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2006, Feb 23; 14:05 ::: Car tailfins and the jet age

1959 Cadillac Eldorado "rocketship" tailights

As the industry progressed after World War II into the '50s, auto designers came under the influence of the jet age and tailfins, portholes and heavily chromed toothy grilles marked the fabulous cars of this era. Started by Harley Earl on the '48 Cadillac, the tailfin caught on as a styling craze. --http://info.detnews.com/joyrides/story/index.cfm?id=245 [Feb 2006]

The tailfin era of automobile styling encompassed the 1950s and 1960s, peaking between 1958 and 1960. It was a style developed in the United States but spread its influence worldwide, as cars designed in all parts of the world picked up styling trends from the American automobile industry. General Motors design chief Harley Earl is generally credited for the automobile tailfin, introducing small fins on the 1948 Cadillac. Harley credited the look of World War II fighter aircraft for his inspiration, particularly the twin-tailed P-38 Lightning.

The style was incredibly popular and its use spread to other models in the General Motors family of brands. Soon it was adopted by other manufacturers; Chrysler's Virgil Exner in particular took the tailfin idea on board. As confidence grew in the styling trend, the fins grew larger and bolder as manufacturers competed to have the best-looking, most striking vehicle.

The most extreme tailfins appeared in the late 1950s. Many consider the fins on the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado to be the largest and most outrageous ever fitted. Those fins were too much for many customers, however, and the tailfins shrank after that point. Within a couple of years, tailfins had become much less prominent, and by the mid 1960s, they were gone on many models. However, vestigial tailfins remained on American cars until very recently, with the sides of the quarter panels often being raised above the trunk lid and the corner sharp-edged. Mercedes used something similar to fintails (nicknamed "heckflosse" in German), but they claimed it wasn't fintails but "sight lines" to make it easier to determine the corners of the vehicle. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tailfin [Feb 2006]

The jet age
The jet age is a common description of an historical period beginning with the introduction of airliners powered by turbojets and turbofans for scheduled passenger service.

Aviation history
The De Havilland Comet was the first jet airliner to fly a scheduled route in 1952, but the original version of the Comet had serious design problems leading to several highly-publicised crashes, and the entire fleet was eventually grounded (the Comet later reemerged in improved versions). The first truly successful jet airliner was the Boeing 707, which began service in 1958 on the New York City to London route; 1958 was also the first year that more trans-Atlantic passengers travelled by airline than ship.

Social history
Large aircraft powered by turbine engines are able to fly much higher, faster, and further than older piston-powered propliners, making transcontinental and inter-continental travel considerably faster and easier: for example, aircraft leaving North America and crossing the Atlantic Ocean (and later, the Pacific Ocean) could now fly to their destinations non-stop, making much of the world accessible within a single day's travel for the first time. Since large jetliners could also carry more passengers, airfares also declined (relative to inflation), so more people of more different social classes were able to travel outside of their own countries. In many ways, these changes in mobility are similar to those brought about by railroads during the 19th century.

The introduction of the Concorde supersonic passenger for regular service in 1976 was expected to bring similar social changes, but the aircraft never found commercial success, and flights were discontinued in 2003. When the Airbus A380 begins service, it will offer a higher capacity and will introduce recreational facilities to long-distance flight, possibly bringing further social changes. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet age [Feb 2006]

See also: jet set - car - 1959 - 1950s

2006, Feb 22; 23:05 ::: 2001 - A Space Odyssey (1968) - Stanley Kubrick

In search of design in films

2001 - A Space Odyssey (1968) - Stanley Kubrick
Djinn chairs designed by Olivier Mourgue in 1965
Image sourced here.

One of the most beautiful elements of 2001: A Space Odyssey was the use of contemporary furniture. Futuristic-looking chairs or tables from famous designs of the 20th Century were often used in science documentaries, science fiction movies and television before 2001 was made. From The Forbidden Planet to Lost In Space, George Nelson Herman Miller Coconut chair, were used in scenes with rotating computer tapes, flashing lights and weird sound effects to create an ethereal atmosphere.

