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THIS IS CINERAMA (director: Merian C. Cooper/Gunther von Fritsch (director: Vienna)/Ernest B. Schoedsack (prologue only, uncredited)/Michael Todd, Jr. (European sequence supervisor, uncredited); cinematographer: Harry Squire ; editor: Bill Henry; music: Sidney Cutner/Howard Jackson/Paul Sawtell/Leo Shuken/Max Steiner/Roy Webb; cast: Lowell Thomas (Narrator); Runtime: 120; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Robert L. Bendick/Merian C. Cooper; Cinerama Productions Corp./Flicker Alley; 1952)

“Pumps up the process of Cinerama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Filmed as a promotional event to introduce a new technology for films and to show off that movies can go to bigger screens, show lush Technicolor and use stereo sound in their competition with free TV beginning to sweep the country and cutting into the movie business.It was first released in NYC and LA, and produced a great box office and ran in theaters for over a year. Cineramaused three separate projectors to cast three images upon its giant, wide screen, which gave it great depth. The idea first developed during the 1939 World’s Fair, where special effects cameraman Fred Waller presented his Vitarama–a cinema in the round that featured eleven projectors. He then during the war tinkered with the product until it was released as modern Cinerama.

Respected globe-trotting adventurer newsman Lowell Thomas narrates. Along with big time movie producer Michael Todd, Lowell invests in Fred Waller’s innovative product, believing this will change the future of the movie business. Using the great director Merian C. Cooper (“King Kong”) to oversee the direction of the film, it shines as a curio film that pumps up the process of Cinerama throughout by showing how it can make the canals of Venice look even grander on film, that it can best capture the triumphant musical scene in Aida when performed in Milan’s magnificent La Scala opera house and make such tourist attractions as the water skiing stunts in the beautiful Cypress Gardens in Florida or the breathtaking sight of aerial shots of Yellowstone National Park in California almost seem as good on film as a visit there.

I remember as a child my parents taking me to see This is Cinerama playing on Broadway, and remember being thrilled by its opening shot of the roller coaster ride. There’s no comparison seeing it in a specially equipped theater and watching it on home TV. But even if seen only on DVD, it has some merit as a novelty film that has a place in the history of cinema.

REVIEWED ON 10/19/2012 GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”