Wednesday, 8 March 2017

MATTERS MARITIME AND VARIOUS PORTS OF CALL


Hello once again to all those who follow and regularly read NZPete's Matte Shot.  Thanks to all who wrote and commented on my February blog post.  Feedback is always appreciated, as are any 'donations' of matte imagery or screen grabs that you think may interest me.  As many of you will know, I have a quite substantial, ever expanding archive of traditional matte painted shots and suchlike and it's always something of a head scratching mission to dream up fresh ways in which the broad and varied categories of shots and mattes can be illustrated and published - hence the quite obscure topics of late - cityscapes, deserts and what have you!

I've got so many great images in my files that are sometimes difficult to slot into a given genre or subject so I'm always looking at new thematic 'titles' in order to cater for such imagery, hence today's article. This month I bring forth an especially interesting post which I suppose could be seen as the antidote to last month's necessarily dry and dusty Desert Sands article which may have left many a reader feeling somewhat parched of mouth and sunburnt of skin.  So, prepare yourselves for an influx of salty sea air and all things 'maritime'.


What follows is a vast and most profusely illustrated survey of what I can best describe as Maritime Mattes and Ports of Call where we'll look at a great many cinematic scenes depicting elegant Tall Ships, no nonsense Viking long boats, modern era Naval convoys, military bases, river boat paddle steamers of old, industrial shipyards, busy docks, idyllic islands, exotic ports, dramatic coastlines and numerous other settings that fall within that general category - with ALL these scenes of course being the product of the traditional highly skilled studio matte artists and photographic effects cameramen.  Exclusively old school paint and photochemical processes all the way, as one has come to expect with NZPete's blogs.

As a huge fan of nautical movie miniatures, in addition to the aforementioned matte artistry, I was seriously tempted to include a number of terrific model shots here too, but as the matte shot tally alone stretched to around 330+ this proved an unsound idea. There is the odd miniature here and there, though nothing of any great consequence, though perhaps a separate blog post might be in order just for those as I keep getting requests to do another Magicians of the Miniature follow up article due to the enormous popularity of that entry from a year or two back.

For those keen on maritime movie miniatures, some pals of mine in Australia have been doing a very worthwhile blog for some years now:  http://modelshipsinthecinema.com/ which is well worth a visit for the frustrated skipper in many of us.

There are some great shots featured here today.  Lots of great old time Pirate flicks, and grand adventures spanning the seven seas - as well as a few inland bodies of water too for good measure!  Among the mattes illustrated below are some already known as well as a healthy selection of hitherto unseen imagery from many effects practitioners, with some really rare frames.

People sometimes ask me, how do I put together such extensive blog posts?  Well, it ain't easy.  Once I settle on a given topic, I plow my way through my vast collection of shots all contained in individual folders on my computer and filed under 'studio' usually, and quite often cross reference filed as duplicates under a given effects artist such as Albert Whitlock, Jack Cosgrove, Matt Yuricich, Ken Marschall or Peter Ellenshaw for example.  I have separate folders again for high resolution or BluRay frames, all in an A to Z sort of system and a whole bunch of folders just on miniatures too.

I frequently replace or update given images or folders when I manage to obtain better quality imagery from another source.
When it's purely a blog about one film only, such as King Kong for example, it's real easy as all I need is right there in one big bulging folder.  Things can get somewhat more complicated when I embark (and sometimes regret it!) on these ridiculously gargantuan multi-catalogue blog articles such as the behemoth that you are about to embark upon below!  As so many films are covered, and all from different studios, era's, artists and genres, it's a long and tiring exercise in digging through each and every folder to retrieve the requisite matte shots.
Sure, there are plenty of shows from all era's and genres that I immediately know I want to include and those aren't a problem.  Luckily my memory for this stuff is pretty solid (but try asking me my wedding anniversary date or car rego licence plate and I'll look at you blankly!!).  However, for articles like this one it is necessary I find to go methodically through pretty much the whole collection quickly looking at thumbnails and hoping my keen eye will latch onto something useful as the images are rapidly toggled through.

Then comes the headache of uploading this vast bank of images.  Things used to be easy when Picassa Web Albums was operating, as files would always upload in order.  However, things got depressing when Google dumped Picassa and substituted it with this damned 'Google Photos' thing.  No matter what I do, nothing ever uploads to Google Photos in correct A-Z order, with images scattered all over the place, seemingly at random.  When you are dealing with over 300 pics at a time and want some semblance of continuity this can be infuriating I can tell you.  When trying to pull 3 or 4 pics from the same film onto the blog layout, I'm often having to scroll up and down repeatedly just to find the files that should all appear in sequence but never bloody do!  Grrrrrrrrr!


I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Joe Fordham - the Associate Editor of Cinefex magazine - for his continued support in helping to promote Matte Shot and to bring it to a wider audience by way of the Cinefex Facebook page, though, as someone not in the least mesmerised by Facebook nor other similar vehicles of communication myself, I'm told by others that this blog gets a fairly good viewing and spread thanks to Joe and the folks at Cinefex.  Thanks guys.  It's gratifying to know that in this VFX era of 'gigabytes' and similar jargon that there's still some nostalgic acknowledgement for the masters and techniques now long gone.





So, without further ado, let us now secure our life preservers, batten down the hatches, hoist the mainsail, take our sea sickness tablets and jump on board the most seaworthy of motion picture tribute blogs and take a cruise down some of those memorable sea lanes and ocean currents...

Enjoy

Pete


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The original location plate photography by John Grant prior to significant enhancement by matte artists Bob Cuff and Doug Ferris for Terry Gilliam's THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN (1989)

Test frame of the final matte composite where an entire port city, lighthouse, stricken vessels have been painted in - along with significant foreground additions.  Great shot in a most peculiar, very much an acquired taste, sort of movie.
Same film, a closer shot of the port city in flames and shipwrecks everywhere.  Everything is painted here - except the water - by veteran British matte artist Doug Ferris who had been kept busy in the matte game since around 1961.
The rousing Gary Cooper-David Niven actioner THE REAL GLORY (1939), with this period view of The Philippines capitol.  A Sam Goldwyn production, Ray O. Binger was effects chief.
A true master of the art of painted tall ships at sea was the great Peter Ellenshaw.  This frame is from the UK made, Warner Bros released CAPTAIN HORATIO HORNBLOWER (1951) where no less than four effects men received screen credit, with Peter sadly not among the quartet!  Is there no justice?

More of Ellenshaw's wonderful maritime mattes from the same film.  Note the lower left frame, where the actors - on a limited stage set -  have been matted onto an almost entirely painted ship, with that in turn matted onto the water.

The Sersen department at 20th Century Fox were at the top of the game when it came to this sort of thing - both in mattes and miniature work.  These shots are from the Tyrone Power flick SON OF FURY (1942).
SON OF FURY

Perpetual screen baddie, Milton Reid, is in trouble here in this scene from Hammer's excellent CAPTAIN CLEGG (1962) which for reasons that escape me was retitled 'Night Creatures' for American audiences!  Les Bowie painted this matte, with far more being artwork than one might expect.
John Fulton supervised these Russ Lawsen mattes for the rather engrossing WWII film THE IMPOSTER (1944).  The ship appears to have been painted and animated frame by frame by the looks of it.
The British miniseries CAPTAIN JAMES COOK (1984) had several mattes or glass shots, though by whom we may never know.  The shots with more than one ship were mattes as they only had the one actual vessel - which was actually the replica Bounty which had been built for another film.

An uncredited Les Bowie matte painted shot from DUNKIRK (1958), whereby a very young Brian Johnson - future Oscar winning effects man - was assistant to the matte cameraman and had to lug an enormous, back breakingly awkward camera battery seemingly for miles down a desolate beach for the set up!  Well kid... welcome to the movie biz.

Although not matte shots, I include these frames as well from DUNKIRK as part of a well executed sequence involving miniatures, excellent process work and on stage practical effects to great impact.
From the Anthony Mann-James Stewart western THE FAR COUNTRY (1955), presumably painted by Russell Lawson.

