DVD is masked to 1.85, and even feels cramped at that ratio,
                                    with
                                    > the tops of the actors' heads constantly being bisected by the
                                    upper
                                    > matte. Unmasked full-screen television versions look far better.
                                    >
                                    Brad, Anatomy is also available on DVD in 1.37. There is a lot of
                                    head room but it's completely viable, although the 1.85 seems to be
                                    the "standard". In fact I prefer it.
                                  • Fred Camper
                                    ... I m pretty sure the same thing was done with Lang s While the City Sleeps. Certainly there were 16mm anamorphic prints circulating in the 60s (which
                                    Message 17 of 27 , Jun 2, 2007
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                                      jess_l_amortell wrote:

                                      >
                                      >
                                      > --- <bradstevens22@>
                                      > > wrote:
                                      > > >
                                      > > "My understanding is that Siegel shot INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
                                      > > in 1.37, and that the studio decided to mask the prints to 2.35.
                                      >
                                      > You did mean 2.0 (SuperScope), right? I know this is getting
                                      > pedantic, I'm just curious since it's the first I'd heard of a
                                      > CinemaScope ratio being extracted from the frame in the 1950s.

                                      I'm pretty sure the same thing was done with Lang's "While the City
                                      Sleeps." Certainly there were 16mm anamorphic prints circulating in the
                                      60s (which would have been 2.66:1), but Lang said it was not anamorphic,
                                      not widescreen.

                                      Fred Camper
                                    • david hare
                                      ... SNATCHERS ... 2.35. ... the ... anamorphic, ... The Turner Laserdisc of City Sleeps is in 1.85. It has a high level of grain which suggests the print is
                                      Message 18 of 27 , Jun 2, 2007
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                                        --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, Fred Camper <f@...> wrote:
                                        >
                                        > jess_l_amortell wrote:
                                        >
                                        > >
                                        > >
                                        > > --- <bradstevens22@>
                                        > > > wrote:
                                        > > > >
                                        > > > "My understanding is that Siegel shot INVASION OF THE BODY
                                        SNATCHERS
                                        > > > in 1.37, and that the studio decided to mask the prints to
                                        2.35.
                                        > >
                                        > > You did mean 2.0 (SuperScope), right? I know this is getting
                                        > > pedantic, I'm just curious since it's the first I'd heard of a
                                        > > CinemaScope ratio being extracted from the frame in the 1950s.
                                        >
                                        > I'm pretty sure the same thing was done with Lang's "While the City
                                        > Sleeps." Certainly there were 16mm anamorphic prints circulating in
                                        the
                                        > 60s (which would have been 2.66:1), but Lang said it was not
                                        anamorphic,
                                        > not widescreen.
                                        >
                                        > Fred Camper
                                        >
                                        The Turner Laserdisc of City Sleeps is in 1.85. It has a high level
                                        of grain which suggests the print is another victim of Superscoping,
                                        although like a number of RKO Superscope reissues (Vera Cruz, Jet
                                        Pilot) it's delivered in 1.85, not 2.00. It definitely looks all
                                        wrong - credits are too tight, the image seems to regularly crop
                                        actors on the right, and the "classical" headroom is wildly
                                        unbalanced by an overly tight bottom of the frame which crops out
                                        legs, and so on. I have to retract my earlier support of this
                                        version - I got the disc out to view again for the first time in
                                        years and was not happy.
                                      • jess_l_amortell
                                        ... City ... in ... About SuperScope, I just looked it up and learned there was indeed a 2.35:1 version in addition to the 2:1 version. Hadn t realized that.
                                        Message 19 of 27 , Jun 2, 2007
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                                          --- davidhare@...> wrote:
                                          >
                                          > --- Fred Camper <f@...> wrote:
                                          > >
                                          > > jess_l_amortell wrote:
                                          > >
                                          > > > I'm just curious since it's the first I'd heard of a
                                          > > > CinemaScope ratio being extracted from the frame in the 1950s.
                                          > >
                                          > > I'm pretty sure the same thing was done with Lang's "While the
                                          City
                                          > > Sleeps." Certainly there were 16mm anamorphic prints circulating
                                          in
                                          > the
                                          > > 60s (which would have been 2.66:1), but Lang said it was not
                                          > anamorphic,
                                          > > not widescreen.

