For 13 years this image appeared at the start
of some of the greatest widescreen films ever made.
Listen to the Alfred Newman's Fox Fanfare for CinemaScope
WINDOW'S MEDIA (WMA) FORMAT
Daryll F. Zanuck wearing an unofficial director's hat in addition to his official position as producer of The Longest Day, in CinemaScope, the most expensive black and white film made until Schindler's List three and a half decades later. Zanuck was a true icon in the film industry, driving 20th Century-Fox through their most productive and successful years. We'll let Mr. Zanuck wear whatever hat he wants while we take ours off to him.
The pioneering work on anamorphic 35mm widescreen
spearheaded by 20th Century Fox president Spyros Skouras, vice president
Darryl F. Zanuck, and their technical staff set the standards by which all
similar systems conform up to this day.
Throughout the 1950's other studios adopted
CinemaScope compatible widescreen systems. Little Republic Pictures
bought a fistful of anamorphic lenses in France and produced "Naturama" films.
Warner Bros. likewise acquired anamorphic lenses and released several pictures
in "Warnerscope". Even 20th Century Fox, who had stated that all CinemaScope
pictures would be photographed in color, made several in black and white and
called them "RegalScope". Later they would revert back to the CinemaScope
trade name even for black and white.
company by the name of Panavision began producing anamorphic projection
lenses in the early 1950's to meet the demand as more and more theatres
adopted the CinemaScope format. A close relationship with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
brought them into the business of designing camera optics and ultimately cameras.
A vastly improved CinemaScope lens was awarded an Oscar and gradually found its
way into the production of more and more films. While Fox still licensed the
use of the CinemaScope trade name, MGM and other studios adopted the Panavision
lenses over the last part of the decade.
as more and more studios closed down their in house camera departments, the
Panavision lens and cameras came to the forefront. In 1967, 20th Century Fox
abandoned the use of their Bausch & Lomb CinemaScope lenses and began using
Panavision for their anamorphic films.
One of the last films to carry the goose bump raising CinemaScope logo, Stagecoach, produced by Martin Rackin and directed by Gordon Douglas in 1966, featured a star studded cast but it pretty well fizzled. On its own it might have been more favorably reviewed but being a CinemaScope - Color by DeLuxe - Stereophonic Sound remake of a screen classic, it just didn't cut the mustard.
The End Of An Era
Too late to improve the "Mumps" reputation. The Bausch & Lomb Blue Series "E" lenses corrected for the non-linear compression at close distances that had created the "CinemaScope Mumps" reputation. The elliptical bathtub looking component on top of the lenses housed a mechanism that performed the same basic function as Panavision's Auto Panatar lenses did, but without violating Robert Gottschalk's patent of counter-rotating "astigmatizers". This change was instigated in the mid 1960s and it's unknown how many lenses went through this modification.
I have included photos of both sides of this 75mm lens to show you how different they are.
In 1967 the curtain rang down on the trusty Bausch & Lomb CinemaScope lenses after the completion of a pair of "spy thrillers"In Like Flint, a typically amusing romp with charismatic James Coburn in the title role of an American secret agent, and Caprice, starring Richard Harris and breathy Doris Day in a suitably forgettable picture. While Flint was no great competition to Sean Connery's James Bond, he was a lot more entertaining and funny than Dean Martin ruining the Matt Helm series over at Columbia. As for Caprice, it was no great competition for any film and its sole distinguishing element is that it was the final film to be released as a 20th Century-Fox CinemaScope Picture.
In Like Flint poster art courtesy of Karl Setnik
The most enigmatic of all CinemaScope films. You may note that there is no mention of CinemaScope on the poster. While listed as a CinemaScope production, we're told that star Frank Sinatra insisted on the use of Panavision lenses, at least for his scenes.
A CINEMASCOPE PICTURE
is replaced with
Filmed in Panavision
At left, Robert Wise directing The Sand Pebbles in Taiwan, one of 20th Century-Fox's first Panavision films. The film was initially released in road show presentations. At right, Steve McQueen peering through the lens of a Mitchell BNC fitted with Panavision, rather than Bausch & Lomb anamorphic optics.
In 1957, Panavision Inc. introduced the Auto Panatar compact anamorphic lens, which ultimately became the de-facto standard in high quality motion picture optics.
Film historian Rick Mitchell, who has heavily researched the subject, provides us with a bit more insight into Fox's move from CinemaScope to Panavision:
"While THE SAND PEBBLES may have been the first film
credited to Panavision to go into production, the
first to be released was the Parisian made HOW TO
STEAL A MILLION, which opened in the summer of 1966.
"However, according to sources at Panavision, most of
the principal photography on VON RYAN'S EXPRESS (1965)
was shot with Panavision lenses at the insistence of
Frank Sinatra, who, along with John Wayne, had been a
big booster of Panavision. (The Sinatra co-produced A
HOLE IN THE HEAD (1959) was the first 35mm feature to
be solely credited to Panavision.) A close
examination of a 16mm anamorphic print of VON RYAN
reveals some shots that have 'anamorphic mumps' but
all the scenes with Sinatra look like films shot with
Panavision lenses in the same period."
Our friend Rick slightly misspoke regarding the credits for A Hole in the Head. He can be forgiven because he got so much more spot on correct. As can be seen in the poster at left, CinemaScope and Fox's DeLuxe labs are credited. But the actual film carries a credit for neither CinemaScope or Color by DeLuxe. The only process related credit appears at the bottom of this frame from the beginning of the film.
During the period of 1959-1961 there were a number of films that had similar process credits. Just to name a couple, The Unforgiven, and Come September which advertised "photographic lenses by Panavision" on its posters. Then there's the confusing Panavision credit in Spartacus which made people think that Panavision made the Technirama camera lenses.
As Rick points out, William Wyler's How To Steal A Million was the first Fox production to be released carrying a 'Filmed in Panavision' credit. The film starred Peter O'Toole and Audrey Hepburn. By a not too surprising coincidence, Hepburn happened to appear in MGM's Green Mansions, (1959), which is frequently referred to as that studio's first picture shot with Panavision optics. However, other films are sometimes credited as MGM's first use of Panavision, including Jailhouse Rock, (1957), the Elvis Presley 'classic' shot in black & white.
But even though Jailhouse Rock carried both CinemaScope and Panavision credits, it was actually not photographed in either widescreen system. It would have been more correct to say it was a Superscope production since the image didn't become anamorphic until the prints were made through Panavision's MicroPanatar printer lens. Seen below are credits from the film. "Process Lenses by Panavision" indicates that anamorphic printer lenses were used to make CinemaScope compatible show prints. For anamorphic photography the credit would say "Photographic Lenses by Panavision".
Green Mansions poster art courtesy of Karl Setnik.
If you're going to make a movie in fake CinemaScope you might as well include fake stereo sound. Note the "Perspecta Sound" credit line. (Bottom line, third frame above.) MGM made a large percentage of their product available with Perspecta encoding. More important films were also available with four track magnetic sound.
While the major studios began to adopt Panavision for their anamorphic films, the trusty old Bausch & Lomb CinemaScope lenses didn't disappear. They gradually made their way into the hands of independent film makers and continue to be used to this day. And your Curator has a couple of them which he sleeps with.
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©1996 - 2013 The American WideScreen Museum
Martin Hart, Curator