Wednesday, May 1, 2024

TCM's Art of Artifice (1) - I watched so you don't have to


I love Turner Classic Movies. Which is a big 'duh for most everyone who knows me.

Well, this month, they are having a series of movies enhanced by the Art of Artifice. These are movies where the production design and sets take the audience to a new place—the art that feeds the illusion.

I think this is a great idea, and I am going to share some of the comments and images I find interesting.

First North by Northwest

Here are the comments from the article on this movie:

The series begins on May 7 with North by Northwest (1959), an illustrative place to start, Robert Boyle served as a co-production designer, for which they received an Academy Award nomination. Boyle was inducted into the Art Directors Hall of Fame and in 2008, he received an honorary Academy Award. He was a co-Oscar nominee for his work on Gaily, Gaily (1969),  Fiddler on the Roof (1971) and The Shootist (1976). His other illustrious credits include The Birds (1963), Marnie (1964) and Private Benjamin (1980)

North by Northwest, one of seven American films in the series inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry of “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” films, presented several challenges. For example, the climactic chase atop Mount Rushmore: it likely does not surprise you that, establishing shots aside, it was not filmed at the national landmark. The National Park Service reportedly rescinded permission for Hitchcock to film there after he gave an interview teasing a violent chase across the granite faces, according to Hitchcock biographer Patrick McGilligan.


In the Oscar-nominated short, The Man on Lincoln’s Nose (2000), Robert Boyle said, “The main problem in the Mount Rushmore sequence was to make it believable that two people could climb down the face of Mount Rushmore — it couldn't be done, but we had to make it look believable. So, we went up to Mount Rushmore, climbed up the back and found that on the top of each one of the heads there was a huge iron ring, with a cable and bosun's chair. We then lowered down each face and photographed in every direction possible every 10 feet and those became the backgrounds.”

Also not filmed on location was the Mount Rushmore cafeteria where Eva Marie Saint “shoots” Cary Grant. This, too, was recreated on the MGM studio lot (by the way, keep your eyes on the kid extra who, um, jumps the gun by plugging his ears before Saint fires. From here on, he will be the only thing you watch in that scene)

There are two more images I want to share. One is the house on Mount Rushmore of the bad guy (James Mason). It looks beautiful and treacherous. It conveys the personality of the killer we believe he is.
I am not sure if this a real house or mat, but it is gorgeous.

The second is the image from the Auction House. Here, the background is lush and expensive. I am sure most of the pieces are probably cheap bric-a-brac from the studio lot, but it is dressed to be sumptuous. 

More movies during the days ahead.

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