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Posts tagged “Hitchcock

Bill Gold R.I.P

His résumé included ‘Casablanca,’ ‘A Clockwork Orange,’ ‘The Exorcist,’ ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ and decades’ worth of Eastwood films. Bill Gold, who revolutionized the art of the movie poster over a seven-decade career that began with Casablanca and included A Clockwork Orange, The Exorcist and dozens of Clint Eastwood films, has died. He was 97.

Gold died at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, Connecticut, on Sunday, according to family spokeswomen Christine Gillow.

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The Brooklyn native began at Warner Bros. in the early 1940s and had a hand in more than 2,000 posters during his iconic career, working on films for everyone from Alfred Hitchcock (1954’s Dial M for Murder), Elia Kazan (1955’s East of Eden) and Federico Fellini (1963’s 8 1/2) to Sam Peckinpah (1969’s The Wild Bunch), Robert Altman (1971’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller) and Martin Scorsese (1990’s GoodFellas).

Gold, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Hollywood Reporter during its 1994 Key Art Awards ceremony, had a way of setting the mood for a movie using a less-is-more philosophy.

“We try not to tell the whole story,” he told CBS News in March. “We try to tell a minimum amount of a story, because anything more than that is confusing.”

Gold’s fruitful relationship with Eastwood began with Dirty Harry (1971), and he gave the actor a gun or a gritty countenance on posters for such films The Enforcer (1976), The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), The Gauntlet (1977), Pale Rider (1985) and Unforgiven (1992).

Gold retired after working on the Eastwood-directed Mystic River (2003) but re-emerged to do the poster for the filmmaker’s J. Edgar (2011).

“With Bill, I knew he would bring great ideas, and the poster he created would be one less thing we had to think about,” Eastwood writes in the introduction to the 2010 book Bill Gold PosterWorks. “He respected the film, he respected the story, and he always respected what we were trying to accomplish.

“Four of the films he worked on won best picture Oscars, including Unforgiven. The first image you have of many of your favorite films is probably a Bill Gold creation.”

Movie critic Leonard Maltin once noted that each of Gold’s posters is “as individual as the movies they are promoting. I can’t discern a Bill Gold style, which is a compliment, because rather than trying to shoehorn a disparate array of movies into one way of thinking visually, he adapted himself to such a wide variety.”

Gold “started drawing at age 8 and never stopped,” he said in a 2016 interview. After graduating from Pratt Institute in New York City, he approached the art director of the poster department at Warner Bros.’ offices in New York.

“He sent me away on a trial to design posters for four earlier films: Escape Me Never and [The Adventures of] Robin Hood with Errol Flynn, The Man I Love with Ida Lupino and Bette Davis’ Winter Meeting,” he recalled.

Gold passed the test and was hired at age 21, and his first assignment was Casablanca (1942).

As he told CBS News, Gold laid out the poster for Casablanca and placed a gun in Humphrey Bogart’s hand at the last minute: “Somebody suggested, ‘This is Bogart. Let’s put a gun in his hand. That’s the way he acts, the way he exaggerates his action. We don’t want just a head of him. It’s too boring!’ ”

The gun was taken from another Bogie film, High Sierra (1941). Gold also was assigned work on Warners’ Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) around this time.

After enlisting and serving three years during World War II, when he made training films for the U.S. Army Air Force, Gold returned to Warner Bros. and in the late 1950s moved west to work on the studios’ Burbank lot. He started his own company in the early 1960s back in New York.

Gold’s poster for William Friedkin’sThe Exorcist (1973) — showing the priest played by Max von Sydow under a shaft of light outside the Georgetown home of the possessed young girl (Linda Blair) — was created after he was told not to “show anything that had any hint of religious connotation.”

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Gold also worked on posters for The Searchers (1956), Cool Hand Luke (1967), Funny Girl (1968), My Fair Lady (1968), Bullitt (1968), Woodstock (1970), Klute (1971), Deliverance (1972), The Sting (1973), Blazing Saddles (1974), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), On Golden Pond (1981), For Your Eyes Only (1981) and Thelonious Monk: Straight No Chaser (1988).

In 2011, producer Sid Ganis, who headed advertising at Warner Bros. during the 1970s, told THR that Gold was “the maestro. He was the one directing his art directors and directing his copy writers on what to do, which was a great thing. He was also the one who communicated with the studio. He was the guy in charge of the symphony.”

