This goal of this post is to marginally discredit the aspect-ratio theology of Bob Furmanek, who is (a) one of the leading advocates for the 1.85-ing of films shot and/or released starting in April or May of 1953 and (b) is perhaps chiefly responsible for persuading the powers-that-be to present the forthcoming Blurays of Warner Bros. Dial M for Murder and Sony’s On The Waterfront with a 1.85 aspect ratio.
The 185-ing of Dial M and Waterfront is an interesting variation if you want to be comme ci comme ca about it, but a major aesthetic tragedy in the view of light, air and space advocates like myself.
Notice the 1.37 compositions in the above mini-summary of Them! (Warner Bros., 6.19.54). They are clearly meant for projection at 1.37, or at the very least 1.66 if you’re insisting on a widescreen simulation. But definitely not 1.85. The Warner Bros. film was shot in the fall of 1953, or a good four or five months after most of the big studios had decided to abandon 1.37 aspect ratios in favor of 1.85. But Warner Bros., which opened Dial M for Murder on 5.29.54 in first-run ttheatres in 1.85., didn’t open Them! with 1.85 but in 1.37. Just as anyone with a mind to could have.
Here’s an excerpt from Them!‘s Wiki page:
“When Them! began production in the fall of 1953, it was originally conceived to be in 3-D and WarnerColor. During pre-production, tests were to be shot in color and 3-D. A few color tests were shot of the large-scale ant models, but when it was time to shoot the 3-D test, WB’s ‘All Media’ 3-D camera rig malfunctioned and no footage could be filmed.
“The next day, a memo was sent out that the color and 3-D aspects of the film were to be scrapped, and that black and white and wide-screen would be the preferred format, trying to emulate the ‘effective shock treatment’ of Warners’ The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.
“Ultimately the film was not shot in widescreen. Because of the preparation of certain shots, however, many of the camera set-ups for 3-D still remain, such as the opening titles and flame-throwers that are shot at the camera.
“Although WB was dissatisfied with the color results, the opening titles were printed in color against a black and white background to give the opening of the film a ‘punch’. This effect was achieved by an EastmanColor section spliced into each print.”