Kiss Me Kate 3-D Blu-ray Review
by Bob Furmanek
Here is a
classic MGM musical and another outstanding restoration - in 4K from the 35mm Ansco
Color camera negatives - by Ned Price and his team at Warner Bros. Motion
Picture Imaging. In fact, it’s their best restoration work on a 3-D film to date. The vertical alignment and
left/right panel matching is spot on.
Sidney had a great understanding of stereoscopic composition and the excellent
cinematography by Charles Rosher – properly matted for widescreen - has never
looked better. My only quibble is that some of the medium shots are a wee bit tight
and it would have benefited from mastering in MGM’s recommended aspect ratio of 1.75:1.
This was the
only “Golden Age” 3-D feature to have a sequence with gimmick shots physically
cut into the Technicolor prints for 3-D bookings in 1953. That rare footage has
now been properly restored at the beginning of “The Taming of the Shrew.” And kudos
to WB for leaving the original Intermission card in place.
saw KISS ME KATE in 3-D and widescreen over sixty years ago and now is your
chance to have the same experience in superb quality at home. This wonderful 3-D
Blu-ray belongs in every collection!
myth is that KISS ME KATE played very few 3-D engagements when it was first
released. That’s not true: KATE had a very wide theatrical release in 3-D.
late 1953 and early 1954, KATE played most major cities in widescreen 3-D and
many sub-run engagements as well.
October 28, 1953, MGM tested KATE in six cities with three playing the flat
version and the 3-D engagements did 40% better business. At the time, the average print run was 200. Variety reported on November 11: “Metro has ordered 300 3-D prints to fill bookings for Thanksgiving Day.”
In their November
issue, International Projectionist reported
that a major circuit had purchased 1,000,000 pairs of the newly-designed
and improved Polaroid glasses for their bookings of KATE.
4, Hollywood Reporter stated, "This almost two-for-one business
in favor of goggle-wearing ticket buyers indicates that 3-D is not dead, not
dying, nor is it even sick."
This two-page ad appeared in Showmen's Trade Review on November 14, 1953. Click to enlarge.
officially recommended exhibition in 1.75:1 which was their studio ratio at the
time. When promoting the 3-D release on November 8, director George Sidney told
the Los Angeles Times: "My cameraman, Charlie Rosher, and I had to
compose every shot three different ways at the same time. What would be good
for one width would not be good for another. It was tricky, but we got
around it by building more tops on sets, more floor and more sets in forced
perspective to enhance the depth."
Some of the
key openings for KATE in 3-D were Philadelphia, Kansas City, San Francisco,
Dallas, Houston, Cincinnati, Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago, Columbus, Syracuse, Buffalo,
Rochester, St. Louis, Portland, Cleveland and many more.
exception for an important 3-D engagement was initially New York City. It
played flat at Radio City Music Hall from November 5 through December 2. For
years, the common belief is the flat opening was due to the “shoddy reputation”
of 3-D movies. In reality, after extensive testing with a 3-D print of ARENA,
their technical staff determined that too many side orchestra seats would not
be usable with 3-D projection.
To insure optimum quality, the Polaroid Corporation sent a team of technicians around the country in December to supervise the 3-D presentations.
There were 137 bookings by mid-December and 93 were in 3-D. MGM reported to Variety on December 16 that it was doing 11.9% better business in 3-D. "Easterners, according to Metro, are those most 3-Delighted, with playdates in that area putting the depth version 19% ahead."
KATE opened exclusively in 3-D in New York at the 3,618-seat Loew's Metropolitan
Theatre in Brooklyn from December 9 - 29. On January 6, 1954, it opened in 3-D
citywide on the Loew’s circuit at 31 locations, including 14 theatres in Manhattan
and 11 in Brooklyn as well as theaters in the Bronx, Queens, Westchester, Jersey City, Newark, Passaic,
Paterson and throughout New Jersey.
1954, KATE began a successful five week run in 3-D at London’s Empire Theatre on Leicester
average ticket price of 49-cents in 1954, KATE grossed an impressive $2,011,000
in the U.S. and Canada.
The trade ads
proclaimed “KATE" GREAT! The many people who saw it stereoscopically
more than 61 years ago would certainly agree!