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Re: [a_film_by] Re: Zooms in classical Hollywood [Was: Zoom in Hawks?]

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  • LiLiPUT1@aol.com
    I started a thread on zooms in classical Hwd cinema (and MILDRED PIERCE in particular) in post #40301. The great Robert Keser was particularly helpful with my
    Message 1 of 16 , Oct 8, 2007
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      I started a thread on zooms in classical Hwd cinema (and MILDRED PIERCE in
      particular) in post #40301. The great Robert Keser was particularly helpful with
      my question.

      I've noticed at least two zoom-like movements in classsical Hwd cinema
      recently. One occurs towards the beginning of WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD?, a long shot
      "zooming in" on Los Angeles (I believe). The other starts at 38:27 in THE SEVENTH
      VICTIM "zooming in" on the Palladists symbol.

      Keser concluded that the "zoom" in MILDRED PIERCE was actually optical
      processing.

      Kevin John
      Austin


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    • MG4273@aol.com
      Barry Salt s book shows zooms in Hollywood as early as the late 1920 s. The big problem: early zoom lenses needed very bright illumination. For decades, they
      Message 2 of 16 , Oct 8, 2007
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        Barry Salt's book shows zooms in Hollywood as early as the late 1920's.
        The big problem: early zoom lenses needed very bright illumination. For decades, they could only be used outside, usually in landscape shots, made on sunny days. It wasn't till the mid-1950's that better zoom lenses came along.
        Joseph H. Lewis uses zooms occasionally in The Rifleman (circa 1960). But as Fred Camper says, the occasional zooms are far less interesting than Lewis' great camera movements.

        Mike Grost
        ________________________________________________________________________
        Email and AIM finally together. You've gotta check out free AOL Mail! - http://mail.aol.com


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      • Luke Aspell
        I hope I m not too late to note a favourite zoom into a red light, just before a race begins, in Red Line 7000. One El Dorado zoom I certainly recall is an
        Message 3 of 16 , Oct 8, 2007
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          I hope I'm not too late to note a favourite zoom into a red light, just before a race begins, in Red Line 7000. One El Dorado zoom I certainly recall is an underlining zoom of the Sheriff (Robert Mitchum) being hit in the face with a pan. Strangely, this zoom in El Dorado I recall as seeming less unobtrusive than those in Red Line 7000, perhaps because it's magnifying an actor's reaction, or possibly because something like that happening to Hawks' Western space (if I may be permitted to conflate space with milieu) seems more startling than its happening to his modern, technical space. That's not to say it isn't enjoyable.
          Hawks' seamlessness seems to accomodate the zoom lens rather nicely. Or rather, he allows it its (some would say) intrinsic vulgarity, enjoys it as a device of sudden emphasis in a way reminiscent inspecifically of the following decade. I even suspect the zoom on the red light in Red Line 7000 has frames pulled, though I wouldn't swear to it at this distance.


          Luke Aspell



          Fred Camper <f@...> wrote:
          "Red Line 7000" has zooms. They are used in the race track scenes --
          zooms in on the smoke from a car wreck. I haven't seen this film in
          decades, but did see it 13 times. If I'm wrong, then, well, my memory is
          really starting to go. For a long time I called it my favorite Hollywood
          film.

          It's my impression from reading "Variety" in the 60s and early 70s that
          Hawks simply couldn't get financing any more. "Red Line 7000" was not
          only a huge flop but was critically trashed. Hawks didn't even defend
          it. I don't think "Man's Favorite Sport?" did so well. "El Dorado," if I
          remember right, did pretty well but not as well as some other Wayne
          films of the time. I think the only reason Hawks got to make "Rio Lobo"
          was that Wayne agreed to star in it. Note the long gap without any films
          after "El Dorado," the longest in Hawks's career. And I believe "Rio
          Lobo" flopped too.

          I remember Hawks describing two possible projects. The both sounded like
          they could have been great. One was a Vietman war film. He talked about
          how the US troops found themselves in unpredictable environments. It
          sounded like it would mix his "adventure" films with out of control
          aspects of his comedies. The other was an around the world oil story,
          two guys (two guys who loved each other as friends, if I remember right)
          searching for oil, if I remember right. Others?

