THOSE REDHEADS FROM SEATTLE, one of the rarest and most requested
Golden Age 3-D features, is coming to 3-D Blu-ray on May 9, 2017 in widescreen
and restored three-channel stereophonic sound from Kino Lorber!
We are thrilled to announce that our new restoration will premiere
on the big screen at the TCM Festival in April!
This Technicolor Pine-Thomas production from 1953 features excellent stereoscopic photography by Oscar-winning cinematographer Lionel Lindon. Written and directed by Lewis R. Foster and featuring a stellar cast which includes Rhonda Fleming, Gene Barry and Agnes Moorehead, "the first 3-D musical" also contains five terrific tunes by popular recording artists Teresa Brewer, Guy Mitchell and the Bell Sisters.
Historically significant as the first widescreen production from Paramount Studios, REDHEADS has not been seen in 1.66:1 for more than sixty years. In fact, less than three weeks after 20th Century Fox began filming THE ROBE, it was the first non-anamorphic widescreen feature to begin production in Hollywood. For more information, please see our article, First Year of Widescreen Production
John Payne was initially cast in the role of Johnny Kisco (a character
described by Hedda Hopper as the "Rhett Butler of Seattle") but had
to bow out before the start of principal photography due to his commitment on
Edward Small's production, 99 RIVER STREET. Gene Barry had recently
tested for Paramount's upcoming production of RED GARTERS and took over for
Payne. Hedda Hopper reported on February 10, 1953: "Paramount didn't
know that Gene used to be in musical comedies until someone, while kidding
around at the studio, did a test of him in a song and dance act."
Some controversy surrounded the
production on June 17, 1953 when Variety reported: "Screenwriters
George W. Yates and Daniel Mainwaring filed suit against Pine-Thomas Corp.
yesterday asking $25,000.00 for breach of contract. Writing team charges they
were hired Dec. 6, 1951 to pen a script with an Alaskan locale. They wrote
"The Streets Were Paved With Gold," but after it was accepted, they
charge, P-T informed them that the indie was no longer making action pix.
Plaintiffs contend that they then made an agreement to write a new script and
"Streets" would be returned as their own property. As part of this
deal, they wrote "Seven Sisters from Seattle." They contend
"Redheads" incorporates principal incidents and action from
"Streets," thus making the returned script valueless."
Ironically, of the six songs planned for REDHEADS, only two were actually written for the film. "Chicka Boom" was written by Bob Merrill for Guy Mitchell's big spotlight number and "Once More" was a love song written by Bebe Blake and Leo Shuken as a duet for Rhonda Fleming and Gene Barry. Originally planned for the nighttime campfire scene on the sled dog trip to Dawson, we're not sure if the song was filmed but some of the orchestration can still be heard in the underscore.
"Take Back Your Gold" by Monroe H. Rosenfeld and Louis W. Pritzkow was published in 1897; "Baby Baby Baby" was written by Mack David and Jerry Livingston in 1950, possibly for an un-produced book musical on Broadway by Joseph M. Hyman; "I Guess it Was You All the Time" was written in 1950 by Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael for an un-produced Paramount Studios biography of Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand called THE KEYSTONE GIRL; "Mister Banjo Man" was written in 1952 by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans for the Betty Hutton Paramount musical, SOMEBODY LOVES ME. Hutton recorded the song for an RCA soundtrack album but the tune was eventually cut from the film.
when 3-D movies began to perform poorly at the boxoffice. Some mediocre films and poor projection had resulted in a rapidly growing lack of interest among moviegoers. The reasons are explained in detail in Jack Theakston's article, "What Killed 3-D?"
The 3-D world premiere took place on September 23, 1953 at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle with the cast in attendance. In their September 26 review, Motion Picture Herald wrote: "The whole story of 3-D to this point might have been a happier one, even a more profitable one, if the process had been premiered with a chorus line instead of lions and tigers close-upped for the customers. But if the process is turned to this kind of use from here on, as would seem inevitable if Hollywood's emulation policy continues in force, the 3-D situation is nothing to despair about by any means."
However, by the end of September, the situation for 3-D exhibition had gotten worse. Both Paramount and Universal-International began offering exhibitors the option of booking their new 3-D films in flat versions instead and theater owners jumped at the opportunity. In the October 17 edition of Harrison's Reports, the editors blasted Paramount on the reasons given for their decision.
REDHEADS had a total of 16,464 domestic bookings but only 345 theaters played it in 3-D. They include the Paramount Theatres in San Francisco, Oakland and Buffalo; Loew's State in New York; the Fox in Spokane, WA; the Princess in Toledo, OH (Theresa Brewer's hometown) and the Hawaii Theatre in Hollywood.
However, when screened in 3-D, Lindon's superb stereo cinematography often fell victim to the ongoing trend of sloppy projection. Variety reported the 3-D "as previewed, was uncomfortable on the eyes." Hollywood Reporter said, "Lionel Lindon's Technicolor photography is excellent, but the 3-D is hard on the eyes."
In his New York Times review, cantankerous Bosley Crowther wrote: "And, as for the 3-D projection - well, it is putting it mildly to say that it is strictly a snare and a delusion and an unspeakable strain on the eyes. At the first showing yesterday morning, the stereoscopic images were out of synchronization most of the time - that is, when they weren't fluctuating between very poor placement of the double images and no double-image at all. This viewer finally settled on looking through the glasses with one eye at a time. A better way might possibly be to look at it with both eyes closed."
With such sloppy presentations being reported in the trades, it's not surprising that most exhibitors opted to play it flat. Rather than design and print up different artwork for flat bookings, National Screen Service provided snipes proclaiming: TOPS IN MUSIC! FAST IN ACTION! Theaters playing the 2-D version were instructed to paste the snipe onto the existing 3-D posters.
In his Daily Variety column of January 19, 1954, Mike Kaplan reported: "After 77 pictures, Pine-Thomas may be in the running for an Academy nomination. The goal is in sight with "Baby, Baby, Baby," the Jerry Livingston-Mack David tune which is figured as having a good chance to cop one of the five nominations. Heightening the delight of the Dollar Bills, of course, is the fact that Redheads is their first musical." However, the song was not nominated. There was strong competition that year - including two big hit records: Dean Martin with "That's Amore" from THE CADDY and Doris Day with "Secret Love" from CALAMITY JANE. "Secret Love" would eventually win the Oscar in the Best Song category.
REDHEADS disappeared in 3-D until September 8, 2006 when a new dual-strip 35mm print was shown at the World 3-D Film Expo in Hollywood. Gene Barry, Rhonda Fleming, the Bell Sisters and songwriter Ray Evans attended the gala event which was presented by Sabucat Productions and hosted by Leonard Maltin.
THOSE REDHEADS FROM SEATTLE has been meticulously restored from 35mm elements by Greg Kintz and the 3-D Film Archive. In addition, the lost three-channel stereophonic sound has been recreated by audio wizard Eckhard Büttner and mastered by Mark Mathews. "3-D's big musical gal-stacked frolic" is going to be an outstanding addition to your classic 3-D Blu-ray collection!