Information about the 3-strip movie "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm"
For the first time CINERAMA tells a story!
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The 70mm Newsletter
|Written by: Gerhard Witte, in70mm.com reporter, Berlin||Date: 13.07.2016|
|End of the 1950s, MGM and CINERAMA came together in order to produce films with the narrative storytelling of traditional film. On the occasion of CINERAMA's 10th Anniversary a Tale of the Brothers Grimm – George Pal's "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" (USA, 1962) will captivate viewers of all ages. |
The movie's plot shortly narrated … the fairy stories they collected have made them immortal.
The action of the film begins in late 1813, when France suffered a decisive defeat in the Battle of Leipzig, and thus the end of Napoleon's dominion in Germany was initiated. The two young scholar-linguists Wilhelm (played by Laurence Harvey, 1928 –1973) and Jacob Grimm (played by Karlheinz Böhm, 1928 – 2014) are working in a library on a task that both find irksome, compiling the family chronicles of a lineage of dukes. The hearts of both young men are on other things. Wilhelm is fascinated by fairy tales and is constantly trying to elicit timelessly young tales, mostly from older people, while the more serious-minded Jacob is more concerned with the history of the German language and grammar, as well as German mythology. Wilhelm is married to Dorothea (played by Claire Bloom, b.1931) and has two children, Friedrich and Pauline, by her.
Jacob and the charming Greta Heinrich from Berlin (played by Barbara Eden, b. 1931), who is very taken with the brother's work, fall in love each other. But the romance does not last long, because Jacob spends a lot of time with Wilhelm and their joint activities are somehow more important for him.
Despite Jacob’s hard work, progress with the family chronicle is slow, partly because Wilhelm is often preoccupied only with his fairy tales. "A hobby as unprofitable as collecting stories will never put bread on the table", says Jacob. Since it turns out that an entire branch of the duke’s (played by Oscar Homolka, 1898 –1978) distinguished family, which was once based on the Rhine, is not mentioned in the chronicle, he sends the two brothers to the town of Rheinburg, situated on the Rhine, in order to complete the missing information (author’s note: There is a villa in the style of a castle situated in the Ehrenbreitstein district of Koblenz (Rhineland Palatinate) with the name ‘Rheinburg’. For the film, the harbour of Oberspay, south of Koblenz, was used as Rheinburg). Once there, however, Jacob has no option but to carry out most of the work by himself, since Wilhelm is once again out in search of fairy tales and has taken himself off to the forest, to the hut of the storyteller Anna Richter (played by Martita Hunt, 1899 –1969). There, every Friday, local children gather to listen to her engaging stories. Since only children have access to the hut, Wilhelm sits down on a wooden bench below an opened window – so he can listen and write everything down. He is caught in a heavy downpour and is soaked to the skin; later he falls ill with a severe feverish flu. Moreover, while walking through the forest he loses the joint product of the brothers’ work – the information on the duke. The thereupon infuriated duke requests from Wilhelm within 3 days the payment of six outstanding monthly rents for his house in which Wilhelm and his family and Jacob could, as long as they are working for him, hitherto live rent-free. His brother comes to his aid in this dire situation by selling his library.
Meanwhile Wilhelm is in bed with high fever. He has feverish dreams in which a great giant pushes numerous figures from fairy tales through the window into his bedroom on the second floor of the house. They say to him: "Our lives depend on you. If you die, we will never be born! Who will give us our names?" And Wilhelm gives them their names: Tom Thumb, Cinderella, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood and Rumpelstiltskin.
Thanks to his determination to continue collecting fairy tales, Wilhelm happily soon recovers. The brothers start working together again and Jacob even helps Wilhelm gather more tales and document them. As time passes, their work begins to bear fruit. In 1841, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, the new Prussian king, appointed them for their scientific achievements to members of the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin.Wilhelm is slightly aggrieved because the written invitation and honours mention only their academic work and not the fairy tales themselves. Now their journey takes them to Berlin. The film ends with the two brothers and Dorothea, Wilhelm's wife, arriving at the station, where a delegation of the Academy, Greta Heinrich and hundreds of appreciative children are awaiting Jacob and Wilhelm – first and foremost Wilhelm – and crying out: "We want a story, we want a story!" Wilhelm answers "Once upon a time there were two brothers …" The children cheer, and the film ends with the line: "… and they lived happily ever after."
Embedded in the overall plot of the film are three of the Grimm brothers’ lesser-known tales: (A) "The Shoes that were Danced to Pieces" (KHM 133), in the movie entitled "The Dancing Princess", in German "Die zertanzten Schuhe", (B) "The Elves and the Shoemaker" (KHM 39), in the movie "The Cobbler and the Elves", in German "Die Schuster und die Zwerge", and (C) "The Singing Bone" (KHM 28), in German "Der singende Knochen". The framework plots of these stories were followed in the making of the film. Nevertheless, much was changed, including factors relating to the actual life circumstances of the two brothers – to the extent that a realistic depiction is possible at all. Read more about this at the end of the report.
(KHM = Kinder und Hausmärchen / Children's and Household Tales – the German name for the little creatures that help the shoemaker in the original fairy tale "The Elves and the Shoemaker" is "Wichtelmänner", in the German movie programme they are called "Zwerge" (dwarfs))
Listen to the much more detailed MGM Storybook Record. It is a YouTube presentation with images taken from the movie's souvenir brochure, unfortunately with a lot of pops, clicks and hisses.
According to the narrator one gets the impression that the Grimms had lived in Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Bavaria, which is not true – Bavaria was never their homeland. Born in Hanau, close to Frankfurt on the Main, they spent a great deal of their lives in Hesse.
|More in 70mm reading:|
Informationen über den 3-Streifen-Film "Die Wunderwelt der Gebrüder Grimm"
Gerhard's Grimm Report Gallery
PDF: Information about the 3-strip movie "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm"
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. The legendary “lost” Cinerama Reviewed
Gerhard Witte's in70mm.com Library
in70mm.com auf Deutsch
in70mm.com's Cinerama page
"The Wonderful World of Brothers Grimm" soundtrack released by Film Score Monthly
Liner notes for "The Wonderful World of Brothers Grimm" 2-CD soundtrack
HTWWW's "World Preview" at the Empire Cinerama Theatre in Paris
Tales from the Cooper Cinerama Theatre in Denver
The Cooper Cinerama Theatre in Minneapolis / St. Louis Park
The Indian Hills Theatre in Omaha (Nebraska)
Trailer of "Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm"
Russ Tamblyn and Yvette Mimieux in "The Dancing Princess" in Pan & Scan
A sequence of "The Cobbler and the Elves" in Pan & Scan
Hollywood Premiere of "How the West Was Won"
The Production Design of "Brothers Grimm"
The Dragon at "liveauctioneers.com"
The Dragon at "colemanzone.com"
Interesting information about the movie from Omics International
The Movie's North American Premieres
|An advert from 1962 announcing the first two story-telling CINERAMA movies and below: One year later a 2-page advert announcing the upcoming (in production) Cinerama movies "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (USA, 1963) and "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (USA, 1965) – and a hint on the introduction of the newly built Cinerama Dome Theatres: "1963 – Another Year Of Dynamic Expansion". (Adverts from the author's collection)|
The official World Premiere took place at New York's (New) Loew's Cinerama Theatre on Tuesday, 07 August 1962.
In 1962, premiered following three 3-strip CINERAMA feature movies:
1.) "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" (USA)
2.) "How the West Was Won" (USA)
3.) "The Best of Cinerama" (USA)
There had been a World Preview of "Brothers Grimm" on Saturday, 14 July 1962 at the Cooper Cinerama Theatre in Denver (Colorado), and then it officially opened at following venues across the United States:
On 07 August 1962: New York (NY) at Loew's Cinerama Theatre, here festive World Premiere where it subsequently ran for 33 weeks – Boston (MA) at Boston Theatre.
On 08 August 1962: Los Angeles (CA) at Warner's Hollywood Theatre (from the book "Movie Roadshows" by Kim R. Holston) – Cincinnati (OH) at Capitol – Pittsburgh (PA) at Warner – Cleveland (OH) at Palace – Denver (CO) at Cooper – Minneapolis (MN) at Cooper – Philadelphia (PA) at Boyd – San Francisco (CA) at Orpheum – Detroit (MI) at Music Hall – Montreal (QC) at Imperial – Kansas City (MO) at Empire – Chicago (IL) at McVickers.
