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


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#21 of 33 GeoffStAndrews

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Posted February 03 2007 - 10:54 AM

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!

#22 of 33 Bob Furmanek

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Posted February 03 2007 - 08:43 PM

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.

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#23 of 33 GeoffStAndrews

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Posted February 04 2007 - 12:54 PM

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.

#24 of 33 Richard Gallagher

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Posted February 04 2007 - 03:18 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Silverman
Nice review, Richard!

Glad to see you carrying on my Sony legacy. Posted Image

PS Be sure to keep your skin thick when it comes to stuff like director's intent and OAR. You can't win 'em all. . .

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.
Rich Gallagher

#25 of 33 GeoffStAndrews

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Posted February 05 2007 - 08:40 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Gallagher
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.


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

#26 of 33 GregK

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Posted February 07 2007 - 06:47 AM

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-

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Theakston

A common technical error that both theaters and transfer houses make today is the use of test loops for framing widescreen pictures instead of doing it by eye, which is the proper way to do it. While by all standards, a 1.85 image should be perfectly centered horizontally between four perfs, this is not always the case, sometimes by the choice of the cameraman, partly because of the camera using to shoot the film and partly because of the printer.

It sounds to me like the operator of the telecine during these transfers ran a loop through, figured "ok, this is how it should be" and transferred the film without even keeping an eye on it. I've been to a lot of places where things like this happen, and it happens more often that you'd think.

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

#27 of 33 Ira Siegel

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Posted February 07 2007 - 07:01 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffStAndrews
Having seen the film when it was first released in 1956, I can tell you that the studio has indeed played with the formatting. It is most noticeable when Lisa Gaye and Earl Barton are dancing at the School Graduation. Their feet are clipped at the base.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GregK
This transfer variable aside, to show this feature in the academy ratio would NOT be the original intended aspect ratio.

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

#28 of 33 Bob Furmanek

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Posted February 07 2007 - 09:09 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ira Siegel
OK. Taking the transfer variable into account, do you think that the DVD of this feature includes the intended composition?

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.

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#29 of 33 Richard Gallagher

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Posted February 11 2007 - 08:35 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffStAndrews
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

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.
Rich Gallagher

#30 of 33 GeoffStAndrews

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Posted February 13 2007 - 10:35 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Gallagher
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.

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!

#31 of 33 Bob Furmanek

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Posted February 13 2007 - 06:10 PM

Quote:
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?

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.

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#32 of 33 Richard Gallagher

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Posted February 13 2007 - 06:58 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Furmanek
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!


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.
Rich Gallagher

#33 of 33 Joe Karlosi

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Posted February 14 2007 - 08:26 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Furmanek
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!

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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