Will Dial M Be Mauled By Fascists?

Part 2, carried over from previous post: Alfred Hitchcock‘s Dial M For Murder may well have been composed so that 1.85 projections would look presentable, but that doesn’t mean that a 1.78 or 1.85 version will look better than the basic and very pleasing boxy proportion that people have been watching for decades.

I’ve been examining Dial M for Murder all my life at 1.33 or 1.37. I saw it in 1.33 or 1.37 3D at the Eighth Street Playhouse in the West Village in the early ’80s. And the compositions and framings were & are entirely satisfactory and didn’t need to have their tops and buttons CHOPPED OFF WITH A MEAT CLEAVER.

If — I say “if” — a 1.78 or 1.85 a.r, is being favored on an upcoming Warner Home Video Bluray, it’s because of one reason only — because this a.r. conforms to the 16 x 9 aspect ratio of high-def flat panels. The people making this call, if in fact they’ve made such a call, are nothing but a FASCIST REVISIONIST GANG.

“We have a vision,” their manifesto reads. ‘A vision of all films shot from the early ’50s to mid ’60s with their tops and bottoms CHOPPED OFF, and we will stop at nothing to achieve that goal. Because of 16 x 9 high-def screens, we are committed to killing visual information. And we will succeed because we have the factual data and research to back up the assertion that these films were shot to be shown at 1.85, but could also be shown at 1.33 or 1.37 for purist film buff screenings and for television airings and VHS and DVD versions.

“Repeat after us: WE HAVE A VISION, and it is about KILLING VISUAL INFORMATION by slicing off the tops and bottoms of films.”

These films look completely fine and have much more breathing space at 1.33 or 1.37 and in fact are VISUALLY PREFERRED this way by the Movie Godz and all good men of taste and conscience.

I feel like Gregory Peck‘s Captain Ahab at the end of Moby Dick: “Oh, damn thee, 1.85 aspect-ratio fascists! To the last I grapple with thee. From hell’s heart I stab at thee. For hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee!”

  • MarkVH

    I prefer Montalban’s rendition in Star Trek II.

  • Super Soul

    This has long ago entered Jonas Nightengale territory.

    A quick trip to Photoshop will verify that Jeff’s preferred screenshot has 8 percent of the image chopped off on the sides.

  • Super Soul

    Sorry, I should have properly said that as 8 percent of the image’s width.

  • C.C. Baxter

    First this shit was annoying because it was so absurdly uninformed, then it became funny because of its ridiculousness. It’s just stupid now. Time to move along.

  • MrTribeca

    So where’s the indignation about this 3D film being presented in 2D?

    A whole dimension CHOPPED OFF by the FLAT FASCIST REVISIONIST GANG.

  • Super Soul

    Ira Parks says…

    Wiggumx says…

    Does anyone notice at least a passing resemblance between Jeff and this guy:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60Zx78O3Bb4

  • Bob Furmanek

    The revival theaters presented it incorrectly. I worked with Steve Hirsch at the 8th Street Playhouse in 1982, they were lucky to get an image on screen!

    DIAL M was composed for 1.85:1 and protected for 1.37:1. That was the studio policy for all non-anamorphic widescreen productions. In fact that’s how all the studios appeased the small town exhibitors who were concerned over lack of product in that turbulent year of technological development. By the end of 1953, 58% of all U.S. theaters had installed widescreen, including all the major cities. By the end of the following year, those numbers were much higher.

    Paramount, Universal and Columbia had all gone widescreen by the end of March 1953.

    For the record, WB announced their 100% widescreen policy on May 7, 1953. DIAL M began production on August 5.

    This is not speculation. These are documented facts taken from primary source materials which include studio files and industry trade journals, such as Variety, Boxoffice, Film Daily, Motion Picture Herald, Exhibitor, Film Bulletin, American Cinematographer and many others. Since 1990, I’ve gone through these trade journals doing extensive 3-D research and can also document the widescreen revolution from that period on a daily basis.

    Repertory revivals, television airings and early home video releases are not representative of the way these films were meant to be seen. Thank goodness for the successful development of widescreen televisions. They are enabling future film students and historians to see these films with the correct compositions intended by the filmmakers.

    Bob Furmanek
    3-D Film Archive

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Fuck how the studios wanted these films to be seen. I know better. Fuck those guys. They were scared shitless at the time, trying to scam the public with a fake widescreen that was actually composed of 1.33 images that were whacked down with a MEAT CLEAVER.

  • Cadavra

    Wow, Wells, for someone who claims to be a deep-blue liberal, you sure act like a Tea Partier: “DON’T THROW FACTS AT ME! I KNOW WHAT I KNOW! I’M RIGHT AND THE DIRECTORS ARE WRONG! AND ANYONE WHO SAYS OTHERWISE IS A FASCIST!!”

