A few words about…™ This is Cinerama — in Blu-ray

Upgrade from DVD - Yes 4 Stars

Dave Strohmaier and Randy Gitsch’s work on saving the original Cinerama projects, falls under the heading of Passion Projects.

Working under limited budgets, and with very problematic film elements times three, we’re finally treated to a far superior Blu-ray of the first film in the series, the original 1952, This is Cinerama.

I was too young to have seen this theatrically, but was aware (at least a decade thereafter) of the exciting roller coaster sequence which opened the film, followed by the requisite three panel Cinerama travelogues.

What these gentlemen have created (again, on a limited budget, so don’t hold out for absolute perfection) is an exciting revisit to one of the major events in motion picture history, finally available, via Smilebox, on your home theater screen.

To my mind, the release of this Blu-ray, replacing the earlier effort derived from a single 65mm panel, is an Event on its own.

Color and densities are as balanced as possible, and the original track soars.

Simply put, this is one that should be in every serious library. The disc has a myriad of extras, inclusive of a superb featurette on the restorative efforts.

This is Cinerama was the first of eleven releases, some of the latter using footage from earlier shows.

Windjammer (1958) which I did see on the big screen in NY, is being released concurrently, and I’ll follow up on that one is due course.

As is the norm with the Cinerama films, they’re released by Flicker Alley.

Image – 4

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – Yes

Very Highly Recommended

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

37 Comments

  1. warnerbro

    I have the original This is Cinerama blu ray. How is this better?

    The improved resolution, color and lack of side cropping is manifestly evident at just a glance, and I suspect it would be so on any reasonable-sized display. I think it turns the original disc into a coaster.

  2. Robert Harris

    To my mind, the release of this Blu-ray, replacing the earlier effort derived from a single 65mm panel, is an Event on its own.

    For the uninformed, how would the two presentations differ on Blu?

    EDIT: Never mind. I didn't see the subsequent discussion after RAH's OP. Got my answer.

  3. Just watched it last night and was amazed at the quality difference form the first version made from the 70mm print. Well worth the upgrade to the new Blu-ray release if you are a Cinerama fan. Such a strange film/tech demo from the 50's. That goes for Windjammer too. I was disappointed by the earlier Blu-ray release but that disappointment is now erased by the excellent transfer from the old three panel originals. Great job from Dave Strohmaier !

  4. I have this waiting for me when I get home from work. My Dad used to go on and on about Cinerama and especially this film. I got to see both this and How the West Was Won at the New Neon in Dayton back in the late 90's and, faded and scratchy though the prints were, it was spectacular. I didn't get the first release, but have HtWWW and Best of Cinerama. I'm really looking forward to seeing the full This is Cinerama again this evening.

    (Now, if only Brothers Grimm could be restored and re-released. Sigh.)

  5. Brian Kidd

    (Now, if only Brothers Grimm could be restored and re-released. Sigh.)

    I watched about five minutes of this on one of the movie channels last night (probably AMC). I might've seen it when I was a very young child but remember nothing of the experience. But based on the five minutes I saw, I'm not missing much. 😀 And not because of the poor condition of the print they had (which was bad). The section I saw involved Buddy Hackett and a dragon… 😮

  6. Buddy Hackett was in the fairy tale section which has always been my least favorite "The Singing Bone" (though the Bob Merrill melody attached to that bone is quite haunting). The other two tale segments "The Dancing Princess" and "The Cobbler and the Elves" I especially love.

  7. Mike Frezon

    I watched about five minutes of this on one of the movie channels last night (probably AMC). I might've seen it when I was a very young child but remember nothing of the experience. But based on the five minutes I saw, I'm not missing much. 😀 And not because of the poor condition of the print they had (which was bad). The section I saw involved Buddy Hackett and a dragon… 😮

    Hey, I snuck out of synagogue on Yom Kippur when I was 11 years old just to see Buddy Hackett in Cinerama. At the time I loved that sequence, though in retrospect….I think Matt is correct & the other fairy tales sequences (especially THE SINGING BONE) are better. But at 11 I was a Buddy Hackett fan (don't ask) & I remember the dragon looked especially impressive on that curved Cinerama screen.

  8. I made it most of the way through the film last night before a thunderstorm hit and I had to turn off the TV. What I saw looked and sounded marvelous. A couple of times, my teenage stepsons came in the room wondering just what the heck I was watching. Alas, they almost immediately returned to their Fortnite games. (One did say he thought the technology of Cinerama was cool.)

  9. pinknik

    Glad I got to see real Cinerama presentations of this and How the West Was Won at the Neon in Dayton, Ohio. Looking forward to checking out one of these discs some time.

    Me too. It was something I'll never forget.

  10. I've already bought most of Flicker Alley's Cinerama Blu-rays. This thread has me double dipping for both "This is Cinerama" and "Windjammer." I remember as a child being thrilled by both movies in SF and am looking forward to the new discs after reading the comments here.

    Were all the earlier Flicker Alley releases single projection prints, and should we expect to see "new, improved" versions or was it just these two?

    Also, Flicker Alley has both discs on sale currently.

  11. Bill McCamy

    I've already bought most of Flicker Alley's Cinerama Blu-rays. This thread has me double dipping for both "This is Cinerama" and "Windjammer." I remember as a child being thrilled by both movies in SF and am looking forward to the new discs after reading the comments here.

    Were all the earlier Flicker Alley releases single projection prints, and should we expect to see "new, improved" versions or was it just these two?

