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Non-anamorphic version of "7 brides for 7 brothers"

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Has anyone here looked recently at the non-anamorphic version of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers


Yes, I'm talking about a non-anamorphic version originally shot by director Stanley Donen at the same time as the regular Cinemascope version, since MGM wanted to hedge its bets on the adoption of Cinemascope in theaters.

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That's exactly what I meant.


I was just curious if someone's recently seen both versions and if so, is the Cinemascope version much better?


They just had the TCM tribute of course and I don't recall Stanley having a chance to express a preferrence for either one.

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Well, I've seen both and there are distinctions to note. First, the Cinemascope version was shot on Ansco color film stock - the flat version in Technicolor. Ansco stock is less steadfast against color fading than Technicolor. However, Technicolor (particularly 3 strip) cost much more than Ansco - a dye transfer process. In the cost cutting 1950s, Ansco was utilized an awful lot with awful results. Many films of this vintage began to fade even as their first run in theatres was nearing its end. Since Warner Home Video has issued the film as is - with minimal restoration work - you will definitely notice that the color scheme on the Cinemascope version is less vibrant than on the 'flat' version.


Also, Cinemascope - while presenting an infinitely wider movie going experience - came with a litany of shortcomings - particularly early to mid-scope productions of which '7 Brides...' is. Transitions, fades, disolves and soforth are quite grainy. There's also the issue of the image becoming somewhat soft or slightly out of focus the further away from center frame you get. Finally, Cinemascope's anamorphic process tends to 'bend' vertical lines inward - hence any building, tree or person standing too far off to the left or right of center screen gets an unhealthy looking kink and lanky-ness.


Doing a side by side comparison of the performances in both versions - I find that the acting is virtually identical. Presumably, the film was shot using both cameras at the same time - unlike Brigadoon which was shot using two separate camera set ups. This means that unlike Gene Kelly (who had to act a scene twice for the benefit of Brigadoon's shoot) Howard Keel probably only acted the scene once and it was recorded twice at the same instance by the Cinemascope and flat version cameras.


Hope this was useful.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Interesting stuff indeed, NZ.


I still wonder if they could really have filmed both versions at the same time, however, I can't imagine how you'd block a scene so it can be shot simultaneously in Cinemascope and "flat" formats.


From comparative screenshots, it looks like some care went into the framing of the picture on both formats.

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