                                          > The Turner Laserdisc of City Sleeps is in 1.85. It has a high level
                                          > of grain which suggests the print is another victim of Superscoping,
                                          > although like a number of RKO Superscope reissues (Vera Cruz, Jet
                                          > Pilot) it's delivered in 1.85, not 2.00. It definitely looks all
                                          > wrong - credits are too tight, the image seems to regularly crop
                                          > actors on the right, and the "classical" headroom is wildly
                                          > unbalanced by an overly tight bottom of the frame which crops out
                                          > legs, and so on.

                                          About SuperScope, I just looked it up and learned there was indeed a
                                          2.35:1 version in addition to the 2:1 version. Hadn't realized that.

                                          The Widescreen Museum website gives a list of SuperScope titles (incl.
                                          Invasion and City Sleeps) but says, "Precise records of which films
                                          were done in which aspect ratio are unavailable so no attempt is made
                                          here to identify them, though other lists may do so."
                                          http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/Widescreen/sslist.htm
                                          Does Belton's book do so?

                                          About While the City Sleeps, I seem to remember seeing it in something
                                          like 2:1 in 16mm -- but more recently in a 35mm print projected full
                                          frame, it seemed (_pace_ Lang) so top- and bottom-heavy that even
                                          2.66:1 might have been (almost) plausible! So I'm startled by the
                                          above convincing report. A series of comparative screenings of the
                                          versions of some of these films is overdue!

                                          I recall first seeing AtHA in Academy ratio (maybe in 16) so I was
                                          surprised when it began turning up in (historically correct, I
                                          realize) widescreen, even though that doesn't seem to destroy it as it
                                          does Mag Obs.
                                        • Blake Lucas
                                          ... I can t find the specific post I wanted to respond to but I believe it was by David Hare and referred to this issue as a minefield. Whoever used that
                                          Message 20 of 27 , Jun 12, 2007
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                                            > --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "david hare" <davidhare@> w
                                            >
                                            > There are many more
                                            > > problematic titles from the period - Invasion of the Body Snatchers
                                            > and
                                            > > even Anatomy of a Murder (as late as 59) which circulate in both
                                            > > widescreen and 1.37 versions. Added to which the use of the old
                                            > > Superscope process in either 1.85 or 2:1, which was even inflcted
                                            > > retrospectively upon pre 53 (shot) titles like Jet Pilot

                                            I can't find the specific post I wanted to respond to but I believe it
                                            was by David Hare and referred to this issue as a "minefield."
                                            Whoever used that word (please correct me if it was not you, David)
                                            had it right.

                                            I had wanted to participate a little more in this discussion because
                                            this thorny issue is an important one to me. Many of my favorite films
                                            were made in the period--and I do have some early experience of how they
                                            were shown in some cases, and much later experience as well.

                                            I had wanted to wait until after the Sirk double bill--that was
                                            "All I Desire" and, of course, "There's Always Tomorrow" (Stanwyck
                                            series put on by UCLA)--which I had definitely planned to see. I
                                            wanted to see what they would do. "All I Desire" (1953) is always
                                            correctly projected in 1:33/1:37 of course--it's beautiful compositions
                                            all seemed absolutely perfect, as they always do.

                                            "There's Always Tomorrow" was in 1:85, and in this case, that's the
                                            only way I've ever seen it. By contrast to "All I Desire," its images
                                            at first seems less graceful and less right--and I have a pretty strong
                                            sense of the space of those images being conceived in terms of full
                                            frame, even if they were filmed so there could be no specific complaint
                                            if it's shown this way (no heads cut off or any thing like that),
                                            though I must acknowledge that soon after it started, I got used to it
                                            because I was just so absorbed by the film, and its mise-en-scene was
                                            certainly not destroyed. The film was made between "All That Heaven
                                            Allows" and "Written on the Wind"--only a month or so after the former,
                                            same director, cinematographer, producer, studio. In the case of ATHA,
                                            I have seen it 1:33 and agree with those who have said it looks better
                                            like that. In the case of WOTW, I've posted before that I sat through
                                            it twice in first run at the Hollywood Paramount, and my memory is of
                                            1:33, and that on wide release a few months later, it was wide at 1:85.
                                            When the Academy showed a collector's original Technicolor print a
                                            few years back, they showed it in 1:33, and the collector himself was
                                            at first surprised than readily agreed this was preferable. A year
                                            later the Museum showed the same print in 1:85 and we saw it again and
                                            agreed some of the visual tension of Sirk's framing was definitely gone.

