John Dall: Film History Series

Photographer Unknown, “John Dall”, 1948, Publicity Shot for Universal International, Gelatin Silver Print

Born in New York City in May of 1920, John Dall Thompson was an American stage and film actor. The younger of two sons born to Charles Thompson and Henny Worthington, he moved with his family in the 1920s to Panama, where his father was employed as a civil engineer for airport construction. After performing at a local theater, Dall first gave thought to the possibility of acting as a career. Due to the death of Charles Thompson by suicide in 1929, the family chose to return to New York City.

John Dall attended the Horace Mann School, a private college-preparatory school in the Bronx, and enrolled at Columbia University with the intention of studying engineering. He soon left the university and studied at the Pasadena Playhouse and the Theodore Irvine School of Theater. Dall also took theater courses in New Orleans at the Petit Theatre, a historic French Quarter playhouse founded in 1916. 

Dall performed for six years in various stock companies, primarily the Children’s Theater founded in New York City in 1924 by British actress and playwright Clare Tree Major. He also worked in several theater companies headed by such performers as Academy Award winner Aline MacMahon, actor Arthur William Byron, and stage and screen actress Edith Atwater. During the 1941-1942 season, Dall had small roles on Broadway which included the 1920 science-fiction play “R.U.R.” by Czech writer Karel Čapek. In 1942-1943, Dall had the lead role of Quizz Martin in the touring production of Maxwell Anderson’s “The Eve of St Mark” which later moved to Broadway. 

John Dall’s performance in the Broadway version of “The Eve of St Mark” caught the attention of the wife of Jack Warner, founder of Warner Brothers Pictures. This resulted in a film contract with the studio; a proviso was added to the contract that allowed Dall personal time for stage performances. Dall’s first film with Warner Brothers was director Irving Rapper’s 1945 “The Corn is Green”, a drama starring Bette Davis as a schoolteacher bringing education to a Welsh coal mining town.  Dall played the lead role of miner Morgan Evans and was nominated for the 1946 Academy Award / Best Supporting Actor. 

Impressed with the film rushes for “The Corn is Green”, Warner Brothers signed Dall to a new contract. He became one of the studio’s six contract players that were to be built into stars; the others included Lauren Bacall, Dane Clark, Faye Emerson, Robert Hutton and William Prince. In 1944, Dall returned to the stage with the lead role in playwright Norman Krasna’s highly successful “Dear Ruth”, which eventually ran for six-hundred and eighty performances. The film rights to the play, however, were purchased by Paramount Studio which cast William Holden in Dall’s original role. 

Warner Brothers purchased the film rights to John Patrick’s play “Hasty Heart” with the intention of giving the lead film role to John Dall. In 1945, Dall performed “Hasty Heart” on a three-month stage tour. However as it took several more years before the film was started, casting changes gave the lead role to Irish-British actor Richard Todd. In May of 1946, Warners released Dall from his contract after filming only one role for the studio.

Although Paramount Studio cited interest in signing Dall for an adaption of ”The Wayfarers” based on Becky Chambers’s series of books, Dall signed a seven-year contract with David Selznick’s Vanguard Films in May of 1946. He performed “Hasty Heart” during the summer theater season but was never given any roles by Selznick. Signing with Universal International, he played Canadian actress Deanna Durbin’s love interest in Irving Pichel’s 1947 musical comedy “Something in the Wind”. Dall next appeared in a supporting role in Michael Gordon’s 1948 post-Civil War drama “Another Part of the Forest”. 

Founded by Alfred Hitchcock and his longtime associate Sidney Bernstein at the end of World War II, Transatlantic Pictures chose John Dall for one of the lead roles in its first production. Dall and actor Farley Granger played the two killers who matched wits with James Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock’s Technicolor 1948 crime thriller “Rope”. On its theatrical release, the film performed poorly at the box office; screenwriter Arthur Laurents attributed the poor performance to audience uneasiness with the homosexual undertones between the characters played by Dall and Granger.

Dall did an hour episode for the ABC anthology radio series “Theater Guild on the Air” and then appeared on Broadway in an adaption of Jean-Paul Satre’s “Red Gloves” with Charles Boyer. In 1949, he made his television debut in The Chevolet Tele-Theatre’s production “Miracle in the Rain”. Dall appeared as one of the leads in Joseph H. Lewis’s 1950 crime film-noir “Gun Crazy” playing opposite femme-fatale actress Peggy Cummins. He later had supporting roles in the 1950 crime film-noir “The Man Who Cheated Himself”, playing opposite Lee J. Cobb and Jane Wyatt, and in a revival on Broadway of the romantic drama “The Heiress”, playing alongside Basil Rathbone.

Throughout the 1950s, John Dall appeared in stock productions of such plays as “Gramercy Ghost”, “The Hasty Heart”, “Born Yesterday” and “The Man Who Came to Dinner”. He worked extensively in television and appeared in guest roles on such shows as Studio One in Hollywood, General Electric Theater, Schlitz Playhouse, The Clock, Broadway Television Theater, and Lights Out. In 1955, Dall returned to Broadway for writer and director Leslie Stevens’s “Champagne Complex”. 

Dall’s first film role after a span of eight years was that of the Roman soldier Marcus Glabus, based on the life of Roman military commander Gaius Claudius Glaber, in Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 epic historical drama “Spartacus”.  This film won four Academy Awards and had the highest ranking box office in Universal Studio’s history until “Airport” in 1970. Dall’s final film performance was as the villain Zaren in George Pal’s 1961 science-fiction film “Atlantis, the Lost Continent”. 

As to John Dall’s personal life, there is very little verifiable written record. According to music journalist Phil Milstein, at the time of his death Dall had lapsed into alcoholism and was living with his partner, actor Clement Brace. While visiting London in October of 1970, John Dall sustained a serious fall. He died three months later of cardiac arrest, a complication of myocarditis, at his Beverly Hills home in January of 1971 at the age of fifty. His body was donated to medical science. Dall’s papers and correspondence are housed at the Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills, California. 

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “John Dall”,  Date Unknown, Studio Publicity Shot, Gelatin Silver Print

Second Insert Image: Joseph A. Valentine, “John Dall, James Stewart and Farley Granger”, 1948, Film Shot from “Rope”, Director Alfred Hitchcock

Third Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Donald O’Connor, Deanna Durbin and John Dall”, 1947, Pulicity Shot for “Something in the Wind”, Director Irving Pichel, Cinematographer Milton R. Krasner

Fourth Insert Image: Sol Polito, “John Dall and Bette Davis”, 1945, Film Shot from “The Corn is Green”, Director Irving Rapper

Fifth Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “John Dall”, Date Unknown, Publicity Shot, Gelatin Silver Print

Bottom Insert Image: Russell Harlan, “John Dall”, 1950, Film Shot from “Gun Crazy”, Director Joseph H. Lewis

Tom Tyron: Film History Series

Photographer Unknown, “Tom Tyron”, Date Unknown, Publicity Photo, Gelatin Silver Print

Born in Hartford, Connecticut in January of 1928, Thomas Lester Tyron was an American actor and novelist. He grew up in Wethersfield and, in 1943 at the age of seventeen, enlisted in the U.S. Navy where he spent three years as a radio operator in the South Pacific. After his discharge from service in 1946, Tyron joined the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, Massachusetts where he was employed as a set designer and assistant stage manager. He also studied at Yale University and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. 

Encouraged by actress Gertrude Lawrence and her husband, producer Richard Aldrich, Tyron entered into acting. His first appearance on New York City’s Broadway was a role in Arthur Kober and Joshua Logan’s 1952 musical “Wish You Were Here”. In 1953, Tyron was in two productions on Broadway, “Cyrano de Bergerac” and Shakespeare’s “Richard III”. His television appearances at this time include an episode of the 1955 daytime drama series “The Way of the World” and the two-part episode “King of the Dakotas” as a guest-star of NBC’s Western series “Frontier”.

Tom Tyron moved to Hollywood in 1955 and was given a contract by Paramount Studios. In his film debut for the studio, he was given second-billing in Michael Curtiz’s 1956 crime drama “The Scarlet Hour” which starred actress Carol Ohmart. Lent to Allied Artists, Tyron was given the lead role as Private Mason in Charles F. Haas’s 1956 World War II film “Screaming Eagles”. In the same year, he appeared in a supporting role acting opposite Charlton Heston and Anne Baxter in Paramount’s Western film “Three Violent People”, directed by Rudolph Maté. In 1958, Tyron had the starring role as husband/alien Bill Farrell in Gene Fowler’s horror science fiction film “I Married a Monster from Outer Space”, now a cult classic.

Most of Tyron’s acting was in the medium of television with appearances in episodes of popular drama and Western series. These included Playhouse 90, Zane Grey Theater, Lux Video Theater, Jane Wyman’s Fireside Theater, Studio 57, Wagon Train, The Big Valley, The Millionaire, and The Twentieth-Century Fox Hour. Tyron’s longest running role in television was as Texas John Slaughter in the Disney series of movies of the same name which ran from 1958 to 1961. The “Jack Slaughter” series was based on the historical American lawman John Horton Slaughter. Born in 1841, Slaughter was a cowboy, poker player and sheriff who earned a reputation fighting outlaws and hostiles in the Arizona and New Mexico territories. 

Tom Tyron appeared in several films for Twentieth-Century Fox; the first of which was a starring role as Mahlon, a brother of Ruth, in Henry Koster’s  1960 biblical CinemaScope film “The Story of Ruth”. In 1961, he had a starring role as Private first class Roth in Raoul Walsh’s Korean War film “Marines, Let’s Go”. Tom Tyron appeared in two films in 1962: the Disney space-age satire “Moon Pilot”, in which he starred alongside Brian Keith, Edmond O’Brien and Tommy Kirk, and Fox Studio’s epic black and white war-drama “The Longest Day” which featured a large international ensemble cast.

Tyron’s most notable starring role was as the ambitious Catholic priest, Stephen Fenmoyle, in Otto Preminger’s 1963 drama film “The Cardinal”, based on the 1950 novel of the same name. Shown through a series of memory flashbacks during the Cardinal’s formal ceremony of institution, the film was shot in multiple locations and touched on issues of interfaith marriage, racial bigotry, sex outside of marriage and the rise of fascism. “The Cardinal” was the highest-grossing film of 1963 and won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Drama. Tom Tyron received a nomination for the Golden Globe Best Actor in a Drama.

Tom Tyron followed this success with appearances in two more films: a supporting role in the 1958 epic war film directed by Preminger “In Harm’s Way” and a leading role in Arnold Levin’s 1965 calvary Western “The Glory Guys”, with a screenplay written by Sam Peckinpah. Tyron appeared in several television performances in the late 1960s including a live television performance of “The Fall of the House of Usher”, the 1967 television movie remake of  “Winchester ’73”, and episodes of The Big Valley and Bob Hope’s Chrysler Theater.

Disillusioned with acting, Tyron retired from the profession in 1969 and, inspired after seeing “Rosemary’s Baby” in the theater, began to successfully write mystery and horror novels. His best known work is the 1971 psychological horror novel “The Other”, a story of a boy whose evil twin-brother might be responsible for a 1930s’ series of deaths. Tyron adapted the novel into a film of the same name that was released in 1972.  The film was directed by Robert Mulligan and shot entirely on location in California; actor John Ritter made one of his early film appearances in the role of Rider. Tyron’s 1973 folk-horror novel “Harvest Home”, a story of dark pagan rituals in a small New England town, was adapted into a television mini-series “The Dark Secret of Harvest Home” which starred Bette Davis. 

Tom Tyron wrote “Crowned Heads”, a collection of novellas inspired by the legends of Hollywood. The first in the series was the novella “Fedora”, a story of the relationship between a reclusive former actress and her plastic surgeon. This tale was adapted by Billy Wilder for his 1978 German-French drama film “Fedora” which starred William Holden and Marthe Keller, best known for her role in “Marathon Man”. Tyron wrote two more novels: the 1989 “The Night of the Moonbow”, the story of a harassed boy at summer camp who turns to violence, and the 1991 “Night Magic”, the story of a NYC street magician who is offered real magic. “Night Magic” was published posthumously in 1995.

Starting in 1955, Tyron was in a brief marriage to Ann L. Noyes, the daughter of a stockbroker; the couple divorced three years later in 1958. During the 1970s, he was in a romantic relationship with Clive Clerk, an interior designer, television actor, and one of the original cast members of the Broadway hit “A Chorus Line”. They lived together in a Tyron’s apartment at Central Park West in New York City. From 1973 to 1977, Tyron was in a relationship with John Calvin Culver, a Broadway revival stage actor. Culver also performed in pornographic films under the name of Casey Donovan. The relationship ended as Tyron was deeply closeted and grew increasingly disturbed by Donovan’s notoriety.

An actor with appearances in eighteen films and numerous television series, Tom Tyron passed away in September of 1991 at the age of sixty-five in Los Angeles, California. The announced cause of death was stomach cancer; however, Tyron’s literary agent, G. Thomas Holloway, later stated the stomach cancer was related to Tyron’s HIV-positive status. At the time of his death, Tyron had asked to keep this information private as he did not want his readers or relatives to know.

