Friday, November 30, 2018

The Late Great Nicolas Roeg

Nicolas Roeg, who directed such classic films as Don't Look Now (1973) and The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), died on November 23 2018 at the age of 90.

Nicolas Roeg was born on August 15 1928 in London. His family lived across from the road from Marleybone Studios. He was around 19 years old when he got a job there, operating the clapperboard. He eventually worked his way up to camera operator, serving in such a capacity on such films as Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951), Circumstantial Evidence (1952), Bhowani Junction (1956), The Man Inside (1958), Tarzan's Great Adventure (1959), The Trial of Oscar Wilde (1960), The Sundowners (1960), and Doctor Blood's Coffin (1961). He was in charge of second unit photography on Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and provided additional photography for Casino Royale (1967).

Eventually Mr. Roeg went from being a camera operator to a cinematographer. His first cinematography credit was on Information Received in 1961. In the Sixties he served as cinematographer on such films as Band of Thieves (1962), The Caretaker (1963), Dr. Crippen (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), The System (1964), Fahrenheit 451 (1966), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966), Far From the Madding Crowd (1967), and Petulia (1968).

It was in 1968 that Nicolas Roeg became a director with the movie Performance (1970). While the film was produced in 1968, it would be shelved for two years because its distributor Warner Bros. was uncomfortable given its sexual content and violence. In the Seventies Nicolas Roeg directed Walkabout (1971). He followed it with the classic Don't Look Now (1973), now regarded by some as one of the greatest British films ever made. He followed Don't Look Now with The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), the cult classic starring David Bowie as an alien who visits Earth. He closed out the Seventies with the film Bad Timing (1980).

In the Eighties Nicolas Roeg directed the films Eureka (1983), Insignificance (1985), Castaway (1987), Track 29 (1988), and The Witches (1990). He directed one of the segments in the anthology film Aria (1987). In the Nineties he directed the films Cold Heaven (1991) and Two Deaths (1995). His last film was Puffball in 2007.

Mr.Roeg also did some work in television, directing the TV movie Sweet Bird of Youth (1989), the TV movie Heart of Darkness (1993), the 1996 mini-series Samson and Delilah, and a 1993 episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, among other projects.

Nicolas Roeg was certainly a talented director. His years as a cinematographer allowed him to make visually daring films in such a way that other directors couldn't. Mr. Roeg's films could also be challenging. Both Performance, Don't Look Now, and Bad Timing pushed the envelope as to what was acceptable in film at the time. Both Walkabout and The Man Who Fell to Earth were intellectually adventurous. Even when directing a more mainstream film, such as The Witches, Mr. Roeg went out on a limb with regards to the film's visuals and content. If Nicolas Roeg is remembered as a director, it is because he was a very singular one.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Christmas Movies on TCM in December

Every December Turner Classic Movies shows classic Christmas movies and even some not so classic holiday themed movies. Indeed, for many of us watching Yuletide movies on TCM is something of a tradition. Sadly, it is sometimes difficult for fans of holiday movies to keep track when their favourites are airing. To make things easier, then, I have compiled a listing of the Christmas movies airing on TCM next month. Here I must confess that I only included movies in which the holiday plays a central role in the plot. I have excluded movies in which Christmas plays a role in only a smart part of the over all movie. While I adore Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), I do not include it in the listing for that reason (in fact, my favourite time of year to watch it is spring). I also include none of the versions of Little Women (which, umm, I don't adore..) for the same reason.  I will say that I am disappointed that TCM is not showing either The Apartment (1960) or Bell, Book, and Candle (1959) this season which are two of my go-to holiday movies.

Anyway, without further ado, here is the list. All times are Central.

December 1
Beyond Tomorrow (1940) 7:00 PM
The Bishop's Wife (1947) 9:45 PM

December 1
It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947) 5:30 AM
A Christmas Carol (1938) 7:30 AM
The Shop Around the Corner (1940) 7:00 PM
Holiday Affair (1949) 9:00 PM

December 8
Meet John Doe (1941) 11:00 AM
Three Godfathers (1936) 1:15 PM
Holiday Inn (1942) 7:00 PM
The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) 9:00 PM

December 9
Christmas in Connecticut (1945) 7:15 AM
It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947) 7:00 PM
O. Henry's Full House (1952) 9:15 PM December 15
Holiday Affair (1949) 11:00 AM
Trail of Robin Hood (1950) 7:00 PM
3 Godfathers (1949) 8:30 PM

December 16
The Shop Around the Corner (1940 5:00 AM
In the Good Old Summertime (1949) 7:00 AM

December 17
Lady on a Train (1945) 7:00 PM
The Lady in the Lake (1947) 9:00 PM

December 19
Never Say Goodbye (1946) 4:30 PM
Bachelor Mother (1939) 7:00 PM

December 22
Santa Claus (1959) 3:15 AM
Remember the Night (1940) 7:00 PM
Christmas in Connecticut (1945) 9:00 PM

December 23
Period of Adjustment (1962) 12:45 AM
A Carol for Another Christmas (1964) 2:45 AM
Scrooge (1935) 5:00 AM
Bush Christmas (1947) 7:30 AM
O. Henry's Full House (1952) 10:45 AM
Susan Slept Here (1954) 1:00 PM
Holiday Inn (1942) 5:00 PM
The Holly and the Ivy (1942) 7:00 PM
A Christmas Carol (1951) 9:00 PM

