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3-D Sightings: Stereoscopic Bits in Films and Television

Stereoscopic equipment shows up in many movies and TV-series. On this page, you will find a few references, sorted by the name of the movie or TV-series.

This list was started by Susan Pinsky & David Starkman (Culver City/CA, USA)

If you would like to contribute any quotations, please contact us.

Across the Sea of Time (IMAX 3D Movie, 1995) [External LinkStereoscopy.com Movie Database ]
This whole film revolves around a little boy who has smuggled is way from Russia to New York to find his relatives. His only link to find them are letters, stereo view cards, and a Holmes viewer, that were sent to Russia in the 1920's by his great grandfather. The great excuse here is that the great grandfather got a job taking stereo photos for the Keystone View Company, and this was the reason and excuse to showcase the viewer and the cards. In addition, many "then and now" scenes of New York are show, using Imax size blow ups made from the original negatives in the Keystone-Mast collection at UC Riverside's California Museum of Photography. It is mind-boggling and wonderful to see these views in perfect projected 3-D blown up to such a large size!!!

The Addams Family (TV-Series, 1964-1966)
Several episodes show Morticia and other family members looking at family photos in a Holmes stereoscope.

Back to the Future (Movie, 1985) [External LinkIMDb ]
In this film, the main character accidentally travels back to 1955 in a Time Machine made from a Delorean car. One of the non-speaking characters, seen in the background of a number of shots, is always wearing a pair of white cardboard 3-D glasses. In fact, on the cast list, the character's name is simply "3-D". The technical error is that the plain white 3-D glasses are of a style not used in the 1950's. Just to emphasize that they are 3-D glasses a rectangular box with "3-D" in the middle is printed on the front center of the glasses, above the nose bridge.

Battlestar Galactica (TV-Series, 2008)
In the Episode "The Ties That Bind" (Season Number 4, Episode Number 64, first aired: Friday April 18, 2008), one of the reporters in a press conference scene (at the 12 minute mark) is using an RBT S1 camera, complete with the Konica HX14 flash unit. Predictably, she is not looking through the viewfinder, but rather gazing at the back of the camera as though it had an LCD.

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Movie, 1982) [External LinkIMDb ]
The opening titles begin with a view looking at the hooded lens panel of a Holmes style stereoscope. Then the view moves in closer and closer until the images of the two lenses merge into one single image and the film continues from there.

Candy (Movie, 1968) [External LinkIMDb ]
There's a scene where a character runs across the ceiling of a large room and the two policemen who witness this turn to each other and one says, "Just... just one of those old Stereo Realist tricks, Sarge. We'll get him."

Captain Caveman (Cartoon, 1977) [External LinkIMDb ]
In the episode "The Mixed Up Mystery of Deadman's Reef", a 3D camera and a curious projector with 3 lenses play a role: - 2'50, Caveman tries to eat the 3D camera after dousing it with tomato ketchup - 9'50, the 3D camera is seen again (but appears much larger!?) and we see also the 3 lens projector (used to trick the villains)

Cheaper by the Dozen (Movie, 1950) [External LinkIMDb ]
Based on a true story, Clifton Webb plays Frank Bunker Gilbreth, an early Efficiency Expert. There is a scene where he is seen using a Magster Stereoscope. More accurately described as "The Magster Motion Study Apparatus", this stereoscope looks like a Holmes style stereoscope hood and lens panel attached to a frame that hold a printed stereoscopic pair image strip. The pairs were apparently taken with a stereo film camera and then printed onto the paper filmstrip roll, for careful stereoscopic observation of motion studies. This device is illustrated and described completely on pages 159 and 160 of the 1926 edition of Stereoscopic Photography by Arthur Judge. Compliments to the research staff on this film. Or perhaps, since this is based on a real character, they actually got pictures or actual objects from living family members. Whatever the reason, this is exactly the sort of device that would have been used in motion studies intended to be analyzed to increase repetitive work efficiency!

Disneyland (TV-Series, 1957)
Season 3, Episode 24 "The Yellowstone Story/Bear Country": In a scene in the Yellowstone Story portion of the show, as Old Faithful is erupting, a closeup of a man taking a photo of the event with a TDC Stereo Colorist is seen. Definitely one of the most prominent representations of a stereo camera in TV history! Available on DVD on the True-Life Adventures Volume 3: Creatures of the Wild set, part of the Walt Disney Legacy collection.