    If this is performance art, you, sir, are a genius.

  • Glenn Kenny

    It’s only PART performance art.

    And yes, one has to marvel at the application of the old adage: When confronted with facts you don’t like, counter by swearing. A lot.

    This is not a debate worth participating in. Nothing will make Wells relent. Perhaps cutting off his ad revenue. (Fuck how studios want to spend their money…)

  • Bob Furmanek

    Mr. Wells, it’s not the studios, it’s the filmmakers themselves that composed the films for widescreen. Warner Bros. did not compose DIAL M for 1.85:1, the compositions were done by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Burks.

    I’m trying to understand your position. Have you done any research at the studios? Have you gone through production files and interoffice correspondence from that period? Are you basing your opinions on sloppy repertory screenings and late-night TV airings?

    If that’s the case, would you prefer to see these films mastered in HD from faded, splicy 16mm prints with cue marks and commercial breaks every ten minutes? Do you want to hear stereophonic films from the 1950’s and 1960’s in mono?

    Please see post #62 for illustrations from American Cinematographer which will help you to understand how directors and cinematographers composed for one ratio while protecting for standard academy.

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/319469/aspect-ratio-research/60

  • Glenn Kenny

    Bob, let me answer on Jeff’s behalf: Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

    (BTW, I like Well’s all-caps “MEAT CLEAVER.” Did that remind anyone else of the Happy Flowers’ classic “They Cleaned Out My Cut With A WIRE BRUSH?”)

  • Pete Apruzzese

    Jeez, I go to work for a few hours and this happens? :)

    Bob – good to see you here.

    I actually expect this thread and the other to disappear mysteriously one night when Jeff does one of his spam purges l

  • Bob Furmanek

    Republic was the last of the studios to go widescreen. They issued this announcement on August 8, 1953 and explained their policies, which were the same as all other studios at that time:

    [IMG]http://i169.photobucket.com/albums/u235/BobFurmanek/058345ae.jpg[/IMG]

    There was a tremendous amount of concern in 1953 among small-town exhibitors who were afraid of a product shortage. With the added expenses of 3-D and/or CinemaScope, they feared there would be little to run. That’s why all the cinematographers continued to compose for widescreen and protect for Academy. The conversion to widescreen was particularly slow in both the Southern and North Central parts of the country.

    A 12/5/53 survey of 16, 753 theaters operating indoor domestic theaters showed that 80% of downtown theaters and 69% of neighborhood theaters had installed widescreens.

    Now, let’s be honest: would Hitchcock and Burks be composing DIAL M so their artistic vision would look best at the 3,664 seat Paramount Theater in New York City or the 400 seat Frances Theater in Dyersburg, Tennessee?

  • Pete Apruzzese
  • bestbehaviourbeenbannedbefore

    Wells’ obstinate resolve at post #8 is absolute gold!! Logic and researched fact crumble before the mighty roar of “I know what I know!”

    And likely just as he planned, moohoohoohoohaw, it’s why I’ve been coming back since Mr. Showbiz. Don’t ever change Wells, you magnificent bastard!

  • Ira Parks

    ROBERT HARRIS SAYS…

    Jeff. Come over. We’ll talk. We’ll do a kind of loose aspect ratio class. A few highballs, enchiladas. I just bought a cake at Gelson’s. We need to go back to square one.

    Where the fuck is LexG lately, by the way?

    RAH

  • Jeffrey Wells

    I know what’s right, and what I’ve been looking at all my life, Dial M-wise.. I know that if people really cared, as I do, with what truly looks best, they would be saying “of course more headspace is better…of course you’re right.”. But no. YOU GUYS HAVE TO GANG UP AND THROW STONES. Those terrified-of-TV studio execs of the early to mid ’50s needed to implement their 1.85 scam, and most of the exhib world bought into it, and now we have all of these nice MEAT-CLEAVERED movies that fit our 16 x 9 screens so nicely. I know. I care. Boxy is beautiful. Boxy forever. Keep visual information, don’t MEAT-CLEAVER it.

  • Glenn Kenny

    Citing actual facts=”gang up and throw stones.”

    This victim card bullshit is more evidence: 2012 is the year Wells turns Republican.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Keep visual information, I meant. Although jeeping it isn’t bad.

  • Bob Furmanek

    On the contrary, we DO care and that’s why we’re trying to undo all the open matte mistakes of the past 55 years and get it right.

  • Bob Furmanek

    It began filming on August 5, 1953, 3 months AFTER Warner Bros. announced all future productions would be COMPOSED for widescreen.

