Celebrating Shane at TCM Classic Fest

Come see the digitally restored Shane (in the proper aspect ratio) tonight at the Chinese as part of the TCM Classic Film Festival.

If it weren’t for a recent aspect ratio brouhaha, Shane probably would sneak into the TCM Classic Film Fest tonight without much fanfare. Which would’ve been a shame considering that Technicolor has digitally revived its naturalistic sheen in honor of the 60th anniversary and an upcoming Warner Home Video Blu-ray on Aug. 13.

But there’s definitely more buzz now, thanks to Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeffrey Wells kicking up some dirt about a slightly cropped version of George Stevens’ beloved Western superseding its original aspect ratio. Although Shane was shot in Technicolor in 1951 at 1.37, it premiered at Radio City Music Hall two years later at 1.66, ushering in the widescreen craze to combat the TV boom. Wells protested, but all’s well that ends well. Shane will be presented at 1.37 except for 1.66 on cable.

I asked the director’s filmmaker son, George Stevens Jr., to clear up the confusion: “There’s no controversy about aspect ratio,” he replied by email. “We made a 1.37 transfer, color corrected and cleaned up. I also supervised a 1.66 in which we took care with every shot for optimum framing. I want that for the cable stations who ‘spread’ Shane or crop it top and bottom. I have TiVos of Shane from Direct TV in which it’s been manipulated to fit the 1.66 screen and it looks terrible. The 1.66 will be a great improvement in those instances. We were going to put both on the Blu-ray but compression allows for only one version. It will be the 1.37.”

Coming after A Place in the Sun, Shane was Stevens’ first color movie and shot in three-strip Technicolor by Loyal Griggs (who won the Oscar) in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with the heavenly Grand Tetons in the background. With its muted look and deep shadows, it continues a more somber post-World War II journey for Stevens.

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Movies, Oscar, Tech

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