San Diego Classic Film Calendar

Thursday, March 23, 2017

TCMFF Memories – Superscope

Tonight, TCM is showing, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (12 midnight Eastern, 9 pm Pacific). Looking at the poster, it reminds me of something from my first TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) back in 2014. They were showing Invasion of the Body Snatchers at the Egyptian. The introduction was by Joe Dante, and we would be watching it in Superscope from a print from Francis Ford Coppola's private collection. How cool is that? Dante went on to explain what Superscope was, a low-budget wide-screen format. 

Other widescreen formats like like Cinemascope required more expensive lenses and camera equipment. Sci-Fi movies from the 1950s usually didn't have the budget for that sort of thing. Superscope was a process where they would shoot with an normal 35 mm camera and in processing, crop off the top and bottom to get the widescreen. Now, where it gets interesting is when they put it on TV. In the 1950s, when they still had access to the original negatives, it was a simple matter to make 16 mm prints for TV that used the cropping of the 35 mm (before the Superscope process). But in time, these 16 mm prints made for distribution to TV stations deteriorated. By that time, the master negatives were also gone, and the only option was to pan and scan from the Superscope. Thus, later copies of Invasion of the Body Snatchers shown on TV cut off the top and bottom and wait for it, both sides.

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