On 15 August 1962: Toronto (ON) at Eglington – Dallas (TX) at Capri – Indianapolis (IN) at Indiana – Milwaukee (WI) at Palace.
On 22 August 1962: Rochester (NY) at Monroe – Columbus (OH) at Grand – Vancouver (BC) at Strand – Oklahoma City (OK) at Cooper – Buffalo (NY) at Teck – Salt Lake City (UT) at Villa.
… at the time, there were more in planning: Memphis at Loew's Palace – Wichita at the Crown Uptown Theatre – Louisville at Rialto – Syracuse at New Eckel – Honolulu at Cinerama – Norfolk at Rosna – Erie at Strand – Miami at Florida – Portland at Hollywood – Tampa at Palace – Nashville at Crescent – Washington at Uptown – El Paso at Capri – Hartford at Cinerama – Birmingham at Ritz – Jacksonville at Five Points and in many other cities.
"How the West Was Won" debuted in Europe. The movie had a "World Preview" on Tuesday, 02 October 1962 at the "Empire (Abel Gance) Cinérama Théâtre" in Paris and its official World Premiere at London's "Casino Cinerama Theatre" on Thursday, 01 November 1962.
The World Premiere of "The Best of Cinerama" took place at the Palace Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday, 13 November 1962. This movie is a compilation of the highlights of all 5 previous Cinerama travelogues.
End of the 1950s, when Cinerama, Inc. and MGM teamed up to make their first Cinerama pictures that would be primarily story-telling films, they looked around for dramatic properties that also offered spectacle. Finally, they decided on two. One was "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" – a movie about Wilhelm (1786 – 1859) and Jacob (1785 – 1863) Grimm portrayed by the Lithuanian-born Laurence Harvey and by the Austrian Karlheinz Böhm – sometimes also referred to as Carl Boehm or Karl Boehm,
… and the other "How the West Was Won" – retelling the life stories of bold adventures in the American West.
The Famous German Brothers Grimm
|An illustration of the brothers Wilhelm Grimm (in all images on the left) and Jacob Grimm, and on the right: A contemporary engraving of the great folklorists and lexicographers. Images below: The movie's brothers Laurence Harvey (1928 – 1973) and Karlheinz Böhm (1928 – 2014). In 1963, Laurence Harvey was nominated for his role as Wilhelm Grimm for a Golden Globe (Best Actor "Drama"). (Movie photos from the then MGM Press Archive) |
They were tireless and persistent. Continually they had to collect something, to write and to tell stories – a living and working symbiosis. Their live values include, among others, following publications: The well-known Children's and Household Tales, Irish Fairy Tales, German Legends, German Mythology, German Grammar, History of German Language, the German Dictionary, etc.
In this report I would like to report only briefly on the brothers – there is a lot of really comprehensive information about their lives and works on diverse interesting websites.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm are mainly worldwide renowned for their collection of fairy tales – but they were also language- and cultural researchers, diplomats, lawyers, professors, librarians and politicians. They were born in Hanau as the eldest children into a Calvinist pastor's family with civil service ties. Dorothea Grimm, the mother of the two, gave birth to nine children, but three of them already died in infancy. A year apart in age, but behaved like twins, they often shared until the time of death bed and table, grew up with the same interests and attended the same schools. They even shared a home in a group of three after Wilhelm had married his girlfriend Henriette Dorothea (Dortchen) Wild in May of 1825, who later gave him birth to three children – two boys named Herman and Rudolf, and a girl named Auguste.
Henriette Dorothea told Wilhelm some of the stories in the famous collection of fairy tales. Back then, they could hardly have foreseen the world-wide impact their tales would one day receive. Without their activities the world, of course, to say nothing of the motion picture business, would have been bereft of, e.g., Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Mother Holle, Hans in Luck, Snow-White and Rose-Red, The Bremen Town Musicians, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and all the other fairy tales beloved of children these many years. Their 200 "Children's and Household Tales / Kinder und Hausmärchen" were published in two books – Volume 1 late in 1812 and Volume 2 came in print in 1814 (pre-dated 1815). In 1825, there appeared a further, but smaller publication of the fairy tales. The Grimms managed to convince their brother Ludwig Emil (1790 –1863) that he, as an illustrator, additionally decorated the stories with nice drawings, which later significantly contributed to their popularity.
In 2005, the original hand copies (5 books) of the Children's and Household Tales of 1812 / 1815 became UNESCO World Documentary Heritage. Already during their lifetimes the brothers were well-respected personalities, celebrated as outstanding Germanists and great German intellects. Concerning their political activities, for example, Jacob Grimm, as member of the Frankfurt National Assembly, presented a supplementary application to article 1 of the Frankfurt Constitution (a constitution for a unified German Federal State, also called St. Paul's Church Constitution) from 28 March 1849 with following text:
“The German people are a free people, and the German lands tolerate no bondage. They free any unfreedom which dwells upon them.”
On 04 September 2015, the "GRIMMWELT Kassel" opened its doors. Here you can study in detail all about the Grimms in a large exhibition complex.
|The three fairy tales, and an artwork that shows various scenes of the movie.|
At the time, Cinerama, Inc. agreed to change the movie's shooting speed. The travelogue predecessors of the Fifties ran at 26 frames per second. "How the West Was Won" and "Brothers Grimm" were filmed at 24 fps – a concession to cost and the convenience that they could be reduced after playing in Cinerama theatres to a 35mm anamorphic format in order to present them in standard exhibition venues.
Filming began on 31 July 1961(source: "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" newspaper from that time), most likely at the MGM-Studios in Culver City, a city in Los Angeles county. In charge of the cameras was the American cinematographer Paul Vogel (1899 – 1975), who previously, in 1950, was awarded with an Academy Award for the movie "Battelground" (USA, 1949) in the category "Best black and white Cinematography". "Brothers Grimm" was directed by Henry Levin, who took over the biographical script. Producer George Pal was responsible for the fairy tale sequences. Before start of filming, both had toured parts of Europe seeking authentic backgrounds for the story. They found suitable film motifs in West-Germany, but not in Hesse, the immediate homeland of the Grimms, where most buildings from the 1800s had been destroyed during the past wars. They filmed at Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria (the Royal Palace in "The Dancing Princess"), at Weikersheim Castle in Baden Württemberg (the Duke's Residence), in the Rhineland and in the historic, late medieval districts of the Bavarian towns of Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Middle Franconia (in the film their home town), and Dinkelsbühl – also located in Middle Franconia. Pal and Levin were able to convince the famed Regensburg "Domspatzen" Choir, consisting of boys and young men, to sing (the boys) in the movie's Rheinburg sequence. The steam-propelled side-wheeler tugboat (built in 1921 / 1922), named "Oskar Huber", taken by the Grimms down the Rhine is the oldest such item in Germany. The boat's last towering operation, now powered with fuel oil instead with coil, took place in 1966. Today it is a museum ship and is located in "Vinckekanal" (Vincke Canal) in Duisburg-Ruhrort, and is part of the local Museum of the German Inland Navigation.
At the time, in Germany, the end of shooting of "Brothers Grimm" was planned until middle or end of October of 1961, with then finishing work in Hollywood / Culver City, where they had worked, it is written in the movie's souvenir book, on around 75 film sets.
In 1963, the movie won the Oscar for Best Costume Design (Mary Wills) – it was also nominated for Best Art Direction (Color), Best Music (Scoring of Music / Adaptation or Treatment) and Best Cinematography (Color).
Additional note: Germany's biggest costume house is the renowned Berlin company "Theaterkunst". Already for the silent films "Ben-Hur" (USA, 1925) and "Metropolis" (GER, 1927) had been a collaboration with this house, which exists since 1907.
