Monday, 5 December 2016

URBAN LANDSCAPES - THE MATTE PAINTER'S CONCRETE JUNGLE: Part Two

Greetings matte painting enthusiasts, it's time once again to take another of NZPete's magical mystery tours into the world of the traditional, hand painted matte shot.  Today we will conclude our two part retrospective look at the matte artist's urban landscape, with a great many wonderful examples of the artform, numerous of which haven't been illustrated anywhere until now.  I've got some amazing material for you here and I hope you'll find the following both illuminating and informative.
As with the majority of my bloggings, today's issue is huge - out of neccessity you understand - as there are just so many great shots I feel that I'd like to share with like minded souls.  I'm constantly at loggerheads with my own adult children (and my wife of more than three decades) who harass me endlessly for making these bloggings so large.  They assure me that NOBODY wants to read more than 180 words and view 5 photos on any blog so I am wasting my time.  For their information well over 1.8 million page views have been totalled since I began, with close to 80'000 views on my most popular article, Magicians of the Miniature, followed by almost 60'000 for my 2001 article and near on 40'000 for the popular Jim Danforth interview, so I guess someone, somewhere is reading this stuff.

Oh, and on a completely different topic... to those forlorn North American readers (you know who you are) who have recently dropped me a line asking for urgent info on emmigrating down under to New Zealand - even on a home built raft jerry rigged out of old 44 gallon oil drums held together with string - the relevant info is "in the mail" ;)

So folks, onward and upward... let us saunter down that all too familiar road to classic, hand crafted motion picture trickery... in no particular order of course.

Enjoy



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RKO's Camera Effects Department under Vernon Walker provided this dramatic tilt up matte shot for the excellent MURDER, MY SWEET (1944)
Also from RKO are this pair of mattes from THIS LAND IS MINE (1943)
A beautiful Jim Danforth matte painting from a commercial for the, at the time, not-yet-constructed Texas Commerce Bank.  The clouds and sky are rear projected and 'colourized' from a black and white separation.  There is a small area of live action at the lower right (the church and parking lot.  There is another glass behind the main building, on which Jim painted the iron girders of the building.  Filming in reverse, the foreground painting was scraped off in sections joined by in-camera dissolves. This revealed the iron work, which was also scraped off in sections connected by dissolves, slightly trailing the building's 'skin'.  This was not a job for the faint of heart.  Jim's wife Karen couldn't stand to watch.  It all worked fine, and the building appeared to 'grow' upward, in a stylized way.

An unidentified matte composite from an RKO production from the 1940's.

The live action plate for the shot being the actual gate to the studio.
A Jan Domela matte shot depicting a turn of the century NYC from the Martin & Lewis comedy PARDNERS (1956)
A Russ Lawson matte from Universal's THE DEADLY MANTIS (1957)
A tilt down matte painted shot from Fritz Lang's WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS (1956)

ILM's Frank Ordaz painted this impressive shot for the diabolically awful HOWARD, THE DUCK (1985)

The lightweight Sandra Dee comedy THAT FUNNY FEELING (1965) had some excellent trick shots including this Albert Whitlock painted view of New York City matted into the Universal backlot.

Another of Al's mattes from the same film.
Also from that very same film was this astonishingly well designed and executed effects shot by Jim Danforth.  Although the city here is genuine, I have included the shot as everything else is an expertly faked illusion, and one of my favourite trick shots of all time.  In order to depict a crazily driven red sports car dodging traffic and speeding off while leaving a massive traffic jam in it's wake, animator Danforth set up a miniature of the entire right side of the freeway and created the traffic mess with stop motion toy cars.  Jim would perfectly blend the miniature set with the live action plate with glass painting that tied the elements together.  What might normally kill an ambitious shot like this would be the incongruent lighting where incandescent lamps for the visual effect set up usually did not match the actual daylight in the live action footage, yet Danforth has somehow pulled it off as 100% believable.  I regard this as Jim's best all round trick shot.
Motion picture pioneer and special effects innovator Norman Dawn worked for a few years under Cedric Gibbons in Warren Newcombe's matte department at Metro Goldwyn Mayer.  Among the matte shots Dawn painted was this glorious shot for the Greer Garson picture MRS PARKINGTON (1944).  The painting was intended as a 'stock' MGM matte and was used in other films as well.

Also from MGM was this atmospheric night matte from THE CLOCK (1944)

Same film

Director Robert Clouse made a lot of films, though none of them really came anywhere near the heights of his most notable, and deserving success (and one of my all time faves) Enter The Dragon.... though, I digress.  The Yul Brynner headliner above, THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR (1975), was mediocre at best, with a few matte cityscape extensions painted in by Matthew Yuricich.
Mark Sullivan painted this non-existent New York skyline for the made for tv Mickey Spillane thriller MURDER ME, MURDER YOU (1983)

MGM's Civil War era Van Johnson show THE ROMANCE OF ROSY RIDGE (1947).  The set with mask in place prior to the addition of Norman Dawn's extensive matte art.
A very rare example of an unfinished MGM pastel matte, photographed by cameraman Mark Davis as a temporary line up for the purposes of perspective and scale.  Note Dawn's intricate and detailed lay in in fine white pastel, the method of choice at that studio over several decades with amazing results.

The finished composite where Norman Dawn's magnificent pastel matte art has been added.  According to Norman's diaries, MGM's chief of Production Design, Cedric Gibbons, was so happy with this matte shot that he flew Dawn and other members of the crew up to San Francisco as a treat.
Ray Kellogg's matte department at Fox rendered this shot for the rather hysterical Cary Grant-Howard Hawks comedy MONKEY BUSINESS (1952)
Johnny Weissmuller takes a swing in TARZAN'S NEW YORK ADVENTURE (1942).  The upper half of the view is one of George Gibson's large scenic backings, while the lower half just below Weissmuller's action is a Newcombe matte.
I might be wrong, but I think this opening shot from Billy Wilder's hilarious THE APARTMENT (1960) is likely painted.

Classic era MGM pastel matte painting as featured in W.S Van Dyke's SWEETHEARTS (1938)
The small two man effects house, Matte Effects, created scores of invisible matte shots throughout the 1980's and 90's - usually without screen credit!  Artist Ken Marschall and cameraman Bruce Block produced this dizzying shot for a project that neither man can actually recall, other than the client was based in Tulsa, Oklahoma!
One cannot help but be impressed, to put it lightly, at the considerable talents of Ken Marschall's incredibly detailed, photo-real renderings.

Jim Danforth shown here busy with a huge painting for the controversial, though really just cringe inducing PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT (1972).  The painting is so big due to the 20:1 pullback from the Karen Black character up on the balcony.  Jim told me that the cumbersome scale of the artwork was such that it was too big to remove from the rented premises once the matte work was completed so it was just left 'as is, where is'.
New York street as painted by Albert Whitlock for an unknown film or TV movie.

