C.M. Wolthuis, born 1940, has been a fan of 70mm since his early teens.
Todd-AO made a huge impact on him in 1957, and ever since he has been an
advocate of the classic 70mm format. In this text he is reminiscing about
the large format films he saw during 15 years until the early 1970s. Johan
is seen here at the Todd-AO Festival, 2016. Picture By Thomas Hauerslev
In June 1957 I was on holiday in the Dutch
city The Hague on the coast of the North Sea.
One day I saw an announcement on a billboard saying:
During the Holland Festival (and
Filmweek The Hague 1957) the Philips Company will give a demonstration
of their new 70mm projector. The announcement said: Kurhaus Cabaret
Scheveningen from 14 till 23 June: "HET WONDER VAN TODD-AO" ("The Miracle
of Todd-AO"). A film demonstration of revolutionary significance. Curved
screen along the whole width of the auditorium. Film width 70mm.
Stereophonic sound. Equipment especially placed by Philips.
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I was triggered by the announcement, being
a fan of CinemaScope films like "Trapeze" (1956), with Burt Lancaster, Tony
Curtis and Gina Lollobrigida making her debut in American films, "Rose
Marie" (1954), the first CinemaScope film from MGM, "Et Dieu crea la Femme", (1957), with Brigitte Bardot dancing the famous Mambo dance,
"How To Marry A
Millionaire", with Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall and
in the Sun" (1957), with Harry Belafonte singing my famous title song This is
my Island in the Sun, where my people have toiled since time begun.
So I decided of course to visit the 70mm demonstration and it was really
overwhelming what I saw there: a 70mm film on a large slightly curved screen
from wall to wall and from floor to ceiling in this special equipped theatre
for this ten days event. They screened one reel of "Oklahoma!" and the
“The Miracle of Todd-AO”. I had never seen anything like it, such a
sharp image and also on such a large screen!
Later that same year in August I saw the complete version of the musical
"Oklahoma!" in the 35mm CinemaScope version. And in December 1957 in
Amsterdam the 35mm print of
Mike Todd's "Around the
World in 80 Days".
He had rented the Amsterdam Nöggerath Cinema for one year to screen his film
exclusively only there. He had it equipped with a large slightly curved
screen so it looked like 70mm projection. The film there was such a success
that it ran some more months after one year.
But the next year was the year of the famous Expo World Fair 1958 in
Brussels. I visited it for one week and saw:
• "The American Horizon" in Circarama 11x 16mm projection. Another amazing
• "Vaste est mon Pays", the Russian version of Cinerama: Kinopanorama 3 x 35mm
in the Russian pavilion!
• "This is Cinerama" and
of the World" in a special built cinema for
the Expo with 3 x 35mm projection on a great curved screen.
I was really
surprised to see all these beautiful movies in one week. However I did not
realise what an influence it should have in my later life.
But the surprises went on, in September of the same year I visited the
famous Photokina exhibition in Cologne in Germany and saw Cinetarium, a 35mm
projection on the bottom of a silver ball, that resulted in a 360 degrees
projection around you. It was surprising but has not been released further.
Then in 1960 in July was the opening of the Scala Cinerama in Rotterdam and
I hurried to see "This is Cinerama", which I had seen already in Brussels.
That same year in August another cinema in The Netherlands (Parade in Den
Bosch) had been equipped with the Philips DP70 and they screened "The Miracle
of Todd-AO" in 70mm and "The Miracle of Stereophonic Sound" a very nice 35mm
CinemaScope short. And the year went on: in October I saw "Can-Can" in Asta
The Hague, also just equipped with the Philips DP70 projectors.
And in December in Metropole The Hague: "Ben-Hur", In Luxor Nijmegen:
Miracle of Todd-AO" and in December I visited Paris and saw in the Ambassade
"The Alamo" in 70mm! What a year, but of course I thought it was normal to see
so many 70mm presentations.