The movie's Road Show Version opens as follows: After the Overture (2.46 minutes) and MGM's roaring lion (associated with some score) you can watch war scenes and listen to trumpet fanfares of cavalry, drum beats and canon strikes. A narrator gives following comment: "Early in the 1800s, the fearful sounds of war once again shook the heart of Europe (increasing canon strikes and fanfares) … not far from the field of battle there was another sound … soft and gentle … yet it has echoed down the years to be heard long after the guns were stilled and the battles forgotten (here you can watch aerial shots of the town Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Weikersheim castle) … if you listen closely you can hear it … now …" – then comes the movie's title scene showing the brothers in a duke's library working on his family history and you can listen to the movie's Main Theme played by a zither.
The Cinerama movie combines two elements. It sets the three Grimm fairy tales against the life stories of the brothers themselves. Laurence Harvey (Wilhelm Grimm) also appears in one of the three fairy tales. He portrays the cobbler in "The Cobbler and the Elves".
These are not the best known fairy tales. "The Dancing Princess" is about a young woodsman (Russ Tamblyn) and a princess (Yvette Mimieux) who wears out her shoes with dancing every night in the forest, until the woodsman discovers her secret and thereupon gets her as his wife – fortunately, they also fall in love with each other; "The Cobbler and the Elves" is a combination in which talking and moving elves (puppets) are combined with living actors performing in a story-book (German?) village set. It is about an old shoemaker (Laurence Harvey) who would rather carve elves for orphans than make the shoes ordered by his customers, so that the elves surprisingly finish the shoes for him on the night before Christmas; and "The Singing Bone" is about a knight, Sir Ludwig (Terry-Thomas), who supposedly killed the evil dragon, but in reality hides away like a coward – actually had knights a great reputation and were regarded as heroes – while his loyal servant, Hans (Buddy Hackett), stabs the monster, for which the knight kills the brave fellow to avoid being denied the glory.
For filming local museums threw open their doors to supply important props. Among these was a cannon actually used by Napoleonic troops during the Napoleonic Wars, and that was fired in one of the filmed battle sequences (Prussian War of Liberation) right at the beginning of the movie.
World Premiere at New York's (New) Loew's Cinerama Theatre on Tuesday, 07 August 1962.
|A 2-page advertisement in "New York VARIETY" dated Wednesday, 11 July 1962 – "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm", the first dramatic story-telling motion picture in fabulous CINERAMA! |
Produced by George Pal and directed by Henry Levin (Director for the biographical script) – Fairytale sequences by George Pal – Screenplay by David P. Harmon, Charles Beaumont and William Roberts from a screen story by David P. Harmon, based on the book "Die Brüder Grimm" by Dr. Hermann Gerstner – Director of Photography: Paul Vogel – Musical Score / Songs: Leigh Harline, Bob Merrill – Art Directors: George W. Davis and Edward Carfagno.
The movie's official World Premiere was held in New York at the now renamed "(New) Loew's Cinerama Theatre" on Tuesday, 07 August 1962. Previously, the theatre had been closed for major reconstruction works on Wednesday, 20 June 1962. At that point in time, it was still called "Loew's Capitol Theatre".
A major feature of the newly rebuilt theatre was the huge deeply curved Cinerama screen – a 28 x10 metres (93 x 33 feet) louvered screen that covered over 3,000 square feet from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. The seating capacity was significantly reduced to 1552 from the former 3612. The side aisles in the orchestra, the last thirteen rows, half the balcony, and a third of the loge were eliminated. The three Cinerama projection booths were placed in the orchestra above the heads of the audience. The theatre's spacious lounge chairs offered comfortable leg room and an unobstructed view of the giant screen.
Two additional innovations were featured at Loew's Cinerama:
One was the "Babyrama", downstairs below the orchestra, which provided a completely furnished and professionally staffed nursery so that parents could watch the movie at rest while their small children were cared for. Its service was free, and patrons could reserve a ticket in the "Babyrama" when they purchased their regular tickets.
The second was a typical Japanese Garden which was at the entrance to the auditorium. Everything in the Garden was authentic, from the bamboo fences to the oriental stones which lined a pool. A wooden bridge led from the lobby into the auditorium and offered easy access to the patrons who wanted to stroll through the garden before and after the performance and during the intermission. Beneath the bridge, water flowed and fish swam, and cages with live songbirds hung above the heads of patrons.
All these alterations were part of a reported $17,000,000 construction program for Cinerama theatres in the United States.
(Sources: "New York Times" and "International Projectionist" from that time)
Further interesting information about this venue are available on following website.
During the period of the movie's premiere, in America, there were shown three different trailers in cinemas to excite prospective audiences: A.) an initial color announcement, B.) cross-plug trailers for regular screens (author's note: Cross-Plug trailers are graphically animated and personalized with theatre name and location, and a distinctive music soundtrack – specify "Now Showing" or "Coming Soon"), and C.), a three-strip one for Cinerama screens. (Source: "Movie Roadshows" by Kim R. Holston)
But before New York's official World Premiere there had already been a World Preview of "Brothers Grimm" at the Cooper Cinerama Theatre in Denver on Saturday, 14 July 1962, the first of three Cooper Cinerama Theatres. It had been chosen because it was the first cinema in the world designed especially for showing Cinerama productions owned by Cooper Foundation Theatres.
|The Cooper Cinerama Theatre in Denver (Colorado) was festively opened with "This is Cinerama" (USA, 1952) on Thursday, 09 March 1961. The theatre's circular top was burnt-orange prefabricated with insulated mono-panels and brightly illuminated to be visible for miles around. Base and other masonry were black Roman brick, with trim in an off-white shade. Outside patio, with lighted fountain and fireplace, opens into the foyer via floor-to ceiling glass doors. The deeply curved Cinerama screen had a size of 32 x 11,5 metres (105 x 38 feet, another source indicates a height of 36 feet), the circular curtain 51 metres (168 feet) – measured along the curve. The 814 seats were especially designed, had no legs and were mounted above the floor, with risers also serving as foot-rests. (Images from the trade magazine "Movie Marketing" from that time)|
Here further information about this venue on incinerama.com
The unique design of the theatre was a modified concept of "The Theatre of Tomorrow", created by Melvin C. Glatz of Fox Intermountain Theatres in America. There were three projection boots, one all-purpose and the others two-sided for Cinerama's three-projector system. Sound system was completely transistorized. Heating and air-conditioning were divided into four units to provide uniform temperature in all parts of the auditorium, thus eliminating over-heated balconies, chilly areas near the entrances, etc.
The advantages of the circular structure of the building were varied: 1.) Audiences feel a sense of participation not possible in rectangular-proportioned houses, 2.) waste space in ordinary theatres can be utilized here for lounge areas, and 3.) a seating build in a natural oval pattern reduces the problem with the hard-to-fill side seats at rear and close to screen. The two lounge areas on each side of the orchestra were separated from the auditorium by hanging metal screens, and there were two additional lounges above the booths, a spacious lobby and outside patio, providing maximum comfort for patrons. Kenneth E. Anderson, General Manager of Cooper Foundation Theatres, said at the time. "I have felt for a long time that the public will patronize a high class roadshow theatre in a metropolitan area such as Denver. We decided to design the theatre specifically for the three-booth Cinerama process and to engineer it in accordance with the latest Cinerama technical requirements. Through the use of the circular theatre design, we were fortunately able to accomplish all of our objectives. The public's acceptance of the theatre has been very enthusiastic." (Source: The trade magazine "Movie Marketing" from that time)
The second Cooper Cinerama Theatre was festively opened in Minneapolis / St. Louis Park (Minnesota) with "Brothers Grimm" on Wednesday, 08 August 1962, and the third, the Indian Hills Theatre in Omaha (Nebraska), 4 months later on Friday, 21 December 1962 – also with "Brothers Grimm" as opening film.
A short report about the World Preview of "Brothers Grimm" from "New York Variety" dated Wednesday, 18 July 1962:
MGM-Cinerama's 200 GD (Directorate-General) Denver Junket. 400 Journalists and Showmen Converge – Also See Central City, a Mining Burg. (Author's note: Central City is a historic mining settlement founded in 1859 during the "Pike's Peak Gold Rush" to be known as the "Richest Square Mile on Earth"). Metro-Cinerama shared a tab of about $200,000 in previewing their new story-line release "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" here. Film debuts August 07 in a number of spots.
