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.

George 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.

Many people 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!





The common 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.

Throughout late 1953 and early 1954, KATE played most major cities in widescreen 3-D and many sub-run engagements as well.

Beginning 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.

On November 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.

MGM 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.




The one 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.

In March 1954, KATE began a successful five week run in 3-D at London’s Empire Theatre on Leicester Square.




With an 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!