A pair of Albert Whitlock mattes from THE SEEKERS (1954) - aka LAND OF FURY - set, and mostly shot right here in good 'ole New Zealand, with my late mother telling me stories of the filming here back in the day.

One of my all time favourite mattes is this beautiful Technicolor Jack Cosgrove shot from Selznick's THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER (1938).  Those clouds are classic Cosgrove.

Also from Selznick was the Oscar winning effects film PORTRAIT OF JENNIE (1948) - a film with much matte art, some miniatures and optical combinations, all supervised by Clarence Slifer.  This is a rare before and after of the lighthouse matte art, possibly by Hans Ledeboer or Jack Shaw who both painted on Selznick films at the time.

Fox's excellent adventure picture, DOWN TO THE SEA IN SHIPS (1949) was the remake of an old silent film.  Great drama helped no end by outstanding Fred Sersen effects. Lots of mattes, miniatures and good process work.
More from DOWN TO THE SEA IN SHIPS.  Sersen himself had the film submitted for VFX Oscar consideration, though it never made it down to the final selection that year.  Note, the top right frame with the docks etc was actually lifted directly out of an earlier Fox sea faring film, SLAVE SHIP made in 1937, but nobody noticed.

Okay...okay...it's not the ocean....more of a bayou.  An undetectable Robert Stromberg matte shot from Martin Scorsese's CAPE FEAR (1991)

Some mattes from the really quite tough and gritty film noir, 99 RIVER STREET (1953) released by United Artists.  The mattes are quite ambitious, though the duping process is more than evident.

99 RIVER STREET (1953).  Recommended to all fans of tough noir.

Before and afters from the tv movie DANIEL STEELE'S JEWELS made in the late 80's.  I think UK artist Cliff Culley may have painted this one - uncredited of course.

Gene Warren jr's Fantasy II Film Effects won an Emmy for their visual effects for the very long miniseries THE WINDS OF WAR (1982).  A number of the sequences involved matte art - sometimes as a stand alone effect and sometimes in conjunction with miniature work.  Ken Marschall was matte painter, with associate Bruce Block shooting and compositing the matte shots.  This unmatted frame shows miniatures in the tank on the Paramount lot, which will ultimately be altered considerably by Ken to give scope to the scene.

The miniature tank with Bruce Block having masked out the unwanted portions of the frame.

Ken Marschall's matte art of Pearl Harbour, rendered in acrylics on special art card.

The final WINDS OF WAR Pearl Harbour composite by Bruce Block, executed as with all of their mattes as latent image on original negative for maximum fidelity.  Superb blending that is all but undetectable.

Before and afters from THE WINDS OF WAR (1982) of two more variants of an important sequence of battleships off the coast.  Ken Marschall painted the mattes and Bruce Block did the camera work, while Gene Warren jr's crew handled the miniature chores.

Close up of Ken's matte art, with maritime subjects being a true life specialty of Marschall who has made a carer out of his wonderful Titanic fine art among others.

Another WINDS OF WAR matte effect.  The convoy consists of a few decent scaled miniatures in the Paramount tank with the rest of the scores of ships being painted in by Ken Marschall.  Bruce Block also animated backlit lightning gags into the painted horizon.

Detail from Ken's matte art.

Howard A. Anderson matte effects from CARIBBEAN (1952)

Uncredited mattes from the Eagle-Lion noir-esque RUTHLESS (1948)

Glass shot from ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA (1972) possibly by Emilio Ruiz who did other work on this film.

Hanging foreground miniature rigging supervised by Eugene Lourie for the film THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN FABIAN (1951)
Another angle of Lourie's model foreground set up and the final, invisible on screen shot.
Vintage Russ Lawson matte shots from Universal's DOUBLE CROSSBONES (1951).  This studio seemed to corner the market with this genre, as it did with those Arabian Nights shows too.

Ahhh yes.... one of my favourite films, and one of Hitchcock's best too.  SABOTEUR (1942) was loaded with trick work of all sorts and must have set some sort of record for the most mattes in any of his films.  This shot is terrific (especially here in high rez) with the shipyard being almost entirely painted.  John P. Fulton supervised - and really should have had an Oscar nomination at least for this big showcase, but don't get me started on Oscar injustices..... ohhh, hang on a minute folks... Warren Beatty just called and told me that YES, this film did win the Oscar.... and for best picture and best everything else too no less!  Well, that sets my mind at rest.

Same film and same sequence.... no mattes nor models here but an interesting optical with a rotoscoped bit of espionage blowing the ship all to hell just as it's launched.  I meant to include this in my Optical FX blog but forgot.  Millie Winebrenner was Fulton's key roto artist at Universal for many years up to the 1970's.
Viking longboats looking for trouble in the CinemaScope adventure PRINCE VALIANT (1954).  Emil Kosa was chief matte painter and Matthew Yuricich told me in his Oral History blog post he also painted on the film.

Also from PRINCE VALIANT was this grand matte shot which I suppose one could classify as a 'Port of Call'.  Veteran trick man Ray Kellogg was effects chief at Fox at the time.

A good, solid adventure based upon the Joseph Conrad novel, OUTCAST OF THE ISLANDS (1951) opened with a score of eye popping matte and combination shots whereby the sailing ship navigates the most treacherous of rocky channels.  Really ingenious design and execution here with much of it still hard to figure out for this author.  Percy Day was effects man and would have contributed the many navigational hazards here by way of glass shots.

Same film.  Some shots look multi-layered and even have camera moves across separate painted foreground rocks as a way of concealing a transition to a new effects shot.  Really good work Pop.

British artist Leigh Took supplied several mattes for the popular television series REILLY, ACE OF SPIES in the early 1980's such as this view of a fleet of battleships moored in the bay.  My effects friend in Spain now owns this original glass painting.

Detail
Also from REILLY, ACE OF SPIES is this glass painting by Leigh Took where the majority of the ship has been painted though a portion near the stern has been left unpainted apparently for live action.

Gee, I just love this one!  A sensational matte from a sensational WWII true story, 30 SECONDS OVER TOKYO (1944) which earned Warren Newcombe's matte department and Buddy Gillespie's special effects department at MGM a well deserved pair of Oscars that year.  This matte art is indicative of the painstakingly detailed and methodical pastel fine tipped crayon modus operandi that Newcombe dictated at MGM.

A rare test of the above painting composited by Mark Davis with the soundstage action in foreground.  Davis also split screened an additional ocean plate at right.  Sadly, this monumental matte suffered badly in the finished film as they decided to use this composite as a rear process plate behind additional foreground actors, thus reducing the clarity and fidelity of Newcombe's talented artist.
I loved this movie as a kid - especially the hungry piranhas which scared the shit out of me.  THE PIRATES OF BLOOD RIVER (1962) was a Hammer picture and a quite good one.  Les Bowie and Ray Caple were on matte painting duties, with this quite likely an on location glass shot.

Master effects man Jim Danforth is shown here applying the finishing touches to a glass painting for the tv series THE SHADOW RIDERS from circa 1982 or so.
Hitchcock's terrific LIFEBOAT (1944) had much process work but also a couple of mattes and a split screened miniature as well.  This Fred Sersen shot comprises a painted distant ship and sky.

Joseph Natanson painted this, and other shots, for the European made film ARCHILLES, produced, I think, in the mid 1960's.  Natanson started as one of Pop Day's matte artists and worked for some years at Shepperton under Wally Veevers before going to Rome where he would have a long and successful career in mattes.

From the old RKO version of SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON (1940) where Fitch Fulton and Albert Maxwell Simpson painted many mattes for FX head Vernon Walker.

A wonderfully atmospheric before and after from the same film, as painted by Al Simpson - one of the true 'old timers' of matte painting who's career went back as far as the early silents and would last through to the mid 1960's.

And here are two of Peter Ellenshaw's on location glass shots from the 1960 remake of SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON.  The top frame, it's the right hand ship that's painted BTW with the other being actual.  Lower frame has a painted in sailing ship and island.
I don't know the title, but it looks like Cary Grant in the shot.  Jan Domela painted this invisible matte for a Paramount picture of the 1930's.
RETURN OF DAIMAJIN (1966) was one of many Japanese monster/sci-fi flicks that were insanely popular.