One of the best science fiction films of the decade, or possibly ever was Robert Wise' brilliant THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951).  Unlike any other 'alien from outer space' picture by a long shot - low key, perfectly cast, intelligent script and the grand daddy of all sci-fi music scores by the great Bernard Herrmann!  Anyway, although not an 'effects movie' in the usual sense of the genre, the film has quite a number of matte painted shots - many of which slip by unnoticed. Fred Sersen directed the effects work with associate Ray Kellogg and fx cameramen L.B Abbott and James B.Gordon.  Emil Kosa jnr was chief matte artist.  Above is one of the mattes depicting the Washington DC setting.

Same film:  The Times Square view is an actual location though for narrative purposes most of the vehicles are matte paintings in order to present a 'static' street scene of an otherwise busy locale.

Also from THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL is this undetectable matte painting where much of the frame is artwork.  I even wonder about the top level of the bus and passengers?
Same film, with Paris at stand still courtesy of a substantial matte.
An uncredited matte painted apartment building from another of my all time favourite films - Neil Simon's THE ODD COUPLE (1968).  Paul Lerpae was photographic effects man though longtime Paramount artist Jan Domela had retired a few years previous.
Artist Christopher Evans at ILM painted the city at night and distant mountains for Spielberg's E.T (1982).  The immediate foreground is a miniature set.
Matte from Republic's film noir TOO LATE FOR TEARS (1949).  Brothers Howard and Theodore Lydecker got screen credit but they were chiefly miniature exponents so it's possible veteran effects pioneer Lewis Physioc may have painted the mattes here as he did work for that studio.
This shot is from LOGAN'S RUN (1976).  The shot was a fix up as the actual building was real though the mirrored glass caught reflections of clouds rolling by which was ill suited to a city of the future built within a giant plastic dome!  The building had to be painted over as a post production repair to remove the error.  Matte artist Matthew Yuricich who won an Oscar for his many mattes on this film.
Albert Whitlock took home his second Academy Award for his outstanding work on Robert Wise' THE HINDENBURG (1975).  The whole shot here is a trick.  Period NYC of the 1930's painted on glass, with a separate foreground glass painted airship animated frame by frame.  The rolling, wispy cloud layers were additional bipacked elements.

Columbia's intense, powerful drama THE GARMENT JUNGLE (1957) opened with this shot of New York - a matte shot I've seen in other films of the era.  No effects credit but studio fx cameraman Donald Glouner did hire Matthew Yuricich for a short period during a layoff from MGM, so maybe Matt did this shot?

Ray Milland starred in the very funny Fox picture IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING (1949) - a film that was a sort of pre-curser to Disney's Flubber pictures years later.  In addition to a number of matte shots, Fred Sersen oversaw the various brilliantly executed cel animated opticals and roto work for numerous scenes during baseball games where Milland's secret formula causes his pitched baseball to magically 'avoid' anything made of wood - ie, the bat!!  Very ingenious and hilarious trick work with crazy shots of said baseball actively 'detouring' around the hitter and seemingly possessing a determination of it's own.

Another of the mattes from IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING with entire cityscape painted in.  Several very subtle variations also occur with additional buildings matted into corners of the frame etc to excellent effect.
IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING (1949)

For the excellent and under rated Sherlock Holmes film MURDER BY DECREE (1979), Pinewood's Cliff Culley and Leigh Took furnished various period views of Jack-The-Ripper era London.  Incidentally, Christopher Plummer makes a fine Holmes here and James Mason is superb as Watson!
Long time Paramount FX staffer Jan Domela painted this night view of the Columbia Library for the Clark Gable film TEACHER'S PET (1958)
Albert Whitlock painted hundreds of mattes through his Universal Studios tenure, with many of them being uncredited such as these two from the Doris Day - James Garner comedy THE THRILL OF IT ALL (1963)
THE THRILL OF IT ALL Whitlock matte shot.
British matte and miniature exponent Leigh Took is shown here applying the final touches to a multi-plane glass painting of WWII London for the film CHICAGO JOE AND THE SHOWGIRL (1990).  Sadly, the amount of prep work Leigh did amounted to very little as the scene in the final film was printed down so damn dark as a night shot with very little even discernible.
Matte painter Jim Fetherolf started in the business as an actor before moving into special effects for Fred Sersen at 20th Century Fox in the early 1950's, starting work the very same day as another fledgling effects artist, Matthew Yuricich.  Jim would go on to have a career in matte painting for Disney, with the frame above being an almost full frame matte from THAT DARN CAT (1965)
MGM's PARTY GIRL (1958) with Lee LeBlanc matte work and Clarence Slifer fx camera move.
I've always enjoyed the 'end of civilisation' genre where a small group of isolated survivors try to make a go of it.  The Harry Belafonte film THE WORLD, THE FLESH AND THE DEVIL (1959) featured numerous matte effects - often utilising retouched photographic enlargements - by Lee LeBlanc and Matthew Yuricich.

More mattes from the same film where we see the ultimate nightmarish traffic gridlock of deserted cars and so on.

Sprawling urban vista matte art from UNDERCURRENT (1946) made by MGM.
Jan Domela matte from the Burt Lancaster adventure ROPE OF SAND (1949).  Note how Domela's artwork includes not just the town but also the foreground docks and freight.

Original pastel and gouache Newcombe department matte art from THIS TIME FOR KEEPS (1942), along with the final shot as it's seen in the film.

Matthew Yuricich matte work for the much under appreciated George Pal sci-fi thriller THE POWER (1968)
Although not exactly an urban 'scape, I'll throw it in anyway.  An invisible matte by Emil Kosa jr from the tough Frank Sinatra cop show THE DETECTIVE (1968)
London art as seen in Hitchcock's THE SECRET AGENT (1936)
The famed Hollywood Hills as a full matte painting by Rick Rische for the film SCENE STEALER

Two mattes from the Robert Siodmak thriller THE SUSPECT (1944) set in turn of the century London.  Russell Lawson was matte artist.
I've always loved the work of Peter Ellenshaw, as much for it's spontaneity above all else.  This shot from the dire SUPERMAN IV-THE QUEST FOR PEACE (1987) perfectly sums it up as an amazingly loose, yet on screen wholly believable trick shot where practically the entire view is Ellenshaw brushwork - including most of the traffic and all of the buildings - with the only actual set being a bit of ride side sidewalk, a cop car and taxi and the people! 

Matte art from the Samuel Fuller film SCANDAL SHEET (1952) made for Columbia Pictures.
The unfortunate - for tragic reasons - 1982 theatrical incarnation that was TWILIGHT ZONE-THE MOVIE had a couple of matte shots in it with a trio of top artists providing the artwork.  While Rocco Gioffre painted one shot both Jim Danforth and Mark Sullivan collaborated on this sequence for the climactic finale.  Shown here at left is a pre-comp of the shot.  The top third is a separate painting fused to the lower third with a very soft split.  Danforth dollied over the lower painting, but held the top stationary—a variation on Al Whitlock's moving cloud system.  Jim did the top painting.  Mark did most of the lower painting with all the lights.  Jim then matted wispy clouds over this (on which they also dollied).  On top of this pre-comp, was matted a miniature wing (made by Mark) which had moving shadows on it.  More cloud was added on top of that.  Slit gags were used to create moving lights on the runway
Fred Sersen's department at Fox supplied these painted mattes for THIS IS MY AFFAIR (1937)

In the early 1980's, artist Ken Marschall formed a business partnership with cameraman Bruce Block as the company Matte Effects.  In order to produce the best possible results for feature assignments, Ken and Bruce made a variety of test shots and trials where matte shots might be utilised under differing conditions.  Above is a frame from the live action plate from one such test.
35mm out take of Ken's matte art prior to compositing.
The final comp where The University of Southern California has been transformed into Paris, France.