The most famous furnishings used was a product of the sixties: Eero Aarnio's Globe chair also used in the science fiction drama, The Prisoner, starring Patrick McGoohan. The Prisoner is inarguably the best science fiction television drama in the 20th Century and the Globe chair was a symbolic theme of world control, and was the center piece of Number Two's control room. The sphere symbol was prevalent throughout the show from the round ball guardian called Rover to the Pennyfarthing. Stanley Kubrick used much of the same furniture throughout 2001 as part of a business setting in the 21st Century which looked remarkably like designer George Nelson's Action Office furniture from 1964 by Herman Miller and designed by Robert Propst. The Space Station receptionists sits in a converted Action Office High Desk. Black and white were prevalent throughout 2001 to set a cold, controlled environment of space technology of the future. Space Station One is the most famous scene when Dr. Heywood Floyd meets the Russians. We see them seated comfortably in odd chairs of lava-red. These are the Djinn chairs designed by Olivier Mourgue in 1965. The Djinn chairs were showcased in the 2001: A Space Odyssey Collectibles Exhibit at the San Mateo Library and were easily recognized by viewers as the chairs from 2001. --http://www.2001exhibit.org/arts/furnishings.html [Feb 2006]

Olivier Mourgue (born 1939 in Paris, France) is a French industrial designer. His futuristic Djinn chairs were used in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivier_Mourgue [Feb 2006]

See also: furniture - Stanley Kubrick - SF films - Space Age - 1965 - 1968

2006, Feb 22; 22:05 ::: Communion (1976) - Alfred Sole

Communion (1976) - Alfred Sole
Image sourced here.

See also: itsonlyamovie.co.uk Google image gallery hundreds of video cover scans

See also: video covers

2006, Feb 22; 21:05 ::: Andreas Gursky

Ruhrtal () - Andreas Gursky
Image sourced here.

Andreas Gursky is a German photographer known for the highly textured feel of his enormous photographs often using a high point of view. He uses computers to edit his pictures to create something with a larger space than the subject he photographed. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andreas Gursky [Feb 2006]

See also: contemporary art - art photography - German art

2006, Feb 22; 21:05 ::: Thomas Struth (1954 - )

Chemin des Coudriers, Genf (1989) - Thomas Struth
Image sourced here.

Thomas Struth (born 1954) is a German photographer whose wide-ranging work covers detailed cityscapes, Asian jungles and family portraits. Along with Andreas Gursky, he is one of Germany's most noted modern-day photographers.

Born in Geldern, Germany, Thomas trained at the Düsseldorf Academy in the 1970s where Gerhard Richter and Bernhard Becher were among his tutors. His early works largely consisted of black-and-white shots of streets in Japan, Europe and America. Skyscrapers were another favourite feature of his work, with many of his photographs attempting to show the relationship people have with their modern-day environment.

In the mid-1980s Struth added a new dimension to his work when he started to produce family portraits. This was after a meeting with psychoanalyst Ingo Hartmann. As a result, these works attempt to show the underlying social dynamics within a seemingly still photograph.

Basing himself in the art capital of Germany - Düsseldorf, Struth's profile continued to rise in the 1990s, and in 1997 he was awarded the Spectrum International Photography Prize of Lower Saxony.

An exhibtion of Struth's work was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in 2003. The centre of the exhibition was the Museum series, which featured seemingly ordinary shots of people entering churches, museums and other public places. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas Struth [Feb 2006]

See also: contemporary art - art photography - German art

2006, Feb 22; 15:05 ::: Pulsar watch

Unidentified Pulsar seventies LED watch.
Image sourced here.

The first digital watch, a Pulsar prototype in 1970, was developed jointly by Hamilton Watch Company and Electro-Data. A retail version of the Pulsar was put on sale in 1972. It had a red light-emitting diode (LED) display. LED displays were soon superseded by liquid crystal displays (LCDs), which used less battery power. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watch#Digital_watches [Feb 2006]

ledwatch.de Google Image gallery [Feb 2006]

See also: seventies - design

2006, Feb 22; 15:05 ::: YSL

1977 : Yves Saint-Laurent launches Opium by Jean-Louis Sieuzac, the advertisement shown is from 2000

"Opium" is the name of a perfume by Yves Saint Laurent. A poster advertising campaign for the perfume caused great controversy in October and November 2000. The posters showed a voluptuous model, Sophie Dahl, photographed (by Stephen Meisel) lying on her back wearing only a pair of stiletto heels. The Advertising Standards Authority received hundreds of complaints from the public, and ordered the posters to be withdrawn on the grounds that they were too sexually suggestive and likely to cause "serious or widespread offence". --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium#Other_meanings [Feb 2006]

Yves St. Laurent included several Mondrian dresses in his 1965 collection.

Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent (born August 1, 1936 in Oran, Algeria) is a French fashion designer.

Born to insurance-company manager Charles Saint-Laurent and his socialite wife, Lucienne Mathieu, members of a family from Alsace-Lorraine that settled in North Africa during the Franco-Prussian War, Saint Laurent left home at the age of 17 to work for the designer Christian Dior. Following the death of Dior in 1957, Saint-Laurent at the age of 21 was put in charge of effort of saving the Dior house from financial ruin. Saint-Laurent's designs together, with his lover Pierre Bergé's financial acumen, helped save the firm. The couple split romantically in 1976 but remained business partners.

In the wake of his nervous breakdown, Saint Laurent was released from Dior and started his own label together with Pierre Bergé with the now-famous initials of YSL. During the 1960s and 1970s the firm popularized fashion trends such as the beatnik look, tweed suits, tight pants and tall, thigh-high boots. Among his muses were Loulou de La Falaise, the daughter of a French marquis and an Anglo-Irish fashion model, Betty Catroux, the half-Brazilian daughter of an American diplomat and wife of a French decorator, and Catherine Deneuve, the iconic french actress. Ambassador and face of the company during the 1970s and early 80s was London socialite millionairessDiane Boulting-Casserley Vandelli.

In 1993, the Saint-Laurent fashion house was sold to the pharmaceuticals company Sanofi for approximately $600,000,000. In 1999 Gucci bought the YSL brand and Tom Ford designed the ready-to-wear collection while Saint-Laurent designed the haute couture collection. Since his retirement in 1998 Saint-Laurent has become increasingly reclusive and has spent a much of his time at his house in Marrakech, Morocco.

In 2002, dogged by years of poor health, drug abuse, depression, alcoholism, criticisms of YSL designs, and problems with lead designer Tom Ford, Saint-Laurent and Gucci closed the illustrious couture house of YSL. While the house no longer exists the brand still survives through its parent company Gucci.

The pret-a-porter line is still being produced under the direction of Stefano Pilati after Tom Ford retired in 2004.

Was the first living fashion designer to be to be honored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Circa 1983. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yves_Saint-Laurent [Feb 2006]

See also: fashion - 2000 - 1965

2006, Feb 22; 08:05 ::: Noel O'Shea on Coppola

Since the early Seventies, and continuing into the next two decades, filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola has occupied a special place in the pantheon of great directors; no modern director has commanded as much respect as the former UCLA film school graduate - Scorsese always excepted - and his films display a complete mastery of the medium throughout a wide variety of genres. Maybe his last two offerings - Jack, and the John Grisham potboiler The Rainmaker - were beneath him from an artistic standpoint, but they still testify to Coppola's amazing versatility as an artist. Who knows if his long-cherished wish to film a live-action version of Pinocchio will bear fruit, but at the moment it's enough to look back at that amazing body of work, containing such towering masterpieces as The Godfather, The Conversation, and Apocalypse Now, and proclaim Francis Ford Coppola a true giant of modern cinema. --download rest of essay (MS Word format)

See also: Noel O'Shea - Coppola - American cinema

2006, Feb 22; 08:05 ::: Pop intellectuals

Almost by definition, Pop intellectuals were not theorists. Of the most well known—McLuhan, Buckminster Fuller, Norman 0. Brown, Susan Sontag, RD. Laing, Norman Mailer, John Lennon, Leslie Fiedler, Tom Wolfe, Andy Warhol, John Cage, Timothy Leary, Abbie Hoffman, Jane Fonda, Bob Dylan — none have retained any lasting theoretical respect of the sort that is still accorded to the older liberal intelligentsia, redolent of the hard school of marxist dialectic. --Andrew Ross in No Respect, page 114

See also: Andrew Ross - Pop - intellectuals

2006, Feb 22; 08:05 ::: In search of 20th century design

Movements: art deco - art nouveau - atomic age - Arts & Crafts - Bauhaus - International Style - Italian design - machine age - Memphis design group - space age - streamline moderne

Designers: Ettore Sottsass - Luigi Colani - Piero Fornasetti - Gaetano Pesce - Carlo Mollino - Joe Colombo

See also: design - 20th century - modernism

2006, Feb 22; 08:05 ::: George Nelson's ball clock

In search of the atomic age

Current model of George Nelson's ball clock
Originaly designed by George Nelson and Irving Harper in c.1947, produced c. 1950 by Howard Miller and re-issued by Vitra since 2000.

