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Essential Movie Books
The first volume in John Howard Reid's three-book CinemaScope series, "Stupendous in 'Scope" provides details of 84 fascinating productions. Over 70 illustrations.
CinemaScope One: Stupendous in 'Scope
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"CinemaScope One: Stupendous in 'Scope" is the first movie book I wrote, and I was very much finding my way. Another problem I feel keenly is that at 172 pages, the book is over-priced at $19.95, compared to the $18.50 tag on "CinemaScope Two: 20th Century Fox". This Fox sequel not only has many more pages (260, to be exact) but is a much more accomplished book. And the third book in the series, "CinemaScope 3: Hollywood Takes the Plunge" is better still. A massive, large-format volume of 368 pages, "CinemaScope 3: Hollywood Takes the Plunge" easily rates as one of the best movie books on the market.
I wish I could say the same about "CinemaScope One: Stupendous in 'Scope", but it is undoubtedly a disappointing book compared to the other two. However, it does have a few pointers in its favor. Although the color covers are not great, the book does have some neat black-and-white reproductions of contemporary posters and most of all, of course, it details some very interesting – indeed essential – anamorphic films, plus some equally important widescreen attractions of the 1950s and 1960s.
Leading anamorphic movies covered in exhaustive detail include "And God Created Woman", "Auntie Mame", "Ballad of Josie", "The Black Shield of Falworth", "Comanche Station", "Hombre", "How To Steal a Million", "Imitation General", "John and Mary", "Kissin' Cousins", "The Last Hunt", "The Lion", "Lola Montes", "Love Is a Ball", "Manhattan", "Man of the West", "Marooned", "McCabe and Mrs Miller", "Never So Few", "Never Too Late", "No Love for Johnnie", "No Sun in Venice", "Plunder Road", "Merry Andrew", "Raggedy Ann and Andy", "The Son of Cleopatra", "Star Wars", "Summer Holiday", "The Swan", "10 North Frederick", "Tess of the Storm Country", "They Came to Cordura", "The Three Faces of Eve", "Tickle Me", "Tony Rome", "20,000 Leagues under the Sea", "23 Paces to Baker Street", "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?", "The Wreck of the Mary Deare", "The Year of Living Dangerously", "The Yellow Rolls Royce", "You Can't Run Away from It". "You Lucky People", and "Zulu Dawn".
Widescreen movies lovingly recalled and described include "Gorilla at Large" (in 3-D), "Inferno" (also 3-D), "Johnny Nobody", "Morituri", "Pal Joey", "Robin and the Seven Hoods", and "Strategic Air Command" (in VistaVision).
In addition to CinemaScope, other anamorphic processes are described. Also summarized is the historic press conference given by Professor Ernst Abbe in which Abbe pointed out that Fox had wasted well over $6 million dollars developing CinemaScope when they could have used a similar but far, far superior process (namely Franscope or Naturama) entirely free of charge, except for the comparatively piffling cost of the lens.
On the other hand, I'd point out that if Professor Chretien had not brought his anamorphic process to the attention of Fox executives, CinemaScope may not have happened at all, and we might still be looking at postage stamp cinema screens.
Finally, I’m happy to say that a great many of these movies described in my book, are available right now in 2011 on DVD in their original 'Scope formats.