4-track Magnetic stereo at The American
The 70mm Newsletter
and story by: Richard Greenhalgh
December 8, 2002, the American Cinematheque screened a very interesting
and unique piece of motion picture history, as a part of their excellent
4-Track Mag Stereo Film Festival, as they described in their announcement:
"4-Track Magnetic Stereo and Cinemascope Demonstration Film"
1953, 20th Century Fox, approx. 90 min. This incredibly rare, 5-reel film
was produced in 1953 by 20th Century Fox to sell theatre owners on the
then-brand new technologies of 4-track mag stereo and Cinemascope
projection. Hosted by legendary Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck, the film
features clips from several of the first Cinemascope and stereo
productions being made at the studio in the early 1950's. Please note that
this, the only surviving print, is extremely faded; because of its rarity,
we're including it here as a free event.
in 70mm reading:
Paul Rayton giving the audience an intro to the CinemaScope demo film.
This untitled presentation was screened at 2.55:1 in 4-track mag
stereo, which was a rare treat. It was introduced by Paul Rayton, of the
American Cinematheque, who explained that it was the only surviving print.
He said that it was cut from various pieces of film and that the sound
track had then been recorded on the film. Therefore, there is no negative.
It is marked Print # 10 and so he assumed that there had been at least 9
other prints. The first 12 minutes of the presentation was a Technicolor
IB print re-cut from "The Miracle of Stereophonic Sound in
Association with CinemaScope" (see below). This featured the use
of "CinemaScope Stereo" in scenes of a train traveling across
the screen, jets flying from left to right and a band marching down
Colorado Boulevard during the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California,
partially in front of the Academy Theater, which was then showing a
CinemaScope feature on their marquee.
The balance of the presentation appeared to be made up from various
Eastman prints and was quite faded. It appeared to have been designed to
be run after an in-person introduction to the theater owners who were the
Paul Rayton (right) talking with guest
Darryl F. Zanuck introduced the balance of the presentation which included
clips from upcoming CinemaScope releases. He extolled the virtues of Fox's
new wide screen process by showing the same scene framed at 1.37:1, then
in the "new" wide screen format at 1.85:1 and finally in
CinemaScope at 2.55:1. Extensive clips were shown from "Broken
Lance," "A Woman's World," "Untamed,"
"No Business Like Show Business," "Garden of
Evil," "Pink Tights" (with Sherrie North) and,
according to Mr. Zanuck, the first film entirely shot with the
"new" lenses, "The Egyptian." Mr. Zanuck showed a
number of books each of which represented new CinemaScope releases in, or
soon to be in, production from Fox and other studios. The presentation
ended abruptly which lead to the conclusion that it was ended with an
in-person wrap-up for the theater owners.
DP70s of the Egyptian Theatre
For those of us who also stayed for the screening of "Pepe",
we were treated to a showing of "The Miracle of Stereophonic Sound
in Association with CinemaScope." Rick
Mitchell, noted film historian, was kind enough to provide the
following information about this short:
This short, hosted by Mr. Sanders, had actually been released before the
CinemaScope Demo film (above), about April, 1954 after Fox lost its
lawsuit against New York's Walter Reade Theater chain over channeling the
stereo sound through one speaker. At that time they announced they were
going to release their films in 4 track magnetic stereo, one track
magnetic mono, and mono optical. This short was obviously made to convince
audiences to get their local exhibitors to install full stereo. The print
was made by Technicolor, but on color positive stock since Technicolor
could not make 4 track magnetic IB prints at that time; among other
reasons they did not have a pin belt for the CS perfs until the fall of
1954. The earlier film, which was an IB print, was made after that.
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