Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Redwind Productions - HOLIDAY IN SPAIN on Blu-ray ""

Monday, December 1, 2014

Redwind Productions - HOLIDAY IN SPAIN on Blu-ray

HOLIDAY IN SPAIN (1960; Jack Cardiff)
As I may have mentioned before, I'm a fan of all the gimmicks that were used by Hollywood in the 50s and 60s to get people to come out to movie theaters and way from their television sets. This included the rise of 3D movies as well as Cinerama. Cinerama is a pretty neat process in which three film cameras were used simultaneously to shoot a movie. So when it was projected in cinemas, three projectors were required and they were lined up to make one extremely wide picture. The Cinerama Dome in Hollywood has a curved screen to accommodate the width of such a projection. Cinerama films were often plotless travelogues, intended to whisk moviegoers away to some exotic locale. HOW THE WEST WAS WON was one of the few feature narratives shot in Cinerama. Another was HOLIDAY IN SPAIN. This movie combined the travelogue aspect with a thriller story to create a more interactive theater experience. HOLIDAY IN SPAIN was also known as THE SCENT OF MYSTERY and this ties into the last part of the film's unique theatrical experience - it was also presented in "Smell-O-Vision". Producer Michael Todd Jr. pioneered this process by working with a Swiss inventor named Hans Laube to come up with a technique for wafting scents to an audience during the movie. Each smell was synchronized (via an electronic signal embedded in the film itself) to disperse when specific scenes were playing out on screen. Some examples of scents that were released onto audiences at the time were roses or fresh baked bread from a marketplace or wine that a character is drinking in a particular scene. The only smell-based movie experience I've ever has was with John Water's film POLYESTER and its "Odorama" scratch-n-sniff cards. "Smell-O-Vision" must have been quite an interesting way to see a movie back when this was originally released. I was lucky enough to see EARTHQUAKE in Sensurround at a revival screening many years ago and it was an absolute hoot so I can only imagine what it must have been like to see THE SCENT OF MYSTERY in 70mm AND Smell-O-Vision as it was originally presented. One interesting, if tragic, story that comes out via an interview with Michael Todd Jr.'s daughter is that the process of getting the proper aromas for SCENT OF MYSTERY apparently decimated his sense of smell for the rest of his life.
The film has a neat cast headed up by a somewhat older and rounder Peter Lorre as well as a much younger-than-RAIDERS (OF THE LOST ARK) Denholm Elliott. The movie was directed by the great cinematographer turned director Jack Cardiff (who made some amazing films with Powell & Pressburger plus many others). The resulting film is kind of a Hitchcock-lite sorta thing with several enjoyable action setpieces (which make use of the Cinerama format, some of them in POV style shots). This was my first experience with the home video "SmileBox" presentation and I must say it worked well for me. It takes some getting used to initially, but I felt it gives a nice approximation of the curved screen experience.

Special Features:
This disc is loaded with a nice selection of supplements including:
-An audio commentary track with film historian Bruce Kimmel (who actually saw the film upon its initial release in Smell-O-Vision), actress Sandra Shahan and David Strohmaier (who was the director of the remastering of the film for this release). This is a very solid track wherein many things are explained about how the film was originally exhibited in 70mm as SCENT OF MYSTERY and then recut (losing about 20 mins) and split into three panels to be played in Cinerama theaters as HOLIDAY IN SPAIN. There's also a good amount said about the remastering and the locations here as well.
-A "Locations of HOLIDAY IN SPAIN" short featurette (15 mins) - which has David Strohmaier discussing and pointing out where many of the scenes were originally shot. He also visits some of the locations himself and shows what they look like today.
-"Missing Scenes from the SCENT OF MYSTERY version of the film" (10 mins) - some of this footage is a little faded, but it does give a sense of some of the bits that were cut for HOLIDAY IN SPAIN.
-Exclusive Interviews - these two new interviews with actress Beverly Bentley and Susan Todd (daughter of producer Michael Todd Jr) are quite nice and total about 30 mins in length.
-"Remastering and Reconstruction of HOLIDAY IN SPAIN" (8 mins) - Remastering Director David Strohmaier discusses the rather tricky process by which the movie was remastered for this Blu-ray. He talks about and exemplifies the sources they drew from (mostly the 65mm camera negatives and a few 70mm Eastmancolor prints) from raw scan to remastering.
-Both a 5.1 DTS-HD English Audio track for the film and a 2.0 DTS-HD track.
-Another great added bonus to this package is a score CD for SCENT OF MYSTERY via Bruce Kimmel's Kritzerland label.

This is the first Blu-ray release from (Twilight Time co-founder) Brian Jamieson's Redwind Productions  and it's a very nice, collector-friendly set with some great extras and a good transfer. I very much look forward to further discs put out under the Redwibd Banner.
The Blu-ray can be purchased right no via Screen Archives:

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