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The Stewardesses

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Directed by Allan Silliphant (credited as Al or Alf Silliman Jr.)
Written by Allan Silliphant (credited as Alf Silliman Jr.)
Starring Christina Hart
Monica Gayle
Paula Erickson
Donna Stanley
Michael Garrett
Music by James Navas
Release date(s) July 25, 1969
Running time UK: 69 min
USA: 93 min
Language English
Budget $100,000 (approx.)

The Stewardesses is a 1969 Softcore 3-D film directed and written by Allan Silliphant and starring Christina Hart, Monica Gayle, Paula Erickson, and Donna Stanley. Produced on a budget of just over $100,000, the film grossed over $27,000,000 (USD) in 1970 dollars becoming the most profitable 3-D film ever released.

Contents

Development

Early on, it was a simple softcore "skin-flick" with minimal production value during the first months of distribution. Since it was grossing extremely well, in specialty "adult theaters", Louis Sher and Silliphant decided that the film should be transformed into a regular R rated feature film with a more complex storyline and reduced nudity and sex simulation.

The original version was filmed essentially with only a thematic minimal plot and shown in San Francisco and Los Angeles for a year before national release. The crew was small, and the actors were unknowns, allowing for an initially small budget; as it became a local success, and profits rolled in, the crew would shoot additional scenes and add them to the film. New scenes were shot in both Los Angeles, and Hawaii, to "open up" the picture including on an actual passenger plane interior and cockpit. The self-imposed X rating was a draw in the early stages, attracting viewers to relatively small theatres showing the film. In the last year, with the official R rating it was possible to show the film in 70mm houses like the 4300 seat Boston Music Hall. Total active run extended 3 years and was presented in just over 800 theaters, often outselling larger budget movies in larger theatres. A definitive "R" version was released throughout 1971, and it was played in at least 30 overseas markets eventually.

It is also unique in that it may be the only notable film to be reshot, edited and updated as it played in theaters, according to Allan Silliphant, the Producer-Director. These changes were added as the film continued to hold on in theaters. Probably four versions of the evolving film were played over the two years that the film was in active distribution.

Writer/Producer/Director, Allan Silliphant was the younger brother of Academy Award winning writer/producer Sterling Silliphant. He would later write or direct other low budget films, and historical documentary films, such as the "Navajo Code Talkers". Co-Producer and cinematographer Chris Condon, who had founded Century Precision Optics, built innovative, relatively lightweight and portable designs of single-strip 3-D cameras. He would later work on other 3-D films, such as Jaws 3-D. Theatre owner Louis Sher was the executive producer, and used his Art Theatre Guild theatres to display the film coast to coast. Specially trained 3-D technicians would be sent to each and every theater to install the special equipment, and to teach the projectionists how to keep it running. Allan Silliphant is still active in his advocacy of 3D film technology. Chris Condon has been continuously been involved in the 3-D motion picture art and technology ever since. He has lectured at U.S.C, UCLA, and Columbia college and is considered the worlds most experienced consultant for production and projection of theatrical 3-D films. Chris Condon received an Honorary Doctorate from the Institute of Scientific Research, Naples Italy, 1988.

Plot

The story line, which did in fact receive the sought after MPAA "R" rating after several edits, is about a single eventful night in the lives of a crew of Los Angeles-based, trans-Pacific stewardesses. The leading female character is killed in a 30-story suicide leap. The others simply "party": use drugs and have various sexual encounters. One of the girls befriends and beds a returning Vietnam combat soldier.

The 3D stereo technology used

The film was shot in 35mm color and projected in a new, single strip, side-by-side polarized format called STEREOVISION. The images were compressed horizontally in printing, then expanded with an integrated anamorphic, "unsqueezing" lens for projection. Unlike the 3D stereo films in prior technology it was impossible for the film to go out of sync. Only polarized plastic frame glasses were ever used, rather than the paper ones of the 50s. It was never shown in the simpler red/cyan filter method. It was also released in a few large theaters in 70mm Stereovision. Silliphant was the original President of StereoVision International Inc., and was the co-inventor of the basic process. In later years Chris Condon developed a slightly different system to show wide-screen 3D. This was used in a number of successful 1980s feature films including "JAWS 3-D", (the most successful 3-D movie in that era). Also including Universal's highly acclaimed, "METALSTORM 3-D: The Destruction of Jared-Syn".

Marketing History

The film was uniquely marketed in that it never use a promotional "trailer", but many billboards, radio spots, and always a special "road show" treatment on the marquee of the theater. In several cases the film ran over a year in the same theaters. The ad campaign would say "47th great week", or whatever was the local "hold-over" figure. According to Weekly Variety it was the number one film of a two week period in 1971. In 2006 the domestic film rentals exceeded $120 million dollars. Having taken in about 300 times its budget, it is, in relative terms, one of the all time film financial successes.

Home Video

In 2009, the 3D and 2D versions of The Stewardesses became available on DVD. Marking 40 years since its theatrical release, the 2-DVD set also includes 2 pairs of 3D glasses and bonus features.[1]

Trivia

Silliphant and Condon's company, Stereovision Intl.Inc. actually started a "real life" commercial airline, which, under different ownership, continues to operate today with a modern jet transport fleet.

References

External links

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