December 24
Beyond Tomorrow 5:00 AM
The Great Rupert (1950) 8:30 AM
Babes in Toyland (1934) 10:00 AM
The Shop Around the Corner (1940) 11:30 AM
Holiday Affair (1949) 1:15 PM
Christmas in Connecticut (1945) 3:00 PM
The Bishop's Wife (1947) 7:00 PM
A Christmas Carol (1938) 9:00 PM
In the Good Old Summertime (1949) 10:30 PM

December 25
Meet John Doe 12:20 AM
Desk Set (1957) 2:45 AM
Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) 5:00 AM
3 Godfathers (1938) 7:00 AM
Bundle of Joy (1956) 9:00 AM
Bachelor Mother (1939) 11:00 AM
Fitzwilly (1967) 12:30 PM
The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) 2:30 PM
It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947) 4:45 PM

December 27
Susan Slept Here (1954) 10:00 AM

December 31
The Thin Man 7:45 AM

Monday, November 26, 2018

Godspeed Pablo Ferro

Graphic designer and title designer Pablo Ferro died on November 16 2018 at the age of 83. The cause was complications from pneumonia. Mr. Ferro designed titles for movies from Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) to L. A. Confidential (1997).

Pablo Ferro was born on January 15 1935 in Antilla, Oriente Province, Cuba. As a child he enjoyed drawing. When he was 12 his family moved to New York City. His father left the family two years later. To help his mother support his family, young Pablo Ferro took whatever odd jobs he could get. Among these jobs was that of an usher at a cinema specialising in foreign films. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with the movies. He taught himself animation using one of legendary animator Preston Blair's books.

Mr. Ferro attended the School of Industrial Art. In the early Fifties, he served as an illustrator at the company that would become Marvel Comics. In the mid-Fifties he freelanced as an animator for Academy Pictures and Elektra Studios. It was while he was at Elektra that he designed the first version of the NBC peacock. He began directing television commercials later in the Fifties. It was in 1961 that he formed the partnership Ferro, Mohammed & Schwartz, Inc. with animator Fred Mogubgub and comic book artist Lew Schwartz.

Pablo Ferro broke into title design with Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). Stanley Kubrick had seen Mr. Ferro's commercials and, as a result, hired him to create the movie's trailer. Suitably impressed by the trailer that Pablo Ferro had created, he asked him to create the film's title sequence as well. He formed his own company, Pablo Ferro Films, in 1964. In the Sixties he would also create titles for Woman of Straw (1964), The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), Bullitt (1968), The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968), and Midnight Cowboy (1969).

In the Seventies Pablo Ferro served as a title designer on the films A Clockwork Orange (1971), Harold and Maude (1971), Bound for Glory (1976), Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977), Handle with Care (1977), Last Embrace (1979), and Being There (1979). In the Eighties he served as title designer on the films Second-Hand Harts (1981), I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can (1982), Amityville 3-D (1983), Swing Shift (1984), No Way Out (1987), Prince of Darkness (1987), No Man's Land (1987), Johnny Be Good (1988), Beetlejuice (1988), Married to the Mob (1988), Oro fino (1989), Heart Condition (1990), Maniac Cop (1990), Pump Up the Volume (1990), Darkman (1990), and Book of Love (1990).

In the Nineties Mr. Ferro designed titles for such movies as Career Opportunities (1991), Mobsters (1991), The Addams Family (1991),  Malice (1993), Addams Family Values (1993), Philadelphia (1993), Milk Money (1994), To Die For (1995), Devil in a Blue Dress (1995), Mrs. Winterbourne (1996), That Thing You Do! (1996), Anna Karenina (1997), L.A. Confidential (1997), Men in Black (1997), Good Will Hunting (1997), As Good as It Gets (1997), Hope Floats (1998), Beloved (1998), and For Love of the Game (1999).

In the Naughts Pablo Ferro was the title designer for Bones (2001), My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), Men in Black II (2002), The Truth About Charlie (2002), Napoleon Dynamite (2004), The Door in the Floor (2004), The Manchurian Candidate (2004), Iowa (2005), Tweek City (2005), Starter for 10 (2006), Cthulhu (2007), The Ministers (2009), Howl (2010), and How Do You Know (2010). In the Teens he designed titles for the movies Larry Crowne (2011), Men in Black 3 (2012), and Sins of Our Youth (2014).

Over the years Pablo Ferro also served in the editorial department and created montages for such films as Handle with Care (1977), Second-Hand Hearts (1981), Beatlemania (1981), Trouble in Mind (1985), No Man's Land (1987), Pump Up the Volume (1990), Darkman (1990), Mobsters (1991), and The Truth About Charlie (2002). He also designed titles for a few TV movies.

Pablo Ferro was revolutionary when it came to movie titles. He utilised rapid cuts, hand-drawn titles, and multiple images shown on the screen all at once. What is more, his titles always fit the movie. His titles for Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb made it clear that the film was a comedy. His titles for The Thomas Crown Affair fit a heist film. Short of Saul Bass, there was probably no greater title designer than Pablo Ferro.