One of Alfred Hitchcock's very best films, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940) had many inventive effects shots, supervised by veteran Paul Eagler.  This matte shot top up occurred early in the piece.

Atmospheric cityscape by moonlight as seen in the Orson Welles film noir THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI (1948), with visual effects by Larry Butler and Donald Glouner.

Moody British matte work from the edge of the seat thriller SEVEN DAYS TO NOON (1950)
Unknown MGM Newcombe matte from the 1930's

A matte artist - possibly Jack Shaw - is shown here with a painting in it's final stages for the Hal Roach comedy TOPPER TAKES A TRIP (1939)
Illusion Arts' Robert Stromberg painted this matte for the film NAKED GUN 3 (1994).  Robert has since gone on to bigger things with Oscars in Art Direction as well as a couple of directing gigs on big fx films.
Uncredited mattes from the Bob Hope-Dorothy Lamour (mmmmmm!) comedy THEY GOT ME COVERED (1943)
British father of matte painting, Walter Percy 'Pop' Day, worked on so many movies through his long career, with this example being a before and after street scene from David Lean's THIS HAPPY BREED (1944)
A test matte comp also from THIS HAPPY BREED

I'm not sure if these really belong here, but hey, NZPete works in strange and sometimes mysterious ways so here we have some nice mattes from the extremely good military battle of wits,TUNES OF GLORY (1960).  Shepperton Studios matte department did the shots, most likely George Samuels and Bob Cuff.

Matthew Yuricich painted shots such as this for the short lived mid seventies tv series PLANET OF THE APES.

Russell Lawson matte from WRITTEN IN THE WIND (1956)

Jan Domela matte from Ernst Lubitsch's TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1932)

MGM matte from the Laurel & Hardy vehicle PARDON US (1931)
I am proud to say that I own this magnificent Rocco Gioffre matte painting.  Rocco did this in the mid 90's for a Joe Dante tv movie called THE OSIRIS CHRONICLES.
Detail
More of Rocco's detail!
The Capitol Dome, from the Fox film REMEMBER THE DAY (1941)


Iconic matte shot from George Pal's Oscar winning WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE (1951).  Career Paramount visual effects man Gordon Jennings was in charge, with Jan Domela painting the mattes and Irmin Roberts compositing same. Odd perspective errors in the Empire State foreground though.

I have the utmost respect for Mark Sullivan's talents as, not only a matte painter, but also a stop motion animator and all round trick shot guy.  This magnificent full painting was rendered by Mark for the pretty darned good comic book hero show THE ROCKETEER (1991).  A very neat little film in fact, with engaging characters, great thirties art direction and terrific ILM visual effects that hit bullseye.
Mark Sullivan at work on the above matte.  To establish the correct perspective Mark set up a carefully arranged floor plan consisting of wooden blocks positioned to represent the buildings as they should appear.  From this rudimentary miniature layout photographs were taken, and from those an accurate drawing made on glass, with precise then painting executed. Such a beautiful piece of work, it's a shame that it's only on screen for just a couple of seconds... a sort of 'blink, and you'll miss it' kind of deal!

Before and after of one of Jan Domela's very early Paramount mattes from an unknown title.
Now, I can't be certain here, but I tend to feel this shot of The Kremlin as seen in the Bond film THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977) may be a full matte painting.  Alan Maley was matte artist.  Incidentally, give me this Bond outing any day over those Daniel Craig efforts, and I'm not the only 007 fan to feel this way.  Great movie on all accounts!
There are a lot of matte and miniature shots in the film adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's MAJOR BARBARA (1941).  Percy Day was matte artist and it's possible that Cliff Richardson may have done the miniatures as he worked with Day on several occasions.
Another rare, though unidentified Jan Domela matte from an early Paramount picture.
A limited set built for a matte test shoot in 1982 where upon artist Ken Marschall will paint in an entire new vista...
...the set matted off. 

Here is the final composite made in 1982 as a trial.  That's Ken on the ledge and partner-cinematographer Bruce Block in the room.  As with all of their mattes the shot was shot original negative.


UK mattes from Rank's THE WOMAN HATER (1941)
Warner Bros. matte art from MR SKEFFINGTON (1944).  Paul Detlefsen was chief matte artist for many years at the studio where as many as eight artists were employed at a time.

Also from Warner Bros was THE SAN FRANCISCO STORY (1952) with this matte purportedly by legendary artist Jack Cosgrove.  Below is the final composite.
Two sets of before and afters from THE SAN FRANCISCO STORY
Detail from Cosgrove's matte art.  This, along with dozens more original Golden Era mattes were discovered years ago nailed to the inside of an old barn, including an ultra rare Gone With The Wind painting along with many old Selznick mattes
A surprising number of mattes appeared in the Frank Sinatra musical PAL JOEY (1957).  This shot is especially interesting as most of the screen consists of extensive matte art (even the foreground street light pole).
More great mattes from Columbia's PAL JOEY.
Leslie Nielsen re-invented himself as Detective Frank Drebbin in the NAKED GUN comedies after decades playing heavies and malicious individuals.  This superb shot is from THE NAKED GUN 2 1/2, and was painted by the exceptionally talented Ken Marschall of Matte Effects - the small fx house that even other effects people never really knew existed, despite decades of quality, under the radar, matte work.
A close look at Ken's exquisite painting.

More classy matte art from the same film..
Close up that reveals just how much Ken painted in to the shot.

Another Ken Marschall matte shot from THE NAKED GUN 2 where an oil refinery has been matted in.
Same film...this marvellous matte shot of Washington DC never made the final cut unfortunately. 

Detail from Ken's wonderful matte art where not only has the architecture and perspective been rendered with precision, but the time of day and feeling of light is extraordinary in itself.

Well, it's not exactly a concrete jungle nor an urban landscape but I really wanted to include the shot anyway as it's a winner.  This shot is from the 1988 remake of THE BLOB where artists Bob Scifo and Ken Allen painted the entire aerial view of the small town, including surrounding countryside, sky and floating clouds.  Beautiful shot.

UK based matte painter Leigh Took rendered this matte for the early 1980's tv series REILLY, ACE OF SPIES.

One of my favourite actors, Trevor Howard, made many great films during his career.  THEY MADE ME A FUGITIVE (1947) is one such film.  A dark and brooding British crime drama. The shot here has been painted from the second story on up for the whole row of buildings.

A sequence in THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN (1976) saw the United Nations Building in NYC vanish from the cityscape courtesy of demented bastard Herbert Lom's new invisibility ray(!) - Yes, it's as stupid as it sounds and the film isn't a patch on it's immediate forerunner The Return of the Pink Panther the year before which was a comedic gem.  Lots of hit or miss photographic effects work in P.P STRIKES AGAIN, with some of it less than spectacular.  Pinewood's Cliff Culley was principle effects man and matte painter, with Roy Field on optical printing and Terry Adlam hand painting hundreds of rotoscope cels.  Interestingly, in Matthew Yuricich's oral history as published here in my blog back in 2012, Matthew mentioned being given a last minute rescue job on this very film for the New York sequence when producers rejected the original UK matte shot.

