Pearls of cinematic memorabilia

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Another gem from the utterly brilliant the edit room floor: unseen photos from Taxi Driver part 2


Actor Robert De Niro (as Travis Bickle) practicing with his guns in front of the mirror are the most famous shots/scenes from Martin Scorsese’s 1976 masterpiece, “Taxi Driver.” What most people don’t know is that the interiors of Travis’s apartment and Iris’s room/apartment hallways were actually shot in the very same building, 586 Columbus Avenue. The building was condemned and it has long since been demolished. I own a couple of original contact sheets from the film, this one features some great poses of De Niro in front of the mirror in his apartment. —the edit room floor

“Jean-Luc Godard once said that all the great movies are successful for the wrong reasons. There were a lot of wrong reasons why Taxi Driver was successful.” —Paul Schrader: Notes On Taxi Driver

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Another document of exceptional historical value, a letter from Terrence Malick to Martin Scorsese that shows his support for Scorsese’s then upcoming film ‘Raging Bull.’ [thanks to 24 fois la vérité par seconde]

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Rare color photo of Orson Welles during the production of the famous opening long take from Touch of Evil, one of the greatest long takes in cinematic history. [thanks to Larry Wright]

“As time has gone by, though, Touch of Evil has acquired a large cult following, and it now regularly appears on lists of the best films of the century. What is not generally known is that the film never accurately reflected Welles’s intentions for it. In July 1957, the studio took over the editing of the film and prevented him from participating in its completion. In an odd turn of events, however, a 58-page memo that Welles wrote in 1957 was recently rediscovered, and a small team on which I was film editor and sound mixer has used that remarkable document to bring Touch of Evil as close as possible to Welles’s original concept.” —Walter Murch, 1998

A close look behind the scenes of the classic Orson Welles vehicle Touch Of Evil (1958) revealing detailed information about the production and filming process, discussed by actors Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh, restoration producer Rick Schmidlin, crew members and film historians.

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A collection of rare color photographs from one of the classics of modern cinema, Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. These photos also include a glimpse of the infamous ‘pie-fight’ finale that was excised from the film prior to release. Though I am not positive, some of these photos may have been taken by the well-known photographer from the era, Weegee, as he was present during the pie-fight sequence. The photos were accumulated from the following sources: Kubrick by Michel Ciment (2001 edition); Stanley Kubrick Filmographie Complète (Taschen, 2003); Stanley Kubrick Archives (Taschen 1st ed.).

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Read, learn, absorb: The screenplay of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb by Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern and Peter George [pdf]. (NOTE: For educational purposes only)

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Above: Kubrick & Weegee inspecting a Rolleiflex 6x6cm on on the set of Dr. Strangelove. [thanks to Will Mccrabb]

Inside: 'Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’ (2000), a behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of one of the classics of modern cinema. Including interviews with many members of the cast and crew of this story about the scramble by the heads of state to head off a rogue general’s attempt to launch a nuclear war, this film gives fans a wealth of new information on the work and effort that went into bringing the film to fruition.

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Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of Tim Burton‘s Batman. Our friends at Cinetropolis have posted a rarely seen WB preview for film distributors in 1988. The promo was made around August 1988, production designer Anton Furst conducts a tour of the sets under construction, and the model shops. The batmobile is wheeled out, with Keaton in full Batman costume, a searchlight settling on the Bat-symbol on his chest. To give an idea of the actor’s range and suggest the mood of the film, clips are shown from Beetlejuice and Clean and Sober for Keaton, and The Witches Of Eastwick for Jack Nicholson. 

Embedded below is a collection of storyboard artist David Russell’s work with the film’s final shots. See more of David Russell’s portfolio at dynamicimagesdr.com

In the early stages Burton was trying to connect the classic Batman with the Dark Knight. It did seem that he wasn’t very familiar with the character. Burton is not a particularly adept storyteller, but his visual signature is truly amazing. From the outset, Tim wanted Batman to be a very dark film. I started out designing in pencil, then black, but Tim kept wanting an even darker style, of imagery, so at the very end of my assignment, I switched to white pencil and black paper.David Russell

Vintage magazine articles mostly focusing on Burton from two issues of Starlog magazine:

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This is beyond fantastic! A treasure trove called CineFiles contains scanned images of reviews, press kits, festival and showcase program notes, newspaper articles, interviews, and other documents from the PFA Library’s extensive collection covering world cinema, past and present. CineFiles currently includes documents on the films of more than 150 major international directors, materials describing silent Soviet cinema, and PFA’s unique collection of exhibitor manuals, among other documents.

