3-D Movies and the 1950ís
by Guy Belleranti
As the popularity of television grew in the
early 1950ís the motion picture industry found itself losing customers.
To regain viewers movie executives began trying new and different
things. One of these was the release of 3-D movies.
Actually, using 3-D in film wasnít a new
phenomenon. Innovators had experimented with various 3-D technologies
since the silent film era. However, it wasnít until the 1950s that 3-D
was attempted on a larger scale.
The basic principal of 3-D involved using
two cameras spaced apart so their images approximated what two eyes
would see. The exposed film from one camera was laid over the film of
the other to produce a single movie print with offset images. The print
when projected would produce a double image. Special polarized glasses
could then be worn, and the viewer would see a 3 dimensional scene.
The first 3-D film during the decade was
Bwana Devil. Premiering in November of 1952, the movie starred
Robert Stack (of TVís The Untouchables and Unsolved Mysteries),
Barbara Britton, and Nigel Bruce (Dr. Watson in the Basil Rathbone
Sherlock Holmes films). The film was set in Africa and dealt with
man-eating lions attacking railway workers. While the movie itself was
not very good, some of the 3-D effects were.
Over the next couple of years many more
movies were released in 3-D. Among these were 3-D versions of House of
Wax, Hondo, Dial M For Murder and Kiss Me Kate. For a time over 5,000
American theaters showed 3-D movies. There were also 3-D movies produced
in Germany, Britain, Japan, Mexico and Hong Kong.
However, the 3-D fad didnít last. Some
viewers suffered eyestrain and headaches from watching 3-D films. In
addition, if the projection wasnít done perfectly by the theater the
film was just a blurred mess. As a result, the regular version of a film
often had more viewers than the 3-D version.
As the 3-D fad died the film industry turned
to other ways of competing with television - widescreen aspect ratios,
However, use of 3-D in film did not
disappear entirely. Todayís technology has far surpassed that of the
1950ís, and many 3-D movies are now shown on huge screens at a number of
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