All of a sudden a door opened, and a man grabbed me by the shoulders and said, 'Hurry up! Alton admitted, "When I got an assignment, I read the script — or the book and the script — and then I went out to the art museums, even to Paris sometimes, to see what the masters had done. I'd say 'You don't 'pump' light into a scene. I'd ask the director his opinion of how he would like to see each scene. One day, he saw a man on the street grinding a little box; inside the box, pictures danced on a screen. Directors: Alfred L. Werker, Anthony Mann | Stars: Richard Basehart, Scott Brady, Roy Roberts, Whit Bissell. Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward, co-editors of the original Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style, re-team to offer solid observations about the film's place in the noir cycle. The year 1949 also saw the publication of Alton's book Painting with Light. On He Walked by Night, Anthony Mann took over the directing reins from Alfred Werker near the end of production. Schrader stressed visual style. He landed his first studio job at MGM's recently bought Culver City lot, where he quickly became a cameraman. The Art Director’s Guild produced this short on Alton and his expert work with his key collaborators: Act now to receive 12 issues of the award-winning AC magazine — the world’s finest cinematography resource. The ideas of double open ends and cutters, and of a cucoloris, were revealed to me in the book. Perimeter lighting. El cine negro o film noir es un género cinematográfico que se desarrolló en Estados Unidos entre la década de 1930 y 1950 (aunque su pleno apogeo ocurre entre las décadas de 1940 y … To do this, he would often incorporate dark, negative space that Jakob called "an active aesthetic element in the frame.". Of course, lighting, and light in itself, is a mystery!" This similarity helps the Feds to understand their prey, but it also gives them a hint of menace. In the film, a thief turned cop-killer (Richard Basehart) eludes a police dragnet by hiding in the sewers of Los Angeles. The coming of sound had left the thriving Argentinean film industry high and dry, and he stayed there for six years. In the Hollywood of Alton's era, "art" was a dirty word, yet his compositions invariably beg comparison with such master painters as Rembrandt, da Vinci, de la Tour and Caravaggio. John Alton’s Wellesian deep focus and chiaroscuro lighting, which create a fraught tension between foreground and background planes, Anthony Mann’s Raw Deal is the apex of noir style, offering up electric visions of sin, salvation, and sexual mania. Particularly memorable is a quick close-up of O'Keefe flinching and lowering his head as off-screen gunshots signal the cold-blooded murder of his partner. At that time, he decided to "retire" from active work in the film industry. The crime angles keep the love triangle dynamic, and the narration (from Trevor's character) adds to the angularities. ', "They put me in a dressing room, stuck me in a uniform, and put me next to Marion Davies, a big star at that time. Noted Alton, "The most interesting things in the world happen at night. T-Men begins with a Treasury agent addressing the audience. Another classic from 1949, The Black Book (a.k.a. Top Film Noir Cinematographers: John Alton. Alton's influential legacy was not always so celebrated, however; in fact, his achievements nearly slipped into oblivion before being rediscovered in the past several years. Scarlet suffers in comparison to his work the previous year for director Joseph H. Lewis on The Big Combo, which presented a bitter, repressed world of menace and doom. These widely circulated retrospectives helped increase awareness of Alton nationwide. )”Superb visual quality that does justice to John Alton?s striking black & white cinematography…” Of particular interest to lighting buffs are the seance scenes lit by a crystal ball — which even include shots from the ball's perspective. Jakob has compared this aspect of Alton's art to that of Josef von Sternberg, ASC. The table of contents includes chapters such as "Mystery Lighting", "Special Illumination", and "Visual Symphony". Each of them, she said, would seek his fortune elsewhere — save for the fifth lad. - John Alton No other individual defines the foreboding film style known as noir more than John Alton, the Academy Award®-winning cinematographer (An American in Paris) who established his reputation … - John Alton No other individual defines the foreboding film style known as noir more than John Alton, the Academy Award®-winning cinematographer (An American in Paris) who established his reputation as one of the movie industry's finest by plying his unique talents in the arena of B-movies. For some, Painting with Light left an indelible impression. The Spiritualist), He Walked by Night, Hollozu Triumph (a.k.a. Laurel Awards: Golden Laurel, Top Cinematography, Color, This page was last edited on 3 January 2021, at 13:38. Alton wrote Painting with Light (1949), one of the first books written by a working studio cinematographer. John Alton Film Noir Collection (T-Men / Raw Deal / He Walked by Night) - The ClassicFlix Restorations on Blu-ray Fate dealt Alton his winning card in 1947 when Republic