In 1966, during the waning days of Cinerama, in order to get more Cinerama product into its theaters, the company worked with United Roadshow Presentations to create and exhibit a U.S. compilation of footage from a number of Soviet Kinopanorama releases. (Kinopanorama was the Russian equivalent of 3-panel Cinerama.) Reportedly, the footage included excerpts from at least six Russian films, and was obtained in exchange for one U.S. Cinerama feature (presumably 1963’s THE BEST OF CINERAMA). The resulting compilation was entitled CINERAMA’S RUSSIAN ADVENTURE.
The compiled film was narrated by Bing Crosby, and featured looks at the Moscow Circus and Bolshoi Ballet, as well as all sorts of travelogue and outdoor sequences such as a trip down the Volga River, an Antarctic whale hunt, and a race by reindeer-drawn sleds.
By 1966, however, many Cinerama theaters had switched from 3-panel projection to 70mm projection, so in addition to the 3-panel version, the Russian 3-panel film footage was optically converted to 70mm for an expanded U.S. release. Reportedly, in either version, the film suffered from large grain and horrible color, due to grossly inferior Soviet film stocks in use at the time.
The 122-minute film opened in Chicago on 29 March 1966. Here is a recreated trailer for the film, which is being digitally restored by Cinerama expert David Strohmaier.
Thanks for posting this sneak-peak. I have all the Cinerama restorations released by Flicker Alley so far and I'll certainly buy this one, if and when it becomes available. One of the great pleasures of my movie-going life was watching the restoration of HOW THE WEST WAS ONE at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. The curved screen and expansive aspect ratio feel perfectly natural in a theatrical setting.
I remember seeing Cinerama's Russian Adventure when it played at the Warner Hollywood Theatre back in the 1960s.
Although I seem to remember that the circus sequences and the ballet sequences went on a little too long, the chance to see the Russian cities and countryside in those days was quite valuable and interesting.
The Kinopanorama process wasn't really that much inferior to Cinerama (probably because it was basically lifted from the Cinerama specs, with a few updates) and I felt that the biggest problem was that everything in the film was taken from dupe negative/positive material and not camera originals, and so the image quality was slightly inferior right from the start.
Still, it was an entertaining piece of work, and not a waste of time. It will be interesting to see how well it still works.