Couldn't agree more.
Anyone watching those in a cinema would have seen them masked to 1:66.1
I don't think the British film industry is doing itself any credit by still releasing late 50s films on DVD or sending copies to TV companies in 4:3 format. Whilst these films were probably shot exposing the 4:3 frame, they were intended for seeing in the cinema in 1.66 (or 1.85) and with Widescreen TVS now the standard, I feel the audience is being shortchanged.
Today Film 4 was showing A NIGHT TO REMEMBER in 4:3 (and that's from 1959). Other films it has shown recently in 4:3 include THE YANGSTE INCIDENT (1957), I WAS MONTY'S DOUBLE (1958) and THE DANGER WITHIN (1959).
I saw a DVD for THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL (1957) which I was thinking of buying having just seen MY WEEK WITH MARILYN but changed my mind when I saw it was in 4:3. I have also seen a Terry-Thomas Box set of 3 movies all in 4:3.
If a film was made for showing in 1.66, then I want to see it in 1.66 whether on TV or on DVD. That seems reasonable to me but apparently various British film companies think otherwise.
Couldn't agree more.
Anyone watching those in a cinema would have seen them masked to 1:66.1
Last edited by narabdela; 15-04-12 at 06:39 PM.
The Terry-Thomas DVD I mentioned was of THE NAKED TRUTH (1957), TOO MANY CROOKS (1959) and MAKE MINE MINK (1960) all in 4:3.
The DVD distributor was ITV Studios who took over the Carlton film library who in turn had taken over the Rank library. ITV seem to be one the worst offenders.
It is just laziness and frankly unacceptable. It reminds me of when dvd's first started appearing about 10 years ago - some of the earliest were simply dubs of the existing VHS issues, so not much of an improvement in quality there! (As a reminder, the cost of commercial dvd's then was about double the charge for the official VHS release!)
I see that Film 4 are showing TOWN ON TRIAL (1956) in 4:3 this afternoon. The format framing looked natural enough though I presume it was made for intended projection at 1.66 in cinemas as this would have been 3 years since Widescreen came in.
This week Channel 4 showed THE LADYKILLERS (1955) in 4:3 and Film 4 showed THE THIRTY NINE STEPS (1959) also in 4:3. Looking on HMV I see that the only version on THE THIRTY NINE STEPS available on DVD is also 4:3 despite it obviously been made for 1.66 and shown in cinemas at that ratio.
I don't think the British film industry is doing itself any favours at all by denying the British public the right to see their old movies on TV and on DVD in the correct ratio. It seems that a film has to made a least into the 1960s before one can hope to see it correctly.
Sorry, but I don't think it's a real problem. If a movie was shot in 1.33 for showings at 1.66 in theaters, the full image (normal TV screen) doesn't cut anything, and with most of current panoramic TV sets you can easily cut yourself the superfluous (above and below) to obtain - more or less - the correct 1.66 ration.
The REAL problems are for older movies, shot in 1.33 for a 1.33 theatrical showings and stupidly cut above and below for DVD releases or TV broadcasts. Or Scope movies shown on full-screen or Pan&Scan versions. Or colorized movies. Or even old 1.33 movies badly zoomed so most of the actor's heads are partially hidden. Etc etc.
And speaking of 1.85 (the US "normal" ratio), Warners destroyed some early Hammer gothics with their DVD releases, like "The Curse of Frankenstein", "Dracula"' and "The Mummy". They only admitted their "mistake" after some years of protestations from Hammer fans. In reverse, Universal's "The Brides of Dracula" was perfectly released at 1.66 ratio (even if it was perhaps released in America at 1.85, but remember, it's a BRITISH movie, and 1.66 was the normal ratio in most European countries in the early 1960s).
In comparizon, the object of this thread is a very minor problem, easily corrected by anybody. Too much of an image is always better than the contrary.
I had two videos of The Great Escape both recorded off the BBC on Christmases past with a big gap in between the years, one with full screen and one with wide screen. Sods law the full screen was crap colour as the tape wasn't that good quality. Mind you, I have good memories of the second tape as a forum member who was over for Christmas lunch that day bet me a bottle of champagne that it wasn't Gordon Jackson who answered when wished "good luck" as he was getting on the bus !!
I agree with 'Sweeney Todd' that cutting off part of the picture is far worse than showing too much picture. I don't think that makes my points any less true. I don't contend that the points I am complaining about are the worse that can happen, but they are still worth complaining about.