Rita Hayworth's TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT (1945) from Columbia.  Matte artist probably Juan Larrinaga.

Frank Capra made many wonderful pictures, all of which had that definable 'Capra Touch'.  This one is YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU (1938) from Columbia Pictures.  Matte artists employed around that time at the studio included Chesley Bonestell, Juan Larrinaga, Hans Batholowsky and New Zealand born Ted Withers.
London gets blitzed in George Pal's classic THE TIME MACHINE (1960) in what I had always assumed to be an effects shot specifically created for that film, though that wasn't the case (see below).

...That same shot as it featured in an aged before and after matte shot showreel from Lawrence Butler and Donald Glouner's visual effects department at Columbia Pictures from the 1940's.  No clue as to the original film title.
One of Warren Newcombe's mattes from MGM's film LOVE CRAZY (1941)
Not all mattes are spectacular.  This is from JOHN CARPENTER'S THEY LIVE. Jim Danforth added fictitious advertising paintings to several existing buildings.  The challenge in this shot was to get the effect of old, weathered paint that was slightly faded and absorbed by the concrete.  For the background of this Panavision film, Jim used dual-interlaced rear projection, which yielded more detail than a VistaVision frame would have for a 'scope extraction.  The advertising signs were camouflaged subliminal messages.  Those messages were also matte paintings that wiped on or were intercut when the protagonist used his alien dark glasses (see below).
The subliminal signage from THEY LIVE
Top:  Jim's painting of the Los Angeles cityscape for the end of JOHN CARPENTER'S THEY LIVE.  The light brown area above the buildings is actually board behind the glass painting showing through the clear area when this photo was taken.  For the process plate the sky lights up when an explosion goes off on the roof of the Cable 54 building.                Bottom:  A frame from the release print with the explosive 'action'..... though considerably more 'action' than Jim would prefer, as he explained to NZPete:.... "When we were filming the explosions at night, a sniper started shooting at us.  All I heard was a strange whizzing sound, but a vet on the crew said "Get down!. we're being fired at."    I've been in the seedier parts of LA myself and this does not surprise me one bit!

Ken Marschall's vision of the future as painted for a VISA card commercial in the late 1990's which was I believe Ken's last hand painted matte assignment.
Before and after from the first Jerry Lewis-Dean Martin pair up, MY FRIEND IRMA (1949).  Jan Domela painted this shot
Jena Holman's matte of post nuclear devastation for the tv miniseries THE DAY AFTER (1983)

The 1991 telemovie THE JOSEPHINE BAKER STORY had many mattes in it (see Part One of this article for examples).  Here is another very subtle set extension from the film which although being a Matte Effects contract for Ken Marschall and Bruce Block, the duo were too busy to complete all of the mattes so another artist was brought in to paint this shot, though his identity remains a mystery to Ken and Bruce.
I love period matte shots, so I quizzed Mark Sullivan about this one that he painted in 1992 for the Joe Pesci show THE PUBLIC EYE.  "The matte painting comprises all of the background buildings, above and to the left of the green 'Oldenburg' truck.  The grey concrete building in the center of the frame is all real, except for it's sunny return side on right, above the two story building.  The upper story of the closest building on the right side of the frame is painted (the real bricks are just a tad lighter looking compared to my painted ones).  This was an ILM project that I worked on right after HOOK".
British master artist Walter Percy Day, assisted by a young Peter Ellenshaw, paint a key shot for STORM IN A TEACUP (1937)

The Brit sci-fi flick THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT (1956) - aka THE CREEPING UNKNOWN - was a good, solid show and contained much matte and other effects work by Les Bowie, Vic Margutti, Kit West and Roy Field.  This shot of Westminster Abbey is actually a Les Bowie matte painting, as are all of the shots in and around the Cathedral.  Newbie matte assistant Ray Caple also worked on these shots.
From the same film is this excellent, undetectable matte which occupies virtually the entire frame.
Albert Whitlock painted two mattes for W.C FIELDS AND ME (1976), and this view of New York is one of them.

Before and after Newcombe shot from the haunting and beautifully made Oscar Wilde adaptation THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY (1945)

British born matte and effects artist Conrad Tritschler painted this matte, probably sometime in the late 1920's for an unknown Frank Lloyd film.
Chicago of the thirties as painted by Albert Whitlock for THE STING II (1983)
Original plate photography for what will become an important matte shot in the Tina Turner biopic WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? (1993)
Ken Marschall's matte art for WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?
The final shot as composited on original negative by cameraman Bruce Block.  Note the perfect blend between the painted and actual elements.
Close detail of Ken Marschall's matte art. As with all of Ken's matte art the actual size of the painting is astonishingly small, really not much larger than A3 size, and were always painted with the tiniest of brushes - size 0 typically - in acrylic onto specially imported high quality artists cardboard from Germany.  I asked Ken for close ups of the art in order that I may examine his brushwork, which is something I love to do whenever possible with mattes, and he replied that I just won't be able to see any brush marks such is the tightness and finish of his technique.

Magnificent draftsmanship here in this old pastel matte from MGM as rendered for the Cary Grant film SUZY (1936).  Sadly the hours of work are somewhat wasted as the artwork is only ever shown as a grainy back projection plate that looks patchy at best.
Matthew Yuricich had been working in the business for more than 20 years before he finally got screen credit for this film, SOYLENT GREEN  (1972).
SOYLENT GREEN:  New York of the future - year 2022 to be precise - where it's all gone to hell in a handbasket.

More Yuricich matte art from SOYLENT GREEN with the legendary actor Edward G. Robinson shown on his way to finality - one of the actors best performances, and probably his last.
The best SOYLENT GREEN shot, but don't hold your breath as it's not in the final cut.  Yuricich not only painted in several new skyscrapers on Manhattan Island but rearranged some of the existing ones for a more pleasing composition.
John Wayne in one of his non-western roles in Michael Curtiz' TROUBLE ALONG THE WAY (1953).  A Warner Bros film, though longtime matte chief Paul Detlefsen had retired by now.  Jack Cosgrove was with the studio around that time, as were Jack Shaw, Vern Taylor, Louis Litchtenfield and possibly Mario Larrinaga.
Another Warner Bros film here, also directed by Michael Curtiz, YOUNG MAN WITH A HORN (1950).  The film concluded with this dramatic wide pullback from Kirk Douglas in an empty train shunting yard.  Warners were experts at this sort of shot and employed variations of it in dozens of films over many years with a great deal of panache that other studios seemed to lack.

