I cannot for the life of me understand why major electronics companies have all stopped making 3-D capable monitors. In January 2017, the last two television manufacturers still making them, Sony and LG, announced they would stop all 3-D support. What, they didn’t sell? Consumers wouldn’t pay a small premium to have that capability in reserve just in case they wanted to watch a film in 3-D someday? Was there a shortage of the rare element, three-dee-dium, needed to make the glasses? I have gotten more pleasure out of the 3-D capability of my Sony monitor than perhaps any audio/video component I have ever owned.
Okay, except maybe my original laser disc player. “Petey” was my boy.
While I am pleased as punch that Ron Furmanek and the 3-D Film Archive continue to do their amazing, important work restoring these films and returning them to their original glory, I can’t help but wonder how long this will continue. Slowly but surely, the number of sets capable of showing off their work continues to dwindle. I must now regard my personal glass of 3-D goodness as half full, counting myself lucky that I can continue to enjoy this specific slice of cinema history.
Wings of the Hawk was only Universal Studios’ second foray into 3-D filmmaking after It Came from Outer Space was released earlier the same year. Wings of the Hawk was Universal’s first 3-D film in Technicolor, the first American film released in the new widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85, and released only a year before Universal’s 3-D sensation, Creature from the Black Lagoon. It ain’t no Creature (how could it be?) but Wings of the Hawk is fun from start to finish.
Also, will anyone figure out why this movie is titled Wings of the Hawk when that phrase is never uttered in the film even a single time?
FULL DISCLOSURE: I guess I wasn’t paying attention when the film first began, establishing that Van Heflin’s character’s first name actually seems to be “Irish.” I thought every character for the rest of the movie was calling him that as low-key ethnic slur because of his red hair.Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. (I kept waiting for Julia Butters to show up.) The 3-D is glorious, both in the many scenes that were framed and shot to emphasize depth and in the more “gee-whiz moments” like a revolver being lowered on a string through the top of a jail cell and into the audience’s laps. A veritable army of distinctive supporting players appears: Julie Adams and Antonio Morena, who would both return in Universal’s Creature from the Black Lagoon; George Dolenz, who had a long career as a character actor in Hollywood and is indeed Monkee Mickey Dolenz’s father; Noah Beery, Jr., following in both his father’s and more famous Uncle Wallace’s footsteps as a memorable heavy (he gives one of my favorite performances in Inherit the Wind with a single line, “My name... is George Stebbins.”); and Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez, appearing here in his first film after he proved a sensation as a contestant on Groucho Marx’s then-new TV quiz show, You Bet Your Life.
Director Budd Boetticher apparently hated the 3-D gimmick and refused to shoot some of the more-gimmicky shots, so Universal had to spend extra money and time for a Second Unit to shoot them after principal photography had wrapped. Yet Boetticher directed Wings of the Hawk only three years before beginning his legacy, the seven Randolph Scott westerns for which he is now most famous. Apparently, Boetticher was an avid horseman, and it shows in his framing and staging of the action. Julie Adams’ horse in the film is played by Pie, Jimmy Stewart’s famous horse in all 17 of his 1950s westerns. Boetticher felt that Pie was so smart he could actually understand spoken directions. It is tremendously entertaining to watch Pie deliberately raise his head in shots so that he is more visible in the frame.
Viva la bunny! Viva las TRES dimensiones!