Some 400 journalists, circuit and theatre showmen and company officials came to Denver for the advance peep. There were persons here from as far away as Japan and South America plus, of course, the releasing organizations` own contingent: Joseph R. Vogel, Nicholas Reisini, Max E. Youngstein, Robert H. Mochrie, Robert R. Weitman, Ray Klune, Maurice (Red) Silverstein, Peter Shaw, Howard Strickling and Governor Stephen L.R. McNichols of Colorado (the last one added by the author).
A couple of New York stockbrokers, bullish on Cinerama, or wondering if they should be, also made the trip for a first see. Most of the transportation was via American and United Airlines. Party was housed at Brown Palace Hotel. Curiously, or admirably, there was none of the usual confusion in handling the mob of junketeers, though all hit Denver within a couple of hours of one another on Friday (13).
The new phase in Cinerama's history did not obscure its pioneering period, or the visiting pioneers, Merian C. Cooper and Lowell Thomas. Recalled were the late inventor, Fred Waller, and the late financial promoter, Paul W. Kesten (CBS), not to mention such deceased Cinerama participants as Louis B. Mayer and Mike Todd.
Respecting the $200,000 tab, the argument is advanced that magazine and syndicate stuff will make it worthwhile. The price equivalents five color pages in LIFE.
A large group of guests went by bus Friday night to Central City. The mountain hamlet now identified summer-times with a chichi program of opera, legit and Denver society cocktail parties.
Community was returned Saturday for the showing at the new Cooper (Foundation) Theatre, first film house in the round built for the three-ply projection medium. Denver Post front-paged fact that there were more newspapermen present to see "Brothers Grimm" than had converged when President Eisenhower had his dramatic heart attack locally. (Author's note: Eisenhower had a heart attack in Denver – a coronary thrombosis – on 24 September 1955)
|At the time, the newspaper "Rocky Mountain News" (nicknamed "The Rocky") reported about the presentation. |
Here a YouTube clip about the movie's World Preview in Denver (Colorado) on Saturday, 14 July 1962.
A slightly shortened review about the movie published in "New York VARIETY" dated Wednesday, 18 July 1962:
A Metro Goldwyn Mayer-Cinerama picture produced by George Pal:
The Cinerama process has come of age as a dramatic tool with "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm". Producer George Pal demonstrates beyond question that the out-sized screen medium can open a new and exciting era in motion pictures. The novelty of seeing a story in Cinerama - 10 years after the process gave birth to five unusual, in effects, travelogue epics - should generate wide and profitable public interest in this joint MGM-Cinerama project. But there is more to "Brothers Grimm" than just its novelty and visual grandeur, and the excitement that stems from being, quite frequently, a participant in the screen action. "Grimm" is a delightful, refreshing entertainment, which takes full advantage of the ingenuity of which the film medium is capable.
Although the performers, from stars to bit players, are uniformly ingratiating - and properly nasty as occasion requires - if there is a star that shines beyond compare in this two hour and 15 minutes show (plus intermission) it is SPECIAL EFFECTS. The major Fairy Tales sequences – "The Dancing Princess", "The Cobbler and the Elves" and "The Singing Bone" – are as charming and artfully executed as anything has created by means of Special Effects in years.
Some among the group of 400-odd newsmen and exhibitors junketed, from as far away as Japan, to Denver for the special preview Saturday morning at the Cooper Theatre (first house in the world built from the ground up and around – it has a spherical shaped auditorium with 800 capacity – to accommodate Cinerama) speculated whether "Grimm" would hold as much appeal for adults as for young audiences. It would appear that the warm applause at the intermission and the fadeout title – lived happily ever after – should quiet such speculation.
While the Cinerama process now has stepped across the threshold to maturity as a story form, it still is in its 'teens technically. This is not to say that it has not progressed tremendously. It has. There are stretches of considerable length, notably in the second half of the film, when the panel lines are not noticeable at all. There are, however, times when the contrast in film projected from three individual booths is marked and there emerges three distinct and somewhat distracting "pictures". Moreover, the technicians have not yet licked the jiggle, notably in the right panel, and at this showing at least the center panel did its own dancing on a couple of occasions.
The key here may be in lighting and color composition. When there is uniform lighting and the background colors are in solid tones, e.g.: deep green, brown, black, where the three film strips join there is no separation in the picture. No doubt that with more concentrated development these continuing technical shortcomings can be licked. But these are considerations which do not figure to loom disadvantageously (not seriously anyway) as far as public acceptance goes.
Nor is it important whether or not the biographical aspects of "Brothers Grimm" are entirely according to Hermann Gerstner's "Die Brüder Grimm" whence David P. Harmon fashioned the screen story which in turn was molded into script form by Harmon, Charles Beaumont and William Roberts. Its purpose – director Henry Levin has accorded its appropriate visual interpretation – is simply to provide a bridge for the Fairy Tales sequences. Thankfully, it is a sturdy bridge, enabling the imaginative (some call him loony) Wilhelm and his more practical brother Jacob to emerge as engaging flesh and blood personalities. There is a deceitful simplicity about the skillful and remarkably balanced acting of the respective brothers by Laurence Harvey and Karl Boehm. And their sustained efforts are strongly complimented by Claire Bloom, as the understanding, but at times, irritated, wife of the story spinner.
Other important acting contributions are made by Walter Slezak, Barbara Eden, Oscar Homolka, Arnold Stang, Martita Hunt, Ian Wolfe and Wilhelm Grimm's children: Bryan Russell and Tammy Marihugh. In lesser roles, Betty Grade, Cheerio Meredith and Walter Rilla also perform effectively.
Pal himself shares directorial credit with Levin and as the producer also is responsible for directing the Fairy Tales sequences.
This traditional fairy tale of the princess in "The Dancing Princess", who finds her true love in the humble woodsman has been interestingly choreographed by Alex Romero and charmingly interpreted by Yvette Mimieux (a remarkably versatile young actress) and Russ Tamblyn. Latter also gets quite a vigorous workout as a sometimes visible, and then invisible guest, on the tail gate of a coach racing around mountain paths in a wild ride, which, for sheer visual stimulus, compares favorably with the rollercoaster thriller of "This is Cinerama". Here camera trickery is dominant and appreciation goes to cinematographer Paul C. Vogel, who, it should be added, overall does a splendid job. And these aforementioned special effect experts quartet, consisting of Gene Warren, Wah Chang, Tim Barr and Robert R. Hoag, star here, too, as well as in other sections of the movie.
As far as acting honors go, Harvey is dominant, for in addition to playing Wilhelm he also enacts, and with touching warmth offset by a trace of irascibility, the title role in "The Cobbler and the Elves". This sequence, with its Christmas setting and assortment of orphans and puppets which performs a miracle in the cobbler's shop overnight, is entirely enchanting – even though the memorable snowscapes are somewhat victimized by the division of the panels on the huge screen. Short, but effective, performances here are made by Walter Brooke, Sandra Gale Bettin and Robert Foulk. As for the puppets – they are all loveable.
Fairy tales wouldn't have lasted through the ages, of course, if they didn't at times scare the living daylight out of tots. "The Singing Bone" dealing with a titanic encounter involving a supercilious aspiring knight and his servant with a fire-spouting dragon is full of exaggerated chills and wry humor. Buddy Hackett (who reminds of the late Lou Costello) as the humble servant who finally emerges as the shining knight over his dastardly master, is enchanting. And Terry-Thomas also is excellent as the master whose cowardice ultimately stripes him of honor and glory. Otto Kruger is authoritative as the king here.
The score by Leigh Harline and the words and music by Bob Merrill to a series of songs, make very significant contributions to the total effect of "Brothers Grimm".
Also, while Special Effects were singled out, that would not have been as effective if not appropriately complemented by the art direction contributions of George W. Davis and Edward Carfango, supplemented by the set decoration by Henry Grace and Richard "Dick" Pefferle. Film editor Walter Thompson, in collaboration with directors Levin and Pal, also figured importantly in determining the pace of the film.