George Nelson (1908 – 1986) was an American designer central to modern design. He had a long history with the Herman Miller company. In 1946, Nelson became director of design at Herman Miller, a position he held until 1972. While there, Nelson recruited other seminal modern designers including Charles Eames, Paul Laszlo, and Isamu Noguchi. He also developed his own designs, including the Marshmallow sofa, the Coconut chair, the Nelson platform bench and the first L-shaped desk, a precursor to the present-day workstation. He also created a series of boldly graphic wall clocks, a series of bubble lamps made of self-webbing plastic. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Nelson_(designer) [Feb 2006]

See also: atomic age - futurism - space age

2006, Feb 22; 08:05 ::: The 1958 Ford Nucleon concept car

In search of the atomic age

The 1958 Ford Nucleon concept car

The Ford Nucleon was a nuclear-powered concept car developed by Ford Motor Company in 1958. The car did not have an internal-combustion engine, rather, it was powered by a small nuclear reactor in the trunk of the car. The nuclear reactor used fuel that could be swapped out, and one load of nuclear fuel could purportedly power the car for 5000 miles. The car was never built and never went into production, but it remains an icon of the Atomic Age in the 1950s.

The nuclear reactor in the back of the modified De Lorean sports car used in the movie Back to the Future bears at least a passing resemblance to one in the Nucleon. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Nucleon [Feb 2005]

The Atomic Age was a phrase used for a time in the 1950s in which it was believed that all power sources in the future would be atomic in nature. The atomic bomb ("A-bomb") would render all conventional explosives redundant and nuclear power plants would do the same for power sources such as coal and oil. There was a general feeling that everything would use a nuclear power source of some sort. This even included cars, leading Ford to display the Ford Nucleon concept car to the public in 1958.

In the 1960s, the term was less common, but the concept remained. In the Thunderbirds TV series, a set of vehicles was presented that were imagined to be completely nuclear, as shown in cutaways presented in their comic-books. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, there was even an atomic ballpoint pen. Normally reputable experts predicted that thanks to the giant nuclear power stations of the near future electricity would soon become as cheap as water, or even cheaper, and that electricity meters would be removed.

Lew Kowarski, a former director of CERN, even recalled such references as Atomic cocktail waitresses.

The term was initially used in a positive, futuristic sense, but by the 1960s the threats posed by nuclear weapons had begun to edge out nuclear power as the dominant motif of the atom. In the late 1970s, nuclear power was faced with economic difficulties and widespread public unease, coming to a head in the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, which effectively killed the nuclear power industry for decades to come. As such, the label of the "Atomic Age" now connotes either a sense of nostalgia or naïveté, depending on whom you ask. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_Age [Feb 2006]

See also: futurism - concept car - space age - 1958

2006, Feb 21; 23:05 ::: Disasters of War: Callot, Goya, Dix (1998) - Juliet Wilson-Bareau, John Willett

Disasters of War: Callot, Goya, Dix (1998) - Juliet Wilson-Bareau, John Willett [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
A series of etchings from three artists are the subject of this dramatic book. Jacques Callot's Miseries of War, published in 1633; Goya's The Disasters of War, rendered between 1810 and 1820; and Otto Dix's War, last issued in 1924, are separated by centuries yet connected to a noble tradition in European war art, that of realism and protest. Three authoritative essays by eminent historians give detailed accounts of the etchings and place them in their historical context. The relevance of these works today is apparent when noting the titles. "One can't watch this," "Bury them, without a word," "It's already too late," "Dead man in mud," and "House destroyed by bombs" are examples that address the plight of war's victims across the centuries.

