Show contents, with start times:
- Top 6: Heist Movies (1:24)
- Trivia Question: Exploitation Film From the 1940s (19:46)
- Industry Trend: Widescreen (20:29)
- Fact or Fiction: Movie Quotes (38:43)
- How To: Solve a Crime (48:09)
- Closing: Trivia Answer, Preview of Next Week (60:17)
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Top 6: Heist Movies
Trivia Question: Exploitation Film From the 1940s
The third highest grossing film of the 1940s was this film, ostensibly an educational film, but, like Reefer Madness (1936) before it, really just an excuse to make sensationalism acceptable to the censors.
Industry Trend: Widescreen
Though technically almost all movies are wide — a standard 35mm negative is about a third wider than it is tall — we use the term “widescreen” films to mean those movies with an aspect ratio greater than 1.37:1. The basic ways to achieve this are: use a wider gauge of film (e.g. 70mm), matte a standard 35mm piece of film (losing space at the top and bottom of the frame), combine multiple pieces of film to achieve a wider canvas, use a special anamorphic lens to compress the image along one axis, or some combination of these tricks.
Since the start of moving pictures, filmmakers have looked for ways to widen their images. Cineorama was an early 10-camera system, demonstrated in 1900, that was mounted below a hot-air balloon. The film was then projected on 10 screens arranged in a circle around the audience, giving a full 360 degree panoramic view. The system was too unwieldly to ever be a commercial success.
In 1927, Abel Gance’s Napoleon was projected onto three separate screens, with the center screen showing the main image and the two side screens showing other images on the periphery. In at least one sequence, all three screens were combined to form a single image. In that same year, a French professor named Henri Chretien patented an early anamorphic process, but he could find no buyers for it.
Throughout the ’20s and into the early ’30s the Hollywood studios experimented with widescreen, most notably Fox with a 70mm process it called Grandeur. But as the Great Depression came about, studios dropped this experimentation as a cost-cutting measure. The so-called “Academy Standard” became to shoot on the entire frame of 35mm, minus a bit of space for an optical soundtrack.
During World War II, the U.S. military hired Fred Waller to create a simulation for airplane gunners. He created a system using multiple cameras and projectors, and after the war decided to use the same idea for movies. Using three projectors and a giant curved screen, Waller’s Cinerama premiered in 1952 to great success. While the extra cost of both projection and filming limited the number of Cinerama theaters and films, some notable films to use the process include It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) and How the West Was Won (1963).
Seeing the popularity of the giant Cinerama images, the studios rushed to get onboard with widescreen, realizing it would be another weapon in their arsenal for their war against television. In late 1952, Fox bought Chretien’s anamorphic process, renamed it Cinemascope, and started producing movies with it. It originally used a 2.66:1 ratio on 35mm film; this was later reduced to 2.55:1 with the addition of magnetic soundtracks. Though Cinemascope itself was fairly shortlived, replaced by similar but technically superior processes, the term “scope” to refer to anamorphic films remains in use to this day. Modern anamorphic processes commonly use a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
“Cinerama out of one hole” was the concept behind Todd AO, the process that would reintroduce 70mm films in the 1950s (Todd AO films were shot on a 65mm negative for a 70mm print; the extra space was used for a soundtrack). Oklahoma! (1955) was the first film released using this process, which produced extremely high definition pictures without the expense of Cinerama.
All of these processes remained viable throughout the 1960s, but the expense of 70mm formats saw them phased out by the 1970s (Cinerama fell out of favor for the same reason). Though almost all films are widescreen today, most are simply matted 35mm, commonly to a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
Fact or Fiction: Movie Quotes
The human memory is associative, not literal, and that makes it difficult to remember the exact wording of even our favorite movie quotes. Many times, it’s a misquote, not an actual quote, that lands into the cultural lexicon of great movie lines.
Play along with Stephen in this segment of our podcast and see if you can separate the actual quotes from the misquotes.
How To: Solve a Crime
Real police work is all about performing copious legwork and analysis, but that stuff takes too long. Somebody who’s good at solving crimes can immediately spot the one clue that the mob of other cops have missed. Listen to the podcast for the full casefile on being a super sleuth, but here are a few tips to get you started:
- Use computers to enhance security footage, cell phone photos, just about anything. Computers are nearly magic.
- If bribing witnesses doesn’t work, try unmitigated violence. Threats and beatings are essential tools in the investigator’s toolkit.
- When you have to actually collar the perp, bring as many guns as you can fit on you. Unless you’re an elderly woman.