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June 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
"D. S. Cunningham" <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 13 Jun 1994 18:57:04 PDT
Your message of Mon, 13 Jun 1994 17:00:27 CDT
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (72 lines)
You wrote:
>'Course, within a few years,20thCentury-Fox, the producers of WSSRH?
>would devise pan-and-scan so they could sell their movies to TV--
>resulting in compositions quite similar to the one they satirize.
I hate to correct you, but the much beloved WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK
HUNTER? is not available in any video format that I am aware of. I just
showed it again in my post-War history class--and it is one film from the
period that my students *really* get--even though I have to tell them who
Jayne Mansfield is and explain the idea of the "grey-flannel company
man." They positively groaned when they found out it is unavailable
for home consumption.
I hope I am wrong about this and someone can direct me to a copy of WSSRH? on
video or laser disk--but I can't imagine how it could be made that
'Scope prints always make me long for a "way back machine"--especially
after seeing Sam Fuller's black and white "Forty Guns" with the
incomparable Barbara Stanwyck screaming across the screen dressed in
black leather on a white horse--heaven!
A while back I was very interested in the pedagogical discussion
regarding classroom teaching of favorite films. I *always* want to be
able to show at least one print in 35mm CinemaScope, and I fear that
if I don't make my students aware of *why* it is so important to see
films in as close to the original presentation circumstances as
 I know my motivations are selfish when i demand they know
the differences between aspect ratios, sound sytems, musical
accompaniment styles, etc--because I want those experiences to remain
available to me--and I *know* if I don't help to create a demand *and*
an audience for those experiences THEY WILL DISAPPEAR.
I count myself incredibly fortunate to attend USC, where there is a
fetish for the image--for the print itself--to be as close as possible
to "orginal." In David Shepard's Silent Film classes (grad and
undergrad), we regularly see excellent prints (as preserved  by
David), and a least 3 or 4 times each semester with Live
accompaniment. Norris Theater is a world class theater--with state of
the art Dolby Digital Surround Sound. We rarely screen 16mm in
classes, mostly 35mm. I AM SPOILED ROTTEN. I regularly travel over to
UCLA to see NITRATE SCREENINGS!!!! I just saw the most beautifully
preserved print of von Sternberg's DISHONORED with Marlene (Mati Hari)
Dietrich. As far as I know this is the ONLY venue for nitrate
screenings in Los Angeles.
But teaching at UCSB this spring was a cold dose of reality. Rental
budgets being what they are...
What will we do if they stop making and circulating prints? I'm
selfishly thinking of my own future (fingers -crossed I'll get a job,
but let's not address all the BIG  problems here and now). I know I
have rambled on, but the more spoiled I get the more I know how
frustrating it will be to teach about 'Scope if all I can show is a
laser disk of REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE or YOJIMBO. Don't even get me
started on ANDREI ROUBLEV, I'll cry.
How are other academics in schools with lesser budgets and connections
than USC (I know that's almost all of 'em--it ain't called the George
Lucas Instructional Building fer nothin') deal with these problems.
There! I've successfully avoided grading papers for 15 minutes!
Donna Cunningham
University of Southern California
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