This website was created in order to separate fact from fiction. The history of 3-D movies is riddled with errors that have been repeated so many times over the years, 3-D Myths are now fact. We have collected data on this unique era of film technology for nearly forty years and gladly share it with you to set the record straight.

The photographs on this page have been incorrectly identified in articles, on the Internet and in curated displays as being taken at an unidentified Palace Theater in either 1940, 1943 or 1945.

None of that information is accurate.


"Help the Realism Along"

The Truth about Weegee, Infrared Photography and a 3-D Movie
by Bob Furmanek


Legendary press photographer Arthur (Usher) Fellig aka Weegee was known for his brilliant black and white
street photography in New York during the 1930's and 1940's. He was freelancing in the early months of 1953 just as 3-D movies were making a big splash in New York theatres. On July 29, 1953, THE MAZE had opened citywide on the RKO circuit and also played the New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street. Across the street, Paramount's first 3-D feature SANGAREE is coming soon to the Lyric Theatre.


SANGAREE had premiered in New York on June 4, 1953 and opened throughout the five boroughs on August 5 playing the Loew's circuit along with Paramount's 2-D comedy, THE GIRLS OF PLEASURE ISLAND.


 



New and improved plastic frame permanent 3-D glasses become available in May 1953 and were handed out to the first 100 patrons at the Victoria Theatre by Arlene Dahl. However, many theatres were still using the polarized glasses with cardboard frames that were first issued for BWANA DEVIL in November 1952.



In early August as SANGAREE was playing throughout New York City, Weegee received a unique assignment
from the Mutual Magazine Corp. and wrote about it in his 1961 autobiography;

I got an assignment from the magazine Brief. The editor called me into his office, and said, "Weegee, I want you to go to a movie theater and photograph the people as they are eating, sleeping and making love."



There was only one area where I could do this...the West Forty-Second Street "jungle" where there are all-night movies. I went to one of these places, and told the manager that I would like to take some pictures of his theater. I offered a demonstration. I took my camera, aimed it at him, and shot. No light. "This is infra-red photography," I told him. "Nobody will be disturbed." He said okay.

Many people go to the movies just to sleep. In fact, the best time to go to an all-night movie is on Monday. That's the day they change the bed sheets. I had no trouble in making my sleeping pictures. Eating was easy, too; everybody eats in the movies. Then the pictures of lovemaking.

The theatre Weegee had selected for his infra-red photographs was the Lyric on 42nd Street. Built in 1903 and designed by Victor Hugo Koehler, it was the perfect venue: the Adam/Empire style interior featured an auditorium with 1,370 seats, two balconies and eighteen opera boxes. They would be ideal for hiding his equipment.



I pride myself on reality. Even in a movie theater, I wanted the love to be real, to come right from the heart and soul. I didn't want it to be a casual pickup, a one-night stand. I took my camera into one of the boxes, aimed it at the audience, and left it set up. Every time I heard a sigh or groan in the dark, I pushed the button. I got some very good pictures, but not enough. I decided to try a new angle.



I disguised myself as an ice cream vendor. I hid my camera in the ice cream tray, and cruised the balcony. Every time I saw a couple, Bingo! As a matter of fact, I made a little extra money selling at the same time. I was working on a twenty-five percent commission, so every time I made a sale, I ate an ice cream cone. I was having a good time, selling the ice cream and watching true love in action.






The next day, I had a call from the editor of Brief. When I got down to the office in the afternoon, he sprang at me. "Weegee, where are the pictures?" "Look," I said, "here are the people sleeping, here are the people eating, and here is a couple making love. They're not too emotional now, but they're warming up. As the week goes on, they'll get warmer." He said, "Weegee, I can't wait! I've got an edition to make. Get those love-making pictures!"

It was a $300 assignment, with me keeping the resale rights, so I decided that I had better help the realism along.

I got a model, a girl, and gave her instructions. I said, "Look, dearie, make like a chippy." She did; she already had a peek-a-boo dress. Then I got a male model from the Art Students League. I brought them to the theater and said, "Don't look at the camera and don't laugh. Just make love."






It's interesting to note that his models are wearing a different pair of polarized 3-D glasses; the paper thin, flimsy frames with adjustable pipe cleaner earpieces. The annoyed patron behind them has the same pair and
the gentleman sleeping in the aisle seat shown above has them as well. Everyone else is wearing the standard pair of cardboard frames indicating those people might possibly be models as well - to help the realism along.

When Weegee's photo essay "Movies are Better Than Ever" appeared in the October 1953 issue of Brief, the introduction stated, "Why do people keep going to the movies, instead of staying home to watch television? To solve this problem, ace photographer Weegee armed himself with Westinghouse infra-red flash bulbs - invisible to the naked eye - and camouflaged himself as an usher. The pictures on the following pages are his report on why Hollywood doesn't need 3-D, super-screens or stereophonic sound to keep the customers coming."

Ironically, none of his images from the Lyric Theatre/SANGAREE photo shoot made the final cut.



SANGAREE is now available from Kino Lorber Studio Classics on 3-D Blu-ray.