3 Stars

I have been a devoted fan of Cinerama ever since my neighborhood theater (the Syosset theater, in Syosset, Long Island) spent an unheard-of $259,000 in 1959 to install the process. I quickly memorized the specific row and seat number I always used when seeing a Cinerama film (9th row, dead center) and until several years back when David and his crew restored “This is Cinerama,” and “Windjammer,” I thought the process had been long forgotten. What a delight to see it come alive again!

Now that both “This is Cinerama” and “Windjammer” have been restored with original elements, the results are borderline miraculous, especially “Windjammer,” since, for most of the film, the seams (or “join lines”) are completely gone, the color has been restored and the image is razor-sharp. It’s like watching a movie that was just made yesterday. Bravo and kudos to the entire team of restorers for having done such a fabulous job!

And, no matter what Criterion says, their recent restoration of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” definitely should have been done in the Smilebox format, “fake” Cinerama or not. Aside from being a landmark film in terms of its cast of so many comic stars, it was the first of the “Single-lens” Cinerama films, and should be remembered for that.

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Keith Cobby

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Sorry folks it has to be VistaVision for its resolution and depth, and for:

North by Northwest - my favourite film.
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral - favourite western.
White Christmas - favourite Christmas film.
Vertigo - Hitch's second best film.
High Society - Frank and Bing
+ special effects work in some of the other greatest films ever made.
 

Paul Rossen

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I have been a devoted fan of Cinerama ever since my neighborhood theater (the Syosset theater, in Syosset, Long Island) spent an unheard-of $259,000 in 1959 to install the process. I quickly memorized the specific row and seat number I always used when seeing a Cinerama film (9th row, dead center) and until several years back when David and his crew restored "This is Cinerama," and "Windjammer," I thought the process had been long forgotten. What a delight to see it come alive again!

Now that both "This is Cinerama" and "Windjammer" have been restored with original elements, the results are borderline miraculous, especially "Windjammer," since, for most of the film, the seams (or "join lines") are completely gone, the color has been restored and the image is razor-sharp. It's like watching a movie that was just made yesterday. Bravo and kudos to the entire team of restorers for having done such a fabulous job!

And, no matter what Criterion says, their recent restoration of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" definitely should have been done in the Smilebox format, "fake" Cinerama or not. Aside from being a landmark film in terms of its cast of so many comic stars, it was the first of the "Single-lens" Cinerama films, and should be remembered for that.

Never saw a Cinerama film at The Syosset. But it was a wonderful theater for stereo and widescreen films. That said I preferred the UA 150 Theatre down the block. In fact the last time I saw 2001 was in 70mm at the UA 150. What wonderful theaters..now long gone.
 
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RichMurphy

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I was lucky enough to see a demonstration of Douglas Trumbull's Showscan process, in a theatre built in a pizza parlor in Fairfax, VA. (seriously!) The film was called "New Magic." In the most astounding visual effect I have ever seen in a film, a technician supposed goes behind the screen and cuts a work light on to resolve a "technical problem" with the movie. He presses his face against the screen material to peek into the auditorium, which seems to bulge the screen material into the audience This was accomplished without any need of 3D glasses. I and the rest of the audience gasped in astonishment.

While the process proved too expensive (70mm film at 60fps) for mainstream use, I was also impressed with the auditorium design, which I have seen in modified form in other theaters, and copied in a limited way in my home theater.
 
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Ed Maidel

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I saw all the various film processes in a different order than their creations. Cinemascope was always around when I first started going to the movies, and I thought it was OK, but nowhere near what ads claimed it to be. I saw Todd-AO at the Syosset Theater in 1958 when my folks took me to see "Around the World in 80 Days." It blew me away!

Then, at least my own personal history, came Cinerama. I still think it's tops, despite the flaws, particularly the seams ("join lines") and the jiggling panels. At one point, the awful movie, "Can-Can," filmed in Todd-AO came to the Syosset theater and was projected onto the Cinerama screen. While it filled the screen top to bottom, it was at least 10 to 15 feet short at each end, but still looked pretty good.

"Single-Lens" Cinerama came to the Syosset in 1964 with "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," but after that, the Cinerama screen was permanently removed. I think it was about this time that the Cinema 150 down the street opened. It had a 120 degree screen (not Cinerama's 146 degree screen) for the presentation of "Patton" filmed in Dimension 150. That screen too was ultimately removed.

In the mid 60's, the Twin South theater in Hicksville made a big deal about installing Cinerama, but at that time, it was all single-lens films, and as I recall, the theater was a good deal wider than the Syosset, and so the screen seemed a bit smaller. I still sat in the 9th row for a few "presented in " Cinerama films, the most memorable of which was "2001: A Space Odyssey."

The most memorable film experience on the Cinerama screen in the Twin South theater was a Cinemascope film called, "Let the Good Times Roll," a fabulous documentary about the history of rock and roll. The image didn't fit the whole screen, either top to bottom or side to side, but the sound, played through Cinerama's expensive speakers and at near ear-splitting volume was fantastic!

Memories, memories, memories....
 

cinemiracle

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I saw all the various film processes in a different order than their creations. Cinemascope was always around when I first started going to the movies, and I thought it was OK, but nowhere near what ads claimed it to be. I saw Todd-AO at the Syosset Theater in 1958 when my folks took me to see "Around the World in 80 Days." It blew me away!

