TABLE OF CONTENTS

SQUARE FOOTAGE: THE RETURN OF THE ACADEMY RATIO IN CONTEMPORARY CINEMA

Xavier Dolan, Mommy, 2014, 35 mm, color, sound, 139 minutes.

FRANK TASHLIN’S The Girl Can’t Help It (1956) opens with a jape as brazen as the mock money shot in which a tightly attired Jayne Mansfield swivels past an awestruck milkman, prompting the phallic bottle he’s grasping to pop its top and gush its creamy contents all over his hand. Introducing the mammary-mad masterpiece, ’50s everyman Tom Ewell strolls onto a soundstage to inform us that Girl was “photographed in the grandeur of CinemaScope”—the relatively new wide-screen process devised by Hollywood in its attempt to woo viewers away from their television sets—even though the image Ewell occupies remains confined by the traditional squarish frame known as Academy ratio.* Tashlin wittily contrasts the old, uncool ratio, its boxy image connoting the preference of alpaca-wearing squares, with the rockabilly abundance offered by the ’Scope frame, by having an impatient Ewell

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