NYC's Film Forum Brings Back 3-D From the '50s

8.18.2010

By Nick Stergiopoulos

While Hollywood's great push for 3-D projection seems relatively recent, the technology is by no means new. In fact, the first attempt to provide moviegoers with another dimension dates back to the 1950s. Threatened by the advent of television, movie studios believed that large spectacles would draw audiences away from their living rooms and into theaters. Therefore, about forty-five 3-D features were released between 1952 and 1955. 

In New York City, the Film Forum theater, a nonprofit venture committed to showing a diverse array of quality cinema, is reopening the vault, screening fifteen 3-D features between now and August 26. The eclectic collection promises gorilla suits, dance numbers, surgical scalpels, and Grace Kelly as you've never seen them before. The fantastic line-up includes Hitchcock's Dial M For Murder, Andre de Toth's horror classic House of Wax, and George Sidney's Kiss Me Kate

While modern 3-D systems utilize a single digital projector, in the 1950s two synchronized, 35-mm projectors running side-by-side created the illusion of depth. Though the images were extremely crisp (35-mm has a higher resolution than digital), 1950's 3-D was difficult to maintain, as a slight slip could lead to the illusion falling apart. Thus, Film Forum's programmer and projectionist Bruce Goldstein has his work cut out for him to ensure that both projectors remain perfectly in synch. 

Though I tend to share Ebert's opinion about the latest 3-D trend, how can I miss the chance to wear "super-cool" glasses and watch hilariously cheesy classic films?

-- NICK STERGIOPOULOS

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