Second Insert Image: Arthur E. Arling, “Tom Tyron and Elana Eden”, 1960, Publicity Shot for “The Story of Ruth”, Director Henry Koster, Gelatin Silver Print

Third Insert Image: NBCU Photo Bank, “Tom Tyron as Lin McAdam”, “Winchester ’73”, 1967, Publicity Film Shot, Gelatin Silver Print

Fourth Insert Image: Jean Bourgoin and Walter Wottitz, “Tom Tyron”, 1962, Film Shot “The Longest Day”, Directors ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, and Bernhard Wicki

Robert Arthur: Film History Series

Photographer Unknown, “Robert Arthur”, 1948, Publicity Photo “Yellow Sky”, Gelatin Silver Print

Born in Aberdeen, Washington in June of 1925, Robert Paul Arthur was an American motion picture actor, primarily of youthful secondary roles, who appeared in thirty-five feature films and numerous episodes of television series.

Robert Arthur graduated in 1943 from the Aberdeen High School, where he had won a radio announcing contest. He attended the University of Washington and was in the U.S. Navy training program. While at the university, Arthur also maintained a professional career as a radio announcer. Relocating to Los Angeles, he was soon given his first role as Rosalind Russell’s teenage son Frankie in Michael Curtiz’s 1945 comedy-drama for Warner Brothers, “Roughly Speaking”.  

Arthur was soon given a contract with Warner Brothers and appeared in three more films in 1945, including the role of Jimmy in Frederick de Cordova’s “Too Young to Know” and an uncredited role in the film noir “Mildred Pierce”.  Between 1946 and 1948, he appeared in seven films, the most notables being the 1946 biographical-musical on the life of Cole Porter, “Night and Day”, and Walter Lang’s 1947 Technicolor musical with Betty Grable “Mother Wore Tights”, later nominated for American Film Institute’s 2006 list for Greatest Movie Musicals.

In 1948, Robert Arthur appeared in the role of Ken McLaughlin in Twentieth Century Fox’s western “Green Grass of Wyoming”; he had a credited role with his name appearing on the publicity posters. In the same year, Arthur appeared as Bull Run in William A. Wellman’s western “Yellow Sky” which starred Gregory Peck, Richard Widmark and Anne Baxter. This film from Twentieth Century Fox was praised by critics for its cinematography, screenplay and its realistic Western style. In 1949 , Arthur appeared as Sergeant Mc Illhenny in a major film of the era “Twelve O’Clock High”. Directed by Henry King, the film was nominated for four Academy Awards, of which it won two, and later became a television series that ran for three years.

Robert Arthur appeared as a supporting actor in seventeen films between 1950 and 1960. Among these films were Billy Wilder’s 1951 film noir “Ace in the Hole”,  Richard Brooks’s 1953 war film “Take the High Ground”, and Nathan Juran’s 1957 submarine war film “Hellcats of the Navy” which starred  Ronald Reagan, Nancy (Reagan) Davis, and Arthur Franz. Arthur’s last film before leaving acting was the 1961 “Wild Youth” in which he played the role of Frankie, an escapee from a detention Honor Farm.

In the early days of television in the 1950s, Arthur appeared in supporting roles on several series. Among these were the syndicated western “Frontier Doctor” with actor Rex Allen and ABC’s eight-year drama-western “The Lone Ranger”, which starred Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels.

In his later years, Robert Arthur went into business and became active in several causes. He became an activist for gay rights on behalf of senior citizens, assisted in the founding of Project Rainbow, and was a co-founder of the Log Cabin Republicans which advocated for equal rights for LBGTQ+ Americans. Robert Arthur died in Aberdeen, Washington, on the first of October in 2008 at the age of eighty-three. 

Note: The “Clayton Moore The Lone Ranger” website has a short article in which Robert Arthur reminisces on his experience with Clayton Moore on the western series. The short piece on Arthur can be found at the Clayton Moore site: https://claytonmoore.tripod.com/arthur.html

Top Insert Photo: Photographer Unknown, “Robert Arthur”, circa 1950-55, Publicity Shoot, Gelatin Silver Print

Second Insert Image: Charles Land, “Robert Arthur”, 1951, Film Scene “Ace in the Hole”, Director Billy Wilder

Third Insert Image: Charles Land, “Kirk Douglas and Robert Arthur”, 1951, Film Scene “Ace in the Hole”, Director Billy Wilder

Bottom Insert Image: Joseph MacDonald, “Robert Arthur and Gregory Peck”, 1948, Film Scene “Yellow Sky”, Director William A. Wellman

William ‘Billy’ Halop: Film History Series

Photographer Unknown, “Billy Halop”, Studio Shoot for “Dead End”, 1937, Director William Wyler, Cinematographer Gregg Toland

Born in Jamaica, Queens, New York City in February of 1920, William (Billy) Halop was an American actor who, while in his mid-teens, achieved fame in the 1930s as the leader of the Dead End Kids in the Broadway stage and movie versions of Sidney Kingsley’s drama “Dead End”.

William Halop was one of three children born to Benjamin Cohen Halop and Lucille Elizabeth Halop, a theatrical dancer. In 1933 at the age of thirteen, he was given the lead role as Bobby Benson in the popular radio show “The H-Bar-O Rangers”, a juvenile Western adventure radio program that was broadcasted on the CBS network. For three years beginning in 1934, Halop starred as Dick Kent, the son of Fred and Lucy Kent, in the radio series “Home Sweet Home”.

Halop was already a successful radio actor when he began studying at New York City’s Professional Children’s School, a preparatory school for working and aspiring child actors and dancers. He and five other boys were chosen to appear as the poverty-stricken juvenile delinquents in Kingsley’s 1935 play “Dead End”. Halop played the role of Tommy, a tough street-wise fugitive from a reform school, who was the brother of the play’s heroine Drina Gordon. The six boys were the favorite actors in the play; the Broadway audience was both shocked and amused by the vile gutter language spoken in the play.

With the success of the production, William Halop and his fellow actors were signed to two-year film contracts with Hollywood producer Samual Goldwyn for United Artists and became known as the Dead End Kids. In his first film appearance, Halop appeared as the character Tommy in the 1937 film version of the “Dead End” play; he would play this character role in several following films. Due to the boys’ wild behavior and their destruction of studio property that was committed during filming, their contracts were sold to Warner Brothers Studio. 

Halop’s first film role with Warner Brothers was the character of Frankie Warren in the 1937 “Crime School”, a reform school film that starred Humphrey Bogart and the Dead End Kids. In 1938, he had a role in the short comedy-musical color film entitled “Swingtime in the Movies”, another film which featured Bogart and the Dead End Kids. As the Kids grew older, Halop and the others appeared in six more films for Warner Brothers which included the 1938 “Angels with Dirty Faces”, the 1939 “They Made Me a Criminal” and the 1939 “On Dress Parade”. 

By the end of the 1930s, William Halop had acted with such stars as James Cagney, Pat O’Brien, John Garfield and Ronald Reagan. In 1940, he appeared as the bully Harry Flashman, speaking with a British accent, in Robert Stevenson’s 1940 coming-of-age drama film for RKO Radio Pictures, “Tom Brown’s School Days”. His co-stars in this film were stage and film actor Cedric Hardwicke and Freddie Bartholomew, who had played the title role in the 1935 “David Copperfield”. Halop also appeared in the role of Billy ‘Ace” Holden in the 1940 Universal twelve-chapter serial “Junior G-Men of the Air”, in which the Dead End Kids prevented the sabotage of the American defense program.

After serving in the United States Army Signal Corps during World War II, William Halop found that he had grown too old to resume the characters he had played during his fame. The last role he played depicted as a juvenile character was Tony Albertini in the 1946 “Gas House Kids”; he was twenty-six at the time. Halop continued to act in film with supporting and small uncredited roles until 1967. 

Starting in 1951, Halop began a twenty-three year career of acting in various television series, where he would appear in an occasional episode. He made appearances in such shows as “Racket Squad”, “The Cisco Kid”, “The Jack Benny Program”, “Playhouse 90”, “Perry Mason”, “The Fugitive”, The Andy Griffith Show”, and “The Thin Man”. In 1970, Halop’s career had a resurgence with the character of Bert Munson, the cab driver and close friend of Archie Bunker on the series “All in the Family”. He appeared in ten episodes of the popular series including the 1972 “Sammy’s Visit”, which starred Sammy Davis, Jr. 

According to interviews given in the latter part of his life, William Halop was married four times, all of which ended in divorce. The nursing skills he acquired in his third marriage to Suzanne Rice, who had multiple sclerosis, led him after their divorce to steady work as a registered nurse in Santa Monica, California. Halop’s  marriage to his fourth wife, Barbara, was quickly ended after she allegedly attacked him. He later moved back in with his second wife, Barbara, but they chose not to remarry.

William Halop’s career included roles in thirty-eight films and appearances in forty-two television series. Following two heart attacks, he underwent open-heart surgery in the fall of 1971. Halop died in Hollywood of a heart attack in November of 1976, at the age of fifty-six. William Halop is interred in the Garden of Sher Mot at Los Angeles’s Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery. At the time of his death, he was working on his autobiography, titled “There’s No Dead End”. 

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Billy Halop”, 1942, Publicity Shot for “Junior G-Men of the Air”, Directors Lewis D. Collins and Ray Taylor, Cinematographer William A. Sickner

Second, Third and Fourth Insert Images: Cinematographer Ernest Haller, Billy Halop in “Blues in the Night”, 1941, Film Gifs, Director Anatole Litvak, Warner Brothers Pictures

Bottom Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Billy Halop and Humphrey Bogart”, Studio Shoot fro “Crime School”, 1938, Director Lewis Seiler, Cinematographer Arthur Todd, Warner Brothers Pictures

David Manners: Film History Series

 

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in April of 1900, David Joseph Manners, birth name Rauff de Ryther Duan Acklom, was a Canadian-American actor. It was not until 1940 that he officially changed his name, taken his mother’s maiden name, and applied to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. 

David Manners was the son of British parents, Lilian Manners and the writer George Moreby Acklom, who was at that time the headmaster of Canada’s prestigious, private boarding school Harrow House. In 1906, George Acklom emigrated to the United States and took a position as a literary advisor for New York’s publishing company E. P. Dutton.  The following year, David Manners, his older sister and mother joined his father and settled in Mount Vernon, an inner suburb of New York City. 

The Acklom family relocated in January of 1920 to West 123rd Street in Manhattan where Manners, still using the name Rauff, resided with his parents. He gained employment as an assistant publisher; however, he soon returned to Canada and enrolled to study forestry at the University of Toronto. Attracted to stage work on campus, Manners started drama training and made his acting debut in 1924 at the university’s Hart House Theater with a role in Euripides’s play “Hippolytus”.

Despite objections from his father, David Manners continued his acting career after his return to the United States. He joined English stage and screen actor Basil  Sydney’s Touring Company and, later, stage actress and director Eva Le Gallienne’s New York Civic Repertory Company. With these companies, Manners performed in theaters in Chicago and on New York City’s Broadway. He continued his acting studies under Le Gallienne and was able to get a co-starring role with actress Helen Hayes in Edgar Selwyn and Edmund Goulding’s play “Dancing Mothers” which premiered at Broadway’s Booth Theater in mid-town Manhattan.

In 1927, Manners relocated to California and was soon discovered at a Hollywood party by gay film director James Whale. His first appearance in film was an uncredited role as the pilot in the 1929 pre-code adventure film “The Sky Hawk”, directed by John G. Blystone for the Fox Film Corporation. This was followed in 1930  with the role of Lieutenant Raleigh in director James Whale’s war film “Journey’s End”. Manner’s performances in these two films received endorsements from reviewers working with Variety and The New York Times, both of which praised subsequent performances. 

In late 1930, David Manners performed perhaps his best remembered role, that of Jonathan Harker, the protagonist to Bela Lugosi’s vampire in Universal Studios’ “Dracula”. The following year, he played a blind war veteran with co-star Barbara Stanwyck in Frank Capra’s critically acclaimed romance film “The Miracle Woman”. During his brief contract with Warner Brothers Studios, Manners progressed from supporting player to true movie-star with his successful role as Teddy Taylor in the 1932 “Crooner”. Directed by Lloyd Bacon, the musical drama told the story of Taylor’s rise and fall as a singing star  

With his stardom achieved by “Crooner” and “Dracula”, Manners was able to freelance with success and worked for several years as a romantic leading man, most often tuxedo-dressed in romantic comedies and light dramas. Two exceptions to this were his role as Shep Lambert in the 1931 ensemble cast film “The Last Flight” and the role Frank Whemple, the son of archaeologist Sir Joseph Whemple, in Karl Freund’s 1932 horror  film “The Mummy”, where he played opposite Boris Karloff’s role as the mummy. Manners joined the Screen Actors Guild in 1933 but became increasingly frustrated by his Hollywood roles and film career. After appearing in three films in 1936, David Manners left the studios and retired from film work, a career containing roles in thirty-nine movies.

David Mainers continued to perform regularly on stage for the next seventeen years in tour productions, summer stock, and on Broadway. He used his influence to help promising up-and-coming actors such as Lucille Ball, who had a small role in the musical “Roman Scandals” which co-starred Manners, and Marlon Brando, with whom Manners co-starred in the Broadway production of “Truckline Café”, directed by Elia Kazan. Manners quietly financed small theatrical groups in California and paid medical bills for people in the film industry who had fallen on hard times. Under his birth name, Duan Acklom, he supported anti-drug programs and helped performers overcome addictions.