Before and after Albert Whitlock matte shot from Hitchcock's TOPAZ (1969) that nobody ever noticed.
Another Whitlock shot from TOPAZ where all of the upper architecture has been added in.
Detail from Whitlock's matte demonstrates the looseness Albert employed, believing that to make a shot sell to the audience one had only to paint in enough - in an almost impressionistic style - to successfully convince the viewer.
MGM street matte from LITTLE NELLIE KELLY (1940)

Before and after matte by Walter Percy Day from THE FOUR FEATHERS (1939)
Matte work from STELLA DALLAS (1937)
Technicolor Newcombe shots from the musical SOMETHING FOR THE BOYS (1944)
Percy Day and Peter Ellenshaw worked together on the Alexander Korda production AN IDEAL HUSBAND (1948).  If I'm not mistaken this was the last film that Pop and Peter worked on as a team as the collaboration was beginning to fray at the edges by then and Ellenshaw felt it time to go it alone.
Grand entertainment as far as sequels go, SUPERMAN 2 (1980) was a spectacle and then some.  Tons of great effects compliment the perfect cast and tech credits.  I've never been certain about these shots in the fantastic 'Battle of Metropolis' sequence (still a knock out all these years later!).  I know much of the cityscape background material involved high quality still transparencies though some were matte paintings, which I think this shot is.  As both SUPERMAN 1 + 2 were shot back to back for the most part it's probably safe to assume Les Bowie, Ray Caple and Ivor Beddoes all had a hand in the mattes.
Also from SUPERMAN 2 - this too could be matte art or even a heavily retouched photographic blow up?  My money's on the former.
For the notably less than impressive SUPERMAN III (1983) former Shepperton matte artist Peter Melrose supplied a painted in skyscraper complete with it's own ski slope atop the roof for villain Robert Vaughn.
Robert Stromberg of Illusion Arts contributed several terrific mattes for Wolfgang Peterson's SHATTERED (1991) including this wonderful mood piece where pretty much all except the ocean has been painted.  Don't you just love that night sky - a theme that Stromberg adopted from his mentor Syd Dutton, who in turn learned from the great Albert Whitlock.
Terrific perspective work here and vanishing points in artist Russ Lawson's matte shots for Universal's THE PHANTOM LADY (1944).  Good thriller too!
Probably my favourite Hitchcock film, SABOTEUR (1942) is a non stop roller coaster ride of thrills, eccentric characters, sprawling vistas and fantastic visual effects - supervised, uncredited, by the legendary John P. Fulton.  Russ Lawson was Universal's matte painter for almost his entire, long career, with a brief stint in the 30's at Columbia and Selznick. SABOTEUR is so packed with matte shots - more than any other Hitchcock picture - that other artists became involved including a young John DeCuir who would paint shots on many Universal films and later go on to become one of the top Production Designers in the field.

Lou Litchtenfield had a long career in effects work, specifically matte painting.  Lou worked at some point for all of the Hollywood studios in order to learn his trade and observe the differing methods used by various practitioners of matte art.  For the most part Litchtenfield worked for Warner Brothers from the late 1940's on through into the 60's and among the many films he did matte shots for was THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS (1957) which garnered Lou an Oscar nomination for effects.  Here we have two mattes of Paris all lit up at night as the aviator Lindbergh - played by Jimmie Stewart - come in for landing after a marathon trans Atlantic flight.

Old Warner Bros mattes, supervised by Hans Koenecamp and Byron Haskin, for the brilliant and tense THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (1940).  Outstanding, one of a kind film superbly directed by Raoul Walsh
Syd Dutton and Robert Stromberg matte work from the Brooke Shields film BRENDA STARR (1992)

Another BRENDA STARR matte.

Les Bowie worked in Rank's matte department for several years prior to going it alone as an independent effects artist.  Among the films Les painted mattes for was MY BROTHER JONATHAN (1947). 
For the first NAKED GUN feature in 1988, the director required a full stadium at a baseball game for the climax of the film.  Here is the original plate photography out take prior to Ken Marschall's impressive augmentation.
...with the masking in place for latent image photography by Bruce Block.
Ken's flawless matte art of the entire grandstand filled with painted people which proved far more effective than to fiddle with the actual location plate by multiplying the small group of extras over and over in a needlessly messy jigsaw.
The final original negative comp, though you'd never know a trick had been pulled.  All of the views of the grandstand from various angles in the film were Ken Marschall shots that had been extended in some way, depending upon the action.
Tilt down matte shot, possibly by Chesley Bonestell, from the excellent George Gershwin bio-pic RHAPSODY IN BLUE (1945) - a film that has many astonishing visual effects shots and heavenly pullbacks to infinity courtesy of Warner Bros Stage 5 Trick department.
The perspective does seem a little off in this Newcombe shot from ROYAL WEDDING (1951)
The big money shot - no pun intended - from Stanley Kramer's IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (1963) - a shot far more complicated than you might expect... (see below)
Some of the elements that optical man Linwood Dunn shot in order to combine with Howard Fisher's matte painting. The street level main live action was shot on the Universal backlot;  the top of the building love action was another set up with stunt guys on the backlot; additional street traffic and shop fronts filmed elsewhere at various locations in LA with separate elements for both the left and the right shop frontages.
Veteran old school matte pro Howard Fisher started in the 1930's at MGM under the eccentric Warren Newcombe and would stay with the studio right through successive decades until they shut down their matte department and Fisher sought employment elsewhere - in this case with Lin Dunn's Film Effects of Hollywood.

Final detail work by Howard Fisher on the MAD WORLD painting.

Also from the same film was this down view which, to all intents and purposes was purely an actual downview.... but NOT so.  The exterior set was at Universal though to extend the apparent locale matte painter Howard Fisher painted in the road, cars, people, tree tops and shops in the right hand slice of the frame.  Who's have ever thunk it?  You heard it here first!
Also from Linwood Dunn's Film Effects of Hollywood was another giant of a Roadshow epic - this one being THE GREAT RACE (1965) - not too bad but frightfully overlong and in serious need of editorial oversight.  Old timers Albert Maxwell Simpson and Cliff Silsby both painted the many shots on this film, with this one being quite superb in my eyes.  *As an aside, a point in it's favour no doubt lost to anyone out there who, unlike me, doesn't care a hoot about 'sound effects editing', the wonderful array of crazy sounds were courtesy of the legendary Treg Brown who for years created the funniest and most memorable cartoon sound effects ever for guys like Chuck Jones on Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes at Warner Bros.  If Steve Begg happens to be reading this (as he usually does) he'll appreciate the 'aside'.

A spectacular and polished full matte painting of the US capitol as it appeared in THE ABSENT MINDED PROFESSOR (1961) and again in the follow up SON OF FLUBBER (1963).  Probably painted by the great Peter Ellenshaw.  I'm told that Albert Whitlock painted some of the up-in-the-air cloud shots

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THE ABSENT MINDED PROFESSOR:  A full painting of a suburban street, buildings, vehicles, trees, sky...everything, with just the flying car doubled in by Eustace Lycette.  The film was nominated for the effects but lost out.

Another Disney one here, and a really nice shot which was a tilt down composite from THE HAPPIEST MILLIONAIRE (1967).  Peter Ellenshaw and Alan Maley were matte artists.
Wow... a sensational Syd Dutton matte from the really quite silly THE RUNNING MAN (1987)

Another Syd Dutton shot from THE RUNNING MAN. Great matte from a bad movie... and what's the deal with that fat lunatic all lit up like a Christmas tree who likes to sing opera while he slaughters people?   You can't make this stuff up....but they did!

