Saturday, August 31, 2013


When MGM re-released Gone With the Wind for, I believe, its 30th anniversary run, prints were stretched to fit the wide screens that didn't exist in 1939. In addition to making the actors appear as if they had been flattened by a steamroller, the top and bottom of the image were lopped off, destroying the original 1.37:1 screen ratio in which it had been photographed. This was done, by the way, in the name of progress.

Roughly 45 years later and what has Hollywood learned? To make things more extreme. Next month, The Wizard of Oz, another 1939 classic, will be re-released in 3-D Imax --
He  has his own web page, so it must be true.
because there's nothing like seeing the Yellow Brick Road through dark glasses on a screen the size of a two-story Cape Cod house. If nothing else, this should settle once and for all the legend of the depressed Munchkin whose dead body can allegedly be seen swinging from a tree during the reprise of "We're Off to See the Wizard." After all, nobody would have seen him when they were filming it, right?

This was as good as it got in '39.
But this pizazz isn't enough for the promo happy studio. No less than 25 product tie-ins, from Amtrak to McDonald's Happy Meals to Gourmet Trading Company (which boasts of being "the leading distributor of fresh asparagus in North America") to Food Network's Cupcake Wars will make sure that if you haven't gotten sick of The Wizard of Oz by now, you will be by the end of the year -- just in time to gift the five-disc Collector's Edition of the movie that special Ray Bolger fan in your life. It seems that the studio bookkeepers remember that Oz didn't turn a profit until it was sold to CBS-TV in the '50s, and they don't want to make that same mistake again. 

If the Oz overkill is a success -- and if popular (bad) taste is any hint, the studio will probably be paving its driveway with yellow brick gold bars by Christmas -- we can expect similar tie-ins for classic movie re-releases.

The Diary of Anne Frank: In addition to Lufthansa's special "Airway to the Attic" trips, Martha Stewart Living will advise you on the proper way to host long-term guests. Armour Meats, in conjunction with Major League Baseball, will be selling "Anne Franks" at ballparks. Hallmark will offer a limited-edition diary with a pen that contains glow-in-the-dark ink -- just the thing when you need to turn off the lights at any moment.
The Birth of a Nation: Clorox celebrates D.W. Griffith's racist masterpiece by temporarily re-branding itself as Klorox: The Sheet Whitener. Enjoy Paula Deen's Angel Food Cake with Whipped Cream and White Chocolate Chips (no dark chocolate, please!). Knock back a non-alcoholic mint julep at Disney World's new "Plantation Land," as "Mouskeslaves" sing their stirring spirituals (specially re-written so as not to offend any religion, creed or denomination) while picking cotton, which can then be purchased at $75 a bushel.

JFK: Surprise your sweetheart with Zale's "Jack" ruby brooch before treating her to a jar of Planters Conspiracy Nuts. Hasbro will be selling a  "Presidential Edition" of their classic "Operation" board game, while Parker Bros. is readying a special "Monopoly: Dallas" with the familiar Atlantic City landmarks replaced by, among others, "Book Depository," "Grassy Knoll" and "Parkland Hospital." (Don't worry about any  "Go Directly to Jail" card, though -- nobody serves time for killing the President!


No comments: