Film Noir Poetry

We’re sure it’s a win when the rushes fade in, showing him and me.

There isn’t a clue what we’re planning, we two; it’s a mystery

We shoot in the light, but it’s all day for night with this movie plot.

We’re acting with zeal by pretending it’s real, but it’s really not.

Those shadows on the pavement, that constant drip of rain:

All done by clever lighting and a hose on the window pane.

We believe while the red light is on,

When it’s off all the magic is gone.

The cameraman takes the blame for letting me fall out of frame,

When I’m dressed like that Vertigo dame

Playing Hitchcock’s deception game.

There must always be a nightclub scene it seems,

With a torch singer’s song to haunt your dreams.

When the last line is heard, the crew applauds the take

But like Hammett’s Black Bird, it’ s all just a fake.

So round up the usual suspects, and have them watch this:

It ends with a bang; the cell door goes clang

Then the torch singer and the shamus kiss.

Johnnie Pat Mobley

 

 

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Mary Astor

Thanks to Marie for sharing with me an in depth story about Mary Astor, a top female personality of film during the silent and talkie eras.  Never a “star” which was exactly what she desired . . . as she said, when you get to be a star there’s no where to go but down but a great character actor is always in demand.  Here she is in her last film playing the mother of Charlotte in “Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte”

click here

 

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RIP Michael Ballhaus

As Bill Cutforth pointed out yesterday prior to the screening of Broadcast News, Michael Ballhaus, 3 time nominated cinematographer passed away on April 12.  Although not winning any Oscars he won many awards worldwide for his work.  He was the DoP of photography for six films that were nominated for the ‘Best Picture’ Academy Award: Broadcast News (1987), Working Girl (1988), Goodfellas (1990), Quiz Show (1994), Gangs of New York (2002) and The Departed (2006), which won ‘Best Picture’.  He also “invented” many groundbreaking cinematic techniques.

here is a link to his LA Times obituary 

and here is his IMDB link click here 

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Romantic Comedies

Who doesn’t like a good comedy?  and then add to the story some romance!  Can’t go right and we’ll have a good time looking at these genre of film beginning on April 12 at the Palm Theatre in SLO.  There will be 6 films in this series and I’ll be showing some of the documentary “The Dying of the Light, a documentary that explores the history and craft of motion-picture presentation through the lives and stories of the last generation of career projectionists.

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Herb Jeffries – the black Roy Rogers

Back in the 30s and 40s a few cowboy films were made with exclusively black actors and Herb Jeffries, who was already a popular singer was tabbed to be the hero of these films

click here

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Wide Screen Projection

Daryl Zanuck was an early advocate of widescreen projection. One of the first things Zanuck did when he returned to Fox in 1944 was to restart the research on a 50mm film, shelved in the early 1930s as a cost-cutting measure (a larger-sized film in the projector meant higher resolution). Impressed by a screening in Cinerama, a three-projector widescreen process, unveiled in 1952 that promised to envelop the viewer in a wrap-around image, Zanuck wrote an essay extolling widescreen’s virtues, seeing the new formats as a “participatory” form of recreation, rather than mere passive entertainment, such as television.  But Cinerama was cumbersome, and used three projectors simultaneously, potentially a hugely expensive investment. Fox, like every other studio had rejected Cinerama when the innovative new process was pitched to them for investment. In retrospect, this looked like a mistake, but nothing could be done. Cinerama was no longer for sale.

Zanuck now urged the studio to keep the same principle, but find a more feasible approach. He approved a massive investment into a system that would be called Cinemascope—$10 million in its first year alone. The urgency was increased when an aggressive appliance tycoon and shareholder, Charles Green, began threatening a proxy takeover, claiming the current Fox administration was wasting stockholders money. He attempted to conspire with Zanuck to oust the New York-based President of Fox since 1942, Greek-American Spyros Skouras. Zanuck refused; instead, he and Skouras decided to gamble on Cinemascope to save their jobs, and perhaps, their studio.

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Daryl Zanuck documentary

I haven’t been able to find anything on a DVD but this 20 minute YouTube video ought to do the job.

Click here

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