A matte, probably made in Italy, from the Peter Cook (no relation) and Dudley Moore car chase epic THOSE DARING YOUNG MEN IN THEIR JAUNTY JALOPIES (1969) - aka MONTE CARLO OR BUST.  Optical effects credited to Giovanni Ventimiglia the film does have a fabulous theme song sung by Jimmy Durante of all people!.
Old school mattes from THE MAN WHO BROKE THE BANK OF MONTE CARLO (1935) from 20th Century Fox.
One of Matt Yuricich's shots from an odd little film called STRANGE BREW (1983)
Fox's MR MOTO IN DANGER ISLAND (1939) with Fred Sersen overseeing the fx work.
An uncredited Albert Whitlock matte from the exceedingly groovy James Coburn political satire, THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST (1967).  Their aint nothing like great political satire which is exactly why I'll be watching season 5 of Veep right after finishing this damned blog.... Hilarious, much like the recent US elections were.

Matte art from the compelling Tyrone Power mystery flick NIGHTMARE ALLEY (1947) from Fox.
Some of Bob Scifo's matte shots from the highly imaginative and eminently watchable Michael Jackson fantasy film MOONWALKER (1988).  Notable for, among other things, mind bendingly good visual effects by Dream Quest Images and brilliant animated sequences.  All up, a one of a kind experience.
Nicely saturated Technicolor mattes from the old Fox film NOB HILL (1945)
Harrison Ellenshaw at work on mattes for Disney's NO DEPOSIT, NO RETURN (1976)
For a 1993 TV commercial for LIZ TAYLOR'S WHITE DIAMONDS, artist Ken Marschall created this street scene.  The lanterns on front of the buildings were a separate camera pass with a backlit element gelled with a warm amber filter.
An Emil Kosa matte painting for the film SHOCK TREATMENT (1964)
For George Roy Hill's multi Academy Award winning THE STING (1973), matte painter Albert Whitlock produced this wonderful establishing shot of Chicago during the prohibition.
Whitlock in 1973 with the STING matte art.
The second of the two STING mattes, a three part composite with live action street level (with a car vanishing under the matte line mid shot), Whitlocks beautiful painting, and a small stop motion animated El-Train which was matted into the overhead track.  Brilliant!
Whitlock with his matte art.
Vintage matte from the Spencer Tracy adventure STANLEY AND LIVINGSTONE (1939)

Not quite the urban landscape we would want to see, but know knows how things might turn out??  Rocco Gioffre painted this tragic looking toxic waste dump for the John Candy comedy ARMED AND DANGEROUS (1986)

20th Century Fox's SHOCK (1946) with studio contract player Vincent Price doin' his thing.
For James Cameron's huge hit, TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY (1991) matte art was required for the crucial scene of Los Angeles being devastated by a nuclear blast.  The Skotak brothers, Robert and Dennis, had the major chunk of the vast effects assignment and their company 4-Ward Productions did amazing work.  4-Ward's resident matte artists Richard Kilroy and Rick Rische were given the job of rendering the city in both pre and post blast status as a large matte painting with overlays.  Richard told me about the matte:  "Here is some of my brushwork on T2.  I painted all of the leveled buildings up to the background skyscrapers.  Rick Rische took over at the tall buildings and the light passes down the streets (which was done as an overlay by him).  I'll never forget when I was painting on this one, Bob Skotak walked by as I was working, he stopped and said, "The camera's gonna love this."  Best compliment of my matte career."   That's Kilroy's hand at the bottom of the image applying fine detail BTW.
Richard Kilroy at work on the large T2 matte art.

Some Sersen matte shots from the powerful drama THE SNAKE PIT (1948).  The bottom two images are sequential frames from an in camera glass shot.
Mark Sullivan and Rocco Gioffre collaborated on many effects jobs over the years including this shot of Folsom Prison from the Madonna comedy WHO'S THAT GIRL? (1987)
Emil Kosa jnr worked with effects boss L.B Abbott to create this sequence where a Lear Jet lands atop of the United Nations Building in New York for the screamingly un-funny Jerry Lewis vehicle, WAY, WAY OUT (1966)
Ken Marschall and Bruce Block's Matte Effects company produced some exquisite matte work for the film MOBSTERS (1991)
Detail of Ken's remarkable matte painting.
Matthew Yuricich matte from Steve McQueen's THE CINCINNATI KID (1965)
Matte painted town from John Ford's WHEN WILLIE COMES MARCHING HOME (1950)
While the storyline and cast were okay, METEOR (1979) had some of the most atrocious special effects work ever to feature in a mega budget ($20million) disaster epic.  Only Jena Holman's matte paintings looked first class, while all other effects shots were astonishingly poor, both in conception, and in execution.  Shown here is one of Jena's terrific mattes after a bloody great big meteor has ploughed into downtown Manhattan (after demolishing, gulp, the Twin Towers en route, no less).
Another Jena Holman matte painting with fire elements laid in.

Gorgeous matte art by the extremely talented Michael Pangrazio from the film YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES (1985)

From the same film is another matte which has been combined with a miniature foreground street for depth.
Emil Kosa would have overseen this matte painting assignment of Moscow for Fox's WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER? (1957).  A few perspective flaws so I wonder if Kosa painted this one?

Uncredited matte art from Charlie Chaplin's classic MODERN TIMES (1936) - a film with some amazing in camera trickery at one point later on
Although this frame was grabbed from the low budget post-apocalyptic Richard Harris actioner THE RAVAGERS (1979), we all know it's actually from BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES (1970) and is a Matthew Yuricich painting.  It's actually cropped up in several other films too as a cost saver!

While at ILM, artist Christopher Evans painted this imposing looking mirror glass building for the film MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN (1992).  It's amazing just how well Chris' matte blends in for the final composite.
Syd Dutton and Robert Stromberg painted a number of wonderful mattes for the period musical NEWSIES (1992) which I didn't find half as bad a film as the reviews would have one believe.  This shot was a tilt down and push in which is why it's displayed in two sections.
Another NEWSIES matte from Illusion Arts, complete with slowly drifting clouds.

The low budget car chase teen romp, MOVING VIOLATIONS (1985), contained a surprising number of jaw dropping matte shots by Ken Marschall and Bruce Block.  Here is one of several completely convincing pieces of cinematic wizardry that I find indescribably impressive.
Ken's genuinely remarkable matte art where hues, simulated time of day and a feeling of directional sunlight are part of what made Marschall's work so darned invisible to even the keenest observer (ie, Moi!)
Detail of the sort that your humble author just lives for!

Another Ken Marschall shot from MOVING VIOLATIONS where an entire new city block and masses of spectators have been created in acrylic with consumate skill.
Ken and cinematographer Bruce Block also arranged a moire gag at the back of the painting behind scratched off areas of the painted crowd.  The gag is as old as the cinematic hills but when used well is a great addition to the illusion of 'live' people.