Survivors include his wife, Susan, son Bob, daughter in-law Joanne, daughter Marcy, grandson Spencer, granddaughter Dylann and her fiancé Justin, great nephew Jaaron and “man’s best friend” Willoughby.


Brian De Palma

Brian Russell De Palma (born September 11, 1940) is an American film director and writer. In a career spanning over 40 years, he is probably best known for his suspense and thrillers, the horror film Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Scarface, The Untouchables and Mission: Impossible.

De Palma, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Vivienne and Anthony Federico De Palma, an orthopaedic surgeon. He was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, eventually graduating from Friends’ Central School.

Enrolled at Columbia as a physics student, De Palma became enraptured with the filmmaking process after viewing Citizen Kane and Vertigo. De Palma subsequently enrolled at the newly co-ed Sarah Lawrence College as a graduate student in their theatre department in the early 1960s, becoming one of the first male students among a female population. An early association with a young Robert De Niro resulted in The Wedding Party, the film had been shot in 1963 but remained unreleased until 1969, when De Palma’s star had risen sufficiently. De Palma followed this with various small films for the NAACP and The Treasury Department.

During the 1960s, De Palma began making a living producing documentary films, notably The Responsive Eye, (1966) and Dionysus in 69 (1969) De Palma’s most significant features from this decade are Greetings (1968) and Hi Mom! (1970). Greetings was entered into the 19th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won a Silver Bear award. His other major film from this period is the slasher comedy Murder a la Mod.

In 1970, De Palma left New York for Hollywood at age thirty to make Get To Know Your Rabbit, starring Orson Welles. After several small, studio and independent released films that included stand-outs Sisters, Phantom Of The Paradise, and Obsession; then he directed a small film based on a novel by Stephen King.

The psychic thriller Carrie is seen by some as De Palma’s bid for a blockbuster. In fact, the project was small, underfunded by United Artists and well under the cultural radar during the early months of production, as Stephen King’s source novel had yet to climb the bestseller list. De Palma gravitated toward the project and changed crucial plot elements based upon his own predilections, not the saleability of the novel. The movie featured a young and relatively new cast, Sissy Spacek, John Travolta and Nancy Allen who became his wife from 1979 to 1983. Carrie became a hit, the first genuine box-office success for De Palma. It garnered Spacek and Piper Laurie Oscar nominations for their performances. The “shock ending” finale is effective even while it upholds horror-film convention, its suspense sequences are buttressed by teen comedy tropes, and its use of split-screen, split-diopter and slow motion shots tell the story visually rather than through dialogue.

De Palma followed Carrie with The Fury, a science fiction psychic thriller that starred Kirk Douglas and Carrie star Amy Irving. The film boasted a larger budget than Carrie, though the consensus view at the time was that De Palma was repeating himself, with diminishing returns; however it retains De Palma’s considerable visual flair.

De Palma courted controversy with the release of Dressed to Kill (1980). It centres on the murder of   a housewife, and the investigation headed by the witness to the murder, a young prostitute, and the housewife’s teenaged son. Several critics said that De Palma was pushing the envelope with the film’s graphic sex scenes, including Dickinson masturbating in the shower and later being raped in a daydream passage; a common criticism was that De Palma was exploiting sex for the purpose of keeping it on screen.

He followed Dressed to Kill with the excellent, and underrated Blow Out (1981), a thriller starring John Travolta as Jack Terry, a movie sound effects technician who, while recording sounds for a low-budget slasher film, serendipitously captures audio evidence of an assassination involving a presidential hopeful. Nancy Allen co-stars as Sally Bedina, the young woman Jack rescues during the crime.

De Palma’s gangster films, most notably Scarface, The Untouchables and Carlito’s Way, pushed the envelope of violence and depravity, and yet greatly vary from one another in both style and content and also illustrate De Palma’s evolution as a film-maker. In essence, the excesses of Scarface contrast with the more emotional tragedy of Carlito’s Way. Both films feature Al Pacino in what has become a fruitful working relationship. Later into the 1990s and 2000s, De Palma attempted to do dramas and a few thrillers plus science fiction. Some of these movies (Mission: Impossible) worked and some others (Mission to Mars, Raising Cain, Snake Eyes, The Bonfire of the Vanities) failed at the box office. Of these films, The Bonfire of the Vanities would be De Palma’s biggest box office disaster, losing millions. Another later movie from De Palma, Redacted, unleashed a torrent of controversy over its subject of American involvement in Iraq, and supposed atrocities committed there. It received limited release in the United States.

