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Battle of Britain

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  • Battle of Britain

    For years I assumed that Battle of Britain played its long (51 week) roadshow run at the Dominion, Tottenham Court Road in 70mm (a 35mm blow up, of course). However, it seems that it actually played there in 35mm. Does anybody know if there were 70mm prints and if it showed anywhere in the UK in 70?

  • #2
    This intrigued me because I have been reading about the Roadshows of the 1960s and so many of them were British productions or co-productions. I had assumed [B]Battle of Britain [/B]was a Roadshow here as well - but it wasn't given the full Roadshow treatment, and was only released in 35mm. There were so many that lost money in the 1967-1970 period so perhaps they wanted to save money here.

    However - I found this about the filming of the aerial sequences: [URL]http://www.aeroreg.co.uk/html/BoB_1968.htm[/URL].

    [QUOTE]The Battle of Britain was to be a widescreen production, shot on 70mm colour film, so clips of flying from the actual Battle of Britain were unusable, the producers had always wanted to re-create the air battles using the same aircraft and simulating the same clashes which had been fought over the English Channel and Thames 28 years earlier.[/QUOTE]

    I happened to come across this comment on a site about home theater:

    [URL]https://www.hometheaterforum.com/[/URL]
    [QUOTE]
    That reminds me of a 70mm print of The Battle of Britain that was screened in Leeds but we only had a 35mm 4 -Track mag print in London.[/QUOTE]

    That combination of 35mm and 70mm happened here in the US as well - depending on the city.

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    • #3
      [QUOTE=TimR;n958]This intrigued me because I have been reading about the Roadshows of the 1960s and so many of them were British productions or co-productions. I had assumed [B]Battle of Britain [/B]was a Roadshow here as well - but it wasn't given the full Roadshow treatment, and was only released in 35mm. There were so many that lost money in the 1967-1970 period so perhaps they wanted to save money here.

      However - I found this about the filming of the aerial sequences: [URL]http://www.aeroreg.co.uk/html/BoB_1968.htm[/URL].



      I happened to come across this comment on a site about home theater:

      [URL]https://www.hometheaterforum.com/[/URL]


      That combination of 35mm and 70mm happened here in the US as well - depending on the city.
      [/QUOTE]

      Well, the quote about it being filmed in 70mm is wrong, of course. It was in 35mm Panavision. I would be surprised if it played in 70mm in Leeds as one of the main reasons that British films did not play in 70 was British quota. Many films that might have played in 70mm were shown in 35mm in order to count for quota. Zulu was shown to the press in 70mm but played publicly in 35mm. No Bond film ever played in 70mm in the UK, but apparently did in some other countries and in 1972 Mary Queen of Scots was shown to the Queen Mother and Co. in 70mm for the Royal Film Performance at the Odeon Leicester Square, but opened to the public the next day in 35mm in order to count for quota.

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      • #4
        One of the systems used in "BATTLE OF BRITAIN" was front projection (as opposed to the traditional 'rear' process used for years in studios). Front projection was initially developed for "2001". Kubrick wanted a system developed where the illusion of a studio set with an exterior background image was more convincing. Kubrick was dissatisfied with rear projection and the issues presented with traveling mattes. Tom Howard and the MGM Borehamwood Engineers came up with a specially designed rig where a static 10x8 photographed 'plate' was projected on to a glass beaded screen made by the 3M company. When the image hit the screen, the light was amplified many times and was re-directed straight back through a special 50/50 transmission reflection mirror, set at an angle, straight in to the camera lens. The extra light supplied by the screen gave a more realistic illusion, of which was the issue with rear projection - the lack of light of the background image. This rig was used on another production "WHERE EAGLES DARE", of which I was involved.

        For the "BATTLE OF BRITAIN" production, Charles Staffell, head of Pinewood's Process Projection department, adopted the front projection system for many shots.
        Instead of utilizing 8x10 static background plates, used on "2001" and "EAGLES", Staffell used 65mm moving plates photographed by a special unit. When the extra resolution of 65mm was re-photographed in 35mm Panavision, the finished results provided a superior illusion of reality.

        The audio mix of "BATTLE OF BRITAIN" was in mono.

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        • #5
          What lovely information. Thanks.

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          • #6
            [QUOTE=kelp;n3114]What lovely information. Thanks. [/QUOTE]

            Thanks, Kelp.
            If it is of historical interest to anybody, there are interesting articles on the subject.
            If anybody has easy access to back issues of American Cinematographer magazine, the June 1968 issue has an extensive chapter on front projection as introduced in the film "2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY". In a paragraph it states clearly it is not a new technique as it has been used previously in television.
            The April, 1962 issue of AC on page 228 it details the use of front projection in television and what it described as "The Scotchlite Process" which is the highly reflective material on the screen surface..
            In the February 1962 issue, page 98 the article goes into detail the photography of what is described as 'background plates' for use in the rear projection process.