                                            In the case of Sirk, those three films in a row are the ones at issue
                                            I believe. All those through "Magnificent Obsession" were surely
                                            meant to be full frame, as the next two are in 'Scope, and the ones
                                            which follow "Wind" are in Scope until "Imitation of Life" which all
                                            agree is 1:85.

                                            My experience with "Touch of Evil" was the same as "Written on the
                                            Wind" (a conscientious 1:33/1:37 presentation the first week it was out,
                                            and then 1:85 the following week when it moved to second run as a
                                            second feature--even if one has little sense of aspect ratios as a
                                            young person, when you see it two different ways close together you
                                            are aware of it).

                                            And as I posted before, and it's well known and noted above, when it
                                            was finally released in 1957, "Jet Pilot" was cropped and shown wide
                                            (pretty cruel treatment to a director with those visual gifts!), yet the
                                            co-feature "Joe Dakota" (Richard Bartlett) was 1:33, as it was
                                            obviously filmed, and looked infinitely better.

                                            Yet one shouldn't be blase and say everything was really full frame,
                                            or intended to be shown that way even if shot that way. For example,
                                            "The Square Jungle" (Jerry Hopper), made around the same time as
                                            "All That Heaven Allows" and "There's Always Tomorrow" by the same
                                            studio, was shown full frame on AMC some years ago, and the characters
                                            all seemed to never come up below the bottom half of the frame, and
                                            to be confined to that space. It seems obvious that Hopper and his
                                            cinematographer George Robinson took the idea it would be shown wide to
                                            heart and composed with that in mind--I don't know how else to explain
                                            something like that (yet Robinson also shot "Joe Dakota"!) And there
                                            are other examples.

                                            I can say authoritatively that when "Seven Men from Now" was restored,
                                            Budd Boetticher insisted to both Bob Gitt and me that 1:85 was the
                                            correct aspect ratio. For this reason, I believe that Brad Stevens
                                            is wrong about "The Tall T"--when there was memorial tribute for
                                            Budd with three double bills of all six Ranowns, this and the two
                                            successive non-anamorphic Ranowns were shown, like "Seven Men" in
                                            1:85 and all looked most comfortable that way. The remaining two,
                                            of course, are in 'Scopoe. It just seems unlikely that Boetticher
                                            would have retrenched to full frame after composing "Seven Men" wide
                                            --and in some cases, a director might have wanted more expanse, as
                                            in these Westerns (even the two "town" ones).

                                            There has been some discussion of Superscope too. I don't know if it's
                                            true in all cases (though am personally willing to take Fritz Lang at
                                            his word, as with Budd Boetticher)but with the first ones, it was
                                            definitely a case of taking films shot full frame and originally meant
                                            to be shown 1:33/1:37 and making them into 'Scope, with some ill
                                            effects. "Vera Cruz" was perhaps the first one--it's a favorite movie
                                            of mine and I've seen it many times. If you saw it at a downtown
                                            trible bill house in later years, it was just as if they were showing
                                            Cinemascope; this did not do the film any good. It is best full frame
                                            and is in fact brilliantly composed that way. I saw them recreate
                                            that Superscope effect for "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" at UCLA.
                                            Why? It looked terrible, I believe. Full frame seems just right to
                                            me for that film.

                                            A separate issue is when projectionists pay no attention to the obvious.
                                            I saw Bunuel's "El" (1953) projected wide once. It was unwatchable.

