edited by John Hayes


Welcome to the online version of Wide Screen Movies Magazine, 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.

Prior to 1952 films were normally projected with an aspect ratio – the relation of a screen’s width to its height – of 1.33:1. This almost square shape was what people had long been accustomed to seeing when they went to the cinema. However, with the debut – on September 30th 1952 – of a revolutionary new system called Cinerama, this was about to change.

The super-wide and deeply curved Cinerama screen puts the audience right in the picture - and almost in the water!  This is how it looked to amazed 1952 audiences.  The curved screen effect is replicated by the Smilebox computer programme for the restored Blu-ray release.

Cinerama pushed the aspect ratio out to 2.76:1, almost the entire field of view for the human eye, and onto an all-encompassing, deeply curved screen, accompanied by a powerful multi-track surround sound system.

Over the ensuing years, Cinerama would spawn a host of ‘widescreen’ systems with very ‘wide’ sounding names; CinemaScope, SuperScope, VistaVision, Todd-AO, Panavision, etc etc., and it’s this type of film that we will be concerned with here.

CinemaScope even used to have its own title card in the credits – this spectacular one is from Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.

For me, it all began back in the mid 1950s, when one of our local cinemas closed for a few days to have something called ‘CinemaScope’ installed (I’d actually been taken to a neighbouring town see The Robe a couple of years earlier and the term ‘CinemaScope’ hadn’t registered in my five-year-old conciousness at that time – only the stereophonic sound, during the crucifixion scene, that I found deeply unnerving; but by 1955 I was a cinema veteran, and could sit through anything).

The crucifixion scene from The Robe; it made a disturbing impression on my five-year-old self - and has still has not been surpassed in my opinion.

The cinema (The Palace, Heywood, actually) reopened with Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, and from that point on I was hooked! Seven Brides became an instant favourite (and has remained so), and I wanted to see more of these CinemaScopey films – and there were a lot of them about; costume epics like Demetrius And The Gladiators, Seven Cities Of Gold, Land Of The Pharaohs and Helen Of Troy; westerns like The Last Wagon, White Feather and The Man From Laramie; war films like The Man Who Never Was and Battle Cry, and so on and so on... We went to the pictures twice a week in those days before the advent of Television and I must have seen scores of films, but the wide ones were special – I remember being disappointed that The Ten Commandments wasn’t in ’Scope; VistaVision somehow never resonated as a widescreen system to me, even though it actually was, sort of.

A few years later, the 70mm systems appeared. A rare trip, in the late fifties, to the Gaumont, Manchester meant that South Pacific was the first one I ever saw (my mum told me it was a war film - mothers!), but Ben-Hur the following year was much more up my street. Then came Spartacus, The Alamo, Barabbas, El Cid – this was more like it. Now we had Technirama 70, Super Panavision 70, Ultra Panavision 70 – and finally, in 1963, Cinerama itself came to Manchester’s Theatre Royal with How The West Was Won!

South Pacific – my mum told me it was a war picture...!

Happy days, happy times. That’s the period this site intends to look back at; to try and recapture a time when going to the pictures was an event; when memories that lasted a lifetime were made; when long-forgotten terms like ‘Continuous Performance’ or ‘Roadshow’ or ‘Intermission’ or the classic, ‘This is where we came in’ were commonplace. Come in and step back in time for a little while...

Wecome to the world of WIDESCREEN!

John Hayes, Editor & Publisher

 

Special Features

A Boy and His Minotaur
by
Stephen Laws

 

Departments

3D Department

Cinerama Department

Cinema Construction Department

DVD Department
(archived reviews)

Production Department

Recommended Reading Department

 

Copyright Notice: This website is intended solely to promote an interest in the subject of widescreen and large format movies. This is a not-for-profit project and carries no paid advertisements or merchandise promotions of any kind. Pictures are used either with the consent of the copyright holder or within the meaning of ‘fair use”; that is to say, for historical, educational or review purposes only. If any copyright holder objects to the use of their property on this site, they have only to contact the Webmaster and it will be removed immediately.

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Click the link above to read past print issues and feature articles

Site Reconstruction Warning!

When we launched Widescreen Movies Magazine 2002, it was conceived, primarily, as a print magazine.  The web version came into being when the initial project faltered with the unfortunate death of my pal, Harry Nadler, who was going to organize the printing.

Our good friend Bill Burns created the website in order to keep the project alive; and certainly, because of this, we have reached a far wider audience than the print medium would have allowed.  When Tony Edwards came on board, taking on the printing chores as well as contributing articles, we were able to revert to plan A and produce the print version.

However, due to a whole lot of technical problems which seemed to thwart us at every turn, I have reluctantly decided to cease publication of the printed magazine and concentrate on expanding and improving the website, beginning, as you will have noticed, by adding the spiffy posters to the home page above.

I’ll ask you to bear with us as we make these changes and improvements.  And hopefully, when we’ve done, you will enjoy your visits to Widescreen Movies Magazine even more!

Thanks, as always, for your continued support.

John

All original material copyright © 2002-2019
John Hayes/Wide Screen Movies Magazine

Last revised: 11 November, 2019

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