The American cinematographer (Nov 1937)

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November, 1937 • American Cinematographer 449 FROST IS ON THE PUNKIN Y OU who are exceedingly keen on good photography; who at least are as strongly an admirer of wild mountain background; you, too, who are particularly impressed with the brilliant color of photography when the exposure has been made in a higher altitude or even in latitudes that to southerners rate as northern —to all of these we say take a peek at Paramount’s “Thunder Trail.” The picture seemingly was made in the general neighborhood of the Big Bear country, in the southern half of California, and in an average altitude above six thousand feet. At the open- ing of the subject the photographic addict is suddenly aware of the fact he is seeing something out of the usual. Karl Struss, A.S.C., directed the photography on this Zane Grey story. In other days it was a custom not unknown among reviewers sometimes when a picture wabbled in its dra- matic knees leniently to remark if in the mood that “The photography was excellent.” The custom is outmoded, for sev- eral sufficient reasons. One among these is that the photography on the screen is expected to be good. There is no sufficient reason as a rule why it should not be. Then again the quoted remark long since has been damned as the faintest of faint praise. In the present instance the good word is due in common justice—and then again also in the present in- stance there is a strong story excel- lently portrayed. “Thunder Trail” is one to put in the book—to catch it when it enters your neighborhood. T G enuine realism comes to the screen in Paramount’s “Ebb Tide.” This is a Technicolor subject. In the course of the story of strange proceedings in the South Seas a big cargo-carrying schooner commanded by a captain temporarily drunk is caught in a typhoon. Things happen fast and ferociously. It is in sequences like this that the craftsmanship described on the credit screen as “special photographic ef- fects” makes possible the filmed re- production of the ravages of wind and wave. Yet palpably in spite of the benevolent influence of life-saving devices there remains plenty of haz- ard to life and limb. To Gordon Jennings, A.S.C., fell the creation of this reproduction of the assault of Old Nature on a crippled sailing vessel. It is a thrilling part By GEORGE BLAISDELL of an absorbing story seemingly more masculine in its appeal than it is for womankind. But as to that only theatrical showings will tell. ▼ T hat was an unusual experience enjoyed by the members of the Paramount Movie Club on the eve- ning of October 7. A full-fledged studio cameraman stepped up to the 16mm. projector and with a double turntable to aid him in providing atmosphere accompaniment proceeded to unreel a Kodacolor picture exposed in and around Tahiti. Charles G. Clarke, A.S.C., had photographed it in 1935 at odd mo- ments during the stay in the South Seas of the troupe producing “Mutiny on the Bounty.” Quite naturally into the making of the subject had gone the same quality of workmanship that marks the film passing under his hand that is designed for the theat- rical screen. Holding the film within the realm of the amateur were the typewritten titles—amateur incidentally only in the manner of presentation; certainly not in the phrasing. The photog- rapher who turned projectionist and turntable operator also at times be- came commentator, and amplified the titles with remarks giving additional details of the beckoning South Seas. Of unusual interest were the close- ups of the island flowers in all the glory of their rich colorings; of the many colored tropical fish, whether shown in full freedom of unimpeded motion or piled on the beach at the conclusion of one of the spectacular fish drives, participated in by three thousand natives. The novelty of the situation for the members of the club was materially lessened by the fact they are studio employees and accustomed to the atmosphere of professional picture- making. Nevertheless to them the occasion was unusual. In Los Angeles are many profes- sional cameramen who own and op- erate sub-standard equipment. In it they find a lot of pleasure and through it in turn provide pleasure for their families and friends, and in in- stances like the one outlined here for strangers as well. There is much these men may give to the members of the local clubs, much they may do to popularize still further their own craft. It is not un- likely that men who have made a recreation out of a craft would be willing to pass on to amateurs some of the pleasure they themselves have found in creating a film library for their own families. T T he tendency toward broader comedy is being remarked by those whose business it is to follow the new studio product. When in RKO’s delightful comedy of “Break- fast for Two” Herbert Marshall was caused to do a backward fall there was lamentation on the part of some reviewers that he was out of his type. To be sure the leveling process rather inelegantly if accurately described by showmen was precipitated because of the presence on the floor of the ruins of a misdirected custard pie or its equivalent. It may or may not be worthy of remark the projectile was catapulted by Barbara Stanwyck, but it must be conceded the aggx'avation measur- ably justified the unconventional pro- cedure when surrounding and contrib- uting circumstances are considered. Such things still are done in the best of families if we may believe what we read in the public prints. And what is done in the best of families ought to serve as the best of yardsticks for those who are creat- ing screen amusement whether for theatrical or home consumption. As for out of type, it has been main- tained on the stage as far back as the days of Shakespeare that a good actor can with success take any part. And it is the admiring opinion of this reporter that Herbert Marshall is as much at home in comedy as a duck is in water. T T here was an unusual occasion for amateur photographers here in Los Angeles and its neighboring city of Pasadena the latter part of October when the Pacific Geographic Society honored Mr. and Mrs. Harry Pearson by exhibiting their “African Holiday” in two of the biggest houses on the West Coast. In the Shrine Auditorium here every one of the more than sixty-two hundred seats available for screen showings was filled. The audiences perhaps were something apart from the usual the- atrical house. For instance, one of the shots most applauded was that of Mount Stanley, which so far as known was the first time it had been photographed for the screen. It was a part of the agreement the couple should appear during the perform- ance. They did. And they were made to feel at home when they came on the stage.