I need to correct previous reporting about the reason for the glorious absence of the CinemaScope mumps on Criterion’s Bluray of Jack Clayton‘s The Innocents (’61), which was released on 9.23.14. I finally bought (or more accurately store-traded for) this disc two days ago. It’s the best rendering of this horror classic mine eyes have ever beheld, but I noticed there’s no mention of any kind of mumps correction in the pamphlet notes…and I wondered why. My 9.4.14 piece was written with the understanding that the original film was mumps-afflicted due to distortions brought about by Bausch & Lomb CinemaScope lenses. These lenses were discontinued in the U.S. around 1959 but used here and there on European productions into the early ’60s. One of these, I understood, was The Innocents.
But over the weekend I was told “oh, no, wait…didn’t we tell you? Innocents dp Freddie Francis used Panavision lenses and not CinemaScope lenses, and so the Deborah Kerr mumps were never contained in the original elements. They manifested, rather, in the 2010 BFI Region 2 Bluray and perhaps also in the BFI’s 2006 Region 2 DVD, but they were never in the original elements.” Update: The Panavision information is disinformation. It’s wrong. Sorry but it is. The truth is explained in this 3.5 post.
I said thanks for the information but inwardly I was seething. I had written all the right people last September about this issue (Fox restoration ace Schawn Belston, Criterion’s Peter Becker, restoration guru Robert Harris) and then I posted that 9.4.14 article for all to see, and no one could be bothered to get in touch and point out the facts. Much obliged, guys. It feels so great to pass along bad information.
Repeating: The Innocents was shot with Panavision lenses and printed without mumps distortion, but the BFI guys maliciously added the mumps when they mastered the elements for their 2010 Bluray (or possibly for their 2006 DVD). I’ve never seen the ’06 Region 2 DVD. I’ve only owned a Region 2 Bluray player for two and a half or three years. Were there mumps on the 1999 Fox Home Video DVD? I just wish someone had taken five minutes to point this out last September. But I guess they were busy.