Black-and-white Scope

Such is the deep-dish appeal of black-and-white CinemaScope (i.e., 2.35 to 1) films, especially when they’ve been well-mastered for DVD, that even the relatively mediocre ones like The Longest Day stir my interest. Especially with this verdict from DVD Savant that says Fox’s Cinema Classics Collection DVD of the film, which came out almost two weeks ago, is “a great improvement over their previous non-enhanced transfer.”

  • Jeffrey… The funny thing about Scope on DVD or even Cable like TCM is no matter if the film is B&W or Color… It’s just better, more Cinematic. Cinemascope is my favorite form of viewing. 2.35 to 1 that is. The 16.9 is fine I guess but I really like the black bars(Letterbox). Watching a presentation like that for some reason makes the movie watching experience seem very, very cinematic. I know I used that word again. But it says what I feel about Scope.
    Can you even imagine watching a Dollar film or Ben-Hur or Zulu or the Connery Bond’s in pan-n-scan?
    That’s why even back in 1983 I had Laser Discs. Now if only HBO would show the movies that were shot in scope in Letterbox! Though and I find this strange HBO does broadcast most of it’s original series and made for HBO movies in Letterbox. Go figure.

  • Steven R. Silver

    The tracking shot of the trooops going through the French town in The Longest Day before encountering the heavy German resistance at the Casino has to be one of the most intricate and brilliantly executed set pieces of this type ever done (especially considering that special effects of that era did not have the benefit of computer touch-ups), and there are several other sequences that are almost that good.
    It doesn’t matter whether the film is black & white or color, The Longest Day represents technical craftmaship at its best, of a type we will never see again in the movies. Action directors today love to recreate Saving Private Ryan and supposedly capture the “feel” of war by giving us massively overedited bits and pieces of often grainy, impossible to decipher footage.
    In every battle scene in The Longest Day, viewers can tell precisely what is going on, and the sequences on Omaha Beach are harrowing in their own way. Today, with forty years of progress in photography, editing and special effects, we get battle scenes that are nothing but blurs and loud noises, and we have to wait for the dust to clear before we see what has happened. I will continue to appreciate films like The Longest Day, Zulu and The Dirty Dozen precisely for the skill in which their action pieces are layed out.