The movie's producer, George Pal, has created an enchanting world in "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm", a pictorial world which is a trailblazer in the annals of motion picture history, commercially and artistically. (Pry)
The Movie's Festive European Premiere
|NOW LONDON BECOMES THE FIRST CITY IN THE WORLD TO HAVE TWO THEATRES EXCUSIVELY FOR CINERAMA PRESENTATIONS! Premiere advert in the British Trade Magazine "Films and Filming" dated July 1963, and on the right side: Russ Tamblyn (the Woodsman in the "The Dancing Princess") and his wife at the European premiere of "Brothers Grimm" – below: Movie announcements. (Images from the author's collection)|
It took place at London's new Coliseum Cinerama Theatre on Monday, 15 July 1963. Princess Margaret, Lord Snowdon, Nicolas Reisini (President of Cinerama, Inc.) and William R. Forman (Founder of the Pacific Theatres Chain) attended the festive event.
The vintage theatre (not really a movie theatre – more an Opera House or Musical Theatre) was taken over by CINERAMA, Inc. for the installation of a giant Cinerama screen (size 27,5 x 8,5 metres (90 x 28 feet) – measured along the curve). It was festively reopened as Coliseum Cinerama Theatre with "Brothers Grimm" on Monday, 15 July 1963. Already in advance, MGM had taken a lease on the house using it as cinema from 06 June 1961 till 19 May 1963.
From "The Times" dated 24 April 1963: "The Coliseum Theatre is to become London's second Cinerama cinema. The theatre, which became a cinema in 1961, will be converted for Cinerama after Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's lease expires next month, and will reopen early in July with `The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm´."
incinerama.com gives interesting information about the Cinerama theatre:
"Brothers Grimm" was followed by Stanley Kramer's "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (USA, 1963) which had its UK Premiere (also European) in single strip 70mm Cinerama on Monday, 02 December 1963. Prior to the premiere, the Cinerama theatre had been closed for some days in order to install the 70mm Cinerama projection process – then the first in Europe. After a revival of Michel Todd's "Around the World in 80 Days"(USA, 1956) – now in 70mm – the movie venue in this theatre was removed in early June 1968.
Today, the London Coliseum Theatre is an Opera House. Use following link in order to get information about the house's history.
Premiere in France
|A French vinyl 7" record of some themes from the film music (easy-listening versions) interpreted by MGM Records artist David Rose and his Orchestra, above right: The original French souvenir programme, and below: An information about the movie's premiere date at the "Empire (Abel Gance) Cinérama Théâtre" (from "La Cinématographie Francaise" of that time).|
The movie, now renamed "Les Amours Enchantées" (Enchanted Amours), debuted at the "Empire (Abel Gance) Cinérama Théâtre" in Paris on Tuesday, 17 September 1963. It ran there until mid-December 1963. At the time, the Empire Theatre was the most expensive cinema in France.
There was a re-run of "Brothers Grimm" at the Empire Theatre in the time period from 22.03.1972 till 08.06.1972. If you have a glance at the movie`s posters from that time you will notice that there later existed a second title, namely: "Les Merveilleux Contes de Grimm" (The Wonderful Fairy Tales by the Grimms). The IMDb even gives another title version: "Le Monde Merveilleux des Contes de Grimm" (The Wonderful World of Fairy Tales by the Grimms). The movie's 3 fairy tales in French: "La Princesse qui dansait", "Le Savetier et les Elfes" and "L´Os qui chantait".
Premiere in Germany
|A German Premiere advertisement and a scene photo taken in the castle garden of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. (Image from the then MGM Press Archive)|
It took place under the auspices of the Senator for Science and Art, Dr. Adolf Arndt, at Berlin's Cinerama "Capitol-Theater" on Thursday, 19 September 1963.
In some of the adverts appeared following slogan: "So großartig wurden Märchen noch nie erzählt!" (Fairy Tales have never been so magnificently told!). The movie ran at the "Capitol" for nearly 14 weeks. In the premiere advert you can also see a scene of the movie showing Jacob Grimm (Karlheinz Böhm) – "may I kiss you?" – and Greta Heinrich (Barbara Eden). Greta, the charming visitor from Berlin, manages, temporarily at least, to turn Jacob's mind from work to romance.
From today's perspective, the German word "Gebrüder" (see advert) is an old-fashioned plural word of the word "Brüder" (brothers) – although, in connection with this old story, it may sound more popular. In today's parlance, the word "Brüder" is preferred and the movie's title is often "Die Wunderwelt der Brüder Grimm".
Headline suggestions for the German premiere – one of the most important advertising tools in your arsenal when it comes to inserts and front-of-house design:
The lives and loves of two famous Germans, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, as you've never seen them before!
The sensational rise of two men from middle-class anonymity to world fame at the height of world literature!
With the same intensity that the camera uses to penetrate the lairs of the fairy-tale figures, this film reveals the eventful lives of two unforgettable men to an audience of millions – the lives and works of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm!
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm conquer the big screen!
The roles of the two famous German writers, whose immortal works have been translated into more than 50 languages, are played by world-famous stars!
A magical colour film about the lives of the two great storytellers – Laurence Harvey as Wilhelm Grimm, Claire Bloom as his wife Dorothea, Karlheinz Böhm as Jacob Grimm; Walter Slezak, Russ Tamblyn, Yvette Mimieux and many more stars of the silver screen!
The creators of stories that have been read and loved by millions – from Cape Town to Hammerfest and from Tokyo to San Francisco – are brought back to life in colour on the big screen!
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm – their lives and works! A two-hour journey back in time with the fascinating brothers, showing the audience how their lives – with all the highs and lows –inspired the immortal works that captured the whole world's imagination!
|"Brothers Grimm" at Hamburg's Cinerama "Grindel-Filmtheater" in April 1964. The most beautiful stories told in Cinerama! (Image from the author's collection) |
A short, well-written review about the movie taken from the trade magazine "Filmecho / Filmwoche", No. 78, dated 28 September 1963:
Production: Metro Goldwyn Mayer and Cinerama (USA, 1962); Distributor: MGM / Deutsche Cinerama, length: 3780 m, running time: 138 Minutes, German Premiere: 19.09.1963.
Anyone who is intending on enjoying this film, whether as a member of the paying public or as a critic, will have to come to terms with the fact that Americans have their own way of making films about German fairy tales. So when they, with their extensive entourage, made their way to Germany, to Hansel and Gretel's woods and to the castles of enchanted sleeping princesses, they only came in search of the outside world's perception of German romanticism, plus whatever could be negotiated with the German tourism industry to raise a profit. They had no other interest in Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. They needed them to be exceedingly likeable men – one of them (Karlheinz Böhm) scholarly and the other (Laurence Harvey) dreamier than his brother – who shared tales and brought them together in books for children all around the world. The fact that they, along with five other academics, were driven out of Göttingen by the King of Hannover because their liberal ideas posed a threat to the monarchy wasn't worth mentioning because it didn't really fit into the world of cinema.
|A German movie poster. On the right: An Austrian programme "Neues Film-Programm" (No. 4157 / 4 pages). |
The people from Cinerama had a thorough look around beautiful Germany, and had more of an eye for mountains, forests, castles and sleepy urban niches than many a German film producer. On this occasion, for the ever-effective thrill of a breakneck descent, they chose winding woodland tracks, every bit as exciting as high jinks on a rollercoaster.
Three tales are told during the course of the film. They're not the best known, since Walt Disney had already made those into full-length features¬ – (author's note: Do not forget the beautiful fairy tale film adaptations by the Deutsche Film AG (DEFA) or a lot of other European productions). The most endearing is the tale of the princess, and the 'most American' is the one about the elves – not only because of the house inscriptions in English, but more than anything because of the overly generous serving of Christmas sentimentality.
