A Gorgeous Cinemascope Time Capsule of San Francisco in 1955

By Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg

This beautifully shot amateur film by Tullio Pellegrini, courtesy of the Prelinger Archive, captures the city in vibrant, widescreen color. The remarkably thorough tour includes vintage cars, stunning vistas of the bay and its bridges, and classic tourist experiences like cable cars, Fisherman's Wharf, and the San Francisco Zoo. 


Still from the film above

Rick Prelinger, founder of the Prelinger Archive, describes some highlights of the film for Boing Boing

It's the work of accomplished amateur filmmaker (and expert tinkerer) Tullio Pellegrini, who combined a 16mm Bell & Howell Cinemascope lens with the wonders of Kodachrome and made this homage to the city of San Francisco. You'll see Playland, our oceanside amusement park which was closed in 1972, very rare footage of the SkyTram (an extinct ride over Seal Rocks and Sutro Baths), and a brakescreeching ride down the Crookedest Street in the World.

The film gets its widescreen Cinemascope look thanks to an anamorphic lens, in this case a Bell and Howell FilmoRama lens, which allows the filmmaker to shoot widescreen on normal (non-widescreen) film. For a great illustration of how this works, see this 1955 Popular Science article, courtesy of the Widescreen Museum

For more films from the Prelinger Archive, visit http://www.archive.org/details/prelinger.

Via Boing Boing

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/01/a-gorgeous-cinemascope-time-capsule-of-san-francisco-in-1955/251633/