Manners married Suzanne Bushnell, a native of Ohio, in New York City on the 23rd of May in 1929. The 1930 census has the couple living in Los Angeles, along with Antonio Dumles, a twenty-two year old Filipino listed as servant. The marriage soon ended with Manners and Suzanne Bushnell divorcing in 1932. Manners changed his name legally from Acklom in 1940 and achieved citizenship while he was living in Victorville, California. He became a published novelist with his 1941 “Convenient Season”, a novel of familial reconciliation, which was followed by the 1943 novel “Under Running Laughter”, both published by E. P. Dutton. 

In 1948, David Manners began a long-term relationship with playwright and writer Frederic William (Bill) Mercer. They initially lived together at Manners’s ranch in Victorville but moved in 1956 to a residence in Pacific Palisades. Following his retirement, Manners spent his last decades pursuing personal interests including painting, writing and philosophy. In 1971, he published his views in “Look Through: An Evidence of Self Discovery”, published by El Cariso Publications. 

Manners and Mercer were partners until Bill Mercer’s death in August of 1978, Twenty years later, David Manners died at the age of ninety-eight in the health center of a  retirement community in Santa Barbara, California. His ashes were taken to  San Bernardino County and scattered at Rancho Yucca Loma in Victor Valley. It is unknown where Frederic William Mercer is buried. 

Second Insert Image: Sidney Hickox, “Katharine Hepburn and David Manners”, 1932, Still Shot from “A Bill of Divorcement”, Director George Cukor

Fourth Insert Image: John J. Mescall, “Boris Karloff, David Manners, Bela Lugosi”, 1934, Film Shot from “The Balck Cat, Director Edgar G. Ulmer

Teinosuke Kinugasa: Film History Series

Teinosuke Kinugasa, “Kurutta Ippeiji (Page of Madness)”, 1926/1975, Film Scene Gifs, Cinematogapher Kōhei Sugiyama, Seventy-one Minutes, Kinugasa Productions/New line Cinema

Born in January of 1896 in Kameyama located in the northern prefecture of Mie, Teinosuke Kinugasa was a Japanese film maker. He began his career as an onnagata, an actor who specialized in female roles, and performed in the silent films of the Nikkatsu Studio, Japan’s oldest major movie studio founded in 1912.

Kinugasa started directing in the early 1920s when Japanese cinema began using actresses in its films. He worked for various producers, including Shozo Makino considered one of the pioneering directors of Japanese film. Kinugasa became an independent director and producer to make what is considered his best known film “A Page of Madness”. Lost for forty five years, the film was discovered by Kinugasa in his storehouse in 1971 and re-released in 1975 with a new print and score.

Released in September of 1926, the silent film “A Page of Madness” is part of the work of the Shinkankakuha, an avant-garde group of Japanese modernist artists  known as the School of New Perceptions which sought to produce direct, intuitive sensations to its subjects through dramatic and theatrical strategies. Yasunari Kawabata, who would win the 1968 Nobel Prize for Literature, is credited on the film with the original storyline and also worked on the film’s scenario with Banko Sawada and Minoru Inuzuka, who became well known for his later scripts on the Zatoichi film series. 

The film takes place in a countryside asylum where a janitor interacts with various patients with mental illnesses. His daughter arrives to visit her mother who happens to be a inmate in the asylum, gone insane due to her husband, the janitor. Feeling guilty, her husband had taken a job at the asylum to care for her. After hearing from his daughter the plans of her marriage, the janitor becomes worried due to the belief  that his wife’s mental illness might cause the marriage to be canceled. The stress of his wife’s condition and the impending marriage of his daughter causes the janitor to lose control of the difference between dreams and reality. He experiences fantasies of taking his wife from the asylum and his daughter marrying a bearded inmate. He finally returns to a sense of realtiy after his dreams of providing happy-faced masks to the inmates.

Teinosuk Kinugasa’s “A Page of Madness” and his later 1928 silent film “Jûjiro (Crossroads)”, the first Japanese film to be commercially released in Europe, are both praised for their inventive camera work, which has been compared to Germany’s Expressionist work of the same period. In “Crossroads”, Kinugasa dispensed with chronological construction and instead used flashbacks to stimulate the mind of the main character. He also used a drab gray setting and an experimental camera technique which focused attention on one significant detail at a time, such as a hand. 

Following a period of silent films, Kinugasa directed jidaigeki, period dramas most often set in the Edo period of Japanese history, at the Shochiku Studios where he helped to establish the career of  film and stage actor Chōjirō Hayashi, known by his professional name Kazuo Hasegawa. After the war, Kinugasa produced films for Daiei Studios, including lavish costume dramas and films such as the 1946 “Aru Yo No Tonosama (Lord for a Night)”, which won the first Mainichi Film Award for Best Film, and the 1952 “Daibutsu Kaigen (Dedication of the Great Buddha)” which was entered into the 1953 Cannes Film Festival.

In 1953, Kinugasa wrote and directed the 1953 jidaigeki film “Jigokumon (Gate of Hell)”. This film, one of the most internationally famous of all Japanese films, exemplified Kinugasa’s mastery of period film in its meticulous reproduction of a historical period. Produced during the golden age of Japanese cinema, the film was the first color work released by Daiei Film and also the first Japanese color film to be released outside of Japan. The film won the grand prize award at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival, a 1055 Academy Honorary Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1954, and the Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Color. Kinugasa’s film also won the Golden Leipard at the Locarno International Film Festival and the 1954 New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Language Film. 

The director of fifteen films, many of them award winners, Teinosuk Kinugasa died at the age of eighty-six from cerebral thrombosis on February 26th of 1982 in Kyoto, Japan. He was the first Japanese motion-picture director to present his story from the point of view of one of the characters and thus create a subjective world in a film.  He also pioneered in the use of flashbacks and in the creation of a visual atmospheric effect. 

Note: Teinosuk Kinugasa’s “Page of Madness” is available in its entirety on YouTube located at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yb6JEY3M_Ag

Second Insert Image: Film Scene, Teinosuke Kinugasa, “Dai Chushingura”, 1932, Starring Jusaburo Bando and Chojiro Hayashi, First Sound Version of the Classic Story, 139 Minutes

Third Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Teinosuke Kinugasa”, circa 1912-1920, Gelatin Silver Print

Bottom Insert Image: Film Scene, Teinosuka Kinugasa, “Jujiro (Crossroads)”, 1928, Starring Akiko Chihaya, Toshinosuke Bando and Yukiko Ogawa, 88 Minutes

Guy Madison: Film History Series

Guy Madison (Sailor Harold E. Smith), “Since You Went Away”, 1944,  Selznick International Pictures

Born in Pumpkin Center, California in January of 1922, Robert Ozell Moseley was an American film, television and radio actor. He was one of five children born to a machinist father and raised in Bakersfield, California. Moseley attended the city’s junior college where he majored in animal husbandry, he worked briefly as a telephone linesman in California before joining the Coast Guard in 1942.

In Hollywood on a liberty pass in 1944, Moseley attended a Lux Radio Theater broadcast where he was noticed by a talent scout and brought to the offices of Selznick International Pictures. David Selznick signed Moseley to a contract and gave him several screen tests and his first film role. Moseley appeared as a lonely sailor in a three-minute bowling alley sequence with film stars Jennifer Jones and Robert Walker in the 1944 “Since You Went Away”. He filmed his screen time on a weekend pass under the name Guy Madison, a screen name composed by David Selznick and his assistant Henry Wilson. 

“Since You Went Away” was set in an American town where families dealt with loved ones fighting in the Second World War and the effects of that war at home. The cinematography was produced by Stanley Cortez, who would film Charles Laughton’s “Night of the Hunter”, Lee Garmes, an Academy Award winner for “Shanghai Express”, and George Barnes, Academy Award winner for “Rebecca”, and documentary producer Robert Bruce, the last two being in uncredited roles. The film was a success and generated thousands of fan letters for Guy Madison in his role as a lonely sailor. 

Guy Madison, after his discharge from military service, was cast in several roles by Selznick. He appeared in leading roles in the 1946 drama film “Till the End of Time”, co-starring with Dorothy McGuire, Bill Williams and Robert Mitchum, and the 1947 comedy film “Honeymoon”, co-starring with Shirley Temple and Franchot Tone. Madison’s early acting roles in these films was judged by critics to be amateurish and, by the end of the 1940s, he was no longer getting roles. Along with most of the Selznick International’s contract-players during this period, Madison was eventually released from his contract. 

Despite the bad reviews, Madison studied and started perfecting his art in the theater.His fortune changed when he was given the role of James Butler Hickok in the television series “The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok”, which ran from 1951 to 1958 and on the radio from 1951 to 1956. His co-star in the series was Andy Devine, a character actor well known for his distinctive raspy voice, who played the role of  the trusty sidekick Jingles. This popular series was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1956 for Best Western or Adventure Series.

Guy Madison’s popularity as Hickok led to a starring role in the 1953 western film “The Charge at Feather River”, a role which gave him a new start as an action hero, albeit mostly in western films. Films which followed include the 1954 Western calvary film “The Command”; the 1955 robbery film “Five Against the House”; “The Beast of Hollow Mountain”, a 1956 horror western with a prehistoric beast; the 1956 science fiction drama “On the Threshold of Space”; the 1957 western drama“The Hard Man”; and “Bullwhip”, a 1958 western film in which Madison co-starred with Rhonda Fleming. 

In the 1960s, Madison traveled through Europe and made several costume dramas, German adventure films and Italian westerns. Among his many European films are such films as the 1965 film “Das Vermächtnis des Inka (The Legacy of the Incas)”, the 1966 “I Cinque della Vndette (Five for Revenge)”, and the 1968 “I Lunghi Giorni dell’Odio (Long Days of Hate)”. In the 1970s, Madison returned to the United States and appeared in mainly cameo roles in film and television. In 1988, he appeared in a television remake of the western classic “Red River” along with western stars James Arness, Robert Horton and John Lupton. Madison’s role as rancher Bill Meeker became his final film role.

In his later years, Guy Madison’s work was greatly limited by physical aliments and the onset of emphysema. He eventually retired to a large ranch home he designed in Morongo Valley, California. Madison died at the age of seventy-four in February of 1996 at the Desert Hospital Hospice in Palm Springs, California. He was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Cathedral City, California. 

Guy Madison, in addition to all his appearances on many television shows, appeared in over fifty films in his career. In 1954, he was awarded a special Golden Globe Award for Best Western Star and, in 1986, was awarded a Golden Boot Award given in recognition of his contributions to the genre of westerns in television and film. Madison has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for his work in radio and one for his television contributions. He also has a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in California.

Note: Character actor Andy Devine acted in many western films. One of his most notable roles was as Cookie, the sidekick in ten Roy Rogers feature films. He also appeared in several films with John Wayne, including “Stagecoach” in 1939, the 1953 “Island in the Sky”, and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” released in 1962. Devine appeared extensively in radio including seventy-five appearances on Jack Benny’s radio show between 1936 and 1942. He was also the host for “Andy’s Gang”, a children’s television show hosted on NBC during the later half of the 1950s. Devine has a star of honor on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Second Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Guy Madison”, Studio Photo for “The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok”, circa 1951-1958

Third Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Guy Madison and Andy Devine”, Studio Photo for “The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok”, circa 1951-1958

Fourth Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Guy Madison and Robert Mitchum”, Publicity Photo for “Till the End of Time”, 1945-1946

 

Tommy Lee Kirk: Film History Series

“Tommy Lee Kirk as Travis Coates”, “Savage Sam”, 1963, Walt Disney Productions, Cinematographer Edward Coleman, Director Norman Tokar

Born in Louisville, Kentucky in December of 1941, Tommy Lee Kirk was an American actor best known for his performances in films produced by Walt Disney Studios. His teen idol status became closely associated with the clean, wholesome product that Disney Studios produced during the late 1950s and early 1960s. 

One of four sons, Tommy Kirk moved at the age of fifteen months with his family to California where they settled in Downey, a city in southeast Los Angeles. In 1954 at the age of thirteen, he  accompanied his older brother Joe to an audition at the Pasadena Playhouse for a role in Eugene O’Neill’s “Ah, Wilderness”. Although Joe was not cast in a role, Tommy Kirk had his stage debut with a role consisting of five lines of dialogue. His small role was seen favorably by a representative from the Gertz Agency of Hollywood who signed him to a contract. 

Kirk made his first television appearance in an episode entitled “The Last of the Old Time Shooting Sheriffs” for the anthology drama series “TV Reader’s Digest”. He appeared in two more Pasadena theater plays and was cast in small roles on other television productions, including  “Gunsmoke” and “The Loretta Young Show”. In August of 1956, Kirk was given a long-term contract by Walt Disney Productions and became a member of the 1955 “The Mickey Mouse Club” television series. He next was cast as Joe Hardy for the Mickey Mouse Club series “The Hardy Boys” and performed in two serials alongside actor Tim Considine who played his older brother Frank Hardy. Broadcasted in that October, the show and Kirk’s performance were well received and led to his long association as a ten idol with the Disney Studio.

