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Dead medium: Wide Screen Movies: CinemaScope, Todd-AO, MGM Camera 65, CinemaScope 55, Super Panavision 70, Ultra Panavision 70
From: ianc@islandnet.com (Ian Campbell)
Source(s): *A Short History of the Movies,* Gerald Mast, Macmillan, New York, 1992. ISBN 0-02-377070-8

WIDE SCREEN

page 281

"A third gimmick of the 1950's also took advantage of the size of the movie screen. The new format, christened CinemaScope, was the most durable and functional of them all, requiring neither special projectors, special film, nor special optical glasses (this lack of special equipment especially pleased the theatre owners).

"The action was recorded by a single, conventional movie camera on conventional 35mm film. A special anamorphic lens squeezed the images horizontally to fit the width of the standard film. When projected with a corresponding anamorphic lens on the projector, the distortions disappeared and a huge, wide image stretched across the curved theatre screen.

"Once again the novelty was not new. As early was 1928, a French scientist named Henri Chretien had experimented with an anamorphic lens for motion picture cameras; in 1952, the executives of 20th Century Fox visited Professor Chretien, then retired to a Riviera villa, and bought the rights to his anamorphic process.

"The first CinemaScope feature, Henry Koster's *The Robe* (1953), convinced both Fox and the industry that the process was a sound one. The screen had been made wide with a minimum of trouble and expense. A parade of screen-widening "scopes" and "visions" followed Fox's CinemaScope, some of them using anamorphic lenses, one nonanamorphic process (Vistavision ) printing the image sideways on a celluloid strip, and some of them achieving screen width by widening the film to 55mm, 65mmm, or 70mm, notably Todd-AO, MGM Camera 65, CinemaScope 55 , Super Panavision 70, and Ultra Panavision 70. The first 70mm film of the 1950s was *Oklahoma* (1955, directed by Fred Zinnemann and shot in Todd-AO)."

Ian Campbell (ianc@islandnet.com)