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Thursday, November 02, 2017

You'll Feel Every Cannon Shot


Cease Fire! (1953) Finally Back In 3-D Glory

I've not gone looking for on-the-ground documentaries about the Korean War, but can't offhand imagine how any could be so effective as this 3-D march over actual battle sites with real personnel who fought. Cease Fire! was boldest experiment muted by a gimmick too few respected. Had producer Hal Wallis jettisoned 3-D, he'd have maybe had at least a critic success if not an economic one (reviews still overall good, but did depth dial greater respect down?). Cease Fire! seems more a Wallis whack at prestige, like Come Back Little Sheba, than cash-in on a process the public was already tiring of. In either case, Cease Fire! played most engagements flat. What seemed to limit the film actually enhances it now. Surface impression is of soldiers trying to act and some falling down on that unaccustomed job, which of course was whole point of the till-then never-tried exercise. Yes, there had been G.I.'s on camera before, as background and even speaking support to, for instance, John Wayne in Sands Of Iwo Jima, but Cease Fire! had dog faces as the whole show, and who can complain where entirety of the cast is the McCoy? We adjust to the amateurs right off because none stand out as pros, all earning nod for game effort at showing what they'd gone through in combat. Fact that some would end up casualties is further boost to verisimilitude. Wallis should have gotten documentary awards for doing Cease Fire!.




Wallis was still a show-me-the-money producer, Cease Fire! no sop to applause from reviewers. It would be sold on action and authenticity terms, and just so no one would misread Cease Fire! as a newsreel in depth, there were trailers boosting the show along lines of Battleground plus other pics that had brought war recount out of doldrums. Trouble was this being a Korea war, where goals seemed obscure against backdrop of "peace talks" we read as exercises in futility. Cease Fire! acknowledges that with at least one character to represent doubt of ever getting out of this far-away mess (suggested combo: Cease Fire! with Pork Chop Hill). Whatever integrity in the telling, Cease Fire!, which ran low tab in negative cost ($265K), took back less than a million in domestic rentals for both flat, and limited 3-D, playdates. Afterward vanishing act made Cease Fire! a barely known artifact of the 3-D era --- we couldn't see it even on syndicated TV. Kino's Blu-Ray amounts to a brand new old movie for ones of us born since last theatrical dates over sixty years ago. Crack team at 3-D Archive is again at helm of stereo-view recovery (both picture and sound), my guess that Cease Fire! never played this fine on its best first-run presentment. Be sure to read exhaustive coverage of the film's production and release by Ted Okuda at the 3-D Archive site. This is research of the highest order. Cease Fire! will be released November 21 on 3-D/Blu-Ray. It is a must-see for devotees of depth and even more so, those seeking combat coverage with artifice off.

All images above courtesy the 3-D Archive.

2 Comments:

Blogger Reg Hartt said...

When I first got into digital 3D I did my homework on the medium. I then tracked down 2D copies of films originally made in 3D. I used computer programs to render them into 3D. At best I got a poor idea of how these films should look. One of the titles I got was CEASE FIRE. Because these are authentic soldiers on a real battleground the film has a resonance make believe can not deliver.

Now, thanks to the 3D Film Archive, I am seeing these films better than they were seen in first release. Eager to see this one.

2:38 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

An e-mail from Griff inquires as to why CEASE FIRE missed syndication ...


Dear John:

Having grown up in a region where '50s Paramount fare seemed all over the late shows, I am curious about why something like CEASE FIRE was apparently never in a syndication package. It may be an unusual picture without stars (or, for that matter, professional actors), but that doesn't fully explain it. Was it unresolved -- still unresolved to this day, for that matter -- national feelings about the Korean War? [This didn't prevent 1954's BRIDGES AT TOKO-RI from airing frequently in Par syndication, but the presence of Holden and Kelly may explain that.] Of course, I still remain puzzled why Stevens' minor but quite interesting '52 SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR also doesn't seem to have been included in Paramount syndication packages. At any rate, I'm now very curious to see this.

Regards,
-- Griff


GREENBRIAR RESPONDS: Hey Griff, don't know why CEASE FIRE was off TV for so many years (though I have BIB books that indicate it WAS available for broadcast in Canada). As for SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR, I do recall it showing on ABC in primetime around 1970, but not otherwise, until finally the DVD was released.

10:15 AM  

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