Sam Maronies Entertainment Funhouse (Maronie Creative Services, LLC)
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HOLLYWOOD GOLD

April 11, 2014

THIS IS CINERAMA!

As the card says, this is the next Cinerama presentation (1955), following the initial entry, This is Cinerama (1952).  Basically a travelogue, the film features sequences such as a point-of-view bobsled ride and other thrilling footage. Long considered lost, this has been rediscovered and recently released on Blue-Ray.
As the card says, this is the next Cinerama presentation (1955), following the initial entry, This is Cinerama (1952).  Basically a travelogue, the film features sequences such as a point-of-view bobsled ride and other thrilling footage. Long considered lost, this has been rediscovered and recently released on Blue-Ray.

As the card says, this is the next Cinerama presentation (1955), following the initial entry, ‘This is Cinerama’ (1952). Basically a travelogue, the film features sequences such as a point-of-view bobsled ride and other thrilling footage. Long considered lost, this has been rediscovered and recently released on Blue-Ray.

 

In the early 1950s, movie producers were desperate to get people off their fannies from their new TV sets and back into theater seats.

They experimented with several novel processes to entice their audience back.  Among these were 3-D, stereophonic sound, and Cinerama.

Simply, Cinerama was a process that employed three synchronized cameras during filming. The finished film was projected into theaters equipped with curved paneled screens. This would produce an almost 180 degree panoramic scene that would practically throw the audience into the lap of the action.

 

This 'how-it's-done' page is from the souvenir book for The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. I'm sure it wasn't all as simple as it looks here! (c) MGM

This ‘how-it’s-done’ page is from the souvenir book for ‘The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm’. I’m sure it wasn’t all as simple as it looks here! (c) MGM

 

Like most of these new processes, audiences initially couldn’t get enough. After a while the novelty wore off and people were less-inclined to leave their TV dinners and Uncle Miltie to go out for a movie.

The earliest Cinerama films were basically travelogues and featured roller coaster rides and similar thrill-inducing footage.

 

This is Cinerama production #3. Another travelogue, hosted by famed broadcaster Lowell Thomas. This 1956 film scours the world for modern day 'wonders of the world.'

This is Cinerama production #3. Another travelogue, hosted by famed broadcaster Lowell Thomas. This 1956 film scours the world for modern day ‘wonders of the world.’

 

One of the earliest to involve an actual story was MGM’s The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm in 1962. This was produced by the great producer George Pal of War of the Worlds fame.

 

Here's the souvenir book from 'Brothers Grimm'. I see them often at bookstores and sales. It's a great memento of this novel process and well-worth your purchase! (c) MGM

Here’s the souvenir book from ‘Brothers Grimm’. I see them often at bookstores and sales. It’s a great memento of this novel process and well-worth your purchase! (c) MGM

Following on it’s footsteps was another MGM film, How The West Was Won, which starred Debbie Reynolds and a plethora of big-name guest-stars.

 

This promotional postcard from 'Brothers Grimm' is postmarked from the Martin Cinerama Theater on Lindell Boulevard in St. Louis. Blogmeister Sam used to live a few doors away during the early 1970s. The theater was shuttered for years until it became a church! (c) MGM

This promotional postcard from ‘Brothers Grimm’ is postmarked from the Martin Cinerama Theater on Lindell Boulevard in St. Louis. Blogmeister Sam used to live a few doors away during the early 1970s. The theater was shuttered for years until it became a church! (c) MGM

 

There were some tweaks and reboots of the Cinerama process along the way. But by the time the early 1970’s rolled around, Hollywood was producing fewer of these expensive, spectacular films suited for the process.

There was a Cinerama theater near where I lived while attending college in 1972-1973. I remember one night they hosted a local premiere of The Man of La Mancha in 1973. It was quite a glamorous affair, complete with search lights and the stars of the film appearing in person.

A few months later, I saw my first and only vintage Cinerama film there It was a reissue of  The Sound of Music. As I recall, I was quite impressed watching the Von Trapp family cavorting across the huge screen.

 

The 1963 production of 'Circus World' featured lots of big-top thrills for the Cinerama audience. This card is from the Capri Theater at 11th and Central in Kansas City, Missouri. That location is still a movie palace, but has long since been converted to a conventional multiplex.

The 1963 production of ‘Circus World’ featured lots of big-top thrills for the Cinerama audience. This card is from the Capri Theater at 11th and Central in Kansas City, Missouri. That location is still a movie palace, but has long since been converted to a conventional multiplex.

Many cities now have IMAX facilities, which is part of the Cinerama family tree. I recently saw a documentary on Egyptian mummies at the local St. Louis Science Center, and it was spectacular! Spectacular narration by the wonderful Christopher Lee made it even better!

I found it a bit ironic that to publicize this new technological marvel, studio flacks relied a lot on low-tech postal cards to get their message across!

 






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