1961 was another great 70mm year in The Netherlands: in Vreeburg Utrecht:
"Can-Can" for the second time. In Cinerama Rotterdam: "Seven Wonders of the World",
which has now become my favourite Cinerama movie! In April I visited DuMidi
Amsterdam for "Spartacus" in 70mm. Then Corso Rotterdam, a beautiful cinema,
especially rebuilt for 70mm: "Porgy and Bess". Back to Luxor Nijmegen to
watch "South Pacific" in Todd-AO and in August I visited the Casino Cinerama
in London for "Search for Paradise" and Astoria, London for
"Exodus" in 70mm.
Then back to The Netherlands for "Cinerama Holiday" in the
and finally the Russian 70mm movie "Story of the Flaming Years" in the Parade 70mm Cinema
in Den Bosch.
Next year 1962 I visited "El
Cid" in 70mm in Flora Amsterdam and travelled in June again to
London to see "Seven Wonders of the World" again and again in the
Casino Cinerama and "South Pacific" in the famous Dominion theatre
where it has been screened for 5 years. I should like to know how many 70mm
prints they have used in those 5 years? Then back to The Netherlands for
"West Side Story" in 70mm in
Grand Rotterdam on one of the last days of December .
In 1963 I visited again Cinerama Rotterdam for "South Seas Adventure"
and another day "Porgy and Bess" for the second time in the beautiful
Corso 70mm Cinema also in Rotterdam. In September of that same year
“The Wonderful World of the
Brothers Grimm" in the
Empire Cinerama in
Paris and back at home
"55 Days at Peking" in the 70mm cinema Luxor Nijmegen. In 1964 again
to London (!) where I visited the unique
Circlorama 360 degrees
cinema on Piccadilly Circus. It was the Russian version of Disney’s
Circarama with a twenty minute travel film: "Russian Roundabout". And
in the Coliseum London: "It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World". Back to my home
country to the Parade Cinema with the DP70 for a Todd-AO screening of
Next year only two 70mm movies in The Netherlands: "Circus World" in
Super Technirama 70) in Luxor Nijmegen and
Men in Their Flying Machines" (Todd-AO) in Odeon in The Hague. In
1966: "The Greatest Story Ever Told" in Ultra Panavison 70 on the
curved screen of Cinerama Rotterdam and "Khartoum" on the 70mm screen
of Bellevue Cinerama Amsterdam. They had only 70mm equipment so no original
Cinerama possibilities. 1967: "The Sound of Music" in Luxor 70mm
Nijmegen and a 70mm blow-up of
"Doctor Zhivago" in
Bellevue Amsterdam. 1968: "Doctor Dolittle" in Todd-AO in Flora
Amsterdam. "Around the World in 80 Days" in 70mm in Grand Rotterdam
and "Custer of the West" (Super Technirama 70) in Bellevue 70mm
Amsterdam. 1969: "The Great Race", a 70mm blow-up in Euro Cinema The
"The King and I" in Grandeur 70 in Luxor Nijmegen (Originally the
second movie in
1970 started with seeing "Ben-Hur" (filmed with MGM Camera 65) in Du
Midi Amsterdam on a normal 70mm screen and I went again to Paris for
"Goodbye Mr Chips", a 70mm blow-up in the Empire Cinerama and another
"Marooned", on the large screen of Cinerama Rotterdam. But at last
that year a real 70mm film
"Patton" (Dimension 150) in my home town Arnhem in the beautiful
Rembrandt cinema with Cinemeccania 70mm Victoria projectors. It all ended
for the time being in 1973 with a visit to London Casino Cinerama for
"Song of Norway" (Super Panavision 70), back to Rotterdam's real
Cinerama theatre for the third time "Seven Wonders of the World". And
for "The Last Valley"
in Todd-AO to Luxor Cinema, Nijmegen, for another screening of
"Can-Can" in Todd-AO in Euro The Hague and finally to Corso Rotterdam
"Fall of the Roman Empire" (filmed with anamorphic Ultra Panavision
70 equipment). Two Cinerama movies and three 70mm movies in one year, Wow!
All these seventy millimetre cinemas in The Netherlands have been closed or
THOSE WERE THE DAYS...........
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