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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Another 3-D Leap Into Living Rooms

3-D Archive's Latest Avalanche Is It Came From Outer Space (1953)

I'll bet majority of folks in 1953 at least wanted to believe flying saucers were real. No doubt all kids felt that way. One of them shows up in It Came From Outer Space with a helmet and ray gun, as if ready to repel invaders, or join their cause. Early science-fiction had a degree of plausibility thanks to sightings taken seriously by media. The genre got turned over to scrap merchants after novelty flagged and grown-ups satisfied selves that such was pretty silly after all. It Came From Outer Space rode an interest wave at its peak, not only for sci-fi, but new-arrived 3-D to features, and satisfaction of curiosity for Hollywood's latest freak attraction. What percentage of ticket-buyers took single gander at 3-D and said, enough of this? I suspect lots, especially adults put off by the glasses and screw-ups endemic to the gimmick. How many synchronized projections do you suppose came off 100% in 1953? The fad was short-lived, for good reason, this I suspect most aggrivating of them. Quick query: Name unspoolings, of any sort, that you attended where everything went perfect. Drat that human factor for being 3-D's worst enemy.

Digital has overcome all that. Bob Furmanek and Greg Kintz's It Came From Outer Space (and yes, they deserve possessory credit) looks, by their own estimation, better than what crowds in 1953 saw. Kinks inherent in prior runs are smoothed out. Furmanek and Kintz have also put back stereo sound not heard properly in sixty-three years. Separation effects fairly bounce off walls. If 3-D had been as good back then as what these fellows deliver, it would have lasted longer. I was never nuts for the process after sitting through botched 70's revives and coming out most of times with blinding headache. No more of those thanks to Furmanek/Kintz. Their stamp on a 3-D box is guarantor of quality. Universal was wise to trust them with It Came From Outer Space. Release date is today, but mine arrived from Best Buy with yester-mail, and word is the disc sells for under $10 at member stores (a BB exclusive). I call this a Blu-Ray bargain of the year.

Maybe there were saucers visiting back in the 50's that stopped coming because we quit making good sci-fi movies like It Came From Outer Space. Ours was a Viewmaster world back then. I regret being unborn or too young to enjoy bounty of it, cause by the 60's, SF like 3-D was either gone or buried on TV. All my exposure to It Came From Outer Space and ones of once-depth came via the tube, where we wondered why objects kept being thrown toward the camera. Furmanek/Kintz now illustrate that, and vividly. Even quiet scenes of It Came From Outer Space carry a jolt. Richard Carlson's telescope --- watch your head! That desert mildly mysterious before is overwhelmingly sinister now. We really get the punch of 3-D composition as designed by makers who knew their depth. It Came From Outer Space as taken for granted before may be safely celebrated now, thanks to 3-D Archive's creative team. If you've put off rigging a den for depth, here is incentive for making the plunge. Added to good news is much more 3-D on Furmanek/Kintz's plate for 2017. Read all about that and more at their Archive site, and HERE'S where to order It Came From Outer Space.


Blogger Supersoul said...

I was very young in 1953 (7 years old) and I made quite a fuss with my parents so that they insisted that my older brother take me along with him to see "It Came from Outer Space" in 3D. My memory of the story line is not do good after all these years, but, boy oh boy, do I remember the dramatic effect of the 3D scenes! I cannot say for sure if the projection was perfect, but the 3D effects just blew my 7 year old mind. I ducked when objects came straight out of the screen and tried to reach out to touch some of them. This experience remains one of my most cherished memories.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you for the kind words, John. Greg Kintz and I are VERY pleased to bring this 3-D classic back to life.

As our research from primary source documents has shown, 'twas faulty projection - more than anything else - that killed the stereoscopic beast in 1953. There are SO many examples of key openings and industry trade screenings done poorly, it's obvious why the process died out so quickly, within a matter of months.

You might find this article by Jack Theakston of interest:

2:51 PM  
Blogger antoniod said...

I remember the 1970s anaglyph version of IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE leaving me a bit soured on 3D, not knowing that it had originally been in the Polarized format.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Who thought dark grey letters on a black background was a good way to display text?

5:09 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Not me, because I use white lettering against a black background.

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Not sure if this happens to everyone, but when I call up an archived post, the comments at bottom appear in very dark grey lettering. I have to click and drag to create a highlight in order to read them.

As for IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, my only memory of that is having been given the Castle Films' silent 8mm highlight reel by a friend of my dad's. Since the text titles spoken by "IT" appeared one word at a time, there wasn't a lot of room left on that 50 feet for action!

12:00 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

That dark grey lettering with the comments on archived posts is something I can't change --- at least I don't know of a way to change it, this being a Google/Blogger setting. One thing you can do is choose the "Make A Comment" option at the bottom, and that will take you a black-on-white page where all the comments are there and easily readable.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Scott MacGillivray said...

The dauntless, veteran projectionists at "my" neighborhood house of old (the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, Massachusetts) did themselves proud with a 1980s revival of HOUSE OF WAX and the Stooge short SPOOKS! Polarized glasses, and the effects were all on the money. When I visited the booth after the show, the guys showed me the SPOOKS! reels -- and how they "had to slug the hell out of the left one" (inserting black frames to compensate for damage, so the left and right prints would synchronize). I suspected these were warhorse prints from the original 1953 release!

8:40 PM  
Blogger William Ferry said...

I got my Best Buy copy in the mail and watched it this weekend. Great job all-around. and I only watched the 2-D version. Jack Arnold really had the knack. A big thank you to Bob Furmanek and Greg Kintz for a wonderful restoration job. It's encouraging to see the care and thought that goes into a release like this. I've been a fan since the early 80's, and still have my copy of AMAZING 3-D!

7:05 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Who knows if I'll ever have 3-D at home to watch this, but I always liked it as intelligent sci-fi, recognizing that even as a kid. And am I the only one who thinks the big eyeball alien inspired HAL 9000? Kubrick, like so many great filmmakers, was a pack rat for effects he liked.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

While I like the alien I have to ask myself how a critter that could not see 3D traveled around its own world let alone through space as it could not possibly see depth. And those hands? How on whatever could they create that spaceship? Guess the special effects guys never thought of that. Yes, they could shape change but that still does not account for creating their technology. Don't get me wrong. I love the film and love this restoration. We are in a golden age of motion picture restoration and presentation. Many films, like this one, have never even when new looked and sounded so great. With taxes I paid $11.85. I hope Universal gets enough sales to justify giving their entire 3D library (including METALSTORM. Boy is that hard on the eyes!) the 3D Film Archive treatment.

5:11 AM  

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