Posts Tagged ‘movies’
Though routinely credited, as above, as “Film Editor,” Tregoweth Edmond “Treg” Brown was the genius sound-effects wizard responsible for sound editing the Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons starting in 1936…
His musique concrète artistry worked directly in conjunction with Carl Stalling‘s hyper-active left-field orchestral scores to create the soundtrack to generations of kids lives. So many of these sounds are completely ingrained into our collective pop-culture (un)consciousness. So much so, that reviewing some of the old Looney Tunes cartoons as an adult, you tend to ignore how utterly ridiculous the doinks and twangs are, for they sound totally natural in context—a testament to Brown’s flawless editing of sounds demanded by the images.
In addition to his incredible sound design which won him a Sound Effects Oscar in 1965 for The Great Race, Brown is also credited with giving legendary Warner Brothers’ voice actor Mel Blanc his big break…
More at “The Sound Effects Madman Behind the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Cartoons.” And much more– with wonderful examples– in this short documentary (part 2 here):
* David Lynch
As we perk up our ears, we might send melodic birthday greetings to Jerrald King “Jerry” Goldsmith; he was born on this date in 1929. One of film and television”s most accomplished composers and conductors, Goldsmith scored such noteworthy films as The Sand Pebbles, Logan’s Run, Planet of the Apes, Patton, Papillon, Chinatown, The Wind and the Lion, The Omen, The Boys from Brazil, Alien, Poltergeist, The Secret of NIMH, Gremlins, Hoosiers, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Rudy, Air Force One, L.A. Confidential, Mulan, The Mummy, three Rambo films, and five Star Trek films– in a career during which he was nominated for six Grammy Awards, five Primetime Emmy Awards, nine Golden Globe Awards, four British Academy Film Awards, and eighteen Academy Awards. In 1976, he was awarded an Oscar for The Omen.
While presenting Goldsmith with a Career Achievement Award from the Society for the Preservation of Film Music in 1993, fellow composer Henry Mancini (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Pink Panther) said of Goldsmith, “… he has instilled two things in his colleagues in this town. One thing he does, he keeps us honest. And the second one is he scares the hell out of us.”
The lights begin to dim, ambient noises fade away, suddenly there is a burst of light overhead and you are transported… this is the premise of [photographer and one-time trial attorney Rick] Finkelstein‘s newest body of work: Sitting in the Dark with Strangers. In this latest series Finkelstein uses miniature figurines and meticulously fabricated sets to compose his images and explore the experience of the movies…
Sitting in the Dark with Strangers is on display at Robert Mann Gallery in New York City through the end of this month.
More images (and background) at “Artist Spotlight: Richard Finkelstein” (from whence these images), The Mann Gallery’s site, and “Photos of the Cinema-Going Experience Capture the Magic of Movies in Miniature.”
* Charles Chaplin (before he became famous as Charlie)
As we salt our popcorn, we might that it was on this date in 1941 that Paramount Picture’s released Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels. A picaresque satire that celebrates that movies, it has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, named one of the “Greatest Movies of All Time” by the American Film Institute.
The filmmaker was already on a roll. Not only had he been granted the honor of being one of Hollywood’s first writer/directors, but his last two films,The Great McGinty and The Lady Eve, were critical and commercial hits. Given as much creative freedom as a studio like Paramount could offer in 1941, Sturges crafted a smart, original fable about a comedy film director (Joel McCrea) who takes off to suffer in order to gain the experience necessary to make an “important” serious drama, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? (a title later appropriated by the Coen brothers). Along the way, he teams up with “the Girl” (Veronica Lake), an aspiring actress who brings a dose of reality to the director’s noble aim. But just as soon as he learns his lesson, he’s robbed, thrown on a train, then arrested and put in prison in the Deep South. Sturges, who’d wanted to satirize contemporary high-toned depression dramas, was inspired by the tales of John Garfield living as a hobo in the 1930s. Towards the end of the film, Sullivan, who is taken with his prison chain gang to an African-American church, learns the real power of comedy when a Disney carton comes on the screen. This scene, often cited in reviews as demonstration of Sturges’ deft mix of social realism and mad comedy, in many ways accomplishes what Sullivan set off to do by paradoxically dismissing the importance of such social realistic filmmaking. What people in poverty and injustice need is a good laugh. But the scene has resonated for others in far different ways. The secretary of the NAACP wrote Sturges a letter praising his “dignified and decent treatment of Negroes in this scene.” On the other hand, the U.S. government’s Office of Censorship refused to approve the film for export, claiming that its portrayal of a chain gang, showing “the brutality and inhumanity with which the prisoners are treated” might serve as enemy propaganda. Most Americans, however, just found it hilarious, making the film Sturges’ next big hit.
