Posts Tagged ‘movies’
Saul Bass was one of America’s premiere graphic designers through the second half of the Twentieth Century. He created some of the best-remembered, most iconic logos in North America: e.g., the Bell Telephone logo (1969) and the successor AT&T globe (1983), Continental Airlines (1968), Dixie (1969), United Airlines (1974), and Warner Communications (1974).
But for your correspondent’s money, his major contribution was his extraordinary series of movie titles and posters, created for the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger, Billy Wilder, Stanley Kubrick, and Martin Scorsese. Prior to Bass, movie title sequences had largely been a series of “credit cards,” functioning in effect as title pages. Bass developed the opening as a way to set the emotional stage for the film to follow. As screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi said of Bass and his second wife and collaborator Elaine, “you write a book of 300 to 400 pages and then you boil it down to a script of maybe 100 to 150 pages. Eventually you have the pleasure of seeing that the Basses have knocked you right out of the ballpark. They have boiled it down to four minutes flat.”
In the broadest sense, all modern opening title sequences that introduce the mood or theme of a film can be seen as descendent of Bass’s innovative work. In particular, though, one can detect the influence of Bass in the title sequences for some recent movies and television series (especially those set in the 1960s) that have purposely emulated the graphic style of his animated sequences from that era: e.g., Catch Me If You Can (2002), X-Men: First Class (2011), and the opening to the AMC series Mad Men.
* Saul Bass
As we mute our cell phones, we might recall that it was on this date in 1956 that Alfred Hitchcock’s muse, the Oscar-winning actress Grace Kelly, became Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco.
The Superbowl is past. so now our collective anticipation can shift to the Academy Awards… by way of getting into the spirit, Nelson Carvajal‘s supercut of every winner of the Visual Effects Oscar since that category was (re)introduced in 1977:
* Arthur C. Clarke
As we ponder perspective, we might recall that it was on this date in 1980, on the TV series That’s Incredible, that Cal Tech graduate Fred Newman dueled at the free throw line with the NBA’s all-time best free throw shooter, Rick Barry. Barry won the contest, but Newman sank 88 straight– while blindfolded.
Without the blindfold, Newman has made 1,481 consecutive free throws, far short of St. Martin’s Guinness record of 5,221. But he did set a record for most free throws made in a 24-hour period, soldiering on to sink 20,371 even after the skin on his fingertips separated and bled. “It didn’t affect my shot any,” he said of the blood, “but the ball got sticky and I had to wipe it off every hour or so.”
But in the meantime…
… our friends at Flowing Data offer an expanded version of their earlier graphic survey of well-known movie lines [c.f., Diagramming (Famous) Sentences]. Click here for (a larger version of) the chart from which the image above is a small excerpt.
* David Mamet
As we aspire to speak aphoristically, we might recall that it was on this date in 1980 that the public learned of the FBI operation known as ABSCAM. Born in 1978 as a sting operation aimed at forgery and stolen art, it shifted to focus on public corruption; aided by a convicted con-man, the FBI videotaped politicians as they were offered bribes by a fictional Middle Eastern sheik in return for political favors. The investigation ultimately led to the conviction of a United States Senator, six members of the United States House of Representatives, one member of the New Jersey State Senate, members of the Philadelphia City Council, the Mayor of Camden, New Jersey, and an inspector for the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service.
And of course, it provided the inspiration for American Hustle.
Using IMDb‘s ratings of popular films, a Reddit user, Jakubisko, made a map that identifies the most popular movies of each state in America. California thus becomes Pulp Fiction, Florida Scarface, Colorado Psycho or New-York The Godfather. Mainly all the motion pictures named in the map are American movies [in] which plot takes place in America…
Read more at Konbini… and then check out the top-rated films on IMDb set and shot in each European country.
* Martin Scorsese
As take our truth at 24 frames per second, we might recall that it was on this date in 1887 that Harvey Wilcox officially registered Hollywood with the Los Angeles County recorder’s office. Harvey and his wife had recently moved from Topeka, where he’d made a fortune in real estate. They bought 160 acres of land in the Cahuenga Valley, in the foothills just of the city of Los Angeles, on what had been a sleepy settlement founded in 1781 as El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Poricuncula,
The Wilcoxes, prohibitionists, dreamt of founding a community of devout– and abstemious– Christians; by 1900, the community numbered 500. But the city of Los Angeles, fueled first by the Southern Pacific Railroad, then the Sante Fe, had grown to 10,000. By 1910, L.A. had used the promise of water (Hollywood had precious little) to lure the smaller community into annexation… after which the fledgling motion picture business began to grow explosively… and Harvey Wilcox’s dream of a sober, conservative religious community faded.
Lorraine Bracco Medicine Man (1992)
The Performance: So terrible that Bracco received a Razzie nomination in the Worst Actress category. The doctor who claimed to be the model for Sean Connery’s character even sued the makers of the film – yup, even he was ashamed of it.
How It Could’ve Been Rescued: By having Connery pointing and laughing at Bracco throughout the whole film.
#23 on Total Film‘s list of “50 Performances That Ruined Movies“… scan through to agree (Nicholas Cage in The Wicker Man, Sophia Coppola in Godfather 3, et al.) and disagree (your correspondent isn’t so sure, e.g., about #8 or #9 or #14…). That’s the fun of lists like this.
As we sharpen our critical skills, we might recall that it was on this date in 1966 that thespian Ronald Reagan announced that he was leaving movies and TV behind to enter politics as a candidate for Governor of California.