Like all the non-scope Bonds for the SE DVD, GF was cropped to 1.78:1. While this is still around the safe limits for framing flat matted widescreen the SE DVDs did crop a bit too much on all five done this way and the 1.66 is the best ratio for the initial three in terms of composition.
Thankfully the 1.66:1 OAR was restored for the GF UE.
Here’s a fun fact: 1.66:1 is not the original theatrical aspect ratio for the first three Bond films, the correct AR is 1.85:1. Since the mid-fifties, the most common AR in the UK was 1.75, but Kinematograph Weekly specifically lists 1.85 as the intended ratio for the first three Bond films. This documentation is from a British trade journal at the time of principal photography so it’s as good as gospel:
A big thank you to Bob Furmanek of the 3D film Archive (http://www.3dfilmarchive.com/) for pointing this out to me this weekend.
Now, like most of you, I like minimal cropping, so I’m glad there are 1.66:1 versions available, but it’s also nice to know how people saw it in theaters in 1962. Looking at an original IB Tech film frame from a 1962 print, we can see that there is slightly more picture information available, my math puts it at around 1.58:1 if you include all of it. I believe it was hard matted in camera to 1.66:1 so there is probably a little more picture information on the sides on the original negatives than made it onto this print.
That’s spot on. The initial MGM widescreen LDs for DN-FRWL-GF are indeed at about a 1.58 ratio and reveal more than any other matted widescreen release.
While these work fine in 1.78 and 1.85 it requires careful framing which is not often done. Criterion did a better job on LD at 1.75 than MGM did in 1.78 for the SE DVDs for example. I prefer having 1.66 as it gives them perfect breathing room and all compositions seem improved over the tighter framings.