    See this production announcement from Boxoffice magazine, 8/1/1953 and take note of the last line:

    http://i448.photobucket.com/albums/qq203/Lafayettetheatre/AR%20Research%20Scans/August11953.jpg

  • Super Soul

    D-FENS says…

    I’m the bad guy?

  • Jeffrey Wells

    You guys are the troops of General Mapache — numerous, acting in unison and fortfified by your 1953 trade-magazine research, which by the way explains one thing: studios and exhibitors were SCARED and felt they had to simulate a semi-widescreen experience so as to dazzle audiences into thinking something really cool (as opposed to flim- flsmmy) was going on.

    I am Pike Bishop saying. “let’s go,” which means I would rather go down in a hailstorm of Mapache machine-gun bullets before I say, “You know what, guys? You’re right. Consider me henceforth an avid supporter of MEAT CLEAVERING films shot in Academy ratio from ’53 through the mid ’60s.”

    When Shane opened in 1953, it was projected in a simulated widescreen format of 1.66, even though Loyal Griggs shot it in 1.33. If you guys had been around in positions of authority, you would have said, “Sorry, Loysl, but all the studios have agreed to MEAT CLEAVER their 1.33 films, so that’s the rule. We have to whack it down to 1.66.”

    Because that’s who and what you are. You’re heartless, vision-less technocrats. You live in order to cut away, compress, eliminate and MEAT CLEAVER ’50s and early ’60s films into proper shape. I really hate you guys and your neutral, bland-leading-the-bland trade magazine data…blecchhh!

    I’m up on the hill over there, standing with Pike and Loyal.

    You can slice this situation any way you want but at the end of the day the 1.37 version of Dial M For Murder has looked COMPLETELY FINE for many decades and now you’re saying, “Oh, no, no…that was wrong…you need to see it properly with the tops and bottoms lopped off.” And for that I’d like to offer an extremely sincere “eff you.”

  • Bob Furmanek

    No, not exactly. We’re talking original studio research with primary source materials augmented with trade journal corroboration. The correct aspect ratio is determined by the date of production and the studio policy on that date. Quite a few films were shown wide when they were in fact composed for 1.37:1 such as SHANE, WAR OF THE WORLDS, THUNDER BAY, IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, 5000 FINGERS OF DR. T, etc.

    YOU CAN NOT DETERMINE THE CORRECT ASPECT RATIO BY RELEASE DATE!

    That’s sloppy research and does not respect the artistic intent of the director or cinematographer.

    For your information, SHANE began shooting in late July 1951 and Paramount did not change to widescreen cinematography (1.66:1 was their house ratio) until March 24, 1953. 1.37:1 is the correct ratio for that title and that’s how it should be seen.

    This is a documented fact from the studio files.

    Just because you’ve been seeing these films in the wrong AR for your entire life doesn’t mean the trend should continue…

  • Bob Furmanek

    Is Variety, the show business Bible, part of your widescreen conspiracy as well? After all, it was only read by everyone in the industry as well as exhibitors all over the world.

    http://i448.photobucket.com/albums/qq203/Lafayettetheatre/AR%20Research%20Scans/DialMVariety428541.jpg

    Other than your TV memories and sloppy repertory screenings over the past 30 years at the Thalia, 8th Street Playhouse and Film Forum, can you provide some primary documentation to show that DIAL M was actually intended for 1.37:1?

  • Krillian

    Meat Cleaver Power!

  • Bob Furmanek

    I just read your edited comment #24 which you must have changed when I was typing my accurate and fact-filled response.

    WOW, SOME PEOPLE HATE TO ADMIT WHEN THEY’RE WRONG!

    I’m reminded of the film school “teacher” who ran a pan and scan VHS of JAWS to his students. He explained the quick left/right cuts mid-shot were intentional by the director in order to heighten the tension between characters. When one of his savvy students attempted to explain the truth about the transfer, the teacher told him he didn’t know what he was talking about.

    Don’t confuse me with the facts…

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Can I provide some primary documentation to show that DIAL M was actually intended for 1.37:1? No, but I can tell you that my eyes, my film-loving head and my moviegoing soul really love the 1.37 to 1 of Dial M For Murder, and that my eyes, my film-loving head and my moviegoing soul are going to despise you and yours for championing a 1.78 version, if and when it comes to pass. Why do they love it so? Because it’s “right.” How do I know it’s right? Because I’ve been watching films and humbling myself before their spirit-transporting power since I was five years old, and I know a thing or two. And one of the things I know is that you can’t do much worse in this life than to be a guy who advocates like Ralph Nader for the MEAT-CLEAVERing of films that don’t need and don’t want your grubby hands and over-regulated minds.

  • Bob Furmanek

    Sigh…

  • EboueKnows

    Epic Lunacy.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Easy to be a sniper from tall grass. I stand alone, and I know what’s right.

