visual trickery

Visual Trickery. Flushing, NY: Headed on a crash course? – No, the just just appears to be aimed toward the left field stands at She stadium. It actually is flying far beyond the stands on its way to La Guardia airport. The optical illusion was created by the cameraman’s 135mm lens. UPI Photo 7/2/69 (written on verso) / source: VTG

A post wherein film writer Kimberly Luperi spotlights the career of beloved, although often overshadowed, acting great Claude Rains.

In my mind, Claude Rains was sort of an “Invisible Man”: a marvelous performer who I’ve felt was rather underrated and overshadowed by bigger stars, as character actors often are. Rains even likened himself to one during a 1933 New York Times interview discussing THE INVISIBLE MAN (’33): “I daresay it was the best thing they could do with this face,” he quipped. “Now if they could keep it invisible, I might get by in the cinema.”

Tinseltown didn’t keep Rains concealed for long, but I’d say he got by pretty well in the movies nonetheless. See: his string of compelling performances in classics like THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (‘38), CASABLANCA ('42), NOTORIOUS ('46) and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA ('62), to name but a few.

Trained extensively on the stage in England and America, the London-born Rains made the leap to film late in his career. Technology of the time kept his expressive voice hushed in his first screen outing, BUILD THY HOUSE (’20), but Rains’ brogue played a crucial role in landing his next picture 13 years later across the pond, THE INVISIBLE MAN (’33).

James Whale, famous for contributing FRANKENSTEIN ('31) and BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN ('35) to Universal’s classic horror canon, took the reins on THE INVISIBLE MAN (’33). Though one legend has it that Whale overheard Rains’ RKO screen test and exclaimed, “I don’t care who that actor is, but I want that voice!” the fact is that Whale was familiar with Rains’ tenure teaching at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (where Laurence Olivier and Charles Laughton were among his students) and lobbied for Rains from the beginning. Luckily for the director, Universal’s first choice Boris Karloff dropped out after producer Carl Laemmle Jr. repeatedly pushed Karloff to take a salary cut, and Whale slyly dissuaded second choice Colin Clive so Rains could step in. Though Laemmle objected to the casting of an unknown, Whale prevailed.

THE INVISIBLE MAN (’33) may seem an odd Hollywood debut for a well-known stage star because the lead receives mere seconds of screen time, but the picture made Rains incredibly visible. The New York Times praised Rains and noted that “no actor has ever made his first appearance on the screen under quite as peculiar circumstance,” while other notices hailed the movie as “one of the best yet produced” and a “remarkable achievement.” Indeed, Rains’ menacing performance, Whale’s masterful direction, R.C. Sherriff’s meticulous adaptation of H. G. Wells’ novel and John P. Fulton’s cunning special effects unanimously earned rave reviews and helped the film smash a three-year attendance record at New York City’s Roxy Theatre. Though visual wizardry has progressed leaps and bounds in the 83 years since its original release, THE INVISIBLE MAN (’33) still retains the ability to awe and delight viewers today, in part owing to the scrupulous balance between its visual trickery, drama and a “generous quota” of comedy.

Following THE INVISIBLE MAN (’33) success, Variety reported that Universal "figures the curiosity aroused by the first pic…will act as an effective buildup” for Rains’ next outing for the studio, which would provide audiences their first full view of the actor. But Paramount actually beat them to the punch by releasing Rains’ CRIME WITHOUT PASSION ('34) in between those two Universal pictures. Had Paramount held off, the aforementioned Universal film, THE MAN WHO RECLAIMED HIS HEAD ('34), would have been an ironic, apropos follow-up for the formerly invisible man.

But it wasn’t until Bellatrix’s frustration began to peak that things took a genuine turn for the worse. Determined to find out who exactly she was dealing with, the unhinged witch had aimed her wand at Hermione and began to dismantle the glamours she had put on herself, spell by spell. Any normal witch or wizard with a decent understanding of transfiguration could have ended the visual trickery easily, but Bellatrix Lestrange’s thirst for control and desire to witness agony led her to do it as painfully as possible.

It felt like she had clawed her way into Hermione’s magical core and began picking it away, looking for physical traits and casting them aside, piece by piece until the truth revealed itself. When she had apparently broken through the glamour, what she saw only enraged the witch further.

“What are you playing at little girl?!” the woman had screamed. “You dare mock me?!”

Hermione was beyond exhausted, sobbing, and could not understand what conclusion Bellatrix’s insane mind had drawn together.

“I’ll teach you …” the older witch snarled and then Hermione felt a stabbing pain in her arm. Thankfully, it wasn’t long after that she had been rescued by her friends and taken to safety. To the safety of Grimmauld Place.

She blinked tears away again, her blurry vision focused on the tapestry on the wall behind Sirius where her name sat in elegant lettering. Her gaze followed the line that flowed from her up to her father: Regulus Arcturus Black

Presque Toujour Pur by shayalonnie


I had completely forgotten about these pics which I posted this time last year… fresh from the archive! 

I don’t know what it is but whenever I see vintage signage in old photos I immediately have the desire to change them to something that is completely out of place… I have always been a fan of an odd juxtaposition and I guess this Photoshop compulsion helps me to achieve the desired results.  The pic at the top is the original… the bottom three are my tampered versions…