Robert Harris on The Bits - 4/14/03 column - OFFICIAL THREAD

Bill Hunt

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Robert Harris' latest column is now available at The Digital Bits. In this column, Robert addresses VistaVision, Warner's new Cole Porter Collection, Miramax's Three Colors Trilogy and other interesting odds and ends.

Motion Picture High Fidelity

As always, click on the link to read Robert's comments and then come on back here to this official thread at the HTF to discuss, give feedback, ask questions of Robert and sound off as you will. Enjoy!
 

oscar_merkx

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Once again, I learned so much from this column about VistaVision processes and its history that I did not know before and I like the new RAH TM name for a blind purchase. I had not heard of the movie he describes a scene from 1991, I plan to buy the dvd and see that expression for myself.

Cheers

Oscar
 

gregstaten

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Once again, a fantastic article with lots of great information about that dreaded Eastman 5248 stock. I have to admit that I was a bit crestfallen when I saw the HIGH SOCIETY was listed among the Vistavision films but had no askterisk after it. Thank goodness the good news followed shortly thereafter. Not only is it well restored, but we get Satchmo in stereo. I can hardly wait!

BTW, I was pleasantly suprised that newly released Miyazaki films from Disney *all* contain release dates. Bloody about time! Hopefully this isn't only something that Studio Ghibli insisted on but a trend of things to come.

-greg
 

GlennH

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The problems with the early Paramount releases inclusive of White Christmas, To Catch a Thief, The Court Jester and Funny Face come from the separation masters being optically printed to create a 4 perf dupe, with all of the requisite increase in grain and contrast.
I'm a little confused - To Catch a Thief was just released in late 2002, well after 1999. How does this qualify as an "early" Paramount release?

Also, Funny Face should be in yellow in the list.

Re: Disney's lack of production dates on DVD packaging. I discovered this recently when I tried to find the date of one of their movies on the DVD, to no avail. How stupid. I had to go online and look on IMDB.

I have the Cole Porter Collection on preorder from Amazon. Sounds great. By the way, other retailers like DDD are now listing it as well.

Thanks for the article.
 

Peter Apruzzese

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Terrific material on VistaVision, RAH. I've been lucky enough to recently see several original release IB Technicolor 35mm prints of some VVLA films, as well as Technirama, etc., and they almost always looked fantastic.

Glad to hear High Society and the other musicals look good. Also glad to read the explanation about the white spots in Gunfight at the OK Corral, as I noticed several reviewers mentioning them.
 

Craig S

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Another interesting & informative column by Mr. Harris.
I'm considering buying High Society now...
Me too. Heck, I'll probably spring for the whole Porter collection now!

I was especially pleased to see him highlight one of my favorite films of the 90s, The Man In The Moon. The film has been much discussed here (John Rice's excellent cinematography thread featured it last year), but it never hurts to have this gem highlighted again. The "blind buy" recommendation is right on, especially since it can be easily found for under $10.
 

Robert Harris

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The film elements upon which the TCaT dvd is based were produced in 1999.
 

Tom Pfarr

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Robert,

I second your review of "Blue". This work of art is what "film" is all about as opposed to other art forms. You get to observe, think, feel, twist and turn with scene after scene wondering at it all. When you watch again and again it unfolds in different ways each time as you try to comprehend what is being portrayed. For what is being portrayed is something that one cannot really comprehend only the characters of the film can experience what they have been through. This quality of interpretation by the observer makes it a masterpiece IHMO.
 

DeeF

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Fantastic piece, RH, the best yet!

One question (concerning the "diagrams" illustrating the column) -- it appears that VistaVision was originally meant to be projected as wide as Cinemascope, but much taller! Can this really be true? I usually find 1.85:1 films shown on smaller screens. I'm not sure I've ever seen this aspect ratio projected as wide as 'scope, but if it is true (and was seen that way), I can finally understand the decision to standardize DVDs to 16:9 (and smaller -- either in height or width).
 

Seth Paxton

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I had not heard of the movie he describes a scene from 1991, I plan to buy the dvd and see that expression for myself.
Oscar, and others, John Rice organized a discussion thread on cinematography last year in which various HTFers including both John and myself discussed the cinematography of a film of our choice.

John's choice was Man in the Moon and you can follow that link to his post on the film.

The post is a focus on cinematography but does touch on the narrative content as well. The post also contains numerous screen captures as well. I recommend it as a read for anyone who was curious about this overlooked film that RAH mentioned.
 

Robert Harris

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Vista had the ability to be run a huge screens as it was a large format system.

It should not be confused with today's 1.85:1 aspect ratio which is extracted from standard 35/4perf frame.

Modern 4 perf 1.85 aspect ratio is sized at .825 x .446, while VistaVision is croped from an image of 1.485 x .991.

It is the .991 dimension which is reduced from 1.50 to reach the 1.85 aspect ratio. The width of the frame remains intact as 1.485 inches.

Vista which was reduction printed in dye transfer held the grain free image of the original, but had less light being transmitted to the screen. They were generally not projected as large as the full size Vista release prints.

VistaVision could easily fill a screen the width of 2.55 along with a higher image.

RAH
 

Lew Crippen

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An outstanding article Robert. My thanks, as I learned a great deal. Back then, I never thought anything abut the technical aspects of the films that were released. I just went down to the theatre and watched them. Of course we were all aware of the marketing hype, but as to the how, we were clueless.

Thanks again.
 

Darren Gross

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Original post deleted by author, because I jumped the gun before reading the entire piece.

Excellent column, Robert. One of the best so far. I love the picture of the theater screen showing the different ratios. Funny and fascinating.

One suggestion- when using initials and abbreviations such as VVLA, please include a full breakdown of what it actually stands for. It'll make it clearer and more user friendly for those who are being newly introduced to these terms, abbreviations and concepts.

I found out the LA in VVLA stood for 'large aperture' after I posted here. I'd seen the initials used a bunch of times without explanation...Might save someone else a post down the line...
 

Joseph Goodman

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There were actually a few more non-Paramount Vistavision productions internationally... the Daiei studio in Japan made a few (about five I think), with the first production, "Hell Flower" (that's a rough Babelfish translation), being released on 6/25/57.


Here's a page with a small picture of one of Daiei's Vistavision cameras:

http://channel.slowtrain.org/movie/c.../isan0401.html
 

Randy_M

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Robert,

Thanks for the column...you just sold a copy of Man in the Moon - $9.99 at Best Buy (they had half a dozen copies).

I'm looking forward to watching it.
 

Rain

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Well, since The Man in the Moon has now been highly recommended by two people whose opinions I respect, I guess I will go ahead and put it on my "to buy" list.

Thanks for another interesting read, Robert.
 

JohnRice

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Mr, Harris.

I am so happy to see your comments about The Man in the Moon and, particularly Reese Witherspoon. It is a bit of a shame that for most people she has only recently become known for a couple less than stellar movies. I could not agree more with your comments about her non-verbal acting in TMITM. There are too many excellent examples in that film to name.

I'm also glad to see folks enjoyed the cine discussion Seth, Patrick, George and I did. My appreciation of TMITM has only grown over the last year.

I know Seth already posted it, but I'll put the link to the discussion of The Man in the Moon again. I would be thrilled to have some comments from Mr. Harris.
 

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