Has anyone approached George Feltenstein regarding the MGM movies made in the 'Realife' 65mm film process in the early days of sound? They are BILLY THE KID (Johnny Mack Brown, Wallace Beery) and THE GREAT MEADOW (Johnny Mack Brown, Eleanor Boardman). BILLY was recently released in 1.33:1 by Warner Archive.
So far the only early Wide Screen movies to be released on dvd are NAPOLEON (1926, containing a "Cinerama-type" 3-panel sequence), THE BAT WHISPERS and THE BIG TRAIL, which was recently released on Blu Ray. It is fascinating to see these early compositions in the shape we are now very familiar with. The Wide Screen revolution of the '50's was in fact, a return to the size and shape which William Fox had hoped to revolutionize movies with but- largely due to the Depression- sadly failed and caused him to become a bankrupt.(Leading to the merger with Twentieth Century pictures, run by Darryl F. Zanuck).Fox even used the same cameras for their first large format movies: CAROUSEL and THE KING AND I. The cameras were so noisy that all dialogue had to be looped later by the casts of both films. CAROUSEL was printed down to 35mm and only released in that format (with a sharper image which had noticeably more depth) but KING was re-released in the early '60's in "Grandeur 70", giving a homage to the original process for any who may have remembered it.
About a dozen movies and some shorts were produced in 65mm (or thereabouts) between '29-'31. The first feature was a revised version of THE FOX MOVIETONE FOLLIES OF 1929. The last was THE GREAT MEADOW. Some were transferred to 35mm in their wide ratio - THE BIG TRAIL and if I am correct, the two MGM titles cited above, which may have also been shown that way with a magnifying lens on the projector according to some sources).
This link will take you to a great website which-on this page- lists all wide gauge releases in chronological order :http://www.in70mm.co.../_all/index.htm
In most cases, only the standard 35mm versions have survived, however I would like to think that a search in the studio vaults may uncover something.The TCM website states that only the standard ratio version of BILLY THE KID is extant, but I have heard from a reliable source that the Realife version was screened in Europe not too long ago.
Fox video produced an interesting documentary short subject on the early days of 70mm for their dvd release of THE BIG TRAIL (which was also the last film of Tyrone Power's father) .According to advertisements and reviews in 1931 newspapers, the Grandeur version of THE BIG TRAIL played in Sydney and Melbourne and certain titles made it to London. If any studio people such as Mr Feltenstein are reading this, I'd greatly appreciate hearing what the possibilities are re locating and releasing these titles from a unique time in American cinema history. I believe the UCLA restored the 65mm negative of THE BAT WHISPERS and holds it. Do they have any others? I'm also interested to hear from any others at HTF with an interest in this topic and these films.