Fans of Quentin Tarantino might have noticed that items branded “Red Apple” have appeared in every one of his films since Pulp Fiction. For The Hateful Eight, he turned to designer Ross MacDonald…
Much of the action in Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie The Hateful Eight takes place in an 1870 Wyoming trading post called Minnie’s Haberdashery. While you’re viewing it – either in glorious 70mm or regular format – look past the cracking dialog, flying bullets and spraying blood. There – in the background, on the shelves, and occasionally in the character’s hands – you may glimpse a few cans and packages and other general store stuff. For a few months last winter, I was lucky enough to help create a few of those things…
The story– and beautiful examples of the work– at “Hateful Eight & Red Apple.”
[TotH to J.J. Sedelmaier]
* John ‘The Hangman’ Ruth (Kurt Russell), The Hateful Eight
As we roll our own, we might recall that it was on this date in 1940 that MGM released The Shop Around the Corner, the romantic comedy by Ernst Lubitsch. While it did reasonably good business in it run, it has become classic, landing on most “100 Best” lists, scoring a rare 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and earning a berth in the National Film Registry. But perhaps its highest accolade came from Lubitsch himself: the creator of Trouble in Paradise, Ninotchka, and To Be Or Not To Be called The Shop Around the Corner “the best picture I ever made in my life.”
Indiewire‘s list of “The 50 Best Opening Credit Sequences Of All Time“– each with a video of the sequence, and followed by a bonus “starter list” of other candidates that might have made the cut… because after all, the point of lists like these is the arguments they provoke.
* Derek Jarman,
As we settle into our seats, we might spare a thought for Archibald Alexander Leach; he died on this date in 1986. Known by his stage name, Cary Grant, he became one of the greatest stars in Hollywood history, the epitome of the “leading man,” famous for roles both comedic (e.g., Holiday, Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story) and dramatic (Grant was Hitchcock’s favorite actor, for reasons obvious in Suspicion, North By Northwest, To Catch a Thief, and Notorious).
Living for much of his career “above the title,” Grant was the first actor of note to “go independent”– to refuse to sign a studio contract– which gave him control over roles and collaborators and a bigger piece of the action; he was one of the first actors to earn a percentage of his pictures’ gross revenues.
Take the test, then enjoy this tribute to the power of props:
* Designing for Films, Edward Carrick, 1950
As we wait for the telephone to ring, we might recall that it was on this date in 1938 that Universal Pictures released Mars Attacks the World, a space opera that prominently featured a classic hand prop, the ray gun. Originally produced as a 15-episode serial, Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars, the studio had it recut as a feature, planning a 1939 release. But on October 30, 1938, Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater broadcast their infamous adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. Capitalizing on the frenzied attention that Welles created, Universal quickly changed their feature’s title from the originally-intended Rocket Ship, and launched it into theaters.
There are 28– 28— follow-up films to Night of the Living Dead… and that’s not counting homages, parodies, or the myriad “of the dead” and “of the living dead” titles that have nothing to do with George A. Romero’s genre-defining original. Our friends at Den of Geek have the full rundown: “Night of the Living Dead and its 28 Follow-Ups.”
* “Ben,” Night of the Living Dead
As we head for the basement, we might recall that it was on this date in 1988 that Donnie Darko flooded his school… one of the fascinating facts one can glean at The Movie Timeline, a copious compendium that operates on the premise that “everything you see in the movies is true”; real, fictional– if it’s reported to have happened on a given date in a movie, it’s in the list.
“TELEPHONE n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance”*…
Christian Marclay’s “Telephones” (1995), a 7 1/2-minute compilation of brief Hollywood film clips that creates a narrative of its own. These linked-together snippets of scenes involve innumerable well-known actors such as Cary Grant, Tippi Hedren, Ray Milland, Humphrey Bogart and Meg Ryan, who dial, pick up the receiver, converse, react, say good-bye and hang up. In doing so, they express a multitude of emotions–surprise, desire, anger, disbelief, excitement, boredom–ultimately leaving the impression that they are all part of one big conversation. The piece moves easily back and forth in time, as well as between color and black-and-white, aided by Marclay’s whimsical notions of continuity…
And as a bonus, this from burgerfiction.com:
* Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary
As we check caller ID, we might recall that it was on this date in 1922 that Charles F. Jenkins was the first to use city telephone lines to transmit a facsimile photo from 1519 Connecticut Ave in Washington, D.C. to the U.S. Navy Radio Station NOF at Anacostia– a demonstration for representatives of U.S.Navy and the Post Office Dept. (Earlier in the year, on June 11, a photograph had been sent by radio across the Atlantic from Rome to Bar Harbor, Maine.)
Jenkins is better remembered as a pioneer of early cinema and one of the inventors of television– he racked up over 400 patents, mostly in those fields– and as the recipient of the first commercial television license.