We Would “Proudly” Wait Three Days in Line
70mm Memories From Tehran
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|Written by: Omid Kayvan, USA||Date: 14.05.2017|
|The Diamond Cinema, Tehran playing "Funny Girl". Picture found on Diamond Cinema Tehran Facebook page.|
Under the Sovscope 70 tab, the following Soviet film “Poema O Tantse” has not been entered on the list of Sovscope 70 Films. I saw it in 70mm back when it was first released in 1970 in Tehran, and it ran only for couple of weeks. It was all Ballet sketches, and mostly all by the late Maya Plesinskaya. It was a short film, in Sovcolor (of course) and Sovscope 70 format, roughly about 70 Minutes!
While growing up in pre-revolutionary Iran, we had very limited “healthy” entertainment, and like most youth in the West, we relied heavily on the power of the 7th Art (as we called Cinema). Thus, the attendance factor for these special 70MM large format film presentations were colossal in scale. The films like "Lawrence of Arabia", were not just epical in terms of production, but in terms of ideas!
We would “proudly” wait three days in line to see the March 1971 Columbia Pictures re-release of "Lawrence of Arabia" in 70MM, which was only shown in one Cinema (same venue as 1963 presentation), the Central Cinema. Our family took turns standing in line during those three days! There must have been over a thousand people at any given time, either trying to push or shove others out of line, or sneak into the line as Black Marketers (employed by the Cinema, with appropriate kickbacks to Cinema Management), and rest of the crowd to be dispersed by the police to prevent crowd convergence and potential injuries. Nevertheless, we were relentless to “proudly” stand in line and get to see Lawrence in 70MM!
Same with release of "El Cid", with so many attempts to firmly stand in line with a cast of thousand ahead of you, and again police dispersing the crowd, etc. Those were the days that people like me stood our ground, no matter what, to see such colossal films as "Spartacus", "Ice Station Zebra", "Liberation", "War and Peace", "Ben-Hur"; and even Musicals like "My Fair Lady", "Hello, Dolly!", "The Sound of Music", which were all well attended with pride as well.
"Doctor Doolittle" (1968), "Oliver!" (1968), "Funny Girl" (1968), and "Battle of Britain" (1969), were all shown at Shah’s Cinema, the Diamond Cinema, with great enthusiasm; and the same went for "Finnian’s Rainbow" (even being rather vague), shown at Atlantic Cinerama. During the screening of "Battle of Britain", they had a Hawker Hurricane Aircraft (from the actual Battle period) parked directly across the street from Diamond Cinema, as one can easily remember, while standing in line for tickets all day long !
|More in 70mm reading:|
70mm Films in Turkey
Diamond Cinema Tehran on Facebook
|These were all Roadshow Prints, and the projectionists were so proud and meticulous in their trade, especially during such engagements. You would not experience cuts during the screenings, as all Prints were tested for continuity, both in picture and Sound. I have not yet seen such colossal screens anywhere in the world, as I saw in Tehran, that dramatically demonstrate the staggering scale of films such as "Spartacus", or "Lawrence"; with the exception of equal scale Cinerama screens at Tehran’s Atlantic Cinerama, Hollywood Cinerama Dome, and Seattle Cinerama.|
The trailers for the 70MM films were all in actual 70MM, thus magnifying the effect and anticipation for the upcoming opening of the film. For instance, the "2OO1: A Space Odyssey" with 70MM Trailer, and its mysterious Art work, opened up a lot of imagination for the audience. The Lobby Cards were also quite effective in raising curiosity amongst the audience for these massive productions, while they waited impatiently for the upcoming event.
The completed list below with the last 5 Bold items, and the Cinema’s shown in Tehran, capture all I can recollect at this point in time. Maybe some more will come to me later.
Plenty of 70MM News and events back in those days in Iran, and in particular in Tehran! The 70MM presentations were spectacular events back then in Tehran only, to the best of my knowledge.
