Ten Classic Films That Would Have Been Cool in 3D

Classic 3D Cinema

This coming week marks the arrival to theaters of Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D (also known as The First of Two Over-the-top Action Movies Starring Brendan Fraser Coming Out this Summer). Some of you should know that what’s unique about Journey is that its the first full-length feature film to be shot in digital 3D. This tactic is somewhat controversial, because when the original filmmaker, Paul Chart, was originally visioning the film, he saw something that was so blandly 2D, and followed the Jules Verne novel from which this is supposedly adapted. The studio wanted to make a 3D film, Chart bolted, and effects-aficionado Eric Brevig took the reigns.

This presents an interesting idea: What if the studios had stepped in and mandated that certain projects be 3D. FSR wondered aloud and we came up with 10 films that could’ve, nay, should’ve been made in vivid 3D.

Rules: To avoid just throwing around ANY title, we tried to limit our selection, because to be honest, I could argue for any film being made in 3D (of course Chasing Amy would look sweet in 3D–there would be Chinese fingercuffs flying at your face). So we limited our Top 10 to only be films selected by the American Film Institute as the best of the best (considering both the 1998 and 2007 lists–which is an angry tangent I’ll probably go off on one day but will save you from that now). We also want to ask that of the films we chose, would they be improved or worsened by 3D effects.

Star Wars

10. Star Wars

Because it’s such an obvious pick I wanted to get it out of the way first. In hindsight, if Lucas had the capabilities to make Star Wars: A New Hope in 3D, he definitely would’ve. ‘Nuff said. This is one of those films that wouldn’t necessarily be improved by 3D, but it’s probably the one that I could see most easily being transplanted in 10 years (by cinematic rapist Lucas himself) into an entirely new, shot-for-shot 3D remake.

Raging Bull

9. Raging Bull

In addition from going to the 24th best film of all time in 1998 to the 4th best film of all time in 2007, we wanted to ask: Wouldn’t it have been so much more brutal if we were receiving Jake LaMotta’s punches with him? Scorsese’s 1980 film would’ve been killer in 3D. It might take some of the captivating human element pieces of the story away, but hey, 3D sells, right? RIGHT? This would actually be a horrible film if 3D were utilized because it’s such an intimate story–you’re not really supposed to be in the ring with De Niro.

ET: The Extra Terrestrial

8. ET: The Extra Terrestrial

Again, with Speilberg being the kind of director that likes to revisit his work like Lucas, it’s hard to imagine that is 3D were a viable option back in 1982 that Speilberg wouldn’t at least consider it. The same goes with Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Jaws (which actually had a 3D sequel). ET is the one I can see being 3D because out of all of Speilberg’s films on the AFI Top 100, it is the most kid-friendly, and that’s what really floats in the 3D discussion. Can we all agree that Saving Private Ryan would be a horrifying experience in 3D, though?

North By Northwest

7. North by Northwest

Hitchcock made North by Northwest to basically showoff all the good scenes from his early, British films. There’s the knife in the back scene reminiscent of 39 Steps and the chase across Mount Rushmore, very reminiscent of the Statue of Liberty scene in Saboteur. I believe there would be no better way to show off and enhance your old material by making it in 3D. Considering North by Northwest was made in the 50’s it’s actually quite possible that this could’ve either been 3D or Smell-o-vision. The scene in the cornfield with the plane is an iconic image from this film, but could’ve been more intense if that plane got closer to our faces. The Birds would’ve been a good Hitchcock movie in 3D, too.


6. Fantasia

I think Fantasia could’ve been a wonderful movie in 3D. The animation is so beautiful already, and Disney is known for making entirely 3D films (see: Captain Eo). I just think that stories like the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” could’ve been pretty awesome in 3D. Here’s what else could’ve helped–even though today it’s considered a classic, back in the early 40’s it was considered a flop. 3D effects could’ve made this puppy sell.

Singin' in the Rain

5. Singin’ in the Rain

We have to put a musical on here. The dance moves, the sweeping score and visuals. Musicals most easily lend themselves (along with sci-fi films and cartoons) to be adapted into 3D. You have to put aside reason and rationality when you watch a musical, so checking reality at the door is sometimes necessary when watching a musical. Besides, the plot of Singin’ in the Rain is about the progression of filmmaking, so it could actually serve to advance the story if it becomes a movie about the first “talkies” in film, and made them 3D.


4. Ben-Hur

Do you like gladiator movies? We do. We would especially enjoy them if they came to us in tremendous third dimensional visuals. The chariot race sequence alone in 3D would sell. There’s nothing like telling a story set in the time of Christ with all the flair and glitz of a 3D film. Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe that’s a horrible idea, I dunno.

2001: A Space Odyssey

3. 2001: A Space Odyssey

Like I said before, sci-fi lends itself to a suspension of disbelief and 2001 is as sci-fi as stories come. From the opening with the tribal apes discovering violence in a grand fashion to the jump cut into space–that transition could be made seemlessly with 3D effects. Or maybe the first scene on Earth is in 2D and then space is all 3D. The way that this movie is framed could look both haunting and even more disturbing in 3D. It could also look tacky. Time could tell.

Wizard of Oz

2. The Wizard of Oz

This is another film, that like Star Wars, if 3D effects were possible, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Wizard of Oz movie that wasn’t filmed in 3D. There would be no better way for Dorothy to realize she’s not in Kansas anymore then to be surrounded by not only rich technicolor, but also in-your-face 3D. The flying monkeys could look awesome in 3D. The witch melting would be neat. That house falling on Oz could look now like it’s falling on YOUR FACE!

Citizen Kane

1. Citizen Kane

Since we’re talking about AFI, we have to talk about Citizen Kane. What would be another effect to add to this film, anyway? It was so ahead of its time when it was released and Orson Welles’ masterpiece has techniques that we use to this day. What if 3D were just another one of Welles’ inventions? I could see that film getting more and more 3D as Kane’s ego gets bigger and bigger. Then in the climactic scene where Kane rips apart Susan’s room nail for nail, the 3D is so harsh that the dramatic weight is built even more.

Honorable Mentions: Apocalypse Now, A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove, King Kong (1933), Titanic, Blade Runner, Toy Story

AFI films that would look HORRIBLE in 3D: Annie Hall, The Apartment, The Godfather, All the President’s Men, Taxi Driver, Casablanca, The Graduate

So like we said, we used a very specific guideline for our list, but we’d love to see what you guys can come up with as well. Which films would’ve been better/worse/notable in 3D?

Josh is a multi-tasker. He's been a cubicle monkey for the last few years, a veteran stage actor of over 10 years, a sometimes commercial actor, occasional writer of articles, a once-legend in the realm of podcastery, purveyor of chuckles in his homecity of Chicago as he has trained with the world renown iO (Improv Olympic) and Second City Conservatory and performed with both theaters, and can be seen doing a thing that actor's do on the website of his online sitcom, LackingDirection.com. Josh also likes to tackle the beef of his bio with one run-on sentence, because it befits his train-of-thought.

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