Friday, 18 June 2010

"DUEL IN THE SUN" - Jack Cosgrove & Clarence Slifer

As I have a large amount of great matte shot material from many Selznick productions I felt that a look back at "DUEL IN THE SUN" (1946) was in order. Other Selznick trick shots may follow in later posts. Enjoy :)

Another classic Selznick film with wonderful matte paintings supervised by Jack Cosgrove.
Made during the final years of Selznick International Studio (1946).
A trio of fine cameramen shot the picture - Lee Garmes, Ray Rennahan and Harold Rosson.

Some of Cosgroves' trademark dramatic painted skies - and some of his best ever work i.m.o.

Again Clarence Slifer was photographic effects director of photography.Nice cell animation lightning effects accentuating mood.

Classic split screen mattes to extend basic settings to a more dramatic composition and mood.Effects cameraman Slifer worked on the camera crew of Willis O'Briens' "KING KONG" and it's sequel among many other films. Early matte heavy productions for Selznick such as "THE PRISONER OF ZENDA" and "THE GARDEN OF ALLAH" benefitted from Slifers' technical acumen and camera savvy.

Another classic washed looking Cosgrove sky seen above - a beautiful effects shot.

I'm pretty sure just about ALL of the western town above is painted in - even the foreground buildings.

Upper right portion all painted by Jack Cosgrove.

The early stage of a vast and elaborate pullback engineered by Clarence Slifer on his aerial image optical printer. The shot starts in very close on an aerial image of Gregory Peck and Jennifer Jones faces then pulls out to reveal a totally fabricated mountain ledge, hills, valley and sunset - all manufactured in multi-plane in the Selznick special effects department.

The middle section of the grand pullback where midground and background appropriately shift in perspective during the camera move.

The end stage of the pullback with a subtle push IN to reveal the valley.

above - a paste up of the key frames from the superbly shot sequence that would have tied up Slifers' printer for quite some time I'm guessing.
The original Cosgrove matte painting used for the closing shot, or at least what is purported to be the matte.  I personally feel it's actually an oil sketch by either Cosgrove or the art director from which the final matte painting will be made, as it looks far too sketchy for a matte from that period where great detail was generally applied.

above - the Selznick photographic effects dept around the time "DUEL IN THE SUN" was produced. Left to right: Oscar Jarosch (engineer & machinist), Clarence Slifer (director of photography:special effects), Jack Shaw (matte painter), Harold Grigg (camera operator), Spencer Bagdatopolis (matte painter), Hans Ledeboer (matte painter) and Owen Marsh (camera assistant).

above - matte camera operator: Harold Grigg and director of effects photography Clarence Slifer


  1. Terrific postings! I do love Cosgrove & Sliffer's work.

    (P.S. I finally got this #!*#! sign-in to work!)

  2. Wonderful post. I thought possibly that Seliznick contracted out to Disney to use their camera. Thank you for explaining.