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Lost For Years, Orphan Films Discovered Abandoned in Hollywood Basement.
"Cinerama's Russian Adventure" rescued by the "Indiana Jones of Cinerama"

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Dave Strohmaier Date: 11.04.2009
The project dates back to 1999 when Gunther Jung (Cinerama Inc.) called Hal Dennis (owner to the rights of the film) and asked about the location of the film. He said he didn't know where it was. Nothing happened for almost 7 years until 2006, when there was some glimmer of hope from  an apartment building on Yucca Street in Hollywood.

The tenants there had started to complain about a strange vinegar like smell coming from somewhere in the basement. One of the tenants was an Arclight employee, a projectionist who has helped us show Cinerama at the Dome. The building manager let him into the locked room and there he discovered a "ton" of film, of which much of it was 6 perf! At that point John Sittig and I got involved and tried to get a look into the room. We talked to the Dennis family and they said they used to own the building 10 years ago but they had sold it to a big corporation. And we needed to somehow prove it was Cinerama property in order to see it.

The building had changed hands several times in the intervening years and a few months went by. We heard nothing about it until one morning when Fritz Herzog at the Motion Picture Academy called me. He said the new manager of KNXT, an old CBS tv station (due to be demolished) had called him. They found some 6 perf Cinerama-like footage with Hal Dennis’s name on it and the title "Cinerama's Russian Adventure". Fritz suggested we'd get over there right away, because it looks like it will be tossed out any time now. I called John Sittig and the next day he sent a truck and a crew (along with me) to check it out. Somehow over a year or so the film had been moved from the apartment building on Yucca to the Sunset Blvd. TV station building.
More in 70mm reading:

Update on remastered "The Golden Head" and "Cinerama's Russian Adventure"

“Broadsword Calling Danny Boy” Widescreen Weekend Report 2009

WSW 2009 program

Widescreen Weekend Home

Mr. Derren Nesbitt ("Major von Hapen" in "Where Eagles Dare")

The History of 70mm Short Subjects

Ramon's WSW review
and Audience feedback

Images: Friday, Saturday
and Sunday

"Audience on Stage"
and Academy of the Wide Screen Weekend

Once we got over there we got into an argument with with security. The building manager reluctantly let us get a look at the film. We found it. It was the last surviving 3-strip print of "Cinerama's Russian Adventure". The problem was the building was to be used one last time for a charity art exhibit and the artist had been given the film to use. They planned to spray paint the reels of film with fluorescent paint for a large mobile to hang from the ceiling.

The head artist saw me looking through the reels and wanted to call the cops, because he felt we were stealing his sculpture! Security came and said that I had permission to take the film. It became quite a discussion and I tried to convince them that they would be responsible for destroying a lost film. After all this time trying to save the film I finally said, "Enough"! At this time security, artists, and his supporters were all ganging up on me, so I decided to yell “fire” in a crowded theater.

"I don’t want to panic anyone but if you don’t back off now I will have to shut down this whole building maybe this whole block!!! You have a “hazmat” situation here, I will be forced to call OSHA, the Occupational Safety + Health Administration, and they will shut you down. There are major acetic acid fumes coming from this material and it is highly dangerous. Clear out and let me handle this or I will close down this operation with one phone call." They all backed off very quickly and let me finish the job of rescuing the only surviving print of "Cinerama's Russian Adventure".

We will show you reel one, 18 minutes. Chace Sound in Burbank provided a new full coat magnetic transfer of this old magnetic reel which was very warped.
Film Introductions:
"The Bible...in the beginning"
"How the West Was Won"
"The King and I"
"This is New Zealand"
"West Side Story"

"Faubourg 36" 70mm in Paris

"This is New Zealand" 3-strip EXPO Film From New Zealand

The M.C.S.-70 Process

Internet link:

How the West Was One:
Re-Creating the Three-Panel Cinerama Experience for the Small Screen
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Updated 07-01-23