Artfully poetic matte from Powell & Pressburger's Operatic piece, TALES OF HOFFMANN (1951), with British artist Ivor Beddoes.

Saigon of the 1930's as painted by UK matte veteran Doug Ferris for the very sensual and exquisitely photographed and scored LES AMANTS / THE LOVER (1990). John Grant was matte effects cameraman. A most beautiful film indeed.
You may question it's inclusion but it's undeniably 'maritime' no matter which way you argue the fact.  Cecil B. DeMille's THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956) was monumental as a visual effects showcase, and despite the many technical flaws with errant matte lines and occasional bleed through in some of the hundred odd composites, this remains one of the most impressive VFX set pieces ever filmed.  John P. Fulton won an Oscar for this (now lost in a tragic house fire along with pretty much all of his movie artifacts, sadly).  Huge dump tanks, carefully designed photographic set ups, massive amounts of roto manipulation and multiple printing - along with subtle matte art and optical 'wipes' - it all still works a treat.

Another of Doug Ferris' mattes, this time from the Phoebe Cates film PRINCESS CARABOO (1994)

Detail from Doug's matte art.  Somewhere in there is his name as Doug always tries to include it in most of his matte shots somewhere.

Jan Domela's painted Alaskan harbour from the Paramount film SPAWN OF THE NORTH (1938) - the first film ever to win an Academy Award for special effects, and to each of the technician/artists too, not just the 'studio' or 'departmental head' as would so often be the case.
Irmin Roberts photographed and composited the Domela painting for SPAWN OF THE NORTH.
Another Jan Domela matte, composited by Irmin Roberts from SPAWN OF THE NORTH.
Same film, with miniature action and painted in background.  Incidentally the film has many mattes and model shots, though the best visual effect would have to be the most desirable Dorothy Lamour, who positively radiates!

Cliff Culley matte shot of the Port of Alexandria as seen in the popular spoof CARRY ON CLEO, made around 1966.
The low budget Cold War saga THE ATOMIC SUBMARINE (1959) had matte art by Irving Block, with Jack Rabin.

One of Albert Whitlock's mattes as seen in the Hugh Hudson epic GREYSTOKE - THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, LORD OF THE APES (1984).  The sea is real though the ship and drifting clouds are all Whitlock who also added subtle 'rocking' of the wrecked ship and a bit of sail fluttering in the breeze for good measure.

I'm not sure just what they were thinking when they green-lit the pseudo Bond film NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN (1983).  Dull on all accounts, with Sean's big comeback being tired to say the least.  This is one of a few Lou Litchtenfield mattes in the film.  Here, only the sea and boats are actual, with the rocks, fortress walls and even the submarine in the background being painted.
Painted and composited, this test frame for NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, though never used in the final cut.  Nevertheless, an interesting shot which comprises a real garden location, a separate plate of the sea with the luxury boat and much Lou Litchtenfield matte artwork to extend the setting and tie the elements together.  Apparently a few other mattes were jettisoned at various stages of completion due to budget strains.

Another of my many mystery Jan Domela mattes from Paramount of the 1930's.
A couple of nice mattes from the Japanese monster mash, MOTHRA (1961)
A matte painted shot at left and a Williams or Dunning travelling matte at right where Clark Gable has been doubled into a miniature ship deck during a ferocious storm as seen in the MGM film CHINA SEAS (1935)

The Fox film ANNE OF THE INDIES (1951) with this interesting composite shot, though whether it's a painted top up (likely, as the treeline looks painted) or a miniature, I'm not certain.
An effects shot by A.Arnold Gillespie from the MGM picture MRS MINIVER (1942).  For this sequence, Gillespie employed a combination of model boats, cut out boat 'profiles' for the far away vessels and a large painted 2 dimensional 'profile' of the town beyond.
For Disney's ISLAND AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD (1974), matte chief Alan Maley was so swamped with work that he brought in Matthew Yuricich to help out in the already well staffed department where a young Harrison Ellenshaw and Deno Ganakes were already busy, with even Ellenshaw senior helping out with painting duties.

The whale graveyard as painted by Matthew Yuricich for ISLAND AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD


Probably Alfred Hitchcock's least interesting picture, UNDER CAPRICORN (1949) did at least have a considerable number of mattes in it to save the day.  Although a British film, set in colonial Australia, I believe the mattes may well have been done in the US at Warner Brothers.  I know that Mario Larrinaga had a hand in it and painted some, and a few others reappeared in other Warner films later on.  I love the skies here.

Speaking of Warner Bros and Mario Larrinaga, this matte is one of his and features in the exciting Warner second world war picture ACTION IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC (1943).  Effects supervised by Jack Cosgrove and Byron Haskin.

Artist Leigh Took at work on a glass matte for ELLIS ISLAND, made in the late 1980's.  At right is a test composite.
The Greta Garbo saga, QUEEN CHRISTINA (1933) from MGM.
Warren Newcombe's team at MGM extended backlot sets considerably for SHOWBOAT (1951).  If you study the large image you will see the matte line where it's clear just how much has been painted in.

The biopic, THE JOSEPHINE BAKER STORY (1991) required a large number of mattes by the small two man company, Matte Effects.  Ken Marschall painted while Bruce Block photographed and composited the artwork on original negative.
Detail of Marschall's Normandie matte.

Matthew Yuricich period naval matte from John Milius' THE WIND AND THE LION (1975)
Darryl Zanuck's big, all star THE LONGEST DAY (1962) won the Oscar for best special effects, though this was only in the 'practical effects' sub-category - ie pyrotechnics and full scale mayhem.  A number of uncredited effects people were involved with the unrewarded visual effects side, both in England and in the USA.  Wally Veevers was in charge of mattes, with painters George Samuels and Bob Cuff supplying several shots for this important historic moment as the vast armada of allied ships descend upon the German defences in France.
Matthew Yuricich's upturned hull as seen at the conclusion of Irwin Allen's THE POSEIDEN ADVENTURE (1972).
A rare MGM matte painting from the film HIGH BARBAREE (1947) whereby ocean will be matted in later.

Bill Taylor and Al Whitlock did some great work for AIRPORT 77 (1977) with many mattes and some good Charlie Baker model work.  This shot is a fairly complicated one with a miniature 747 matted into an actual ocean, an additional rescue ship has been painted and matted in in the distance, with all of this forming the basis of the 'background' blue screened behind the actors.  

Another great classic Hitchcock thriller was YOUNG AND INNOCENT (1937) where Hitch employed some terrific moments such as an entire car chase done in miniature (friggen amazing!) and an unforgettable camera move and focus pull to reveal the bad guy - bold for it's time.  This shot is a matte with most of it painted.  A very young Albert Whitlock worked on the film though this was way before his matte career so he was possibly a sign writer or backing painter.

Talk about an exotic port of call... FAIR WIND TO JAVA (1953) was a pretty solid Republic adventure yarn with lots of great model work from Howard and Theodore Lydecker (shot outdoors in natural light like the true pro's they were!).  One matte shot too, but by whom I wonder?
Fred Jackman was effects boss at Warners for years and oversaw many great films' effects shots.  This one is Michael Curtiz' CAPTAIN BLOOD (1935) - a film loaded with model sea battles too!
British artist Ray Caple started off as one of Les Bowie's trainee's when he was just 15 and continued on as one of the UK's most sought after matte painters until he passed away suddenly at a relatively young age.  This shot is one of Ray's from the perplexing CIRCLE OF IRON - aka THE SILENT FLUTE (1978).  I like this shot.

I love submarine flicks (maybe because my grandfather was in one during WWI?), and even though I reckon Cary Grant was way too 'soft' to play a tough sub skipper in DESTINATION TOKYO (1943), it's still a first rate war film.  This is one of the matte painted shots of the Japanese fleet.  Paul Detlefsen would have been key matte artist at Warner Bros - a post he held for many years.  Edwin DuPar was chief effects cinematographer.

