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: Leone's League  ( 27276 )
grandpa_chum
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« #45 : February 18, 2005, 06:45:37 PM »

How do I find who used Cinemascope? Is there an easy way to weed out directors?

what do you mean by weed out?

are you saying cinemascope is somehow superior?


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« #46 : February 18, 2005, 09:40:01 PM »

But Kurosawa's best weren't made in cinemascope at all... in fact, they were made in what some nowadays would refer to as 'Full Screen'.
Well, there is room for disagreement here. My personal feeling is that Kurosawa's best films *were* made in 'scope, and that the use of the wider aspect ratio is one (though by no means the only) reason why.

Even if you disagree, though, it still makes sense to limit comparisons of Leone's Westerns to Kurosawa's Tohoscope films (or to other director's films shot in scope). Why? I contend that a scope film is as different from a full-frame film as an apple is from an orange, or as a novel is from a short story.

It would be worth little to contend, for example, that Hemmingway's short stories are better than Fitzgerald's novels (although I prefer the former to the latter), but there is profit in comparing, say, _A Farewell to Arms_ with _The Great Gatsby_. The fact that they are both novels means that they were composed under similar if not identical rules; "leagues" are only possible when members are held to the same standards.



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« #47 : February 19, 2005, 07:41:26 AM »

Quote
what do you mean by weed out?

are you saying cinemascope is somehow superior?


No I'm just trying to judge by the criterior set forth by dave, and by the way the widescreen museum is a great site, I've barely scratched the surface in it, lol, so it may be awhile before I can digest and form some opinions.

Thanks for the site find dave.


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« #48 : February 20, 2005, 07:50:42 PM »

Ok dave,

Well checked out the widescreen site and kept checking the filmographies for each type, no Leone films, so I say what gives?

A little searching around and I find that Leone used Techinscope, which was a cheaper film saving method altogether different.

 I email the curator at the Widescreen Museum and here is his smart alec answer:

> Why no filmography for Techniscope?
>

1. Because I'm lazy.
2. Because there's no good source
3. Because nobody really cares about this crummy little system.

MBH

History of Techniscope:

http://jkor.com/peter/techniscope.html



In the 1960's, anamorphic cinematography was more popular in Italy than the United States. However, the added cost of anamorphic production often meant a reduction in some other aspect of production. Italian producers did not have the luxury of relatively large budgets, like their American counterparts. Then Technicolor in Rome came up with an interesting alternative, a new system know as Techniscope.



Significantly, the system employed normal spherical lenses. Anamorphic lenses at the time, were more expensive to hire, needed more light, and were less sharp. In addition, working with anamorphic's narrower depth of field, was considered a limitation by cinematographers in the 1960's. The horizontal angle of view of a standard 18mm lens on a Techniscope camera was equivalent to that of 35mm 'scope lens. The 18mm lens has a substantial increase in depth of field, compared to the 35mm lens. So this effective increase in depth of field was seen as a significant advantage of the Techniscope system at the time. The use of readily available standard lenses was an undeniable bonus to both cinematographers and producers alike. These lenses performed better, cost less, were more available, and there was a wide variety to choose from.



However, the 35mm camera needed modification for shooting the Techniscope system. The movement was changed to expose a two-perforation area instead of the normal four-perf. pull-down configuration. In addition, the camera aperture was changed to 1 : 2.35 along with the viewfinder markings. A re-centring of the lens axis was not necessary with this system. Mitchell, Arriflex and Eclair, among others, produced these modified cameras. The two perf. pull-down meant another significant advantage of Techniscope, because the film stock now lasted twice as long as the equivalent length required for normal 35mm cameras.



On a specialized optical printer, Technicolor added a 2 x 1 anamorphic squeeze and, at the same time, optically 'blew up' the half-frame image to the full, 4 perf., anamorphic format. It could then be projected in the same way as regular CinemaScope/anamorphic films in virtually any cinema around the world. Despite this 50% enlargement of the image, Techniscope was usually clearer and sharper than CinemaScope at the time. It was ironic that it performed better than the system it tried to emulate. While the laboratory work was slightly more expensive than normal, production costs in film stock were cut in half. And there were further savings by avoiding the need to hire the more expensive anamorphic camera lenses.



A summery of the advantages of Techniscope are as follows:

1). The cost of the camera negative is halved, and therefore, the processing costs are also halved.

2). The ease and efficiency of shooting "a 'scope picture" but with normal spherical lenses. A wide range of high-quality, spherical prime and zoom lenses, can be utilized. These are generally much lighter and faster than anamorphic lenses, and are more readily available.

3). A better standard of image sharpness, and greater depth of field, is achieved through the use of lenses of shorter focal length.

4). It is possible to film for twice as long without reloading. Negative wastage is also reduced because 'short ends' are longer and hence more 'useable'.

5). Camera noise is reduced due to the fact that less film is moved through the transport mechanism.

6). A saving on the extra cost of hiring anamorphic lenses.