Tommy Kirk’s career accelerated with his casting as Travis Coates in the 1957 Disney film “Old Yeller”, an adventure tale of a boy and his heroic dog. Due to the success of his lead role in “Old Yeller”, Kirk became the Disney Studio’s first choice for future American teenager roles. In July of 1958, he was cast in “The Shaggy Dog”, a Disney comedy about a boy inventor who is repeatedly transformed into an Old English Sheepdog. This film, the second highest grossing film of 1959, teamed Kirk with Fred MacMurray, Annette Funicello and Kevin Corcoran, his former co-star from “Old Yeller”. 

With his Disney contract completed, Kirk went to Universal Pictures where he did English dubbing for “The Snow Queen”, a Soviet animated feature. As revenues increased from the screening of “The Shaggy Dog”, Disney Studios resigned Kirk to a long-term studio contract and cast him as the middle son, Ernst Robinson, in its 1960 family adventure film “Swiss Family Robinson”. This family film was followed by a second huge hit, “The Absent-Minded Professor”, a fantasy comedy starring Fred MacMurray as the professor and Kirk as Biff Hawk. Kirk was next cast in several films in which he costarred with actors MacMurray and Jame Wyman in the 1962 “Bon Voyage”, Ed Wynn in the 1961 “Babes in Toyland”, and Annette Funicello in the 1962 “Escapade in Florence”.

In 1963, Tommy Kirk appeared in Disney’s “Son of Flubber”, a sequel to “The Absent-Minded Professor” which became his last film with MacMurray. He next reprised his role as Travis Coates in “Savage Sam”, a sequel to “Old Yeller” which was not as popular as the original film. In 1964, Disney Studios cast Kirk as the student inventor in “The Misadventures of Merlin Jones” where he played opposite Funicello. After it became an  unexpected box office sensation, a sequel entitled “The Monkey’s Uncle” was released in July of 1965 which was equally successful.

Kirk knew he was gay from an early age; however, due to the public intolerance at that time towards homosexuality, he felt isolated and believed that the exposure of his sexuality would damage his film career. In 1963 while filming “The Misadventures of Merlin Jones”, Kirk began a relationship with a boy, six years younger, who lived in Burbank. The boy’s mother informed the Disney Studio which fired him from his role in the 1965 John Wayne western “The Sons of Katie Elder”. Out of protection for its interests, the Disney Studios released Kirk from his contract. However due to the financial success of the “Merlin Jones” film, he was allowed to return to make the 1965 sequel “The Monkey’s Uncle”.

The news of Kirk’s termination from Disney Studios was not made public: he joined American International Pictures which needed a leading man to play opposite Annette Funicello in the 1964 “Pajama Party”. From 1964 to 1969, Kirk appeared in several popular teen-oriented films, musical stage productions of “The Music Man” and “West Side Story”, and mediocre sci-fi and beach films. Practically blacklisted by an industry which deemed outed gay actors as box-office poison, Kirk returned to the musical theater in his home state of Kentucky with appearances in such shows as “Hello, Dolly” and “Anything Goes”.

In 1970, Tommy Kirk did two movies that were not Screen Actors Guild productions, “Ride the Hot Wind” and “Blood of Ghastly Horror” which caused him to lose his SAG membership.. While loss of SAG membership does not disqualify someone from acting, most film productions hire only union members, thus limiting the opportunities for an actor to be hired. Depressed and angry, Kirk sought solace in drugs and once nearly died from an overdose. After overcoming his drug addiction, Kirk began a successful carpet-cleaning business in Los Angeles which he ran for twenty years. He continued to act occasionally, appeared in films and documentary interviews for the DVD releases of some of his best known films and TV shows, and occasionally made personal appearances at film festivals and nostalgia convention/memorabilia festivals.

Tommy Kirk came out publicly as gay in a 1973 interview with Marvin Jones that was published in the January 31st edition of Gay Today. He was studying acting at that time with the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute while working in a Los Angeles restaurant. Kirk was inducted as a Disney Legend in October of 2006 alongside his former co-stars Tim Considine and Kevin Corcoran. In 2006, the first of the “Hardy Boys” serials was issued on DVD as part of the Walt Disney Treasures series. Royalties from the sales of the “Hardy Boys” serials provided Kirk an additional income. 

Tommy Lee Kirk died peacefully in his Las Vegas, Nevada, home at the age of seventy-nine on the 28th of September in 2021. His neighbor Beverly Washburn, an “Old Yeller” co-star, notified Kirk’s longtime friend and former Disney actor Paul Peterson, known for his role as the son on “The Donna Reed Show”. Peterson posted notice of Kirk’s death on Facebook mentioning in the message that Kirk’s family had disowned the gay actor.

Top Insert Image: Tommy Kirk, “Old Yeller”, 1957, Film Shot

Second Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Tommy Kirk and Tim Considine”, 1956, “The Hardy Boys” Series

Third Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Annette Funicello and Tommy Kirk”, Studio Publicity Photo Shoot

Fourth Insert Image: hotographer Unknown, “Tommy Kirk, Pajama Party”, 1964, Film Shoot

Bottom Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Tommy Kirk and Dorothy Lamour, Pajama Party”, 1964, Studio Photo Shoot

Clifton Webb: Film History Series

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana in November of 1889, Webb Parmelee Hollenbeck, known professionally as Clifton Webb, was an American actor, dancer and singer. He is known for his roles in films, his Broadway appearances in successful musicals, and for his stage appearances in the plays of English playwright and actor Sir Noël Coward.

Clifton Webb was the only child of Jacob Hollenbeck, a ticket-clerk for the Indianapolis- St. Louis Railroad, and Mabel Parmelee, the daughter of a railroad conductor. In 1891, the couple separated and Mabel took young Webb with her to New York City in 1892. After the divorce was finalized, Mabel married Green B. Raum, Jr., a copper-foundry worker and the son of a former U.S. Commissioner of Internal Revenue; the new family settled in New York City on West 77th Street. 

Webb, at the age of five, began dancing lessons; two years later, he made his official debut in Carnegie Hall as a member of the Children’s Theater in a performance of Canadian author Palmer Cox’s children series “The Brownies”. This was followed with a vaudeville tour in which Webb appeared in “The Master of Charlton Hall” and performed as Oliver in “Oliver Twist” and as Tom Sawyer in “Huckleberry Finn”. As a young teenager, he studied painting with Realist artist Robert Henri, a pioneer of the Ashcan School, and music with French operatic baritone Victor Maurel. His studies with Maurel led to Webb’s debut in 1906 with Boston’s Aborn Opera Company’s production of Ambroise Thomas’s “Mignon”.

Returning to New York, Clifton Webb teamed with Mae Murray in a ballroom dance act; they toured a chain of vaudeville theaters known as the Keith Circuit and performed in Manhattan restaurants. Webb had his Broadway debut in April of 1913 with the premiere of “The Purple Road” at the Liberty Theater, in which he played the role of Bosco for one hundred-thirty six performances. Between 1913 and 1917, Webb was continually on the Broadway stage and appeared in such vehicles as Sigmund Romberg’s “Dancing Around”, Ned Waybum’s all-star revue “Town Topics” , and Cole Porter’s comic opera “See America First”. 

In 1917, Webb was the sensuous dancing star of “Love O’Mike”, a musical comedy produced by Lee Shubert and Elisabeth Marbury, a theatrical agent who lived in an open relationship with actress and famous interior decorator Elsie de Wolfe, also known as Lady Mendl. By the middle of the 1920s, Webb was one of Broadway’s highest-paid stars and reached his apex with the 1930 “Three’s a Crowd” and the very successful 1933 “As Thousands Cheered”, which featured the steamy torch song “Moanin’ Low” sung by Webb and actress Libby Holman. 

In 1935, Webb relocated to Hollywood where Metro Goldwyn Mayer, who hoped to make Webb a successful dancing star like RKO’s Fred Astaire, gave him an eighteen-month contract at three-thousand dollars a week. He was to star opposite Joan Crawford in a musical entitled “Elegance”; the picture was abandoned, however, Webb was paid all his money. For the next eighteen months, he was not offered any work but made many high-profile social appearances. He  often appeared wearing white gloves and a top hat, with his mother Mabel on his arm and his poodle Ernest, after Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest”, trailing behind on a leash.  

In 1938, Clifton Webb returned to New York’s Broadway in “You Never Know”, written by his longtime friend Cole Porter. The stage version of “The Man Who Came to Dinner”, starring the stage and film actor Monty Woolley, premiered in the fall of 1939. Webb was cast as the acidic character Sheridan Whiteside for its touring version, a role in which he remained for eighteen months. In 1941, he played the character Charles Condomine, a successful novelist curious about seances,  in the initial performances of Noël Coward’s comic play “Blithe Spirit”. 

Webb is probably best known today for his many film appearances. In his mid-fifties, he was chosen by director Otto Preminger, despite objections from 20th Century Fox’s Darryl Zanuck who though Webb too effeminate, to play the evil radio columnist Waldo Lydecker in the 1944 film noir “Laura”. Webb’s performance won him wide acclaim and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The Fox Studio signed him to a long-term contract, which provided Webb with work for the rest of his career. His first role under contract was as a suave villain in Henry Hathaway’s 1946 film noir “Dark Corner”. This was followed with his role of elitist Elliott Templeton, playing opposite Gene Tieeney, in the 1946 “The Razor’s Edge” for which he received another Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. 

Clifton Webb achieved stardom with his role of Mr. Belvedere, a snide know-it-all babysitter with a mysterious past, in the 1948 comedy film “Sitting Pretty”, based on the 1947 novel “Belvedere” by Gwen Davenport. This role became so popular that it was followed with two sequels: the 1949 box office success “Mr. Belvedere Goes to College” and the 1951 “Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell”.  In 1950, Webb and actress Myrna Loy played the roles of efficiency experts Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, the parents of twelve children, in the film “Cheaper by the Dozen” which made Webb one of the biggest stars in the United States. 

In addition to these comedic films, Webb played more serious character roles for 20th Century Fox. He starred in the 1952 Technicolor film biography of bandmaster John Phillip Sousa entitled “Stars and Stripes Forever”. Webb’s most dramatic role was the brave but doomed husband of Barbara Stanwyck’s Julia Sturges in the 1953 “Titanic”, the winner of the 1954 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The following year, he appeared as the novelist John Frederick Shadwell in the romance film “Three Coins in the Fountain”. Webb appeared in the 1956 British war film “The Man Who Never Was”, based on the Allied invasion of Sicily in World War II, and as a sarcastic but self-sacrificing Catholic priest in the 1962 “Satan Never Sleeps”, his final film role. 

Clifton Webb was one of the few gay actors to appear in decidedly heterosexual character roles, most notably the devoted husband who fathered twelve children in “Cheaper by the Dozen”. Obsessively proper, correct and well-mannered, he lived his bachelor life as close to being openly gay as any leading actor in Hollywood could be. Although he lived with his mother until her death in 1960, Webb threw lavish parties and enjoyed the company of young men who gathered poolside at his pink stucco house in Beverly Hills. His friends included many member of the gay circles in the film industry: Noël Coward, Cole Porter, actor Monty Woolley, director George Cukor, stage and costume designer Oliver Messel, film director Irving Rapper, actors William Hanes and Jimmie Shields, among others.

Due to health issues, Webb spent the last five years of his life as a recluse at his home in Beverly Hills. He suffered a fatal heart attack, at the age of seventy-six, at his home on the 13th of October in 1966. He is interred in a crypt in the Abbey of the Psalms at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, alongside his mother. For his contributions to the motion picture industry, Webb was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6850 Hollywood Boulevard. An archive of his papers, including typed manuscripts, notes, correspondences, financial records and Webb’s last will and testament, is housed at the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences.

Note: Clifton Webb’s portrayal of the character Mr. Lynn Belvedere was the model for the “Mr. Peabody” character in the animated cartoon series “Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends”, which ran from November of 1959 to June of 1964.

McDermott & McGough: Film History Series

McDermott & McGough, “If You Had Been the Moon”, April 2009, 10:16, Directed by Peter Mc  Gough, Starring Michael  Kavalus, Bryan Deckhart, Claybourne Elder, Christopher Le Rude, Alex Michael Stoll, and Andrew Lord

The art collective McDermott & McGough consists of the contemporary artists David McDermott and Peter McGough who are known for their work in sculpture, painting, film and photography. Their work examines such issues as religion, popular culture and art, medicine, advertising, fashion, and sexual behavior. McDermott and McGough are best known for their gay-themed paintings and the use of historical processing techniques in their photographic work, which includes film development with palladium, gum bichromate, salt, platinum, and carbon black.

Born in Hollywood, California in 1952, David McDermott studied at Syracuse University in New York from 1970 to 1974. He moved to New York City where he became famous in the downtown area for his odd manners and outdated formalwear, such as detachable collars, cummerbunds, and top hats. Born in Syracuse in 1958, Peter McGough studied at Syracuse University in 1976. He relocated to New York City where he briefly studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology. After dropping out from the Institute, McGough was employed to sell tickets at Danceteria, a famous, albeit illegal, nightclub with several locations in the city.

