Sunday, 29 April 2012

Paintings from the movies


I've just spent a wonderful Sunday watching Laura, the classic film noir starring Gene Tierney. The film is part of the matinee classics being shown on the big screen at the Cornerhouse, and it was great to see it as it would have first been viewed all those years ago at it's premier in 1944.

The story revolves around the murder of beautiful advertising executive Laura Hunt (Tierney) who soon becomes the infactuation of detective Mark Macpherson (Dana Andrews) as he falls in love with her stunning portrait and learns her story.


The portait in question is quite beautiful and has it's own interesting story to tell;

The first version of the picture was painted by the wife the of the original director, Mamoulian, but when Otto Preminger took over as the film's director he found the painting to his dislike. He wanted mystery and captivation, but instead thought the portrait was inflattering, flat and boring. 

To remedy this he sent Tierney off to studio photographer Frank Polony and had her picture taken. The best shot was enlarged to a portait size and the photo was then painted over with oils to give it the quality of an original painting. In this way Premigner felt he had captured the allure and power the painting needed to draw the audience in and be believable as the object of Macpherson's desire.


But what intrigues me perhaps more is what happend to this wonderful object after the film had wrapped? The IMDB website states that the painting can be seen in two other films; On the Riviera 1951, starring Danny Kaye and, Woman's World 1954 starring Clifton Webb who also starred in Laura.

But where is it now? Indeed the painting of Laura is not the only art from a movie which has made me ask this question; There have been numerous works of art created just for films that seem to have disappeared into the great abyss, some more classical than others but in my opinion just as wonderful, not only for their asthetics but also because of the history they hold.

 
My favourtite movie painting is that of Scarlett O Hara, as seen hanging in her and Rhett Butler's huge town house in Gone With the Wind. An imposing piece of portraiture I'd love to know who painted it and if Vivien Leigh actually sat for it. On further investigation, I've found out that it now hangs safely in the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta.


However another piece of movie history that probably HAS gone with the wind is the saloon painting of entertainer Katie Brown from the film Calamity Jane starring Doris Day and Howard Keel.

This (purposely) unfinished painting shows the newly discoverd showgirl Katie Brown after she made her debut, coming out of the shadows of stage star and former employee, Adelaide Adams.


Used simpley as a prop for Keel to sing to, this painting is still a super pin up girl of the era, with all the cute cheese cake allure of a Gil Elvgren. But where is it now?...

If you can think of any other paintings or art from the classic movies of yesteryear I'd love to know what they are and perhaps what happened to them, who knows, an historical movie gem could be sitting dusty in some attic right now just waiting to be discovered....

10 comments:

Niall young said...

One of my favourite films is 'Sirens'..it concerns the real life story of Norman Linsay, an Australian painter who became embroiled in crontoversy when exhibiting paintings which were considered too risque...the movie features paintings in progress which feature Elle MacPherson in her debut acting role..I can't find anyexamples, and my only copy is on VHS which for which I don't have a player...so i'm pretty useless really, except to say here is a link to his examples of his work...wonderful stuff.


http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=norman+lindsay&hl=en&rls=com.microsoft:en-gb:IE-Address&rlz=1I7ADBF_en-GB&prmd=imvnsob&source=lnms&tbm=isch&ei=fZWdT4b9DsfW0QXvpvH2Dg&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&cd=2&sqi=2&ved=0CA8Q_AUoAQ&biw=1366&bih=669

Gemma Parker said...

Wow, I just looked him up and they are pretty voluptuous! I wonder who did the paintings for the film? I've seen it before and never realised it was based on a real artist. More investigation to do....

Joanna said...

Excellent Gem! Really good subject and I love the Katie Brown reference as i've known that picture since I can remember. It's got me thinking now....I might write about it too, based on Laura...

marc kehoe said...

Portrait of Jennie
(1948, dir.Wm. Dieterle, prod. David Selznick, starring Jos. Cotton, Jennide Jones) Portrait by Robert Brackman,

Gemma Parker said...

I just found the painting from a portriat of Jennie. I'd never heard of the film but it sounds terrific, a real spooky classic story. I have to see it now! Thanks v much!

D said...

Hello,
I found your post, because I was also wondering about the portraits from movies. There is also a portrait of Bette Davis as "Mrs. Skeffington" that I have not been able to find out about.

Gemma Parker said...

Hi D,

I found a great blog post with many other portraits of actresses in, but not much info, the painting of Bette davis is on there too. You might have already seen it but have a look it's a fab blog!:http://dsata.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/actresses-and-their-portrait-3.html

Nikki via The Scarlett Rose Garden said...

Hi there~ Viv did indeed pose for the painting. I have a rare photo of her doing so. I can't remember the artist's name, but I'm pretty sure it was a female painter. Yes, the painting now hangs in the Margaret Mitchell House, however for years it hung in a school and the kids did horrendous things to it, such as sticking pencils through it!

T. Grant Freeman said...

The portrait of Better Davis as Fanny Trellis Skeffington was sold on Ebay about 15 years ago to a private collector...I bid furiously on it but got sniped at the last minute. It has been out of sight since

T. Grant Freeman said...
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