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 Posted:   Jul 27, 2007 - 7:14 AM   
 By:   JSWalsh   (Member)

How was the B&W in THE GOOD GERMAN?

 
 Posted:   Jul 27, 2007 - 11:00 AM   
 By:   Mr. Jack   (Member)

How was the B&W in THE GOOD GERMAN?

Excellent. The film truly looked like a 40's-era Warner Bros. melodrama.

 
 Posted:   Jul 27, 2007 - 11:50 AM   
 By:   Stefan Miklos   (Member)


Question: How was the B&W in THE GOOD GERMAN?

Answer: Excellent. The film truly looked like a 40's-era Warner Bros. melodrama.





My answer:
the exterior shots are done like an Italian Neo-Realism film a la Roberto Rossellini's 1948 "Germany Year Zero" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039417/) owing to the poor-like texture and the saturated light of the film stock which gives the feature film a documentary feel to it. The studio shots are done as you described it.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 27, 2007 - 6:19 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....The film truly looked like a 40's-era Warner Bros. melodrama.....




I've only seen clips from this film, so my comments are based only on this, but.....

I've seen much of Arthur Edeson's camerawork from the Warner Bros. Golden Age and Steven Soderbergh......errrr, "Peter Andrews"......is no Arthur Edeson!

One of the odd things about professional motion picture photography is that the old cameramen STARTED in softlight styles of photography and then developed, invented and moved to hard-lit styles of photography (only later very occasionally going back and forth.)

Those cameramen---because they developed it---understood what and why they took certain lighting paths and techniques. Today's younger cameramen (from the last 40 years or so) have worked, for the most part, in softlight styles, and are only copying the physical look (as best they can) of the old hardlight styles, without UNDERSTANDING the reasons for putting lights in certain places and featuring certain areas of the sets and personages before the camera.

The result is a B&W film (usually, unfortunately, printed on color stock) which "seems" to the layman viewer, and also to the modern creator himself, a good representation of an old-time black-and-white film, but actually isn't.

.....on a close-up did the shadow of the nose, created by the keylight, touch and overlap the upper lip of the featured player or did it fall in the area between the nose and the lip.....and was there a proper triangle of light created under the eye opposite the key light.....and did the backlight hit the side of the face or was it blocked by the featured player's hair.....and was the fabric of the clothing delineated by the application of a special light.....and was the performer carefully blocked and lit so that he was always highlighted against shadow or shadowed against highlight.....and did the neck shadow fall in the appropriate direction.....and did the light in any scene flow from the center of the screen outwards, or did it come from outside the screen, or randomly......??? These are just a few very basic questions which separate the B&W artists from the journeymen, but the effects of which are very difficult to achieve consistently. It takes time, money, but ABOVE ALL, caring.

One of my very good friends is one of Hollywood's top cameramen, about my age, who has done many major films, and could do the old style with his eyes shut, but is often frustrated by the limited visual sense of the people with whom he works.

One of my own problems in shooting, before I retired, was that it was fast becoming impossible to find younger grips, electricians, and gaffers who had any experience in the old styles. It became nearly impossible to communicate to them my demands for placements of lights, filtering, scrimming, etc., because they just didn't comprehend the effect or style of what they were asked to do.

A professional movie set, on a working schedule, is no time to hold master classes in technique, and while a few were observant enough to pick up on what was being asked for, most others didn't. A DP on a set barely ever gets time to sit down or go to the bathroom, so personally setting and adjusting every light was not going to happen. My energy and interest and patience finally ran out.

As an aside, when we were younger, my friend used to shoot his films, and unbeknownst to everyone else and as a game for me, light a short sequence in the film absolutely
"wrong". It was my task to see the film and decide which of the scenes was badly lit---where the lights were wrongly placed---and why. If I "lost", I had to pick up the check for a nice dinner. .....He occasionally had a nice free dinner, but most of the time, we split the tab!!! smile

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 28, 2007 - 1:34 AM   
 By:   JSWalsh   (Member)

Great stuff, folks.

In an attempt to stay on-topic (which is tough, because I want to ask Manderly so many questions), are there one or two (maybe three at most) Golden Age black and white films you would have recommended to Soderbergh for studying in preparation for TGG?

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 28, 2007 - 2:29 AM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)

Simply these titles (my favorites) for discussion:

Joseph McDonald's camerawork on 'MY DARLING CLEMINTINE'
Gregg Toland's work on 'THE GRAPES OF WRATH'
James Wong Howe's work on 'HUD'

And Kenneth Peach's work on 'The Outer Limits' and of course Conrad Hall's work on the same series In Particular his 'masterpiece' of the series: 'THE FORM OF THINGS UNKNOWN' (This ONE eipisode should provide fodder for a very lengthy discussion.)

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 28, 2007 - 2:51 AM   
 By:   JSWalsh   (Member)

Man, The OUter Limits is my favorite anthology series. I think it's woefully unappreciated, especially compared with the massively over-rated Twilight Zone.

Outer Limits had a magnificent look, didn't it? Deep blacks, not wishy-washy.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 28, 2007 - 4:16 AM   
 By:   The_Mark_of_Score-O   (Member)

One of my own problems in shooting, before I retired, was that it was fast becoming impossible to find younger grips, electricians, and gaffers who had any experience in the old styles. It became nearly impossible to communicate to them my demands for placements of lights, filtering, scrimming, etc., because they just didn't comprehend the effect or style of what they were asked to do.

You neglect to mention the critical matter of lens selection. Modern over-reliance on close-ups has rendered the spherical 35mm prime lens, which was the standard in the old days, almost obsolete; nothing you do with lighting can or will make up for a frame filled with images compressed into a bunch of cardboard cutouts by a variable-focus lens set at 50mm.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 28, 2007 - 7:27 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....In an attempt to stay on-topic (which is tough, because I want to ask Manderly so many questions), are there one or two (maybe three at most) Golden Age black and white films you would have recommended to Soderbergh for studying in preparation for TGG?.....