An intriguing multi element visual effect from Paramount's WE'RE NO ANGELS (1955) where it looks to me as if John Fulton's effects cameraman, Irmin Roberts has combined a Jan Domela painted background and ship (classic Domela sky there) with a live action ocean plate, with this being rear projected in VistaVision behind an Ivyl Burks foreground miniature.  Whatcha reckon guys?
There are more tricks than you might believe in David Lean's GREAT EXPECTATIONS (1946).  This one I'm sure, is a clever use of hanging foreground miniature for the scene where they row under the bow of the big sailing ship.  The camera pans with the action and this sort of trick was used often in British studios such as Rank and Denham. It was either Douglas Woolsey or George Blackwell who did models for this film, I forget which.

An uncredited end of movie matte shot from the John Sturges WWII film THE EAGLE HAS LANDED (1976).  The German boat is painted and there are even subtle ripples animated in it's water reflection.

Fred Sersen oversaw the many effects in Tyrone Power's A YANK IN THE R.A.F (1941) with this likely being a miniature split screened atop of live action tank footage.

One of the biggest matte shows of the decade was Disney's DICK TRACY (1990) where around 7 experienced artists painted some 55 mattes.  This shot is one of co-fx supervisor, Michael Lloyd's paintings.
Detail from Michael Lloyd's matte art.
I'm a real fan of subtle, invisible matte work where there is a trick where one might not suspect it.  For the Walter Matthau CIA movie HOPSCOTCH (1980), effects artist Harry Walton furnished three mattes - one major one of Washington DC and a pair of low key shots for this sequence where the tell tale signs of a recent airplane crash float on the surface of the coastline.
The not too bad Tom Hanks comedy JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO (1990) was an ILM effects project with several mattes and model shots



Much maritime effects work features in CONQUEST (1937).  Warren Newcombe and Arnold Gillespie ran the fx at MGM

A forboding looking setting with an equally forboding looking residence atop the cliff.  The film is STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT (1944) made at RKO with Vernon Walker and Russell Cully handling the trick shots.
Dream Quest was an extremely impressive gathering of effects talent throughout the 80's and 90's where much top shelf work was done for a variety of projects.  For this film, FINAL ANALYSIS (1992), matte artist Robert Scifo created the lighthouse as seen from several vantage points, with this dizzying birds eye view being especially impressive.

Orson Welles' classic CITIZEN KANE (1941) was a veritable carnival of movie magic.  From highly experimental lighting and cinematography through to Welles' use of visual trickery to tell his story.  Among the many mattes is this three part composite where live action roadway, a separate ocean plate and painted beach, trees and sky have all been combined.  Matte artists on the film were Fitch Fulton, Chesley Bonestell and Mario Larrinaga.
For the Joseph Sargent biopic on the famous military general, MACARTHUR (1977), Albert Whitlock painted many shots so as to extend the narrative for a modestly budgeted war film.  The top shot features a number of painted destroyers and cruisers just off the beach of Leyte, in the Philippines.  The lower shot also features a painted task force of US Naval battleships matted into a live action body of water.  This in turn was used as a process plate behind the foreground action.  In the movie a most noticeable jump occurs in the background plate which suggests a splice within a constantly running loop.
More Whitlock work from MACARTHUR (1977)

Also from MACARTHUR is this interesting shot where Whitlock has painted in the ship's guns and added other vessels in the distance.
Before and after RKO matte from the Lucille Ball comedy SEVEN DAY'S LEAVE (1942)

The fifties were the era of the big CinemaScope epics of Ancient Rome, Persia, Egypt or, in this case, Troy.  HELEN OF TROY (1956) was a very big show for Warner Bros and had many mattes from a number of painters including Louis Litchtenfield.  I'm told that some were done in Europe where the film was shot.  Joseph Natanson, who had just left Shepperton Studios for Rome is believed to have made some of the matte shots - possibly as glass shots on set.
Another Warner Bros picture, with this from 1936.

Unidentified matte before and after, probably from the 1950's.
Universal's YANKEE BUCCANEER (1952) with effects by David Stanley Horsley and mattes by Russ Lawson.

Another film from Universal, THE SAXON CHARM (1948)
Most people never spotted this Mark Sullivan matte painted shot in James Cameron's THE ABYSS (1989)
Two mattes from an old British television series, THE BUCCANEERS (1957) which look a cut above what one might expect for a tv show of the era.  Perhaps it was intended as a theatrical release?
Russell Lawson matte shots from WHITE SAVAGE (1943).

For STAR TREK IV-THE VOYAGE HOME (1986) ILM's Christopher Evans augmented this view of the aquarium to 'empty' the whale tank.  Chris may also have painted aspects of the upper frame too, I'm not sure?
Percy 'Pop' Day's matte of a warship filled Scapa Flow for the wartime espionage picture, THE SPY IN BLACK (1939)
Shepperton's Bob Cuff painted these boats and island for THE ADMIRABLE CRICHTON (1957).  It was common procedure in the Wally Veevers effects department for scenes such as this to be executed as either model ship or painted ship matted onto actual ocean, and Veevers used this method in countless productions.
Matthew Yuricich's painted Battleship Row in Pearl Harbour, from the still vital TORA!, TORA!, TORA! (1970)
Another good example of the Wally Veevers method for marine fx shots was the excellent THE SILENT ENEMY (1958).  All of the shots of warships are either models or paintings matted onto sea footage.  The shots work surprisingly well.  George Samuels and Bob Cuff were matte artists.  Lots of effects shots in this show.
What would by all accounts appear to be a real aircraft carrier in the comedy HOT SHOTS (1991) is in fact a totally convincing matte painted ship courtesy of Dream Quest's Robert Scifo.  I for one, would never have known had it not been for the generous before and after photos sent to me by matte artist Richard Kilroy.
Bob Scifo's detailed matte art on glass.
Detail of same.  Note the dark, unpainted 'pool' at bottom where live action will be doubled in.

An evocative Sersen shot from Tyrone Power's MARK OF ZORRO (1940)


Whaling ships docked in MOBY DICK (1956).  Mattes probably made in the UK with this one turning up in other films later.
The very disappointing remake of THE BUCCANEER (1957) wasn't a patch on the old 1930's one.  This is a Jan Domela matte with added in ships, roof and trees.
The old 1938 version, also with Domela matte shots.


For SHIP OF FOOLS (1965), artist Albert Whitlock painted every single view of the ship, whether it be docked or at full speed in heavy seas, it's all fabricated.  This opening shot is completely painted - the docks, the city, sky, ship and even the water - with a camera move by Ross Hoffman to finish the effect's apparent authenticity.  Jim Danforth told me that when he was working for Whitlock at the time, Albert was apparently unhappy with the original painting and completely repainted the whole thing from scratch.  Interestingly, Whitlock painted all of the mattes for this film in full colour, even though he knew full well the film was a black & white show.
Another SHIP OF FOOLS matte with everything here from the brush of Whitlock.
The climax of NIAGARA (1953) utilised all manner of trickery to pull off it's dramatic conclusion.  From miniatures to animation and mattes to process work, it's all used by Ray Kellogg here, and sometimes with all of those methods in play at the same time.
Original matted off location photography from an unknown Paramount film...
... Jan Domela's matte painting made to fit with the above live action.
The finished composite put together by cameraman Irmin Roberts... but what is the film I wonder?

Jim Danforth painted the Clipper for the tv series TALES OF THE GOLD MONKEY made in the early 1980's.

Another matte from TALES OF THE GOLD MONKEY with, as I recollect, future ILM artist Sean Joyce being hired by David Stipes Productions for his first ever matte assignment
Antique before and afters by matte pioneer Lewis W. Physioc for the Columbia film THE BLOOD SHIP (1927)
Live action at left and matte art at right from the film RAINMAN (1988).  Mark Sullivan was matte painter.
The final RAINMAN composite.

Technicolor Newcombe matte from Gene Kelly's ANCHORS AWEIGH (1945)
Lawrence Butler-Donald Glouner matte made at Columbia in the early 1950's.

Mattes from Columbia's A SONG TO REMEMBER (1945).  Mattes possibly by Juan Larrinaga(?)
Some delightful mattes as overseen by David Horsley for Universal's MR PEABODY AND THE MERMAID (1948).