Peter McGough met David McDermott in a Manhattan theater at the end of the 1970s. As David kept Peter company during the early club hours before sunrise, a strong relationship developed between them  that also included an artistic alliance which would last forty years. In the 1980s, the gay couple became known in New York’s East Village art scene for their immersion in the Victorian era. McDermott and McGough questioned the ideas of nostalgia; they pursued an art form and lifestyle narrative of reorienting the past for the future. Dressed and living as early 1900s dandies with an air of erudition and impertinence, their lives and art became an exploration of time and history, as well as, a challenge to the boundaries of art history and cultural identity.

McDermott and McGough’s collaborative output was expressed through a proliferation of drawings, paintings, film and photographs, and architectural interiors. Their photographs and films, which appropriated images and objects from the late 19th century to the style of the 1930s, explored contemporary cultural issues but produced them through vintage materials and techniques. McDermott and McGough’s obsession with the past is reflected in the styles and subjects they resurrect; many of their works are titled with fictional dates that reference the latter years of the 1800s. 

The later work of McDermott and McGough was inspired by advertising motifs, Hollywood cinema, and the comic books of the 1950s and 1960s. They reinvented major works of twentieth-century photography, Pop Art icon images, and produced photo-realistic paintings of vintage film stars. During the 1980s when their work was selling well, McDermott and McGough were a major part of the downtown New York scene, where the attended clubs and mingled with Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Andy Warhol. They bought three properties including a 1860s French Second Empire style bank, owned horses and vintage automobiles, hosted lavish baroque parties, and bestowed expensive gifts to friends.

 In 1992, the art market began to feel the effects of the stock market crash of October 1987. Out of all the paintings McDermott and McGough had on  exhibit at the Armory Show, only one small painting sold. Their debts, which included framing costs for their exhibitions, came due; many of these debts were paid through the transfer of their existing artwork to galleries and other debtors, among whom was the Internal Revenue Service. Eventually everything the couple had was auctioned off except for a few pieces they managed to save and later shipped to the docks of Dublin, Ireland. David McDermott relocated to a small  rental house near Ballsbridge, Ireland, and in 1995 McGough reunited with him. 

McDermott and McGough started painting and soon were able to rent a small art studio in Temple Bar in downtown Dublin. Through Swiss art dealer and gallery owner Bruno Bischofberger, they received many silhouette commissions. With the assistance of the gallery’s director Andrea Caratsch, McDermott and McGough had an exhibition in 1998 entitled “The Lust That Comes from Nothing” at Paris’s Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont.

McDermott and McGough’s previous exhibitions include the Whitney Biennial, New York, in 1987, 1991 and 1995, and a mid-career retrospective at the Provincial Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Oostende, Belgium. In 2017, their work was the subject of the exhibition “I’ve Seen the Future and I’m Not Going’ held at the Dallas Contemporary Museum in Texas. Other solo and group exhibitions include such institutions as the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, Centre Pompidou in Paris, New York City’s Galleria Gian Enzo Sperone, and the Frankfurter Kunstverein in Germany. 

McDermott and McGough’s work is represented in numerous collections including the International Center of Photography in New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art; Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas in Lawrence; Tampa Museum of Art in Florida; Minneapolis’s Walker Art Center; and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, among others.

Notes: In 2017, David McDermott and Peter McGough opened the Oscar Wilde Temple, a non-secular sacred space for LGBTQ people in a chapel at the Church of the Village located in New York City’s Greenwich Village. It is both an art exhibition space and a place for marriages; donations go to homeless LBGTQ youth. A second location at the gallery Studio Voltaire in London was opened in October of 2018.

In 2019, Peter McGough published his memoir “I’ve Seen the Future and I’m Not Going There” through Penquin Random House. Set in New York’s Lower East Side, the memoir chronicles his life withDavid McDermott during the 1980s and mid-1990s.

Top Insert Image: David McDermott and Peter McGough, “Portrait of the Artists, 1928, 1990”, Palladium Print on Paper, 35 x 26.5 cm, Private Collection

Second Insert Image: David McDermott and Peter McGough, “Love is Gone- So What Can Matter? 1966, 2008”, Oil on Linen, 152.4 x 122.2 cm, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: McDermott and McGough, “Joel at Lower Baldonell House, Dublin, 1910, 2003”, Palladium Print on Paper, 50.8 x 40.6 cm, Private Collection

Fourth Insert Image: McDermott and McGough, “The Annointed”, 1991, Photographers and Friends Against AIDS Exhibition, Palladium Print on Paper, 16.5 x 11.8 cm, Private Collection

Fifth Insert Image: McDermott and McGough, Title Unknown (Reading Comics), Image from the “Detroit, 1958” Series,  2007, Carbro Print, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: McDermott and McGough, “Portrait of the Artist (With Top Hats) 1865”, 1991, Palladium Print on Paper, Collection of the Artists

James Broughton: ‘Luncheon Had Made Us Hungry”

Photographers Unknown, Luncheon Had Made Us Hungry

Luncheon had made us hungry
for one another
After the curry and fried bananas
we added our own heat to
the hot afternoon
simmering in sweat and coconut oil
as our two humidities rose
high   higher                     Bang!
outside the window        Bang!Bang!
and the houseboy’s laughing shout

He had been tossing firecrackers
at the roof
to dislodge itinerant pigeons
But at his feet had fallen
a passing oriole
shocked into gape      beak ajar

Hurrying from the bedroom
half-saronged
we saw him kneel to the yellow bird
fondle      cajole      kiss it      offer it
back to the day
Still it sat rigid in his hand

Chuckling then      you said
Is this a golden trophy of
our shooting match?
At which the oriole blinked
stretched and puffed
spurted into the air
vanished beyond the pawpaw tree

James Broughton, Afternoons in Ceylon I, Word of Mouth: An Anthology of Gay American Poetry, 2000

Born to affluent parents in Modesto, California in November of 1913, James Broughton was a poet and filmmaker. He was a member of the San Francisco Renaissance movement, a 1950s collective of American avant-garde poets which included such poets as Kenneth Rexroth, Madeline Gleason, Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer, among others. Known best for his cinematography, Broughton made poetic experimental films, both in color and black and white, throughout his career.

After the death of his father in the deadly 1918 influenza epidemic, James Broughton spent his early years in San Francisco. He started his formal education at a military school; however, at the age of sixteen after having an affair with a classmate, he was expelled. Broughton pursued a career in writing at Stanford University until 1935, at which time he relocated to New York City and became a theater critic. Through his written work, Broughton met artist Sidney Peterson, who would later establish San Francisco Art Institute’s Workshop 20, the first college program to teach filmmaking as art.

After he moved back to San Francisco, Broughton wrote and produced the play “Summer Fury”, for which the Stanford Dramatists’ Alliance gave him the 1945 Alden Award for Original Screenplay. In 1946, a collaboration between Broughton and Sidney Peterson produced the 16mm film “The Potted Palm”, a depiction of Freudian desires that combined the erotic with the decaying. Broughton later credited his working with Peterson on this film as the influence that led him to experimental filmmaking.

James Broughton’s early 16mm short films, which ran from nine to thirty-eight minutes, covered a wide range of genres, including personal journals, comedy, music, theater, and queer stories. Broughton’s first solo film was the 1948 avant-garde classic “Mother’s Day” which dealt with human pain and lack of emotion. He followed this film’s success with five more films between 1950 and 1953, among which was the 1953 “The Pleasure Garden”, a collaboration with partner Kermit Sheets. Made in England, the film was successful only in Europe where it received several awards including one at the Cannes Film Festival presented byJean Cocteau.

In 1953, Broughton stopped his filmmaking to concentrate more fully on his writing which, through his career, totaled more than twenty published works. His poetry collection “True & False Unicorn”, poems of Broughton’s complex search for his true self, was published in 1955 and later choreographed on stage by Jergen Verbruggen. Broughton’s autobiographical prose poem collection “The Androgyne Journal”. published in 1977, was a strongly personal book about breaking creative boundaries.

James Broughton published two retrospective collections of his poetry: “A Long Undressing: Collected Poems 1949-1969”, published in 1971 by Jargon Society Press, and “Packing Up for Paradise: Selected Poems 1946-1996” published in November of 1997 by Black Sparrow Press. In 1993, Broughton published his memoir, an autobiography entitled “Coming Unbuttoned”, which documented his eighty-year artistic journey in life through the famous and infamous circles of 1930s New York to the avant-garde culture of San Francisco in the 1960s and 70s.

Starting in the late 1960s, James Broughton returned to filmmaking and produced both short and full length films. His first film was the 1968 “The Bed”, which won prizes at many film festivals. Containing a highly energetic musical score by Warner Jepson, it featured ground-breaking full-frontal, yet innocent, nudity of male and female figures gathered around the same bed. Broughton’s later poetic films include such works as the 1972 “Dreamwood”, a story of one man’s journey to a mysterious island: “The Water Circle”, a 1975 poetic homage to sage Lao-tsu on the world’s bodies of water; the 1979 “Hermes Bird”, a celebration of the transformative power of the phallus; and the 1988 “Scattered Remains”, one of six films created with his partner Joel Singer, in which Broughton acts out his verses in unlikely situations.

Broughton’s honors include a Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and an American Film Institute Award for Independent Film and Video Artists. He was an early poet member of the Radical Faeries, a counterculture movement that redefined queer consciousness through secular spirituality, and a member of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a protest and street performance group that used drag and religious imagery to call attention to sexual intolerance. Broughton also taught at both San Francisco State University and San Francisco’s Art Institute.

James Broughton had relationships with both men and women. He lived briefly with film critic Pauline Kael, with whom he had a daughter in 1948. At the age of forty-nine, Broughton married Suzanne Hart, with whom he had two children. In 1973, he met Joel Singer, a twenty-five year old student at one of his San Fransisco Art Institute classes, and began both a strong personal relationship and a lengthy film collaboration. In 1989, Broughton and Singer moved to Port Townsend, Washington, where they lived until Broughton’s death, at the age of eighty-five, in May of 1999.

“The quietest poetry can be an explosion of joy. True delicacy is not a fragile thing. The most delicate and yielding of our necessities, water, can be the most powerful destroyer, swallowing everything.

True delicacy is indestructible. Take Shelley, Dickinson, Firbank, Basho. I like things which appear fragile but are tough inside. In the long run the deadly can outmaneuver the brute, the bird is more resourceful than the rhino.” – James Broughton

Note: A remembrance on the life of James Broughton by Martin Goodman as well as an except from Goodman’s interview with Broughton can be found at: http://www.archipelago.org/vol4-1/broughton.htm

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “james Broughton and Joel Singer”, Photo Shoot from “Devotions”, 1983, Gelatin Silver Print

Third Insert Image: Imogen Cunningham, “The Poet and His Alter Ego (James Broughton)”, 1962, Gelatin Silver Print, New Orleans Museum of Art

Bottom Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “james Broughton and Joel Singer in “Devotions”, 1983, Gelatin Silver Print

Nils Asther: Film History Series

Photographer Unknown, “Nils Asther”, July of 1932, Publicity Shot for Cine-Mundial, A New York-based Spanish Magazine

Born in Copenhagen in January of 1897, Nils Anton Althild Asther was a Swedish gay actor who was active in Hollywood from 1926 until the mid-1950s. He was the son of Anton Andersson Asther and Hildegard Augusta Åkerlund, who had accepted his father’s proposal but was unwed at the time of Nils’s birth. Asther spent his first year as a foster child and rejoined his parents after their marriage on May 29th of 1898 in the city of Malmö. He grew up in a deeply religious Lutheran home, where homosexuality was considered a sin by the church and viewed as a disease by Swedish society.

Nils Asther, still a young man, moved to Stockholm where he studied acting under the tutelage of Swedish silent-film and stage actress Augusta Lindberg. Through the endorsement of his teacher, he received his first theatrical engagement at Lorensbergsteatern, the art performance theater in the city of Gothenburg. Asther performed in several productions in Stockholm which included two plays in 1923, “The Importance of Being Earnest” and “ The Admirable Crichton”, and the 1924 production of “Othello” at the Royal Dramatic Theater. 

In 1916 at the age of nineteen, Asther was cast by the pioneer Swedish film director Mauritz Stiller for his silent film “Vingarne (The Wings)”. This production was based the novel “Mikaël” by the internationally recognized Danish author Herman Bang. It starred silent-film actors Egil Eide, Lars Hanson, and Lill Bech, with Nils Asther in a supporting role. Besides being an early gay-themed film, it is recognized for it innovative use of a framing story, a main narrative which is divided into a set of shorter stories, and for its use of flashbacks as the primary plot source. Although only thirty minutes of its seventy-minute length survived, a 1987 restoration used still photos and title cards to bridge the missing sections. 

Now residing in Copenhagen, Nils Asther received support from actor Aage Hertel, a member of the Royal Danish Theater and a leading actor at Nordisk Film. Between 1918 and 1926, Asther appeared in a number of film roles in Denmark, Sweden and Germany. After being approached by a representative from United Artists, he traveled to Hollywood  where he was given the role of  George Shelby in director Delmer Lord’s “Topsy and Eva”, a 1927 silent drama produced by Feature Productions. By 1928 Asther’s suave appearance placed him in leading roles; he soon played opposite such stars as Marion Davies and Joan Crawford.  