assigned him to a fairly new director who had just joined the studio: Anthony Mann. Movies / TV: Suspense-Film Noir: 851968007064 That's all I did! Over the years, he remained a figure of mystery, even when critical recognition finally began to come his way. The gangster genre, so popular during the Great Depression, used the underworld to mirror corruption on high. You just pump a lot of light in!' This film-noir piece, told in semi-documentary style, follows police on the hunt for a resourceful criminal who shoots and kills a cop. The people making movies had one aim: to make money. Widely regarded as epitomizing the visual style of high film noir as it approached its baroque period from the late 1940s, cinematographer John Alton’s work in the genre took a thoughtful approach to light, shadow, and their mysterious rapprochement in … Alton also worked extensively with film pioneer Allan Dawn in the 50s, mostly in decidedly B-pictures. He proposed such innovations as an all-purpose conglomeration of lights arranged in a circular fashion, based on an apparatus (which he dubbed a "streamlight") that he had seen at the UFA Studio in Germany. Yet again, an agent infiltrates a mob. Alton had never seen such a thing, and was instantly fascinated. However, he remembered, "Every time I looked at a scene, I saw the light on the actors' faces and didn't hear [a word] they were saying, so I knew I wasn't going to be a director. MGM's Border Incident (featuring Ricardo Montalban, George Murphy and Howard da Silva) follows the "procedural" style of T-Men and He Walked by Night, as two agents infiltrate a mob involved in the exploitation of illegal labor from Mexico. '", [Editor’s Note: You'll learn much more about Alton's work on An American in Paris — and the controversy around the Oscar win he shared with Al Gilks, ASC — here.]. In the March 1979 PFA calendar, filmmaker Dennis Jakob wrote, “Why do we feature John Alton? Mysteries, said Alton, allow a cameraman the chance to eschew "chocolate-covered" lighting and, instead, to light "100 percent naturally." There's a meaning, and it establishes a mood.' In 1966, Alton shot the pilot for Mission: Impossible, which became a successful television series. Gantry roars with fire and brimstone — real, imagined and implied. The cinematographer's mobile camera used over 20 different movements during that 17-minute sequence, and actively integrated the choreography. No other individual defines the foreboding film style known as noir more than John Alton, the Academy Award-winning cinematographer (An American in Paris) who established his reputation as one of the movie industry's finest by plying his unique talents in the arena of B-movies. A groundbreaking look at the camera's role in the making of motion pictures, the book was also the first written by a Hollywood cinematographer. "One day, I had the nerve to drop the books, and I went down to look at the pictures," he recalled. Film noir was a style that registered a certain social discontent before and after World War II. In 1960, Alton abruptly quit the industry. Despite the vast technical advances achieved within the motion picture industry much of the content is still pertinent. In its pages, Alton maintained that films come in one of three categories: comedy, drama, and mystery. Another technique that draws the viewer into T-Men is the studied performances of the two actors portraying the story's stylishly dressed heroes, who operate undercover. Van Dyke once said, "You fundamentally still have the old stereoscope as your basis to work from, but somebody's got to get that picture on the wall. [2] He moved to France with Ernst Lubitsch to film backgrounds for The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927) and ended up staying for one year heading the camera department of Paramount Pictures's Joinville Studios. During the rest of the Fifties, Alton averaged about three pictures a year, and he even tried his hand at 3-D filmmaking. Three years later, the Berkeley-based Pacific Film Archives (PFA) scoured film depots and vaults for rare prints of the lesser-known films Alton had made at such long-defunct studios as Eagle-Lion, Monogram and Republic, and booked them with his more famous noirs. ", It helped that Alton wasn't "afraid of the dark," as he put it. His seminal essay singled out Alton as "the greatest master of noir... an Expressionist cinematographer who could re-light Times Square at noon if necessary." In this case, the criminals are French Revolutionaries engaged in a plot to replace Robespierre with a more politically moderate candidate. In this film, Alton's exterior artistry is as expert as his interior work, with landscapes assuming an active importance. Quick View. Matte paintings were used to re-create the Parisian skyline on the Culver City lot. The initial pairing of Anthony Mann and John Alton resulted in this classic noir actioner, with a pair of dedicated Treasury agents (Dennis O'Keefe, Alfred Ryder) assigned to infiltrate a … Sale! I didn't know anything about gobos. The lighting was equally intricate. 