Where’s Your Messiah Now, Eh? The Ten Commandments In 35mm IB Technicolor This Saturday

The Portage Theater – 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave – 7:00 – $5.00 per ticket
For the full schedule of classic film screenings at the Portage, please click here.

Special Saturday Presentation
April 7
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
Directed Cecil B. DeMille • 1956
A wonderfully overblown remake of his 1923 film of the same name, Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 The Ten Commandments (in VistaVision, Technicolor, and running nearly four hours long) was also the great director’s swan song to the silver screen (he retired shortly after suffering a heart attack on set atop a 107-foot ladder). DeMille died in 1959, but not before, as Variety put it, “throwing sex and sand at the eyes of his audience for twice as long as anyone in Hollywood had ever dared to.” The Ten Commandments’ merits as a piece of serious filmmaking may occasionally run dry, but nobody before or since has been able to achieve the level of ferocious terror and sensuality in a biblical epic seen here. Immensely popular on its release, it has also been screened on a Saturday in April on ABC since 1973, and re-released several times in 35 and 70mm (the latter billed as the totally bogus Super VistaVision, which cropped the top and bottom of the original negative to accommodate a wider 70mm frame). We’ll be presenting it as it was meant to be seen: in an original IB Technicolor print, with an intermission and DeMille’s impassioned introduction. With Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson, Yvonne De Carlo, Debra Paget, John Derek, Sir Cedric Hardwicke—and Vincent Price! (JA)
220 min, with intermission • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from private collections

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We’ll return to our regular, non-Vistavision programming this Wednesday with Ernst Lubitsch’s rarely screened Angel.

Wednesday, April 11 @ 7:30
ANGEL
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch • 1937
“You really let all Europe wait just to find out if a woman is a brunette?” Marlene Dietrich, in the final film on her Paramount contract, stars as the continent-hopping wife of statesman Herbert Marshall. Their marriage is contented and unquarrelsome until she spends an afternoon in the Paris salon of a celebrated Russian émigré and falls for Englishman Melvyn Douglas, who knows her only as “Angel.” Torn between an affair with a man she hardly knows and the frustrating status quo with a husband more attentive to Yugoslavia’s problems than her own, Dietrich must improvise a tidy end to an untidy love triangle. Mysteriously neglected, despite Lubitsch, Dietrich, Marshall, and screenwriter Samson Raphaelson all in top form, Angel is a wise and observant film about bedroom diplomacy and the negotiation at the heart of all marriages. (KW)
91 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from Universal
Cartoon: Popeye in “For Better or for Worser” (Dave Fleischer, 1935) – 16mm

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4 Responses to Where’s Your Messiah Now, Eh? The Ten Commandments In 35mm IB Technicolor This Saturday

  1. DEFG says:

    From the Portage website:

    “Immensely popular on its release, it has also been screened on a Saturday in April on ABC since 1973, and re-released several times in 35 and 70mm (the latter billed as the totally bogus Super VistaVision, which cropped the top and bottom of the original negative to accommodate a wider 70mm frame).”

    This data is incorrect:

    1.Super VistaVision is a title developed, but not used originally in advertising and publicity, by Paramount for the 70mm-Stereo release of “The Ten Commandments” and was drawn from the Technicolor Corporation enlargement of their Technirama 35mm to 70mm and known as Super Technirama 70. The title was used in the 1989-1990 70mm release of the film. So, despite the opinions and natter about Super VistaVision, it is not bogus.

    2.VistaVision, as does Technirama, runs horizontally in the photographic stage. VistaVision has a full projection Aspect Ratio of 1.66:1 (66 times taller than its width) and, using the applicable aperture plate inserted in the projector according to the framing guide instructions, makes the image 1.85:1 for standard widescreen and a 2:1 ratio for a comparable 70mm look.

    3.There is no loss of “important” picture data using the the framing guide aperture plates. The standard 1.66:1 ratio image may reveal production gear from the actual studio sets during filming, so the 1.85:1 was always recommended.

    4.The 70mm enlargement lost very, very little picture data. I know because I ran a comparisons of original horizontal VistaVision, standard 35mm release print, and the 70mm Super Vistavision yesterday morning. As I stated, very little image loss.

    5.There were a few very beautiful Scope (anamorphic) 35mm 4-channel stereo and Technicolor prints made in 1959 for the “Last Chance to See” release of the film in 1959 and 1960. One of these prints, slighty abused by age and careless cutting for projection platter use, showed up at the Colonial Theatre, Phoenixville, PA for their March 13, 2005 screening.

    I hope this clarifies the erroneous data posted on the Portage website.

  2. Julian Antos says:

    Thanks for your comment, I’m glad to hear from someone who’s seen the film in 70mm.

    Were 70mm prints cropped down to 2.2:1 or were they slightly pillarboxed? I can see where you’re coming from but it seems to me that any cropping of a VistaVision print past 2:1 would be too tight …whether or not the image cut off in the process is important really a matter of opinion.

  3. DEFG says:

    Julian,

    Thanks for the reply.

    I want you and all associated with the theatre to have a very successful screening of “The Ten Commandments” and all future exhibitions of cinema classics.

    I posted a scan comparing the three variations of VistaVision from 1989:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/78772239@N02/6905871874/in/photostream

    Right mouse click and click Large for a better view.

    For your enjoyment, here is a page of the historical aspects of various theatres I have been posting to Cinema Treasures. Some contain data that has not been known to the general public and others have data that corrects misinformation that has been running around for years as rumors, especially on film formats and running times:

    http://cinematreasures.org/members/defg/photos

    There are currently 57 pages of clickable images. Enjoy yourself>

    Again, much success and best of health through all the coming years.

  4. Fred Georges says:

    I respectfully disagree with DEFG regarding “The Ten Commandments” and “Super VistaVision”. Since I own both (an original 1956 IB Tech) and an 89 (Anamorphic 2:35) “Super VistaVision” (sic) print. I can assure you the cropping is quite extreme in some scenes vs. the correct presentation ratio of 1:85. Paramount even monkeyed with the DeMille prolog and opening title section by printing them both windowboxed in a 1:37 frame & “Opening” the screen width to CinemaScope during “The Ten Commandments” Title section. The color timing on these prints is impressive but the aspect ratio is just plain wrong & NOT what DeMille or the DP intended.

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