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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Welcome Western In 3-D

Gun Fury (1953) Promised Much, But Did It Deliver?

This By Far The Dominant Art Even On Euro Posters
A western was a western was a western by 1953, unless advertising could somehow set one apart from the rest. Often that was done with sex-specific ads, and promises of content that the film would not deliver. Why would Code policies be suspended for the likes of Gun Fury? --- yet exploitation as here gave hope that this time maybe things would be different, that we'd see a woman made victim of an "act of violence" while her man is bound up and forced to watch. There was a scene in Gun Fury with a man tied and a woman carried off, but it was nowhere approximate to what lurid ads suggested. "If It Was Your Woman This Happened To ..." meant one thing, and movies were years away from license to depict that onscreen. Notion of "her man" riding south to "avenge" the act was also not fulfilled, short of motive painted very broad and having nothing to do with an assault that does not take place. This sort of art and graphics, however, was what sucked patronage into theatres for Gun Fury, a western few would mistake for anything other than ordinary. What stood it out, then and more so now, was application of 3-D, a process more than rehabilitated by what digital can now do.

Lately-out Gun Fury on Blu-Ray is at least as good as most 3-D of the era. Raoul Walsh directed, him with one functioning eye since 1929, of which some express wonder how he could perceive depth, but where was need of that for a man forty years in film by 1953? Instinct alone made seeing of result superfluous. Busy foreground and known tricks were familiar to the recipe, guns fired at the camera like in The Great Train Robbery (which RW probably saw first-run), plus jolt of a rattler leaping for the lens, a best shock effect I've so far seen in depth (we wonder who dreams up 3-D gags --- the director, camera crew, a brought-in consultant?). Distinction of Gun Fury is in story and dialogue, so 3-D could lie back as it has for sixty-five years and we'd still have an adequate show (Inferno a same sort of treat, flat or deep). Up and comer writers were at work, one of them Roy Huggins, who'd pen more westerns, then run the table once cowpokes took over television (Maverick was his). To Gun Fury depth, add that of heavies Phil Carey and Leo Gordon, both shaded well for interact with convention-serving Rock Hudson and Donna Reed.

High Noon made outdoor action a lure to grown-ups who liked nuance beyond black hat-white hat. So-called "adult" westerns, done both cheap and expensive, waited in wings as Saturday saddles were put permanent in 50's bunkhouse, Republic, then Columbia, even biggest names like Autry and Rogers, giving up spurs to thirty-minute TV or rodeo appearing. Seems kids did a lot of growing up during and after the war and wanted cowboys to speak plainer, result a lot of theatres doffing short-pants action in favor of leather slapped harder. I had a friend whose parents took him to a presumed kid appeal show that had The Law and Jake Wade for a second feature, that one tough as most came in postwar reboot of westerns. The boy was eight when exposed to what for him may have been a first theatrical western, but die was cast, and nothing older time cowpokes did after this could win him. The 50's were possibly a peak decade for westerns, which like crime thrillers or what's loosely called noir, were prolific as sand on a beach. How much of it have we still not accounted for? (I keep coming across good ones that are new to me)

Comin' At Ya In Promotional Stills

3-D features can look better on our TV's than they ever did in theatres. Snafu-ing was rife during fad peak. Much of what made ships sink was presentation foul-up. Never mind what could go wrong ... better to ask what went right. In wake of digital takeover, would there be anyone left who could sync up 35mm dual prints today? Talk about gone --- show me a booth that even has side by side 35mm projectors (outside collector cribs that won't give film up). Imagine if they had digital in 1953-54. 3-D in that event might have stayed for keeps. What always soured me was dimness of depth images, at least where projected (memory of botched 70's revivals hard to shake). Best result nowaday comes of flat screen television where you don simple specs rather than battery-operated goggles required for projection TV. Success of Twilight Time 3-D discs bode well for more of same, and Kino has announced The Maze, plus Sangaree, for 2018 release. Find out more about those at 3-D Archive.


Blogger Reg Hartt said...

I'm 100% for BIG SCREEN PROJECTION 3D. I was using Peter Wimmer Stereoplayer and shutter glasses which are great but then found that my new Optoma Projector pushes a beam and uses DLP glasses that are better than what I was using before. Now the results are seamless.

GUN FURY does promise everything and, really, deliver nothing beyond 83 minutes spent without squirming in our seat which ain't so bad so it passes the Harry Cohn test for a good movie.

I had made 2D to 3D conversions of many 1950s 3D movies in the vain hope of getting an idea of how these films looked in 3D. To finally see films like INFERNO and GUN FURY as they are designed to be seen really brings out the poverty of those 2D to 3D conversion systems.

There are three things that look spectacular in 3D. Those are birds, bugs and fish. I can spend hours watching whales and dolphins in 3D. There is nothing for me like seeing a whale in "Z" space. That may be bad taste for 3D experts who prefer foreground action to off screen pizazz but good taste not bad taste is the enemy.

Twilight Time is doing a great job with their 3D releases. Kino is doing even better with its wonderful 3D Film Archive Restorations. I eagerly await being 'A-MAZED BY THE MAZE." Too bad Warner won't dust off their 3D holdings and even worse that the fellow who owns ROBOT MONSTER, CAT-WOMEN OF THE MOON and HANNAH LEE refuses to get a proper restoration of his titles by Bob Furmanek and crew. Even worse that Olive ruined a 3D restoration of MONEY FROM HOME while Jerry Lewis (who was looking forward to it) was around to appreciate and help promote it.

3D Cinema is a lot like the early movies which were viewed as bastard, illegitimate theater. That attitude presents itself with everything that is new.

Does 3D have a value 2D does not? It sure does. David Attenborough's wonderful 3D documentaries literally feel flat in 3D as do the many wonderful IMAX 3D films. I have a Sony HDR TD 10 digital 3D camera plus several Sony Bloggie 3D cameras. Musician friends whose shows I have filmed have found their 3D apathy converted to enthusiasm when they see the results. 3D film making is a wonderful new language that is best learned by using it.

It is important that as many as possible of the 3D motion pictures prior to the digital era get proper restorations NOW while we have the talents of the skilled crew at the 3D Film Archive at their service. I am told Criterion (which ought to know better) has kiboshed titles offered to them. Why in blazes don't we have a 3D restoration of BWANA DEVIL? It's a landmark film. Film history requires it be available in the 3D format.

If anyone reading this has a library of 3D dvds using the field sequential format (which won't work with 3D projectors) you can use 3D Combine ( convert them to side by side as I have done and then convert those files to Blu-ray and, voila!

TREASURES OF THE FOUR CROWNS was the follow-up to the wonderfully tasteless Italian 3D western COMIN' AT YA! It seems it is not going to get the 3D restoration treatment which is a pain 'cause the 3D in it is as sensational as it is tasteless. Luckily, with 3D Combine I turned my field sequential dvd copy into a Blu-ray version. It is real easy to do. No particular skills required. Did the same with my FS version of REVENGE OF THE CREATURE which is long overdue for a proper 3D restoration and with my FS versions of ROBOT MONSTER, CAT WOMEN OF THE MOON and HANNAH LEE.

No, they are not the visual quality of GUN FURY, and proper Blu-ray restorations but they will do until those come along.

By chance I discovered this great IMAX 3D Film of D-Day. It is only available here: .

You are right. Digital 3D overcomes all the flaws inherent in 1950s 3D which also required that each projector have the same light intensity. 3D is now here to stay just as the movies, despite the naysayers, were.

7:28 AM  
Blogger Beowulf said...

God bless ya'all if you think 3D is coming back.

4:03 PM  

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