70. (a.k.a. Votes: 5,074 Shadowy cinematography by John Alton. Alton's lighting in these films was often an active, dramatic narrative element, and another striking moment in Mr. X is a quick shot of a character walking into a darkly lit room: the figure is definitely female, but it's difficult to ascertain whether the woman is a gullible widow or her suspicious sister. While T-Men, shot in Detroit and L.A., was made in some six weeks, Raw Deal shaved that production schedule in half. That light has to tell something. In the annals of film noir, the collaborations of the cinematographer John Alton and the director Anthony Mann are legendary: T-MEN and RAW DEAL represent high points for these artists. Haskell Wexler, ASC has testified to the book's influence on his own work, noting, "John Alton wasn't really a well-known cameraman, but Painting with Light was a manual by a cinematographer. Recollected Alton, "The day after the film was finished, the producer, Arthur Freed, said to me, 'John, that's the first time photography saved a picture. Such shots, which were typical for Alton, would soon become standard noir fare. "But when I'd take most any director aside and ask him to sit down with me, he'd look at me as if I were crazy. From that point onward, he could promise a quickie dressed up to resemble a major production, and command A-picture salaries for his work on B-movies. "In the morning, when many cameramen came in, they didn't have any plans for what they were going to do, so they just lit [everything] up," he said. The films weren't always that good, but the images were captivating. They noticed that one scene was like this, one scene was like that. John Alton's effortlessly precise cinematography mostly most extreme effects while lending realism and character. In 1932, Alton was offered the opportunity to design and supervise a five-acre studio in Buenos Aires. https://www.amazon.com/Alton-Collection-T-Men-Walked-Night/dp/B079FLRGN4 Buy John Alton Film Noir Collection (T-Men / Raw Deal / He Walked by Night [DVD] [Restored] at MoviesUnlimited.com. The nightmare sequence, for which Minnelli expressly drafted Alton, is a visual tour de force; however, MGM was normally known for its polished look, so Alton invested most of the film with the light-hearted radiance of winsome, poignant comedy. [Audiences] noticed something different. At the end of the day, they gave me a check. Alton was known for unconventional camera angles—especially low camera shots. "Naturalism," or "realism," refers to an experience such as a walk on foggy night that fills one with a certain sense of awe. Raw Deal (Anthony Mann, 1948) B lessed with D.P. While cinematographer John Alton was adept with color photography, he was at his arguable best when using black and white. Reviews. Since 1930, Alton had been a contributor to International Photographer, so Painting was the fruition of both Alton's studio work and his journalism. They had only received a letter from a forwarding post office that stated: In 1990, Todd McCarthy, Stuart Samuels, and Arnold Glassman began production on the cinematographic documentary Visions of Light. Alton also photographed many color movies including Slightly Scarlet (a color film noir). Starring Dennis O'Keefe and Alfred Ryder as agents of the Treasury Department who infiltrate a counterfeiting ring, the film captured a new, post-war realism through its deft compositions, which offered compelling depth and space. "I stopped at the gates of the Cosmopolitan Studio. The book later went out of print, but the critical re-evaluation of Alton's work led to its reprinting, and it is now a highly respected tome in cinematography circles. It was all worked out.". His virginal pen pal (Marsha Hunt) gets mixed up in the escape, creating a twist on the usual romantic triangle. Alton resigned from the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) in January 1944, reportedly due to conflicts with ASC founding member and MGM camera department head John Arnold. Whereas Alton previously had to justify this "expressionistic chiaroscuro" to producers, his work on T-Men went over like gangbusters with the public, who flocked to the film in droves. That's my profession — not the lighting and how to light, but bringing out the mood.". 851968007064. He also advanced the somewhat controversial idea of obtaining depth by placing the brightest light in the background, farthest from the camera. Curated by VCI Kansas City $ … FOR SALE! The mood had to be done with lighting. Mar 29, 2015 - Alton had a long and creative career as a cinematographer shooting many different genres and styles. I wanted to give them quality. But the real glue that holds this set together comes from cinematographer John Alton, who photographed all three movies. So I lost my balance. He had already resigned from the ASC in 1944. $34.79 +$6.96 shipping. In 1949, Alton made two more classics with Mann. Elsewhere, he touched upon Chinese ideograms. item 7 John Alton Film Noir Collection Blu-ray ClassicFlix T-Men Raw Deal 7 - John Alton Film Noir Collection Blu-ray ClassicFlix T-Men Raw Deal. (During a 1994 interview, he called this move his one regret, but amends were made when the ASC saluted Alton with a special dinner in 1995.) It doesn't make any difference if that figure talks or sings; it's still a picture, and the picture will always be the basis of the movies. In the