Welcome to WIDE SCREEN MOVIES; a site dedicated to those movies that have been shot and presented in one of the many and varied wide screen formats that have come and gone over the years.
So, ‘Widescreen’. How are we going to define that term? Well, for the purposes of this magazine we will mainly consider films with an aspect ratio of 2.2:1, such as Todd-AO, Super Panavision etc., or wider; Cinemascope’s 2.55:1 (2.35 and 2.40:1), or wider still with Cinerama and Ultra Panavision’s 2.76:1. Fans of VistaVision and IMAX won’t be forgotten, either, in case anyone’s wondering; although fans of new movies will probably be disappointed, as we will mostly be concerned with films that were released in the ‘Golden Age’ of widescreen—from the release of the first Cinerama film in 1952, until around the end of the sixties. They really don’t make them like that any more, you know.
Back in the 1950’s one of our local cinemas closed for a week to have something called “CinemaScope” installed. The following week found me sitting awestruck at the first showing there of Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. From that moment on, these were the films I wanted to see; the ones with “..in CinemaScope” in their newspaper ads. We went to the pictures twice a week in those days, before TV came along, and I must have seen hundreds of films, but the wide ones were special. I can remember seeing The Ten Commandments and in spite of the cast of thousands, I was disappointed that it wasn’t in ’scope.
I became aware of other catchy names for different systems that all came down to the same thing for me; a wide, wide picture. “Technirama” , for The Vikings- my all time favourite film; “Todd-AO” for South Pacific—my mother dragged me to see that one. And of course, “Camera 65” for Ben-Hur. (“Camera 65” wasn’t a particularly inspiring name, but it eventually became “Ultra Panavision 70” which was really cool.) It wasn’t until the 1960’s that I was able to see the ultimate in widescreen systems—and the one that had started it all—when Cinerama came to Manchester’s Theatre Royal, bringing with it the giant curved screen and the sound that came from everywhere!
Those were indeed the days—and those were indeed, the films. And that’s what we aim to recreate in this magazine: the anticipation and excitement, that certain thrill that accompanied the sight of the cinema curtains slowly swinging back to reveal the wide, wide Window Of The World (MGM Camera 65) that only the wide screen formats could take us into. Come and join me in looking back at those at those Big Movies of the Wide Screen, the creative talent behind them and the systems they used.
Welcome to the world of WIDESCREEN!
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All original material copyright © 2002-2010
John Hayes/Wide Screen Movies Magazine
Last revised: 9 July, 2010
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