HTF Review: Rock Around the Clock/Don't Knock the Rock

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Richard Gallagher, Jan 17, 2007.

  1. GeoffStAndrews

    GeoffStAndrews Auditioning

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    I do not understand why respondents are referring to this film as a widescreen film. It was not. I was a teenager when this film was first released and it was shot in very basic format in black and white. Sam Katzman always spent the least amount of money he could get away with. You may not have much faith in the IMDB information - there are times when I do not - but their measurement is correct this time.

    There was no need to do anything with the film, or if the studio wanted to simulate widescreen to keep those who have widescreen TVs happy, it should have made both versions available on the DVD.

    Go figure!
     
  2. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    Sorry to disappoint you, but Sam Katzman began shooting his films in widescreen with DRUMS OF TAHITI, which was in production at Columbia during July of 1953. That film, and all subsequent Katzman/Columbia productions, were composed for 1.85 theatrical exhibition. That's what the DP's were composing for, and not for television or 16mm.

    If you saw ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK in the standard Academy ratio of 1.37 when it was first released, then you were in one of the very few select theaters that hadn't yet converted to widescreen. Most theater chains that wanted to stay in business had installed new screens by the end of 1953. This is documented by articles in both Boxoffice and Daily Variety.
     
  3. GeoffStAndrews

    GeoffStAndrews Auditioning

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    Obviously, I cannot speak for the United States, but in Canada, my recollection is that only the top of the line theatres converted to the new screen format that early. We had many theatres that continued to keep the older screens for years to come.

    I saw the film a number of times for the rest of the 50s, and I never had the impression that any kind of "clipping" for want of a better word was apparent when the film played.

    Perhaps I do not understand the term 1.37 or 1.85. In terms of a rectangle, my memory is that the rectangular form was in a ratio of about 4 X 3. If that corresponds to your 1.85, then I stand corrected. If it more nearly resembles 1.37, then that is my recollection.
     
  4. Richard Gallagher

    Reviewer

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    Thanks, Aaron.

    The only basis I had for comparison was a copy that I recorded from Turner Classic Movies. Compared to the DVD, the TCM print actually shows a sliver less information on the bottom of the picture and a sliver more on the top. I seem to recall that I may have made a Beta tape of this films 15 or more years ago -- I'll see if I can find it. If I still have it, it is in a box in my basement.
     
  5. GeoffStAndrews

    GeoffStAndrews Auditioning

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    I have made a frame comparison from a TV print and the DVD release, but I don't think I can't post in here. If I can, tell me how and I will post it. It is most illuminating.

    Geoff
     
  6. GregK

    GregK Screenwriter

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    To echo what Bob Furmanek and Jack Theakston have already said, by 1956 all of the major studios had switched to widescreen exhibition and composition. Bob has even provided us with the specifics. In 1956, widescreen was the defacto standard. The one possible scenario for this transfer can found in Jack's previous post-


    This transfer variable aside, to show this feature in the academy ratio would NOT be the original intended aspect ratio.
     
  7. Ira Siegel

    Ira Siegel Stunt Coordinator

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    OK. Taking the transfer variable into account, do you think that the DVD of this feature includes the intended composition?
     
  8. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    Without seeing it and going by what other people have stated, it sounds as if it is the correct aspect ratio but the image was improperly adjusted in the transfer. There's too much head room and they're cutting off feet during the dance sequences. A simple adjustment on the transfer equipment (or rack of the framing in 35mm projection) would fix this problem.

    As Jack Theakston said, you have to go by eye when framing for widescreen.
     
  9. Richard Gallagher

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    I'm not sure how to do that, but I located a videotape that I made from an American Movie Classics print when they were doing their "Am Pop" bit a number of years ago. That print was aired 1.33:1.

    The AMC print does indeed demonstrate that information on the bottom of the image has been cropped for the DVD transfer. However, The DVD version contains information on the sides of the image which is missing on the 1:33.1 version.

    The difference is especially noticeable on the stock footage shot of New York City. The 1:33.1 version shows image above the Admiral sign at the top of the frame and below the bus at the bottom of the frame. On the other hand, the 1:85:1 version shows information on both sides which cannot be seen on the 1:33.1 version. Specifically, the building on the right side of frame has two statues, one of a male figure and one of a female figure. On the 1:33.1 version, only a sliver of the female figure can be seen. On the 1.85:1 version, the entire statue of the female can be seen.

    Regarding the dancing scenes, even in the 1:33.1 version there are shots in which the feet of the dancers are cut off, so it looks like some of those frames were shot that way.

    I'd be interested to hear if your comparison shows the same differences.
     
  10. GeoffStAndrews

    GeoffStAndrews Auditioning

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    My taped version was made from a print shown on Canadian TV many years ago. I compared one dance scene, and found as you did, that in the DVD print the top and bottom were cropped (substantially, in my view), and in the TV print, the left side was cropped, hiding part of one of the musicians.

    I superimposed the two scenes to try to come up with what must have been the original ratio, and I come up with something like a 5.5 X 4 ratio.

    The bottom line for me is simply: why not leave it alone and allow the whole frame as originally shot to be visible on the DVD?

    Cheers!
     
  11. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    Because that's not how it was intended to be shown.

    Columbia always printed their 35mm films full aperture, which means there is LOADS of information at the top and bottom that is not intended to be seen.

    For instance: I once ran an original 35mm release print of HAVE ROCKET, WILL TRAVEL. I noticed that the image filled the entire 4 perf height of the 35mm frame, so I racked it down during projection, and what did I see? Boom mikes, tops of sets, spotlights, etc. In fact, when the Stooges are climbing into the rocket ship, you could see where the top of the ship ended about ten feet off the ground!

    Just because that entire image is on the 35mm frame, is that how it should be transferred? Do you feel that is what the director and DP had in mind when composing the scene?

    It's been said before and I'll say again. Columbia and Sam Katzman began composing their films for widescreen in May/June of 1953. This is documented and there is no disputing this fact.
     
  12. Richard Gallagher

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    I recall seeing a 1960 Columbia film, "Because They're Young," on TV many years ago and boom mikes could be seen at the top of the frame. That extraneous information has been masked on the prints shown on TV recently.
     
  13. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    Okay for this example, and no argument -- but there are other times where a film is overmatted and we do get info blocked out which was intended to be seen.
     

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