Parts of the dragon episode, spiced up with technical refinements, give the impression that Cervantes was more in mind here than the Brothers Grimm. (Georg Herzberg)
The German Federal Archive provides on its website a newsreel ("Ufa-Film", No. 277) from 1961. Here you can watch a short clip about the movie's filming at Neuschwanstein Castle – "The Dancing Princess". Watch from 0:04:38.
|Once upon a time – Hamburg's "Grindel-Filmtheater" in all its wonderful widescreen glory. The deeply curved, louvered Cinerama screen had a size of 27 x 10 metres (89 x 33 feet) – measured along the curve. It consisted of 3000 louvers, each 1,8 cm wide, overlapping to 50 percent – so, 0,9 cm x 3000 = 2700 cm (= 27 metres). Image from the author's collection.|
A roadshow presentation: Excitement spread amongst the cinema audience when the advertisements finished and the curtain closed for the start of the advertised feature film. The cinema lights were slowly dimmed down to the spotlights that were responsible for the curtain lighting. The cinemagoers were then enveloped by the festive sounds of the film’s overture. In some cinemas of the time, including the "Grindel" cinema in Hamburg, the colour of the curtain lighting was also changed. At the end of the overture, the entire auditorium was plunged into darkness. The curtains opened very slowly and the first thing that could be seen was the film studio’s logo – never before had anyone been presented with the entire white screen without the film being projected onto it.
The curtain would doubtlessly have softened the sounds of the overture somewhat. Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins solved the problem with their film "West Side Story" (USA, 1961) by allowing the music to play with the curtains open and with a special overture film shown with changing colours – as was similarly the case some years later with George Cukor’s film "My Fair Lady" (USA, 1964) with a small sequence of flower pictures. Films with Road Show character were also shown with an Intermission, an Entr’acte for the second part and often with an Exit Music. Towards the Intermission's end, the patrons were requested to return to their seats by gong, chimes or bell and the flashing of the lobby and lounge lights. This all contributed to turning a visit to the cinema into a truly festive occasion.
|Premiere advertisement of "Brothers Grimm" at Hamburg's Cinerama "Grindel-Filmtheater". It took place on Thursday, 23 April 1964 – today festive premiere at 20.00 pm – a movie for you and the whole family: Romantic, adventurous, exciting – on the gigantic Cinerama screen. Below: Diverse advertisements about all 3-strip movies that were shown at this venue. "Search for Paradise" (USA, 1957) and "The Best of Cinerama" (USA, 1962) were not performed there.|
Here a list of the movies and their screening dates:
A.) "Windjammer: The Voyage of the Christian Radich" (USA, 1958) from 15.03.1960 till 19.05.1960, presented by M.C.S. Film KG (Munich), advertised "in Cinemiracle" – from 08.06.1962 till 10.09.1962, presented by Deutsche Cinerama GmbH (Munich), advertised "in Cinemiracle" / Screen size: 20 by 9 meters (most likely a slightly curved screen)
B.) "Seven Wonders of the World" (USA, 1956) from 22.09.1960 till 22.12.1960 – from 25.08.1961 till 27.09.1961, and from 15.12.1961 till 21.12 1961, presented by Deutsche Cinerama GmbH (Munich) / Screen size 20 by 9 meters (most likely a slightly curved screen)
C.) "South Seas Adventure" (USA, 1958) from 12.05.1961 till 24.08.1961, presented by Deutsche Cinerama GmbH (Munich) / Screen size 20 by 9 meters (most likely a slightly curved screen)
D.) "Cinerama Holiday" (USA, 1955) from 29.09.1961 till 14.12.1961, presented by Deutsche Cinerama GmbH (Munich) / Screen size 20 by 9 meters (most likely a slightly curved screen)
In January 1963, conversion into a theatre with a deeply curved, louvered Cinerama screen.
E.) "How the West Was Won" (USA, 1962) from 01.02.1963 till 15.12.1963, presented by MGM and Deutsche Cinerama GmbH (Munich) / Screen size 27 by 10 meters (original deeply curved, louvered Cinerama screen, measured along the curve)
F.) "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" (USA, 1962) from 23.04.1964 till 04.06.1964, presented by MGM and Deutsche Cinerama GmbH (Munich) / Screen size 27 by 10 meters (original deeply curved, louvered Cinerama screen, measured along the curve)
The Cinerama camera had to go through many adventures during the filming of "Brothers Grimm" – Information taken from the movie's hardcover Roadshow Book:
1 – it was mounted inside a "drum" and rolled down a hill to simulate the gyrating universe as seen in the movie through the eyes of Russ Tamblyn,
2 – it was mounted on a sled to absorb the shock when driving on the cobbled streets,
3 – it was strapped upside down beneath a coach where it caught the thundering hoofs of a team of spirited horses,
4 – it was bolted to the helm of an ancient paddle-wheeler and dipped its eyes in the Rhine River,
5 – it was mounted on a thirty-foot scaffolding inside the famous Regensburg Cathedral,
6 – it was strapped to a swing where it sailed back and forth above the snapping jaws of a dragon,
7 – it was mounted on a platform slung beneath a helicopter where it floated over the famous Rhine River Valley.
|Author's note: The movie “This Is Cinerama” (USA, 1952) was also not shown at the "The Grindel Filmtheater".|
"Brothers Grimm" at the "Cinerama-Europa-Palast" in Essen
|The Cinerama theatre, located in Essen (North Rhine-Westphalia) on Viehofer Straße 38-52, opened with the 3-strip movie "How the West Was Won" (USA, 1962) in 1963. It had an impressive deeply curved, louvered screen with a size of 27 x 10 metres (89 x 33 feet – measured along the curve – the same size as in the "Grindel-Filmtheater"). The venue was closed start of the 1990s. Today, the building houses a large nightclub with the name "Essence". (Images courtesy of Franz Bläsen)|
Franz Bläsen, who later took over the management of the theatre, tells a funny anecdote that describes a matinee of the film "How the West Was Won":
During the screening, a group of about 30 cinemagoers gathered in the foyer and wished to complain – the realism of the film screening absolutely should have been made clear to them in advance. During the rafting scene in the swirling rapids of a river in the movie's first part, they were sprayed from above with a fine jet of water emanating from the left front of the stage area.
The showing was interrupted and the supply from a broken water pipeline on the ceiling of the auditorium could be stopped. "How the West Was Won" continued, but no longer quite so realistically.
Elves in 3-Strip Cinerama
|A picture that shows the five elves in the fairy tale "The Cobbler and the Elves". The company "Project Unlimited", a completely independent little film studio, had handled most of the special effects. The elves and also the dragon in the movie were sculptured by Wah Chang. The animation was performed, among others, by Don Sahlin, Jim Danforth and David Pal, son of George Pal. It took four months to complete the sequence. The word is that one of the five elves – in the image the second from right – had previously also been used for George Pal's movie "Tom Thumb" (UK / USA, 1958) where it acted as "The Yawning Man". (Image from the then MGM Press Archive)|
George Pal himself had directed the movie's three fairy-tale episodes
Between 1939 and 1948 George Pal (1908 – 1980), the Hungarian-born American animator and film producer – also associated with the science fiction genre – created not less than 40 Puppetoon short movies. Seven of these films have been nominated for an Academy Award. In 1944, he got an honorary Oscar (a plaque) for "the development of novel methods and techniques in the production of short subjects known as Puppetoons". In 1960, he was honored with a Star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood (located on 1720 Vine St.).
Excerpts from an interesting article "Puppetoons in Three Panels" by Roy Frumkes and Neil Gader which was once published in the trade magazine "The Perfect Vision":
Critics and audiences of the day overlooked Pal's benchmark experimental use of animation effects in the three-panel CINERAMA process. These were handled by Project Unlimited – a company formed in 1958 by Wah Chang (known for his superb animation model sculptures) and Gene Warren. During his many years of partnership with Gene Warren, Wah Chang found time to create headdresses for Elizabeth Taylor in "Cleopatra" (UK / USA / Switzerland, 1963), and also numerous three-quarter scale, flexible foam soldiers and horses for "Spartacus" (USA, 1960), used as forced perspective to make the aftermath of the final battle more impressive.