  • chimbondasgloves

    Col. Kurtz’s BluRay Collection.

  • Bob Furmanek

    Ignorance is bliss.

  • Super Soul

    Boom mikes are to Jeff what dinosaur fossils are to creationists.

  • BadHatHarry

    Hey Jeff, Hitler here. So you say, essentially, that if any information was photographed in the 1:37 area then the film ought to be shown that way. Right?

    That’s why you’re an idiot. It doesn’t matter if the studios were “scared” or anything else — Hitchcock was certainly in a position to compose his films in any goddamned format he pleased, and he obviously wasn’t composing for 1:37 here (or in Psycho).

    I worked with footage from Back to the Future years ago during a sound mixing job — we were using an old release print as leader (!) for some shit TV show. The majority of the film was exposed full frame Academy aperture — in projection parlance, open matte. But the FX shots were hard matted at 1.85 since it was bad economics to create FX shots that encompassed areas of the frame NOT DESIGNED TO BE SEEN. Just because the full frame is exposed doesn’t mean it’s intended for audiences.

    I know these posts are just traffic bait for schmucks like me, but Christ, get over yourself! You’re just wrong.

  • Bob Furmanek

    The last time Hitchcock composed for 1.37:1 theatrical was on Oct. 22, 1952 when filming wrapped on I, CONFESS.

  • Cadavra

    Actually, Wells is more like the Albert Dekker character in WILD BUNCH, forcing Ryan’s posse to keep on chasing them and getting cut to pieces in spite of increasing and overwhelming evidence that the pursuit is futile.

  • Glenn Kenny

    “This is gonna be not much fun.”: Me, about 24 hours ago.

    I was right! Although Wells’ martyr pose is kind of, well, novel. At any minute I expect him to start doing Pacino in “And Justice For All.” Not the angry bit, the earnest, pleading, “Dontcha care?” stuff.

    In the meantime, Furmanek’s information has been fascinating. A history of error, which has had the effect of really twisting up our genial host’s aesthetic and eye. But how come “Born” DulouzGrey doesn’t chime in on topics like this, I wonder.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wells to Harry: I honestly prefer and am delighted with the 1.33/1.37 TV aspect ratio versions of Psycho, Dr. Strangelove, Touch of Evil, Anatomy of a Murder and any number of other films shot between ’53 and the mid ’60s…DEFINITELY more so than the 1.78 or 1.85 versions. Yes, vastly. And I’m not “just wrong” to say this. Unlike yourself I’m not averse to boxiness as a realm unto itself. I find it lovely and comforting, in fact. I realize that it’s not politically correct to favor that proportion give the fascist dictates about filling the proportions of high-def 16 x 9 screens, but you know what? Eff you people and your 1.78 or 1.85 CLEAVER MENTALITY.

    I don’t give a damn about filling in the 16 x 9 high-def screens, which, that pesky documentation and those fraidy cat determinations of ’53 studio chiefs aside, is what this is MOSTLY about. We’re not afraid of the competitive threat of television any more, people. Come out into sunlight. Take a dip in the 1.33 or 1.37 pool — the water’s fine.

    Did I find the 1.85 Anatomy Bluray a problem? Well, kind of but I got used to it…I understand that Otto Preminger shot it with the understanding that most cinemas would show it that way, but I vastly prefer the 1.33 version on aesthetic terms.

    I don’t find it pleasurable AT ALL — I find it hateful in fact –to have watched a film repeatedly for decades in a taller, boxier format, or at least at 1.66, which I’ve never had that much of a problem with, and then to suddenly be told that henceforth this film will be viewed with a significant portion of the image sliced on the top and bottom BECAUSE 16 X 9 IS THE NEW LAW WEST OF THE PECOS because the folks want their screens filled without any pesky windowbox bars. My response to that is “eff that” and “eff them” and “who the hell are you”?

    I don’t give a damn if Dial M for Murder was screened at 1.85 initially in 1953 in big-city theatres. Over the span of MY ENTIRE LIFE it’s been shown very satisfactorily at 1.33/1/37 on the tube, on VHS and DVDs, and in two theatrical presentations I’ve attended (including that fabled one at the Eighth Street Playhouse in ’81 or ’82), and I absolutely resent and am deeply angered by a rumored decision to present it at 1.78 henceforth. Especially since it works very pleasurably at 1.33 and is going to seem somewhat compromised and in fact MEAT-CLEAVERED with this new format.

    I don’t mind Twelve Angry Men at 1.66, but if ayeholes like yourself had your way you’d CLEAVER it down to 1.78 if you could find documentation to support that change.