About the Author
Antony Griffiths is Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum and author of Prints and Printmaking. Juliet Wilson-Bareau is author of the catalog, Goya's Prints. John Willett has written on the arts of Weimar Germany and recently translated Brecht's War Primer. Product Details

See also: Callot - Goya - Otto Dix - war - disaster

2006, Feb 21; 20:05 ::: Munich Machine (1977) - Munich Machine

In search of machine aesthetics

Munich Machine (1977) - Munich Machine

See also: 1977 - disco - Casablanca records - Giorgio Moroder - Munich Machine - robots

2006, Feb 21; 20:05 ::: Academy Theater (1939) - S. Charles Lee

In search of the machine age

The Streamline Moderne exterior of the Academy Theater, designed by S. Charles Lee in 1939.
photographic credit unidentified

See also: movie theater - modern architecture - 1939 - machine age

2006, Feb 21; 20:05 ::: Theory and Design in the First Machine Age (1960) - Reyner Banham

In search of the machine age

Front cover of Reyner Banham’s Theory and Design in the First Machine Age
© The Architectural Press, London, 1960
Image sourced here.

Theory and Design in the First Machine Age (1960) - Reyner Banham [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Reyner Banham (1922-1988) was a prolific Anglo-American architectural critic and writer best known for his 1960 theoretical treatise "Theory and Design in the First Machine Age", and his 1971 book "Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies" in which he categorized the Angelean experience into four ecological models (Surburbia, Foothills, The Plains of Id, and Autopia) and explored the distinct architectural cultures of each ecology. Banham said that he learned to drive so he could read Los Angeles in the original.

He was based in London, moving to the USA from 1976. He was a follower of Anthony Blunt, then Siegfried Giedion and Nikolaus Pevsner. Pevsner invited him to study the history of modern architecture, giving up his work Pioneers of the Modern Movement. In Theory and Design in the First Machine Age (1960), Banham cut across Pevsner's main theories, linking modernism to built structures where the 'functionalism' was actually subject to formal strictures. He wrote a Guide to Modern Architecture (1962, later titled Age of the Masters, a Personal View of Modern Architecture).

He had connections with the Independent Group, the This is Tomorrow show of 1956 (the birth of pop art) and the thinking of the Smithsons, and of James Stirling, on the new brutalism (which he documented in The New Brutalism, 1966). He predicted a "second age" of the machine and mass consumption. The Architecture of Well-Tempered Environment (1969) follows Giedion's Mechanization Takes Command (1948), putting the development of technologies (electricity, air conditioning) even ahead of the classic account of structures. This was the area found absorbing in the 1960s by Cedric Price, Peter Cook and the Archigram group.

Green thinking (Los Angeles, the Architecture of Four Ecologies, 1971) and then the oil shock of 1973 affected him. The 'postmodern' was for him unease, and he evolved as the conscience of post-war British architecture. He broke with the utopian and technical formality. Scenes in America Deserta (1982) and A Concrete Atlantis (1986) talk of open spaces and his anticipation of a 'modern' future. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reyner_Banham [Feb 2006]

See also: modern architecture - 1960 - machine

2006, Feb 21; 20:05 ::: The Wizard of Oz (1939) - Victor Fleming

In search of art deco in cinema

The Wizard of Oz (1939) - Victor Fleming [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Interesting comparison of Art Deco and Streamline Moderne in relation to the set design of The Wizard of Oz, I cannot confirm if it is true or not, as I have been unable to find pictures of Wicked Witch of the West's castle.

The Wicked Witch of the West's Castle, as depicted in the 1939 film classic, The Wizard of Oz, was for the most part of Art Deco design, that is, prior to when Art Deco evolved into Streamline Moderne. As was the case with much Art Deco architecture early on, which had been representative of the triumph of the Machine Age, we see this same stiff mechanicalness very much represented in the Witch's Castle itself, accentuated all the more by those who guarded it. In stark contrast to this, of course, was the Emerald City, which was overtly Streamline Moderne in design. And all told, the two contrasting architectural styles very much reflected the outlook that was prevalent at the time of the movie's release. It was during the final leg of the Great Depression, and when Streamline Moderne far more reflected the desired mood. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicked_Witch_of_the_West%27s_Castle [Feb 2006]

See also: 1939 - film - art deco - streamline

2006, Feb 21; 20:05 ::: Trashfilm Roadshows : Off the Beaten Track with Subversive Movies (2002) - Johannes Schonner

Trashfilm Roadshows : Off the Beaten Track with Subversive Movies (2002) - Johannes Schonner [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

