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Playing CinemaScope Pictures In Pan & Scan


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I just sat down to watch "Ride A Crooked Trail" (1958). I am very disappointed that for whatever reason TCM is showing this film in pan&scan instead of it's true 2.35:1 aspect ratio. I hope the film can be re-broadcast in its correct aspect ratio. But, this seems unlikely as I don't see any future listing for it when search is done in the database.

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Yes, I feel your pain. There are about a dozen movies that came on or are coming on this month in pan & scan that should be in widescreen. But, rest assured, TCM is doing all they can to provide us with the widescreen versions. The tcmprogrammer stated that they always request the widescreen versions of films, but they are bound by whatever the distributor sends to them. In an e-mail I received from TCM, they told me that they would rather air the pan & scan cut of a film than not at all. So, though we are dismayed when we see a butchered version of a widescreen classic (e.g., McLintock!), at least we know that it is out of TCM's hands. I'm glad that 99% of TCM's schedule contains movies in their original format. Keep up the good work TCM!

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Right - this one is actually owned by Universal. We always request a letterboxed version, but they can't always provide us with one. Our priority, however, is to play the films in their original aspect ratios whenever possible.

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Tragically, there are still more than a handful of Cinemascope/Panavision et al classic titles only viewed in their pan and scan format. In the early 80s (with the advent of home video taking off in VHS format) it was thought by the studio big wigs that no one would tolerate watching a movie with those black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. Hence, they came up with pan and scan - an inferior method of cropping that completely robbed audiences of the careful attention to film composition that the director and cinematographer had originally intended.

 

With DVD the tide towards this form of bastardization of art has slowly been reversed. Particularly over at Fox (who patented Cinemascope in the early 50s) the move has been toward preservation and restoration of widescreen movies in all their 2:35:1 dramatic splendor. Unfortunately, lesser titles in all of the studio's cannons have not yet received the treatment every work of art does.

 

Maybe one day their will be redemption for this title too. You should check out the website The Digital Bits. In their 'surf the links' section you'll find an address and email for Universal Home Video. Write your displeasure to them and see what happens.

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What I wish TCM would do: If they have in their schedule a w/s movie for which they were able to obtain only a p/s copy, they should say so. Perhaps instead of using the standard w/s icon, an icon with a line through it could be used to signify the w/s copy isn't available.

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