Don't Look Back (Movie, 2014) [External LinkIMDb ]
In one of the scenes, tthe actress is paging through a photo album of stereo pairs. In another scene, a Sputnik Stereo Camera is shown.
Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYYMpjWCyUI

Foyle's Ware (TV Series)
Episode from 2008 titled "Plan of Attack". - This excellent British series is set in Hastings, during World War II. Detective Foyle solves murders and other illegal activities that take place, even during wartime. In this episode a member of a military aerial reconnaissance interpretation unit stationed near Hastings is murdered. In scenes leading up to this event we see both a small Zeiss Aerophoto stereoscope being used, as well as a larger mirror stereoscope. In fact, the character who is murdered, who is considered one of their top photo interpreters, takes half of a stereo pair with him, after looking at it in a mirror stereoscope, and it is found on him after he is murdered.

Grosse Pointe Blank (Movie, 1997) [External LinkIMDb ]
In one scene, Minnie Driver lies on a bed and watches View-Master Reels

Heaven can Wait (Movie, 1943) [External LinkIMDb ]
Near the end of the movie is a gorgeous shot of what appears to be a Deluxe version of the Hirst and Wood "Natural" stereoscope (Paul Wing book, page 41)

Here Come the Brides (TV, 1968-1970) [External LinkIMDb ]
A vintage stereoscope in the opening intro: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRNpa_vTjRM

The Hidden Dimension (IMAX 3D Movie, 1997) [External LinkStereoscopy.com Movie Database ]
In this film a little girl visits the home of her Grandfather, who is a real collector of interesting scientific devices, which fill his house. He is not there, but he has left her a book with clues and suggestions for her (and the audience) to learn many things. One device that is shown is a real Jules Richard Taxiphote. Noel Archambault told me that the director bought a vintage Taxiphote for use in this scene. Then Noel shot black and white images with a Sputnik stereo camera which were later shot to Imax format for showing the still 3-D images that the little girl saw in the viewer.

The Honeymooners (TV, 1955)

Alice (Audrey Meadows) is dying to have a TV set. But cheapskate Ralph (Jackie Gleason) lamely claims he's holding off until 3-D TV is developed ("You know when we are going to get a new television, Alice?!!! --- When they have 3-D TV, THEN we will get a new television!!!!!") .

He finally agrees to go in halfsies with Norton, rigging a coin toss so the set stays in the Kramden apartment. No sooner is the set plugged in than Ralph becomes a total zombie to the new medium, the very archetype of the couch potato: scientifically determining (in a priceless piece of physical comedy) exactly where to place his snack food so no effort is required to reach it; fighting with Norton, who wants to sit in front of the set with his space helmet on to watch Captain Video; and finally falling asleep with the tube on.

"TV or Not TV" was the first episode in The Honeymooners' one and only season, aired on Oct. 1, 1955.


I, The Jury (3D-Movie, 1953) [External LinkStereoscopy.com Movie Database ]
The main character, Mickey Spillane, the classic film noir hard-boiled detective, visits the apartment of the cute blonde twins - minor but amusing characters in the convoluted plot. One of the twins is there, and during their conversation she pulls out a TDC Stereo Viewer (the first model that looked more like binoculars -- not the later deluxe model that came along with the TDC Vivid Stereo Camera) and a bunch of stereo slides to show to him. This would have been a great bit all by itself, but to take REAL advantage of the fact that this was a 3-D movie we were then treated to seeing a few STILL 3-D shots, representing what Mickey Spillane was looking at!! In this case it was a few shots of the twins on holiday! The only mistake for 3-D purists was that the format of the 3-D images was horizontal, similar to European format, while the slides that we could see were obviously Realist format.

K-PAX (Movie, 2001) [External LinkIMDb ]
In one scene, Kevin Spacey holds a green View-Master Viewer

Lilo and Stitch (Movie, 2002) [External LinkIMDb ]
Agent Pleakley uses a View-Master to show various things about earth

The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (Movie, 1944) [External LinkIMDb ]
We just saw this film for the first time last night on TV. It is a classic Preston Sturges comedy. In one scene the main characters, Betty Hutton and Eddie Bracken go to the Justice of the Peace in the next town, to get married. Just before they arrive we are treated to a scene where the Justice of the Peace is sitting in his office with a Holmes style stereoscope and a basket of stereo view cards. He manages to go through several cards in this scene before the young couple show up to interrupt him!!!

Mona Lisa Smile (Movie, 2003) [External LinkIMDb ]
In one scene, Julia Roberts peeks into a View-Master Viewer with views of Italy.

Muppets from Space (Movie, 1999) [External LinkIMDb ]
In one scene, a few characters, including Kermit, are sitting round a table. One of the items on the table is a View-Master Viewer.

National Treasure (Movie, 2004) [External LinkIMDb ]
The main character finds a pair of fancy anaglyph glasses that he uses to see a secret hidden picture on the back of the declaration of independence. Not much 3D effect, but the glasses are interesting.