Before Project Unlimited was dissolved in 1966, they created the effects for a series of Pal's feature productions, including "Tom Thumb" (UK / USA, 1958), "The Time Machine" (USA, 1960), "Atlantis, the Lost Continent" (USA, 1961) and "7 Faces of Dr. Lao" (USA, 1964). For "Brothers Grimm" they did animation for all three fairy-tale sequences: "The Dancing Princess", where a potted flower nods off after a sleeping potion is tossed its way, "The Cobbler and the Elves", where, in a flurry of late night activity, a team of elves comes to the rescue of a kindly old cobbler, and "The Singing Bone", where a dragon tries noshing on Buddy Hackett.
|The kindly old cobbler, played by the here hardly recognizable Laurence Harvey, with his five elves. (Image from the then MGM Press Archive) |
Pal's models had interchangeable wooden heads – as many as 30 – to form dialogue. Wah Chang said about the making of "The Cobbler and the Elves": "The only multiple masks were in the elves sequences. There might be as many as 20 to 30 different faces. The puppet was designed so that the eyes remain with the head and the masks have holes through which you can see the eyes, that way you can animate the eyes. The masks were a series of wax casts that all came out the same, and then I would modify them to either laugh, smile, or say the different vowels. There would be a mask (head) for the "A", a mask for the "E", a mask for the "O" or "M", and one would follow the exposure sheet and put on the proper mask for the dialogue. The sound, of course, is always recorded first and then the animation is done to the soundtrack. There was a certain amount of freedom the animators had in animating the dragon, because it wasn't tied down to any lyrics, whereas in the elf sequence every frame had to be noted and every facial animate had to be in synch with the singing of the song. And all of that is determined by the director, who in this case was me. So you had to mark down on the exposure sheet exactly what face mask had to be put on, what the elf had to be doing whether it was hammering a nail, gluing a sole on a shoe, or whatever."
Predictably, the already ponderous filmmaking process was slowed down even further by the complications of three-panel photography. While the animators only used a Cinerama camera twice – for a Laurence Harvey dream sequence (edited out of the finished movie), and to shoot titles for the American and foreign versions of the film – they nevertheless hat to create the three panels by shooting one panel at a time using a single Acme / Photosonics camera on a special rig that duplicated the three focal points of the Cinerama lenses.
Jim Danforth, a three-dimensional stop-motion animator who had previously also worked with Project Unlimited on "The Time Machine" (USA, 1960) or "Jack the Giant Killer" (USA, 1962) gave following information:
"For the animation, because we had different problems, such as needing different focal length lenses, they had one camera on a rack over base. The camera basically pivoted on the nodal point of the lens and it had ratchets or stops for the three positions (author's note: Meaning the three different angles for the Cinerama 3-strip process).
The base was like a large piece of pie made out of aluminum that was horizontal and parallel to the ground. The front of the wedge of pie would be where the pivot was. The back of the aluminum base had three holes drilled into it. The camera was on a bar that would pivot at the point of the pie wedge. And at the back end there was a trigger with a pistol-grip handle. You could pull back on the lever, pull the pin out, and the pin would drop into one of the three holes in the back. It would lock into position A, B or C – so we would shoot sequential frames of animation: A-, B- and C-panel."
|Don Sahlin animating the elves, and right side: A box with a set of head masks made of wax for various mouth movements (images by Wah Chang taken from the article "Puppetoons in Three Panels").|
Gene Warren added: "The only technical problem was the lining up of the three views. We learned quite early how to compensate for the fact that the axis was so radically different in each one of the viewpoints. We had to try to compensate in the way we made the set. We couldn't just construct a long, continuous horizontal line, e.g., on that elf shelf and then photograph it in the three radical positions and expect it to look anywhere near normal. But the interesting thing is that you lose your awareness of that strange non-alignment of the horizon, because the scope of the screen was such that you really couldn't take everything in from one position.
The human eye is capable of very wide peripheral vision, but, comprehensively, you really don't have that same width. So you would find yourself moving slightly from left to right to whatever grabbed your attention. A lot of the action was planned that way – you´d watch the left-hand frame because of some interesting action, unaware that the horizontals were not matching."
The so-called "dailies", the traditional projected viewing of the previous day's filming, became something of a misnomer for the Project Unlimited team. They could either wait a few days until the frames (author's note: Stop-motion is nothing but a series of still frames) were optically skipped out at MGM's optical department and view all three panels, or they could do some creative splicing and preview the individual panels on a Moviola (a film viewer) and then send the approved material over to MGM.
Since it was more efficient to know immediately whether the shot was usable they opted for the Moviola. Chang remembered the difficulties of this part of the animation process: "Viewing dailies posed the biggest problem for us as far as using Cinerama. We had an editor take every third frame, splice it together, and then run it through a Moviola, which was bad because with every frame spliced it is more difficult to view. And then you have to consider that you´re only looking at a third of the picture at a time and hoping that it fits in with the next strip."
Interesting information about Don Sahlin and his work.
On Roland Lataille's website incinerama.com you can see images showing the shooting with the Acme / Photosonics camera.
The Movie's jewel-encrusted Dragon
|The Dragon in the movie and in July 2004 as it looked when going up on an auction. Images on the right side: The Dragon 5 years later, meanwhile in a disintegrated condition, offered and sold at "liveauctioneers". The auction started there on 01 May 2009 (Hollywood Auction 36 – images and information are taken from the attached web-links). |
Note the little model figure of Buddy Hackett on the dragon's neck in the little picture above. The dragon, measuring 33 inches (84 cm) long x 17,5 inches (44,5 cm) high, was purpose built and was also used for the detailed close-up shots of the dragon's head as he fought with Hans (played by Buddy Hackett) in the film's "The Singing Bone" sequence. The dragon was designed by Wha Chang and Bill Brace and was animated by Jim Danforth. At the time, Jim became one of the industries leading stop-motion animators. For those times, without Computer-generated imagery, the dragon effects are well done – except perhaps for one thing: The fire of the dragon gives the impression as if they had used strips of colored paper.
The neck and the head exhibit steel ball and socket construction for articulation, whereas the remainder of the body is created of heavy gauge steel wire. The latex foam of the Wah Chang-sculpted body has understandably hardened over time and all the jewels have since fallen off the dragon's skin. The fact that this has survived at all can be regarded as an exceptional case. Most of such miniatures were stripped down following the productions and parts cannibalized for use in other applications.
Author's note: In the 1990s, I owned a wonderful limited STAR WARS "Yoda" figure also made of latex foam. In the course of the years it unfortunately also got small cracks and crumbled and looked terrible at the end.
The Music by Leigh Harline and Bob Merrill
|The Deluxe Box Album (MGM 1E3 – with voices from the Original Soundtrack) with the movie's hardcover souvenir brochure (36 pages) and here additionally added the German softcover brochure (16 pages) – all from the author's collection. It is a spoken-word (Storybook) album which is more suitable for children. Below left: Leigh Harline (1907 – 1969) and below right: Bob Merrill (1921 – 1998). |
MGM-Records proudly presents the thrilling album of music and stories of the film "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm"! – Packaged in a Deluxe Box Album with full-color, hard-cover Souvenir Book of the film included.
About the Album: The songs by Bob Merrill were especially adapted for this album by Gus Levene, who also conducted the orchestra. David P. Harmon, who wrote the screen story, also wrote for the LP the narration for Charles Ruggles and directed the recording. The album was produced by Jesse Kaye.
Two renowned composers worked on the music project: Bob Merrill (an American songwriter, theatrical composer, lyricist and screenwriter) penned words and music for the four songs: "Ah-oom", "Christmas Land", the humorous "Dee-Are-A-Gee-O-En" and "The Dancing Princess". He also contributed following themes: "Gypsy Fire", "Above the Stars" and the movie's main theme "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm". The music for "The Singing Bone" was also written by him with words by Charles Beaumont.
With his score added Leigh Harline a new highlight to his career, which had begun at Walt Disney Studios start of the 1930s, where he had composed and arranged the scores for more than 50 short films, including for the "Silly Symphonies" cartoon series.
He became famous for his songs for Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (USA, 1937) and his Oscar-winning score for Disney's "Pinocchio" (USA, 1940), which also included the "When You Wish Upon a Star" for which he also won an Oscar and which he shared with Ned Washington.
For the recording of Brothers Grimm's musical score appeared with the MGM-Symphony Orchestra Ruth Welcome (1918 – 2005), a professional German-American zither player and recording artist for Capitol Records. Miss Welcome learned the instrument as a child in Freiburg in the Black Forest country of Germany and in Basle, Switzerland. (Sources: Among others the hardcover souvenir brochure)
For special roadshow engagements, the movie had been additionally equipped with an Overture, an Entr´acte and an Exit Music. Cinerama's 7-Channel Surround Sound ran in the projection room from a 35mm magnetic tape via a special sound dubber that was electrically interlocked with the three projectors. It ran at the same speed as the 3-strip movie at about 135 feet (41 metres) per minute – a standard film (35mm) runs at 90 feet (27,4 metres) per minute.
