Painting with Light (1949) contains essential reading for any budding filmmaker with detailed information and ideas for lighting several difficult interior and exterior setups and situations. Mann was one of the great film noir directors of the late '40s and early '50s, before he turned to big-budgeted westerns with James Stewart. Alton de-emphasized the human form, making it an element within a mosaic of different visual events. He returned to Hollywood in the late 1930s, with two dozen film credits, and became one of the most sought-after cinematographers of the time.[3]. In this film, Alton's exterior artistry is as expert as his interior work, with landscapes assuming an active importance. Film noir was a style that registered a certain social discontent before and after World War II. This film-noir piece, told in semi-documentary style, follows police on the hunt for a resourceful criminal who shoots and kills a cop. Haskell Wexler, ASC has testified to the book's influence on his own work, noting, "John Alton wasn't really a well-known cameraman, but Painting with Light was a manual by a cinematographer. Laurel Awards: Golden Laurel, Top Cinematography, Color, This page was last edited on 3 January 2021, at 13:38. I wanted to give them quality. El cine negro o film noir es un género cinematográfico que se desarrolló en Estados Unidos entre la década de 1930 y 1950 (aunque su pleno apogeo ocurre entre las décadas de 1940 y … Buy John Alton Film Noir Collection (T-Men / Raw Deal / He Walked by Night [DVD] [Restored] at MoviesUnlimited.com. Alton photographed some of the most famous films noir of the classic period. Alton also photographed many color movies including Slightly Scarlet (a color film noir). Though his film work is later represented by such iconic noirs as Border Incident and The Big Combo, the three features in this collection present the incomparable John Alton at the peak of his art.T-MEN (1947, 92 min. See all 9 - All listings for this product. Fate dealt Alton his winning card in 1947 when Republic assigned him to a fairly new director who had just joined the studio: Anthony Mann. "When I got a story, I'd sit down with the director and work out each scene — just the two of us. [When I first read it], I was shooting films in Chicago. There's a meaning, and it establishes a mood.' Well, at home I used to get $1.50 a week, and here they gave me $12.50, for one day. Noir-style elements had cropped up in previous films, but the first to compose a complete noir syntax and grammar out of the expressionistic vocabulary was RKO's Stranger on the Third Floor (1940), photographed by Nicholas Musuraca, ASC. He'd say, 'I've never sat down with a cameraman to talk about these things. In Combo, a deaf man being murdered sees the gunfire. ", It helped that Alton wasn't "afraid of the dark," as he put it. On He Walked by Night, Anthony Mann took over the directing reins from Alfred Werker near the end of production. The nightmare sequence, for which Minnelli expressly drafted Alton, is a visual tour de force; however, MGM was normally known for its polished look, so Alton invested most of the film with the light-hearted radiance of winsome, poignant comedy. At the event, he summed up his achievements with the wisdom of his 94 years, exclaiming, "I took something, improved it, made something with it and I offered it on a platter for the public to enjoy.". All of his film noirs pack a wallop, with fast-paced action and shocking violence. Still, the richest, darkest and best of Alton's 1948 crop is Raw Deal. But he is best remembered for his book (Painting with Light), and his low key film-noire work. Alton eventually returned to MGM, where he'd already worked for 18 years. Raw Deal (Anthony Mann, 1948) B lessed with D.P. It was this kind of mastery that inspired writer Philip Kemp to submit that; In the case of a picture like Black Book, it's tempting to imagine Mann acting as "ground control" (managing script, actors, crew and post-production) while extreme stylists Alton and Menzies concocted their spells for the actual images. Get it today with Same Day Delivery, Order Pickup or Drive Up. That light has to tell something. In 1966, Alton shot the pilot for Mission: Impossible, which became a successful television series. - John Alton No other individual defines the foreboding film style known as noir more than John Alton, the Academy Award®-winning cinematographer (An American in Paris) who established his reputation as one of the movie industry's finest by plying his unique talents in the arena of B-movies. Alton's lighting in these films was often an active, dramatic narrative element, and another striking moment in Mr. X is a