Then, at least my own personal history, came Cinerama. I still think it's tops, despite the flaws, particularly the seams ("join lines") and the jiggling panels. At one point, the awful movie, "Can-Can," filmed in Todd-AO came to the Syosset theater and was projected onto the Cinerama screen. While it filled the screen top to bottom, it was at least 10 to 15 feet short at each end, but still looked pretty good.

"Single-Lens" Cinerama came to the Syosset in 1964 with "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," but after that, the Cinerama screen was permanently removed. I think it was about this time that the Cinema 150 down the street opened. It had a 120 degree screen (not Cinerama's 146 degree screen) for the presentation of "Patton" filmed in Dimension 150. That screen too was ultimately removed.

In the mid 60's, the Twin South theater in Hicksville made a big deal about installing Cinerama, but at that time, it was all single-lens films, and as I recall, the theater was a good deal wider than the Syosset, and so the screen seemed a bit smaller. I still sat in the 9th row for a few "presented in " Cinerama films, the most memorable of which was "2001: A Space Odyssey."

The most memorable film experience on the Cinerama screen in the Twin South theater was a Cinemascope film called, "Let the Good Times Roll," a fabulous documentary about the history of rock and roll. The image didn't fit the whole screen, either top to bottom or side to side, but the sound, played through Cinerama's expensive speakers and at near ear-splitting volume was fantastic!

Memories, memories, memories....

Nothing 'awful' about CAN-CAN. It was so popular in TODD-AO where I worked ,that it was re-issued several times
 

cinemiracle

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SHOWSCAN was another favourite process of mine. We also had SUPERSCOPE films where I worked.That process never lasted long. I could never see the point of it. I have also seen a 70mm film projected onto a waterfall both in Sydney and also in Montreal back in 1967 Rather boring. For any film fan who was lucky enough to visit expo'67 you were in for a treat with almost every pavilion having films projected onto screens of numerous shapes and sizes and a lot of 70mm. I true film buff's paradise. I still cherish the memory.
 

cinemiracle

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Sorry folks it has to be VistaVision for its resolution and depth, and for:

North by Northwest - my favourite film.
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral - favourite western.
White Christmas - favourite Christmas film.
Vertigo - Hitch's second best film.
High Society - Frank and Bing
+ special effects work in some of the other greatest films ever made.
Did you ever see Vista -Vision? If so, in which city?

A pity that true VISTA -VISION was only ever seen in the USA and even then it was limited to few cities. We used to advertise films as being in Vista -Vision where I worked. but they were never projected in that process. Vista-Vision was the most faked wide -screen process ever advertised in cinemas around the world. The films were always standard 35mm ( with the exception of a few USA cities) but some cinemas managed to project the films onto a larger screen but it was never Vista -Vision . The audiences were so gullible back in the fifties ,that they were none the wiser. Same for Cinemascope 55- never shown publicly but that didn't stop cinemas from advertising the process for a couple of films.
 
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Did you ever see Vista -Vision? If so, in which city?

A pity that true VISTA -VISION was only ever seen in the USA and even then it was limited to few cities. We used to advertise films as being in Vista -Vision where I worked. but they were never projected in that process. Vista-Vision was the most faked wide -screen process ever advertised in cinemas around the world. The films were always standard 35mm ( with the exception of a few USA cities) but some cinemas managed to project the films onto a larger screen but it was never Vista -Vision . The audiences were so gullible back in the fifties ,that they were none the wiser. Same for Cinemascope 55- never shown publicly but that didn't stop cinemas from advertising the process for a couple of films.
If by "true VistaVion" you mean horizontal "lazy eight" projection, both Rank's Odeon Leicester Square and Paramount's Plaza in London were so equipped. Not sure which films were presented this way as such technical details were not mentioned in advertising.
 

cinemiracle

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If by "true VistaVion" you mean horizontal "lazy eight" projection, both Rank's Odeon Leicester Square and Paramount's Plaza in London were so equipped. Not sure which films were presented this way as such technical details were not mentioned in advertising.
3 films at the Plaza and only 1 at the Odeon (with another unconfirmed)
 

rsmithjr

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Several different answers:

1. Cinerama (3-strip): overall, the most impressive thing I have ever seen, still holds up. Lots of problems.
2. Ultra Panavision 70 (aka Camera 65): my favorite of the 70mm processes provided you see it in a really correctly setup theatre.
3. 70mm 5 perf generally. The best practical solution to both capture and exhibition.
4. vistaVision: for a purely 35mm-based process, can look terrific. I was fortunate to see the original dye-transfer prints of many of these.

I do not care for Imax 70 or any of the digital versions of Imax.

An excellent theatre is always a necessity. Most have been destroyed.

The most impressive two presentations I have ever seen:
1. HTWWW in the Capri Theatre in Dallas. An older house that had been converted to 3-strip Cinerama. What an experience. 4 times!
2. Ben-hur in the Capri Theatre in Des Moines, IA. The finest 70mm house I have ever seen, I worked there for a time. This theatre was purpose-built for Ben-hur and Ultra Panavision 70. The Sound of Music played there for 2 years and 2 months, which we believe to be the longest record for any film in Iowa. [BTW Capri was a common name for roadshow houses in the 1960's.]