Film critics have often noted De Palma’s penchant for unusual camera angles and compositions throughout his career. He often frames characters against the background using a canted angle shot, split-screen, 360 –degree pans, slow sweeping, panning and tracking shots are often used throughout his films. Split focus shots, often referred to as “di-opt”, are used by De Palma to emphasize the foreground person/object while simultaneously keeping a background person/object in focus. Slow-motion is frequently used in his films to increase suspense.

The legendary Pauline Kael wrote in her review of Blow Out, “At forty, Brian De Palma has more than twenty years of moviemaking behind him, and he has been growing better and better. Each time a new film of his opens, everything he has done before seems to have been preparation for it.” In his review of Femme Fatale, Roger Ebert wrote about the director: “De Palma deserves more honor as a director. Consider also these titles: Sisters, Blow Out, The Fury, Dressed to Kill, Carrie, Scarface, Wise Guys, Casualties of War, Carlito’s Way, Mission: Impossible. Yes, there are a few failures along the way (Snake Eyes, Mission to Mars, The Bonfire of the Vanities), but look at the range here, and reflect that these movies contain treasure for those who admire the craft as well as the story, who sense the glee with which De Palma manipulates images and characters for the simple joy of being good at it. It’s not just that he sometimes works in the style of Hitchcock, but that he has the nerve to.”


Psycho Series Prequel – Bates Motel

A&E have announced that it is in early development on Bates Motel, a drama series that serves as a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s horror classic Psycho.

Bates Motel, from Universal TV and writer Anthony Cipriano, will delve into how Norman Bates’ dark, twisted backstory from childhood through his teen years and will chronicle how his mother, Norma, and her lover damaged Norman, helping  shape the most well-known serial killing motel owner in history.


Alfred Hitchcock

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, KBE (13 August 1899 – 29 April 1980) was a British film director and producer. He pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres. After a successful career in his native United Kingdom in both silent films and early talkies, Hitchcock moved to Hollywood. In 1956 he became an American citizen while retaining his British citizenship.

Over a career spanning more than half a century, Hitchcock fashioned for himself a distinctive and recognisable directorial style. He pioneered the use of a camera made to move in a way that mimics a person’s gaze, forcing viewers to engage in a form of voyeurism. He framed shots to maximise anxiety, fear, or empathy, and used innovative film editing. His stories frequently feature fugitives on the run from the law alongside “icy blonde” female characters. Many of Hitchcock’s films have twist endings and thrilling plots featuring depictions of violence, murder, and crime, although many of the mysteries function as decoys or “MacGuffins” meant only to serve thematic elements in the film and the extremely complex psychological examinations of the characters. Hitchcock’s films also borrow many themes from psychoanalysis and feature strong sexual undertones. Through his cameo appearances in his own films, interviews, film trailers, and the television program ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’, he became a cultural icon. 

Hitchcock directed more than fifty feature films in a career spanning six decades. Often regarded as the greatest British filmmaker, he came first in a 2007 poll of film critics in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, which said: “Unquestionably the greatest filmmaker to emerge from these islands, Hitchcock did more than any director to shape modern cinema, which would be utterly different without him. His flair was for narrative, cruelly withholding crucial information (from his characters and from us) and engaging the emotions of the audience like no one else.” The magazine MovieMaker has described him as the most influential filmmaker of all-time, and he is widely regarded as one of cinema’s most significant artists


Rear Window

The Alfred Hitchcock master piece ‘Rear Window’ (1954) was released 57 years ago today. Based on the 1942 short story “It Had to Be Murder” by Cornell Woolrich; the film  stars James Stewart as a housebound photographer who spies on his neighbours while recuperating from a broken leg, Grace Kelly as his girlfriend, Thelma Ritter as his nurse, Wendell Corey as a police detective and Raymond Burr as one of the neighbours.

After breaking his leg during a dangerous assignment, professional photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries (Stewart) is confined in his Greenwich Village apartment, using a wheelchair while he recuperates. His rear window looks out onto a small courtyard and several other apartments. During a summer heat wave, he passes the time by watching his neighbors, who keep their windows open to stay cool. The tenants he can see include a dancer, a lonely woman he nicknames “Miss Lonelyheart”, a songwriter, several married couples, and Lars Thorwald (Burr), a salesman with a bedridden wife.