quick shot of a character walking into a darkly lit room: the figure is definitely female, but it's difficult to ascertain whether the woman is a gullible widow or her suspicious sister. Some people knew that there was something going on [in my pictures], but not what. Quick View. Three years later, the Berkeley-based Pacific Film Archives (PFA) scoured film depots and vaults for rare prints of the lesser-known films Alton had made at such long-defunct studios as Eagle-Lion, Monogram and Republic, and booked them with his more famous noirs. First-unit soundstage shots perfectly match the location work of the second-unit. As a cameraman, Alton preferred to plan his shots so that they would convey a film's shifting moods. Knockout film noir follows Joe Sullivan (Dennis O'Keefe), a crook serving time after taking the rap for mob boss Rick Coyle (Raymond Burr). I'd say 'You don't 'pump' light into a scene. The Spiritualist), He Walked by Night, Hollozu Triumph (a.k.a. Over the next decade, he made some 34 films. It was the only contact I had with what Hollywood [cinematographers] did, and it provided my first visual comprehension [of that world]. He had already resigned from the ASC in 1944. "One day, I had the nerve to drop the books, and I went down to look at the pictures," he recalled. John Alton Film Noir Collection available in DVD Ship This Item — Qualifies for Free Shipping Buy Online, Pick up in Store is currently unavailable, but this item may be available for in-store purchase. As the story begins, worldly Claire Trevor helps her hard-case lover (Dennis O'Keefe) escape from prison. You just pump a lot of light in!' The lighting was equally intricate. Critic Andrew Sarris called it; Bold, even lurid, in its color schemes and effects, the entire film resembles a Thirties-style pulp fiction illustration, but somehow its pyrotechnics lack the emotional punch of the cinematographer's black-and-white noirs. to interior rooms. Be the first to write a customer review. In 1932, he moved to Argentina where he shot many Spanish-language films and designed the country's first sound film studio for Lumiton and Argentina Sono Film. John Alton Film Noir Collection (T-Men / Raw Deal / He Walked by Night) - The ClassicFlix Restorations on Blu-ray No ratings or reviews yet No ratings or reviews yet. You're going to make it.". "I was tired of fighting [with the studios]," he confessed. His style is most notable in the films noir: He Walked by Night, The Big Combo, The Amazing Mr. X, T-Men, and Raw Deal. The year 1949 also saw the publication of Alton's book Painting with Light. Though he defined and diagrammed the essentials of cinematography in his book, he remained mute as to specifically how he had achieved his signature shots. These widely circulated retrospectives helped increase awareness of Alton nationwide. Reflective surfaces — glass-topped tables or puddles in the street — figure prominently in T-Men, and help to make the point that the honest agents are still a gang, just like their targets. Votes: 5,074 He continued to read voraciously and took up oil painting; he crafted over 100 small canvasses and then gave them all away. John Alton Film Noir Collection (t-Men / Raw Deal / He Walked By Night) $ 29.95 $ 22.46. 851968007071. Most of the things [in the book] had to do with different kinds of lighting — ways of exciting you about ideas in light. Another technique that draws the viewer into T-Men is the studied performances of the two actors portraying the story's stylishly dressed heroes, who operate undercover. Their first picture together was Father of the Bride, shot in just 28 days. Reviews. Their first title, T-Men, was a crime procedural based on federal records, which the duo rendered in a noir stylization. ... Film Noir … Of particular interest to lighting buffs are the seance scenes lit by a crystal ball — which even include shots from the ball's perspective. Each of them, she said, would seek his fortune elsewhere — save for the fifth lad. They noticed that one scene was like this, one scene was like that. In his spare time, he devoured music and books, and absorbed as much as he could of the art flourishing in museums and galleries, on movie screens, and on the streets. The book later went out of print, but the critical re-evaluation of Alton's work led to its reprinting, and it is now a highly respected tome in cinematography circles. Elmer Gantry (1960) was Alton's last film of note. Such shots, which were typical for Alton, would soon become standard noir fare. Perhaps it was for the best that Alton didn't get boxed into making just A-level films. MGM's Border Incident (featuring Ricardo Montalban, George Murphy and Howard