“Almost like a real web site”

Search | Contact
News | e-News |
Rumour Mill | Stories
Foreign Language
in70mm.com auf Deutsch


Todd-AO Festival
KRRR! 7OMM Seminar
GIFF 70, Gentofte
Oslo 7OMM Festival
Widescreen Weekend

Premiere | Films
People | Equipment
Library | Cinemas
Todd-AO Projector
Distortion Correcting

Ultra Panavision 70
Super Panavision 70

1926 Natural Vision
1929 Grandeur
1930 Magnifilm
1930 Realife
1930 Vitascope
1952 Cinerama
1953 CinemaScope
1955 Todd-AO
1955 Circle Vision 360
1956 CinemaScope 55
1957 Ultra Panavision 70
1958 Cinemiracle
1958 Kinopanorama
1959 Super Panavision 70
1959 Super Technirama 70
1960 Smell-O-Vision
1961 Sovscope 70
Cinerama 360
1962 MCS-70
1963 70mm Blow Up
1963 Circarama
1963 Circlorama
1966 Dimension 150
1967 DEFA 70
1967 Pik-A-Movie
1970 IMAX / Omnimax
1974 Cinema 180
1976 Dolby Stereo
1984 Showscan
1984 Swissorama
1986 iWERKS
1989 ARRI 765
1990 CDS
1994 DTS / Datasat
2001 Super Dimension 70
2018 Magellan 65

Various Large format | 70mm to 3-strip | 3-strip to 70mm | Specialty Large Format | Special Effects in 65mm | ARC-120 | Super Dimension 70Early Large Format
7OMM Premiere in Chronological Order


Australia | Brazil
Canada | Denmark
England | France
Germany | Iran
Mexico | Norway
Sweden | Turkey

7OMM Projectors
People | Eulogy
65mm/70mm Workshop
The 7OMM Newsletter
Back issue | PDF
Academy of the WSW

• 2026 | 2025 | 2024
2023 | 2022 | 2021
2020 | 2019 | 2018
2017 | 2016 | 2015
2014 | 2013 | 2012
2011 | 2010 | 2009
2008 | 2007 | 2006
2005 | 2004 | 2003
2002 | 2001 | 2000
1999 | 1998 | 1997
1996 | 1995 | 1994

in70mm.com Mission:
• To record the history of the large format movies and the 70mm cinemas as remembered by the people who worked with the films. Both during making and during running the films in projection rooms and as the audience, looking at the curved screen.
in70mm.com, a unique internet based magazine, with articles about 70mm cinemas, 70mm people, 70mm films, 70mm sound, 70mm film credits, 70mm history and 70mm technology. Readers and fans of 70mm are always welcome to contribute.

Disclaimer | Updates
Support us
Table of Content

Extracts and longer parts of in70mm.com may be reprinted with the written permission from the editor.
Copyright ę 1800 - 2070. All rights reserved.

Visit biografmuseet.dk about Danish cinemas


"Scent of Mystery"
Some thoughts after a 2004 screening

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Rick Mitchell (Film Editor/ Film Director/ Film Historian), Hollywood, USA Date: 6 March 2005
Since many technological advances in motion pictures have occurred outside the studio system, often interesting pioneering works, especially those involving non standard projection formats, are rarely accessible for contemporary re-evaluation.

One such film is "Scent of Mystery" (1959), produced by Michael Todd, Jr., directed by Jack Cardiff, and photographed by John von Kotze. Todd had hoped to follow in the entrepreneurial footsteps of his father, who had been involved in the introduction of Cinerama and initiated the development of Todd-AO, by producing, in an era before vinegar syndrome, the first major film that smelled. (Sorry, I couldn't resist). That aspect of the project is apparently not reproduceable today, fortunately, but the film itself, photographed in 65mm with Mitchell cameras and originally advertised as being in Todd-70, the family having lost the rights to the Todd-AO name, survives, somewhat.

Unsuccessful on its January, 1960 release, the film was subsequently acquired by the CineMiracle Corporation, which was itself soon taken over by Cinerama, Inc. Either of them cut the film by about 20 minutes, added some voice-over comments from the main character played by Denholm Elliott, and optically converted it to three panel Cinerama(!), re-releasing the results under the title "Holiday in Spain".

