Archive for August, 2006

August 30th, 2006

Metropolis

Posted in Images, Trivia by DavidE

Metropolis

Image from Metropolis (1927)

“No optical printing system existed at the time, so to create a matte effect, a large mirror was placed at an angle to reflect a piece of artwork while live footage was projected onto the reverse. To expose the projected footage, the silvering on the back of the mirror had to be scraped off in strategically appropriate places. One mistake would ruin the whole mirror. This was done for each separate shot that had to be composited in this manner. This procedure was developed by Eugen Schüfftan and is known as the ‘Schufftan Process.’”

– Source: Internet Movie Database

August 30th, 2006

Deliberately Bad Music?

Posted in Quotes by DavidE

“[For the opera scene in Citizen Kane] we needed something that would terrify the girl and put the audience a bit in suspense. I wrote the aria in a very high key which would make most performances sound strained. Then we got a very light lyric soprano and made her sing this heavy dramatic soprano part with a very heavy orchestration which created the feeling that she was in quicksand. Later on, that aria was sung many times by Eileen Farrell, who had the voice to sing it absolutely in that key, and it sounded very impressive. Some writers have said that the singer in the film performed it deliberately badly, but that’s not so. She was a good singer performing in too high a key.”

– Bernard Herrmann, interviewed for Sight & Sound magazine (Winter 1971-1972 issue)

August 29th, 2006

The Unknown

Posted in Images, Trivia by DavidE

The Unknown

Poster for The Unknown (1927)

“For many years this film only existed in murky 9.5mm dupes on the black market. In March 1973, at a screening of this film at George Eastman House, archivist James Card said that Henri Langlois and his staff at the Cinematheque Francais discovered a copy of it in 1968 among other miscellaneous cans of film marked ‘l’inconnu’ (films ‘unknown’ due to missing titles, etc.).”

– Source: Internet Movie Database

August 29th, 2006

First All-Talking Movie?

Posted in Trivia by DavidE

The Jazz Singer (1927) is often cited as the first sound film. That’s not entirely correct. It was the first popular sound film, and the film that launched the sound era, but it was only partially a sound movie. Much of the dialogue was presented through subtitles.

The first feature-length film with sound throughout (commonly referred to as all-talking) was Lights of New York (1928). And just a year later, Hollywood released its first all-color, all-talking feature. That was On with the Show! (1929).

August 28th, 2006

Nosferatu

Posted in Images, Streams by DavidE

Nosferatu

Here’s a link to stream the classic silent horror film: Nosferatu (1922). The first — and creepiest — adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. Drawing on his art history background, director F.W. Murnau creates a subtly menacing atmosphere, intensified through striking visual compositions and innovative special effects. Max Schreck, who plays the title role, seems to have been born to play the part. His last name is the German word for scream, fright, or fear.

Fascination with this film continues up to the present day. Shadow of a Vampire (2000) is an account of the film’s production, except it presumes that Schreck was a real vampire.

If you prefer to download this public domain film, you can visit here.

August 28th, 2006

The Thin Man

Posted in Quotes by DavidE

Nora: Waiter, will you serve the nuts? I mean, will you serve the guests the nuts?

– Dialogue from The Thin Man (1934)

August 26th, 2006

Fashion Statement

Posted in Images, Trivia by DavidE

It Happened One Night

Production photo from It Happened One Night (1934)

Can a movie change clothing trends almost overnight? That’s what happened with It Happened One Night (1934) from Columbia Pictures. Here’s the scoop, according to the Internet Movie Database:

“While shooting the scene where he undresses, Clark Gable had trouble removing his undershirt while keeping his humorous flow going and took too long. As a result the undershirt was abandoned altogether. It then became cool to not wear an undershirt which resulted in a large drop in undershirt sales around the country. In response, underwear manufacturers tried to sue Columbia.”

August 26th, 2006

It Happened One Night

Posted in Quotes by DavidE

Alexander Andrews: Oh, er, do you mind if I ask you a question, frankly? Do you love my daughter?
Peter Warne: Any guy that’d fall in love with your daughter ought to have his head examined.
Alexander Andrews: Now that’s an evasion!
Peter Warne: She picked herself a perfect running mate — King Westley — the pill of the century! What she needs is a guy that’d take a sock at her once a day, whether it’s coming to her or not. If you had half the brains you’re supposed to have, you’d done it yourself, long ago.
Alexander Andrews: Do you love her?
Peter Warne: A normal human being couldn’t live under the same roof with her without going nutty! She’s my idea of nothing!
Alexander Andrews: I asked you a simple question! Do you love her?
Peter Warne: YES! But don’t hold that against me, I’m a little screwy myself!

– Dialogue from It Happened One Night (1934)

August 25th, 2006

Vertigo

Posted in Images, Trivia by DavidE

Vertigo

Image from Vertigo (1958)

Kim Novak wasn’t Alfred Hitchcock’s first choice for the leading female role in Vertigo (1958). He wanted Vera Miles to take the part, only she became pregnant and couldn’t do it. Miles had plenty of talent (check out her performances in Psycho and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance). On the other hand, I can’t imagine her bringing the same mysterious quality to the role.

