CineSavant Column

Tuesday July 12, 2022



One announcement today — Paramount Home Video has confirmed that on September 27 they’ll be releasing a George Pal Sci-Fi Double Bill — not promoted as such — of Pal’s first two Technicolor spectaculars. The subject of fancy Viavision [Imprint] and Criterion Blu-ray releases in 2020, the 1953 The War of the Worlds will jump to 4K Ultra HD status, reflecting the involved remastering it underwent in 2017-2018. Are 4K remasters already becoming thought of as marketing double-dips?  I don’t think so, not quite yet. It will be very interesting to see how much detail is gained.

Slated as a double bill co-feature, Pal’s 1951 space epic When Worlds Collide will be in tow, but only on standard Blu-ray. Since a new remaster isn’t part of the disc description, we’re thinking this will likely be the same encoding seen on the recent Viavision [Imprint] release. But that’s just a guess.

It looks like Paramount has referenced advertising artwork from 1975 or thereabouts, when the studio reissued the movies as a theatrical double bill. The one friend who reported seeing it (was it Hoyt Yeatman?) said it was a disaster — projected in 1:85, with much of the original flat image cropped away. In the 1970s, we film students learned that most theaters could no longer project films flat in 1:37 — the screens had been swapped out and lenses discarded.

I’m 70 years late asking for an explanation of the giant The War of the Worlds marquee on the Times Square Mayfair theater, from 1953.    The text reads “On the giant panoramic screen with stereophonic sound. The 3-D Film Archive says that Paramount delayed the release of both WOTW and Shane for a few weeks, to “groove them for wide screen showings at a later date.” Even at 1:66, that Academy-ratio movie would have been compromised.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson