That's Entertainment at the Academy 9/17

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Al (alweho), Sep 18, 2004.

  1. Al (alweho)

    Al (alweho) Second Unit

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    Just got back from a screening of That's Entertainment (TE) at the Academy's theater in Beverly Hills.

    After a wonderful (yet in a way sort of wistful/sad) introduction of some of the stars featured in the movie that are still with us (Cyd Charisse, Arlene Dahl, Betty Garrett, Tony Martin, Julie Newmar, Margaret O'Brien, Janis Paige, Debbie Reynolds, Mickey Rooney, Russ Tamblyn and Esther Williams) they digitally projected the restored movie and for the most part IMHO it all looked vivid and about the best this mix of film stocks, aspect ratios and production eras could probably look.

    What struck me as being the most interesting though was the slight zooming in they did on a selected few 1.33 shots to better fit the wider 1.85 screen size. They seemed to start a few musical numbers (not all) at the original aspect ratio, then very gently and unobtrusively went to a wider screen size as the numbers went on. (It happened with clips from Good News, Harvey Girls, Show Boat, Singin in the Rain, American in Paris and one or two others.)

    Otherwise the vast majority of 1.33 material was shown with black bars on the sides, wider screen material (CinemaScope - Hit the Deck/7 Brides) was letterboxed with black bars top and bottom, and High Society (VistaVision) was shown filling the entire 1.85 screen.

    Was the cropping on a few of the numbers annoying? Not really at least for me, as they seemed to take great care as to when it was done and compositions seem to be acceptable. But I thought it was a little odd since I know these originals so well - and I wondered if it had also been done on the original release of TE. I also wonder if the transfer we saw up on the screen will be on the upcoming DVD release.

    A few other notes about last night - if everyone doesn't mind of course:

    Clips from films not yet on DVD (Bandwagon, 7 Brides, Hit the Deck, etc.) looked very good - and I wonder if they are previews of future video releases. The connecting bits with Sinatra, Taylor, Minneli, Reynolds, Astaire etc. have never looked better. The different soundtracks were mixed where possible to a gentle 5.1, with surrounds sparingly used. (Mostly voices/singers were panned a bit as they went from center screen to either side.)

    Academy President Frank Pierson introduced the event, noting that of course this movie honoring 50 years of MGM, (now celebrating 30 years itself) is being honored the week Sony has announced the purchase of MGM - pretty much ending its history as one of the seven sister independent Hollywood studios. (Irony of ironies, Sony/Columbia even owns the old MGM Culver City lot.)

    Turner President/COO Roger Mayer reminded everyone that TE was the most successful documentary ever - until this summer of course. He also noted that TE sparked an interest in film preservation and restoration, reminding the studios they had plenty of things in the vault they could go back to and benefit from.

    Warner Home Video basically put the event together (along with TCM, Robert Osborne was also there) to promote the upcoming DVD set. Usually Academy members get first dibs on tickets at $3, then the public gets the remaining seats for $5, an amazing bargain considering what you get in return. There's just something special about seeing a movie in Oscar's home, with two giant gold Oscar statues flanking the screen.

    Past events have included the restored Singin' in the Rain (also an event by WHV for the DVD release) Debbie, Cyd along with Donald O'Connor, Rita Moreno, Comden & Green chatted after the movie for a bit. There was also a screening of Mary Poppins that was hosted by Leonard Maltin a few years back with Karen Dotrice, Glynnis Johns, Irwin Kostal and the Sherman Brothers which allowed them to share some wonderful stories with the audience.

    For more information on these special evenings and to see what else the Academy has planned (free exhibits, etc.) you can visit the Oscars.org site.

    Again, my apologies if I rambled on a bit here.
     
  2. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    Al, thanks for your excellent report. That must have been a teriffic screening.
     
  3. Roger Rollins

    Roger Rollins Supporting Actor

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  4. Thomas T

    Thomas T Cinematographer

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    I saw the screening last night and was severely disappointed in the print, the Nelson Eddy/Jeanette MacDonald clip from Rose Marie was almost unwatchable. Hopefully, the upcoming DVD will look much better.
     
  5. Al (alweho)

    Al (alweho) Second Unit

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    I agree the Rose Marie clip was quite grainy - but do you think it may actually be the best they could do?
     
  6. Al (alweho)

    Al (alweho) Second Unit

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    Thanks Haggai. It was wonderful and yet so very sad too - it broke my heart to see some of my favorites now so aged, and then so young and vibrant up on the big screen. Thankfully film is forever as far as their performances are concerned.
     

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