Also, in 1970 there was yet another Napoleonic War Movie by the Soviet Director Sergei Bondarchuk, called “Waterloo”, shot in Sovscope 70, and in 1969 there was this North Pole expedition Film by the same Director, as a Soviet-Italian Joint Venture Production, called "The Red Tent”, shot in Sovscope 70.
|The following is a list of Films that were shown in Large Format, and in Cinemas that were fully equipped with Large Format projectors, be it 70MM, or Three Strip Cinerama, (no Dimension 150 lenses, per say – please see my specific comment below) all in Tehran, and the way they were meant to be presented. They were either in 6 Track Magnetic Sound, or in case of Cinerama, 7 Track Cinerama Sound System. No Kino Panorama Soviet Films, with its 9 Track Sound System, ever made it to Tehran, given the Cinerama’s competition. These were the Films and their respective venues:|
The waiting has now ended. DIAMOND CINEMA, Roosevelt Avenue. Inaugurating the DIAMOND CINEMA with this grandest and biggest box office hit in Cinema’s history. Starting this week “TEARS AND LAUGHTERS” (The Sound of Music). Presented in Todd AO 70MM Color and in Six Track Stereophonic Sound. Starring: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker, Richard Hayden. Director: Robert Wise (Director of West Side Story). “The Sound of Music has been produced in Todd AO 70MM with Six Track Stereophonic Sound System”. Released through: 20th Century Fox Corporation. Movie advert found on Diamond Cinema Tehran Facebook page.
- Lawrence of Arabia (Lawrence Eh Arabestaan), presented in its original uncut version in 1963 for Inauguration of Central Cinema, which was owned by Shah, and this particular event was attended by Shah himself.
- Spartacus *), presented in super wide screen of Rivoli Cinema, in Super Technirama 70. I haven’t even seen such wide aspect ratio of this film, yet, particularly in United States.
- Ryan’s Daughter (Dokhtar Eh Raayaan), presented in Super Panavision 70 at Paramount Cinema.
- Exodus *), presented in Super Panavision 70 at Golden City Cinema.
- The Sound of Music (Ashkhaa Va Labkhandhaa (Tears and Laughters); also titled “Avaa Yeh Moosighi” (The Sound of Music)), presented in Todd-AO, in yet another Cinema owned by Shah, Diamond Cinema, and attended by him during the Inauguration of the Film and the Cinema in 1966.
- Ben-Hur *), presented in its 70MM format of the MGM 65 negative origin, at Capri Cinema.
- Around the World in 80 Days (Dowr Eh Donyaa Dar Hashtaad Rooz), presented in Todd-AO, at Capri Cinema.
- Cleopatra *), presented in Todd-AO, at Empire Cinema.
- El Cid *), presented in Super Technirama 70, at Diamond Cinema.
- Far From the Madding Crowd (Door Az Ejtemaa Eh Khashmgeen), presented in Super Panavision 70, at Paramount Cinema.
- Goodbye Mr. Chips (Khoda Hafez Agha Yeh Chips), presented in Super Panavision 70, at Paramount Cinema.
- My Fair Lady (Baanoo Yeh Mahboob Eh Man), presented in Super Panavision 70, at Paramount Cinema.
- West Side Story (Daastaan Eh West Side), presented in Super Panavision 70, at Paramount Cinema.
- Hello, Dolly! (Salaam, Dolly!), presented in Todd-AO, at Empire Cinema.
- Gone with the Wind (Bar Baad Rafteh), presented in Blow-up 70MM, at Diana Cinema.
- The Sand Pebbles (Daaneh Haa Yeh Shen), presented in Blow-up 70MM, at Central Cinema.
- Doctor Zhivago *), presented in Blow-up 70MM, as Inauguration film for the Golden City Cinema.
- Where Eagles Dare (Ghal Eh Ye Oghaabha), presented in Blow-up 70MM, at Paramount Cinema.
- The Wild Bunch (Een Gorooh Eh Khashen), presented in Blow-up 70MM, at Paramount Cinema.
- Voina I Mir (War and Peace / Jang O Sol H), presented in Sovscope 70, at Capri Cinema.
- Waterloo *), presented in Sovscope 70, at Capri Cinema.
- The Red Tent (Chador Eh Ghermez), presented in Sovscope 70, at Central Cinema.
- Anna Karenina *), presented in Sovscope 70, at Empire Cinema.
- Poema o Tantse (Zeeba Yeh Hezaar Cheh Reh (Beauty with Thousand Faces, instead of Poetry of Dance)), presented in Sovscope 70, at Rivoli Cinema.