                                            Where practicable, the kind of experimentation of trying it different
                                            ways that Fred Camper talked about with a screening of "All That Heaven
                                            Allows" seems like a very desirable idea. But how often can something
                                            like that reasonably done?

                                            I don't know what the alternative is to being subjected to alternately
                                            whimsical/responsible attempts to show things the right way (for, like
                                            everyone, I continue to see the same films showed different ways at
                                            different times), and the extent to which the reality of intention may
                                            be buried or misinterpreted in the actual records of shooting, vagaries
                                            of policy, and so on. I'm always glad to see this discussed here.

                                            Blake Lucas
                                            >
                                          • Joseph Kaufman
                                            ... I believe it s true that lots of misinformation is to be had in studio records. For instance the recent DVDs of one or two of the Hammer films came in at
                                            Message 21 of 27 , Jun 12, 2007
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                                              >I continue to see the same films showed different ways at
                                              >different times), and the extent to which the reality of intention may
                                              >be buried or misinterpreted in the actual records of shooting, vagaries
                                              >of policy, and so on. I'm always glad to see this discussed here.
                                              >
                                              >Blake Lucas

                                              I believe it's true that lots of misinformation is to be had in
                                              studio records. For instance the recent DVDs of one or two of the
                                              Hammer films came in at 2:1, when they obviously would have been in
                                              the UK 1.66 ratio of those days. Someone in 1960 thoughtlessly
                                              pencilled 2:1 as the ratio in Universal's records, perhaps really
                                              meaning the also incorrect 1.85, and now we're stuck with badly
                                              cropped DVDs.
                                              --

                                              - Joe Kaufman
                                            • kian@uchicago.edu
                                              One further wrinkle to the aspect ratio question came up in my mind as I watched _All that Heaven Allows_ in 1:1.37 with Fred. I was part of the
                                              Message 22 of 27 , Jun 12, 2007
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                                                One further wrinkle to the aspect ratio question came up in my mind as I
                                                watched _All that Heaven Allows_ in 1:1.37 with Fred. I was part of the
                                                <sarcasm>crack team of projectionist experts</sarcasm> who worked on
                                                figuring out what ratio to show the film in with him, and we all agreed that the
                                                film was not just better but strongly better in Academy. However, I noticed that
                                                in one shot, reflected in that mysterious fireplace mirror, there is very clearly a
                                                boom mike hanging over one of the actor's heads (Wyman's, I think). This was
                                                high enough in the frame that it would not be visible in 1:1.85, nor, I think, in
                                                1:1.66. Errors like this crop up in many films, and are in no way definitive, but
                                                in my limited experience with Sirk, I cannot remember a single other sighting of
                                                a microphone, or for that matter a grip, camera tracking, or any of the other
                                                harmless intrusions of the profilmic that sometimes accidentally can be
                                                glimpsed.

                                                In the absence of production data from, say, the cinematographer, how much,
                                                then, should we weigh such minor production goofs - ones that appear in full-
                                                frame but would be hidden by masking - against our subjective senses of more-
                                                apt use of space or the frame? I'm still convinced that _All that Heaven Allows_
                                                is 1:1.37, but if I saw 10 instead of 1 instances of the mike, would I have cause
                                                to change my evaluation? 100?

                                                -Kian
                                                -----
                                                Peculiar Marks are the Only Merit.
                                                -Blake on Reynolds
                                              • Fred Camper
                                                ... Of course you have to look at all the evidence. When the lights are visible above the set rather consistently, that s a pretty good clue. But as you admit
                                                Message 23 of 27 , Jun 12, 2007
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                                                  kian@... wrote:
                                                  >...if I saw 10 instead of 1 instances of the mike, would I
                                                  > have cause
                                                  > to change my evaluation? 100?

                                                  Of course you have to look at all the evidence. When the lights are
                                                  visible above the set rather consistently, that's a pretty good clue.
                                                  But as you admit one mike does not an aspect ratio make. The camera's
                                                  shadow is clearly, even grotesquely visible in a dolly in on the window
                                                  shot in "Written on the Wind," and that's not an aspect ratio error --
                                                  just a goof. Russell must have had one too many martinis at lunch....

                                                  Fred Camper
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