The Irving Theatre 3-D VistaScreen

Early in his career, exploitation film director Stanely Long was the in-house photographer at the infamous but short-lived Irving Theatre. Around this time, In the mid-1950s, 3-D movies such as It came from out of Space were very much all the rage, and Long wanted a piece of the action. He began working on the manufacture of a three-dimensional viewer, in which black and photos could be slotted. When viewed through the eyeholes, the photos miraculously spring to life in 3-D. He named his invention the VistaScreen 3-D Viewer. They were manufactured in ivory-coloured plastic and were designed to fold flat.

Girl using Vista Screen 3-D viewer

Vista Screen was useless without any photographs, so Long set about compiling sets of pictures that could be used with the apparatus. Most of the sets were of places of interest around the British Isles that were sold in newsagents and souvenir shops up and down the country. They were also available by mail order.

Long shot most of the stereo images with a Heidoscop, a triple-lens reflex stereo camera. The exact number of sets released is unknown, though it seems to be in excess of three hundred over the 5-year lifespan of the company. VistaScreen was also featured in a Weetabix breakfast cereal promotion with red-branded viewers. By far, the most collectable set is the ten views he did for the Irving Theatre, which were only available from the theatre where he was the in-house photographer. Long did do some other glamour sets but more about them another day.

3-D VistaScreen The Irving Theatre Ten Views series C.86

Vintage advert from Irving Theatre progamme, 1960 for Vista Screen 3-D views
Advert from Irving Theatre progamme, 1960.
Inside front cover full page advert, Vues from Revues, winter 1958for Vista Screen 3-D views
Inside front cover full page advert, Vues from Revues, winter 1958.

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One thought on “The Irving Theatre 3-D VistaScreen

  1. This is the kind of thing my oldest brother would have had back then. I always seemed to find his Spic and Span magazines! Great fun when I was young. He used to hide them under his mattress. I have seen similar things like these viewers in later years but they were hardcore.

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