DIRECTOR: Robert L. Bendick, Philippe De Lacy
May Contain Spoilers!
Today is the 60th Anniversary of Cinerama Holiday’s New York premier, which The Troller’s and The Marsh’s are “supposed” to have attended during the film’s premier… But more on that intriguing twist later…
The second of only five “True” Cinerama Travelogues, as well as one of the top grossing films of 1955, with Windjammer: The Voyage Of The Christian Radich (1958) and Russian Adventure (1965) being converted from Cinemiricle and Kinopanarama, respectively, being produced in the 1950/60’s. The plot, for want of a better word, focuses on two couples, one from Switzerland (The Trollers) and the other from smalltown U.S.A. (The Marsh’s) who, thanks to Cinerama Inc., are to be flown around the world to each others continents in a sort of exchange programme, to have the experience of a life time at Cinerama’s expense and for our viewing pleasure.
This is principally, a sudu-documentary, which would if made now, have a running time of about 60 minutes and would never see the inside of movie theatre, let alone be the tent pole of, at the time, one of the latest and most grandiose of cinema formats. It would now be one of the many documentaries which litter our television screens day and night, but then, this was the only way to view this kind of escapist film, with the travelogue allowing audiences to visit places that they were unable to at the time. The family vacation still alluding so many, just a decade after World War Two.
But Cinerama was also a night out at the cinema to rival that of theatre with its grandeur and the travelogue paved the way for the much shorter but equally as epic IMAX experience which would follow twenty of so years later.
The American Couple, John and Betty Marsh, fly off to Switzerland, see the sights of post war Europe, including and an ice show, bob-slaying, skiing and even the Mona Lisa, which I must admit, was smaller than I had thought, as they visited Paris and The Luve, all of which lends itself to the Cinerama’s massive curved screen experience.
The Swiss Couple, Fred and Beatrice Troller head for the U.S., visiting the sights of the big cities, San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York as well as the rural areas, perhaps reminding the U.S. audience that there are so many sights right here at home to get exited about to, certainly as Cinerama, an anagram of A.m.e.r.i.c.a., was clearly being used as a weapon in the ever evolving Cold War in the 1950’s and beyond.
And perhaps this was never so garishly obvious as the rather out of place finale, which either served to promote the U.S. Navy or just give us a grand finale, but I suspect both are the case. The conclusion takes place as the two couple meet up in New York and break the forth wall by attending the premier of Cinerama Holiday, before it has even finished! They then watch the most exiting segment, the U.S. Navy air force taking off and flying around the North Atlantic.
Besides the visuals of this time capsule of a movie, a large screen record of 1955, both in Europe and across the Atlantic, but the most interesting element of this historical document have to be the hopefully dated attitudes of these two couples, most notably, a so called “Comical” exchange between the Americans, John and Betty, in which he basically dumps his wife at the hotel in order to go out drinking with an old war buddy which they had bumped into in a Paris lounge bar! Betty is clearly upset and yet the tone is unmistakably, “boys will be boys” and “a good wife understands this”.
Oh dear. And we wonder why these film have falling into obscurity!
Overall, as with all of the Cinerama movies which I have seen to date, this is a triumph of visual style over weak and in may ways, contrived and pointless plotting. Everything here is there to drive the next visual set piece but 60 years on, this and its counterparts do serve as an intriguing window into a time long past, in every way. From literally the film itself, to the way that Americans saw the world and world as it was all those years ago, so close to the horrors of World War Two and as it moved closer to generation defining events such as The Cuban Missile Crisis and even in may ways, the civil rights movement, let alone and more obviously, The Feminist Movement, which this film is DEMANDING, though it doesn’t really know it.
Recommended for fans or enthusiasts of Cinerama but also, if you can take such a dated film, it is an intriguing watch.
MORE CINERAMA on nEoFILM…