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It must be Full-Screen night on TCM


clore
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First INTENT TO KILL comes on with a warning that it has been formatted to fit this screen. Well, not mine, I have a widescreen TV. While the disclaimer is appreciated, that it was necessary isn't. I did see the film on FMC a few years ago in widescreen, so I passed on it.

 

Now THE LION is airing in a 4:3 ratio despite having been shot in 2.35:1. I didn't tune-in early enough to see if it too had a disclaimer and I tuned out right away. If I want to see a widescreen movie butchered, I have enough old VHS tapes that can also accomplish that.

 

There's a certain irony that in celebrating the career of a man known primarily as a cinematographer, that when they air films he directed, we're not seeing the whole image.

 

It's enough to give one the heebie-jeebies.

 

 

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THE LION started widescreen and went to full frame as sometimes happens. There was no warning.

 

I was glad to see the ratio warning prior to INTENT TO KILL. It's the first time I've ever seen TCM offer this type of warning.

 

Funny how so many people have latched on to Pollack's Heebie Jeebie phrase...

 

Yancey

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Funny how so many people have latched on to Pollack's Heebie Jeebie phrase...

 

In my case it's because I'm sort of reminding the powers-that-be that I've seen the promo that touts TCM as the place to see movies in the proper format. There have actually been a couple of times that i saw the promo right before TCM aired a pan-and-scan feature.

 

It's the first time that I ever saw such a disclaimer also but given the number of widescreen TVs out there, the language needs to be altered somewhat. That may have worked for TNT twenty years ago when 4:3 was prevalent, but those days are over.

 

I did like the way that it said "TCM tried to get a copy..." That almost had me thinking that it was in response to those of us who complain about such things here.

 

 

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I didn't see the beginning of The Lion so I don't know the exact time the switch from wide to 4:3 happened, but it is usual to start a movie off with wide screen during the credit sequence so that the credits don't get cropped, and then at a convenient jucture switch to the 4:3 format for broadcast on TV.

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In the case of YOUNG CASSIDY, the film was meant to be shown at 1.66:1. So, while it is cropped, there's less damage done.

 

But again, we're supposed to be saluting a director who knew better than most how to compose a frame as he was also a cinematographer. Showing cropped films in such a case is like saluting Judy Garland without a soundtrack.

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> {quote:title=clore wrote:}{quote}

>

> I did like the way that it said "TCM tried to get a copy..." That almost had me thinking that it was in response to those of us who complain about such things here.I had the same exact thought. I would agree that the powers that be decided an explanation would be needed so folks would know TCM didn't just throw something on the screen.

 

While I'm not a fan of cropping by any means, if it's the only way to see a film that may not otherwise be available then show it.

 

When I think back to when there was absolutely no consideration to cutting, cropping, awful prints and just plain bad reception we're now living in a film lovers paradise!

 

Yancey

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>I did like the way that it said "TCM tried to get a copy..." That almost had me thinking that it was in response to those of us who complain about such things here.

 

I am most certain it was. That proves the power we have as a collective consumer group.

 

They need to start listening to us about the overplayed titles. And about our unanimous wish that Joel McCrea finally be made Star of the Month. This has gone on long enough, and the viewers/fans of TCM deserve better.

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While I'm not a fan of cropping by any means, if it's the only way to see a film that may not otherwise be available then show it.

 

I could agree with that, but only to a certain degree. When that's the excuse for running a cropped BAND OF ANGELS, I have to say that I don't buy it because the sister division of the same parent company has it out on DVD in letterboxed form.

 

When they run a cropped copy of REACH FOR THE SKY that's also cut of 30 minutes, I don't want to hear that's all that's available when the DVD is in widescreen and complete. Better to just substitute another title than to violate your own declared policies of uncut films in the proper aspect ratio.

 

Why does every fest occupy four nights in a month and until 6am? Scrap the cropped titles and give Jack Cardiff a three night salute that at least presents the films that way he shot them. Or just play them until 2am and spread the titles over four weeks.

 

I couldn't help but notice that they aired the "heebie-jeebie" promo tonight during the Cardiff fest at 325am.

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It's not "cropped" if you're referring to how the original ratio was filmed, which was likely that it was composed for a 1.66:1 ratio, but filmed full frame and then matted theatrically in the projector.

 

Unless you mean iit was "cropped" because it got shown on TCM in a 1.85:1 ratio? Or do you mean something else?

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> {quote:title=slaytonf wrote:}{quote}I didn't see the beginning of The Lion so I don't know the exact time the switch from wide to 4:3 happened, but it is usual to start a movie off with wide screen during the credit sequence so that the credits don't get cropped, and then at a convenient jucture switch to the 4:3 format for broadcast on TV.

...which I've never understood, because in the days BEFORE widescreen and letterboxing, you usually got the opening credits anamorphically squeezed...the credits of such a movie would be seen "squashed" thin so they all fit onto the screen.

 

I don't understand why that isn't done for a pan-and-scan presentation.

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I remember those days, krieger. I would see some flick on the late show, and the closing credits would be squeezed in with people in the background getting taller and two inches thick. And am reminded of it everytime I see something at my nephew's house. He hates letterboxing so much, he set the ratio on his DVD player so that any letterboxed movie looks like those old closing credits. I asked him why he did that. His answer? "I didn't buy a big screen TV just to have to have them black strips make everything look smaller!" :0

Sepiatone

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This is an ongoing issue - believe me, we all cringe when a film comes on that isn't properly letterboxed or the wrong version is played. And I know it seems like it should be an easy fix when a better version is out there but it can be complicated. Sometimes we don't know ourselves the version that was sent to us isn't letterboxed until a couple of days before air (and it's too late to get a replacement). Sometimes that company that sold us the tv rights is different than the company that put it out on home vidoe and obtaining the home video version is a challenge (we are very fortunate to be able to access Criterion versons when that's the situation with their films). And sometimes we make mistakes. I do apologize and we will keep trying to do better. And whenever this happens, even it's too late for a specific airing, we try to upgrade for the next time.

 

I also agree that it's particularly frustrating that this was the situation during a Jack Cardiff festival. We appreciate the comments.

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> {quote:title=Sepiatone wrote:}{quote} His answer? "I didn't buy a big screen TV just to have to have them black strips make everything look smaller!" :0

 

 

Whether we like it or not, those of us who want to see films in their original aspect ratios are a small minority of the total TV viewers. Your nephew points that out. I don't know how many times I've been in an electronics store and heard people tell the clerk that they wanted a TV that didn't show "those black bars". I have a neighbor who has his TV picture so cropped that even when he watches something like the local news the anchor is cut off just above his eyebrows. He doesn't have a problem with that, and of course, it's his TV and and he watch it any way he wants to.

 

That's one of the problems TCM has. Being about the only channel that wants a film in AOR. Some of the studios just don't want to go to the expense of making two versions. Even when they do, with a hundred pan & scan copies in the distributor's warehouse and only one AOR, mistakes sometimes happen.

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> {quote:title=kriegerg69 wrote:}{quote}It's not "cropped" if you're referring to how the original ratio was filmed, which was likely that it was composed for a 1.66:1 ratio, but filmed full frame and then matted theatrically in the projector.

>

> Unless you mean iit was "cropped" because it got shown on TCM in a 1.85:1 ratio? Or do you mean something else?

Well. let's take the case of last night's INTENT TO KILL. This was filmed in 2.35:1, a genuine "Cinemascope" film. The sides were cut off, if that doesn't quailify as being cropped, then perhaps I am using the wrong phrase.

 

Now BAND OF ANGELS was a 1.85:1 film, thus it was shot full-frame and intended to be matted during projection. It wasn't as if we got the unmatted image because when Gable and Knowles were squaring off in a duel, they were facing each other, but one character was cropped off at the side. I can't call it pan-and-scan as that didn't happen during the exchange of dialogue.Thus the image does appear to be "cropped."

 

Now there were two incidents last week where while watching ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN and MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN, we're talking Academy ratio-shot films intended to be shown in that format. They both aired on TCM HD with the tops cropped off, giving the appearance of being a wide-screen presentatrion.

 

But on TCM SD, they appeared as intended. ON TCM HD, my choice was either having the top and bottom cropped off at 16:9, or a skinny Costello at 4:3. OnTCM SD, the TV's 4:3 setting gave me the film as it was intended to see, and the 16:9 setting stretches the sides a bit, giving a Costello who gets even heavier when he's out of center on either side.

 

Meanwhile, ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY, which was theatrically matted to 1.85: aired on both TCM SD and TCM HD in the 4:3 ratio.

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Thank you for taking the time to respond.

 

I hope that you do understand that in a way, this is only frustration borne of TCM having created its own monster. I won't claim to have counted every instance, but it seemed to happen less often in the days before digital servers.

 

I've only had HD boxes for the last two months. While I do get HBO, I only watched a few things on it as TCM has spoiled me for widescreen films, something which I was not able to experience with HBO. There's no letterboxing done there for those who don't have widescreen TVs. However, since between TCM and DVDs I am so spoiled by seeing films as they were intended to be seen, I completely avoided any film on HBO being presented in the wrong format.

 

I don't know, maybe the thing to do is hit the suppliers where it hurts. When negotiating, try to have it read that failure to supply the proper ratio or length will affect the price level. If TCM is to be penalized by fewer viewers when a hack job is the only option, the distributor should be penalized also.