    Also, Flicker Alley has both discs on sale currently.

    It was just these two. Dave Strohmaier could fill in the details, but from what I understand, the original releases sold well and showed that there was a market for the Cinerama films, so it was decided it was worth the money at that point to fund scans of all three panel elements for the other films. From what was said in the restoration featurette on the new release (and also found on The Best of Cinerama), when they decided to take on the first film, they just didn't have the money to afford three scans, so scanning the 70mm version put together for the film's re-release back in the 1970's was the best they could do. I'm really glad they were able to go back and revisit these films. The results are beautiful.

  12. All the Cinerama travelogue titles have now been remastered from 3-panel elements as well as the Cinerama owned 70mm titles. "Golden Head" is done and will come out in the fall.

    We have gone back to our masters and fixed some flicker and other minor things on these earlier titles but there won't be any new release of those. Our new theatrical DCPs now reflect those changes.

    Thanks for everyones support over the years.

    On my way to Copenhagen and Oslo next week to show Windjammer in theaters, and take a ride on the Christian Radich after the show. I know that ship like the back of my hand. Maybe they will make me captain!

    Dave

  13. Dave will be restoring the remaining titles that were promoted as being "In Cinerama" but have not been released on Blu-ray. All will be in the smile-box process, 5.1 sound and lots of extras:

    The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm
    Mediterranean Holiday
    La Fayette
    The Flaming Years
    The Black Tulip
    Song of Norway
    The Great Waltz
    Run Run Joe

    After completion, he will restore Cinerama titles that have been released on Blu-ray but poor PQ transfers:

    The Greatest Story Ever Told
    The Hallelujah Trail
    Battle of the Bulge

    Then, Cinerama titles on Blu-ray but only mono sound – should be 5.1:

    Krakatoa East of Java
    Custer of the West

    Later, MGM Camera 65/Ultra Panavision titles that have not been released on Blu-ray or with poor PQ transfers

    Raintree County
    Mutiny on the Bounty
    The Fall of the Roman Empire

    Last but not least, The Alamo

    Or, after looking at this list he will retire.

  14. Strohmaier

    All the Cinerama travelogue titles have now been remastered from 3-panel elements as well as the Cinerama owned 70mm titles. "Golden Head" is done and will come out in the fall.

    We have gone back to our masters and fixed some flicker and other minor things on these earlier titles but there won't be any new release of those. Our new theatrical DCPs now reflect those changes.

    Thanks for everyones support over the years.

    On my way to Copenhagen and Oslo next week to show Windjammer in theaters, and take a ride on the Christian Radich after the show. I know that ship like the back of my hand. Maybe they will make me captain!

    Dave

    Thanks for your dedication and terrific work on behalf of these films!

  15. Dave Strohmaier and Randy Gitsch presented this restoration at the Museum of Modern Art in New York a few months ago. They also presented a talk about the restoration. While impressively restored, it's impossible to replicate the experience of seeing this on the massive screen in one of the original Cinerama theaters. I never saw "This Is Cinerama" in it's original run, but I did get to see "How The West Was Won" in 3-strip at the Loew's Cinerama in NYC and both picture and sound blew my mind. That and "West Side Story" at the Rivoli were two of the biggest factors in me wanting to be part of the industry and I eventually became a recording engineer.

    Like early IMAX, "This Is Cinerama" is not a great film, but it is an interesting experience, although I doubt a great many younger people would be interested.

  16. In the interest of originality, I’d like to offer a review of this new Blu-Ray by my cat, Frosting.

    Alas, she does not write. But I know art appreciation when I see it, even if it is punctuated by periodic butt licking. And Frosting was definitely appreciating Cinerama. Several times, she jumped on my chest and looked up and around at the music filling the room. She was into it.

    The crazy part came later. She spent the entire last half-hour of the feature completely mesmerized by the aerial photography. She got down on the floor, stared up at my big TV, and got totally lost. She was ducking and staring and getting closer and just drinking it all in.

    FOR THIRTY MINUTES.

    Then Frosting really blew my mind by sitting through the entire end credits until the curtains closed and the picture faded to black. Heck, I don’t even sit through end credits. But my cat did.

    Only when it was truly over did she get up and walk off.

    I have never seen a cat get thoroughly absorbed by something on TV that did not involve Richard Attenborough narrating. I credit the astonishing new restoration.

    Two dew claws way up.

  17. Righty-o. A visit to a Cinerama cinema is now on my bucket list (3-strip presentation preferably). Maybe I'll email the Seattle Cinerama for some possible future showings. You lot are costing me a fortune!

  18. Received over the weekend both This is Cinerama & Windjammer and did a quick a/b comparison with the older release. The new discs are a big improvement in picture and sound and worth double dipping. The extra on the newer print of the film is very interesting.

  19. I've now watched all of the Flicker Alley Cinerama releases except for Windjammer (which is next up). I never would have imagined having these on home video. While it's far from replicating the experience on a huge curved screen, they're fun films. This is Cinerama does come off a bit creaky since it really is just a feature-length tech demo, but the Cypress Gardens/water ski sequence is quite impressive. The remastering work is usually gorgeous and the sound is astonishing. Not perfect, but the fact anything could be done with faded negatives (and faded prints for the subsequent titles) on such a low budget is amazing.

    Now that I've seen all of them, I'd actually have to say that Cinerama Holiday and South Seas Adventure are my favorites. It's amazing how they went from "tech demo" to really taking advantage of the format by the next film. It makes me wish I had a projection setup to really get the most out of these.

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