Based on 15 hours of interviews conducted by film scholar Alain Silver, this new book on legendary director of photography James Wong Howe (1899-1976) is a must-read for anyone interested in what happens behind the scenes on a Hollywood set from film aficionados to industry professionals. A two-time Academy-Award(R) winner and still considered one of the greatest cinematographers in the history of American motion pictures, James Wong Howe began his career in 1917 at Famous Players-Lasky as a camera assistant working on silent features directed by such pioneers of narrative cinema as Cecil B. DeMille. Promoted to Director of Photography in 1922, Howe spent almost three decades shooting A-projects while under contract at Paramount, MGM, 20th Century-Fox, Selznick International, and Warner Bros. then ather twenty-plus years as a freelance cameraman. At those studios, he shot projects as diverse as the silent Peter Pan, Viva Villa!, The Prisoner of Zenda, Abe Lincoln in Illiis, King's Row, Body and Soul, The Rose Tattoo, Picnic, Hud, Seconds, and almost 60 sixty years after his first job Funny Lady in 1975. It was the people who were interested in movies as a living art form, people that loved to experiment and found the results gratifying, who made the technical progress in motion pictures. Such comments by Howe about his career, his style, actors, producers, and directors with whom he worked, and his beliefs about what constitutes good camerawork are extensively antated and profusely illustrated with over 500 images, many of which are keyed to Howe's remarks about specific scenes and shots reflect his direct, professional approach: There must be a reason for all lighting: what it's for and where it's coming from. Howe provides considerable detail about his work with such producers and directors as DeMille, David O. Selznick, Hall Wallis, William Cameron Menzies, Victor Fleming, John Cromwell, Martin Ritt, Herbert Bren, John Frankenheimer, and Sidney Lumet. Among the star performers discussed are Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Sean Connery, Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, John Garfield, Cary Grant, Rita Hayworth, William Holden, Hedy Lamarr, Burt Lancaster, Vivien Leigh, Myrna Loy, Robert Mitchum, Paul Newman, Kim Novak, Laurence Olivier, Robert Redford, Edward G. Robinson, Ann Sheridan, Barbara Stanwyck, Barbra Streisand, Spencer Tracy, and Natalie Wood. Also included are the most complete filmography ever compiled of all of Howe's work (with some newly discovered credits), two essays about lighting and preparation written by Howe himself, a biographical summary, select bibliography, and a complete index.
Alain Silver is the author of The Samurai Film and Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles (with Elizabeth Ward). Among his other books, co-authored with James Ursini, are The Noir Style, The Vampire Film, Film Noir (Taschen), More Things than are Dreamt Of, L.A. Noir, and director studies of David Lean, Robert Aldrich and Roger Corman. He is co-editor of Film Noir: The Encyclopedia, four Film Noir Readers, Horror Film Reader, Gangster Film Reader and a contributor to Film Noir and Philosophy. Forthcoming are Where Danger Lives: Film Noir Graphics and Film Noir: the Directors. His produced screenplays include Kiss Daddy Goodbye, the Showtime feature Time at the Top, and an adaptation of Dostoevsky's White Nights, which he also directed. Selected feature credits as a producer include Crashing, Beat, Cyborg2, 10th & Wolf, Night Visitor, and Palmer's Pick-up. He has been a guest lecturer at film noir retrospectives in Palm Springs, Detroit, and Santa Fe, New Mexico and served as a moderator and panelist for numerous presentations sponsored by the Writers Guild of America, the Directors Guild of America, the American Film Market, and at the Torino, Cinequest, Pacific Northwest, Slamdance and Los Angeles Film Festivals. He has been interviewed as an expert on Raymond Chandler, film noir, the samurai film and vampire films for documentary programming produced by the BBC; TV-Ontario; E! Entertainment Television; Channel Four, UK; ZDF/Germany; Starz/Encore channel; the Sci-Fi Channel; the American Movie Channel and KCET Los Angeles. His DVD work includes audio or video commentaries for over two dozen titles from Warner Bros., 20th-Century Fox and Criterion including David Lean's Hobson's Choice and numerous classic period film noir such as Murder, My Sweet, Out of the Past, Thieves' Highway, Call Northside 777, Panic in the Streets, The Dark Corner, Laura, Double Indemnity, Kiss of Death, The Street with No Name, Crossfire, Lady in the Lake, Nightmare Alley, Brute Force, Tension, Mystery Street and Where Danger Lives. His essays accompany the Criterion releases of Samurai Spy and The Seven Samurai. He is a member of the Writers Guild of America west and Directors Guild of America and holds degrees in Theater Arts/Motion Pictures from U.C.L.A.