miércoles, 23 de octubre de 2013

Italian Sword and sandal matte shots.




During the late 50´s and the 60´s, Italian film industry produced many movies of this genre. Action, adventure and fantasy films, starring by legendary heroes like Hercules, Samson, Maciste, Perseus, Ursus, etc.  Some of those films were based historical events others on mythological tales and some other were just a mixture of genres and characters. Most of these films required large sets of ancient and mythological cities and scenarios.  Matte and glass shots were used very often.
The only credited Italian artists that executed some of those shots were cinematographer and director Mario Bava.  At middle 50´s he recruited  illustrator Amedeo Gigli to help him painting the miniatures.  Gigli painted the castles, temples and other elements  on cut out card board. Then Mario Bava  pasted it  on the glass and paint over to correctly match on the real setting.

Glass shots from Ercole e la regina di Lidia / Hercules unchained (1959)

On the last image with the ship, the trick is exposed when the water hits the rocks and emerges from behind the ship.

On many other occasions it were Joseph Natanson or Emilio Ruiz responsible of those tricks.
 Poland born artist Joseph Natanson started his career in England, painting mattes for The red shoes, and later at Shepperton studios. At middle 5’´s he moved to Italy were he developed an extensive career as matte painter.
 Maciste nella terra dei ciclopi /  Atlas against the cyclops. (1961)

 Spanish artist Emilio Ruiz worked at some Italian-Spanish films during the late 50´s and was required very often by Italian producers to do glass shots on their films.
Una spada per l´impero/  Sword of the Empire (1964)


There was not other artist specialized on those tricks on Italian film industry but surely there was some other Italian artist who executed matte shots from time to time.  Most probably by some art director or scenic painter.
Here there are some samples of uncredited matte shots that I have not been
able to identify the author.

Vulcano figlio di gione /  Vulcan son of Jupiter (1962)


Marte Dio della guerra / The Son of Hercules vs. Venus (1962)
The set of the wall city entrance, and the matte painting shot. 



Le gladiatrici  / Thor an the amazon women (1962)


Ercole l'invincibile /  Hercules the Invincible (1964)
The same  painting with two different lightening.

The same painting of village after attack.
 A foreground miniature trick.


La valle dell'eco tonante /Hercules of the desert  (1964)


domingo, 13 de octubre de 2013

Albert Maxwell Simpson. RKO mattes




Albert Maxwell Simpson

He was born at 1893 in California and started his career in 1915, painting backdrops for vaudeville theatres, before entering in motion picture business. He painted mattes for DW Griffith Birth of a Nation (1916), De Mille The Ten Commandments (1926) and In Old Arizona (1928). In 1937 Simpson joined Jack Cosgrove’s facility at Selznick company to work on The Prisoner of Zenda and  Gone With the Wind (1939) and also painted Manderley mansion for Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940).
After Mario Larrinaga left RKO to join Warner matte department, Simpson was often called on and painted mattes for The Devil and Daniel Webster (1942), Cat people (1942), The Enchanted Cottage (1945), ‘Bedlam’, Sister Kenny (both 1946) and  The Conqueror (1956)
When RKO closed in 1957 Linwood Dunn moved the effects people and equipment to his company Film Effects of Hollywood, so Simpson painted mattes for The Great Race (1965) and Hawaii (1966). He passed away in 1980.

The RKO matte department at 30´s was composed of Chesley Bonestell, Mario Larrinaga and Byron Crabbe.  Bonestell moved to Warner Bros and Crabbe to Selznick. Larrinaga stayed at RKO until 1942. Then Simpson was in charge of matte paintings, although most of his work was uncredited.

 Cat People (1942)

“Getting damned hard to please these “B producers” memoed veteran RKO technician artist Al Simpson after Lewton requested a change in a matte painting for Cat people

Murder my sweet (1944)
The Spanish Main (1945)
At Sword’s point (1952)
Blackbeard the pirate (1952)
Passion (1954)
The conqueror (1956)

From the Earth to the Moon (1958)

The white tower (1959)