For Johannes Schonherr, no job is too small, no place too distant or unlikely that he cannot screen or hunt down obscure movies. From the bowels of New York and Punk clubs in San Francisco, to Pyongyang, North Korea, and Moscow on a fake visa, Schonherr is a cineaste on a mission: He is attacked by feminists; witness to the final gig of shock-rocker GG Allin; employee in the world's cheapest film-to-video transfer shop; and proprietor of a rat-house cinema. --from the publisher

The trials and tribulations of Schonherr on the road: Nick Zedd being attached by feminists in Nuremberg, Germany A Richard Kern show brought to a halt by violent leftists Schonherr's invitation to Russia for the screening of anti-Communist propaganda A trip across America in a dodgy vehicle loaded with reels of film Wild cinematic discoveries at New York's cheapest film-to-video transfer shop Running a no-budget rathouse of a cinema Travelling to North Korea for the bizarre cinematic propaganda of the last true rogue state GG Allin's final gig Being branded an 'imperialist spy' in North Korea. --from the publisher

About the Author
Johannes Schönner has written extensively on underground film. He is a film exhibitor who has travelled around the world, and has also worked in a film-to-video transfer shop and the Lighthouse Cinema in New York. Johannes Schönner was also a contributor to Fleshpot - a Critical Vision publication.

First Sentence:
I was living in Boston in 1990 when friends in New York City rang up to tell me a couple of German guys were heading in my direction with a sack of 16mm films.

Capitalized Phrases (CAPs): (learn more)
North Korea, Miss Choe, Christian Karl, Great Leader, Kim Jong-il, Richard Kern, San Francisco, Silke Mayer, Michael Zettler, Todd Phillips, Pike Street Cinema, Miss Pak, Nick Zedd, Western Europe, Lower East Side, Red Square, Jeri Rossi, East Germany, Dennis Nyback, Korea Film Show, Wilhelm Hein, Mount Myohyang, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, April Culture Festival, Hunter Mann

See also: trash - film - subversion - off beat

2006, Feb 21; 19:05 ::: Detour (1945) - Edgar G. Ulmer

"murderers... must be brought to justice" --Production Code

Detour (1945) - Edgar G. Ulmer [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Detour is a 1945 film noir cult classic that stars Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Claudia Drake and Edmund MacDonald. A B-movie, it was shot in six days. The film, budgeted for $89,000, ended up costing $117,000 to make. To preserve the films right-to-left orientation used in the cross-country scenes, the movie's director reversed many of the hitchhiking shots so that now the cars are on the wrong side of the road.

The movie was adapted by Martin Goldsmith and Martin Mooney (uncredited) from Martin Goldsmith's novel, and was directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. The 68-minute film was created and released by the Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC). Because the 1945 Production code mandated that "murderers... must be brought to justice" in all films made, director Ulmer satisfied censors by ending the movie with Al the hitchhiker being picked up after predicting his arrest earlier.

A piano player, Al (Neal), sets off hitchhiking his way to California to be with his girl. Along the way, a stranger in a convertible gives him a ride. Al and the paranoid stranger pull over to put the top up only to find the driver dead at the wheel. Al panics and dumps the body in a gully and drive off in his car. Later, he picks up another hitchhiker. Vera, (Savage) a femme fatale, threatens to turn him in for the supposed murder unless he assumes the identity of the dead man to collect an inheritance.

The film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. Critical response to the film today is almost universally positive. Time Magazine lists the film in the magazine's All Time 100 Films while Roger Ebert wrote: "This movie from Hollywood's poverty row, shot in six days, filled with technical errors and ham-handed narrative, starring a man who can only pout and a woman who can only sneer, should have faded from sight soon after it was released in 1945. And yet it lives on, haunting and creepy, an embodiment of the guilty soul of film noir. No one who has seen it has easily forgotten it."

I know. Someday a car will stop to pick me up that I never thumbed. Yes, fate, or some mysterious force can put the finger on you or me for no good reason at all.

Edgar G. Ulmer
Film director Edgar G. Ulmer (1904-1972) is mostly remembered for the movies The Black Cat (1934) and Detour (1945). These stylish and eccentric works have achieved cult status, but Ulmer's other films remain relatively unknown. As a young man Ulmer lived in Vienna, Austria where he worked as a stage actor and set designer while studying architecture and philosophy. He set designed for Max Reinhardt's theater, served his apprenticeship with F. W. Murnau, and worked with collaborators including Robert Siodmak, Billy Wilder, Fred Zinnemann, and Eugen Schüftan. Ulmer came to Hollywood with Murnau in the 20s to assist with the art direction on Sunrise (1927). In an interview with Peter Bogdanovich he also recalled making two-reel westerns in Hollywood around this time. The Black Cat (1934), starring Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, is an early example of Ulmer's striking visual style.

