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Category Archives: Cinema

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Has ever a sport done so much for fashion as golf? Being the preserve of the bourgeoisie and steeped in tradition and etiquette golf demanded smart but serviceable attire. Whereas the earliest pros would be decked out as if they were going grouse shooting on the inhospitable Scottish moors, by the middle of the 20th century golf was developing a sartorial code of it’s own.
Top line:Here we see Henry Cotton sporting an Argyle sweater and plus fours.Sam Snead has a very rakish American style, the F. Scott Fitzgerald of the sportsworld, whereas debonair Max Faulkner looks as though he’s just popped out of the office.
Kathy Whitworth shows the move into more chic and daring styles for lady golfers in the swinging sixties. Middle line: Ben Hogan- the master of casual; four unknown gents in the thirties displaying a remarkable example of fairway dandyism; Moe Norman, a true genius of the game- this is the era when sportswear became distinct from the generic casual look- where else could a grown man wear those pants other than on the golf course? Bottom line: Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) and James Bond (Sean Connery) illustrate the contrast between the old and the new. Kathy Whitworth again- modern prints, slim waist, suntan; Kel Nagle, the Australian penchant for hats reached into the present day thanks to Greg Norman; Gary Player typifies the slim clean cut look of the sixties- the first mod- golfer.
In the next few weeks we’ll see the US open and The British Open- there will probably be some remarkable outfits on display, but I doubt that any will match the elegance of the bygone days of tweed and hickory shafts.

Saul Bass’ work is most often associated with the great Alfred Hitchcock. He worked on 3 Hitchcock movies between 1958 and 1960, the first of which was Vertigo.
Another influential design was that for Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder (1959),(the movie that James Stewart’s father wanted banned!).
The poster for Spike Lee’s 1995 movie Clockers is clearly based on this image. Designer Art Sims claimed this was a homage to Bass, but Bass was unimpressed.

...the minimalist auteur who put a jagged arm in motion in 1955 and created an entire film genre…and elevated it into an art.
New York Times obituary-1996.

Ever dream a movie of your life?
Not the whole thing. Maybe just a few frames?
I do it all the time.
Of course, it’s Noir- Eddie Constantine is playing me-João ‘Kartoshka’- I walk along past brick facades criss-crossed with fire escapes- open sash windows breathe in the air-no, hang on- it’s raining, the cars swish by, throwing up spray. I’m smoking. The soundtrack- maybe like Sonny Rollins’ Alfie? no, too jaunty- Quincy Jones- In Cold Blood– that would’ve been a great soundtrack- for some other film…I digress- maybe that’s the title of the film- I Digress…– here come the titles- which of course, would be by Saul Bass.

The cans containing the reels of film for Otto Preminger’s The Man with the Golden Arm, carried a note which read: “Projectionists – pull curtain before titles”.

Until then,1955, nobody had been expected to pay any attention to the opening credits of a movie, but Preminger wanted his audience to see The Man with the Golden Arm’s titles as an integral part of the film.

Saul Bass (1920-1996) was a film maker in his own right- he actually claimed to have been instrumental in the direction of the legendary shower scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960)- he was also a leading graphic artist responsible for a number of iconic logos. His legacy to the world of modern design, however, came from his work in animated motion picture title sequences and movie posters.

During his studies Bass was influenced by the Bauhaus style and the works of the Soviet Constructivists.
His first Hollywood job was designing the poster for
Otto Preminger’s Carmen Jones (1954). Preminger was so impressed he asked Bass to design the opening sequence as well- and he approached this task in a truly innovative manner. The following year when Preminger released his gritty tale of drug addiction starring Frank Sinatra, Bass made his name with his contribution, again designing the title sequence and the poster.

Sanjuro- Samurai proto-cowboy.

Cowboys can crop up anywhere, not just in The Old West.
During the 1950’s and 60’s Western Movies began to draw on other sources. Japanese director Akira Kurosawa was particularly influential. Toshirō Mifune frequently appeared as a solitary, nameless hero upholding traditional values of justice against morally dissolute foes.

Sukhov- Red Army Cowboy.

Discussing his Soviet cult classic The White Sun of the Desert director Vladimir Motyl acknowledged the influence of Stagecoach and High Noon . He described the film as being a “cocktail” of Russian folktale and a Western. Visually, with it’s stark landscapes , the film resembles the work of Sergio Leone.

This used to be a hell of a good country. I can’t understand what’s gone wrong with it…

In Easy Rider Wyatt (as in Earp -Peter Fonda) and Billy (as in The Kid– Dennis Hopper) ride through familiar Western landscapes on their motorcycles.

Often cited as the best of the James Bond movies Goldfinger(1964)represents the zenith of the 1960’s espionage adventure genre.
Three movies into the series the James Bond concern was becoming a complex marketing package.
The theme song was composed by John Barry (b.1933), with lyrics by Anthony Newley (1931–1999) and Leslie Bricusse (b.1931).
The definitive version that was used for the movie was recorded by Shilrey Bassey (b.1937) and produced by George Martin (b.1926).
Some trivia- Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley wrote the score of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, based on the story by Roald Dahl.
Dahl wrote two screenplays that were adaptations of novels by Ian Fleming; the James Bond film You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Desmond Llewelyn ( Q /Mr. Coggins)and Gert Frobe (Auric Goldfinger/ Baron Bombast) appeared in both Goldfinger and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Here we have Anthony Newley’s version of Goldfinger, along with the more familiar Shirley Bassey recording.