The Notorious Betty Page (Movie, 2005) [External LinkIMDb ]
Watch out for a scene about half way through the movie during which Betty models for members of a private camera club. Most are shooting with 2D cameras.  But, a few sport what seem to be Stereo Realists. The camera club photographers are snap, snap, snappin' away when one of 'em turns the Realist on it's SIDE to get, what, a VERTICAL?!?  The photographer does this at least three more times. So who enjoys looking at stereo views shot sideways??

The Old Fashioned Way (Movie, 1934) [External LinkIMDb ]

One of W.C. Fields funniest films, in which he portrays The Great McGonigle, the leader of a traveling theatrical troupe that is constantly leaving towns just one step of the law for not paying their boarding house bills.

After they arrive in a new town they are preparing to put on a production of "The Drunkard" (and do so during this movie). A rich local widow named Cleopatra Pepperday puts up money for the show provided she can have a part. In one of many of the classic and funny scenes, W.C. has to "audition" Cleopatra by listening to her sing. The scene takes place in the boarding house parlor, which is decorated in the typical style of the 1890's, the time period in which the film is set.

While W.C. sits on a couch, Cleopatra stands in the middle of the room singing (badly, of course), with melodramatic movements and gestures. At one point she slightly bumps into a table that was in the background. This has many objects typical of the time on it, including a Tiffany-style lamp, a thick photo album of the style of that perioid, and, YES, a Holmes stereoscope with a stereo view card in it!

This only appears in the background, but the stereoscope is quite visible several times during the course of this scene, which lasts the length of the performance of the song!

Presently this film is only available on DVD in a boxed set W.C. Fields Comedy Collection, Vol. 2 , but I have to assume that it is shown periodically on television.

We saw this in a theater at a screening of a new 35mm print, so I'm not sure how visible the stereoscope is on a television viewing, but with the quality of DVD's and the ability of freeze the frame it should be visible. Yes, it's an incredibly small 3D sighting, but in a film well worth seeing. W.C. is at his best in this comedy, and it is especially valuable, because Fields gets to do his old vaudeville juggling act at the end of the movie!


Passchendaele (Movie, 2008) [External LinkIMDb ]
Near the beginning of the end credits a short black and white archival clip shows two officers each holding stereoscopes viewing stereo cards.

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Movie, 1945) [External LinkIMDb ]
George Sanders (as Lord Henry Wotton) looks at numerous stereo view cards in a stereoscope while nattering away superciliously to Hurd Hatfield (who plays the Dorian Gray part).

Pollyanna (Movie, 1960) [External LinkIMDb ]
There is a scene where Pollyanna (Hayley Mills) is confined to her room, and she is on her bed with a Holmes style stereoscope, looking at a basket of stereo view cards. On the recent DVD special edition of this film, there is also a Disney Cartoon about the good old days of the 1890's. In a Mickey Mouse Vaudeville act, during a dance scene one of the characters pulls out a Holmes Style stereoscope and a card! It last for just a few seconds.

Pretender (TV, 1997)
In the episode "Exposed" (Season 2, Episode 4, first aired on November 22, 1997), Andrea Parker holds a View-Master Viewer.

Psych (TV, 2006)
On commercials for the TV show "Psych" on USA network, the two main characters are sitting on a park bench, facing the "audience." One of them is looking through binoculars; the other is looking through a View-Master viewer.

Pushing Daisies (TV-Series, 2007)
In the episode "Smell of Success" (Season 1, Episode 7, first aired on November 21, 2007), the two aunts are sitting on their couch each looking into Holmes Stereoscopes of pictures of their niece when she was a child.

Rio (Movie, 2011) [External LinkIMDb ]
A monkey is using an LG 3D phone.

Rottweiler 3D / Dogs of Hell (Movie, 1982) [External LinkIMDb ]

At about 0:30 into the movie, people are talking on a dam, one of them is holding a 3D camera and trying to use it.

The person with the camera is Lenny Lipton who was working at the time as stereographer for this movie.

A YouTube video of the scene can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8T04qDHaeyk


Science des rêves, La (Movie, 2006) [External LinkIMDb ]
In one scene, Stephane, the hero (played by mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal) is showing to his girlfriend and another girl some of his late father inventions. Amongst them are a pair of 3D glasses that can give depth ordinary pictures. We can see the 2D picture changing into a lenticular when the characters are wearing the glasses!

Unfortunately the two girls are completely unimpressed: they say something like "what the use of this thing, we can already see the reality in 3D". Michel Gondry must be a stereo fan as he even makes Stephane talk next about Carl Pulfrich and the fact that he was blind in one eye.


Scream 3 (Movie, 2000) [External LinkIMDb ]
In one scene, a group of people are touring a movie studio. The camera pans across the crowd, which is full of cameos by the crew (including director Wes Craven), and ends up on Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes playing their oft-repeated characters Silent Bob and Jay. In the crowd is one crew member (Scott Andrew Ressler) holding a Stereo Realist camera and taking pictures of the studio.

