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"The Giant Gila Monster" OAR question.

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Eric Huffstutler, May 31, 2006.

  1. Eric Huffstutler

    Eric Huffstutler Screenwriter

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    I am a fan of the old Horror Sci-Fi 'B' movies from the 40s-70s and this title has remained a staple over the years for those who collect this genre.

    My question is more about puzzlement. IMDb shows it to be a 1.37:1 aspect yet there are copies out that are "widescreen" including one by Image Entertainment that shows 1.85:1 ratio and another I purchased from Elite on their Drive-In series. I also have a PD version that is most likely the proper aspect and shows not only more head room but side room as well over the obviously matted widescreen.

    Which is the preferred and why would the widescreen version more collectable when it appears to be cropped?

    Eric
     
  2. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Since it was made in 1959, I'm thinking it's more likely it was made for matted widescreen. Although, since it's a low-budget independent film, it may not be.

    Looking at some comparision images of the main title, the 16x9 Image DVD has more side image than the 4x3 versions from other companies.
     
  3. Jack Theakston

    Jack Theakston Supporting Actor

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    A few words about... aspect ratios.

    Even the cheapies were shooting 1.85:1 by 1959. There's no way, as a director, producer, or cameraman, you were going to get away with shooting your films 1.37 and expect most theaters, even drive-ins, to run it. Yes, there are exceptions to the rules, but this is a general truth.

    IMDb is simply not a reliable source for this information, nor are video editions. Time after time, I see transfers that are cropped or framed up to approximate 1.37 framing, and to no surprise, many are fooled by this. To be frank, the only way to be 100% sure is to run a 35mm print. Most people don't have this option, however, and at that point, such a thing should be taken based on research and (to a large extent) common sense.

    A good example: for an upcoming festival, a new print of a certain film was struck. The film was made in 1953, the transition point, and not knowing the correct aspect ratio, the people working on this and I had to do research in advance (screening the film was not an option as it was still at the lab). The film came out in September, at which point it was quite possible that the film could have been widescreen (the major studios unanimously switched to their widescreen formats in June). The press material (and IMDb, I might add) for the film said 1.66, but that early on in the game we really needed a second opinion. Researching further, we found that the film was shot in April, too early for it to be widescreen.

    Once the film was delivered from the lab, our suspicions were correct-- while the titles were blocked for 1.66, the film was certainly 1.37.

    I tell this anecdote as the exception to the rule, however. People have argued with me on this in the past, but the fact of the matter is that common knowledge tells me that by the time that THE ROBE came out, all major Hollywood studios were already shooting widescreen.

    For obvious reasons, many films have been seen over the years in bastardized "full frame" editions. Some people have watched these movies all their lives thinking this is the way it was seen in theaters simply on the premise that that's the way they've always seen it! It just goes to show that even with knowledgeable people, you certainly can't break a creature of habit.
     
  4. Eric Huffstutler

    Eric Huffstutler Screenwriter

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    Thanks Jack for the aspect background but with this title, I have both versions. One is full frame 1.37:1 as part of the 50 Classic Horror Movies set from Treeline and the other is the 1.85.1 (some say 1.66:1) widescreen from Elite which is supposed to be nearly identical to the Wade Williams collection one.

    There are a couple of scenes that are obviously different in what you see on screen. One that comes to mind is a shot of the sheriff and the kid talking in his garage and on the widescreen version the sheriff's hat is at the top of the screen and sometimes even runs off where on the full screen one there is a foot of space between his hat and the edge of the screen shot. Also when the sheriff's car come up you can see more length of the car to the right of the screen on the full frame version vs. the widescreen one. I would think even matting something down to lop off the top and bottom to make it widescreen wouldn't affect the width of the picture but in this case it does and found that odd.

    But on the other hand one person mentioned the title cards looking different. I haven't compared that yet between the two versions I own but going by the other two mentioned shots, I am a bit puzzled.

    Could this film have been shot in 1:37 and matted down to 1:85 and the Treeline version is open matte?


    Eric
     
  5. Jack Theakston

    Jack Theakston Supporting Actor

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    The way you describe it, it sounds like a soft-matte 1.85 film. It would be matted in theater, of course. It also sounds like one edition may be slightly more cropped than the other (different transfer, I reckon).
     

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