Matte painted ships, horizon and skies feature at both the start and the end of MISS SADIE THOMPSON (1953)

20th Century Fox's TITANIC (1953) where both Fred Sersen and Ray Kellogg shared screen credit.  Matthew Yuricich worked on the top right shot helping to 'multiply' the number of people.

One of Peter Ellenshaw's many mattes created for Disney's DAVY CROCKETT - KING OF THE WILD FRONTIER (1955)

The sequel, DAVY CROCKETT AND THE RIVER PIRATES (1956).
Percy Day's glass matte from the Laurence Olivier 16th Century drama FIRE OVER ENGLAND (1937).

The big 70mm spectacle HAWAII (1966) was pretty good - and it's sequel a few years later even better.  The film had a few mattes that were Oscar nominated that year.  Linwood Dunn supervised the visuals with James B. Gordon as effects cameraman.  Old time matte painters Jan Domela and Albert Maxwell Simpson shared painting duties on the handful of shots, mainly of harbours filled with tall ships.  
Jan Domela's daughter told me that this shot was her father's painting.

HAWAII (1966).  Linwood Dunn's daughter wrote me that she still has 4 or 5 of the old Film Effects of Hollywood matte paintings in storage, one of which is one of these mattes, though they cut it down to fit in a frame.  I hope to get a photo some time.
Alfred Hitchcock's JAMAICA INN (1939) with Percy Day's matte art.
The Japanese Navy appear on the coastline much to Robert Mitchum's discomfort, courtesy of matte art from Ray Kellogg's unit at Fox for the film HEAVEN KNOWS MR ALLISON (1957)
The grand daddy of all monster movies and an all time classic without question, KING KONG (1933) still hits bullseye after all those years.  This of course is the long lost Skull Island, complete with stop motion gulls.  Stirring stuff, especially with Max Steiner's fantastic score.

Some serious perspective issues here in this Russell Lawson matte from AGAINST ALL FLAGS (1952)
Fox's swashbuckling classic THE BLACK SWAN (1942) was top shelf in the visual effects stakes and saw Fred Sersen  nominated for an Oscar.  I've included a couple of miniature shots here because they are just so bloody good.
I remember going to see THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT (1975) several times back in the day and really liked it as a teenager (especially the fantastic one sheet movie poster!).  Derek Meddings was in charge of the effects and I believe Ray Caple painted the mattes.

The George Cukor film DAVID COPPERFIELD (1935)
Also from DAVID COPPERFIELD is this remarkable storm sequence where miniatures and live action are so expertly combined with soft splits and careful optical work that the result really is spectacular.  Visual consultant Slavko Vorkapich had much to do with this and other set pieces.
Martin Scorsese's AGE OF INNOCENCE (1993) left me completely cold I'm afraid.  The dull film did have some nice mattes by Syd Dutton and Robert Stromberg such as this beautifully designed shot.
Same sequence.
The coastal scenery in the 23rd century as seen in LOGAN'S RUN (1976).  Matt Yuricich was Oscar winning artist.


The Ealing comedy SAILOR'S THREE (1940) 
From the British tv series CRIBB, made I think in the early 1980's.  I recall Leigh Took may have done the work here.


Matte painted extensions and settings from MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (1935).  The right frame I think is entirely painted with the exception of the water.

With Lee LeBlanc as head of the MGM matte department, Matthew Yuricich painted this opening shot for the 1962 version of MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, with Clarence Slifer on camera and compositing duties.
Same film with all painted except the ship and some of the water.

Also from MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY is this split screen where the island, the clouds and even the most distant body of water have been painted and merged with a soft matte against actual ocean.  Slifer also added a realistic sway to the shot as if viewed from the deck of a ship at sea.  Great movie by the way and probably the best of the BOUNTY versions for me, with the great Trevor Howard at his best.
Peter Melrose painted this view of Java for Richard Brooks' LORD JIM (1965) with all of the production and visual effects material being photographed on 65mm stock.  For this shot, Melrose painted not only the distant headland and hills but also the entire coast guard station at left which even had the film's D.O.P, Freddie Young, scratching his head during dailies stating "I don't remember shooting that building?"

The John Wayne sea faring picture WAKE OF THE RED WITCH (1949) from Republic Pictures.

WAKE OF THE RED WITCH

Pinewood's Cliff Culley painted these, and many other, shots for the tv miniseries PETER THE GREAT in the late 80's.

For Hammer's TERROR OF THE TONGS (1961), matte artist Les Bowie painted in much of the steamer, pier and Hong Kong in the background.

Peter Ellenshaw painted a lot of mattes for Disney over the years.  These are from THE ADVENTURES OF BULLWHIP GRIFFIN (1967).
Peter Hunt's SHOUT AT THE DEVIL (1976) had Derek Meddings on board for the model shots and I'm guessing Hunt's old Pinewood friend, Cliff Culley might have been hired to paint this matte shot.

Columbia's THE FORTUNES OF CAPTAIN BLOOD (1950) with the matte at left cropping up again and again in various films - even a Technicolor pirate movie where the action jarringly cuts to black & white for this establishing shot!  Cheap bastard that Harry Cohn!
A three part composite by visual effects pioneer Norman Dawn as seen in the early silent film THE ADORABLE SAVAGE made around 1920.  The breakers are real, the native huts were a set on the Universal lot and the coconut palms are matte painted. A superb in camera composite on original negative.
Larry Butler was effects boss for Columbia for many years and along with associate, effects cameraman Donald Glouner, the duo took care of pretty much all of the studio's special visual effects.  These frames from HURRICANE ISLAND (1951) look great...especially in 'Super-cine-Color' no less!
Rare before and after HURRICANE ISLAND matte shot that also ended up spliced into other Columbia films.

A couple of nice mattes from the loud and quite obnoxious Gene Wilder-Harrison Ford cowboy comedy THE FRISCO KID (1979).  No effects credit but may have been Matthew Yuricich or Lou Litchtenfield who both did work for Warner Bros.
Another Warner adventure, this one from some years back, HIS MAJESTY O'KEEFE (1953) starring Burt Lancaster.  Quite likely that Lou Litchtenfield may well have been matte artist.
Still with Warner Bros we have these shots from POSSESSED (1947).  I particularly like the shot at right where most of the frame is painted in and just the boats and water being the real deal.


"Icebergs dead ahead Captain!" ... Sorry, wrong movie.  This one is Robert Wise's THE HINDENBURG (1975) with Oscar winning visuals from Albert Whitlock.  There are some 78 mattes and composites in the quite under rated show.
Battleship docked in tv movie SPIES with Leigh Took as matte artist.
Dramatic skies and ominous island in AND THEN THERE WERE NONE (1945)
19th Century paddle steamer sets sail in the film SANTIAGO (1956), with Lou Litchtenfield, Jack Shaw or Vern Taylor probably painting the shot.

Another of those mystery Paramount films that are to be found in the photo album of veteran matte artist Jan Domela's family.  This is the original live action with appropriate masking out of unwanted areas by matte cameraman Irmin Roberts.
Jan Domela's matte art.
The finished composite assembled by Irmin Roberts.  I'd love to know just what film this is from.  I've trawled through so many old back catalogue Paramount films but have never found anything even remotely like it.  If you happen to know, then drop NZPete a line and please tell me.

A not terribly effective matte comp from the made for tv movie SOS TITANIC from around 1979.

Matte artist Mark Sullivan adds some touches to one of Jim Danforth's glass paintings for the 1980's tv show BRING 'EM BACK ALIVE.  The rear projected live action foreground was shot on the Warners lot in LA, while a second rear process plate will be projected as water around the nearest painted boats.
While on Mark Sullivan, here's one of his fantastic matte painted shots from the film HOOK (1991) done while Mark was at ILM.
Also from HOOK, though I forget as to whether Mark or Chris Evans painted this one?