Directors whose films have been indexed in CineFiles:

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The Internet never ceases to amaze me. Below is a rare 35mm promo reel for the classic 1964 Stanley Kubrick feature ‘Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,’ narrated by Kubrick himself. Some of the takes did not make it in the final cut of the film. [thanks to Filippo Ulivieri & the original uploader, jda6669]

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This is quite priceless – previously unseen photos of Stanley Kubrick editing Barry Lyndon  in the converted garage of his home in Abbots Mead, December 1974. Many thanks to Vivian Kubrick for sharing these amazing photos with us. More can be found on her Twitter stream.

An 11-minute interview with Kubrick from a conversation he had with French film critic Michel Ciment, in which he specifically discusses Barry Lyndon.

One of the paradoxes of movie writing is that, with a few notable exceptions, writers who can really write are not interested in working on film scripts. They quite correctly regard their important work as being done for publication. I wrote the screenplay for Barry Lyndon alone. The first draft took three or four months but, as with all my films, the subsequent writing process never really stopped. What you have written and is yet unfilmed is inevitably affected by what has been filmed. New problems of content or dramatic weight reveal themselves. Rehearsing a scene can also cause script changes. However carefully you think about a scene, and however clearly you believe you have visualized it, it’s never the same when you finally see it played. Sometimes a totally new idea comes up out of the blue, during a rehearsal, or even during actual shooting, which is simply too good to ignore. This can necessitate the new scene being worked out with the actors right then and there. As long as the actors know the objectives of the scene, and understand their characters, this is less difficult and much quicker to do than you might imagine. –Stanley Kubrick on Barry Lyndon

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A young David Fincher with the train model, courtesy of Harley Jessup.

David Fincher was only 19 and he operated the motion control camera that we rented at an effects studio in Richmond. Carl was the first to point out that we should listen to this brilliant kid and David wound up being the effects supervisor for the film. –Harley Jessup

For the avid Fincher fan, this is the jackpot – a young David Fincher at Industrial Light & Magic in 1982. Footage was shot during the production of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

Gone Girl is in theaters on October 3.

An intense page from Coppola’s ‘Godfather’ Notebook. This is an amazing example of the intensity Francis Ford Coppola once brought to his films.

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A fascinating article from the March 2009 issue of Vanity Fair describes how The Godfather got made, even though the producers, the real-life Mafia, Frank Sinatra, and Paramount executives all fought against it.

One of the most quoted lines from Puzo’s novel never made it to the screen: “A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns.” Before his death, in 1999, Puzo said in a symposium, “I think the movie business is far more crooked than Vegas, and, I was going to say, than the Mafia.” By the time The Godfather had begun production, Mob lawyers and business operatives were walking down the hallways of Gulf & Western together. Unbeknownst to the moviemakers, Charlie Bluhdorn was even doing business with a shadowy Sicilian named Michele Sindona, a money-launderer and adviser to the Gambino and other Mob families as well as to the Vatican Bank, in Rome (elements that Coppola would use in plotting The Godfather: Part III). In 1970, the year The Godfather began production at Paramount, Bluhdorn made a deal with Sindona that resulted in the mobster’s construction and real-estate company’s owning a major share of the Paramount lot. In 1980, Sindona was convicted on 65 counts, including fraud and perjury. Four years later he was extradited to Italy and found guilty of ordering a murder. In his Milan jail cell, he swallowed—or got fed—a lethal dose of cyanide, the prescription favored by the Mob to silence stool pigeons.

The Mob and the moviemakers had been acting in unison all along. 

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Get this. Google Books is hosting a digital archive of the first 30 years of New York Magazine (1968 through 1997). Amongst this bewildering wilderness of magazines is a real treasure - an August 21, 1972, article written by Mario Puzo on his experience writing the novel and the screenplay for The Godfather. Yeah, baby!

It’s a great article, too. First, you gotta go here, which will take you to the contents page. In the upper left-hand corner you’ll see the little summary of the Puzo article and above that, you’ll see “page 22.” That’s a link. Click that, and it’ll take you to the article. (source: Mario Puzo Speaks from the Grave!) 

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A real piece of cinema history, the original editor’s copy of Citizen Kane, courtesy of Reddit user, ToastieCoastie. In 1941, Robert Wise had recently graduated from an apprentice editorship to a full-time editor, having cut Dorothy Arzner’s Dance, Girl, Dance  and William Dieterle’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame  before he interviewed for the job on Citizen Kane. The film’s studio, RKO, had already assigned an older editor to the picture, but Welles fired him and hired Wise, who was just 6 months older than the 25 year-old director.

I worked with him like I did with any director in those days. When he shot all the angles in a sequence, I would put it in a cut and then I would show it to him and he would say, ‘don’t use that close up,’ or ‘why didn’t you use those over-the-shoulders I shot?’ –Interview with Robert Wise

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Enjoy in the most complete investigation in the origins and making of one of the most important films in cinema history:

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