I recently [December 2004, ed] had occasion to see all but about two minutes of a faded 70mm print of this version and found it really bewildering. The simple plot involves an English novelist on vacation in Spain who becomes involved in rescuing a beautiful, mysterious woman from assassination. It's supposed to be a light-hearted, picaresque affair, reminiscent of "To Catch a Thief" (1955) and the later "Charade" (1963) or "A Man Could Get Killed" (1966), but it feels more like a work by ambitious beginners. All the rhythms and overall tone are just off and many of the attempts at humor fall flat.

More shocking is that there is very little exploitation of the 65mm format, at a time when the big, wide screen presentation was being emphasized. There are few of the famous audience involving POV shots and most of the camera setups are uninteresting. Worse, most of the film is shot in tight medium shots and closeups, much like contemporary so-called "big screen epics", which must have looked awful in three panel Cinerama, since there was no way to keep the actors from being bi and tri-sected by the splits.
Further in 70mm reading:

Mike Todd, Jr. Interview

Scent of Mystery


Mike Todd Jr.'s "Scent of Mystery" in Smell-O-Vision

Oliver Michael Todd in Conversation with Thomas Hauerslev

Internet link:

Opening night ticket. Press to see enlargement

This is particularly surprising given the involvement of Jack Cardiff, who so beautifully photographed "The Vikings" (1958) and made incredible use of CinemaScope in "Sons and Lovers" (1960), a textbook example of using wide screen on the type of subject for which it wasn't considered suitable. Unfortunately, Cardiff's only comments on "Scent of Mystery" in his memoir Magic Hour are on Peter Lorre's near death experience (he was saved by the medieval technique of bloodletting) and the inability of the developer of "Smell-O-Vision" to make it work.

In the short amount of time since the screening, I have not been able to track down any information about the production of "Scent of Mystery", but certain things suggest that despite the hype at the time, the film may actually have been made on a tighter budget than "Around the World in 80 Days". There are a shocking number of shots made with a clearly malfunctioning camera in the finished film, as well as a few shots made under controlled conditions that are slightly out-of-focus, suggesting that the money wasn't there to reshoot them.

The casting is also curious. Except for the "surprise" unbilled cameo at the end, "Scent of Mystery"/"Holiday in Spain" has the largest cast of little knowns of any major roadshow film of the Fifties-Sixties except "2001: A Space Odyssey". While the subject was the selling point there, known entities in front of the camera were considered a necessity for a dramatic film, especially in the late Fifties. A very young Denholm Elliott, who often looks like Jim Carrey, does very well in a role that appears to have been conceived for a David Niven, but Peter Lorre seems to be sleepwalking through his part (his health problems may have been a problem) and Paul Lukas and Leo McKern weren't exactly household names in those days. (Diana Dors, whose career was on the decline, had more to do in "Scent of Mystery", according to someone who'd seen the original version.)

All this suggests that the film's weaknesses stem from Todd Jr.'s inability to raise the funds for a higher profile cast or do necessary reshooting. And "Scent of Mystery" premiered at a very bad time for such a weak film, roughly a month after the premiere of "Ben-Hur", which appeared to resuscitate the roadshow, for which there had been disappointing results after the big success of "Around the World in 80 Days", "The Ten Commandments", and "South Pacific". Strangely, most of the material cut from the three panel version was travelog footage, which it might have enhanced.

"Scent of Mystery" supposedly had a terrific stereo sound track. Unfortunately, it had been years since 70mm magnetic had been used at the viewing facility so it wasn't set up properly. The film sounds as if it had been entirely re-recorded, which allowed for easy stereo discreteness, and voices and sound effects were placed with their on-screen sources, but the dynamic range seemed weak compared to other magnetic presentations of older films I've heard.

For an historian, it helps to have seen this film in 70mm on a big screen, just to be able to put it into historical context. Beyond that, it's a matter of personal opinion.
Go: back - top - back issues - news index
Updated 21-01-24