An utterly magnificent piece of artwork here as painted for HOOK.  This painting hung proudly in the corridor of ILM for some time, much to the pleasure of visitors I'm told.
The engrossing story of the invention of the RAF's Spitfire - FIRST OF THE FEW (1942) had mattes by Percy Day.
A terrific British sci-fi movie, THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE (1961) was bursting with great effects work, and all done on a very modest budget, yet to 'big budget' narrative effect when seen on screen.  Les Bowie was chief matte painter with Ray Caple assisting.  This wonderful full painting represents the River Thames completely devoid of water as the planet faces a crisis of near Biblical proportions.  Great show!
Albert Whitlock's 19th Century fishing village and town as painted for John Badham's DRACULA (1979)
In the early seventies Warner Bros gave the greenlight to KUNG FU (1972) in what should have been superstar Bruce Lee's breakthrough television starring role, but the 'suits' at WB did not think American viewers were quite 'ready' for an Asian leading man on Primetime TV (!) so the role went to David Carradine who tried his best to "be" Asian (!!), much to Bruce's disappointment.  Anyway, Jim Danforth contributed this matte shot to one of the episodes - possibly the pilot, with Bill Taylor compositing.
Warren Newcombe's artists at MGM contributed a sailing ship at anchor and a busy sea port for ALL THE BROTHERS WERE VALIANT (1953).

One of the original special effects production cards put together by trick man Norman Dawn now archived at the University of Texas - a goldmine in itself where Dawn described each and every special effects shot that he created over his long career.  If only other effects artists had taken the time to do similar, I'd be such a happy blogger.  Anyway, GREEN DOLPHIN STREET (1947) was a giant of a visual effects show for MGM, with fantastic miniature work, process, full scale effects and of course mattes.  Dawn himself painted six pastel mattes for the film as well as an oil painted glass shot.
Some of the 30 or so mattes from GREEN DOLPHIN STREET.  Longtime Metro artist Howard Fisher told Jim Danforth that he also painted some of the shots.  Warren Newcombe took home an Oscar (as did Arnold Gillespie) for their fine work on this film.
Detailed description by Norman for the shot below, with technical notations by effects cameraman Mark Davis.


An enlargement of Dawn's matte of Wellington Harbour, here in New Zealand (WETA is right around the corner!)

There wasn't any screen credit for this apocalyptic vision from the low budget TRANCERS (1985).
Guy Hamilton's THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN (1969) was a large scale recreation of the historic events suggested in the title, with excellent effects work all the way.  Lot's of great miniatures by Glen Robinson, live pyro work by Cliff Richardson, visual effects camerawork by Wally Veevers and matte art by Ray Caple.  This is one of Ray's mattes.

Not a patch on the first two films, though still better than the awful forth movie, SUPERMAN III (1983) fell somewhat flat, though a few moments did shine through.  This is a mostly matte painted shot with all of the superstructure of the oil tanker above Reeve's head being added in.  Peter Melrose and Charles Stoneham were matte painters.

I think this one was an ongoing serial from the mid fifties if I recall correctly.  No effects credit but surely supervised by Larry Butler and Donald Glouner.  Juan Larrinaga and Hans Bartholowsky were artists at Columbia for some time.
Another Columbia show, this being MASK OF THE AVENGER (1951).

Disney's JOHNNY TREMAIN (1957) was another big matte show for the studio, with Albert Whitlock contributing to some of the shots and probably Jim Fetherolf too.  Although Peter Ellenshaw was only credited for Production Design, I'm sure he would have painted some of these - and other - shots as well.  Whitlock told cameraman Bill Taylor how tiny the actual sets were on this film when married up to the substantial matte paintings which often took up most of the screen.
Fred Sersen's matte painters at Fox made these shots come to life for the Tyrone Power film CAPTAIN FROM CASTILLE (1947).  Matte artists in the department around that time would have been Ray Kellogg, Emil Kosa jr, Cliff Silsby, Clyde Scott, Irving Block and Menrad von Muldorfer.

Two of Rocco Gioffre's mattes from the Alex Cox film WALKER (1987)

A most elegant tall ship is but a mere glass painting in the British film MURDER AHOY (1964).  Made at MGM-Elstree so Tom Howard would have overseen the work, though who painted it is unknown.  One artist named Douglas Adamson was employed there around that time and painted on Brian Hutton's Where Eagles Dare.

A CinemaScope matte from the MGM musical HIT THE DECK (1954)

A couple of the mattes from the long forgotten Wallace Beery version of TREASURE ISLAND (1934) made by Metro Goldwyn Mayer.  The shot at right would show up in other MGM films over the years.

Disney's version of TREASURE ISLAND (1950) was a field day for Peter Ellenshaw who created many wonderful sights.
Ellenshaw's harbour matte art on glass at Denham Studios as Doug Hague prepares to photograph same.

More of Peter Ellenshaw's wonderful matte art from TREASURE ISLAND

TREASURE ISLAND - classic Ellenshaw matte.

And this is Ray Caple's interpretation for a later version of TREASURE ISLAND (1990). I think this was Ray's last matte as he died soon afterward.

Albert Whitlock was nominated for an Academy Award for his matte shots in Arthur Hiller's TOBRUK (1967).  It's beyond comprehension to understand how Whitlock's mattes and Howard Anderson's phenomenal miniature sequences ever lost out to the dire DR DOLITTLE at the Oscars that year!
Percy Day's mattes from the James Mason drama PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN (1950).

Another Percy Day matte shot, this time from the Noel Coward-David Lean classic IN WHICH WE SERVE (1942).  Still a fabulous war picture.

A Les Bowie shot from Hammer's THE MEN OF SHERWOOD FOREST (1954)

Lew Grade's big budget, though unsuccessful RAISE THE TITANIC (1980) had some good miniature work by John Richardson of the ship being brought to the surface as well as these interesting optical mattes made by Wally Veevers, Doug Ferris and Bob Spencer of the great cruise liner being towed into present day New York.  Some of the shots were painted while others utilised hand coloured photo cut outs according to Doug Ferris.
RAISE THE TITANIC - Bookings now being taken for her second voyage.  Any takers?

While on Wally Veevers, this is one of Wally's composite shots from ALEXANDER THE GREAT (1956) where as per his preference, model longboats have been matted onto actual ocean as a means to not lose scale credibility with the waves that might otherwise occur with models in a tank.

Period New York and the Liberty Lady - all painted along with the sky and some of the sea from the movie CHAPLIN (1992).  Syd Dutton, Al Whitlock and Bill Taylor provided the film's mattes.
Although shown in CHAPLIN , this elaborate, wholly manufactured shot was actually produced by Albert Whitlock for a much earlier film, MAME (1974).  The ship is a separate painted glass moving across a painted cityscape on another glass.

The Errol Flynn wartime thriller, NORTHERN PURSUIT (1943) made by Warner Brothers.

Yes...yes.... no water in sight, I know. But if you look closely at the inn you'll see that it's built from a converted pirate ship - and rather well at that.  A delightful Peter Ellenshaw matte from Disney's BLACKBEARD'S GHOST (1967).
Another of Ellenshaw's dozen or so BLACKBEARD'S GHOST mattes.
I love lighthouses and one day wish to live out my days in one.  Matte is from the British horror flick TOWER OF EVIL (1971) -  aka HORROR ON SNAPE ISLAND - which features all manner of gory mayhem, T & A, fog and screaming nymphets.  No credit for effects but may have been Cliff Culley or Ray Caple?

One of Al Whitlock's best mattes is this gorgeous original negative shot from Mel Brooks' HISTORY OF THE WORLD (1981) - a not very funny film and a far cry from Brooks' heyday of the mid seventies.

Emil Kosa jr matte from JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH (1959) - still a wonderful entertainment.

Same film, and a doozy of a shot.
Jack Rabin split screen visual effect marrying together two different locales for a scene in the excellent Charles Laughton thriller NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955).

The famous Pan Am Clipper shot from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981)
Alan Maley's original matte art.

