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[In progress] Quick project: The Dead Pool (1988) in Super 35
I always wondered about The Dead Pool, Dirty Harry film format.

The film is from 1988 and was sandwiched between Bird and Pink Cadillac who were both in 1.85:1, using the same crew. It is listed about everywhere online as 1.85:1.

However, I'm certain when I saw it on opening week, that it wasn't 1.85:1.

Internet says otherwise, but one can't deny it has a weird history on home-video.

Originally it was released on Laserdisc in 1.33:1 clearly open matte (sightly cropped on the sides, opened up above), while all the others were scope widescreen in the box set.
Then the DVD was 1.77:1.
The Blu-ray is 1.77:1 but is extended on the sides, offering more picture all around and it has ton of dead air top & bottom. I think it's edge to edge. If you take the top of the original DVD, and mask the HD version accordingly, you fall at exactly 1.85:1. So the DVD was cropped on the sides.

IMDB lists it as 1.85:1, but I remember seeing the film on the initial release, and it was larger widescreen to me. In fact I didn't notice there was a change in format, beyond that it didn't look shot anamorphic.

Plus the other Dirty Harry films are all Cinemascope 2.39:1, so that would be a bit weird had they suddenly switched to 1.85:1. I would definetely have noticed it in the cinema as I was a fan of the series from way back.

I can understand, as the film was shot very fast in the spring of 1988, and released in the summer, that they went spherical because it was easier and faster to shoot that way, but I don't think it was shot for 1.85:1, though as with all non anamorphic films, it can be formated in either 1.33:1 or 1.77:1 or 1.85:1.

The framing looks totally off and loose in all of the home-video versions, with tons of dead air. Look at this:

[Image: super35-DP.jpg]

I tried masking the HD master on a timeline at 1.85:1 and it didn't improve.
I tried at 1.95:1 and it was still loose.
I then tried at 2.00:1 and suddenly every frame worked.

In fact, all the hairlines fall perfectly on top that way during all the film, even when it involves an extra in the background, like in a bar for example (Clint in front, a waitress blurred in the background). It looks like I found the "common top" line that all the transfer miss.

Becoming wildly popular at the time was the Super35 format, which allowed to release scope prints while shooting very fast with spherical lenses. And that used a common topline.

I think what happened here is, a decision was made to ease off the pipeline, so they went the Super35 way, and it was shown masked in theaters at probably 2.39:1. Maybe history rewrote this as 1.85:1, and documentation was lost? It's definetely not look like it's framed for 1.85:1.

On a note, It's interesting that there is a scope trailer on the laserdisc box set, though it's horribly framed in 2.35:1.
They made the mistake of center framing it. Super35 use a common topline, and the framing should be from near the top of the frame.


On another note, looking at the film, I think you can point out easily what scenes are shot by Clint (a few of them, using long lenses, great cinematography and framing) and what others aren't (most of the action). The cinematographer is the same as Bird and Unforgiven. It's a film that definetely is undervalued in the DH saga.

So I will do a quick project, just adjusting the film in 2.20:1. (now 2.39:1)

I wanted to post some captures, but my computer shut down while I was typing this and the encode was lost, due to overheating. So I'm just posting this saved message right now, and will update the post later.
Thanks given by: Hitcher , BDgeek , Plissken1138 , applesandrice
I had never watched this film until recently, and doing so I went with the BD version.

I have no knowledge of the film history or the theatrical presentation, but I'm completely with you here that while watching the film, the whole time I felt there was something off with the AR.

The 1.78:1 AR really cheapened the look of the film and having the last episode in the series on such a "lesser" format seemed really strange, almost like giving it a direct to video status.
Thanks given by:
Have seen it a lot of times but not recently. As a fan of the series I can say it really is the lesser DH movie, almost to the point of parody at times. Directed by recently deceased Buddy Van Horn, a long time Clint collaborator/stunt double/2nd unit director, who also directed Pink Cadillac and Any Which Way You Can, it really feels like one of Clint's quick and dirty (pun intended) flicks on the edge of straight-to-video. Eastwood and Neeson are fairly tall dudes and you can see how awkward the framing is even at 1.85 in few scenes of Eastwood with tiny Patricia Clarkson Smile I believe, though, it can be fitted to 2.35 but with a bit more digital wiggle.
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this came out when i was really into rc so the way they put a spotlight on upscale rc cars and using them in a big scale car chase was a vindication of my hobby!
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I have a feeling that films where Eastwood gave the gig to Buddy Van Horn, nonetheless are made under his guidance and he even direct a few scenes. I think he decided on the 2nd unit director being credited based on two motivations 1/ does the film has some kind of artistic prestige that feels is name being attached to it is a plus for his credentials, and 2/ Is he occupied otherwise entertaining a lady or several at the moment, in which case it's better to leave the nitty and gritty to the appointed director while he is busy in the hotel room.

