Posts tagged: film history
RIP, Ray Harryhausen. We have a collection of interviews, tributes and obituaries here.
In memory of Rudolph Valentino…
“Women are not in love with me but with the picture of me on the screen. I am merely the canvas on which women paint their dreams.”
Extract from draft screenplay of North by Northwest (1959), written by Ernest Lehman and directed by Alfred Hitchcock
HITCHCOCK: Now, the choir on the left and singing, and they seat themselves just as he gets to the—say, there are four rows of choir singing—just as he gets level with the end row. Now we CUT to the DOWN SHOT on the congregation and they sit, you see. And they look up and there’s nobody in the pulpit. And yet, last time we saw him, although there was a man in surplice under the stairs, he was about to put his foot on the first step to go into the pulpit. But we CUT AWAY before he gets his foot on the step.
LEHMAN: As a member of the audience here, I feel slightly cheated, Hitch, right there.
HITCHCOCK: He hasn’t put his foot on the steps—this is my point. That you now go to the congregation and they look up—the front row looking up. Now you CUT to what they see and there’s the pulpit. Now you HOLD your camera on that empty pulpit. Now you CUT BACK to your people: “Well, what’s happened?”—now you come back behind the column and the pulpit…
What a gem I just found, Alfred Hitchcock and Ernest Lehman plan Hitch’s final film:
In this audio clip we hear director Alfred Hitchcock and screenwriter Ernest Lehman developing the storyline for what would be Hitchcock’s last film, Family Plot (1976). The screenplay for what turned out to be Alfred Hitchcock’s last film, Family Plot, was written by Ernest Lehman who had previously worked with the director on North by Northwest (1959). On both films, the writer and director collaborated closely, but on Family Plot Lehman recorded their story conferences, providing unprecedented insight into their working methods. An estimated 80 hours of their conversations are preserved at the Ransom Center.
Now, in the process of writing the film, it seems that you began with a list of disparate ideas that Hitchcock mentioned as possible scenes for the movie. Could you discuss them?
Yes. They were all wonderful, and I took them all down, and I never used most of them. For some reason, Hitch wanted to do the longest dolly shot in cinema history. The idea was that the shot would begin with an assembly line, and then you’d gradually see the parts of the car added and assembled, and, all the while, the camera’s dollying for miles along with the assembly line, and then eventually there’s a completed car, all built, and it’s driven off the assembly line, and there’s a dead body in the backseat.
Did you try to work that one into the script?
Not really. It was intriguing, but it had no place in the picture. Then Hitch told me another one: there’s a speech being made at the General Assembly of the United Nations, and the speaker suddenly stops. He’s irritated, and he says he’s not going to continue until the delegate from Brazil wakes up. So a UN page goes over to the man, taps him on the shoulder, and the delegate falls over dead. But he’d been doodling — and that’s the only clue to the murder — and his doodling is a sketch of the antlers of moose. So I said, “Well, that’s intriguing — now we’ve got the United Nations, and Detroit, and what might seem like a reference to northern Canada.” And Hitch said that he’d always wanted to do a scene at Lake Louise where a family is having a reunion — a get-together — and a twelve-year-old girl takes a gun out of a baby carriage and shoots someone. I realize that all these ideas sound very peculiar and unrelated, but I took them all down and thought about them. —Creative Screenwriting (2000), “North by Northwest”: An Interview with Ernest Lehman
In this 1965 interview, Hitchcock discusses — partly in French — “La Mort aux Trousses” (French title for “North by Northwest”), and in particular the famous “that’s funny — he’s dusting crops where there ain’t no crops” scene.
- North By Northwest screenplay 1958 shooting draft for your reading pleasure (NOTE: For educational purposes only)
- Ernest Lehman’s notes
- “North by Northwest,” the Hitchcock classic, as you’ve never seen it before
Sergio Leone on the set of Once Upon a Time in the West.
Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?
SL: My mother was an actress. My father was an actor and a director. I am the son of filmmakers. I was born with this bow tie made of celluloid on my collar.
And why did you decide to make westerns?
SL: I had never thought of making a western even as I was making it. I think that my films are westerns only in their exterior aspects. Within them are some of my truths, which happily, I see, belong to lots of parts of the world. Not just America. My discussion is one that has gone all the way from Fistful of Dollars through Once Upon a Time in America. But if you look closely at all these films, you find in them the same meanings, the same humor, the same point of view, and, also, the same pains.
Which filmmakers influenced you, and what were your favorite films?
SL: I must be honest and say that I was under the fascination of films. I was
fascinated by all films, even the words of them. If I was to do a more-precise
analysis of the situation, I have to admit that I was more entertained by the bad films than the good ones. Because when something is beautiful, it is there; it is finished; it is done. It doesn’t have to be touched or be worked upon. But if it is badly realized and not completely expressed, sometimes that is more provocative and interesting than when you see something that is perfectly and beautifully done. But if there is an auteur who influenced me—and there is only one—that is Charlie Chaplin. And he never won an Oscar.
Interview with Sergio Leone (1987)
By Marlaine Glicksman
Previously on Cinephilia & Beyond:
Christmas greetings from Fritz Lang and the crew of Metropolis
Japanese film from 1921: Goketsu Jiraiya / Goketsu the Hero.
Cantonese opera actor, Kwan Duk Hing, as a cowboy in the 1930s. Image from the University of California’s Museum of Performance and Design, Performing Arts Library.
Kwan Tak-hing 關德興 is best remembered for playing the Cantonese folk hero Wong Fei-hung 黃飛鴻 in a prolific and long-running series of Hong Kong films during the 1950s and 60s. This photo iss from the early 1930s when he was performing Cantonese Opera in San Francisco Chinatown.
Flyer from the late Kung Fu Fridays film program in Toronto. Strangely enough the date for this screening coincides with tonight’s Drive-In Mob Chow Yun-Fat Heroic Bloodshed Double Feature!
Kung Fu Fridays was programmed by current Toronto International Film Festival programmer and ActionFest Director, Colin Geddes. This particular flyer is from when the series was in its nomadic years before it found its home at the Royal. And, this particular screening was held in a theater that mostly showed porn at the time, leading passersby to wonder at the long line outside and down the block.
(from Carol Borden’s collection of ephemera)