          Fred Camper
          Chicago





          ---------------------------------
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        • Blake Lucas
          ... light, just before a race begins, in Red Line 7000. One El Dorado zoom I certainly recall is an underlining zoom of the Sheriff (Robert Mitchum) being hit
          Message 4 of 16 , Oct 9, 2007
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            --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, Luke Aspell <l_aspell@...> wrote:
            >
            >
            > I hope I'm not too late to note a favourite zoom into a red
            light, just before a race begins, in Red Line 7000. One El Dorado
            zoom I certainly recall is an underlining zoom of the Sheriff (Robert
            Mitchum) being hit in the face with a pan. Strangely, this zoom in El
            Dorado I recall as seeming less unobtrusive than those in Red Line
            7000, perhaps because it's magnifying an actor's reaction, or
            possibly because something like that happening to Hawks' Western
            space (if I may be permitted to conflate space with milieu) seems
            more startling than its happening to his modern, technical space.
            That's not to say it isn't enjoyable.
            > Hawks' seamlessness seems to accomodate the zoom lens rather
            nicely. Or rather, he allows it its (some would say) intrinsic
            vulgarity, enjoys it as a device of sudden emphasis in a way
            reminiscent inspecifically of the following decade. I even suspect
            the zoom on the red light in Red Line 7000 has frames pulled, though
            I wouldn't swear to it at this distance.
            >
            >
            > Luke Aspell

            I'm a little late on this too but just wanted to note that what
            David Ehrenstein said about the zooms in "El Dorado"
            being "restrained" is certainly true, specifically in terms of how
            often it is used. The one Luke describes is, I'm fairly certain,
            the second of only two--used to have a certain effect in a comic
            moment, it's very different than the first.

            The first occurs when Cole/John Wayne intervenes in the action between
            Mississippi/James Caan and friends of the man Caan has just killed
            with a thrown knife. Hawks zooms in on Wayne drawing his gun and
            firing, and from this event a friendship, at first casual, begins
            between Cole and Mississippi. Also present in the interaction that
            follows is Nelse McLeod/Christopher George, like Mississippi
            introduced in this scene. Could Cole's intervention been done a
            more classical way, without the zoom? Surely it could, but I thought
            the zoom was effective--Hawks' use of it is so selective in the film,
            not lazy at all, that I believe he was thinking creatively.

            I must admit that one reason I'm good with this one is that this
            sequence, which ends with Nelse's line "Call it professional courtesy"
            as he parts from the other two outside, is my favorite sequence in
            "El Dorado."

            I know "Rio Bravo" of eight years earlier well enough to say with
            some confidence there are no zoom shots in it, and am pretty
            confident that this is the case with "Hatari" and "Man's Favorite
            Sport?" too. That means "Red Line 7000" introduced it into his
            work. But what accounts for more zooming in "Red Line" than
            "El Dorado" is that there is a lot of second unit work in "Red Line"
            directed by Bruce Kessler. Most of the zooms, including the one
            Fred Camper cited, were undoubtedly filmed by him--possibly some
            were directed by Hawks too, if they weren't wide coverage of the
            races. In the credits, there is a zoom into the dashboard to show
            that "red line" as I recall, highly deliberated and effective. But
            mostly, it's in the second unit. Of course, Kessler directed under
            Hawks' authority and was answerable to him, so clearly this was not
            a case of Hawks prohibiting zooms.

            It seems that finally, in "Rio Lobo" there is more use of the zoom
            lens. I don't think this was careless or lazy, necessarily, but
            the zoom had become so common in usage by then (unfortunately) that
            Hawks seems to be integrating it more into his style.

            Two additional points about this, and one fits into Yoel's question
            about Hawks' projects. David Ehrenstein rightly pointed out that
            the classical American cinema which had nurtured Hawks was pretty
            well gone by the time of "Rio Lobo"--look at it in relation to other
            films of that time and it looks very out of time, not to its discredit
            I would add. Hawks is hardly unique in this. It could be argued
            that most of the greats of Hollywood past were in some way
            floundering, commercially or artistically or both, in this period,
            trying to find their way. And I say this as one with deep affection
            for many of the films they made then, more affection than I have for
            many more fashionable 70s films. But they weren't finishing on an
            easy road. Of course, Hawks had projects--most directors do until
            the day they die. But there is a point, unfortunately, where now
            matter how well-regarded and how commercial they might once have
            been, it just becomes difficult to sustain a career in the same way.
            The 70s in American cinema is such a good example. A few guys, like
            Aldrich and Siegel, did very well, as well as in the best of their
            earlier films--I'm just speaking artistically but they did have
            commercial successes too in the later part of their careers.

            Related, on the subject of the zoom, I once heard William Clothier,
            who shot "Rio Lobo" among other movies, speak about the zoom. He
            didn't like it at all (and retired in 1973). He said something very
            interesting--that he would prefer to never take it out of the box.
            And he said that on four John Ford films he photographed, he did
            never take it out of the box. But for Andrew McLaglen, he was asked
            to use it, and he worked for McLaglen a lot but wasn't happy about
            use of the zoom lens.

