Big news from the Cinerama restoration crew

PRO-TEK’s Still Archives Manager Randy Gitsch has announced that he and Cinerama restoration production partner, Dave Strohmaier, have been invited for a 10th appearance in the U.K.’s upcoming Widescreen Weekend film festival event. The new edition of the Weekend, hosted by Bradford’s National Media Museum, will take place on the big, and immersively curved, 146 degree-wide Cinerama screen in the Pictureville theater, the only such theater of its kind on the European continent.

The digital restoration and remastering team will first present a primer, their “Introduction to Widescreen” before guests including members of the British Kinematograph, Sound and Television Society (“BKSTS”), kicking off the 4-day event on Thursday, Oct. 13.

On Friday, Oct.14, they’ll premiere their latest remasters of Cinerama library features, including the seldom seen travelogue, “Cinerama’s Russian Adventure.” This 3-panel picture shot in the Kinopanorama process was virtually compatible with Cinerama’s own system and resulted from a 1965 U.S. Trade mission initiative with the Soviets that included the exchange of such unique footage not previously seen  in the west. Over 17 hours of Kinopanorama footage were obtained in the deal, including both short subject and feature releases, and were then screened by independent, Los Angeles producer, Hal Dennis. Ultimately he created the released, 3-panel, Cinerama road show version, complete with overture, intermission and exit music. The demise of the original 3-panel exhibition system meant that “Cinerama’s Russian Adventure” was released in 3-panel in only its premiere venue at Chicago’s McVickers Theater, and was sent out in 70mm to all other theatrical bookings.

Additionally, Gitsch and Strohmaier will screen their digital remaster of “The Golden Head,” a 1964 crime comedy-adventure release shot in the U.K. and Hungary, with Hungarian producer, Alexander Paal at the helm. Starring George Sanders, Buddy Hackett and British recording artist and actor, Jess Conrad, the picture screened in Hungary, in London only in the U.K. and never in the U.S. until a faded 70mm print was pulled out of the vault in 2009. Conrad will attend the Bradford screening and be interviewed about his participation in the picture.

Rounding out their contribution, Gitsch and Strohmaier will premiere the digital remaster and reconstruction of “A Tale of Old Whiff” (1960), during the Sunday, Oct. 16, Cineramacana portion of the festival. A cartoon short, featuring the voice of everyone’s favorite cowardly lion, Bert Lahr, was created by animation legend John Hubley, in 1960, to accompany “Scent of Mystery”, the Mike Todd Jr. feature. Both short and feature were then in Smell-O-Vision, taking advantage of inventor Hans Laube’s odor disseminating device, which pumped screen-matching odors into the theater through a complex system of fans and hoses attached to the backs of each theater seat. “A Tale of Old Whiff” was, like the feature, in 70mm, and as such grabbed a historical milestone as being the first short cartoon in 70. The cartoon was thought lost until discovered by Andrew Bradburn at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Academy Film Archive this past June.

All pictures have now been meticulously remastered restoring a color palette not before seen in faded prints, and a sound track now crisper and more vibrant. All should come alive on the big curved screen in Pictureville during Widescreen Weekend.

Flicker Alley will release a Blu-ray/DVD Dual-Format Edition of “Cinerama’s Russian Adventure”, on Nov. 15, for which it is now taking pre-orders.