lobby, a Gypsy fortune teller read their palms. John Alton (October 5, 1901 – June 2, 1996), born Johann Jacob Altmann, in Sopron, Kingdom of Hungary, was an American cinematographer. In his swift lighting designs, he would establish a shot with only three lights, and then subtract one and then another. He was soon trekking across Europe and Asia, where he shot short subjects and foreign-language features. ", The text, which Alton had often scribbled in notebooks on the set, also captured some of the cultural life of its day. This film-noir piece, told in semi-documentary style, follows police on the hunt for a resourceful criminal who shoots and kills a cop. "Theirs is an art of knowing what to reveal and what to conceal. I had one aim: to make beautiful pictures. Add to Wishlist. https://ascmag.com/articles/john-alton-master-of-the-film-noir-mood When he wasn't training crews or screening films at the studio, he wrote, directed, and produced a few features on his own. Mann already had a dozen B-pictures under his belt, along with a recently completed RKO noir film (Desperate) photographed by George E. Diskant, ASC. Throughout the picture, the mystery of such locations as telephone booths, steam rooms and midnight waterfronts is heightened by their contrast to such everyday edifices as the offices of the Treasury Department and the Los Angeles Farmers' Market. He found work at RKO, Paramount and then Republic, averaging about four B-pictures a year. Alton soon found himself thrust into the movie business in his newly adopted city. From catwalks, up high. Menu. Hard lighting. Within a month of his arrival, he married a former beauty queen-turned-journalist who had interviewed Alton aboard a ship during his passage to South America. But Alton maintained that he, Menzies and Mann all worked as equals in a creative troika, tending their respective pastures for a common purpose. Alton's cinematography on the picture evoked the work of many famous painters, including Renoir, Utrillo, Rousseau, Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec. Another of the film's high points is the slaying of Schemer (Wallace Ford) in a steam room — a scene played out against the spooky strains of a theremin. What you see with the eye is the important thing that governs your thinking and [that's] what people are looking at.". Elmer Gantry (1960) was Alton's last film of note. Quick View. It was the only contact I had with what Hollywood [cinematographers] did, and it provided my first visual comprehension [of that world]. Though he defined and diagrammed the essentials of cinematography in his book, he remained mute as to specifically how he had achieved his signature shots. In an effort to avoid paying Joe the $50,000 he owes him, Coyle arranges an escape in the hopes the con will be killed in the break-out. Alton eventually returned to MGM, where he'd already worked for 18 years. Still, the richest, darkest and best of Alton's 1948 crop is Raw Deal. Reviews. Alton next took charge of the camera department at Joinville Studios in Paris. The man explained, "These are motion pictures, pictures that move." Born in a castle in 1901, in a village on the Austrian border of Hungary, Alton lived to a ripe old age before dying on June 2, 1996 in Santa Monica. The filmmakers planned not only to sing Alton's praises, but to showcase some of his work. "Nobody knew it, though. As the story begins, worldly Claire Trevor helps her hard-case lover (Dennis O'Keefe) escape from prison. In Combo, a deaf man being murdered sees the gunfire. Perhaps it was for the best that Alton didn't get boxed into making just A-level films. ", In 1939, the Altons migrated to Hollywood. - John Alton No other individual defines the foreboding film style known as noir more than John Alton, the Academy Award®-winning cinematographer (An American in Paris) who established his reputation as one of the movie industry's finest by plying his unique talents in the arena of B-movies. But he is best remembered for his book (Painting with Light), and his low key film-noire work. I didn't realize that the big-time cameramen spent as much time taking things off as they did putting them on. Remarked director Vincente Minnelli, "[People] interpreted John's continental poise as effete and arrogant. Though his film work is later represented by such iconic noirs as Border Incident and The Big Combo, the three features in this collection present the incomparable John Alton at the peak of his art.T-MEN (1947, 92 min. Directors: Alfred L. Werker, Anthony Mann | Stars: Richard Basehart, Scott Brady, Roy Roberts, Whit Bissell. John Alton Film Noir Collection [Blu-ray] UPC. Blu-ray John Alton Film Noir Collection (t-Men / Raw Deal / He Walked By Night) $ 39.95 $ 29.96. "I could see more in the dark than I could in color," he said. He even compared photography to music: "A beautiful feminine close-up can be compared to a violin solo, and a strong characteristic picture of masculine beauty to a cello solo.". As he himself once noted; After T-Men, Alton lent his touch to a dozen more pictures which, as a body of work, formed the apotheosis of the film noir style. Knockout film noir follows Joe Sullivan (Dennis O'Keefe), a crook serving time after taking the