A horrible feeling came over me while reading a recently-posted DVD Beaver review of Criterion’s Young Mr. Lincoln Bluray. It was a statement by Gary W. Tooze that John Ford‘s 1939 film is being presented “in the correct aspect ratio of 1.37:1.”

In other words, the 1.33:1 aspect ratio used for two previous DVD versions (Optimum Classics, Criterion) was slightly incorrect. Tooze’s declaration reminded me that I’ve been suppressing my confusion over the exact dimensions of “boxy” aspect ratios for years. I know that 1.37 is correct by today’s understanding (ask any dp) but I used to think that 1.33 was slightly more correct when it came to older films (i.e., those made in the 1950s and before).

I’ve been a film journalist for nearly 40 years, and I must have typed “1.33” at least a couple of thousand times. Was 1.33 always a myth? Has it been 1.37 all along? I can’t believe that I’m still not entirely sure about this.