L.B Abbott visual effects shot from the feature film VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA (1961) where Earth's Van Allen Belt is unfortunately now highly combustible.  Great optical work here and printer manipulation of multiple bands of flame thrower footage carefully blended with soft roto mattes and doubled in over Manhattan. The Seaview sub is a model in the Fox tank and it's split screened in as well.  I grew up watching the tv series on it's first run and loved it.  Something ALWAYS exploded in a shower of sparks in every episode of any Irwin Allen show, and for a kid back in the day folks, that was the 'money shot'.
Some interesting marine mattes are to be found in Fox's FOUR MEN AND A PRAYER (1938), with Fred Sersen, Ralph Hammeras and Ray Kellogg all on board, as it were.
Bob Hope's funny and influential THE GHOST BREAKERS (1940) with this matte shot by Jan Domela.
One of the beautiful mattes to be found in Hitchcock's REBECCA (1940).  Jack Cosgrove was nominated for an Oscar for best special effects on this film.  Mattes were photographed by Clarence Slifer and painted by Cosgrove with Al Simpson.
Samuel Fuller's WWII film HELL AND HIGH WATER (1954) was Oscar nominated in the visual effects stakes.
One of Rocco Gioffre's mattes from the rather amusing Bob Newhart spoof FIRST FAMILY (1979)
Mattes and models and Laurel and Hardy.... JITTERBUGS (1943)

The pretty funny, bawdy Goldie Hawn-George Segal comedy western THE DUCHESS AND THE DIRTWATER FOX (1976).  Not sure, but mattes possibly by Matthew Yuricich.
A maritime musical, LUXURY LINER (1948) from MGM where a limited stage set of the promenade deck has been extended with matte art and then split screened with a mechanically agitated 'sea' in the MGM tank.
Fred Sersen won the Oscar for his remarkable effects work in CRASH DIVE (1943).  Among the matte shots are many incredible and complex scenes with people optically matted into and on miniature ships, sometimes using roto techniques as the stunt guys fall into the burning fuel on the sea surface.  Amazing technical work for the day.

Spain's Emilio Ruiz seen here prepping some of his elaborate foreground paintings and cut outs for the film TAI PAN (1986)
A TAI PAN foreground painted cut out shown here out of register and not yet lined up with the background location.

Emilio Ruiz was the master of the foreground trick shot, and proved it time and time again over some 40 plus years in hundreds of motion pictures.
Also from TAI PAN is this largely two dimensional foreground 'miniature' cut out combination constructed by Emilio Ruiz' team of an entire Chinese port town complete with boats in the harbour.
A stirring sight indeed.  The old Mississippi Paddle Steamer in the John Wayne movie THE COMANCHEROS (1961).  Almost all of this shot has in fact been fabricated in the 20th Century Fox matte department under L.B Abbott and chief matte artist Emil Kosa jr.

The Korean war was represented in the Oscar nominated Paramount film THE BRIDGES AT TOKO RI (1954).  This shot is intriguing.  The same naval vessel features on both sides of the pier, with the footage flopped and optically matted by Paul Lerpae (probably onto the right).  The background and some other joining pieces are a Jan Domela matte painting.
Vernon Walker's photographic effects department at RKO provided a considerable number of matte shots for the nail biting Alfred Hitchcock thriller SUSPICION (1941).  Artists would have included Fitch Fulton and Chesley Bonestell no doubt.
One of my favourite Golden Era mattes dating from 1942.  A small backlot patch of roadway has been split screened with an angry, pounding sea and this in turn has been significantly enhanced by much matte art supplying the 'English' street, the gun emplacements, the sea wall and the distant background.  A terrific Sersen shot from Fox.
A couple of groovy mattes by Irving Block and cameraman Jack Rabin from Roger Corman's VIKING WOMEN MEET THE SEA SERPENT (1957), which of course is not to be confused with the Fellini picture by the same name, nor the John Ford movie by that name..... Yes, I know I've used that joke before.  So, what are 'ya gonna do??  Find another Matte Shot blog?  Me thinks not.
I enjoyed this as a kid at the movies but it's pretty damned awful nowadays.  George Pal's ATLANTIS - THE LOST CONTINENT (1961).  Some interesting mattes by Lee LeBlanc and model set ups by Arnold Gillespie using left over miniatures from the same studio's QUO VADIS some ten years previous.  Some stolen mattes too from that same film with extra bits added in.

16th Century Britain as seen in the Bette Davis film THE VIRGIN QUEEN (1955).  Effects supervised by Ray Kellogg and photographed by L.B Abbott and James B.Gordon.  Emil Kosa would have been in charge of mattes.  This shot is a miniature set up in the Fox tank with the background of London being a painted cutout 'profile'.
Don't you just love shots like this?  So old school Hollywood in every way.  It's from the old Gene Kelly version of THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1948) and it's all paint except the water.  Done in Warren Newcombe's department at MGM.

From the Peter O'Toole show MAN FRIDAY (1975), and it might be an in camera glass shot.

Australia was founded by convicts and thoroughly disagreeable scalawags - so much so that I believe it's still a bonus point on your immigration status when entering Aussie if you do have criminal convictions!  These shots are from Paramount's BOTANY BAY (1952) with Gordon Jennings in charge and Jan Domela painting and Irmin Roberts comping the mattes.

Quite a good little 1950 suspense thriller from master director Fritz Lang.
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO IN THE NAVY (1941) had matte work, some of which were painted by future production designer John DeCuir as his son told me.

Matte painted river front town and boats, as seen in the Audie Murphy western RIDE A CROOKED TRAIL (1958)
A Universal matte from an old tv series called THRILLER (1961)

The wonderful 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958) had this brief shot with a painted headland (and maybe the boat too) - most likely taken from a completely different film.

UK's Doug Ferris painted this harbour town for MUPPETS TREASURE ISLAND (1996)
The finished shots with the live action and ship added through digital means.  Close ups here of the painting display Doug's habit of 'putting himself into the picture'.
Matte art detail.
One of Albert Whitlock's numerous matte shots for the film SWASHBUCKLER - aka THE SCARLET BUCCANEER (1976).  It's an interesting shot as Whitlock has run the soft matte up through the sky just above the pirate ship.  The foreground actor raises his arm through the matte line too.

I've always considered this shot from THE BEAST FROM 20'000 FATHOMS (1953) to be a matte shot, almost certainly borrowed from another film.
I viewed this Chris Evans matte painting at the film museum in Berlin a few years ago.  It's from James Cameron's TITANIC (1997) and was a genuine hand painted matte, though was composited digitally by Matte World.  Still, it was great to know that a 'real' matte painting still got screen time in the late 1990's.
The Chris Evans painting as it appears in the final film with digital additions.

One of a huge number of mattes to be found in Disney's IN SEARCH OF THE CASTAWAYS (1962).  All of the mattes were made at Pinewood studios in the UK and Peter Ellenshaw was key matte artist with Cliff Culley and Alan Maley also painting the load of shots.
Same film
This 1936 John Ford film is much better than it's name might suggest.
Some Jan Domela mattes from the Gary Cooper wartime drama THE STORY OF DR WASSELL (1944).  Gordon Jennings was nominated in the best special effects stakes at the Oscars,
Another Paramount film.  The Bing Crosby comedy WE'RE NOT DRESSING (1934) with this miniature/matte shot.
Harrison Ellenshaw's harbour and sea front setting created entirely on glass for PETE'S DRAGON (1977)
Ray Caple shots from the Michael Caine film PLAY DIRTY (1969) with the lower frame being an on location glass shot with all of the ships painted on glass so as to allow a slow pan across the harbour.
Uncredited mattes from the British film HMS DEFIANT - aka DAMN THE DEFIANT (1962)
The Fox film LITTLE OLD NEW YORK (1940) where half the mattes would end up being recycled in other films such as Son of Fury made two years later.
The opening shot from LITTLE OLD NEW YORK which is a large in camera glass shot as the camera pans across the harbour and we have that obligatory post in the centre of the shot to hide the join up of the two plates of glass - an old Fox trick and one used countless times over the years to excellent effect.