    Imagine if the new fascist dictatorship came along and declared that henceforth On The Waterfront is going to be seen at 1.78 to 1 on Bluray. Well, why not? It came out in ’54, a year after the industry-wide changeover to widescreen, so why not CLEAVER Terry Malloy and Edie and Johnny Friendly and the city of Hoboken while you’re at it?

    Imagine it as a physical height thing. You grew in your early teens to a height of 6 feet and 1 inch tall, and you’ve been that all your life. And then along comes this asshole who says, “Okay we’re rolling you back here because of the shape of flat screen high-def TVs. So from here on in you’re going to be five foot seven inches tall. Sorry, but it’s what you were supposed to be all along, okay? We have PDFs of the printed birth announcement and the declarations and expectations from your parents and their family doctor expecting and planning for your height to be five-foot-seven — so don’t bitch about it.”

    “But I’m six-foot-one!,” comes your reply. “I’ve been that height all my life!”

    “Sorry,” you and your fascist asshole colleagues would say, “but that was a mistake and we’re here to straighten things out. And we’ve made our decision. From here on in you’re going to be five-foot-seven, and enough with your groaning and your adolescent and immature refusal to accept reality. You’re just being obstinate and in fact delusional to insist that your true height is six-foot-one. Leave it there. Move on. Accept the order of the state. We’ve done this to many, many others since Blurays and high-def screens became the norm. And we’re going to keep doing it.”

    You’ve got your PDF documentation and your rifles and you have me surrounded and handcuffed to my bunk bed like Klaus Kinski in Dr. Zhivago, but “I am the only free man on this train.”

  • Pete Apruzzese

    Actually, you’re more like Max Cady at the end of Scorsese’s Cape Fear: speaking gibberish in tongues while sinking below the surface of relevancy.

    And, BTW, On the Waterfront was made for widescreen. If Sony does a Blu, it’ll be that way.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    You’re actually saying with a straight face that On The Waterfront should be cleavered down to 1.66 or 1.78 if it comes out on Bluray? You, sir, are a fascist revisionist thug.

  • Bob Violence

    that 1.37:1 cap looks like shit

    nice to see that Wells would prefer to think everyone but himself should think Hitchcock was some sort of incompetent rather than lose some excess space

  • Pete Apruzzese

    Yes, it started shooting 5 months AFTER Columbia switched to an all widescreen policy.

  • Glenn Kenny

    Wow, this “CLEAVER” meme seems to have some legs, huh?

    You know, a lot of this “fascist” “thug” “fuckity fuck fuck” stuff is on some level theater…but it’s getting to be bad theater. VERY bad theater. Jeff’s arguments are increasingly nonsensical, and uselessly ad hominem. If Jeff’s really interested in making some kind of material change in how video versions of movies from this period are transfered and manufactured…advocating for a double-aspect ratio policy, for instance, as Masters of Cinema/Eureka! did with their version of Welles’ “Touch of Evil”…well, he’s not going to make a very persuasive case if all he does is screech from this outlet about how “free” he is. If he’s interested in having any kind of effect on policy, he should have some clue as to how it’s done. This is just useless acting out that’s going to degenerate into actual “fighting words” (if it hasn’t already) and alienate any and everyone who’s in a position to effect a change.

  • Eddie Mars Attacks!

    I would like to point out that actual state Fascism was largely done in Europe by 1945 — eight years before the debut of widescreen. Only Spanish fascist were around to enjoy widescreen presentations.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    There is emotion, yes, but there isn’t a theatre-for-theatre’s sake statement in my last posting, aside from the Kinski/Dr. Zhivago image. You snootily insist on characterizing my comments as colorful or unhinged or whatever, but what I wrote earlier this morning was very clear and plajn-spoken and quite reasonable for what it was and is.

  • Glenn Kenny

    You can call me snooty all you want, but the fact is you’re not making any friends with anybody who can make a difference. No argument that has that many all-caps declamations and bold-face phrases can be characterized as “quite reasonable,” and your analogy with respect to physical height is, in a word, worthless. Put that by your meat cleaver and chop it. You’ve lost the argument, and no amount of throwing around the word “fascist” or “thug is gonna win it for you.

  • Super Soul

    For any latecomers, a recap of the arguments on this thread:

    From Jeff’s detractors:
    – historical research
    – logic and reason
    – analysis of directorial intent

    Jeff’s arguments:
    – “Accept the order of the state”
    – boxy is “warm and comforting”
    – Fuck you

  • Super Soul

    Sorry, that should have been “lovely and comforting”. You know, like amniotic fluid or a long shower.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    And what word would you use to describe a person who says that On the Waterfront “was made for widescreen” and “if Sony does a Blu, it’ll be that.” Are you reading these words? The man is saying that it’s okay with him if Grover Crisp decides to CLEAVER On The Waterfront! Have you taken leave of your standards? Do you have any idea what Elia Kazan is saying to himself from heaven as he reads this shit?

