The Shane Showdown --- Part One
Looks like a Shane dust-up brewing. This is what lightning-pace Internetting can do to announced Blu-Rays ... put them in controversy's column when there's hint of a foul-up, which we've apparently got here thanks to Paramount intent for a 1.66 ratio in accord with Shane's premiere at
For the record, I absolutely think Shane should be released in 1.37, or at the least, as viewing option on a two-ratio disc that would quell controversy by letting us choose which version of the show to watch. What's happening is reprise of 1953 panic for expanded screens. Now that televisions are being sold with wide view, programming is being pulled like taffy to fit them. Ever watch TNT or other networks where images are freakishly stretched to avoid dreaded black bars on left and right of your screen? There's perception today that we want every inch of TV real estate filled with image. Wide sets may lead to altogether finish for broadcast of old movies, leaving us with survivor discs and whatever gets streamed. Should full-frame Shane issued earlier on standard DVD now go in safety deposit boxes?
George Stevens filmed Shane long before an industry went widescreen daffy. Release just six months earlier would have spared everyone a muddle. Trouble was the stretch-screen gold rush in full press just as
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Other trade publications, always eager to play ball with ad-purchasing producers, kept criticism down to a whisper. Variety's "Inside Stuff --- Pictures" column of 4/29/53 made tactful reference to New York's opening: Radio City Music Hall, N.Y., preemed Paramount's Shane on its new, flat 50X30 screen last week (4/23) and came up with what's regarded as a definitely improved pic, particularly in the scenic shots in which the George Stevens production abounds. Screen's 1.66 to 1 aspect ratio occasionally clipped images top and bottom and a certain amount of light loss was noticeable, particularly in low-key scenes, but these are figured minor blemishes. Size of the Hall makes the larger surface so acceptable that it's difficult to imagine a smaller screen ever having been in use there. Should Blu-Ray purchasers now accept a Shane with said "minor blemishes" as referenced by Variety in 1953? (Part Two of this column will appear Tuesday, 4/9).