I'm sure he looked at the key ones for his project, CASABLANCA being the prime suspect.

But you can look at something intently, and still not "see" it.

 
 Posted:   Jul 28, 2007 - 11:05 AM   
 By:   Stefan Miklos   (Member)

Simply these titles (my favorites) for discussion:

Joseph McDonald's camerawork on 'MY DARLING CLEMINTINE'
Gregg Toland's work on 'THE GRAPES OF WRATH'
James Wong Howe's work on 'HUD'

And Kenneth Peach's work on 'The Outer Limits' and of course Conrad Hall's work on the same series In Particular his 'masterpiece' of the series: 'THE FORM OF THINGS UNKNOWN' (This ONE eipisode should provide fodder for a very lengthy discussion.)



I disagree concerning Kenneth Peach who just emulate the inspired work of Conrad Hall during season 1 but during season 2 Peach did a bland job all the way...


I would recommend the work of Robert Burks who used to shoot so many Hitchcock films:
"Strangers on a Train", "I Confess", "Dial M for Murder", "To Catch a Thief", "The Man who Knew too Much", "The Wrong Man" (especially that one!), "Rear Window", "Vertigo", "North by Northwest", "The Birds", "Marnie".


To go back to Conrad Hall. Connie was ready to work in the late 1940's but in order to get his Union card, he was obliged to work in the 1950's with five masters:
Ted Mc Cord
Ernest Haller
Robert Surtees
Hal Mohr
Burnett Guffey



Please read:
"The Art of the Cinematographer – A Survey and Interviews with Five Masters"
by Leonard Maltin
(Dover Publications Inc., 1978, 140 pages, ISBN 0-486-23686-2, second edition)
The book deals with: Arthur Miller, Hal Mohr, Hal Rosson, Lucien Ballard and CONRAD HALL.




Ingrid Larkin (Sally Kellerman) in "The Human Factor" from "The Outer Limits".

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 28, 2007 - 11:55 AM   
 By:   Joe E.   (Member)

But B&W movies are FILMS because, well, they're old and stuff, and everything was great BACK THEN and sucks now.

Bull.


Well, I'd say they're more FILMS because they were, y'know, shot on film instead of video.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 28, 2007 - 4:29 PM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)

Cigarette Smoke....
Cloud-Scapes...
Steam-grates on the street...
and Wet Streets at night...
All look SENSATIONAL in Black & White!

 
 Posted:   Jul 28, 2007 - 6:00 PM   
 By:   Stefan Miklos   (Member)

Great stuff, folks.

In an attempt to stay on-topic (which is tough, because I want to ask Manderly so many questions), are there one or two (maybe three at most) Golden Age black and white films you would have recommended to Soderbergh for studying in preparation for TGG?




Benjamin H. Kline, Lionel Lindon, John L. Russell, Bud Thackery, John F. Warren works on Boris Karloff's "Thriller" (1960-1962).

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 28, 2007 - 6:17 PM   
 By:   henry   (Member)

I love a good black & white movie, especially King Kong.

 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 6:38 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Six years later...a lot of new posters...and the question of this thread is once again posed...

 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 7:35 AM   
 By:   Hercule Platini   (Member)

Absolutely not. I've no problem with B+W. I wouldn't state a preference for B+W over colour, but I certainly wouldn't refuse to watch a film because it was B+W. I would refuse because it wasn't a favoured genre, but that's nothing to do with the photographic process and everything to do with musicals and Westerns leaving me cold. I've no objection to seeing subtitled films either, unless they're films I'd balk at even if they were in English.

I do draw the line at silents, however. I have difficulty adjusting to the different look and style of pre-sound films and generally I've found it's not worth the effort. I'm sure I'm missing some fascinating films, but that's okay. There are more than enough sound movies to watch that don't have the technological creakiness and distracting performance techniques of silent cinema.

 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 8:12 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

Interesting question. My television viewing came on the cusp of color TV. I'm sure I saw some B&W television, (Lost In Space, Gigantor) but for the most part I watched color programming. Other than a few Sci Fi or animation programs BW generally turned me off.

However, that changed as I got into my late teens. I hated colorized movies and always preferred the original versions in B&W. Nowadays it's the content of the film that interests me, not how it was filmed.

I will also add, good B&W films took advantage of its own processes, and the cinematography would use light and shadow in striking ways that enhances its visual appeal.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 8:17 AM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)

Perhaps Jim Phelps, after several years since this first appeared you can ask: 'Do you refuse to Read in Black & White?'

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 8:36 AM   
 By:   Joe 1956   (Member)

Anybody remember the abject stupidity of USA running Lost in Space, and for the longest time they didn't run Season One? It was like tuning into a movie at half-time.

And that was in the '80's.

 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 10:17 AM   
 By:   Dyfrynt   (Member)

It seems to me that most people have a schizoid attitude towards black and white in the movies. Most people would rather watch a colorized version of an old black and white movie. But these same people have no issue with watching a modern movie purposefully filmed in black and white.

Sin City being one of the most successful examples. There are many others.

Personally I prefer to see a film shot in black & white in that format. Filming a black and white movie is not the same as filming a movie without color. Black and white movies had to be shot in certain ways, and with many careful considerations on how to bring the most bang for your buck in this format.

Altering it to color destroys the soul of the film.

Obviously a lot of people are not interested in getting that involved with the film production aspect of watching a movie. Which is why they are perfectly comfortable with watching it colorized.

Which still does not explain why modern audiences appear completely comfortable with the format when a modern film is shot in black and white.

Like I said. Schizoid!!!!!

 
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