THESE THOUSAND HILLS only Mono - Why?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Doug Bull, May 19, 2006.

  1. Doug Bull

    Doug Bull Advanced Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2001
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    643
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Real Name:
    Doug Bull
    I just received 3 of the new Fox Cinemascope Westerns -
    THESE THOUSAND HILLS - THE PROUD ONES and THE LAST WAGON.

    While the latter two are in Stereo, These Thousand Hills is only Mono, (although it appears to have a fake stereo option as well)
    Either way it comes as a bitter dissapointment.

    Maybe Joe can throw some light on this.

    While I have at this point only had a quick preview, I think sound wise, THE LAST WAGON seems the best, as I detected some distortion on THE PROUD ONES.

    Picture quality on all 3 is quite good with decent sharpness ( considering those fuzzy early Scope lenses) there is also excellent color reproduction on both THE LAST WAGON and THE PROUD ONES, while These Thousand Hills looks quite acceptable.

    These are great additions to the collections of all Western Fans.

    PS. There is a Trailer for TWO FLAGS WEST on the discs, so is that coming soon?
     
  2. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Messages:
    3,366
    Likes Received:
    1,192
    Trophy Points:
    4,110
    Location:
    Camas, WA
    Real Name:
    Mark Probst
    Uh, because it was originally mono:
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053350/
    While nearly all CinemaScope movies from 1953-1956 were 4-track mag stereo (the earliest releases didn't even allow for optical mono, that's why the AR is 2.55:1 for those early 'Scope titles) by 1959 CinemaScope relegated to only mono sound was quite commonplace.
     
  3. Stephen PI

    Stephen PI Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Messages:
    693
    Likes Received:
    283
    Trophy Points:
    610
    Doug, are the other two you mentioned as stereo in 4.0?
     
  4. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2000
    Messages:
    1,995
    Likes Received:
    56
    Trophy Points:
    1,610
    There is an old bcast from Cinemax, pan and scan but stereo. IF you're looking for sound info from IMDB, you're barking up the wrong tree.
     
  5. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Messages:
    3,366
    Likes Received:
    1,192
    Trophy Points:
    4,110
    Location:
    Camas, WA
    Real Name:
    Mark Probst

    Is that true stereo derived from a 1959 magnetic original or was it the same pseudo-stereo that Fox is including with all thier mono releases
     
  6. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2000
    Messages:
    1,995
    Likes Received:
    56
    Trophy Points:
    1,610
    OF COURSE, I am talking about a true stereo track. These idiotic and pointless fake stereo (barely !) from Fox vid have never been used for broadcast.
     
  7. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Messages:
    3,366
    Likes Received:
    1,192
    Trophy Points:
    4,110
    Location:
    Camas, WA
    Real Name:
    Mark Probst
    In that case Joe, I stand corrected. I guess Fox botched the release in failing to uncover the original magnetic stereo soundtrack.
     
  8. Doug Bull

    Doug Bull Advanced Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2001
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    643
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Real Name:
    Doug Bull
    Thanks Joe,
    Yes I seem to remember it having magnetic tracks when I was working in the industry through the fifties and I'm sure it was also in true Stereo when shown on TV here in recent years.
    I did have a few 35mm frames from it in my frames collection, but I seem to have lost them over the years. I have a feeling they had the 4 Magnetic stripes.

    Stephen,
    Both The Proud Ones and The Last Wagon are in 5.1 Dolby Digital Stereo and that is the only English Track on the discs.
    These Thousand Hills sports 2 English tracks.
    One is 2 channel Mono and the other is 2 channel fake Stereo.

    Mark,
    Some 4 track magnetic 35mm Cinemascope prints did also contain a narrow optical track for emegency purposes.
    I've handled several of them.
     
  9. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    31,538
    Likes Received:
    6,753
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert
    It's not botched if after looking for them, they can't find it!? I don't know enough about what Fox did or didn't do with this dvd release to accuse them of being inept.




    Crawdaddy
     
  10. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Messages:
    3,366
    Likes Received:
    1,192
    Trophy Points:
    4,110
    Location:
    Camas, WA
    Real Name:
    Mark Probst

    Yes Doug, I've read about them. They were called mag-optical and a one-half width optical track was added along side one of the magnetic tracks. Shown here, from the Widescreenmuseum.com:
    http://widescreenmuseum.com/widescreen/csframe2.jpg
    It was the inclusion of this optical track that reduced the aspect ratio from 2.55:1 to 2.35:1.
     
