Quite a few questions for Bob. I'm not sure if you'll be able to answer most of them but here goes:
Would the new scenes in Godzilla, King of the Monsters! have been composed with flat widescreen in mind? 1.37:1 was clearly the intention for the Japanese footage, as Japanese cinema had not dipped its feet into widescreen until 1957 (and even then it was limited to CinemaScope derivatives, with flat widescreen not coming until the late 1970s, apparently), but the new scenes shot specifically for the American version leave me wondering. Guy Roe was the film's cameraman, and he had composed previous films in flat widescreen, so it's not as if he was oblivious to that kind of filmmaking, but in GKOTM numerous compositions are fairly tall and don't mat particularly well. Even though the Criterion restored version is definitely not zoomed in considerably - you can occasionally see the rounded corners - I still have trouble framing it in such a way that all the new footage looks equally good. Could Roe have chosen to shoot for 1.37:1 to match the Japanese footage? If it wasn't composed for 1.37:1, then my guess is 1.66:1 with a bit less matted on the top than the bottom.
And while the iconic title card looks very snug when centered and matted as wide as 1.85:1, large portions of the end credits drift off the screen no matter how you mat them. If we're going by the blocking of the end credits, then this movie was not intended to be matted at all, but it still seems just so odd to me... why would an American theatrical movie in 1956 with a seasoned DP like Roe at the helm have such an ambiguous aspect ratio? Could the end credits' blocking have been a mistake, and the film was truly meant to be matted?
If the film wasn't intended to be matted, would it have been matted in theaters anyway? As 1.85:1 had become the non-anamorphic standard by September 1956, would most theaters have shown the film in that ratio regardless? I know the film premiered at Loew's State Theatre on April 27 1956... would they, or very many other theaters, have still possessed the old lenses and masking plates necessary to show the movie in 1.37:1, assuming that is the film's intended ratio after all?
I really appreciate the work you've put into debunking unsubstantiated claims, all by researching and presenting period documents as evidence. In film restoration, the scientific method is always preferable to rumors, speculation, revisionism and denial of the facts. A thousand thanks!
Edited by AllenPerks, October 16 2013 - 04:42 PM.