Ulmer's career was spent mostly in Poverty Row cinema: after an early success at Universal with The Black Cat, Ulmer, for both personal reasons and a desire for creative independence, left the major studios behind. He specialized first in "ethnic films", notably four in Yiddish. The best-known of the Yiddish films is Green Fields (1937), co-directed with Jacob Ben-Ami. Ulmer then found a niche making melodramas on tiny budgets and with often unpromising scripts and actors for PRC (Producers Releasing Corporation). Through the rest of his career, Ulmer worked mostly on low-budget films in America and Europe. In the 40s he did get a chance to direct two films with larger budgets, Ruthless (1948) and The Strange Woman (1946). The latter is an example of Ulmer at his best, featuring a strong performance by Hedy Lamarr. Detour (1945) has achieved considerable acclaim as a seminal example of film noir, and was picked by the Library of Congress as one of the first group of 100 films worthy of special preservation efforts. Wife Shirley Ulmer acted as script supervisor on nearly all of her director-husband films from 1934 on. He directed his last film, The Cavern, in Italy in 1964; several years later, he suffered a crippling stroke, and died September 30, 1972.

Bibliography Bogdanovich, Peter, Who the Devil Made It, Knopf, 1997 --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_G._Ulmer [Feb 2006]

--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detour_(movie) [Feb 2006]

See also: b-movie - 1945 - detournement - film noir

2006, Feb 21; 16:05 ::: Designing Women (2003) - Lucy Fischer

In search of art deco in cinema

Designing Women (2003) - Lucy Fischer [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

"Lucy Fischer's book is fueled by love... and enlivened by her zest for finding and analyzing the presence of Art Deco in unlikely places. Her research is meticulous.... This book is a very entertaining investigation of a style still much loved today." -- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Friendly to the general reader...It's hard not to be charmed...It's an extremely stimulating red." -- The Sophisticate

"A beautiful, and beautifully illustrated, book that is a real pleasure to read. Indeed, rarely has a feminist-inspired study of film exhibited so much pure pleasure. The chapter on Art Deco and the Movie Musical is a sheer delight." -- Linda Williams, University of California, Berkeley

"From the pages of women's magazines to the salons and counters of department stores to the set design of Hollywood films, the Art Deco style moderne was used to market modernity and elegance. In Designing Women: Cinema, Art Deco, and the Female Form, Lucy Fischer uses her personal attraction to the Deco style -- a collecting urge that fuels her scholarship -- to revisit the pages and films of the past with an analytic ardor. Fischer examines the figuration of a female body in Deco-infused cosmetics, jewelry, clothing, housewares, furniture, graphic design, fashion shows, and architecture. Designing Women offers a vivid contribution to the study of American material culture -- its surfaces and effects -- and the female consumers who fell under its spell." -- Anne Friedberg, associate professor of film and visual studies, University of California, Irvine

Grand, sensational, and exotic, Art Deco design was above all modern, exemplifying the majesty and boundless potential of a newly industrialized world. From department store window dressings to the illustrations in the Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogs to the glamorous pages of Vogue and Harper's Bazar, Lucy Fischer documents the ubiquity of Art Deco in mainstream consumerism and its connection to the emergence of the "New Woman" in American society. Fischer argues that Art Deco functioned as a trademark for popular notions of femininity during a time when women were widely considered to be the primary consumers in the average household, and as the tactics of advertisers as well as the content of new magazines such as Good Housekeeping and the Woman's Home Companion increasingly catered to female buyers. While reflecting the growing prestige of the modern woman, Art Deco-inspired consumerism helped shape the image of femininity that would dominate the American imagination for decades to come.

