Sunday, May 19, 2013
In his latest DVD column for The New York Times, the invaluable Dave Kehr details the recent output of Fox Cinema Archives, the one-year-old, manufactured-on-demand arm of 20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment, questioning (and with very good reason) why Fox, of all studios, would eschew letterboxing for most of its wide-screen films.
In this particular case, for this particular studio, it frankly makes no sense.
Per Dave: "...most galling of all, for the studio that fueled the wide-screen revolution of the 1950s with the introduction of CinemaScope, wide-screen films (are) presented in pan-and-scan versions reformatted to fit the televisions of the last century, with large parts of the image cropped out."
Yes, Fox was the driving force behind CinemaScope, the one studio that could be credited, without hyperbole, with introducing and nurturing wide-screen movies. Whoever is making decisions at 20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment these days clearly is ignorant of his/her studio's august history. Sad. But rather typical. Fox should confer with Warner Bros., whose Warner Archive Collection repeatedly get things right.
Generally speaking, I don't learn much from modern movie reviews. The days of great film journalism are gone. But Dave is an exception. I invariably come away from his essays enlightened about something. And this particular observation jumped out at me. Bravo, Dave!