Asther appeared in director Harry Beaumont’s 1928 “Our Dancing Daughters”, a silent drama depicting the dangers of loose morals among the young. The film cast included John Mack Brown and Joan Crawford; it was this film role of Charleston-dancing, Prohibition-era drinking Diana Medford that launched Joan Crawford’s career. Asther was next given the leading role of handsome Prince de Gace, who played opposite Greta Garbo’s role of Lillie Sterling, in director Sidney Franklin’s 1929 drama “Wild Orchids”. Though often listed as a silent film, it was released as a non-talking film with orchestral score, sound effects, and title cards for dialogue. Asther had previously known Garbo in Sweden and would continue to be close friends; they appeared together in a second film of the same year, the MGM romantic drama “The Single Standard”. 

With the arrival of sound in film, Nils Asther began voice and diction lessons to minimize his Nordic accent. Due to his accent, many of his early roles in sound films were characters of foreign origins. Asther appeared with Robert Montgomery and, once again, with Joan Crawford in Clarence Brown’s 1932 drama “Letty Lynton”, which recounts the historical murder allegedly committed by nineteenth-century Glasgow socialite madeleine Smith, played by Crawford. In 1933, he was given the role of General Yen in Frank Capra’s drama war film “The Bitter Tea of General Yen”, where he  played opposite Barbara Stanwyck and, after its premiere, received good reviews for his portrayal.

After an alleged breach of contract led to a studio-based blacklist, Asther was forced to work in England between the years 1935 and 1940. He made six films in England before his return to Hollywood. Upon his return, Asther made nineteen more films before 1949; however, he was mostly given small supporting roles from which his career never returned to its former height. During the early 1950s, Asther attempted to revive his career with appearances on television which was becoming a rapidly growing phenomenon in the United States. Managing only to secure roles in a small number of minor television series, he decided in 1958 to return to Sweden. Asther had four film roles and an engagement with a local theater before 1963, at which time he retired from acting and devoted himself to painting. 

Nils Asther passed away on the 13th of October in 1981, at the age of eighty-four, at the Farsta Hospital in Stockholm. He is buried in the village of Hotagen, located in Jämtland, Sweden. Asther was inducted in 1960 into the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the film industry; his star is located at 6705 Hollywood Boulevard. 

Asther was a gay man in a time when it was both a personal and professional social stigma. Although the film industry in the 1920s accepted gay actors with little reservation, the actors had to remain discreet about their sexual orientation. In August of 1930, Asther entered into a lavender marriage with Vivian Duncan, one of the his costars from the 1927 “Topsy and Eva”. This turbulent marriage produced one daughter and resulted, after much media discussion, in a divorce in 1932. 

Nils Asther’s memoir, “The Road of the Jester: Not a God’s Tale: A Memoir”, was published posthumously in 1988 in Stockholm. In this volume, he mentions relationships he had in the 1930s with director Mauritz Stiller and Swedish author Hjalmar Bergman. Asther also had a long-term relationship with actor and  stuntman Ken DuMain, whom he met on Hollywood Boulevard in the early 1940s. 

Top Insert Image: George Hurrell, “Nils Asther”, circa 1930s, MGM Publicity Still, 25.4 x 33 cm, Private Collection

Second Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Nils Asther and Greta Garbo”, 1929, MGM Publicity Shot

Third Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Nils Asther”, French Postcard by Europe, No. 909, MGM Studio Publicity Shot, Date Unknown

Fourth Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Nils Asther”, Date Unknown, Publicity Shot, John Kobal Foundation, Getty Images

Bottom Insert Image: George Hurrell, “Nils Asther and Joan Crawford”, 1932, MGM Publicity Shot

William Haines: Film History Series

Photographers Unknown, Twelve Men During the Day

Born in Staunton, Virginia in January of 1900, Charles William Haines was an American actor and interior designer. He was the third child of seven siblings, two of which died in infancy, born to George Adam Haines, a cigar maker, and Laura Virginia (Matthews) Haines. He became fascinated at an early age with motion pictures and stage performances. 

At the age of fourteen, William Haines ran away from home accompanied by an unidentified young man. They both gained employment at the DuPont factory in Hopewell, Virginia, where they earned fifty dollars a week producing nitrocellulose which in its finished form is used for photography. Tracked by the police, Haines made an arrangement with his parents where he could remain in Hopewell and, with his earnings, send support to his family. The two boys remained in Hopewell until the 1915 fire which destroyed most of the city. 

Haines relocated to New York City until 1917, when a family crisis caused him to move to his family’s new home in Richmond, Virginia, to lend financial and emotional support. With the family’s recovery in 1919, Haines returned to New York City and settled in the growing gay community of Greenwich Village. He worked at various odd jobs and eventually gained employment as a model. Haines entered the Goldwyn Pictures’s contest, “New Faces of 1922”, and was discovered by Bijou Fernandez, a silent film actress and theatrical agent. Signed to a forty dollar per week contract with Goldwyn Pictures, he traveled to Hollywood in March of 1922 along with fellow contestant Eleanor Boardman.

William Haines initially played uncredited roles; his first significant casting was a high-profile role in director King Vidor’s 1923 silent drama “Three Wise Fools”, for which he received positive notices in reviews. This was followed in the same year by another significant role in Fox Studios’s silent western “The Desert Outlaw”. In 1924, MGM lent Haines to Columbia Pictures for a five-picture deal. The first of these films, the 1924 crime film “The Midnight Express” received excellent reviews. 

Haines had his first major personal success with the starring role in MGM’s 1926 silent drama “Brown of Harvard”. The character he played, a young arrogant man later humbled, was a role he would repeat for the next several years. On a publicity trip to New York City in 1926, Haines met James Shields. He convinced Shields to move to Los Angeles and promised to secure him work as an extra in films. Haines and Shields began living together and saw themselves as a committed couple. Although many actors in the film industry knew of their commitment, Haines never publicly affirmed his sexuality and there was no mention of their relationship in the press.

William Haines next appeared in two successful films, the 1925 comedy-drama “Little Annie Rooney”, co-starring with Mary Pickford, and the 1926 comedy “Show People”, co-starring with Marion Davies. He was one of the top five box-office stars from 1928 to 1932. With the advent of sound in film, Haines was able, with elocution lessons, to make the transition and maintain his star status. His first starring role in a full-sound film was the 1929 romance  “Navy Blues” for MGM; this was followed by the 1930 western parody “Way Out West”. At this point in his career, Haines was listed as the top box-office attraction in the country. 

Haines’s films began to drop at the box-office by the late 1930s. MGM canceled his contract in 1931 and, later, brought him back to the studio as a featured player with a reduced salary. Haines next starred in the film, “Just a Gigolo”; but that production failed to turn his slipping ratings. The MGM Studio finally terminated Haines’s contract with the studio in early 1933. 

The termination of Haines was the result of multiple factors.  With the depression, studios were very concerned about their films’ profit margins; Haines was aging and had not successfully completed his transition from his early “Brown of Harvard” persona; and Haines, despite not affirming his sexuality publicly, did not agree to a studio-supported lavender marriage as other gay actors had done. The impending Hays Production Code and the decreasing profits from Haines’s films put pressure on the studio and made it difficult for MGM to continue placing him in starring roles.

William Haines’s final two films were produced in 1934 by Mascot Pictures, a studio known for producing serials and B-movies. The first was the romantic comedy “Young and Beautiful”, which starred Haines opposite actress Judith Allen, and the second was a war-romance film “The Marines Are Coming”, in which Haines played opposite Conrad Nagel and Esther Ralston. Although Haines still received offers from minor studios, he made the decision to retire from acting and commit himself to his and Shield’s interior design business. Over his acting career, Haines had appeared appeared in fifty-four films, the majority of which were in starring roles.

In 1930, William Haines and James Shield had begun a successful dual career as interior designers and antique dealers. Hand-painted wallpaper, ottoman tables, and low to the ground sitting rooms became signature pieces of their work. Their antiques and artwork were loaned for film stage sets, including Haines’s personal paintings for Tara’s interior walls in “Gone With the Wind”. Among their clients were friends such as Gloria Swanson, George Cukor, Carole Lombard, and Joan Crawford.  In 1937, Haines was hired to decorate the estate of studio executive Jack L. Warner.  In the late 1930s through an introduction made by Joan Crawford, Haines and Shield decorated Villa Valentino, a secluded estate owned by Tom Lyle Williams, the founder of Maybelline Cosmetics, and his life-long partner Emery Shaver.

Haines and Shield settled in the Hollywood community of Brentwood and, except for a brief period of Haines’s service during World War II, they remained together and ran their prosperous business. By the time of their retirement in the early 1970s, their clients included socialite and philanthropist Betsy Bloomingdale and Governor Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan. Haines was also hired to redecorate London’s Winfield House, the official United States embassy residence, by the U.S. Ambassador Walter Annenberg.

William Haines and James Shield remained together in a relationship for forty-seven years. They enjoyed a high position in Hollywood for decades, supported by many loyal friends. On December 26th of 1973, William Haines died, at the age of seventy-three, from lung cancer in Santa Monica, California. Shortly afterward on March 6th of 1974, James Shield, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, dressed in Haines’s pajamas, wrote a note about his loneliness, and took an overdose of sleeping pills. They are interred side by side in Santa Monica’s Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery. For his contribution to the motion-picture industry, William Haines has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at number 7012.

Third Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, Louis B Mayer, William Haines, Marion Davis, and James Shields at the Premiere of “A Tailor Made Man”, March 1931

Alejandro Amenábar: Film History Series

Photographers Unknown, A Collection of Thirteen Men

Born in Santiago in March of 1972, Alejandro Fernando Amenábar Cantos is a Spanish-Chilean film director, composer, and screenwriter. In August of 1973, his family relocated to Spain where they settled in Madrid, initially living in a camper-van and later moving to a complex in Madrid’s outer neighborhoods. From the age of fifteen, Amenábar was passionate about cinematic art; he also wrote stories and musical compositions for the guitar and keyboard.

Amenábar began his education at The Immaculate Piarist Fathers, a parochial multi-discipline school in Madrid, and later transferred to the secular Alameda de Osuna Institute, one of Madrid’s prominent private schools. After graduating, Amenábar enrolled at the sciences faculty of Madrid’s historic, public research Complutense University where he studied cinema and directing. There he met people who would lend support to his career in cinema including Argentine journalist Carlos Montero, actor Eduardo Noriega and Mateo Gil Rodriguez,  a filmmaker who would co-write most of Amenábar’s films.

In 1991, Alejandro Amenábar released the first of his short films, “La Cabeza (Head)”. The script, based on an urban legend, was written by Mateo Rodriquez and Amenábar, who also composed the musical score in collaboration with Alfredo Alonso. This film earned Amenábar a prize from the Amateur Independent Film Association. His second short film, the 1992  “Himenóptero”, was shot on location at Alameda de Osuna Institute, his former high school. Amenábar wrote the script and music for the horror suspense film, was director and editor, and performed the only male role. (Note: Hymenoptera is a large order of insects which includes wasps, bees, sawflies and ants.)

At the age of twenty-two, Amenábar released his first full-length film, the 1996 “Tésis (Thesis)”, which secured his reputation as one of Spain’s most promising  cinematographers. This film, which commented on the Spanish film industry, Hollywood’s influence on the industry and the voyeurism of the horror genre, was nominated for eight Goya awards, of which it won seven including Best Film. In 1997, Amenábar released the science-fiction based, psychological thriller, “Abre los Ojos (Open Your Eyes)”, which starred Penelope Cruz and Eduardo Noriega. The rights to this movie were later acquired by actor Tom Cruise who directed and starred in the American remake entitled “Vanilla Sky”, with Penelope Cruz playing the same role of the original film.

Alejandro Amenábar followed his success with an English language movie in 2001, entitled “The Others”, a psychological, gothic horror film. Written and directed by Amenábar, the supernatural film relied on tension built during disturbing scenes for its horror rather than the use of special effects. “The Others”, with its film score by Amenábar, was a box-office success and won seven Goya Awards, including Best Film and Best Director. It also won three Saturn Awards for Best Horror Film, Best Actress for Nicole Kidman, and Best Supporting Actress for Fionnula Flanagan, who played the housekeeper Bertha Mills.

In 2004, Amenábar had another success with his “Mar Adentro (The Sea Inside)”, based on the true life story of Ramón Sampedro. Paralyzed from the neck down, Sampedro fought a thirty-year campaign to win the right to end his life with dignity.The film won fourteen Goya Awards, including Best Film and Best Director, and won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

In 2008, Amenábar released the historical drama “Agora”. Written by Mateo Gil and Amenábar, the biopic told the life story of Hypatia, the fourth-century female mathematician and astronomer who investigated the flaws of the geocentric Ptolemaic system of the solar system and the heliocentric model that challenged it. Winning seven Goya Awards, the film had limited release in the United States but was Spain’s highest grossing film of 2009.

After a seven year hiatus, Alejandro Amenábar released his psychological horror mystery film “Regression” in 2015. The film premiered at the 2015 San Sebastián International Film Festival. In 2019, he released the Spanish-Argentine historical drama “While at War”, the plot of which tracks the plight of writer and philosopher Miguel de Unamuno in 1936 Salamanca, a city controlled during the Spanish Civil War by the Rebel faction. 