da Silva) follows the "procedural" style of T-Men and He Walked by Night, as two agents infiltrate a mob involved in the exploitation of illegal labor from Mexico. So when the time came for shooting, I was ready. Van Dyke once said, "You fundamentally still have the old stereoscope as your basis to work from, but somebody's got to get that picture on the wall. Lighting setups often shifted abruptly in mid-shot, from noon to midnight or from blue to red. The films weren't always that good, but the images were captivating. )”Superb visual quality that does justice to John Alton?s striking black & white cinematography…” Simply because, with the growing appreciation of film noir as the most interesting style/genre of the post-war American cinema, it has become obvious that the director of photography is as important, even in many cases more important, than the director in creating the fatalistic mood and compositional tension which are the hallmarks of film noir expressiveness. That was the difference between my pictures and some of the others: [in mine], each mood was different. I didn't realize that the big-time cameramen spent as much time taking things off as they did putting them on. Critic Manny Farber cites the film's climax, in which Murphy's character is mulched by a tractor and plow, as one of his favorite scenes in all of cinema. He proposed such innovations as an all-purpose conglomeration of lights arranged in a circular fashion, based on an apparatus (which he dubbed a "streamlight") that he had seen at the UFA Studio in Germany. Filters, particularly for moonlit effects, are used effectively, as are high-contrast and deep-focus techniques. I'd ask the director his opinion of how he would like to see each scene. It addresses both conventional and unconventional methods of studio motion-picture lighting. Gantry roars with fire and brimstone — real, imagined and implied. I didn't know anything about gobos. I don't even know where I left the books!". Jakob has compared this aspect of Alton's art to that of Josef von Sternberg, ASC. (a.k.a. Yet again, an agent infiltrates a mob. In 1972, director Paul Schrader critically championed the form in his essay "Notes on Film Noir" in Film Comment. The ideas of double open ends and cutters, and of a cucoloris, were revealed to me in the book. Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, "John Alton: Cinematography's Outlier, Part One", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=John_Alton&oldid=998034377, Best Cinematographer Academy Award winners, Wikipedia articles with SUDOC identifiers, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. One day, he saw a man on the street grinding a little box; inside the box, pictures danced on a screen. As he himself once noted; After T-Men, Alton lent his touch to a dozen more pictures which, as a body of work, formed the apotheosis of the film noir style. The climactic chase scene prefigured inspired similar scenes in many subsequent films, most notably Carol Reed's The Third Man. But Alton maintained that he, Menzies and Mann all worked as equals in a creative troika, tending their respective pastures for a common purpose. Alton soon found himself thrust into the movie business in his newly adopted city. The man explained, "These are motion pictures, pictures that move." Be the first to write a customer review. He was soon trekking across Europe and Asia, where he shot short subjects and foreign-language features. - John Alton No other individual defines the foreboding film style known as noir more than John Alton, the Academy Award®-winning cinematographer (An American in Paris) who established his reputation as one of the movie industry's finest by plying his unique talents in the arena of B-movies. Remarked director Vincente Minnelli, "[People] interpreted John's continental poise as effete and arrogant. Of course, the low-key acting is matched by lowkey lighting; though strict in its simplicity, Alton's lighting expresses surprising depth. "Theirs is an art of knowing what to reveal and what to conceal. Menu. In an effort to avoid paying Joe the $50,000 he owes him, Coyle arranges an escape in the hopes the con will be killed in the break-out. Write a Review (0 reviews) Write a review and get bonus points. Reign of Terror), is an entertaining melange of genres — a "historical romantic action thriller." "But when I'd take most any director aside and ask him to sit down with me, he'd look at me as if I were crazy. The initial pairing of Anthony Mann and John Alton resulted in this classic noir actioner, with a pair of dedicated Treasury agents (Dennis O'Keefe, Alfred Ryder) assigned to infiltrate a … Matte paintings were used to re-create the Parisian skyline on the Culver City lot. Indeed it is in the shadowy realm of film noir that he is best known. For some, Painting with Light left an indelible impression. In 1948, he shot five of these films: Canon City, The Amazing Mr. X. "Mind you, I was fighting for their own good. When he wasn't training crews or screening films at the studio, he wrote, directed, and produced a few features on his own. After the freedom he had experienced in Argentina, the idea of changing careers and becoming a Hollywood producer was rather unappealing. Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward, co-editors of the original Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style, re-team to offer solid observations about the film's place in the noir cycle. Having applied noir to the French Revolution in The Black Book, Alton used the style to great effect in Anthony Mann's admirable first Western, Devil's Doorway. In the annals of film noir, the collaborations of the cinematographer John Alton and the director Anthony Mann are legendary: T-MEN and RAW DEAL represent high points for these artists. https://ascmag.com/articles/john-alton-master-of-the-film-noir-mood Schrader stressed visual style. Since 1930, Alton had been a contributor to International Photographer, so Painting was the fruition of both Alton's studio work and his journalism. ", The text, which Alton had often scribbled in notebooks on the set, also captured some of the cultural life of its day. It was time for me to move on.". That's my profession — not the lighting and how to light, but bringing out the mood.". Top Film Noir Cinematographers: John Alton. Alton's light throughout is modulated yet harsh. One subhead is entitled "What is thinking?" He even compared photography to music: "A beautiful feminine close-up can be compared to a violin solo, and a strong characteristic picture of masculine beauty to a cello solo.". - John Alton No other individual defines the foreboding film style known as noir more than John Alton, the Academy Award®-winning cinematographer (An American in Paris) who established his reputation … Albert Dekker stars in this fantastic b-movie from 1947. To do this, he would often incorporate dark, negative space that Jakob called "an active aesthetic element in the frame.". "Naturalism," or "realism," refers to an experience such as a walk on foggy night that fills one with a certain sense of awe. In the summer of 1923, five lads drove across the country full of optimism, joie de vivre, and the excitement of all things new. He landed his first studio job at MGM's recently bought Culver City lot, where he quickly became a cameraman. Recollected Alton, "The day after the film was finished, the producer, Arthur Freed, said to me, 'John, that's the first time photography saved a picture. The next year, Minnelli tapped Alton for the ballet scenes in An American in Paris (1951). In The Amazing Mr. X, Turhan Bey plays a charismatic psychic who preys on dowagers. Mar 29, 2015 - Alton had a long and creative career as a cinematographer shooting many different genres and styles. And to rough-and-ready American film crews, that could be the greatest affront of all.". [1] Alton won an Academy Award for the cinematography of An American in Paris (1951), becoming the first Hungarian-born person to do so in the cinematography category. The Scar), and Raw Deal. What do you mean? Shadowy cinematography by John Alton. John Alton Film Noir Collection [DVD] UPC. "Nobody knew it, though. There were very few people I could discuss this with, but the world discovered it. In 1949, Alton made two more classics with Mann. 851968007064. Throughout the picture, the mystery of such locations as telephone booths, steam rooms and midnight waterfronts is heightened by their contrast to such everyday edifices as the offices of the Treasury Department and the Los Angeles Farmers' Market. The cinematographer's mobile camera used over 20 different movements during that 17-minute sequence, and actively integrated the choreography. Sale! The way I had to work, the problem was always to create enough light to get exposure for slow film and slow lenses. Mysteries, said Alton, allow a cameraman the chance to eschew "chocolate-covered" lighting and, instead, to light "100 percent naturally." Alton attended the premiere and was hailed by dozens of contemporary luminaries of cinematography. The people making movies had one aim: to make money. Widely regarded as epitomizing the visual style of high film noir as it approached its baroque period from the late 1940s, cinematographer John Alton’s work in the genre took a thoughtful approach to light, shadow, and their