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            • #7
              [QUOTE=TimR;n958]This intrigued me because I have been reading about the Roadshows of the 1960s and so many of them were British productions or co-productions. I had assumed [B]Battle of Britain [/B]was a Roadshow here as well - but it wasn't given the full Roadshow treatment, and was only released in 35mm. There were so many that lost money in the 1967-1970 period so perhaps they wanted to save money here.

              [/QUOTE]

              BATTLE OF BRITAIN was given simultaneious premieres in a number of UK cities concurrent with the London premiere. I happened to see it in Sheffield where various digniaries, including the Mayor in his regalia attended, along with a brass band playing in the auditorium before the film. The making of the film had received extensive publicity in the media and I had expected it to be a 70mm blow-up and road show presentation. Alas it was a standard 35mm film in continuous performances. After seeing the film I wasn't surprised that it hadn't been given a road show presentation by United Artists and Rank because, despite the subject matter it was dramatically inert, making for a rather dull film.

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              • #8
                Well - real life is like that - 99% boredom and 1.0% absolute terror LOL
                Compared to some heroic films I am sure it came across as dull - I suppose it depends on ones point of view - but it certainly helped to kick start Aircraft Preservation in the UK :)

                Comment


                • #9
                  [QUOTE]After seeing the film I wasn't surprised that it hadn't been given a road show presentation by United Artists and Rank because, despite the subject matter it was dramatically inert, making for a rather dull film. [/QUOTE]

                  [QUOTE]Compared to some heroic films I am sure it came across as dull - I suppose it depends on ones point of view - but it certainly helped to kick start Aircraft Preservation in the UK :)[/QUOTE]

                  I think we've had this conversation before! Much as I love BoB (and yes, it did help push the preservation of WW2 aircraft), it doesn't exactly zip along.

                  There was once the [URL="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/movies/14dargis.html"]theory[/URL] that [I]Sound of Music[/I] helped destroy Hollywood in the late 60's (or at least cost it a lot of money), because studios looked at the vast profits and so made a lot more musicals, even though some failed. Old men making duff films, but the young guns saving the day with the likes of Easy Rider, etc. As that article makes clear, it wasn't like that at all, with the old guys often having an eye for talent, using people they trusted, and giving the youngsters just enough money to make more of it.

                  Its not unusual for Hollywood to see a profitable trend, but in reality, musicals did OK. It was something of a golden age of stage musicals in the sixties, with loads of good material. Take something like Paint Your Wagon or Dr Doolittle out of the equation (the productions of which were well known disasters), and Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Sweet Charity, Camalot, Funny Girl, Throughly Modern Millie, Oliver, Fiddler on the Roof and then later Cabaret, etc are all films that do OK at the box office, or even very well. There are plenty of flops as well (Hello Dolly), but its the film business, and thats what happens. But overall, you could see some money in the genre.

                  If you want to see where the real red ink is, look at big budget 'true life' war films. [I]The Longest Day[/I] might have been a big hit (helped by dumping a lot of its and other Fox projects costs onto Cleopatra), but as a template, it failed.

                  Big budget international cast, commemorating some big battle or campaign? Is Paris Burning?, BoB, Midway, Tora, Tora, Tora, Battle of the Bulge, Bridge Too Far, Anzio, Charge of the Light Brigade and Waterloo - all generally a bit sluggish, and certainly not huge box office, even at best. I'd chuck Fall of the Roman Empire and 55 Day in Peking into that bucket as well.

                  [QUOTE]Well - real life is like that - 99% boredom and 1.0% absolute terror LOL[/QUOTE]

                  Yep, and thats why such films tend to be so dull overall - real life isn't like the movies, and its really difficult to shoehorn a whole battle or campaign into a film. Dramatically its hard work for everyone. Either make it about a couple of characters, or make it fictional, or make it cheap, or all three. Those fictional 'small band of commando's win the war in a day' type films (which was pretty much the tag line for Where Eagles Dare) tended to do very well at the box office.

                  Actually, what really sells is sex. But lots of Spitfires on screen and Susannah York in stockings and suspenders isn't a bad mix!
                  Last edited by Bonekicker; 20th April 2017, 09:52 AM.

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                  • #10
                    [QUOTE=Bonekicker;n3368]Actually, what really sells is sex. But lots of Spitfires on screen and Susannah York in stockings and suspenders isn't a bad mix![/QUOTE]

                    Much as I love [I]Battle of Britain[/I], the rather tiresome angst-ridden York/Plummer scenes have dated a lot more than the rest of it.

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                    • #11
                      [QUOTE]Nick Cooper

                      Much as I love [I]Battle of Britain[/I], the rather tiresome angst-ridden York/Plummer scenes have dated a lot more than the rest of it.[/QUOTE]


                      I was never a fan of either of those 2 - so I did not enjoy that scene first time round - although I know lots of guys who absolutely loved SY in webbing etc
                      Last edited by BVS; 8th May 2017, 02:35 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Yes, the scenes themselves are a bit tiresome (no fault of either actor), but there are flashes of delight....

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