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.
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
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.
I haven’t been able to find anything on a DVD but this 20 minute YouTube video ought to do the job.
I watched After the Thin Man last night and once again laughed at the gags, pratfalls and overall humor of the film while at the same time trying to figure out “who dunnit”. Myrna Loy and William Powell have such great chemistry and timing. With James Stewart, it’s considered by many to be the best of the Thin Man film series (there are 6) but I still like the first one the best. Maybe I’ll show all 6 films during a series in the near future. Astor the dog is a great character in the films too.
Arthur was known as one of Hollywood’s most accomplished lighting cameramen, a master at black and white cinematography. With 7 Oscar nominations resulting in 3 awards. He worked exclusively at Fox Films and today we’ll watch The Gunfighter, his second to last film. It’s mesmerizing in it’s composition.
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We had fun the other night watching “The Great McGinty”. Talk about timely, it’s a film made in 1940, the first film directed by Sturges and it won him an Academy Award for best screenplay. It’s all about the rise and fall of a common man to political heights via the power of a crime boss; the things that happen could happen to day, maybe are happening today! Sturges didn’t make many but 8 of them are worth watching.