Yet another set of before and after clips from the same film where once again Ken's mastery of 'light' is one of the foremost assets I feel to selling the shot.  Ken told me he and Bruce would often mask off and over expose the painted sky in some of their shots so as to get the skies up to the right intensity.  Ken said that the reason some of the old mattes of years gone by weren't as convincing was due to the skies not being anywhere near bright enough.
More of that amazing detail work.  In case some readers were unaware, Ken illustrated large format coffee table books on the wreck of the Titanic as well as the story of The Hindenburg and it's fatal downfall.
Paul Verhoeven's ROBOCOP (1987) was an effects masterpiece in my mind.  Among the many visuals were a handful of terrific mattes by Rocco Gioffre and one by Mark Sullivan.

Rocco Gioffre at work on a night view of the police HQ
Rocco's complex draftsmanship for an up view of the elevator ascending the painted skyscraper.
Partially an actual location with much additional detail painted in by Gioffre to extend the shaft seemingly to infinity.
Delta City as seen in ROBOCOP.  Matte by Rocco Gioffre.

Mark Sullivan also painted on ROBOCOP, though this is the only shot of the two mattes he did which made the final cut (the other was a shot of this same building from below at sunset). For the full lowdown on Mark and his remarkable career, click here.
For these scenes in David Lean's OLIVER TWIST (1948), Canadian born effects artist - though living in Great Britain - Les Bowie conjured up these shots using glass painted foreground elements, miniature background structures (including St Paul's Cathedral), a moving painted sky and a live action plate with the kids on the bridge.
Fred Sersen was Oscar nominated for the matte work in the Presidential biopic WILSON (1944)

Matthew Yuricich extended an actual location with 1950's period architecture, buildings and even the neon marquee for Richard Benjamin's great little ode to the era of the 'star', MY FAVOURITE YEAR (1982)

Substantial matte art here for a shot in ROXIE HART (1942)

Jack Rabin was better known as an optical effects cameraman in the latter part of his long career in Hollywood but many people don't realise that Jack started off as a matte painter, working with names such as Fred Sersen, Ray Kellogg, Jack Cosgrove, Russell Lawson and Warren Newcombe.  For this film, OUT OF THE BLUE (1947), Rabin painted several matte shots - some quite ambitious and some very subtle. 

My poor cut & paste of the opening tilt down shot from OUT OF THE BLUE with Jack Rabin's matte work.  Years later Rabin would team up with fellow matte painter Irving Block at MGM and together with title artist, Louis DeWitt, would form their own effects house specialising in low budget, independent fare for guys like Roger Corman.
Another Jack Rabin project was THE NOOSE HANGS HIGH (1948)
Some Jack Cosgrove matte work - complete with flickering neons - from the early Technicolor film NOTHING SCARED (1937).  Long time associate Clarence Slifer would surely have been involved on the camera side of things.

Jack Cosgrove matte art again, this time from PRIDE OF THE YANKEES (1942) where various American cities are represented at the numerous baseball fixtures.  Cosgrove was Oscar nominated for his matte shots in what was a ludicrously huge list of nominees that year amounting to some 14 films I believe!
More Cosgrove shots from PRIDE OF THE YANKEES.  I recall reading that one of Cosgroves matte painter pals from his days with Selznick - Albert Maxwell Simpson - was also on board for this film.
Alan Maley worked for over a decade at Disney and produced some lovely work such as these mesmerising night shots for the rather amusing NEVER A DULL MOMENT (1967).  I absolutely love this matte shot... pure poetry!
Same film

For ROBOCOP 2 (1990), both Rocco Gioffre and Mark Sullivan were on hand to supply the requisite mattes.  This seemingly innocuous shot is indeed one of Rocco's mattes, and a real beauty it is too.
Rocco's matte painting where far more is artwork than you might believe.
The initial sketch for above shot.
Detail from Rocco's painting.
A vast tilt down from a matte painted skyscraper onto live action ground floor, possibly painted by Mark Sullivan.
In addition to providing some stop motion shots in the film, Mark made this glass shot and told me:  "My painting of the office buildings was on glass.  A clear area of the glass allowed the camera to see a miniature of the rooftop edge and facade of the building, which is closer and on the right side of the frame.  The animation puppets were positioned on the miniature building roof edge, and the shot was engineered in much the same way as a similar earlier shot we did for Madonna's WHO'S THAT GIRL".
The finished shot with matte art and stop motion puppet.
Mark's original painted city.

ROBOCOP 2
One of Al Whitlock's first projects for Universal was an uncredited matte for THAT TOUCH OF MINK (1962) with Cary Grant and Doris Day atop the high steel.
For the surprisingly effective PREDATOR 2 (1990) Rocco Gioffre painted this 'futuristic' (for the day) 1997 view of Los Angeles.
Another of Rocco's painted extensions with added skyscrapers.

Mark Whitlock, the son of Albert, came on board too to contribute a shot.  Note the very much 'Albert' sky here, no question about it.
Matte artist Sean Joyce got his start with David Stipes' effects facility and then took a job at ILM in the early 1980's.  Here, Sean is working on a matte for Joe Dante's EXPLORERS (1985)
Sean's matte as it appears in the film.
ILM matte cameraman Craig Barron shown here with one of the finished EXPLORERS paintings.
The on screen final shot from the above painting.

Part of a gigantic matte pan across Times Square with a myriad of flickering marquees from the film YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942) - one of my favourite films, and one of my all time fave effects shots.
Once the pan from right to left ends, the matte camera travels back from left to right again, though this time all of the marquees have changed into different shows.  A miraculous, continuous shot involving matte art, miniatures, process projection and live action.... just the sort of thing that the Warner Bros Stage 5 Trick Department were gung ho about, and could pull off better than anyone else in the business.  No effects credit but probably Larry Butler or Byron Haskin in charge.  Future top notch feature director, Don Siegel was the studio's Montage Director, and had a lot to do with the design and look of the amazing shot.  Edwin DuPar was visual effects cameraman - and he even gets his name up in lights on one of the marquees.  Paul Detlefsen was chief matte artist, with John Crouse as matte cameraman.

Matte art from Selznick's PORTRAIT OF JENNIE (1948) which won the Academy Award for Visual Effects. Paul Eagler and Clarence Slifer were running the technical side of things so I'm not sure if Jack Cosgrove was on board, but I would imagine he would be.  Lots of matte work - much of it where you'd least expect it such as spiral staircases and the tops of lighthouses, in addition to major Central Park painted trickery.
A very rare before and after from PORTRAIT OF JENNIE with NYC skyscrapers and a beautiful dreamlike misty winter light. This painting was one of those I mentioned earlier that was discovered by accident nailed to the inside of a barn as insulation (!)
Another PORTRAIT OF JENNIE matte painting, though one that doesn't appear in the final film.
Detail from one of the long thought lost matte paintings.
PORTRAIT OF JENNIE atmosphere times ten!
Jan Domela painting and final comp from PICK UP made by Paramount in the early 1930's.
The completely unworthy ROBOCOP 3 (1993) was a tedious affair, not even saved by Rocco Gioffre's mattes.
Alan Ladd was a great leading man in so many movies though I could never buy him beating the shit out of bad guys because Ladd was so scrawny!  Anyway, this film-noir THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942) was one of his best. Paramount's Jan Domela painted the mattes for the film.
I'm not sure of the title, but this is an MGM Newcombe matte where a photographic enlargement has been augmented with painted alterations to the right half.
A broad cityscape matte from LOVE IS NEWS (1942) from 20th Century Fox
The television series THE UNTOUCHABLES used matte art occasionally.  Jim Danforth told me that artist Luis McManus painted for the show.  Luis worked as far back as the late 1930's on Hal Roach shows like SWISS MISS and the epic JOAN OF ARC in the late 40's under Jack Cosgrove and John Fulton.
Director Don Siegel recruited Albert Whitlock for a matte in his cop film MADIGAN (1968) where LA was transformed into a New York street.
Mattes from the low budget sci-fi show TWELVE TO THE MOON (1960) with these shots by brothers Darryl and Howard Anderson.
More mattes of a frozen planet earth from TWELVE TO THE MOON
I kind of liked the movie THE SHADOW (1994) and thought the visuals to be very good.  The matte load was split between both Matte World and Illusion Arts and here is Syd Dutton of Illusion Arts with one of his amazing paintings
Illusion Arts also painted this shot of the city street behind the Cobalt Club for THE SHADOW.
Robert Stromberg's matte which I believe was partially created with computer software.

