A Point Of ViewWednesday, March 30, 2011
|Robert Montgomery by Laszlo Willinger|
In 1947 handsome and urbane actor Robert Montgomery made his directorial debut in a film adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s Lady in the Lake. Montgomery also acted in the film with the beautiful noirish looking Audrey Totter. This film was a failure to most that went to see it but for a few (including this blogger) it had a few merits. One of them was that the film used what is commonly called camera point of view. Except for a few heres and theres (reflections in mirrors and shadows noirishly cast on walls) you never get to see Montgomery. A camera is placed where Montgomery would be standing (in our digital age, Montgomery would have had a miniature version, soon to come, Redcam strapped to his forehead). Montgomery is punched in the face and film viewers would see a fist coming at you. I can imagine a point of view film in 3-D! It is interesting to watch Totter react to what Montgomery (playing Marlowe, says to her). The film failed in probably the same way a film on Gypsy Rose Lee with Lady Gaga playing the part (but from a camera point of view setup) would fail today if you never saw her at all!
A point of view is always important. For quite a few years I took pictures for magazines of glamorous women in which I used as a makeup artist and assistant who had been an expert in taking her clothes off. She had a knack for dressing up my subjects with little bits of clothing or bolts of satin that she put together with safety pins and in a pinch with gaffer tape. I won a few minor accolades with these pictures and people asked me what my secret was. They would always and invariably scoff at my stating that my secret was an exotic dancer assistant.
|Audrey Totter and Montgomery as shadow|
For me my assistant was a great help because her point of view was not the norm. Today people would say she styled outside the box.
|Dana Zalko pregnant styled by my assistant|
Montgomery’s directorial debut may have failed but is showed his earnest attempt to show a different point of view in a world that was becoming bland and uniform.
My friend Richard Staehling, a former magazine art director, editor and CBC Radio film critic had a penchant for using a method he called cross casting when assigning photographers for magazine assignments. He would use a fashion photographer (as an example) to photograph an ugly old male politician. Or in my case he assigned me (I was a photographer of the planned editorial photo shoot) to document a Socred political convention. He wanted my pictures to not have the point of view of a newspaper photographer.
Today Staehling sent me the following missive:
The last thing the world needs is another blog so here are my two new efforts. The Thumbscrew is where I post a movie production still a day. Title, date and cast members in the image are noted and that is all. Scanning all the images—they are from my own collection, not the Internet—took a helluva long time but now that I have a large inventory posting them every day is actually fun!
The other website, Hold Back Tomorrow is more complex: it is where I post images (with short two-three sentence captions) from my archives.
The thematic connections here are less obvious but: everything must be old, of interest to me, and whenever possible original. Of course neither of these sites has any commercial potential or chance to
connect with the public at large. I'm sure you will understand.
I urge you to take a look. Staehling has a monumentally accurate memory for films, plots, actors, directors and with his time as a magazine art director he has all the knowledge of the trends that have affected magazine design (and film posters and record albums). Like it or not, you can be assured that his take will certainly be from a point of view that is not the norm.
Addendum, July 13, 2013
It seems that Mr. Staehling has killed his blogs.