Magazine article The Sondheim Review

A Film Event

Magazine article The Sondheim Review

A Film Event

Article excerpt

West Side Story in Todd-AO was a reserved-seat engagement at premium prices

West Side Story was filmed in Super Panavision 70mm, an attempt to imitate Todd-AO, the process that premiered with Oklahoma! Without getting overly technical, Mike Todd's process was a single-lens, curved-screen presentation that overcame the visual flaws and cumbersome technology of the Cinerama three-camera/projector system. With Oklahoma!, Todd also made that film's release an event, with a reserved-seat, one-the-atre-only engagement per city, at prices almost comparable to live theatre or concerts. Around the World in 80 Days, South Pacific, The Sound of Music, Cleopatra and Hello, Dolly! are other films that used the Todd-AO system. Oklahoma! and Around the World in 80 Days were both, in effect, filmed twice - at Todd-AO's initial 30 frames per second and at "regular" 24 frames per second for later general release - at popular prices.

Super Panavision 70mm offered a very sharp picture with an "unsqueezed" image on the film frame and six-track stereo sound. West Side Story premiered at New York's Rivoli Theatre in 1961, where Oklahoma! had introduced the Todd-AO process. Strictly speaking, Super Panavision 70mm doesn't optically fit the 128-degree curved Todd-AO screen. However, it had a dramatic visual impact.

The reserved-seat engagement was advertised in advance. In Australia, tickets went on sale well ahead of the June 1962 premiere, and as usual with these special events, prices were about four times the admission price at our local cinema, or about half the price of a live Broadway musical. If you arrived at the theatre just before a session, you were lucky to get a seat at the back of the theatre or right at the front on the side, where the viewing wasn't so great. These not-so-good seats were often cheaper. On your way in, you could buy a souvenir book for about half the price of a local cinema ticket. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.