7). Techniscope allows for the extraction of a variety of 35mm and 16mm prints in both standard and anamorphic formats. The most common are: [A] the standard 2 : 1 squeezed anamorphic print with a 2.35 : 1 aspect ratio; standard masked prints 1.66 : 1, 1.75 : 1 and 1.85 : 1; and [C] 16mm prints.

Ok so Here is a short list of some better known titles that were shot in Techniscope (in chronological order) ...

The Ipcress File (United Artists 1965)
Fistful of Dollars (United Artists 1967)
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (United Artists 1967)
The Long Day's Dying (Paramount 1968)
Once Upon a Time in the West (Paramount 1969)
A Fistful of Dynamite
[Duck You Sucker] (United Artists 1972)
American Graffiti (Universal 1973)

Not a whole lot to choose among.




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« #49 : February 20, 2005, 08:24:25 PM »

Thanks for that info, which I for one found really interesting. It is worth noting that Leone got such good results from such an "inferior" format. Also, many if not most of the Spaghettis were shot in Techniscope.

The comment about achieving greater depth-of-field is also important. I know that Kurosawa often used telephoto lenses, which tends to flatten images and make them appear 2-D. One thing that Leone has over just about everyone is his ability to combine depth-of-field with panoramic vistas. Take, for example, Angel Eye's intro in GBU, the shot that begins the farmhouse slaughter scene. LVC rides into the frame in long shot, dismounts and walks toward the camera. Just when you think he is about to hit a mark that will allow him to be perfectly framed in medium shot, he keeps coming, getting impossibly close, until we get one of the greatest CUs in cinema history. That shot gives me chills every time I watch it, and it was the kind of thing that only Leone could have delivered.



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« #50 : February 21, 2005, 06:01:09 AM »

Spielberg
Kubrick
Leone

That are 3 favorites of mine.

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« #51 : February 21, 2005, 07:29:14 PM »

Since Close Encounters was filmed in a 'scope aspect ratio, Speilberg, according to my way of thinking, certainly qualifies for consideration.



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« #52 : April 18, 2005, 08:39:00 PM »

I still fail to see what aspect ratio or film type has to do with filmmaking talent and ability... it is simply the medium on which they capture their art, as far as i'm concerned motion-picture is as specific as it should get... as opposed to a painting or a photograph or a book... within that it really makes no difference, it takes just as much talent and ability to make a movie in 1.66:1 as it does cinemascope, it's just working with what you got and some movies simply look better in broader aspect ratios and i wouldn't want them refilmed in a wider one...

back on topic... after giving in a few months of thought and seen a shitload more movies and hopefully evolved as a film viewer... i give you the updated and a bit more exclusive list of directors I believe to be as talented, if not more, as leone in the art of filmmaking...

Sergio Leone
Sam Peckinpah
Stanley Kubrick
Luis Bunuel


on the outside looking in... aka one or two more, as of yet undiscovered, great viewings away
John Milius
Woody Allen
Orson Welles
David Lean
Alfred Hitchcock
John Ford
Sergio Corbucci

Longshots, but from what i've seen they have a shot to get there apon more, as of yet undiscovered, viewings
Sidney Lumet
The Coen Brothers
Don Siegel
Charlie Chaplin
Elia Kazan
Steven Spielberg


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dave jenkins
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« #53 : April 19, 2005, 02:06:43 AM »

I still fail to see what aspect ratio or film type has to do with filmmaking talent and ability... it is simply the medium on which they capture their art, as far as i'm concerned motion-picture is as specific as it should get... as opposed to a painting or a photograph or a book... within that it really makes no difference, it takes just as much talent and ability to make a movie in 1.66:1 as it does cinemascope, it's just working with what you got and some movies simply look better in broader aspect ratios and i wouldn't want them refilmed in a wider one...


I actually think it takes more talent and ability to make a good film in scope than it does to make a good film in another aspect ratio, but that really wasn't the point I was making earlier. Gramps, you raised the idea of a league, and now you're trying to tell us that if people are using bats and balls and a diamond, it's baseball and nothing but. I say the bigs are different than any other kind of play, and even among the majors there are reasons to distinguish between National League teams and American League teams. When teams play by different rules,  comparing records is not always possible.

The same applies to film genres. I think it is fairly easy to compare Leone with Peckinpah, Kubrick, Lean and Mann: all made films that have a quality that could be described as "epic" (Scope is one, but not the only, element that contributes to this quality). Other directors, who were no less great than those just mentioned, did their work on smaller canvases. Their films are no less beautiful, perhaps, but because they were developed according to different "rules", comparisons of their films with films of the epic type can't really be useful. How can you say that Leone is better than Hitchcock, for example, or that Hitchcock is better than Leone? What's the basis for comparison? I don't think you can really say anything except reveal your preference for epic over thrillers, or thrillers over epic, as the case may be.

I have no problem at all, however, when it comes to comparing filmmakers and films that operate *within* a particular genre. I know in my bones that OUATITW is a better film than either Lawrence of Arabia or 2001, just as I know that either of those latter films is better than Gladiator (to say nothing of Fall of the Roman Empire being better than Gladiator). They are just similar enough to make comparisons possible.