- Bratya Karamazovi (Brothers Karamazov / Ba Raada Raan Eh Karamazov), presented in Sovscope 70 on Curved Screen, at Atlantic Cinerama.
- Osvobozhdenyieh (Liberation Parts I and II / Aazaadi), presented in Sovscope 70 on Curved Screen, at Atlantic Cinerama.
- Osvobozhdenyieh (Liberation Parts III and IV / Hamle Yeh Taank Haa), presented in Sovscope 70, at Empire Cinema.
- Osvobozhdenyieh (Liberation Part V / Nabard Eh Berlin), presented in Sovscope 70, at Rivoli Cinema.
- It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (Donyaa Yeh Deevaaneh Yeh, Deevaaneh Yeh, Deevaaneh Yeh, Deevaaneh), presented in Ultra Panavision 70, at Golden City Cinema.
- The Greatest Story Ever Told (Bozorg Tareen Eh Daastaan Eh Aalam), presented in Ultra Panavision 70, at Golden City Cinema.
- Mayerling *), presented in Blow-up 70MM, as Inauguration film for Shahr-e Farang Cinema.
- The Song of Norway (Aahang Eh Norwezh), presented in Super Panavision 70, at Shahr e Farang Cinema.
- Doctor Doolittle *), presented in Todd-AO, at Diamond Cinema.
- Oliver, presented in Todd-AO, at Diamond Cinema.
- Funny Girl (Dokhtar Eh Mass Khareh), presented in Blow-up 70MM, at Diamond Cinema.
- Battle of Britain (Nabard Eh Britania), presented in Blow-up 70MM, at Diamond Cinema.
- Finnian’s Rainbow (Rangeen Kamaan (The Finnian was dropped!)), presented in Blow-up 70MM, at Atlantic Cinerama.
The 3-Strip Cinerama films, as well as Single Strip Cinerama presentations, were all held at the Atlantic Cinerama (one and only Cinerama Curved screen in the Middle East), as follows:
- This is Cinerama (Een Hast Cinerama)
- Cinerama Holiday (Taa Tee Laat Eh Cinerama)
- Cinerama’s South Seas Adventures (Maaje Raa Haa Yeh Daryaa Haa Yeh Jonoob)
- Search for Paradise (Dar Jos Teh Jooyeh Behesht)
- Seven Wonders of the World (Ajaa Yeb Eh Haft Gaaneh)
- How the West Was Won (Che Gooneh Gharb Taskheer Shod)
- Cinerama’s Russian Adventure (Dee Danee Haa Yeh Roosee Yeh)
The Single Strips:
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (Raaz Eh Kay Haan (Mystery of the Universe, instead of 2001: A Space Odyssey)), Super Panavision 70, presented on Curved screen.
- Ice Station Zebra (East Gaah Eh Zebra), Super Panavision 70, presented on Curved screen.
- Custer of the West (Faateh Eh Gharb (Conqueror of the West, instead of Custer of the West)), Ultra Panavision 70, presented on Curved screen.
- Battle of the Bulge (Baraa Yeh Peeroozee (For Victory, instead of Battle of the Bulge)), Ultra Panavision 70, presented on Curved screen.
- Krakatoa, East of Java (Shargh Eh Jaaveh (The Krakatoa was dropped!)), Super Panavision 70 (Todd-AO - by some accounts), presented on Curved screen.
- Grand Prix (Jaa Yeh Zeh Yeh Bozorg), Super Panavision 70, presented on Curved screen.
- Khartoum *), Ultra Panavision 70, presented on Curved screen.
Dimension 150 films: Only two produced in such format, back in the day. “Patton” and “The Bible...in the Beginning”, were presented as follows (no Dimension 150 Super Curvulon lenses were made available):
- The Bible...in the Beginning (Ketaab Eh Aafareenesh (The Book of Genesis, instead of Bible: In the Beginning)) was presented on super wide screen of Rivoli Cinema with its 70MM projectors (as 70MM)
- Patton *) was presented on Curved screen of the Atlantic Cinerama, with its Single Strip Cinerama projectors (as Single Strip Cinerama)
* = Same title in Farsi
This list is not to be the sum of all Large Format Films produced, but encompasses what was shown in Tehran between 1957 and 1977. Also (occasionally) we held 70MM Film Festivals, primarily at the Diana Cinema!
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