Photogenie in the Magic Lamp


New Neg Sparkle! Over at The Chiseler. The subject is “the photogenic,” one of those words where everybody knows what it means but nobody understands what it is.

Also this issue: Jonathan Rosenbaum! Martin Billheimer! Imogen Sara Smith!

7 Responses to “Photogenie in the Magic Lamp”

  1. dbenson Says:

    Recalling an ancient newspaper feature that insisted women with Kate Hepburn cheekbones (the phrase “a face like a bagful of antlers” stuck in my mind) were not considered attractive until the advent of photography, where such topography was more interesting than a B&W oval.

    Stan Laurel was emphatic about strong “comedy lighting” to flatten the boys’ faces. Walter Kerr noted how carefully Harry Langdon was shot to preserve the “baby” look. James Wong Howe’s career was made when he figured out how to film Mary Miles Minter’s pale eyes. Leslie Banks, wounded in WWI, was generally shot from certain angles to conceal irregularities in his face. When he played the warped hunter in “The Most Dangerous Game” they favored angles that emphasized those irregularities.

    A case can also be made that sometimes, it’s not just a matter of being able to capture an elusive reality but being able to add qualities that DON’T exist in reality. Hollywood glamour girls and not a few leading men are famously the result of camera magic, both on the set and in the darkroom.

  2. Finally, someone with the guts to point out that Hitler wasn’t All That! Although he had a particular move that’s suggestive of the nature of his appeal — to part of the audience at least. He’s addressing a rally doing the Hitler thing, shouting and gesticulating — then, as the audience roars in response, he steps back from the microphone, slightly bent over, arms crossed head lowered. It’s a pose that suggests exhaustion, vulnerability, weakness not strength. To compel the audience to embrace and restore the Fuhrer who’s so visibly giving his all for the Volk?

    Something that Trump does not have in his toolbox, of course. At least, I don’t think he stands like this in order to make his fans feel they need to prop him up:

  3. We assume the Trumpian stance results from a combo of elevator shoes and beer gut. Some recent stuff about it resulting from dementia seems to be phony, though I think he’s senile ALSO.

    Some of Trump’s preening on the campaign trail looked like a conscious imitation of Mussolini’s response to roaring crowds, though.

    Michael Powell shot Leslie Banks 90% in profile in one quota quickie, which was tiresome, and made it rather shocking when we finally saw him full face with the big scar. George MacReady was another with a scar which the makeup dept. enhanced in Paths of Glory.

  4. Hitler worked with a drama coach to develop his retinue of expressive theatrical gestures. They were preconceived more than they were spontaneous. There’s a series of sequential photos documenting this in John Toland’s biography of Hitler.

  5. I have to chime in regarding Trump and Hitler. U.S. Democrats are about to vote for a man who molests children on camera (the videos are available to everyone). As if that were not sufficiently repellant, and obviously it’s not, Joe Biden outflanked Ronald Reagan by moving to that ignominious racist’s right, haranguing the President, with Nurmberg-like speeches, into spending federal dollars on the mass incarceration of African-Americans. Am I comparing Biden to Hitler and/or Trump? Absolutely not. Just pointing out how superior Liberals should feel for uncritically supporting a man who brags (LOUDLY!) about his “compromises” with the KKK, his blocking poor women from federally. funded abortions — and who has killed with strokes of the pen tens of millions of people. Did I mention that he gropes little girls in the marble halls? Oh, yes. I did.

  6. I think a lot of people are lacking enthusiasm for Biden for those reasons (dunno about the groping — he is tactile but unlike Trump he doesn’t rape them — but I’ll add that he’s showing cognitive decline). But JB looks set to beat Trump for the reason that didn’t work for Hilary: he’s not Trump. Now a lot of people are more educated as to what Trump’s like, that reason has more force.

    I wish it were almost any of the other candidates but I would vote for Biden if I were an American.

  7. Well, I hate to encourage you to seek out the videos. Democrats seem willing to avoid them. Two in particular constitute crimes against children. The girls can be seen pulling away as Biden’s hand “drifts”. I guess I’m saying that withholding enthusiasm is not enough.

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