Mediacinema Blog

William Fox's early foray into widescreen cinema

This short feature from the blu-ray release of Raul Walsh's The Big Trail (1930) illustrates the "Fox Grandeur" system developed by William Fox in the late 1920s. Very few films were shot with this process, including Frank Borzage's Song o' My Heart (of which no Grandeur prints have survived) and Raoul Walsh's The Big Trail, featuring a young John Wayne in his first starring role. Grandeur films, shorts, and newsreels were released for a brief period (1929-1931) in a very few selected theaters, as it required the installation of new 70mm projectors and wider screens. Since production costs and technical challenges seemed to offer nothing more than extra expenses (at a time when exhibitors were still trying to recoup the costs of retrofitting their theaters for sound) the system didn’t gain foothold and was definitively abandoned when the Great Depression wiped out Fox’s financial holdings and he lost control of his business. The new company that was formed in 1935, from the merging of 20th Century and Fox, will approach the widescreen format again 20 years later.
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