Back To The Future: The World 3-D Expo

Festivals
by Leonard Maltin
September 6, 2013 9:52 PM
4 Comments
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Forget all you’ve read or heard about early use of 3-D unless you’ve seen it with your own eyes. The World 3-D Film Expo beginning this weekend at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood may be the last opportunity you have to do just that. This isn’t exaggeration or Hollywood hype: with 35mm going the way of the dodo bird, the likelihood of future revivals using the original two-print, two-projector technology is slim at best. Anyone who attended the previous festivals in 2003 and 2006 (or their equivalent at New York City’s Film Forum) can attest to the fact that nothing looks quite like 35mm film prints screened in sync on a silver screen. Digital restorations are good but they don’t pop off the screen the way the originals do. Don’t miss out on seeing Kiss Me Kate, Phantom of the Rue Morgue, Gorilla at Large, Inferno, It Came from Outer Space and other vintage goodies the way they were meant to be seen.

What’s more, it’s far from certain that studios are going to invest in full-fledged restorations of the oddities and obscurities that festival directors Jeff Joseph and Dennis Bartok have gathered here, from a Pinky Lee short called Hawaiian Nights (featuring a young Mamie Van Doren) to experimental works from Europe and the Soviet Union. And while most of the features have played in earlier editions of the Expo, there are two exciting debuts: a 1946 Russian version of Robinson Crusoe and the first showing of the Korean war drama Dragonfly Squadron (1954), starring John Hodiak, in 3-D. Like a number of other films on the calendar, it was filmed in the dual-vision process but released “flat” because the 3-D craze had fizzled by the time it was ready to be shown to the public.

There’s also the camaraderie of sharing these screenings with fellow movie nuts who love the sense of excitement this festival generates. It has less to do with the intrinsic quality of the films than the nostalgia for a lost era of showmanship.

The passage of time since the previous World 3-D Film Expos is all too evident when one remembers the guests who accompanied screenings of their films and are no longer here to share their memories, including director Richard Fleischer (Arena), Herbert L. Strock (Gog), production designer Henry Bumstead (Money from Home), actor Biff Elliot (I, the Jury), and Jane Russell (The French Line).

But there are still some survivors here to tell the tale, including producer Walter Mirisch (The Maze) and actresses Julie Adams (The Creature from the Black Lagoon), Kathleen Hughes (The Glass Web), Piper Laurie and Pat Crowley (Money from Home), Louis Gossett, Jr. and Lea Thompson (Jaws 3-D).

For a complete calendar and ticketing information, click HERE. And to bone up on 3-D history and context, the ultimate resource remains Bob Furmanek’s authoritative site.

         

 

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4 Comments

  • mike schlesinger | September 15, 2013 3:38 PMReply

    One of the underappreciated aspects of the 3-D Expo is the chance it affords us to compare how different directors approached the format. Take the case of two Universal westerns made in 1954. TAZA--SON OF COCHISE was helmed by Douglas Sirk, a supreme visual stylist who composed and layered virtually every shot for maximum depth impact. On the other hand, WINGS OF THE HAWK is from Budd Boetticher, who was first and foremost a storyteller. He seems completely indifferent to the process, making as few concessions to it as possible. The difference couldn't be more overt, yet both remain stylish, intelligent adventures that earn bonus points for mostly avoiding the stereotyping of minority characters. (Plus Julie Adams in tight jeans is a treat in any dimension.)

  • Chris Van Horn | September 7, 2013 10:41 AMReply

    Too bad they couldn't show the double 35mm print of "Dial 'M' For Murder"

  • Norm | September 6, 2013 9:44 PMReply

    With ALL of the technology available, there isn't anything they can do to save "3-D" from a "2-D" death ? Come on Leonard, stir the pot and get people to be more involved. It staggers the imagination to believe that there isn't something that can salvage the last 60 years...

  • Byron Argiri | September 6, 2013 6:39 PMReply

    Surprised that BWANA DEVIL was not mentioned in your "Back to the Future: The World of 3D Expo"article . . . It was the 1st movie in 3D - wasn't it? A dud movie for sure, but it made history . . .
    Byron Argiri
    Athens, Greece

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