            Fred Camper's earlier post about the effect of the zoom on space was
            pretty eloquent on the point, and I note that he was not so
            doctrinaire as to say it should never be used, citing a positive
            example in De Toth for example. He also stressed that it could be
            made part of an aesthetic, as with Rossellini, and attain the same
            aesthetic value as anything else. I totally support that view. In
            the late 60s and 70s I would assert that Luchino Visconti is another
            director who was highly deliberative in making the zoom a part of
            his style.

            But for Howard Hawks, I think Fred Camper's more negative view about
            its effects on some films would generally apply. I'm not complaining
            about its use in those last Hawks films ("Red Line 7000" I would
            stress is, for many reasons, one of my favorite Hawks films, as much
            for its aesthetic qualities as for any other reason). But one of the
            great qualities of Hawks is the movements, postures, choreography
            of character/characters in the frames, and in relation to each other
            --you need a feeling of real space to do what he does with this. It
            will not have the same flow without it. Think of "Only Angels Have
            Wings" and the characters in those (relatively few) interiors, for
            example. Hawks keeps a balance, a flow, almost musically, in the
            movements of the people within the interiors, and it seems to me that
            a zoom would destroy the filmic reality he creates there.

            Just to take one example of a key moment in Hawks for me--the
            entrance of Frances Farmer as Lotta (the first one) in "Come and
            Get It!" There's a roomful of people standing around a gambling
            table or something, and suddenly a few people move and there she is--
            just there in the middle of the frame. It's really magical, and
            there isn't the least camera flamboyance or anything. It's magical
            partly because there isn't. She's there, in character--it's all
            very natural, and part of that Hawksian flow.

            Blake Lucas
            >
            >
            >
            > Fred Camper <f@...> wrote:
            > "Red Line 7000" has zooms. They are used in the race
            track scenes --
            > zooms in on the smoke from a car wreck. I haven't seen this film in
            > decades, but did see it 13 times. If I'm wrong, then, well, my
            memory is
            > really starting to go. For a long time I called it my favorite
            Hollywood
            > film.
            >
            > It's my impression from reading "Variety" in the 60s and early 70s
            that
            > Hawks simply couldn't get financing any more. "Red Line 7000" was
            not
            > only a huge flop but was critically trashed. Hawks didn't even
            defend
            > it. I don't think "Man's Favorite Sport?" did so well. "El Dorado,"
            if I
            > remember right, did pretty well but not as well as some other Wayne
            > films of the time. I think the only reason Hawks got to make "Rio
            Lobo"
            > was that Wayne agreed to star in it. Note the long gap without any
            films
            > after "El Dorado," the longest in Hawks's career. And I
            believe "Rio
            > Lobo" flopped too.
            >
            > I remember Hawks describing two possible projects. The both sounded
            like
            > they could have been great. One was a Vietman war film. He talked
            about
            > how the US troops found themselves in unpredictable environments.
            It
            > sounded like it would mix his "adventure" films with out of control
            > aspects of his comedies. The other was an around the world oil
            story,
            > two guys (two guys who loved each other as friends, if I remember
            right)
            > searching for oil, if I remember right. Others?
            >
            > Fred Camper
            > Chicago
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > ---------------------------------
            > Yahoo! Answers - Get better answers from someone who knows. Tryit
            now.
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
          • Robert Keser
            ... thread on zooms in classical Hwd cinema (and MILDRED PIERCE in ... helpful with my question. Yikes! Well, I swear I spotted a zoom shot in BEGGARS OF LIFE
            Message 5 of 16 , Oct 11, 2007
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              --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, LiLiPUT1@... wrote:" I started a
              thread on zooms in classical Hwd cinema (and MILDRED PIERCE in
              > particular) in post #40301. The great Robert Keser was particularly
              helpful with my question."

              Yikes!

              Well, I swear I spotted a zoom shot in BEGGARS OF LIFE (1928), which
              we were lucky to see on the big screen last month in Chicago, and in
              a good print too. (If Wellman got a zoom into WINGS, why wouldn't he
              do it again the next year?)

              For sure there's a zoom in Capra's delightful THE MATINEE IDOL (also
              1928) and in the less delightful LOVE ME FOREVER (1935), but both of
              those were shot by Joseph Walker, who devised his own zoom lens (as
              mentioned in my answer #40340). I really do think that the use of
              zoom shots comes down to the nitty gritty level of who actually owned
              the lenses (and could also lend them out to colleagues).

              My own experience is that early zooms seem confined to Columbia,
              Paramount and Warner productions (one title that Barry Salt mentions
              is MILDRED PIERCE's near contemporary WHITE HEAT, which features a
              scene shift via zoom).

              --Robert Keser
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