Conventional widescreen 35mm films are generally composed to accomodate aspect ratios varying from 1.66:1 to 1.85:1, the difference being that the "narrower" ratios use more of the vertical area on the film.
As seen in the film titles, the additional side information is pretty inconsequential. In the 1.85:1 letterbox version, the titles appear to be confined in a claustrophobic frame. A transfer at 1.66:1 would probably have been a better choice.
Other than producing a somewhat smaller image, there isn't a lot that the letterboxed version provides that isn't in the older transfer. The decision to letterbox at 1.85:1 may not have created an unwatchable film, but at 1.66:1 we'd get to use a few more lines of resolution.
©1997 - 2000 The American WideScreen Museum
Martin Hart, Curator