Five and one-third years ago Woody Allen saved George Stevens‘ Shane from an aspect-ratio slicing that would have rocked the classic cinema universe and resulted in a great hue and cry from the Movie Godz. When all is said and done and the Chalamets of the world have all been put to bed, this is one of the events that will burnish and solidify Allen’s legacy.
On 3.16.13 I revealed that George Stevens, Jr. and Warner Home Entertaiment restoration guy Ned Price were intending to release a Bluray of the classic 1953 western using a 1.66:1 aspect ratio, which would have cleavered the tops and bottoms of the original 1.37 photography by dp Loyal Griggs. I howled and screamed in my usual way, but nothing seemed to change until Allen, the only top-dog, world-class director to step into this fray, shared his opinion on 4.4.13.
On 3.29 I appealed for help from Martin Scorsese in an open letter. On 4.4 I posted the Allen letter. 13 days later Joseph McBride’s letter to Stevens, Jr., deploring WHE’s intention to present the film within a 1.66 a.r., was posted. Later that day Price threw in the towel and announced that WHE’s Shane Bluray would be released in the original 1.37 aspect ratio. I’ve long believed that Allen’s opinion was the crucial factor in rectifying this situation.
Three versions of Shane were included in a 2015 Masters of Cinema Bluray (Griggs’ original 1.37:1 capturing on disc one + 1.66:1 theatrical presentation + an alternate 1.66:1 framing optimized for this ratio, supervised by George Stevens, Jr., on disc two).
Below is Shane‘s bar fight scene in the original 1.37 a.r.; further below is the same scene sliced down to 1.66.