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.
Photographed over an eight-year period by Russia’s top filmmakers, Cinerama’s Russian Adventure brings together some of the most exquisite, jaw-dropping, and beautiful sequences from over six Soviet Kinopanorama productions (the Russian equivalent of three-panel Cinerama). The film’s locations stretch from one end of Russia to the other, from the snow-covered countryside to the majestic subways of Moscow, from the deck of a whaling ship to the front seats of the Bolshoi Theater. Bing Crosby narrates the journey, offering both a grand and intimate view of a country and culture so often cited and yet so seldom seen.
In classic Cinerama style, your first glimpse of Russia is from behind the reigns of a troika, a traditional three-horse sled, speeding through the snow. Next, you’ll land in Moscow for spectacular shots of the Kremlin, the Volga River, the bustling street life, and a spring carnival complete with singing, dancing, and clowns on stilts. From there, you’ll marvel at the dazzling Moscow Circus, take a raft ride down the Tisza River, join in a wild antelope roundup on the Barsa-Kelmes, and witness a show-stopping performance of the famous Moiseyev Dancers. The most visceral sequences, though, take place not on land, but on water: the spare-no-details whale hunt aboard a factory ship in the Antarctic and the alien voyage of an octopus as it glides beneath the sea.
Flicker Alley and Cinerama Inc. are proud to present Cinerama’s Russian Adventure in the Smilebox® Curved Screen Simulation. The film has been digitally remastered, and beautifully so, allowing audiences to experience - in the words of Bing Crosby – “what I believe will be our most exciting journey…”
Bonus Materials Include:
Fortress of Peace (1964): A Swiss Army propaganda film shot in Cinerama and nominated for the 1965 Academy Award® for Best Live Action Short Film
Concorde (1966): A 70mm Cinerama short about the then soon-to-be-unveiled supersonic airplane
"Working With Our Father on Russian Adventure": An interview with film editors Craig and Hal Dennis Jr., sons of producer Hal Dennis
“Reconstructing Russian Adventure”: A restoration demonstration with Dave Strohmaier
Russian Adventure Trailer: Original theatrical trailer
Trailer Gallery: Collection of trailers from other Cinerama shows (Blu-ray only)
Slideshows: Ads and publicity materials, sample scripts pages, and “Russian Adventure Study Guide”
Program Booklet: A facsimile representation of the original program booklet
From what David Strohmaier has written, apparently the original video master for this release was created from a 65mm composite, and while not premium quality, was reasonably acceptable for home video. But subsequently they located a 6 perf. interpositive, and were able to get the financing to re-scan and remaster RUSSIAN ADVENTURE. Reportedly, they were able to get a lot more sharpness and slightly better color than on the old 65mm master.