DVD: The Photographer (Edward Weston) by Willard Van Dyke

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by reggie, Jun 2, 2006.

  1. reggie

    reggie Member

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    I just bought this item on ebay from the seller named scanwizard.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=15247&item=7624226502

    It costs $20 and there are more copies available.

    It is a transfer to DVD from the original 16mm movie made by the U.S. government. It was shown in post-war Germany to help the Germans understand what America and Americans were like - also referred to a propaganda. Apparently, Edward Weston was a typical American.

    Some 15+ years ago, I had read of a reference to this film. I called the public library in New York City and asked about it. They looked it up and told me the had it in 16mm. We set up an appointment and they setup a camera in a private room, drug out the film and let me view it a few times. I was amazed at the film and what the library did for me.

    The film is typcial 1950's b&w style, a real knee slapper style-wise. It is great seeing EW working in the field and in the darkroom. It shows the interior of his house on Wildcat Hill and how simply he lived and worked.

    It is completely narrated. EW nevers gets to speak on camera unfortunately. It does show some of his work and the areas he photographed in.

    There is a woman in the film, almost in every shot. Is she Dody Thompson (sp?)? Does anyone know?

    Anyway, you can contact the seller:

    www.historicphotoarchive.com

    Tom Robinson
    441 NE Jarrett
    Portland, OR 97211
    (503)460-0415

    For the paranoid, this is not spam. I don't know the seller and I don't get a toaster if you buy one. I'm just passing on an interesting item to those interested in a piece of history. If you don't want to buy one, you can fly to NYC and view the movie<g>.

    -R
     
  2. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    That's funny I get a toaster for every ten I sell why don't you get anything? Just kidding, I am going to order one, I have the Brett Weston DVD and it's very informative. It's nice that we live in a time when we can have copies of these fine projects that give us some insight in to the lives of the masters. Thanks for passing on the information. I like to watch the History and Military channels because they show footage in B&W, mostly by amateurs and a little off quality but it gives us a glimpse of what it was at the time. The content is questionable though sometimes.
    There is a saying; A minute with a master is worth a thousand hours of self study.
    Regards,
    Curt
     
  3. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I've asked the same question about the woman on several forums and have never gotten a reply. Someone once answered that Dody was Weston's last assistant, but we know that. The question is, is that her in the film? If not, who is it?

    Van Dyke did films for the government in WWII and did this film shortly after, so it's really done in a 40s style. At that time, synching audio with video was a very complicated and big budget thing to do, so these films by Van Dyke had no sound bites and had no natural sound, either.

    It would have been great to hear what Weston was saying as he shot, but the film is certainly worth having as it is.
    juan
     
  4. Bill Hahn

    Bill Hahn Member

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    There is a video "Remembering Edward Weston", which contains a lot of B&W footage showing EW at work. I wonder if this footage is from the film you mentioned. It also has interviews (done much later) with Brett, Cole, Charis Wilson and Dody Thompson.
    The woman helping EW in the B&W footage appears to be a much younger version of the Dody Thompson interviewed elsewhere in the video....just my opinion.
     
  5. mmcclellan

    mmcclellan Subscriber

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    The film here was made by the old U.S. Information Agency. It is a superb film -- worth watching more than once! -- and shows the Great Master at work with plenty of commentary about him. It's well worth the money and a great addition to your EW library or film collection of great phototographers.

    I was thinking the woman in the film is his second wife, Charis Wilson, who was also in many of his photos. Not 100% positive, but I think it is.

    In any case, excellent film and well worth the money!
     
  6. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    USIA, yep. Begun in 1947. Willard Van Dyke directed it and was the photographer. it was written by Ben Maddow and Irving Jacoby. The actress who played Edw.'s apprentice is Franny Clausen. The narrator, John Carradine.

    I believe Cole shot the stills :cool:, but everything is hazy this morning.

    Source: Footnote #106, The Archive #30: The Letters between Edward Weston and Willard Van Dyke; Leslie Squyres Calmes; CCP, Univ. Arizona; 1992.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 2, 2006
  7. Wayne

    Wayne Member

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    I think the film is dated and hokey, a complete disappointment. It's just Cold War propaganda. You'd think Van Dyke could have done much better. I wouldnt compare this with the Brett Weston film, which is actually informative about Brett's photography.

    Remembering Edward Weston is a better film, IMO.



    Wayne
     
  8. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    Also, it is evident from looking at Westons face and movements that he was suffering from Parkinson's by that time and that the "assistant" is no photographer by the way she is tugging at the film holder in placing in it and out of her camera.

    Jon
     
  9. mikewhi

    mikewhi Member

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    You're missing the point entirely. This film is a piece of photographic history and in that context, it is irreplacable. In no way is it meant to be a monograph of EW's work and comparing it to BW's DVD is like comparing apples and oranges.

    -R