Disney's KIDNAPPED (1960) with Peter Ellenshaw being assisted by Albert Whitlock on matte art.
Cecil B. DeMille's THE CRUSADES (1935) from Paramount, with matte art by Jan Domela and effects camera work by Irmin Roberts.
For Alfred Hitchcock's TOPAZ (1969), most of the film was set in Castro's Cuba - off limits of course to paranoid American movie studios - so Hitch employed old collaborator, matte painter Albert Whitlock, to supply all of the views required to make us believe all was happening in Havana, Cuba.  One scene involved a Soviet tanker docked so matte cameraman Ross Hoffman photographed a live action plate with specific areas masked out in order for Whitlock's painting to later fit.

The final original negative composite from TOPAZ with much of the view being painted and very little being live action.  An incredible visual effect where even the water has been painted and animated with sparkles of sunlight. The sort of 'special effect' that nobody ever notices.
Also from TOPAZ was this long shot of the Havana port and township with everything here painted except the very immediate foreground bushes and patch of grass.
Grand vistas by Peter Ellenshaw as seen in Disney's 20'000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954)

Much of the frame here has been augmented with a glass painting.  The film is the Errol Flynn swashbuckler THE SEA HAWK (1940) from Warner Brothers.
Although not a Paramount picture, director Stanley Kramer enlisted Jan Domela to paint this shot of the ship and the coastal town for THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION (1957)
One of the magnificent Bali Hai mattes as seen in the Fox musical SOUTH PACIFIC (1958).  L.B 'Bill' Abbott was effects boss and Emil Kosa jr was primary matte artist.
Another SOUTH PACIFIC full painted matte shot with the vast US fleet seen out in the bay.  Pure magic.
The engrossing true story PAPILLON (1974) had this matte shot by Albert Whitlock where an actual location has been extended and altered for a more pleasing aesthetic look.
The quite strange WAR GODS OF THE DEEP - aka CITY IN THE SEA (1965), with Bob Cuff painting mattes along side Ray Caple for Les Bowie's effects organisation.


I've always liked Steve McQueen the actor, and feel he gave much more to his craft than people ever gave him credit for.  In Robert Wise's THE SAND PEBBLES (1965) McQueen is excellent in an all round solid drama.  Some matte shots here and there, with these two that expand the geography and traffic on the Yangtse River to suit the period setting.  In the top frame a port has been added in across the river, and in the lower frame a large Chinese Monastery or similar has been painted in atop the hillside.  A bird actually flies past and vanishes behind the matte for a few seconds.  Is it only me who spots these things?  I need a life.
The sailing boat has been matted into the bay for this shot from the somewhat risque WIDE SARGASSO SEA (1993)
This bloody big oil drilling platform and surrounds are a matte by Rocco Gioffre from the not to be taken too seriously Steven Seagal ass-kicking flick ON DEADLY GROUND (1994).
Some of the 62 mattes painted by Peter Ellenshaw for Disney's THE SWORD AND THE ROSE (1953)

Old school before and after frames of a previously unidentified Jan Domela matte which I've now found is from the Bob Hope comedy GIVE ME A SAILOR (1938), though it only appears as a grainy, fuzzy Farciot Edouart back projection shot.  I'm of the opinion that the matte was likely painted for another Paramount film altogether and re-used as a stock shot for this production.
A matte by Albert Maxwell Simpson from the film BLACKBEARD THE PIRATE (1952) from RKO Pictures.

A Jan Domela glass shot with a broad pan across the harbour and into the battery as seen in the film THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS (1934).
San Francisco - though not as we know it - as seen in the very good STAR TREK-THE MOTION PICTURE (1979).  Matthew Yuricich and Rocco Gioffre painted on this show.

Iconic imagery from George Pal's WHEN WORLD'S COLLIDE (1951) which won the effects Oscar that year.  Gordon Jennings and Harry Barndollar were effects directors, with Jan Domela painting the most of the mattes (along with Chesley Bonestell) and Irmin Roberts photographing same.
The opening shot from Hitchcock's MARNIE (1964) was a substantial painted matte by Albert Whitlock.  The same shot appears at the end of the film though with a different sky.  Apparently the suits at Universal hated this shot for some reason and asked Whitlock to remove it from his showreel!
A rusty, beached Japanese submarine confronts Dick van Dyke in Disney's LT. ROBIN CRUSOE, USN (1966). Peter Ellenshaw painted these and other shots.  The film could be noted for the outstanding effects animation throughout the climax where all hell breaks loose courtesy of a cache of hidden pyrotechnics. Really impressive stuff.
Still on Disney, Peter's son Harrison worked on this shot from TREASURE OF THE MATECUMBE (1976).  The boat is a miniature in a tank with all else painted on glass by Harrison.

For a scene in the Jack Lemmon comedy THE WACKIEST SHIP IN THE ARMY (1960) the fog clears and the sea is suddenly filled with a vast flotilla of Japanese warships.  The flotilla, fog bank and sky were matted in.
A rousing all star WWII action film, THE SEA WOLVES (1980) slipped in a pair of un noticeable mattes by Doug Ferris of boats in the harbour.

Two frames from the MGM Naval drama STAND BY FOR ACTION (1943) where Arnold Gillespie and Donald Jahraus' miniatures and Warren Newcombe's mattes earned the film an Oscar nomination for visual effects.  If I recall, the distant convoy shots were 2 dimensional cutouts, or profiles, as described by effects director Gillespie in his book.



Well folks, it's been an Herculean effort to knock out this article, so I do hope at least some of my readers persevered with this 'tome' and made it this far, not falling into a deep sleep part way through.

Catch you all next time.

NZPete

8 comments:

  1. Yet another well-crafted tour through the magical matte world: I've only seen a small number of these movies, but I relish your commentary when you cite a favorite of mine. So, despite your apologies; all of us regular followers can only imagine how much effort these posts could be, and look forward to each. Sometimes I wish some of the stills could be made bigger so I can cheat and try to find the matte line :-)

    Bravo, Pete.

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    1. Thanks for that. For the first couple of years of my blog the system was different whereby a reader could click on a pic and it would open as big as the image could, with often a second click blowing it up even further if the original picture size allowed. So a good BluRay grab could pop open really big. I'm sometimes hamstrung with the quality of the actual DVD or TV broadcast, though I have a great number of HD imagery now which is why some shots reappear in newer blogs looking positively 'sparkling'.

      Pete

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  2. Regarding Captain Clegg being retitled to Night Creatures for the US market, it is allegedly due to the following reason. Hammer intended to film the Richard Matheson novel, I Am Legend, under the title Night Creatures. However the project was abandoned when the Britsh Board of Film Censors informed them that they would not pass the film for UK distribution. At the time UK film makers were "encouraged" to submit their scripts for approval to the BBFC, while in pre-production. As Hammer had promised the U.S distributors a film called Night Creatures the title was passed on to the already completed Captain Clegg instead. Hammer, like many independent film makers both then and now, raised money for future productions by selling distribution rights for titles either in production, or in development. Sometimes just a title, concept art or a poster would be enough to close a deal.

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    1. Hi Roger

      That explains alot. I do know that Hammer frequently 'sold' a movie based on advance production artwork (with some fascinating ideas never seeing the light of day unfortunately). I think Roger Corman did similar with advance 'sells' of his low budget 70's movies.

      Peter

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  3. Hello

    Near the beginning of this web page there is an image of a group of galleys drawn up on a beach. The caption starts with:

    "Joseph Natanson painted this, and other shots, for the European made film ARCHILLES, produced, I think, in the mid 1960's."

    It appears that it is the 1962 Italian film "L'ira di Achille" released internationally as (The) Fury of Achilles":

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fury_of_Achilles
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056104/

    The film with the with the above mentioned image appearing at the 00:19:58 mark can be currently found at:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvpUJ86-4BA

    https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x28zg2b_fury-of-achilles-1962-gordon-mitchell-jacques-bergerac-cristina-gaioni-sword-and-sandal_shortfilms

    The latter seems to be a cut down "letterbox" version created from the original.

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    1. Thanks for that info. I'm not well versed in Euro 'Sword & Sandal' pictures.

      Pete

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  4. One of your all-time best. Bravo.

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    1. Thanks Richard... I'm glad you liked it.
      Also. thanks so much for giving me those great Bob Scifo mattes from HOT SHOTS. I'd never have known had it not been for you!

      Pete

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