When Jim Carrey gave his tribute to Eastwood at the awards thing, he talked about shooting The Dead Pool, and he didn't mention the director once. All he explained is that Eastwood allowed him to be as wild has he wanted, like Eastwood was the director.

I think it's the same for The Enforcer, Fargo directed most of the film, but in some scenes like the one he goes to see Albert Popwell playing Mustapha, suddenly the cinematography and acting jumps a few notches up. It's obvious Clint called the shots there.

Maybe you're right and The Dead Pool could be reformated to 2.39:1, but it would have to keep the topline of the 2.00:1, which would make sense as it probably was shot common top (like Super 35). I will have to try, to see if nothing of importance get cropped at the bottom.
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General rule is that most presentations of films, regardless of ratio, never show the entire shooting area due to things like props/equipment, boom mics, unfinished animations/mattes being visible. These anomalies are typically cropped out of the frame, and sometimes the cropping and framing can drastically differ on one release version to the next. The Dead Pool was shot 1.37 because it was quicker and cheaper to frame and process (given the films rapid shooting schedule), plus it allowed home video versions to show most of the 1.37 area without severe cropping as the anamorphicly shot prior films were. It always intended to be shown at 1.85 flat and IMDB dosen't mention Super35 at all, but there's a chance Warner and/or Eastwood's crew tried Super35 and abandoned it due to costs and time and listed it as 1.37 flat, or IMDB could be wrong as usual (they once claimed Spaceballs was shot Super35 with a 2.35 intended ratio which was wrong, as one of the DOPs confirmed somewhere).

Dead Pool may have been presented and reframed in 2.35 at some screenings, particularly 70mm runs and for select high-end theaters that were only set up with wider screens and anamorphic projection capabilities (this was done for Predator II and I think Beetlejuice).
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I'm done and currently doing a verification check. I encountered no trouble. I went 2.39:1 finally, after doing a first round at 2.20:1. The way it looks now, I'm convinced this was shot for Super35, or to be matted, but somehow a hiccup happened on video due to back then Pan & Scan open matte being the way to go.

To make it more classic Harry I added the Warner red logo at the start, while keeping the sync with the Blu-ray (the logos have the same length, and the blue Warner logo on that master is freeze-framed which made for horrible start, it now looks more like a genuine Harry opening).

It seems the transfer top and bottom adjustment evolves from scene to scene, as in some instances, all I needed to do is adjust for a shot the top framing, and the rest of the scene was OK. Then I had to readjust again for the next scene. As the transfer advances in time, the less adjustment there are to make, which means the operator got tired and just printed the last act straight.

I did a compare with the fullscreen LD (there is a capture on the russian site labeled as VHS version, but it's actually a french LD rip, only with russian sound), and it's the same, it's cropped sightly on the sides, and has more or less air depending on the scenes.

I never trust IMDB as it is user generated like Wikipedia, and sadly the director recently left us. But I heard directly from a director of a US film released the same year, that there was for a short period 1987-1990 an obsession going on with the studios for shooting films so that they could fit any format: 1.33:1 for VHS & TV, 1.85:1 or 2.39:1. It made for difficult framing and words would come from the studio if the dailies didn't show this.

He also said Batman, released in 1989, but shot in 1988/89, was the flagship production for this trend. It must have been some industry word to keep films on top, and indeed, if you look at the Super35 flagship advocate James Cameron, the guy started shooting The Abyss, his first Super 35 film, in 1988, the same year as The Dead Pool.

It seems this is a part of Hollywood film history, that is seldom documented online, thought there must be some book or part of a book, or magazines from the period, reflecting this, probably in Variety of THR.

I'm finishing the check, then will export as prores, and encode during one night, so expect this to release at the end of the week or early next week.

Finally, we will be able to see The Dead Pool in the same format as the four other films.
Thanks given by: Plissken1138 , BDgeek
as the man himself said - marvelous Big Grin
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Looking great!

I just love scope films, it takes the presentatin to a whole different class!

ps: very interesting fact about the Rambo films. Framing has been really off in the recent presentations
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