  • Bob Furmanek

    Glenn: Thank you for your kind words. I didn’t come here to anger our host or engage in amateur theatrics. I’ve worked in the industry since 1980 (including the “fabled” 3-D shows at the 8th Street Playhouse) and know a thing or two about research, presentation and production. Google my name, if you must.

    But I despise such ignorance of the facts because “that’s the way I’ve seen it for 30 years.” That doesn’t hold water. You MIGHT have been seeing it incorrectly. Repertory theater presentations are not to be taken as gospel. They get a print, see an image and ASSUME the entire image should be seen, hard mattes, tops of sets, microphones and all. This was especially bad in New York City when you had Union operators who’s only concern was getting an image on the screen. Since November 1978, I’ve worked with all of them. The stories I could tell about botched presentations and rare one-of-a-kind archival 35mm prints getting damaged. In short, these venues were NOT the bastion of 35mm presentation or accuracy.

    The people doing the home video mastering were/are terribly ignorant as well. That’s why you’ve got releases of such widescreen films as RED GARTERS (composed for 1.66:1) zoomed in and released in something called the “Paramount Fullscreen Collection.”

    For the record, DIAL M is not 1.78:1, it’s 1.85:1. And yes, ON THE WATERFRONT which began shooting on November 17, 1953 was definitely composed by Kazan and Kaufman for 1.85:1.

    Jack Theakston and I are working on a detailed and documented report on the history of widescreen production in Hollywood, from the start of principal photography on THE ROBE on February 24, 1953 through August 25, 1956 when 1.85:1 had become the accepted non-anamorphic widescreen standard. Every feature production and studio policy will be documented with the accurate and director-composed widescreen ratio. Our research with original, primary source materials will set the record straight on this most mis-understood period of cinematography and presentation.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    “And yes, ON THE WATERFRONT which began shooting on November 17, 1953 was definitely composed by Kazan and Kaufman for 1.85:1″ — ABSOLUTELY DEMONIC.

  • Bob Furmanek

    ABSOLUTELY FACTUAL!

  • Bob Furmanek

    “The people doing the home video mastering were/are terribly ignorant as well. That’s why you’ve got releases of such widescreen films as RED GARTERS (composed for 1.66:1) zoomed in and released in something called the “Paramount Fullscreen Collection.”

    I’m sorry, I meant to say SOME of the people. It’s starting to turn around. In fact, Grover Crisp at Sony and Jayson Wall at Disney are two of the best in understanding/researching this period of production.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wells to Bob Furmanek: You’ve just elevated yourself into the “dangerous” category with your statement about On The Waterfront. To my way of thinking (and I say this with all sincere respect because you are obviously a focused and exacting professional) you are truly a malevolent force. On The Waterfront at 1.78 or 1.85? If I was a mafia boss I would put a contact out on you. Jesus!

  • Bob Furmanek

    Thank you, I think.

    But it’s not 1.78, it was composed for 1.85.

    You CAN watch it full frame, if you don’t mind the spotlights in the church…

  • Jeffrey Wells

    I’ve never noticed any spotlights in the church, and if they’re actually visible, fine.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Hey, Furmanek…as long you’re talking about chopping On The Waterfront down to 1.85, why not chop it down to Vittorio Storaro‘s 2 to 1 aspect ratio? Why not experiment? Or maybe turn it into a 2.35 to 1 Panavision film? Or a simulated Cinerama perhaps in 2.76 to 1?

    I’m serious, man. You are really bad news. About as malevolent as they come.

  • Pete Apruzzese

    I don’t know if I should feel slighted or not . For a few days I’ve been personally called a “fascist revisionist thug” by our reasonable and clear-thinking host. Now my pal Bob F. comes on here and is called “dangerous” and “malevolent” by this same host. How do I get stepped up to the next level of insult?

  • Bob Furmanek

    For the record:

    April 7, 1953 – Columbia announces their new ratio of 1.85:1

    April 28, 1953 – Columbia announces 100% widescreen.

    November 17, 1953 – ON THE WATERFRONT commences with principal photography

    July 14, 1954 – Variety review – 1.85:1

    July 14, 1954 – Exhibitor review – 1.85:1

    July 24, 1954 – Boxoffice review – 1.85:1

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Agree with Bob F. that a proper Bluray version of On The Waterfront would result in a CLEAVERING down to 1.85…then you’l be malevolent also, and possibly deserving of a mafia hit.

  • Pete Apruzzese

    Bob is fully correct.

    I’ll keep an eye out. “Where my wife SLEEPS! Where my children play with their toys.”

