David Dodd 1:48 a.m., May 18
The "In CinemaScope" Quiz
Let's open 2012 W-I-D-E with a pop quiz all about my favorite aspect ratio: CinemaScope! Developed by Dr. Henri Chrétien during World War I to enable army tank gunners a broader field of view through their periscopes, the rights to the wide-screen anamorphic lens were purchased by 20th Century Fox in 1952 and used as a deterrent to television.
Fritz Lang hated the lens, saying it should be used exclusively to film "snakes and funerals." Jerry Lewis never shot a film in 'Scope, while his mentor, Frank Tashlin (Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, The Girl Can't Help It), is one of the lens' greatest exemplars. Lewis argues one can't film a choking close-up (an essential tool in a comedic filmmaker's bag of tricks) what with the excess side-room. He once told me, "If you have a close-up of Meryl Streep talking on a phone, you can still see her f@#&ing car in the background!"
B.L. (before letterboxing), it was impossible to see a wide-screen version of an anamorphic film unless it was revived theatrically. 'Scope movies were modified to fit a 4:3 television screen, which meant arbitrary cuts and camera moves were imposed by some geek in a lab in order to cram in as much visual information as possible. Announcers used to boast, "Tonight's film will be shown uncut and without commercial interruption." The absence of commercials was always welcome, but lopping nearly two-thirds off an image is hardly what I would call "uncut."
The following CinemaScope logos were all taken from trailers or opening title sequences. It's up to you to match the credit with the picture that houses it. #6 can go a couple of ways, so I encourage you to be creative!