Part of a major tilt down on a large Illusion Arts matte painting to street level live action.  Note the looseness of the brushwork on the buildings at left that shows itself in these BluRay grabs.
Same
same
...and so it finishes up on Alec Baldwin on the backlot somewhere.
A sort of stitch together of the shot.

THE SHADOW - Syd Dutton and Robert Stromberg matte.
Here is one of Matte World's contributions, supervised by Craig Barron
A genuine favourite of mine this one.  Matte World's Chris Evans painted this masterpiece to perfect dizzying effect. Chris told me recently that the fragile glass painting met an unfortunate demise: 
"The down angle  Empire State building is a shot I did for MWD. A somewhat impossible perspective but if it gave you some vertigo when watching the film than it must have been successful. This was done on a 4 x 5 ft sheet of glass that was later dropped, shattered , and discarded." 
.. Oh, the horror!

THE SHADOW matte art on the easel at Matte World with artist Chris Evans seen at work at right.
And finally we have one of Albert Whitlock's shots from the film MacARTHUR (1977) where Al has painted in 1940's Melbourne, Australia to good effect.


And that's about it from me.  My fingers are sore from all this typing as I never prep this stuff in advance - it's an all or nothing, 'now is the hour' kind of a deal with NZPete. 
So my friends, have a Happy Xmas wherever you are and I'll be back in the New Year with something or other.

Pete

9 comments:

  1. Wow! Another great entry, Pete!

    Imagine my shock as I'm scrolling down the page only to see my Hollywood sign matte painting from Richard Kilroy's student film "Scene Stealer"!! Me ---> "How did THAT get in here?!?" LOL
    "Scene Stealer" was a fun project to work on. I met Richard when we were both working at the Vista theatre in Hollywood, where I was the projectionist. One day, we got to talking about this 16mm film he was working, which was crazy ambitious, with all kinds of visual fx, miniatures, matte paintings etc. I started doing designs for him, pastel and colored pencil illustrations on dark blue art paper. That was around '84- '85. I was heavily influenced by ILM's matte work on "Explorers" (which was new at the time, and remains my favorite work done by the ILM traditional matte crew. The shots are just so pretty. Love it.) That shot of the Hollywood sign was my very-first-ever matte painting. Acrylic on plexiglass. (We scratched out holes for backlit city lights in the background)
    Many years later, Richard wanted to give his film a facelift with a tightened edit and a bunch of new fx shots to update a lot of the admittedly crude work we had done back in the day. I did several new digital matte shots for him while I was at ILM, and we had a good laugh that his little student film now had ILM matte shots in it!

    Richard and I went on to paint together on quite a lot of professional films over the next few years, with "Terminator 2" being a high point. I was initially tagged to do the paint work, but was already working on another show at 4-Ward, so I asked Richard to come in and help out, and we split the nuclear shockwave paint work up. His work on that painting is really, really gorgeous! While I'm thrilled with the final shot (and the way it was received, I am a bit disappointed that you can't really see the aftermath painting in the final composite. That's just a natural by-product of the kind of shot it is. But several in-progress photos have been surfacing recently, and I'm glad that people can finally see how nice the work that went into it really was. I'm very proud of the work Richard and I did on that.

    By the way, that shot was originally one, unbroken take. J. Cameron wound up cutting it in two for the final edit. But I put the two pieces back together for my demo reel. If anyone's curious how the original shot played, you can see it at the end of my video here-

    https://vimeo.com/189085036

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  2. Your family might be right about blogs, but your work is more like a comprehensive encyclopaedia entry

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  3. Another great entry! I spent the whole day on and off, reading it slowly. Thanks for the great work.

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  4. So much to take in all at once, thanks Pete. Those shots from Portrait of Jennie are really cool. I have a couple other favorites/stand outs from the bunch as well. Mark Sullivan is a balance between loose and detailed. He almost always seems to get the tone dead on and can open up a film frame/extend the world so incredibly. Peter Ellenshaw, love his palette choices and selective, implied detail. His composition was great as well.

    -AH

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  5. And of course Albert Whitlock. :)
    -AH

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  6. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and looking at the great work, I love coming here and it really cheers me up. It makes me want to be a better artist. Please keep up the good work, and those Ken Marschall small scale mattes just stunned me. Its nice to see a few friends work up here Rich Rische and Rocco as they inspired me to become a matte artist, also you have a lot of my favourite matte shots in here, Mike Pangrazio young sherlock holmes, and Syds (happy birthday) work from The Shadow. Thank you so much for the time effort and love you put into this page.

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    1. Hi Richard

      Thanks for that... you and my other commentators here are more than welcome, and I'm pleased that you folks enjoy this stuff.

      Regards

      Peter

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  7. After enjoying your blog for many months now, and appreciating all of the obvious hard work and knowledge that goes into it, I just have to pause and THANK you for it!
    As a visual artist and painter myself, and long-time visual effects buff / movie lover,I enjoy all that I learn from your posts, and recently, while discussing glass paintings with my sweetie, I found that I needed to stop and explain what a matte painting is to her - I had thought, that as a fellow film freak she already had some idea. Naturally, she knew what one LOOKED like, but not the terminology and process involved.
    A week or so later, when her copy of "The Snake Pit" came in the mail, she popped right out and identified a trick shot in it as it went along.
    Always glad to geekify my better half even more.
    Love your blog,
    Cheers!

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  8. Pete here...

    Just a couple of corrections to this blog. Mark Sullivan wrote me a detailed email on several of the mattes illustrated and - among other facts - kindly informed me that the two lower mattes in the block of four shots from Michael Jackson's MOONWALKER (wide views of the city at night) were in fact painted by Mark himself.
    Mark also solved the mystery of the unknown Jim Danforth matte of a cityscape with high rise buildings at night that I featured in Part One of the URBAN blog as being from MOONWALKER as well. You can see the final comp in the above mentioned block of four images with Mark Sullivan's mattes. I showed the finished matte to Jim, as it appears in the film, and he now recalls painting two glasses - one for the city and the other for the foreground structures such as the water tank - and delivering these to Dream Quest.

    Pete

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