mysterious rapprochement in … This film-noir piece, told in semi-documentary style, follows police on the hunt for a resourceful criminal who shoots and kills a cop. Alton honed his cinematographic skills shooting Westerns for "Woody" Van Dyke, a man who valued the input of his cameramen and often defended their interests when no one else would. Majestic images of man in nature, worthy of Ansel Adams, alternate with scenes so dark that at one point practically all that can be seen of Robert Taylor is his cheekbone and a glint of shirt buttons. In his swift lighting designs, he would establish a shot with only three lights, and then subtract one and then another. All of a sudden a door opened, and a man grabbed me by the shoulders and said, 'Hurry up! Curated by VCI Kansas City $ … The primary concern of those he branded "producers who don't produce" was to ensure that all the shots were in the can. At the end of the day, they gave me a check. Quick View. Hard lighting. Particularly memorable is a quick close-up of O'Keefe flinching and lowering his head as off-screen gunshots signal the cold-blooded murder of his partner. Another of the film's high points is the slaying of Schemer (Wallace Ford) in a steam room — a scene played out against the spooky strains of a theremin. Starring Dennis O'Keefe and Alfred Ryder as agents of the Treasury Department who infiltrate a counterfeiting ring, the film captured a new, post-war realism through its deft compositions, which offered compelling depth and space. I call it 'work,' but I just stood next to Marion Davies, the star. In 30 days, I became a millionaire [by my standards]. ', "They put me in a dressing room, stuck me in a uniform, and put me next to Marion Davies, a big star at that time. This similarity helps the Feds to understand their prey, but it also gives them a hint of menace. In this case, the criminals are French Revolutionaries engaged in a plot to replace Robespierre with a more politically moderate candidate. Read reviews and buy John Alton Film Noir Collection (Blu-ray) at Target. Working with William Cameron Menzies as designer and Mann as director, Alton was inspired to pull off some of his most memorable shots, some of which seem three-dimensional. A replica of the Place de Concorde (made of translucent plastic) was done up in the style of Dufy, and later serves as the site of the tale's climactic pas de deux. That's all I did! John Alton, whose cinematography helped define film noir and who later shared an Academy Award for ''An American in Paris,'' died on June 2 … In the Hollywood of Alton's era, "art" was a dirty word, yet his compositions invariably beg comparison with such master painters as Rembrandt, da Vinci, de la Tour and Caravaggio. John Alton (October 5, 1901 – June 2, 1996), born Johann Jacob Altmann, in Sopron, Kingdom of Hungary, was an American cinematographer. Precise physical details, essential to any mystery story, also lend to this dramatic conflict. The scene seems routine until one notices a small statuette of Abraham Lincoln that casts an exaggerated, ink-black shadow; the shadow undercut the traditional centrality of the speaking figure, and also provided a visual pun, implying that government agents were "shadowing" mobsters. They had only received a letter from a forwarding post office that stated: In 1990, Todd McCarthy, Stuart Samuels, and Arnold Glassman began production on the cinematographic documentary Visions of Light. I never went back to the college. Within a month of his arrival, he married a former beauty queen-turned-journalist who had interviewed Alton aboard a ship during his passage to South America. When the article appeared, film criticism was divided largely between the schools of auteur theory and social value. [Audiences] noticed something different. After Gantry, Alton decided to take a well-earned vacation. 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Sequence, and then subtract one and then gave them all away first picture together was Father of others! Noir fare seek his fortune elsewhere — save for the fifth lad and took up oil Painting ; crafted! It addresses both conventional and unconventional methods of studio motion-picture lighting. afraid of john alton film noir classic.... Was something going on [ in mine ], I was shooting films Chicago! A prosperous uncle, and was instantly fascinated the way I had to work Hollozu Triumph ( a.k.a of renown! - all listings for this product emulating natural lighting in direction and texture, lighting, and low... Collection [ Blu-ray ] UPC also worked extensively with film pioneer Allan Dawn in the lobby, a fortune.

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