Posts Tagged ‘film history’
The Lost World, released in 1925, was a silent film adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 novel of the same name. Public Domain Review elaborates:
Directed by Harry O. Hoyt and featured pioneering stop motion special effects by Willis O’Brien (an invaluable warm up for his work on the original King Kong directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack). In 1922, Conan Doyle showed O’Brien’s test reel to a meeting of the Society of American Magicians, which included Harry Houdini. The astounded audience watched footage of a Triceratops family, an attack by an Allosaurus and some Stegosaurus footage. Doyle refused to discuss the film’s origins. On the next day, the New York Times ran a front page article about it, saying “(Conan Doyle’s) monsters of the ancient world, or of the new world which he has discovered in the ether, were extraordinarily lifelike. If fakes, they were masterpieces”.
It is a film of many firsts: first film to be shown to airline passengers, in April 1925 on a London-Paris flight by the company Imperial Airways; first feature length film made in the United States, possibly the world, to feature model animation as the primary special effect, or stop motion animation in general; first dinosaur-oriented film hit, and it led to other dinosaur movies, from King Kong to the Jurassic Park trilogy.
* paleontologist Robert T. Bakker
As we lavish love on lizards, we might send dusty birthday greetings to paleontologist Barnum Brown; he was born on this date in 1873 in Carbondale, Kansas. Brown (who was named after the famous showman) discovered the first documented remains of Tyrannosaurus rex during a 66-year career in which he became the most famous fossil hunter in the world.
Though most of his work was sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History (where most of his finds reside), some was underwritten by the Sinclair Oil Company– which adopted an image of the Apatosaurus (then known as Brontosaurus) in its logo.
In 1912, Ladislas Starevich, serving then as Director of the Museum of Natural History in Lithuania, set out to film the combat of stag beetles, but the nocturnal insects kept shutting down when the lights went on. His solution, inspired by the work of Émile “Father of the Animated Cartoon” Cohl, was to use dead beetles…
Starevich went on to develop theatrical narratives and story arcs for his “actors,” creating the likes of the dreamy-but-eerie film you can watch here:
Read the full story at the ever-educational Dangerous Minds.
As we recall that Starevich had lots of actors from which to choose, we might send carefully-sculpted birthday greetings to Joseph Constantine Carpue; he was born on this date in 1764. A surgeon and anatomist, Carpue performed the first rhinoplasty in England, adapting a technique developed centuries earlier in India. In 1814, after practicing on several cadavers, Carpue operated at the Duke of York’s Hospital, Chelsea, on a British military officer who had lost his nose to the toxic effects of mercury treatments for his liver, though his nasal bones were intact, and on another whose nose and cheek were mutilated by a sword. These two successful operations are considered the birth of modern plastic surgery. (In fact, in the late 16th century, a Venetian surgeon had used arm/shoulder skin– as opposed to the forehead skin used by the ancient Indians and Carpue– but his procedure was never adopted.)
… This is a Tumblr blog of haikus found within The New York Times. Most of us first encountered haikus in a grade school, when we were taught that they are three-line poems with five syllables on the first line, seven on the second and five on the third. According to the Haiku Society of America, that is not an ironclad rule. A proper haiku should also contain a word that indicates the season, or “kigo,” as well as a juxtaposition of verbal imagery, known as “kireji.” That’s a lot harder to teach an algorithm, though, so we just count syllables like most amateur haiku aficionados do.
How does our algorithm work? It periodically checks the New York Times home page for newly published articles. Then it scans each sentence looking for potential haikus by using an electronic dictionary containing syllable counts. We started with a basic rhyming lexicon, but over time we’ve added syllable counts for words like “Rihanna” or “terroir” to keep pace with the broad vocabulary of The Times.
Not every haiku our computer finds is a good one. The algorithm discards some potential poems if they are awkwardly constructed and it does not scan articles covering sensitive topics. Furthermore, the machine has no aesthetic sense. It can’t distinguish between an elegant verse and a plodding one. But, when it does stumble across something beautiful or funny or just a gem of a haiku, human journalists select it and post it on this blog…
Find the wisdom of stillness at Times Haiku.
As we read the paper with a new kind of attention, we might recall that it was on this date in 1953 that House of Wax premiered in New York. The first 3-D color feature from a major American studio, it was Warner Bros.’ answer to the indie 3-D hit Bwana Devil, which had been released the previous November… and a very effective answer it was: House of Wax was a huge hit, grossing an estimated $5.5 million in North America (before a 1980 re-release). It is widely considered one of the greatest horror film of the 50s, and boosted the careers of it’s featured players: Vincent Price (who went on to The Tingler, House of Usher, The Masque of the Red Death, and the epic The Abominable Dr. Phibes), Charles Bronson (Once Upon a Time in the West, The Magnificent Seven, The Dirty Dozen, The Great Escape, Rider on the Rain, The Mechanic, and the Death Wish series), Carolyn Jones (Morticia on TV’s The Addams Family), and Phyllis Kirk (co-star, with Peter Lawford, of the television series version of The Thin Man).
Alongside its Waterbury, Vermont factory, surrounded by a white picket fence, stands Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard, arrayed with the headstones of especially beloved– or particularly despised– flavors…
See more monuments to melted dreams at Messy Nessy Chic.
As we lower our spoons to half mast, we might spare a thought for Clarence Nash; he died on this date in 1985. While never as well known as Mel Blanc, Nash was the voice actor who created one of the most recognizable characters in American film history: he voiced Donald Duck.
Have you ever seen a place that calls itself “ye olde whatever”? As it happens, that’s not a “y”, or, at least, it wasn’t supposed to be. Originally, it was an entirely different letter called thorn, which derived from the Old English runic alphabet, Futhark.
Thorn, which was pronounced exactly like the “th” in its name, is actually still around today in Icelandic. We replaced it with “th” over time—thorn fell out of use because Gothic-style scripting made the letters y and thorn look practically identical. And, since French printing presses didn’t have thorn anyway, it just became common to replace it with a y. Hence naming things like, “Ye Olde Magazine of Interesting Facts” (just as an example, of course).
More castaway characters at “12 Letters That Didn’t Make the Alphabet.”
As we ink our quills, we might send beautifully-written birthday greetings to Joseph Leo Mankiewicz; he was born on this date in 1909. A producer (e.g., The Philadelphia Story), screenwriter (e.g., A Letter to Three Wives), and film director (e.g., Julius Caesar), Mankiewicz won 4 Oscars, 4 DGA honors, and 3 WGA Awards during a long Hollywood career. He’s probably best known as the writer-director of All About Eve (1950), which was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won six. (His elder brother, screenwriter and drama critic Herman Mankiewicz, won an Academy Award as co-author of the screenplay for Citizen Kane.)
I got a job at Metro and went in to see Louis Mayer, who told me he wanted me to be a producer. I said I wanted to write and direct. He said, “No, you have to produce first, you have to crawl before you can walk.” Which is as good a definition of producing as I ever heard.