So Gramps, I find your league metaphor helpful, even if you didn't intend for anyone to apply it so strictly. Maybe a filmmaker can do epic without Cinemascope, just as a major league team can stay in a pennant race without playing long ball. But epics shine in Cinemascope, and crowds like to see their fair share of homeruns.



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« #54 : April 19, 2005, 07:39:33 PM »

well put... and i guess i have to admit that i'm not trying to say anything other than my preference... you are absolutely correct, if you are trying to make arguments for who was the best in general terms, but this is entertainment, and all i feel comfortable judging by is my personal enjoyment of their films... why do i think leone is better than say hitchcock, because i enjoy his films more, and to be more specific to the idea of looking at a director separately from his specific films, i enjoy leone's direction more than hitchhock's... i can even say that if i were to come across a great script for a thriller, i would rather see leone, peckinpah, kubrick, or bunuel directing it rather than hitchhock... i think my preference for their directing goes beyond genre, and actually one of the things i looked at when i was deciding who i thought was in leone's "league" was whether or not they made me love a film, when i basically hated the genre, as leone did with OUATIAmerica... peckinpah did it with a mexican crime movie(alfredo), kubrick did it with a musket-war movie(lyndon), and bunuel did it with an artsy almost completely surreal movie(discreet charm)... other directors have made movies that transcended genre, but not to the extent these 4 have done, in my eyes anyway, along with having made the best movies in their own genre.


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« #55 : April 19, 2005, 10:09:18 PM »

I think using aspect ratio as a way of pairing down Leone's league is sort of silly.   Why don't we list only the the great directors who were also Italian, or who were the same height weight as Sergio?     

My list consisted of outstanding genre directors who made or make films that transcend the limits of the genres they work in.   That's what Sergio did and would have done regardless of aspect ratio.

« : April 19, 2005, 10:16:16 PM Two Kinds of ... »

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« #56 : April 19, 2005, 10:34:13 PM »

Dave does make a great point... but i agree, regardless of era, genre, technique, or country of origin it's not really what the guy has to work with, its how he works with it, kubrick for instance made great films in almost all of the different aspect ratios, does that make him better or worse than leone no, but i guess technically dave could argue he is in a different league and again maybe that is a bad word, i only meant up there with, as great as or greater... and i think to go on anything other than personal preference(which generally has nothing to do with aspect ratio as long as it's the original ratio the film was shot in)... after all it is art, there is no system other than personal preference.

i may be getting long winded... but another thing that seems flawed about seperating directors according to aspect ratio is the fact that most great directors used varying aspect ratios at pretty random times in their career progression... does Once Upon A Time In America put leone out of his own league and does 2001 put kubrick out of his own league because they went against the directors usual ratio


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« #57 : April 21, 2005, 09:28:22 PM »

Okay, maybe talking about directors isn't really the best way to go. Leone is unique in that he hit a homerun for every at bat. Of course, when you only have 6 at bats, your percentage can be phenomenal, and another player of equal talent can look worse by simply having to step up to the plate more frequently. So the best thing to compare is not really directors, but films. Even great directors made turkeys if they make enough of them.

I suggest that we nominate films that are in the same league with those made by Leone. I am going to continue to use the league metaphor that Grandpa Chum created (if even inadvertantly) because that is what makes the exercise interesting for me. I am going to be thinking in terms of "epic filmmaking" and I am going to use aspect ratio as one (but not an exclusive) criteria (films made prior to Cinemascope can qualify; for example, Gone With The Wind is rightly considered an epic (I just don't happen to like it)). But I am going to exclude great films that are in "other leagues" (which is why there will be no Hitchcock, for example, even though I think he was a great, great filmmaker). Of course, you all can play the game anyway you see fit. Okay, enough, here is my first tentative list of films:

Only Angels Have Wings
My Darling Clementine
Red River
Objective Burma
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Winchester 73
Vera Cruz
Lola Montes
River Kwai
El Cid
Lawrence of Arabia
The Leopard
The Train
Cheyenne Autumn
Zulu
Lord Jim
Fall of the Roman Empire
Von Ryan's Express
Grand Prix
2001
The Wild Bunch
True Grit
Patton
Barry Lyndon
A Bridge Too Far
The Thin Red Line
Black Hawk Down

A lot of war films and westerns? That might be because the epic descends from The Odyssey/The Illiad, which are about war and adventure. This list will probably expand as I see more Peckinpah this year.........

« : April 22, 2005, 12:43:50 AM dave jenkins »


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« #58 : April 21, 2005, 09:40:33 PM »

yeah, pat garrett and billy the kid would definitly qualify along with ride the high country and maybe bring me the head of alfredo garcia, although the latter seems to almost be in a league all it's own, that is it's not really a western or an epic.


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« #59 : April 22, 2005, 12:39:48 AM »

Yeah, Gramps, I know what you mean about Alfredo Garcia. I just watched it on the new DVD a week ago, and it blew me away. But it really is hard to classify. Maybe, like you say, it's in a league of its own........



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