If a 1.66 film is shown on TV or DVD in 1.33, it is also true that one can use the 'Zoom' faciilty on modern TVs to take off the top and bottom and get a picture filling the whole screen in more or less the 1.66 ratio that the director intended. But then I've got to do the research and decide if that is what needs to be done and have to manual adjust the settings of my TV before and after any film. Hardly an ideal situation.
Most people (may I hazard a guess at 99% !) probably have their TV ratio setting set to 'Auto' so that the TV will automatically expand out any 1.33 image. However this keeps the height but just expands the sides giving a distorted picture where everyone appears fat. How many times have I seen this on other people's TVs .... many, many, many. Most just don't care.
The result of all this is that for films like THE THIRTY NINE STEPS (1959), always intended for 1.66 viewing, only a tiny minority of viewers (and probably all on this forum) will ever see it in that ratio. Nearly all will only see it on DVD or TV in either 1.33 or in distorted Widescreen ... just because Rank/ITV cann't be bothered to look after their heritage and supply copies in the correct format.
Hardly a glowing endorsement of the British film industry. I think my point still stands.
I brought an ODEON Entertainment (good company) DVD of Stanley Bakers A Prize Of Arms packaged as Picture Format: PAL Widescreen. It's not. This now makes me a bit careful when buying DVDs. I'v got a 2002 Take One DVD of Two Way Stretch format 4x3 it was shot in 1.66:1. In the USA a 2003 ANCHOR BAY (another good company) are selling Two Way Stretch format 1.66:1 widescreen. Also as of 2011 VCI Entertainment DVD The 39 Steps 1959 Format 1.77:1 (could be misprint) Original format 1.66:1. I would love to have these titles in their original formats and as both can be brought for under $7.00 even adding postage is a good price at todays exchange rate. But is it worth the risk?
This gets even sadder if US buyers can see DVDs of old British films at the correct ratio while we have to manage without.
Check the scenes from "Princess Bride" and "A Fish Called Wanda" on this page.
The paragraph at the bottom of that page sums it up perfectly!
I want to see what the director wanted me to see.
Quote: "I want to see what the director wanted me to see."
Of course, and this must be the general rule. However, some titles are real problems. I don't know if it's true, but I always heard that GREYSTOKE was shot full-screen in order to propose a 1.33 image when seen on TV sets, and cut above and below to obtain a wide-screen ratio for theaters. So, in this case, both formats are correct (if the story is true of course).
Some unscrupulous video companies sometimes release on DVD a movie originally shot in white screen. But they only have a master made from a 1.33 print (with original image cut on left and right). So, in order to get a "wide-screen" release, they re-cut an already incomplete image above and below. The result: you get a wide-screen format... but missing informations on all four parts.
Recently they showed on French TV one of the Jungle Jim movies with Johnny Weissmuller, cut above and below, probably to accomodate the owners of panoramic TV sets. The result, the actors scalped in some shot, and too little space above their heads anyway.
The problem is apparently endless, and has multiple negative aspects. But remember, even movie theaters often presented old movies in a bad ratio format. I once saw KING KONG (1933) and THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933) in a Parisian theater, and some portion of the above and below parts were cut off. This destroyed the original compositions of the images. In one of the KING KONG shots Fay Wray became hidden off-screen, and for the James Whale movie, near the end, the upper part of the police forces around the barn simply disappeared from the screen. And it was in an "Art & Essai" theater !!!
Interesting story about GREYSTOKE. It is credited as being the film Hollywood film shot in Super 35 (then known as Super Techniscope) so more of the negative would have been exposed that appeared on the cinema screen. So, being a new process, it is quite possible that Hugh Hudson was conscious that some of that "extra" picture may end up on TV and framed for that eventuality. Whether true or not, 2.35 was the intended ratio and that is what I hope I could watch on DVD or a responsible film channel on TV.
The VHS video I own of Fred Zinnemann's Day Of The Jackal is in full screen and the scean of the execution shows the officer who makes the final shot with his pistol in full. The 2000 DVD I have is in 1.85:1 widescreen and the same scean cuts the officers head off at the nose even if you ajust the TV picture setting. Maybe they do it so they can bring out another DVD in "The Directors Picture Aspect Edition" to bleed even more money out of the collector.