August 25th, 2006

Hitchcock’s Practical Joke

Posted in Quotes by DavidE

“Once, we were at a party in a restaurant with some twelve guests to celebrate my wife’s birthday. I hired an aristocratic-looking elderly dowager and we put her at the place of honor. Then, I ignored her completely. The guests came in, and when they saw the nice old lady sitting alone at the big table, each one asked me, ‘Who’s the old lady?’ and I answered, ‘I don’t know.’ The waiters were in on the gag, and when anyone asked them, ‘But what did she say? Didn’t anyone speak to her?’ the waiters said, ‘The lady told us that she was a guest of Mr. Hitchcock’s.’ And whenever I was asked about it, I maintained that I hadn’t the slightest idea who she was. People were becoming increasingly curious. That’s all they could think about.

“Then, when we were in the middle of our dinner, one writer suddenly banged his fist on the table and said, ‘It’s a gag!’ And while all the guests were looking at the old lady to see whether it was true, the writer turned to a young man who’d been brought along by one of the guests and said, ‘I bet you’re a gag, too!’”

– Alfred Hitchcock, interviewed in 1962 by Françoise Truffaut

August 24th, 2006

One Week

Posted in Images, Streams by DavidE

One Week

Here’s a link to stream the classic silent comedy short: One Week (1920). Buster’s rival mixes up the numbers on a build-it-yourself house. This short and Cops (1922) are a great place to start if you’re not familiar with Buster Keaton’s work.

If you prefer to download this public domain short, you can visit here.

August 24th, 2006

First Sound Film?

Posted in Trivia by DavidE

When was the first sound film made? The Warner Bros. studio began experimenting with its Vitaphone technology in 1925. This technology used a mechanical system to lock the projected film to a phonograph turntable. The synchronized audio worked well most of the time, but could be thrown out of sync if everything didn’t go perfectly. It improved enough within two years for the part-sound, part-silent The Jazz Singer (1927) to become a popular hit. Later, the accompanying sound track was incorporated onto the film itself.

The very first attempts at synchronizing sound with film reach almost as far back as the invention of film. Thomas Edison’s assistant, W.K. Laurie Dickenson, produced an experimental sound film in 1884 using Edison’s “kinetophone” process, which attempted to link a Kinetoscope movie projector with Edison’s phonograph player. The film shows two men dancing to the accompaniment of a violinist. As far as we know, it was never shown outside the Edison movie studio.

August 22nd, 2006

Kid Brother

Posted in Images by DavidE

Kid Brother

Photo from Kid Brother (1927)

Only one time in my life have I witnessed someone laughing so hard he fell out of his chair. It was during a screening of Kid Brother (1927), one of Harold Lloyd’s best silent comedy features. Near the end of the film as the Lloyd character is being pursued inside a cargo ship, a small monkey tries on a pair of shoes and proceeds to walk along the deck. Lloyd hears the clomping and assumes it must be the villain. It was the sight of the monkey in the oversized shoes that struck a chord with my friend Dean, who eventually landed on the floor, no worse for wear.

August 22nd, 2006

Double Indemnity

Posted in Quotes by DavidE

Phyllis: Mr. Neff, why don’t you drop by tomorrow evening about eight-thirty. He’ll be in then.
Walter: Who?
Phyllis: My husband. You were anxious to talk to him weren’t you?
Walter: Sure, only I’m getting over it a little. If you know what I mean.
Phyllis: There’s a speed limit in this state, Mr. Neff. Forty-five miles an hour.
Walter: How fast was I going, officer?
Phyllis: I’d say about ninety.
Walter: Suppose you get down off your motorcycle and give me a ticket.
Walter: Suppose it doesn’t take.
Phyllis: Suppose I have to whack you over the knuckles.
Walter: Suppose I bust out crying and put my head on your shoulder.
Phyllis: Suppose you try putting it on my husband’s shoulder.
Walter: That tears it

– Dialogue from Double Indemnity (1944)

August 21st, 2006

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Posted in Images, Trivia by DavidE

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Italian Poster for Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

One of the best alien-invasion movies from the 1950s, it was remade in 1978 and 1994. It is often cited as having an anti-Communist or anti-McCarthite subtext, though director Don Siegel has denied he had any political intentions for the film.

August 21st, 2006

First Movie Ever Made?

Posted in Streams, Trivia by DavidE

What was the first movie ever made? It depends on what you consider to be a movie. In 1877, Eadweard Muybridge photographed a galloping horse using a split-second sequence of images, in order to prove the horse had all four hoofs off the ground. When displayed in real time, the sequence resembled to a motion picture.

Here is a link to stream what may be the earliest celluloid film. Roundhay Garden Scene (1888) was shot by Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince using the Le Prince single-lens camera.

Thomas Edison’s assistant, W.K. Laurie Dickenson, is often credited with building the first movie camera, movie projector (the “Kinetoscope”), and movie studio (the “Black Maria”). The first short films produced at Black Maria include “Fred Ott’s Sneeze,” “Buffalo Bill’s Shooting Skill,” and “Boxing Cats.” By 1894, the public could see these and similar films at Kinetoscope Parlors established in cities around the U.S., including New York and San Francisco. Only one person could view a Kinetoscope at a time, so the parlors had multiple machines lined against a wall.