After Thorwald makes repeated late-night trips carrying a large case, Jeff notices that Thorwald’s wife is gone and sees Thorwald cleaning a large knife and handsaw. Later, Thorwald ties a large packing crate with heavy rope and has moving men haul it away. Jeff discusses these observations with his wealthy girlfriend Lisa (Kelly) and his home-care nurse Stella (Ritter), then explains to his friend Tom Doyle (Corey), a local police detective, that they believe Thorwald murdered his wife. Doyle looks into the situation but finds nothing suspicious…

The film was shot entirely on soundstages at Paramount Studios, utilising one enormous set, the biggest ever built by the studio at that time. Hitchcock makes the viewer an accomplice in James Stewart’s voyeurism. We’re watching Stewart, who represents the audience, as he becomes obsessed with the ‘screen’, the apartment block framed by his window.

The film received four Academy Award nominations: Best Director for Alfred Hitchcock, Best Screenplay for John Michael Hayes, Best Colour Cinematography for Robert Burks, Best Sound Recording for Loren L. Ryder. Hitchcock was also nominated for a Directors Guild Award and Screenwriter John Michael Hayes won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for BEst Motion Picture in 1955.

In 1997, Rear Window was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

The film remade for television in 1998 featuring the paralysed Christopher Reeve as a housebound patient in a high-tech apartment. It was also retold as ‘Disturbia’ (2007) which featured Shia LaBeouf as a teenager under house arrest who believes that his neighbour is a serial killer. Both remakes pale by comparison to the original.


Janet Leigh

Janet Leigh (July 6, 1927 – October 3, 2004), born Jeanette Helen Morrison, was an American actress; former wife of actor Tony Curtis from June 1951 to September 1962 and the mother of Kelly Curtis and more famously, actress Jamie Lee Curtis.

Discovered by actress Norma Shearer, Leigh secured a contract with MGM and began her film career in the late 1940s. She made her film debut in the big budget film  ‘The Romance of Rosy Ridge’ in 1947, as the romantic interest of  Van Johnson’s character. During the shooting, Leigh’s name was first changed to ‘Jeanette Reames’, then to ‘Janet Leigh’ and finally back to her birth name ‘Jeanette Morrison’, because ‘Janet Leigh’ resembled Vivien Leigh too much. However, Johnson did not like the name and it was finally changed back to ‘Janet Leigh’. 

In late 1948, Leigh was hailed the ‘No. 1 glamor girl’ of Hollywood, although known for her polite, generous and down-to-earth persona. She proved versatile, starring in films as diverse as the baseball farce ‘Angels in the Outfield’ (1951), ‘Scaramouche’ (1952) and the tense western ‘The Naked Spur’ (1953) and notably the title role in the musical comedy ‘My Sister Eileen’.

She also featured in the Orson Welles film-noir classic ‘Touch of Evil’ (1958) before appearing in one of my all-time Top 1o favourite movies, Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ (1960).

In Psycho, Leigh featured as the morally ambiguous Marion Crane who hides out at a secluded motel after embezzling money from her employer. There she meets the motel’s disturbed owner and manager, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). The movie features the now iconic shower murder scene. Although not in the movie after the first reel, the image of Leigh’s Marion is forever indelibly imprinted in my mind. She received a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the classic movie.

Leigh had starring roles in many other films, including  ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ (1962) with Frank Sinatra and the 1963 musical ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ based on the hit Broadway show.She also appeared in two horror films with her daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, playing a major role in John Carpenter’s ‘The Fog’ (1980), and making a brief appearance in ‘Halloween H20: 20 Years Later’ (1998). She co-starred with third husband Tony Curtis in five films, ‘Houdini’ (1953), ‘The Black Shield of Falworth’ (1954), the excellent ‘The Vikings’ (1958), ‘The Perfect Furlough’ (1959) and ‘Who Was That Lady?’ (1960).

Leigh is also the author of four books. Her first, the memoir “There Really Was a Hollywood”, was a NY Times bestseller. This was followed by the novels “House of Destiny” and “The Dream Factory”, and the non-fiction book “Psycho: Behind the Scenes of the Classic Thriller”. Interestingly, daughter Jamie Lee Curtis is also an actress and popular author.

She served on the board of directors of the Motion Picture and Television Foundation, a medical-services provider for actors. Leigh was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Califirnia on May 14, 2004. Leigh died at her home on October 3, 2004, after a heart attack.


A Clockwork Orange & Psycho – Poster Art

Here are another few reworked art posters for some great movies.

Both are from the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.

Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’

Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’.

You’re welcome… enjoy.