  • Bob Furmanek

    “Hey, Furmanek…as long you’re talking about chopping On The Waterfront down to 1.85, why not chop it down to Vittorio Storaro’s 2 to 1 aspect ratio? Why not experiment? Or maybe turn it into a 2.35 to 1 Panavision film? Or a simulated Cinerama perhaps in 2.76 to 1?

    I’m serious, man. You are really bad news. About as malevolent as they come.”

    Mr. Wells: I’m not a revisionist. I work diligently to research, restore and preserve the artistic intent of the original artist.

    My track record within the preservation community speaks for itself…

  • GreatestAmericanLoser

    Hey Bob, it’s obvious that part of Wells is doing this for fun and to get a rise out of people, and the other part is clearly insane and unable to be reasoned with. I’m just not sure what the percentages are.

    Also, remember Wells is a guy who turns up the sharpness on his HDTV because he knows what looks good and what doesn’t.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    You’re telling me that you believe that Elia Kazan, by the light of his own aesthetic design, intended on his own to have On The Waterfront seen at 1.85? The 1.33 framings of each & every scene in On The Waterfront tell a different story. In fact, the 1.33 framings of every scene in On The Waterfront strongly indicate that you’re out of your mind if you think that 1.85 is the correct way to see this film. Like all the other directors Kazan was going along with the panicky studios who wanted to simulate a widescreen experience so as to distinguish the theatrical experience from boxy TV…simple as that.

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  • Bob Furmanek

    The directors were not simulating a widescreen experience. They were creating it.

    This was Kazan’s first time composing for widescreen and for that reason alone, seeing the film correctly in his intended 1.85:1 composition is critical.

    You mean to say that he included spotlights in the church for the 1.37:1 framing as part of his Mise-en-scene?

    If you’ve been studying film since the age of five and have never noticed that before, your qualifications to evaluate framing and composition are certainly questionable.

  • Glenn Kenny

    “…possibly deserving of a mafia hit.”

    That’s pretty near to actionable. Not to mention deeply sick. You really need to check yourself, Wells. Not in the deepest depths of my being an asshole on the Internet did I ever come close to suggesting that someone be KILLED over a difference of perspective or opinion. And certainly not when the person comes equipped with actual facts and research.

    Wells to Glenn K.: In a literal frame of mind, Glenn? Calm down already. I was riffing on my earlier line about being so enraged by the idea of On The Waterfront being CLEAVERED into a 1.85 proportion that if I were a Mafia chief I would, etc. Metaphorical. And yet I think that feelings of rage are excusable, given the context. In my mind Bob F. was offering evidence that would justify the mutilation of one of my all-time favorite films by whacking it down from 1.33 to 1.85. ALL MY LIFE it’s been shown one way, and now Bob is saying, “Oh, no….oh, no you don’t!…no more of that…the cleaver is COMING OUT and it’s time to whack this sucker down.” I saw red. I was spitting, choking. Such talk is, for me, reprehensible. More than jusitfying a little mafia alliteration as a way of blowing off steam.

  • Cadavra

    In this corner: Grover Crisp, Robert Harris, Bob Furmanek, Glenn Kenny, Pete Apruzzese, Jayson Wall and me, not to mention preservationists Schawn Belston, Dick May, Scott McQueen, Barry Allen, Mike Pogorzelski, Robert Gitt and James Cozart, as well as The Factual Weight Of History.

    And in this corner: Wells.

    If I were the referee, this fight would not be sanctioned.

  • Ira Parks

    Let’s at least give Wells this much: he routinely gets the aspect ratio faithful together to defend their positions, and thus reveal alot of shit I’d been hungry to know and didn’t know before these posts.

  • Glenn Kenny

    But at what PSYCHIC COST, Ira?

  • Bob Furmanek

    Ira, you might some useful information in this thread as well:

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/319469/aspect-ratio-research

  • Ira Parks

    FURMANEK: Thanks, I’ll check it out. Do you (or anyone else here) recommend any single book on AR that is a bible on the subject? I’ve read differing things in film history books and I’m still confused.

  • Bob Furmanek

    No, the ones that are out there (especially the R.M. Hayes 3-D Movies and Wide Screen books) are riddled with mistakes.

    Jack Theakston (my collaborator on the Hondo 3-D article) and I are working on a detailed and documented report on the history of widescreen production in Hollywood, from the start of principal photography on THE ROBE on February 24, 1953 through August 25, 1956 when 1.85:1 had become the accepted non-anamorphic widescreen standard. Every feature production and studio policy will be documented with the accurate and director-composed widescreen ratio.

    Our research with original, primary source materials will set the record straight on this most mis-understood period of cinematography and presentation.