In addition to composing the scores of his own films, he laid the sound tracks for Josè Luis Cuerda’s 1999 coming-of-age film“Butterfly’s Tongue” and Mateo Gil’s 1999 mystery film “Nobody Known Anybody”, among others. 

Top Insert Image: Mateo Gil, “Alejandro Amenábar, Himenóptero”, 1992

Third Insert Image: Javier Aguirresarobe, “Alakina Mann, The Others”, 1992, Written and Directed by Alejandro Amenábar, Warner Brothers

Luchino Visconti: Film History Series

Photographers Unknown, Parts and Pieces Making a Whole: Set Fourteen

Born in Milan in November of 1906, Luchino Visconti di Modrone, Count of Lonate Pozzolo, was an Italian screenwriter, stage director and filmmaker. A major figure in Italian art and culture, he was one of the pioneers of cinematic neorealism, a film movement that explored the conditions of the poor and lower working class, which was shot almost exclusively on location and generally filmed with nonprofessional actors and local people.

One of seven children born into a prominent noble family in Milan, Luchino Visconti grew up in the family seat, the Palazzo di Modrone in Via Cerva, as well as in Grazzano Viconsti Castle, the family estate. Exposed in his early years to music, art and theater,Visconti studied cello with the Italian cellist and composer Lorenzo de Paolis and met the poet and playwright Gabriele D’Annunzio, composer Giacomo Puccini, and the conductor Arturo Toscanini. 

During the second World War, Visconti joined the Italian Communist Party, which he saw as the only viable opponent to Mussolini’s Italian Fascism. After Mussolini’s overthrow and Italy’s armistice in September of 1943 with the Allies, he began working with the Italian resistance and provided his villa in Roma as a meeting place for oppositional artists. After the Germans invaded Italy, Visconti went into hiding in the mountains where he hid English and American prisoners of war after their escapes. He also provided shelter to the resistance fighters in Rome. 

Through the intercession of their common friend Coco Chanel, Luchino Visconti began his filmmaking career as a set dresser on directorJean Renoir’s 1936 short feature “Partie de Campagane”. He also worked with Renoir on the 1941 historical drama “Tosca”, until it was interrupted by the war. Along with film director Roberto Rossellini, Visconti joined the salon of Vittorio Mussolini, who was then Italy’s national arbitrator for cinema and the arts. While with this group of artists, he wrote the screenplay for his first film as director, the 1943 “Ossessione (Obsession)”, one of the first neorealist movies to be made. Visconti, in collaboration with a group of writers, adapted the film from a French version of “The Postman Always Rings Twice” given to him byJean Renoir during the time they worked together in France.

In 1948, Visconti wrote and directed “The Earth Trembles”, an exploration of working-class fishermen in a small village, which was based on Giovanni Verga’s novel “The House by the Medlar Tree”. This film received a Special International Award at the 9th Venice International Film Festival. After filming his 1951 drama film “Bellissima”, a satire of the postwar Italian film industry, Visconti diverted from the neorealist movement with his 1954 melodrama “Senso”, a color film which combined romanticism with realism. He returned to neorealism with his 1960 “Rocco and His Brothers”, a story about Southern Italians who migrate to Milan hoping to find financial stability. This film won Silver Ribbons from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists for Best Director and Screenplay. 

Through the 1960s, Luchino Visconti’s films became more personalized. He felt the conflict between the post-war world of difficult economic and moral conditions, including its poverty and injustice, and his origins from an important and wealthy noble family. He considered himself as belonging to a past world, particularly that of the nineteenth-century. Visconti’s 1963 “The Leopard”, based on author Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s novel of the same name, depicts the decline of the old social order and its aristocracy and the rise of the new modern world. In his research for the film, he searched through world literature for relevant works to show discrepancies between familial generations and their world views. “The Leopard”, the sixth most popular film of the year in France, won the Palme d’Or at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival.

Visconti’s 1969 “The Damned”, tells the story of a German industrialist’s family which begins to disintegrate during the Nazi’s consolidation of power in the 1930s. It is regarded as the first of Visconti’s films described as “The German Trilogy”; this 1969 film is followed by the 1971 “Death in Venice” and the 1973 “Ludwig”, a biographical film about the life and death of King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The October opening of “The Damned” in Rome met with critical acclaim; however, it faced controversy from the rating board due to its sexual content, including depictions of homosexuality, pedophilia, rape and incest. Upon its entry to the United States, it was given an X rating, which was only lowered to an R rating after twelve minutes of offending footage were cut. The film won the Italian Film Journalists’ 1970  Silver Ribbon Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Luchino Visconti’s next film was the1971 “Death in Venice”, written by Visconti and screenwriter Nicola Badalucco. Based on Thomas Mann’s 1912 novel of the same name, it tells the story of composer Gustav von Aschenbach, a man dying from heart disease, who travels with his wife to Venice for rest, unaware that the city is in the midst of a cholera epidemic. The composer soon develops an obsession with the beauty of an adolescent Polish boy named Tadzio, who is staying with his family in the same hotel. “Death in Venice” was nominated for several awards: BAFTA Awards for Best Direction and Best Film, and the 1971 Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Visconti’s film won both the David di Donatello and the Nastro d’Argento for Best Director. 

Baptized and raised in the Roman Catholic church, Luchino Visconti remained a devout Catholic throughout his life. His first three-year relationship, which started in 1936, with photographer Horst P. Horst remained discreet due legal and social conventions of the time. In his later years, Visconti appeared openly with his lovers, among whom were actor Udo Kier and film director Franco Zeffirelli. His last lover was the Austrian actor Helmut Berger, who played  Martin in “The Damned” and later appeared in Visconti’s 1973 “Ludwig” and the 1974 “Conversation Piece”.

Luchino Visconti, who was also a celebrated theater and opera director,  suffered a stroke in 1972. He died in Rome of a second stroke at the age of sixty-nine in March of 1976.  On the island of Ischia where Visconti had his summer residence, there is a museum dedicated to his work.

Note: An interesting article on the film “The Damned”, including information on its technical production, is Wheeler Winston Dixon’s “Grandeur and Decadence: Luchino Visconti’s The Damned (1969)” located at: https://www.sensesofcinema.com/2021/cteq/grandeur-and-decadence-luchino-viscontis-the-damned-1969/

Top Insert Image: Horst P. Horst, “Luchino Visconti, Paris”, 1937, Gelatin Silver Print

Second Insert Image: Luchino Visconti, “Rocco and His Brothers”, (Alan Delon and Renato Salvatori), 1960, Astor Pictures

Third Insert Image: Luchino Visconti, “The Damned” (Helmut Berger, Dirk Bogarde and Ingrid Thulin), Ital-Noleggio Cinematografico and Warner Brothers-Seven Arts 1969,

Fourth Insert Image: Mario Tursi, “Luchino Visconti with Björn Andrésen on the Set of “Death in Venice”, 1970, Gelatin Silver Print

Bottom Insert Image: Luchino Visconti, “The Leopard” (Burt Lancaster), 1963, Titanus/ Parthé/ 20th Century Fox

James Whale: Film History Series

Photographers Unknown, I Am Rather the Fallen Angel

“Be calm! I entreat you to hear me before you give vent to your hatred on my devoted head. Have I not suffered enough, that you seek to increase my misery? Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it. Remember, thou hast made me more powerful than thyself; my height is superior to thine, my joints more supple. But I will not be tempted to set myself in opposition to thee. I am thy creature, and I will be even mild and docile to my natural lord and king if thou wilt also perform thy part, the which thou owest me. Oh, Frankenstein, be not equitable to every other and trample upon me alone, to whom thy justice, and even thy clemency and affection, is most due. Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.” 

― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, 1818 

Born in Dudley, a town in the county of Worcestershire, in July of 1889, James Whale was an English actor and film and theater director, best remembered by many for his classic horror films. Known for his use of camera movement, he is credited with being the first director to use a 360-degree panning shot in a feature film.

James Whale was the sixth of seven children born to William Whale, a blast-furnace worker, and his wife Sarah, a nurse. He attended public education until his teenage years. Because the cost of his further education was prohibitive and his labor was needed to support his family, Whale took work as a cobbler. He used his early artistic ability to earn extra money by lettering signs for his neighbors; this additional income paid for classes at the Dudley School of Arts and Crafts located in the West Midlands.

In August of 1914, Whale enlisted into the Inns of Court Regiment of the British Army at the outbreak of the first world war; in July of 1916, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Worcestershire Regiment. Taken prisoner of war in August of 1917 at the battle in  Flanders, Whale was held at the Holzminden Officers’ Camp in Germany and later repatriated at the war’s end to England in December of 1918. After an unsuccessful attempt to find work as a cartoonist in Birmingham, he embarked on a professional stage career in 1919. 

James Whale worked as an actor, set designer, stage manager, and director under the tutelage of director and actor Nigel Playfair at the Lyric Theater in Hammersmith. In 1922, he met stage and costume designer Doris Zinkeisen; they were considered a couple for a period of two years despite Whale’s living as an openly gay man. In 1928, Whale was given the opportunity to direct two private performances of writer Robert Cedric Sherriff’s “Journey’s End”, a play that gave a glimpse of British infantry officers’ experiences in the trenches of France during 1918. The two lead roles were given to actors Laurence Olivier and Maurice Evans. 

The initial two performances of “Journey’s End” were well received; and the play opened in January of 1929, with actor Colin Clive now in the lead, at the Savoy Theater in London’s West End. Critically acclaimed, the play after its three-week run was then transferred to the Prince of Wales Theater in Coventry Street, where it ran for the next two years. The rights to a New York production of “Journey’s End” were acquired by Broadway producer Gilbert Miller who chose James Whale, already experienced with the play, for its director. This production of the play premiered at Henry Miller’s Theater at Broadway and West 43rd Street and ran for over a year. 

Brought to the attention of movie producers by the Broadway success of “Journey’s End”, James Whale traveled to Hollywood in 1929 and signed a contract with Paramount Pictures to be the dialogue director for the 1929 film “The Love Doctor”. After the completion of the film, Whale met David Lewis, who became his longtime romantic partner; they lived together until 1952. David Lewis would later become a prominent film producer in the 1940s and 1950s, known for producing such films as the 1939 “Dark Victory” with Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart and the 1957  “Raintree County” with Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor.  

In 1931, James Whale began what is probably the best known part of his career as a producer. He signed a five-year contract with Universal Studios and received his first project, the 1931 drama-war romance film “Waterloo Bridge”, which starred actress Mae Clarke, who is remembered by many for playing Jame Cagney’s girl in “The Public Enemy”. Later in 1931, Carl Laemmie, Jr, the twenty-five year old head of Universal Studios, gave Whale his choice of which studio-owned property he wanted for his next shoot; Whale chose the script for “Frankenstein”. He casted Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein and Mae Clarke as Elizabeth Frankenstein, Henry’s wife, and chose the little known Boris Karloff for the role of the Monster. Shooting ran from August 24th of 1931 to October 3rd. After premieres on October 29th of 1931, “Frankenstein” had a wide release beginning on November 21st and instantly became a hit with critics and the public.

In 1932, Whale directed two films: the drama “The Impatient Maiden” and a thriller film with Karloff and Charles Laughton entitled “The Old Dark House”, which has been credited with reinventing the “old house” genre of horror films. Whale’s 1933 film, “The Kiss Before the Mirror”, a pre-Code mystery film, received little notice and was a box-office failure. With a script approved by author H. G. Wells, Whale returned to the horror genre and produced the 1933 “The Invisible Man” which the New York Times placed in their list of best films for that year. This adaption of Well’s book, whose special effects were done in utmost secrecy, broke box-office records in cities across America.

James Whale’s next major project was the 1935 “Bride of Frankenstein”, a sequel to the original movie which he was initially reluctant to do for fear of being typecast as a horror director. The film, however, was a critical and commercial success; today it is regarded as the finest of all gothic horror movies and considered Whale’s masterpiece. Whale worked next on a comedy-mystery film entitled “Remember Last Night?” which resulted in divided reviews. After its completion, Whale started immediately on the project that had been in his mind for a long time, a film version of the stage production “Show Boat”. 

For the film version of this long-running romantic musical, Whale gathered as many members of the original show as he could; these included Paul Robeson, Helen Morgan, Sammy White, Irene Dunne, and conductor Victor Baravalle and orchestrator Robert Russell Bennett. Great care was taken by Whale to ensure a feeling of complete authenticity in the set and costume design for this film. Faithfully adapted from the original stage production, the 1936 “Show Boat” is considered the definitive film version of the musical by many critics. This film was the last of Whale’s films produced with the Laemmie family.

Jame Whale eventually retired from the film industry in 1941. Encouraged by his partner David Lewis to resume his artwork, he rediscovered his love of painting and built a studio for himself. In 1942, Whale made training films for the United States Army and created, in collaboration with actress Claire DuBrey, the theater group Brentwood Service Players. He returned to Broadway to direct the 1940 thriller “Hand in Glove” and directed his final film, a short subject entitled “Hello Out There”. Whale’s last professional engagement was the comedy play “Pagan in the Parlour”, which was forced to close early due to contract difficulties that happened during its opening tour in Europe.