In films of the middle and late 1920s, the Art Deco aesthetic was at its most radical. Female stars such as Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, and Myrna Loy donned sumptuous Art Deco fashions, while the directors Cecil B. DeMille, Busby Berkeley, Jacques Feyder, and Fritz Lang created cinematic worlds that were veritable Deco extravaganzas. But the style soon fell into decline, and Fischer examines the attendant taming of the female role throughout the 1930s as a growing conservatism challenged the feminist advances of an earlier generation. Progressively muted in films, the Art Deco woman—once an object of intense desire—gradually regressed toward demeaning caricatures and pantomimes of unbridled sexuality. Exploring the vision of American womanhood as it was portrayed in a large body of films and a variety of genres, from the fashionable musicals of Josephine Baker, and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to the fantastic settings of Metropolis, The Wizard of Oz, and Lost Horizon, Fischer reveals America's long standing fascination with Art Deco, the movement's iconic influence on cinematic expression, and how its familiar style left an indelible mark on American culture.

Contents Introduction: A Method to My Madness
1.The Art Deco Style: Modernity and the Feminine
2.Counter Culture: Art Deco, Consumerism, and the Department Store
3.Design for Living: Marketing Art Deco to Women
4.Film Melodrama: Greta Garbo as Art Deco Icon
5.Art Deco and the Movie Musical
6.Strangers in Paradise: South Seas Films of the Art Deco Era
7.Architectural Exoticism and the Art Deco Picture Palace
8.Madame Satan: Fantasy, Art Deco, and the Femme Fatale

About the Author
Lucy Fischer is director of the film studies program and professor of English and film at the University of Pittsburgh, and a former president of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. She is the author of Sunrise; Cinematernity: Film, Motherhood, Genre; and Shot/Countershot: Film Tradition and Women's Cinema.

The image of woman is ubiquitous in Art Deco design - in sculptures, pottery, glassware, jewelry and lamps. Lucy Fischer argues that Art Deco style became a kind of "trademark" for the modern woman of the era. Moreover, the Art Deco woman, as screen protagonist, was at her most radical in the mid- to late-1920s, as embodied by actresses such as Greta Garbo or, notably, Brigitte Helm, who played both the authentic and the replicant (robot) Maria in Fritz Lang's 1926 German silent film classic "Metropolis", which Fischer calls a "Deco extravaganza". But throughout the 1930s, the female figure became progressively more muted and tamed in both the musical and the exotic adventure epic, while in the fantasy film, it became associated with perversity. Meanwhile, just as in the wider culture, a growing conservatism questioned the feminist advances of an earlier generation. Fischer situates the Art Deco movement within the dynamics of American consumerism, revealing how its appeal to women was used to sell cosmetics, clothing, home furnishings, jewellery and objets d'art. She also investigates its implications for the star system. The book examines a large body of film work, from a variety of genres, in terms of set and costume design as well as narrative structure, and extends its conception of the cinematic "text" beyond the screen to the realm of movie theatre design. --via Amazon.co.uk

Art deco films: Aelita (1924) - Metropolis (1927) - The Black Cat (1934) - Things to Come (1936)

See also: art deco - film - cinema

2006, Feb 21; 12:05 ::: Pussycats (2003) - Gilles Néret

Pussycats (2003) - Gilles Néret [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Labial splendor
Enjoy the iconography of the female sex organ from ancient times to today through a diverse collection of etchings, woodcuts, paintings, illustrations, drawings, and photographs by artists such as Rembrandt, Picasso, Matisse, Schiele, Ungerer, Crumb, and more.

See also: Gilles Néret - pussy - cat

2006, Feb 20; 22:05 ::: Fashion (1904) - Georg Simmel

Fashion (1904) - Georg Simmel [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Simmel on Culture : Selected Writings (1998) - David Patrick Frisby (Editor), Mike Featherstone (Editor) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
This volume brings together for the first time a wide range of essays on culture and related themes by the sociologist and philosopher Georg Simmel (1858-1918). Simmel is now recognized as one of the leading social theorists active in Europe in the early part of the 20th century. This unique collection enables the reader to engage with the full range of SimmelÆs dazzling contributions to the study of culture. The collection opens with SimmelÆs most basic essays on defining culture, its changes, and its crisis. These are followed by more specific explorations of the culture of face-to-face interactions, spatial and urban culture, leisure culture, the culture of money and commodities, the culture of belief, and the politics of female culture. The collection includes a large number of previously untranslated essays together with others that are not readily available. The result is an unparalleled introduction to Simmel on culture. The book not only provides a missing piece in the history of cultural study, it also reveals a new way of studying culture. It will be essential reading for students of cultural studies and sociology.

See also: Georg Simmel - fashion - 1904

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