John Harvey


Following His Dream...

When John Harvey was 16, and already a budding projectionist, his parents took him to see THIS IS CINERAMA at the Capitol Theatre in Cincinnati.  The experience changed his life and with good reason.  


Cinerama is triple the size and clarity of normal 35mm film, a third larger and clearer than even today’s IMAX 70mm format.  The effect was created by using three separate 35mm cameras to shoot the film.  The real challenge came in projecting it.


Cinerama projection requires three separate projectors running in perfect synch that have been calibrated to hit a curved screen comprised of nearly 1000 individually placed strips of perforated light-reflecting canvas.  


In its heyday, Cinerama projection required five separate

technicians to run it.


But that didn’t stop John.....


When the process died off in the 1970s John began collecting old prints and equipment.  Technical by nature, he  developed a complex yet feasible way of synchronizing the projectors so that he could run the entire show himself.


Like something out of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, Mr. Harvey literally gutted a perfectly good ranch house in the suburbs of Ohio and transformed it into his very own personal Cinerama theatre, complete with three separate projection booths, a curved screen and retractable curtains.


At the urging of his friend and fellow collector, Larry Smith, John brought his projectors and prints to a small theatre in Dayton where Cinerama ran for three and a half years (slightly longer than the originally projected run of one month.)  Sadly, the theatre has since been chopped up into a multiplex.  But for a few shining years, people literally came from all over the world to enjoy the revival.  


When the National Museum of Photography, Film &  Television in Bradford, England wanted to install a Cinerama theatre, they turned to John Harvey for assistance.   And when Microsoft millionaire Paul Allen financed a completely new Cinerama theatre in Seattle, John Harvey was brought in to see that it was set up correctly.


The fact that Cinerama still exists in the United States today (though on a small scale) is due largely in part to the unsung work of this phenomenal collector/showman.

John Harvey’s

Recommended films:

  1. 1.THIS IS CINERAMA        

          (1952, directed by Merian C. 



           (1962, directed by John Ford -   

            segment “The Civil War”, Henry 

            Hathaway - segments “The Rivers”,

            “The Plains” and “The Outlaws” and

            George Marshall - segment

            “The Railroad”)


          (1946, directed by Alfred E. Green)        

  1. 4.IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD                            

          (1963, directed by Stanley Kramer)        


          (1944, directed by William A. Seiter)

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