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LetterboxedThe Evolution of Widescreen Cinema$
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Harper Cossar

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780813126517

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813126517.001.0001

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The Big Trail, The Bat Whispers, and the “Invention” of Widescreen Style in 1930

The Big Trail, The Bat Whispers, and the “Invention” of Widescreen Style in 1930

(p.61) Chapter 2 The Big Trail, The Bat Whispers, and the “Invention” of Widescreen Style in 1930

Harper Cossar

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter highlights two unique wide films produced in the early sound era. Both The Big Trail and The Bat Whispers were shot in widescreen and Academy ratio simultaneously. Certainly an important factor here was the need for product differentiation, as the film industry was wavering with regard to the widescreen issue in 1930. In their wide versions, these films had few exhibition opportunities. The Big Trail is a Raoul Walsh Western starring John Wayne, and the 70mm Grandeur version of the film was photographed by noted cinematographer Arthur Edeson. Edeson's 70mm compositions and camera setups differ greatly from those of the Academy ratio version shot by Lucien N. Androit. The same cannot be said for the low-budget thriller The Bat Whispers. Although it too was shot by two different cinematographers simultaneously, the compositions and camera setups in The Bat Whispers vary little from format to format.

Keywords:   Hollywood, widescreen, cinematography, Arthur Edeson, Academy ratio

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