Westerns, of course, were not only made in the USA. So, what comes next, a feature on Spaghetti Westerns? Later perhaps, but here is a strange Soviet/ Cuban collaboration from 1972.
Всадник без головы (The Headless Horseman)was based on a novel by the Irish-American adventure writer”Captain”Thomas Mayne Reid (1818 – 1883). The novel was an adaptation of a South Texas folk tale.

The movie was filmed in Cuba- local actors (dubbed from Spanish) playing the Hispanic carachters and the black slaves. The Caucasians and Native Americans are played by Soviet actors. Leading man (and Soviet heartthrob) Oleg Borisovich Vidov was born in Moscow in 1943. In 1985, he defected to the U.S. You’d have to go a long way to find a more handsome cowboy.

Nostalgia… cars, women, exotic locations, adventure, guns, smart clothes, wit…
Pa Kartoshka used to take me to the cinema to see the James Bond movies (the Sean Connery ones) and I’ve always retained a fondness for them. Back home my mother had a musty and already dog-eared selection of the Ian Fleming novels. They became the first ‘grown up’ books that I read. Just thinking about them now reminds me of my bed on a winter’s night, under the heavy covers, understanding about 50% of what I was reading.

The DVD of this movie goes by the title The Boss. It has also been known as Black Bounty Hunter.
Two African American bounty hunters ride into a small town on the tail of a fugitive. On discovering that there is no sheriff, Boss Nigger assumes the role after outsmarting the cowardly white mayor .
Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote: Fred Williamson gives an immensely self-assured parody of the Man With No Name played by Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone’s films…
Fred Williamson (aka The Hammer) is a former American footballer who rose to fame in blaxploitation movies in the mid 1970’s (he also featured in the original Inglorious Bastards). He wrote the screenplay for Boss Nigger.
Director Jack Arnold, who made his name directing such sci-fi classics as It Came from Outer Space, Tarantula, Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Incredible Shrinking Man, was white.

Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon is regarded as a classic of the western genre. However, the director Howard Hawks was so appalled by its negativity that he made a ‘response’ movie- 1959’s Rio Bravo. Whereas the sheriff in High Noon is abandoned by the townspeople, John Wayne has a willing entourage of unlikely supporters.

It is the characters of his three main allies which give the movie its enduring appeal.

The delightful Walter Brennan plays Stumpy- a grumpy elderly deputy .

Legendary crooner Dean Martin (who’s overriding ambition was to be a success as a screen western hero) plays Dude- the town drunk who redeems himself heroically.

Teen idol Ricky Nelson puts in an appearance as Colorado Ryan , a young gunslinger. Hawks was dubious about using him on account of his youth, but his pull at the box office was such that his inclusion alone would guarantee the movie’s success.

The Western genre evolved in the mid-nineteenth century via the emerging penny dreadfuls and later dime novels. Such books were mass produced at a low cost, and drew their inspiration from events that were current on the western frontier of the USA, a wild and romantic contrast to the industrialised noth east where the vast majority of Americans lived.
By 1900, the new medium of pulp magazines also helped to increase the readership.
Popularity grew with the publication of classics such as Owen Wister’s The Virginian (1902) and Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage (1912). When the popularity of pulp magazines exploded in the 1920s, western fiction was a staple.
Contemporary with these developments was the growth of the movie industry and the resultant emergence of global media. Western stories provided popular material for movies from the earliest days of the cinema industry. Indeed 1903’s The Great Train Robbery was the first narrative movie .By the 1950’s 30 percent of all Hollywood films involved a Western scenario , and in the USA Between 1952 and 1970 no less than 11 Western TV series were on the air in any single year.
The cowboy was the ultimate hero-a modern knight errant-the white male hero in arms, he faced adversity alone in a harsh world- the symbols were easy to read and the moral battles that lay at the heart of the stories were clearly laid out- there was seldom any ambiguity.
The figure of the cowboy became stylistically idealised to fit in with contemporary fashions and the rough clothing of a nineteenth century cattle herder gave way to narrow jeans, short jacket, flamboyant neckscarf and neat,rakish stetson above a well tended quiff.

Dealing with the most virile aspects of the masculine image, it was inevitable that the American cowboy should appear as a sex symbol as well as being an idealised and resolute father figure conferring on his followers the approved way to think, work, and fight.
The cowboy remains a potent symobol, artist Richard Prince , for example, identifies the cowboy as being a role model and a sex symbol who embodies adventure, spirit and freedom.

So here begins an occasional series in which we will bring you : Cowboys.

Our first Cowboy is Justus D. Barnes (1862-1946) in his uncredited role as Bandit Who Fires at Camera in Edwin S. Porter’s The Great Train Robbery (1903).