Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Stretch Effect: The Grapes of Wrath

I've almost - almost - become used to seeing Academy ratio movies (1.37 to 1) stretched out on widescreen televisions by people either too stupid to notice the glaring difference or too lazy to bother switching the settings on their tv to match the movie. But one place I don't expect to see it is Netflix. So when I went to watch The Grapes of Wrath the other night, I was shocked to see this:


Here's the correct ratio:


Here are other screengrabs followed by the correct ratio:







When I saw this, I was shocked. I mean, I know nobody was doing widescreen in 1940 (although it had been used before, notably for the 1930 John Wayne movie, The Big Trail) and I certainly know The Grapes of Wrath didn't use it. Still, I went to IMDB to make sure. As I suspected, it was 1:37 to 1. But for some reason, someone at Netflix flubbed and gave us a "widescreen" version of a movie that never was widescreen to begin with, hence the stretched out quality of all the shots. I've notified them (and have for other problems in the past) and hope it gets corrected soon. Meanwhile, if anyone has any other classic movies on Netflix they discover have been stretched out, let me know. I'm curious if this is just an aberration or a disturbing new trend.