rap for mob boss Rick Coyle (Raymond Burr). Over the next decade, he made some 34 films. Thus began a collaboration that would define a high-water mark of pictorial storytelling; Alton and Mann worked together like guns and ammo. Of particular renown is Slightly Scarlet (1956), the last of six films he made with director Allan Dwan. All of his film noirs pack a wallop, with fast-paced action and shocking violence. For much more on the famous noir-architect, check out the three-part article John Alton: Cinematography’s Outlier, an appreciation and history penned by John Bailey, ASC in 2013. Sale! Alton photographed some of the most famous films noir of the classic period. Write a Review (0 reviews) Write a review and get bonus points. Their first picture together was Father of the Bride, shot in just 28 days. These films were offbeat dramas in which dark and light, good and evil, were touched by the finger of Fate and switched roles. ... Film Noir … Painting with Light (1949) contains essential reading for any budding filmmaker with detailed information and ideas for lighting several difficult interior and exterior setups and situations. Though their attempts to interview him were thwarted (unbeknownst to Alton), the finished film — which included many striking examples of his work — lured the great cameraman out of his long exile. Despite his experience, he couldn't find a niche in A-films — perhaps because he appeared cocky to many. Get it today with Same Day Delivery, Order Pickup or Drive Up. First-unit soundstage shots perfectly match the location work of the second-unit. In that genre, Alton possessed the rare ability to photograph exterior shots as effectively as studio work. That was the difference between my pictures and some of the others: [in mine], each mood was different. He argued for studio lighting emulating natural lighting in direction and texture. See all 9 - All listings for this product. Comparing him to such predecessors as Fritz Arno Wagner and Karl Freund, ASC; Schrader observed that Alton transformed Expressionist techniques to a new generation that craved realism. A replica of the Place de Concorde (made of translucent plastic) was done up in the style of Dufy, and later serves as the site of the tale's climactic pas de deux. John Alton Film Noir Collection [DVD] UPC. No ratings or reviews yet No ratings or reviews yet. "I was tired of fighting [with the studios]," he confessed. Lighting setups often shifted abruptly in mid-shot, from noon to midnight or from blue to red. What do you mean? He Walked by Night also helped to inspire the Dragnet television series. JOHN ALTON FILM NOIR COLLEC...-JOHN ALTON FILM NOIR COLLECTION Blu-Ray NEW - $52.95. Alton honed his cinematographic skills shooting Westerns for "Woody" Van Dyke, a man who valued the input of his cameramen and often defended their interests when no one else would. In the summer of 1923, five lads drove across the country full of optimism, joie de vivre, and the excitement of all things new. Alton attended the premiere and was hailed by dozens of contemporary luminaries of cinematography. He returned to Hollywood in the late 1930s, with two dozen film credits, and became one of the most sought-after cinematographers of the time.[3]. Albert Dekker stars in this fantastic b-movie from 1947. In 1932, he moved to Argentinawhere he shot many Spanish-language films and designed the country's firs… Well, at home I used to get $1.50 a week, and here they gave me $12.50, for one day. Write a Review (0 reviews) Write a review and get bonus points. He continued to read voraciously and took up oil painting; he crafted over 100 small canvasses and then gave them all away. Noir-style elements had cropped up in previous films, but the first to compose a complete noir syntax and grammar out of the expressionistic vocabulary was RKO's Stranger on the Third Floor (1940), photographed by Nicholas Musuraca, ASC. He'd say, 'I've never sat down with a cameraman to talk about these things. Simply because, with the growing appreciation of film noir as the most interesting style/genre of the post-war American cinema, it has become obvious that the director of photography is as important, even in many cases more important, than the director in creating the fatalistic mood and compositional tension which are the hallmarks of film noir expressiveness. In 1962, Alton was fired from "The Birdman of Alcatraz" when director Charles Crichton was replaced by John Frankenheimer. The characters also include a thug (John Ireland) and his boss (Raymond Burr), a mob kingpin given to dangerously smoldering moods. Boxed into making just A-level films, Roy Roberts, Whit Bissell he! Arguable best when using black and white as colors in his essay `` on! Figure of mystery, even when critical recognition finally began to come his way shipping on orders $! [ DVD ] UPC began as a cinematographer shooting many different genres and.. 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Anthony Mann | Stars: Richard Basehart, Scott Brady, Roy Roberts, Whit Bissell indeed it in. Fighting for their own good the narrative revelation of Gantry 's worthlessness is underscored through concealed...

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