While in Europe, Whale met and became infatuated with the twenty-five year old bartender Pierre Foegel. He made the decision to bring Foegel back to the United States as his chauffeur. In November of 1952 when David Lewis heard this, he ended their twenty-three year relationship, separated but still maintained a friendship. Foegel moved in with Whale in early 1953, returned for several months to France, and then in 1954  moved back permanently with Whale. In the spring of 1956, Whale suffered a small stroke, and was hospitalized several months later after suffering a second and more severe stroke. As his mental faculties were diminishing, he began to suffer from mood swings and depression. 

James Whale committed suicide, at the age of sixty-seven, by drowning himself in his Pacific Palisades swimming pool on the 29th of May in 1957. He left a suicide note to David Lewis, who withheld it from the public until his own death. Whale was cremated per his request and his ashes were interred in the Columbarium of Memory at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. When David Lewis died in 1987, James Curtis, as his executor, had Lewis’s  ashes interred in a niche across from Whale’s internment site. James Curtis would later write the definitive biography of Whale, “James Whale: A New World of Gods and Monsters”, published in 2003.

Note: James Whale lived as an openly gay man throughout his career in the British theater and in Hollywood, which was virtually unheard of in that era. While he did not go out of his way to publicize his homosexuality, he made no effort to conceal it either.

Insert Images:
A— Photographer Unknown, “James Whale” (Profile), circa 1930, Cream-Toned Vintage Print, 23.7 x 18 cm, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC
B—”Frankenstein”, Colin Clive and Boris Karloff, 1931, Universal Pictures
C—”The Invisible Man”, Claude Rains and Gloria Stuart, 1933, Universal Pictures
D—Photographer Unknown, “James Whale”, Date Unknown
E—”Show Boat”, Paul Robeson, Irene Dunne, Hattie McDaniel, and Helen Morgan, 1936, Universal Pictures
F—Photographer Unknown, “James Whale”, circa 1930, Cream-Toned Vintage Print, 23.7 x 18 cm, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC

Étienne-Jules Marey: Film History Series

Motion-Analyses by Étienne-Jules Marey

Born in March of 1830 in Beaune, Étienne-Jules Marey was a French scientist, physiologist, and chronophotographer. The results of his work were significant for the development of aviation, cardiology, laboratory photography, cinematography, and instruments for precise measurement.

Étienne-Jules Marey traveled to Paris in 1849 and enrolled at the Faculty of Medicine to study surgery and physiology. After qualifying as a doctor in 1859, he established a small Parisian laboratory in 1864 where he studied the circulation of blood in the human body. From these studies, Marey published the 1868 “Le Mouvement dans les Fonctions de la Vie”. This book discussed the importance of recording devices in biology, Marey’s graphic method, the origin of movement, muscle contractility and elasticity, artificial stimulations of movement, and descriptions of many medical recording devices.

Beginning in 1862, Marey perfected the first elements of his graph methodology, which studied movement using recording instruments and graphs. He succeeded in analyzing through diagrams the walk of man and a horse, and the flight of birds and insects. The published results of this work, the 1873 “La Machine Animals”, led Eadweard Muybridge and Leland Stanford to pursue their own photographic researches into animal movement. 

Although Étienne-Jules Marey admired the results of Muybridge’s work done at the Palo Alto studio, he was dissatisfied with the lack of precision in Muybridge’s bird movement images. Inspired by previous photographic work done by astronomer Jules Janssen, Marey, in 1882, perfected the ‘photographic gun’ with a revolving cylinder containing photographic plates that was capable of taking twelve exposures in one second. Using this instrument, he was able to shoot multiple images of a subject quickly from different angles. Later in the same year, Muray invented the chronophotographic fixed-plate camera which was equipped with a timed shutter. 

Unlike the motion studies of Eadweard Muybridge, who depicted movement as a series of discrete moments on separate, sequential negatives, Marey’s analyses of motion, captured by his chronophotographic camera, are characterized by multiple exposures on a single photographic glass plate. He made improvements to his invention in 1888 by replacing the glass plate with a long strip of sensitized paper. Marey’s first multiple-exposure “film” on paper, produced by moving the strip intermittently in the camera by an electromagnet at the speed of twenty images a second, was presented at the Academy des Science on October 29th in 1888. 

Two years later, Étienne-Jules Marey replaced the paper strip with a transparent celluloid film ninety millimeters wide with a length of one meter or more. A pressure-plate immobilized the film; a spring restarted the film when the pressure was released. All following cameras produced were based on the principles first applied by Marey: the intermittent movement of a sensitive film behind an objective lens  and the film’s static moments corresponding with the opening of the shutter. 

Between 1890 and 1900, assisted by inventor and photographer  Georges Demenÿ, and later by photographers Lucien Bull and Pierre Nogues, Marey made a large number of motion analysis filmstrips of high aesthetic and technical quality. These filmstrips were subsequently  processed and archived by the Cinématheque Francaise, the French non-profit film organization founded in 1936, and totaled over four- hundred original negatives, a collection which included the recording of a moving hand, self-portraits of Demenÿ and Marey, and the now-famous falling cat filmstrip, taken in 1894. 

In 1894, Étienne-Jules Marey published his collective research work under the title “Le Mouvement”. Towards the end of his life, he returned to studying the movement of more abstract forms. Marey’s  last great work was the observation and photography of smoke trails, partially funded by American astronomer and inventor Samuel Pierpont Langley under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institute. In 1901 Marey built a smoke machine with fifty-eight smoke trails; this machine became one of the first aerodynamic wind tunnels. 

The founding father of technical cinematic photography, Étienne-Jules Marey died on May 15th of 1904 in Paris. His research was continued by his assistants Lucien Bull and Pierre Nogues at the Marey Institute, built at the request of the International Society of Physiology by Marey to house a commission for the control of graphic instruments dedicated to physiology.  At this institute, Bull and Nogues made microscopic, X-Ray and high-speed analysis films.

Ane Brun and Fleshquartet, “The Opening”

Ane Brun and Fleshquartet, “The Opening”, “Wallander”, Season Three Closing Theme, 2012, Vocal Recorded by Conny Wall Gig Studio 

Born Ane Kvien Brunwoll in March of 1976 in Molde, Norway,  Ane Brun is a songwriter, guitarist, and a vocalist of Sami origin, the indigenous Finno-Ugric people inhabiting the northern parts of Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Kola Peninsula of northwest Russia.

The daughter of jazz singer and pianist Johanne Brunwoll and lawyer Knut Brunwoll, Ane Brun studied music and law at the University of Bergen, and, during that time, began writing her own music compositions and lyrics. After playing a few minor shows, she recorded her first demos in Bergen in 1999. After settling in Stockholm in 2001, Brun focused all her energies on her musical career. 

Brun’s debut album, entitled “Spending Time with Morgan”, was recorded in 2002 in both Uppsala and Stockholm, Sweden. It was released in 2003 on the DetErMine label, a company founded by Brun and Ellekari Larsson, the pianist and vocalist of the Swedish band “The Tiny”. Following two years of European concert tours, Brun released her second album, entitled “Temporary Dive”, which was produced by Katherina Nuttall and released worldwide between 2005 and 2007. The album was well received with award nominations from all over Europe; and it was awarded the Spellemannpris, the Norwegian equivalent of the Grammies, for Best Female Artist. 

Ane Brun released her album “Duets” in November of 2005. This album contained duet collaborations with, among others, Canadian singer Ron Sexsmith; French musician and composer Teitur Lassen; Syd Matters, the French band of composer Jonathan Morali; and a collaboration with the band Madrugada on the single “Lift Me”, which earned Brun another Spellemannpris award. As of 2020, Brun has released a total of nine albums, of which two are gold albums, one platinum album, and two albums, “Duets” and “It All Starts with One”, which became platinum twice.

Ane Brun continues to tour and has appeared in  multiple stage arrangements from solo acoustic to a full band with string section. She currently lives in Stockholm, Sweden, where she writes, records and manages her own recording label, Balloon Ranger Recordings.

“The Opening” is a haunting and fitting theme song for the main character in the Swedish television series, “Wallander”, which stars actor Krister Henriksson in the title role. Adapted from author Henning Mankeil’s Kurt Wallander novels. the three-season series is set in Ystad, Skåne, near the southern tip of Sweden, The thirty-two episodes follow the life and cases of Detective Wallander, a man with few close friends and tentative relationships with colleagues, who towards the end of his career suffers memory loss and gradually succumbs to Alzhheimer’s disease. 

“The Opening is a song whose lyrics and melody were written by myself with the music and production handled by the Fleshquartet. I got the script for the very last Wallander film, and wrote these lyrics inspired by the main character. It’s about trying to move forward when you find yourself at a standstill. It’s an encouraging song about daring to take a step in any direction when you feel stuck. Sometimes it’s just a small step or a short conversation – or sometimes just a single word – that can set off the necessary process of change.”  —Ane Brun

British Pathé, “RMS Titanic”: Film History Series

 

Artist Unknown, Titanic Moored at Dock, Gifs, British Pathé, 1912

These three colorized gifs were taken from the beginning of a film, jointly owned by British Pathé and Gaumont Newsreels, containing known footage of the RMSTitanic. Slightly different versions of this film are held by British Movietone and the National Film and Television Archive.

The three gifs depict the Titanic moored, probably on April 2nd of 1912, at the Thompson Graving Dock on Queen’s Island in Belfast, where the RMS Titanic was fitted out. In these shots, men can be seen walking beside the ship and smoke is seen issuing from the third funnel of the Titanic.

The British Pathé’s newsreel, just over six minutes in length,  covers several episodes in the story of the RMS Titanic’s final days. The captain of the RMS Titanic, Edward J. Smith, who perished when the ship sank, is shown on board the RMS Olympic, before assuming duty on the Titanic. Newsreel footage of icebergs and ice floes are shown to portray the scene of the disaster. Scenes of the rescue ship, Carpathia, nearing New York City with survivors, and scenes of the departing search and rescue vessel, Mackay Bennet, also are included in this Pathé footage.

At the forefront of cinematic journalism, British Pathé was a producer of newsreels and documentaries from 1910 to 1970 in England. The company blended information with entertainment for movie theater attendees who came to watch the news. Over the course of its sixty years, it documented everything from major armed conflicts and international political crises to the curious hobbies and eccentric lives of ordinary people.

British Pathé’s roots lie in 1896 Paris, France, when Société Pathé Frères  was founded by Charles Pathé and his brothers, who pioneered the development of the moving image. In 1908, the company invented the cinema newsreel with its introduction of the Pathé-Journal and opened a newsreel office on Wardour Street, London, in 1910. These early silent  newsreels, issued every two weeks and running about four minutes in length, were shown in local theaters; sound was introduced beginning in 1928. The Pathé newsreels captured events such as suffragette Emily Danison’s fatal injury by a racehorse at the 1913 Epsom Derby and Franz Reichelt’s fatal descent by parachute from the Eiffel Tower in February of 1912.

Considered now to be the finest newsreel archive in the world, British Pathé is a treasure trove of eighty-five thousand films unmatched in their historical and cultural significance. The company also represents the Reuters historical collection, which includes more than one hundred thirty-six thousand items from the following news agencies: Gaumont Graphic, active from 1910 to 1932; Empire News Bulletin, a film library from 1926 to 1930;  British Paramount,  a collection spanning from 1931 to 1957; and Gaumont British’s collection  from 1934 to 1959. Included in Pathés vast library of film is the collected content from the Visnews service active from 1957 until the end of 1984.

The full footage of British Pathé’s Titanic black and white newsreel can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05o7sOAjtXE

All footage can be viewed on the British Pathé website. https://www.britishpathe.com/

Matthew Rankin, “The Tesla World Light”: Film History Series

Matthew Rankin, “The Tesla World Light”, 2017

“The Tesla World Light” is a eight-minute 2017 black and white avant-garde film by Montreal director Matthew Rankin which imagines the latter days of inventor Nikola Tesla in New York City in 1905. It is a fanciful mixture of elements from Tesla’s life including his pleas to J. P. Morgan for funding and his love for a “electric” pigeon. The film sources interviews with Tesla and letters by Tesla found in the Library of Congress. 

In the film, Matthew Rankin combined pixilation with a technique called light-animation, which involves moving a light source in the frame to produce light rays. He estimated he used as many as fifteen thousand sparklers to produce the effects, along with flashlights, LEDs, and fluorescent lamps.

Matthew Rankin adopted a visual-music approach to the film. He worked with sound artist Sasha Ratcliffe, who recreated Tesla’s device, the Tesla Spirit Radio, which received and transmitted the sound of light waves with the intensity varying according to its vibrations. Much of the background sound in the film was produced by this machine.

Produced by Julie Roy, an executive producer at the Canadian National Film Board, “The Tesla World Light” stars Robert Vilar as Tesla, with cinematography by Julian Fontaine and music by Christophe Lamarche. The film had its world premiere in official competition in May at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and was selected for the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

“The Tesla World Light” received an honorable mention in the Best Canadian Short Film category at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and received a listing on Canada’s Top Ten list of short films. It also won the 2018 Canadian Screen Award for Best Animated Short Films.