    We’re fine tuning and fact checking now. It should be ready to go in 4 to 6 weeks. Accuracy is important!

  • Ira Parks

    FURMANEK: Cool, I’ll pick it up. Once I’ve mastered AR (Will never happen, but I’ll try), I can start the ball rolling on being wildly confused by the new frame rate stuff.

  • Bob Furmanek

    Thanks Ira, but you won’t have to buy it. We’ll be making it free and available to download. We want to share this research and information.

    There have been 55 years of open-matte mistakes and confusion. It will be very gratifying to help set the record straight!

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Keep the mistakes! The mistakes are fine! You’re the enemy…do you understand that? Take your 1.85 CLEAVERINGS and imprisonments and pack them into a suitcase and scram! Skedaddle!

  • chimbondasgloves

    How much Jeff? Too much. Too much.

  • BadHatHarry

    Oh, hilarity. I haven’t laughed this un-iroonically in days, thank you Jeff.

    Politically incorrect to prefer 1:37?? WTF are you talking about??

    I’ve bored more people that you’ve known in your life with passionate diatribes on the importance of the director’s preferred aspect ratio. I’ve fought with marketing executives to make sure the proper ratio was preserved on home video. But you don’t give a shit what the director prefers — you just want it the way you’ve seen it on TV all your life! HA! Consider your cinemaphile card hereby revoked — you’re just a plebe like every Joe Sixpack who wants his screen filled up, artist’s intentions be damned. Only you’re motivated by nostalgia, not the coin you dropped at Best Buy.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    I don’t want my 16 x 9 screen filled up. I want it windowbowed when it comes to these films, a natural result of the boxy shape being maintained.

    Faced with a studio mandate to shoot for 1.85, directors naturally composed so that every shot would look right and serve its purpose if projected at that a.r., but you’ll NEVER convince me that any of them were teeming with creative excitement at the prospect of framing for this aspect ratio. They were used to shooting at the the regular Academy aspect ratio of 1.33 or 1.37, and they knew that many theatres would show their film the “old” traditional way, and that their films would receive airings on TV in the “old” traditional way, so don’t tell me. Don’t feed me that bowl of cereal.

    1.85 was about orders from on high from their vulgar, thick-fingered bosses who were terrified of televison, and do the best they could in the mid ’50s. They were pros and they did their job well, but don’t tell me Kazan was thinking 1.85 when he shot On The Waterfront. Don’t you DARE tell me that! The 1.33 framings of that film say “bullshit, bullshit, bullshit” to that notion.

  • Glenn Kenny

    You know what Lee Marvin never did? Lee Marvin never screamed like a stuck Irish pig. Just saying.

    “DON’T YOU DARE.” Or else what? Or else you’ll screech some more?

    One thing you’ll never do: pick up a book, do some research, find out some facts. Like, for instance: Daryl Zanuck turned down “On The Waterfront” because he didn’t think that the material was adaptable to his all Cinemascope program. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Kazan and Kaufman were hostile to 1.85, but you can maybe at least draw a supportive implication from that fact. Which is gone into at some length in Kazan’s autobiography.

    You’re welcome, drama queen.

  • Floyd Thursby

    SPOILER: Grace Kelly gets off at the end.

  • T. J. Kong

    I’m coming to this late and reading through all the posts at once is quite a sight to behold. The folks who observed the parallels of “debates” with young earth creationists are dead on balls accurate.

  • bluefugue

    >I’m coming to this late and reading through all the posts at once is quite a sight to behold. The folks who observed the parallels of “debates” with young earth creationists are dead on balls accurate.

    I’ve debated young earth creationists, and they put up much more of a fight than Jeff does here. I think he’s just doing some weird performance art thing, and indulging his fondness for creative metaphor (the CLEAVER joins the Grain Monks, the Hispanic Party Elephants, and the 1.85 Fascists in the Wells bestiary).

  • Bob Furmanek

    Glenn is absolutely correct. Kazan had been negotiating with Zanuck for plans to film WATERFRONT at Fox. However, 3 days before filming commenced on THE ROBE, Zanuck announced on February 21, 1953 that after completion of INFERNO, VICKI and THE KID FROM LEFT FIELD, Fox was converting to 100% Cinemascope production. In July, Zanuck wrote to Kazan and said “CinemaScope was responsible…for my decision against the property…We had committed ourselves to a program of spectacles.”

    Around that time, producer Sam Spiegel took over production and worked out a deal with United Artists to handle the film. However, just before the start of filming on November 17, Siegel and UA scrapped their deal over budget and casting issues and that’s when Columbia picked up the production.

    Interesting to note that Columbia, along with Universal, MGM and Warner Bros. had all passed on the picture when first offered after the Fox deal was canned. They all felt the subject was too controversial.

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