Right now, the Film Forum bring it's audience terrific 1950's classics in 3-D by way of the amazing vintage double-system projection. As the Film Forum website boasts, "As they were during Hollywood's first 3-D Golden Age (1953-54), all the films in this series will be screened using Polaroid filters and lenses and double-system projection: two big reels running simultaneously, one for the left eye and one for the right - not the vastly inferior single-system "red/green glasses" variety..." The double-system projection doesn't disappoint either. I caught the late showing of Dial M For Murder, 1954, which screened to a packed house, and the 3-D had incredible depth. That depth mixed with the Technicolor saturation of Grace Kelly's opening scene red backless gown was something to remember. Gorgeous. (Half of her costumes are backless. Hitchcock knew about subtle eroticism. I'm sure it didn't hurt to have Edith Head on the team either.)
You may have seen some of these classics on television or DVD, but you probably haven't seen them in 3-D and you maybe haven't seen these amazing movies on a big screen with a full audience. I can attest that seeing films like this with in a packed house is a very different experience than home viewing. There is of course, pre-screening eavesdropping. When attending a movie alone or breaks between your own conversation while waiting for the previews to begin, there is more often than not some entertaining chats going on around you. Last night's consisted mainly of Facebook discussions. Literally three different groups of people were talking about "poking", "friending" or rejecting a "friend request". This I believe kind of supports my last blog, but I'll refrain from digression here. Often times, however, a little eavesdropping provides a better idea of what kind of audience a film draws and if some of that audience is talking about film, it's interesting to hear other perspectives from people you don't know.
The Dial M For Murder audience at the last show seemed to be somewhat mixed but probably the majority was a younger crowd, at least where we sat. Part of what I find to be somewhat of an interesting social lesson is paying attention to audience response. Viewers seemed to find a good amount of the film to be humorous. Of course Hitchcock is famous for providing humor with his suspense, but the crowd here occasionally laughed where I imagine the filmmaker didn't intend for there to be a moment for humor. Dramatic music queues did feel dated and they made me smile more than once, but other times where I felt suspense was truly building and I was physically tense because of it (and I've even seen this film a half dozen times), others were chuckling. This could be for several reasons. One being that I don't go to modern day horror films. The last horror film I saw was in high school. It may have been a Friday the 13th or something. I swore I would never go again. I prefer thrills to gore. As far as horror goes, I like mine vintage. Heavy on implication and mystery and light on realism. That being said, I could be less exposed and therefore more susceptible to an older era's idea of building suspense that was before my time. What was scary then isn't necessarily as scary now, but regardless of the intensity of the viewers experience in terms of it's original intended affect, the crowd at this screening appeared to be very engaged in the film and it's story. That's what matters. Social ideas of what is scary or suspenseful may change some over time, but good movie making is good movie making and Hitchcock, as everyone knows made some greats that will always be just that.
Today I'm hitting House of Wax, 1953. According to the Film Forum's site, the House of Wax is the most popular of 3-D movies with eye-popping effects. Can't wait! This is my kind of horror movie.
The Film Forum is the only New York City cinema equipped to screen vintage double-system 3-D. As the New York Stereoscopic Society's site puts it, "This is a rare opportunity to see synchronized dual strip projection of the films in their full-color polarized glory." So, Don't walk, but run to the Film Forum with 3-D screening through August 26th.