In March 2010, the American soundtrack label "Film Score Monthly" (Lukas Kendall) in Los Angeles released the movie's score on a double CD Album (Vol. 13 / No. 4 / Silver Age). So, for many film music lovers a long awaited wish, also the author's, came into fulfillment.
Here is a suite from the Oscar-nominated score by Leigh Harline – one word of warning: Some of the themes are catchy tunes and you will find yourself humming them for a while.
Some Thoughts about the Movie
|It is commendable that the Americans have attempted with this film to build a monument in CINERAMA to the two German linguists Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The biographies of these two brothers, which are employed as a frame story around the three fairy tales told in the film, are however fabulously idealised, recognisably simplified, and also recounted with a touch of naivety and kitsch. It must also be borne in mind that this lovingly made film, with a lot of impressive shots of country, ancient German castles and towns, was intended to be watched by children. And it has ultimately become a children's film or also a film for adults who are still young at heart. From today’s perspective, it may be considered old-fashioned and a curiosity, and perhaps worth seeing just for that reason. I remember an advert from 16 May 1960 (see image) for the Cinemiracle film "Windjammer" (USA, 1958) which says: "Your last chance to see this clean and technically extraordinary film!" These two qualities also apply to "Brothers Grimm".|
In the film, the Grimm family children are named Friedrich and Pauline; in real life, however, they were Herman (or Rudolf) and Auguste.
The contents of the fairy tales were also modified from how they are found in the original Children’s and Household Tales – certainly to make them easier to film, shorter, and perhaps also with a view to enhancing their entertainment value. Here are just some of the marked differences:
A) "The Dancing Princess" – the original tale (KHM 133) tells of 12 daughters who dance their shoes at night to pieces in an underground and brightly lit castle. The film features just one princess who dances at night in a gypsy camp in the woods.
B) "The Cobbler and the Elves" – in the original (KHM 39), there are two little naked dwarfs who perform the cobbling work over several nights around Christmas time and who disappear forever after they are given clothing as a thank you gift. In the film, there are five clothed elves who were carved by the cobbler. They carry out the work in the night before Christmas Eve and are then given to five orphans as a Christmas gift from the cobbler.
C) "The Singing Bone" – the original version (KHM 28) tells of two brothers who fight a wild boar. One kills the boar and in turn is killed by his brother in a fit of greed and vanity. When this gets out through a "singing bone", which has emerged from the bones of the dead brother, the murderer is sewn into a sack and drowned as punishment. The film, by contrast, tells of a knight and his servant who both fight a dragon. Here the servant is killed by the knight, driven by the same motives. In the film, the truth also comes to light through the singing bone. The film-makers now delete a further cruelty to the tale. The singing bone falls to the ground, from which the murdered servant springs and comes back to life. The knight is no longer sewn into a sack and drowned, but must serve his own former servant, now `Sir Hans the Dragonkiller´, for evermore.
It must be added here that fairy tales belong to a literary genre in which miracles are a given. They are freely invented, and their plots are set in neither a fixed time nor place.
During his lifetime, Wilhelm Grimm changed the details of his stories here and there in an attempt to remove a little of the cruelty and sexual innuendo from them. Nevertheless, the violence in his tales was, and remains, controversial.
In terms of typical Cinerama effects, the film keeps within limits. It is above all in "The Dancing Princess", with its hectic carriage ride down tortuous forest paths, where all the usual Cinerama widescreen camera tricks are used in order to keep the audience truly captivated. There is also an impressive effect in "The Singing Bone" sequence, in which Buddy Hackett swings back and forth, to dizzying effect, on a rope over the cave occupied by the dragon. In the fairy tale sequence "The Cobbler and the Elves", the close-ups of the sweet elves have quite the opposite effect. Close-ups were always a problem for Cinerama.
Raymond Durgnat wrote in his August 1963 film review of "Brothers Grimm" for the English trade magazine "Films and Filming": "Cinerama visuals sustain a mild interest … I´ve never known the Cinerama screen to seem so small … people take their sense of screen size from the size of the human beings on the screen, and Cinerama close-ups diminish Cinerama."
Sol A. Schwartz, President of RKO Pictures, once said about Cinerama: "I, too, am enthusiastic about Cinerama, but I am not quite sure yet how Cinerama can be adapted for dramatic material and how you can launch intimate plays, considering the oversize screen."
The 3-strip Cinerama era came with the two films "How the West Was Won" and "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" to an end. Audiences favoured the great Western film with its adventurous plot and impressive panoramic images (open vistas). "Brothers Grimm" is more an intimate, pleasant story. Gene Warren from Project Unlimited said in an interview (written in the article "Puppetoons in Three Panels"): "Grimm would have been much more dynamic had it been done in a single frame. We would have timed it differently, and shot it differently. I think it was an unfavourable mix of film format and subject."
Original Cinerama was eventually ditched in favor of 70mm.
3-strip Cinerama made both filming and projection too complicated and too expensive for it to survive. Film-makers switched to 70mm film with its 6-Channel Magnetic Surround Sound printed on the film, using a special projection lens in order to achieve at least a similar if not quite so powerful effect (however without seams) on the big deeply curved Cinerama screen.
This was also called Cinerama, which in comparison to the 3-strip system with its special SEP MAG (Separated Magnetic) 7-Channel Surround Sound was of course not entirely accurate.
I will soon find myself in the "bonus section" of my life – but I can report with a certain sense of pride that I had watched "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" at the age of 12 in 3-strip Cinerama at Hamburg's impressive "Grindel-Filmtheater". More information about the film can be found in the attached image gallery and, of course, in the numerous web-links.
A Plaque and the Family Plot of the Grimms
|The Berlin Memorial Plaque, and above right side: The house "Huth" with the plaque below left. In the image below you can see the Family Plot of the Grimms – now new with Auguste's grave leftmost. (All photos are taken by the author)|
The plaque is mounted on the back of the listed house (Weinhaus / Winehouse) "Huth" which is located on the "Alte Potsdamer Straße No. 5" – near "Potsdamer Platz". The final resting place of the two famous Germans is at the cemetery "Alter St. Matthäus-Friedhof" (Old St. Matthew's Cemetery) located in Berlin-Schöneberg.
On the plaque, made by the Royal Porcelain Factory (KPM) in Berlin, is written following text: "BERLIN MEMORIAL PLAQUE – here, opposite, in the house Linkestraße 7, lived and worked the Brothers Grimm from 1847 until their death. Both were among the pioneers of a united German Nation. Their life's works include the German dictionary and the publication of the famous Children's and Household Tales. The Brothers Grimm are regarded as the founders of modern German language and literature."
The cemetery "Alter St. Matthäus-Friedhof" (Old St. Matthew's Cemetery) is one of Berlin's most important cemeteries in terms of art history and urban history and is celebrating this year its 160th Anniversary. These five stones mark the graves of the Grimms – an honor burial place of the city of Berlin.
The family plot – from left to right:
A.) Finally, after 97 years, Auguste Grimm, Wilhelm's daughter, born on 21 August 1832, died on 09 February 1919, has now been given an own grave (inaugurated in June 2016). Previously, in 1919, her urn had been buried in Wilhelm's grave – however without any inscription about her on Wilhelm's grave stone,
B.) Herman Grimm, Wilhelm's son, born on 06 January 1828, died on 16 June 1901, "Lux Aeterna Luceat Eis" (may light eternal shine upon them),
C.) Rudolf Grimm, Wilhelm's son, born on 31 March 1830, died on 13 November 1889, "Beati Mundo Corde" (blessed are the pure in heart),
D.) Wilhelm Grimm, born on 24 February 1786, died on 16 December 1859,
E.) Jacob Grimm, born on 04 January 1785, died on 20 September 1863.
Wilhelm's wife, Henriette Dorothea "Dortchen" Grimm (née Wild), born on 23 May 1793, died on 22 August 1867, was buried at the "Alter Friedhof" (Old Cemetery) in Eisenach. The tomb was costly restored in 2009 / 2010.
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