  11. Doug Bull

    Doug Bull Advanced Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2001
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    643
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Real Name:
    Doug Bull
    I have run these Mag/Optical prints and probably, because of the narrowness of the optical track, the sound quality is pretty bad.
    Feel sorry for Cinemagoers who may have had to sit through a screening using these narrow awfully distorted optical tracks.

    Film exchanges at the time usually kept copies of both full Optical and Magnetic Stripe prints on hand and supplied them to the theatres as requested.
    Fox demanded that the theatres showing their Cinemascope films be fitted with Mag Heads, other Studios including United Artists were not so demanding. (At least not here in Australia)
     
  12. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    1,780
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The reason the Mag-Optical prints, and then the Optical only prints were introduced was because the exhibitors felt magnetic only soundtracks greatly added to the expense of making their cinemas completely CinemaScope compatible. Fox initially demanded that cinemas needed the capability to play the magnetic soundtracks to be completely CinemaScope compatible. But by early 1954 they relented, and re-defined CinemaScope compatibility to include optical only sound playback. I guess from Fox's perspective they needed to choose between the retaining the stereo (and surround sound) novelty of their system, against their strong desire to diffuse the system throughout Hollywood in order to make it an industry standard.

    According to John Belton, optical only prints were introduced in mid 1954 after 500 exhibitors visited Fox and complained against the high cost of the magnetic playback equipment. Belton cites statistics for the U.S., to the effect that by 1956 out of the 17591 cinemas that had CinemaScope projection lenses, and CinemaScope compatible screens, only 4609 (26%) had magnetic sound playback equipment. In June 1956 (starting with Fox's Bus Stop) Fox introduced the Mag-Optical print, so they didn't have to produce two types of prints (magnetic and optical). (Taken from CinemaScope: The Economics of Technology, in The Velvet Light Trap, No. 21, Summer 1985)

    As production moves into the later 1950s, it seems that magnetic soundtracks increasingly become reserved for big budget A productions, instead of for most CinemaScope films as during the 1953 - 1955 period. Soon after 65mm origination, or blow ups from other large aperture formats provides 6 track mag sound.
     
  13. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Messages:
    3,366
    Likes Received:
    1,192
    Trophy Points:
    4,110
    Location:
    Camas, WA
    Real Name:
    Mark Probst
    I have an update on the "These Thousand Hills" DVD. I just received my copy in the mail and the GOOD NEWS is that the stereo track is NOT the fake stereo that Fox usually tacks on to their mono DVDs. I've listened to it carefully in Dolby pro-logic mode and while the music and sound effects are stereo, the dialog is kept center-channel.

    Now, this does NOT sound like a vintage 1959 magnetic stereo mix which would have had directionalized dialog. My best quess is that this was a stereo remix done by the studio perhaps quite a few years back? (Maybe the same mix that Joe Caps says was broadcast on Cinemax?)

    Anyway, Fox has chosen the mono track as Audio #1 and the default which would indicate that they think that is the original soundtrack.
     
  14. Doug Bull

    Doug Bull Advanced Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2001
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    643
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Real Name:
    Doug Bull
    I just had another listen to Audio# 2 and now I'm really scratching my head.
    There is certainly clear Orchestra/instrument seperations during the Fox Cinemascope fanfare, but after listening very closly to later portions of the underscore, I'm still not convinced that the music recording is in true Stereo.
    I could not detect any other Orchestral/Instrument seperations.
    It all sounds very central with added, limited wide ambience.

    Anyhow, Real or Fake it is still not very impressive when compared to the usual Fox Cinemascope Stereo DVDs. ( especially the other Scope Westerns in this batch)
     
  15. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Messages:
    3,366
    Likes Received:
    1,192
    Trophy Points:
    4,110
    Location:
    Camas, WA
    Real Name:
    Mark Probst
    Doug, I agree with you that it is definitely not necessarily "true" stereo from the 1950s. What I said was it is not the usual "fake" stereo Fox has been guilty of. It sounds like a more recent remix to me. They were able to separate out the dialog track so that it wouldn't be compromised. I also agree that I can't pinpoint any specific right/left instrumentation that would prove that it is true stereo. So it is possible that the music and effects tracks have been stereo enhanced while the dialog track remains pure mono. Unless there is a projectionist out there from the 1950's who actually handled this print and might remember if it was originally magnetic stereo, we may never know. Personally I'm inclined to revert back to my former position that this may have originally been a mono movie.
    I've watched the entire film and found this remix of the soundtrack to be quite pleasing.
     

Share This Page