 

Maybe delivery dates could be advanced so that TCM gets films with enough lead time that you won't be setting in print in your "Now Playing" magazine that something such as REACH FOR THE SKY is 124 minutes and you end up with a film twenty minutes shorter. Again, there should be some penalty for your source also when you guys are made to appear less than you intend to be and it happens through no fault of your own.

 

But I will admit, that last night's disclaimer was a step in the right direction. It let me know that you folks were as disappointed as you expected the audience would be.

 

 

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I'm not trying to promote any other movie channel, because believe me I don't believe they're worth the price they charge, but of late I have noticed more and more movies being letterboxed on HBO, Cinemax, and Encore on both the regular channel and the HD channel. Starz on the other hand used to broadcast quite a few of it's movies in letterbox seems to be cutting back on the number of letterbox movies they show.

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I'll have to get into the habit of checking HBO now that I have HD boxes, other than a couple of series, I hardly watch it.

 

I was once over a relative's house in November 2010 and while there he put on AVATAR which was airing on HBO. It was letterboxed and that's my only experience with such on HBO.

 

On the other hand, The Movie Channel seemed to have a catch-as-catch-can policy on letterboxing on the SD channels. Thus my viewing of it followed a similar pattern. Those are the only two premium channels that I subscribe to and I may be sacking TMC soon as I may watch one film per month there. I may opt for the Encore package instead if the cost is comparable.

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Specifically, I was asking about Young Cassidy. What I forgot to mention is that instead of "open matte"...filmed full frame but composed to be matted when projected theatrically...a film can be done in "hard matte" with the needed black borders printed directly on the negative and/or print itself. In such an instance. movies filmed in 1.66 or 1.85 ARE actually cropped on the sides when shown full-screen on tv or video. This is likely what you saw with the Gable film...the source was hard matted, and likely did get cropped.

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> {quote:title=clore wrote:}{quote}

>

> Maybe delivery dates could be advanced so that TCM gets films with enough lead time that you won't be setting in print in your "Now Playing" magazine that something such as REACH FOR THE SKY is 124 minutes and you end up with a film twenty minutes shorter. Again, there should be some penalty for your source also when you guys are made to appear less than you intend to be and it happens through no fault of your own.

That's the whole point regarding incorrect running times like that...if the studio has promised or intended to send a print with a particular running time, and TCM puts that time into their print schedule and into the program info sent out over cable systems (like when you look at your cable guide on-screen with a program information that includes a running time), and the studio is only able to provide a certain version of a movie...there isn't much that TCM can do about that. It's either the different version of the movie or no movie at all...and they can't do a thing about changing the listed running time, at least until the next time it's shown.

 

This same subject has popped up before here on the board.

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This is the best thread of the year (and the year's young). This is exactly what TCM needs: direct feedback and accountability to customers/viewers.

 

After this thread falls to page 10, it needs to routinely be brought back to page one. I hope we have more threads exactly like this on other topics that programmers need to address. This is a great channel, but it has much to improve.

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> {quote:title=kriegerg69 wrote:}{quote}

> That's the whole point regarding incorrect running times like that...if the studio has promised or intended to send a print with a particular running time, and TCM puts that time into their print schedule and into the program info sent out over cable systems (like when you look at your cable guide on-screen with a program information that includes a running time), and the studio is only able to provide a certain version of a movie...there isn't much that TCM can do about that. It's either the different version of the movie or no movie at all...and they can't do a thing about changing the listed running time, at least until the next time it's shown.

>

> This same subject has popped up before here on the board.

>

Well, you'll have to excuse my duplication of a thought that has already appeared and I haven't searched through how many years of posts before stating something covered perhaps five years ago.

 

I do like to spend some time watching the channel as opposed to posting about it. For the record, I do a search before starting a thread on a fil or personality, but this thread started about the subject of last night's films, thus nothing more that a glance at the first page was necessary.

 

My point is that such things may occur less frequently if the distributor IS at fault and forced to rectify the situation at no cost (or a lesser cost) to TCM.

 

 

For example's sake, let's just say if they're supposed to get two runs of a complete REACH FOR THE SKY, then last week's airing should not count since TCM didn't get what was promised. They should not have to pay the same price for getting less any more than you should if you buy a pound of ham and the seller gives you twelve ounces because that's all that is on the shelf but charges you for sixteen.

 

 

As far as on-air programming grids go, they're notoriously inaccurate and I don't use them. Too often they disagree with what a channel offers on its own site. Since the one that Time Warner uses on my system doesn't even include running times (slot time yes, but not running time), they're of no use to me. My system had REACH FOR THE SKY listed as being 2 hours and 30 minutes since it started at 130pm and the next film started at 4pm.

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