THE CINERAMA STORY
The conquest of the American West has lived as one of the great adventures of history. Immortalized in story, song and legend, it hasnever ceased to stir man's imagination.
The American pioneer was lured by the great unknown. Dauntless, courageous, and defiant of risk, he was as heroic in his era as today's astronaut. The pioneer's constant companions were hardship and danger - from Indians on the warpath to stampeding buffalo herds. Across 2500 miles, each step Westward led to disaster and death; but the West also held the promise of good fortune and handsome reward if he could survive the hardships.
The land the pioneer sought to win was a stubborn and unrelenting enemy. Mighty rivers filled with the fury of white-water rapids, endless plains of parched earth, mountains like forbidden granite fortresses barred his Westward trek. None of these halted the pioneer, as he pushed toward the West doggedly beyond each day's setting sun.
The winning of the American West is a story of infinite excitement. It is a story that requires telling on the screen, but only on a screen with dimensions to match its breadth.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Cinerama decided to produce dramatic story films in the magnificent Cinerama medium. The creative power of the world's largest motion picture facilities and the unique Cinerama process established a collaboration big enough to capture the story of the West.
When the MGM-Cinerama agreement was reached by Joseph R. Vogel, President of MGM and Nicolas Reisini, President and Chairman of the Board of Cinerama Inc., Cinerama was soon on the move to Hollywood. Fleets of trucks moved the company's headquarters from Oyster Bay, N.Y., to the MGM Studios in California. The nearby Forum Theatre was redesigned as research center for the multimillion dollar Cinerama cameras and special equipment. Former Cinerama techniques were improved and new and better ones were developed to prepare for filming the epic of the West.
The story of the American West is many-faceted. What was needed next was a text which could capture its most dynamic aspects - a story that could bring the thrill of authenticity to the large participating audience. The basis for such a story was published in Life magazine as seven articles on the American West. It was a publishing sensation when it appeared, and was read by about 25,000,000 people.
This dramatic series inspired HOW THE WEST WAS WON. It encompassed all the most important highlights of the winning of the West, and provided a subject suitable to the size and scope of Cinerama. As mighty action flows across the screen everyone can affirm that Cinerama tells a story more brilliantly, more colorfully and more dynamically than any other contemporary medium.
Today's magnificent Cinerama system is as different from the original Cinerama created by the late Fred WaIler as today's jet airplanes differ from the first simple airplanes.
A lone buffalo hunter stalks a herd of the majestic animals which 100 years ago were estimated to number 60,000,000.
What is Cinerama? In the beginning, it was a mans dream. Both genius and practical scientist, Waller sought in the mid-30s to create the illusion of reality on the screen. Years of trial and error brought WaIler to his goal - three cameras mounted as one, with a single shutter. Three 27 mm lenses of these cameras covered a field 146 degrees wide by 55 degrees high, approximating the scope of the human eye, the most perfect of all lenses.
The range of this three camera set up is ideal for projecting an image that can be viewed in full dimension by an audience in a theatre. The result is a gigantic image that figuratively wraps the world around a theatre seat and its occupant. Cinema-Sound, a seven track, seven channel system of almost perfect fidelity, was added to the three camera system. This made it possible to follow the action moving across the vast screen not only with the eyes but with the ears and the emotions as well.
Collaboration between technicians of Cinerama and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has produced improved cameras, lenses, screens, transistorized sound, sharper production and printing. Continued technical refinements for "story-telling" films, has given Cinerama new reality of photography and sound.The Cinerama technical staff, headed by Thomas Conroy. Vice President in Charge of Production, also includes camera consultant Walter Gibbons-Fly, Cinerama sound consultants, Fred Bosch and Ray Sharples. The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer technical staff is one of the largest and most respected in the film industry.
In HOW THE WEST WAS WON, Cinerama audiences will see and hear more than ever before in a film so great in scope that it could only have been produced in Cinerama. To assure a constant flow of great entertainments in Cinerama, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Cinerama simultaneously filmed George Pal's wonder filled production of THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM.
These two motion pictures in Cinerama are indeed monumental entertainments of tomorrow brought to great audiences today!
A tiny pioneer raft gamely tackles the roaring rapids of the Ohio, gateway river to the West.
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