Secret Agent, The (Movie, 1996) [External LinkIMDb ]
The movie is set at the end of the 1800's. The main character runs a shop typical for Soho, i.e. selling porn. If you look carefully you can see some stereoviews in the backgrounds of scenes. One of the items is briefly shown in close up, a print of a well known stereo daguerrotype of a nude woman posing.

That 70's Show (TV, 2000)
In the episode "Red Fired Up '" (Season 2, Episode 24, first aired on May 8, 2000), a few View-Master Viewers appear.

Simpsons (TV, 1999)
In the episode "Eight Misbehavin'" (the seventh episode of the eleventh season of "The Simpsons", first aired on November 21, 1999), Homer Simpson sits in bed next to his wive, looks through a View-Master Viewer and shouts "Ahh! my corneas!".

A Star is Born (Movie, 1937 Version) [External LinkIMDb ]
During the first scene in the film, Esther Blodgett (Janet Gaynor) comes home from an evening at the movies. This is portrayed as a real "old fashioned" very rural family setting, with her parents, her brother, and her grandmother sitting in the living room by the fire. Esther's father is sitting in a comfy chair, holding a classic Holmes stereoscope and cards throughout the scene. He even makes some sort of comment about prefering the images that don't move around to the stuff Esther has been raving about on the big screen!

The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (Movie, 1939) [External LinkIMDb ]
In a scene where Vernon (Fred Astaire) is working up the courage to ask Irene (Ginger Rogers) to marry him, they sit side by side on indoor steps and Fred/Vernon looks through a stereoscope while Ginger/Irene feeds him stereo cards. He reads the captions, "Cuba, oppressed by Spain, appeals to Uncle Sam for Aide". Then "Mmm, Niagara Falls", which leads him into romantic talk until he loses his nerve. "Devil's Island. That's interesting, too."

Them (Movie, 1954) [External LinkIMDb ]
This is the one where radiation mutated Giant Ants attack L.A.! In one scene Joan Weldon can be clearly seen shooting pictures from a helicopter with a Stereo Realist!! In the following scene we see 8 x 10 flat prints on the table (oh, no!), but then the camera pans up from the prints to see one of the characters looking at the 3-D slides in a red-button Stereo Realist viewer. Thank goodness!!!

Three to Tango (Movie, 1999) [External LinkIMDb ]
Two of the main characters (Matthew Perry and Oliver Platt), who are architects trying to convince a client (Dylan McDermott) to use them for a major restoration project, put a vintage stereoscope into the client's hands and then insert a printed stereoview to present a visualization of the completed project. What is clever is that the two images merge into a single image, and then rock back and forth a little, which actually gives it a bit of stereoscopic illusion!!! (in the fashion of the VisiDep process).

There is also a brief bit where the client (Dylan McDermott) takes off a VR Eyewear headset.

Twilight Zone (TV, 1963)
In the Episode "Miniature" (originally aired on February 21, 1963) Robert Duvall looks into a Victorian Dollhouse and sees a live (miniature) woman, in Victorian dress, sitting on a couch looking at Stereoscopic View Cards in a Holmes stereoscope. At the end of the episode he leaves the real world that he dislikes, and somehow enters into this Victorian doll house world. In the last scene he is sitting on the couch with her, looking at stereo views.

Two For the Road (Movie, 1967) [External LinkIMDb ]
In this film Albert Finney plays an architecture student traveling around Europe. When he meets Audrey Hepburn there is a scene were he explains that he is an architecture student and shows her the stereo camera that he is using for photography. I had to freeze frame this scene a number of times to finally determine that the camera is a Verascope F40. I think it shows up one more time in the film. Very brief, both times!

Whispering Smith (TV-Series, 1961) [External LinkIMDb ]
In one of the episodes (episode 21 of season 1 / String of Circumstances), one of the first images is of the protagonist (WWII war hero Audie Murphy) walking into a parlor and taking a Holmes viewer away from a woman he wants to talk to. The Viewer (and the stereoviews also in evidence) don't play any part in the plot, but they are shown a couple of times.

White Collar (TV-Series, 2012)
In one of the episodes (episode 3 of season 4 [?] / Identity Crisis [?]), one of the main characters (Mozzie) conducts surveillance on a person while carrying a Stereo Realist around his neck. In a scene a few moments later, we get to see the camera in close-up, with its lens cap raised.

Wonderfalls (TV-Series, 2004)
View-Master Model C is seen in the opening sequences. Model Ls are commonly seen on the store shelves, too. Most scene transitions are done as a reel advancing in a View-Master. DVD cover also features a View-Master and the DVDs are made to look like View-Master reels. View-Master is a rather big part of this series.

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