And the HD Oscar Goes to: How the West Was Won

Cast: James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Karl Malden, Gregory Peck, Richard Widmark, Debbie Reynolds, Carroll Baker, Eli Wallach, Walter Brennan.
Directors: John Ford, Henry Hathaway, George Marshall.
Screenplay: James R Webb.
Score: Alfred Newman.
Cinematography: William H Daniels, Milton R Krasner, Charles Lang, Joseph LaShelle.

This star-bloated 1962 western about the forging of the frontier is saddled with as many cameos as clichés. But its re-release on two-disc Blu-ray is a must to collect just for the ravishing restoration of its Oscar-nominated cinematography.It was nominated for seven other Academy Awards, including best picture, and won for best film editing (Harold F Kress), sound (Franklin Milton) and original screenplay (James R Webb, who also wrote such seminal shoot-’em-ups as Apache, Vera Cruz, The Big Country and Cheyenne Autumn).The Blu-ray also boasts a rare chance to see the original Cinerama presentation. Cinerama was Hollywood’s pre-IMAX response to TV, a ‘50s “wraparound” process that involved projecting three separate strips of film side-by-side.Warner Bros’ “SmileBox” transfer digitally replicates its concave screen shape but largely without the “joins” that stopped the original theatrical effect from being seamless. It’s effective on any large, flat-screen TV but is targeted at home theatre projection.As WB’s senior vice president of  classic catalogue marketing, George Feltenstein, told Home Media Magazine: “Dave Strohmaier, considered the world’s foremost expert on all things Cinerama, calls it the ‘smile box’ version because it uses the shape of the original Cinerama screen and expands out with a curve so it looks like a frown on the bottom and a smile on the top.”It’s almost 3D, and it allows anyone who has a home theater system to re-create the Cinerama experience. The Blu-ray also includes the DVD’s unusually wide 2.89:1 transfer, a scholarly commentary and the movie-length documentary, Cinerama Adventure.

Movie: :-D :-D :-D :-D
Image: :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D
Extras: :-D :-D :-D :-D

This is the fifth in a series of Blu-ray reviews counting down to the the Academy Awards, which will screen live in HD, for the first time in NZ, on Sky Movies (March 8, 2.30pm).
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One Response to “And the HD Oscar Goes to: How the West Was Won”

  1. Sounds like a great chance to catch up with these old Cinerama films in something close to their original format (if not at quite the original size). Not quite sure what the Warners Brothers guy meant by the 3D allusion though…trying to jump on a passing bandwagon maybe?

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