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Posts Tagged ‘3-D Films’

William Cameron Menzies’ The Maze (1953)

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

William Cameron Menzies’ The Maze (1953) has to be seen – in 3D - to be believed.

With everyone talking about The Maze Runner, a pallid rehash of Lord of The Flies, I thought I would highlight this little-seen gem from 1953, which is the subject of a thoughtful essay by Jeff Kuykendall, which begins by noting that “if you’ve ever seen the Douglas Fairbanks version of The Thief of Bagdad (1924), then you love and respect William Cameron Menzies. In the 1920′s Menzies quickly established himself as a first-rate art director, and the Fairbanks vehicle was enlivened considerably by Menzies’ sets, which resembled the exaggerated illustrations of a child’s Arabian Nights storybook, while Fairbanks hopped, skipped, and swashbuckled through every inch of them.

In 1929 Menzies won the first Oscar ever awarded for art direction (for The Dove and The Tempest), and he quickly graduated to directing his own films, his first solo directing effort being the visually stunning (if dramatically lacking) H.G. Wells adaptation Things to Come (1936). David O. Selznick put him in charge of Gone with the Wind‘s art direction, for which he won another Oscar, but in the subsequent decades Menzies never quite established himself as a director of note. His best-regarded film is Invaders from Mars (1953), a dream-like, dread-filled science fiction yarn tailored for the Cold War. Less remembered is the film’s companion-piece, 1953′s The Maze. Shot in 3-D, it’s even more surreal than Invaders.”

Check out the trailer for the film here, and the rest of Jeff Kuykendall’s essay here, with a number of excellent frame grabs; like Kuykendall, I, too, am a Menzies fan (as who isn’t, I might ask?) and when watching The Maze Runner, I kept wondering what Menzies would have done with the material from a visual standpoint, especially given CGI and green screen capabilities which he, of course, didn’t have the advantage of using back in the 20s through the 50s. But I’m sure he would have jumped at the chance to design The Maze Runner; in the meantime, check out this moody Gothic from Menzies, and see what you think.

The Maze is a completely bizarre and deeply original film; well worth watching.

3-D Festival at the Egyptian Theatre, Los Angeles

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

The largest festival of 3-D films in the world is coming to Los Angeles; click here, or on the image above, for more information.

As the press release for the event notes, “the World 3-D Film Expo will return to the Egyptian Theatre, September 6-15, 2013. The ten-day festival will pay tribute to the 60th anniversary of what many film historians regard as the ‘Golden Age’ of 3-D, and will include screenings of the John Wayne western Hondo, the Vincent Price horror film House of Wax, Cole Porter’s musical Kiss Me Kate, the sci-fi thriller It Came From Outer Space, and later 3-D films, such as 1983’s Jaws 3-D. Lesser-known titles, such as The French Line with Jane Russell and Second Chance with Robert Mitchum, will also be included.

The Expo is partnering with digital 3-D projection sponsor RealD to present a number of screenings in RealD 3-D including Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder and Jack Arnold’s sci-fi/horror classic Creature from the Black Lagoon. Stefan Droessler, 3-D historian and head of the Munich Film Museum, will present an in-depth overview of ‘European 3-D Filmmaking 1935-1953,’ including long-lost footage from the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

The festival will also be home to several premieres including the Los Angeles Premiere of the 1946 Russian 3-D adaptation of Robinson Crusoe. September 14th will mark the World Premiere of the stereoscopic version of the 1954 Korean War drama, Dragonfly Squadron. The film was only released in a flat version during its initial release, and has never been seen by audiences in 3-D. Newly-restored 35 mm prints of shorts ‘Rocky Marciano, Champion vs. Jersey Joe Walcott, Challenger’ and ‘College Capers’ will be screened in 3-D for the first time in 60 years. Most programs being presented at the festival will be shown in archival double-system 35 mm. prints, many of them the last known copies.”

The 3-D footage of the 1936 Berlin Olympics is a real find; if you’re going to be in Los Angeles, go!

Roger Corman to Remake Eight Poe Movies in 3-D

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

As Alex Ben Block writes in The Hollywood Reporter, Roger Corman, at 86, is still cranking them out.

As he notes, “Roger Corman [. . .] is making new versions of eight low-budget horror films based on stories by 19th century American writer Edgar Allan Poe that he adapted and directed in the 1960s. House of Usher will be followed by The Pit and the Pendulum, Premature Burial, Tales of Terror, The Raven, The Haunted Palace [actually based on H.P. Lovecraft's novella The Case of Charles Dexter Ward], The Masque of the Red Death and The Tomb of Ligeia.

This time, Corman will produce but not direct the films, with the first to shoot in 2013, followed by two a year after that on budgets of $2 million to $2.5 million (the originals were shot for $250,000 to $350,000, not adjusting for inflation, on 15-day schedules). Like [the original versions, made for American International Pictures], his New Horizons Productions will not pay for rights because the source material is in the public domain.

The new productions will be self-financed by Corman’s New Horizons Productions, which will give the films at least a short domestic theatrical release and offer international rights at the American Film Market. “Now being able to do them in 3D and with a lot of computer graphics, we can do things we never dreamed of doing before,” he says. But that won’t include more violence. “Poe always worked with the unconscious mind, and there’s a lot of fantasy,” he explains. It may include more erotic material, in keeping with Poe’s approach, but Corman says there will probably still be no nudity.

Corman, honored at the first Governors Awards in 2009, says his biggest concern is replacing his legendary leading man Vincent Price, who died in 1993. Corman hopes to find a fiftysomething actor known from TV who, he says, can bring the same level of ’sensitivity and neuroticism that Vincent was able to bring.’ Corman has Mike McClain, who wrote his last movie – The Haunted, a Chinese co-production shot in in that country — working on the Usher script. Already a living legend [. . .] why does Corman continue to work at his age? He replies with one of his typically to-the-point comments: ‘I simply love making motion pictures.’”

Actually, Corman has already produced a low-budget remake of The Masque of the Red Death in 1989, directed by Larry Brand, toplined by Patrick Macnee and Adrian Paul. While nowhere nearly as effective as Corman’s 1964 version, starring Vincent Price and Hazel Court, and immaculately photographed by the great Nicolas Roeg, it was still an interesting piece of work. But as Corman says, he simply can’t stop making movies. At the very least, the films will prove an excellent training ground for perhaps the very last group of Corman’s protégés, who will then go on to bigger and better projects. It’s a return to the past, but I wish he was doing something new.

Then again, as a pre-sold franchise, the new Poe films should do well in the marketplace.

About the Author

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is an internationally recognized scholar and writer of film history, theory and criticism. He is the author of numerous books and more than 70 articles on film and appears regularly in national media outlets discussing film and culture trends. Frame by Frame is a collection of his thoughts on a number of those topics. To contact Prof. Dixon for an interview, reach him at 402.472.6064 or wdixon1@unl.edu.

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