An Advance Production, released in the U.K. by Adelphi Films, Ltd: 6 August 1955. The movie was never theatrically released in the U.S.A. because of a court injunction brought against both the production company and its potential distributor by 20th Century-Fox. Adelphi, however, had an ace up its sleeve.
Released in Australia by British Empire Films on 13 June 1957, B.E.F. managed to stave off Fox's wrath by releasing only the widescreen version and by making no mention whatsoever of CameraScope in any advertising or press releases. Instead, an eyecatchingly large black heading on the front cover of the exchange's Press Book awesomely trumpeted: "British EMPIRE FILMS request exhibitors to note that this film was photographed in the 1.85 to 1 ratio." (Aside from 'Scope attractions, all films released in 1957 were photographed in the 1.85 to 1 ratio. So why tell someone something they already know and, and even more importantly, why make such a big fuss about telling them?). Three or four wits in the trade even fired off a few missives to head office. One I particularly enjoyed read: "Is this part of a misguided Exhibitor Education Campaign? If so, you have assumed that exhibitors already possess too much knowledge. Please start with the basics. On the cover of your next Press Book please tell us: British EMPIRE FILMS request exhibitors to note that this film has sprocket holes." 7,108 feet. 79 minutes.
SYNOPSIS: An intake of reservists arrive at an army camp to do their two weeks training.
NOTES: Although the name CameraScope itself was short-lived, the release of "You Lucky People" in this process turned out to be the second most important element in the development and acceptance of The CinemaScope Revolution. The first element, of course, was the release and enormous success of "The Robe" (1953). Fox paid Professor Henri Chretien two million dollars for the exclusive worldwide rights to his invention. Fox decided not only to use the process on the home lot but license it for a reasonable fee to other studios as well. Even a release as late as "No Love for Johnnie" (1961) carries the tag- line: This film is made under licence from Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation—the registered proprietor of the trademark CinemaScope.
All the same, by 1961, Fox's anamorphic monopoly had well and truly been broken. Every major film company in the world could now thumb their noses at Fox with their own anamorphic systems. And it was all thanks to a little fifth-rate British distributor called Adelphi, who had been broken Fox's monopoly way back in 1954 when "You Lucky People" received its well-advertised world premiere in London.
Fox executives fought a desperate rearguard action but they knew they were beaten when they discovered that the CameraScope lens was manufactured by Cinepanoramic, Paris. Further investigation revealed that the man behind Cinepanoramic was Professor Ernst Abbe. The professor told startled Fox executives that the anamorphic process was public domain and therefore not patentable.
When the fees paid to Bausch & Lomb are included, Fox had spent well over $6 million even before the first camera rolled on "The Robe".
COMMENT: Two or three hilarious sketches (the Smart rifle, the quiz take-off), three or four sidesplitting gags ("What's a serviceman's best friend in times of war?"), enacted by four or five most enthusiastic players (led by the clown prince of "lucky people") place this service comedy firmly in the worth-seeing basket. Probably veteran director Maurice Elvey's last important film, it carried the unusual credit, "devised and directed." Certainly the wide-wide-screen has been extremely well utilized, although camera movement is virtually non-existent. However, these were early days for anamorphic processes and Fox did initially claim that 'Scope did away for the need for tracking, zoom and pan shots.
OTHER VIEWS: Historically important as the first English-language movie to break Fox's perceived anamorphic monopoly, "You Lucky People" was "devised and directed" by the veteran British director, Maurice Elvey, who chalked up between ninety films (according to IMDb) and over three hundred features according to what he told me!
Elvey directed a number of exceptionally fine sound films, including "The Clairvoyant" (1934), "The Tunnel" (1934), "Heat Wave" (1935), and was still going strong with prestigious "A" productions in the mid-forties. By the early 1950s, because of his age and ill- health, he could find work only in "B" features, but to these also he brought a high degree of competence and even ingenuity. In many ways, he was an ideal choice for Britain's first independent experiment with the wide-wide anamorphic screen. His players here in "You Lucky People" include music-hall star, Tommy Trinder, TV personality, Mary Parker (making her film debut), and R.S.M. Brittain (a recently retired Regimental Sergeant Major, billed as having "the loudest voice" in the British army).