In preparing this retrospective tribute I was first struck with just how much material I had at hand on John Fulton - seemingly a truckload, which is none surprising when you look at the extensive career of the man and the fact that unlike many Hollywood special effects artisans Fulton was frequently written about and his work covered by numerous periodicals, books and so forth - and much of this was long before the era of recent articles, DVD commentaries and featurettes mentioning the man's career
|SHOWBOAT - perfect model composite
|Fulton's miniatures for AIRMAIL
|THE INVISIBLE WOMAN
Moving into the nineteen fortiesl Fulton was, according to his daughter, losing interest in special effects and really felt his true calling was in motion picture direction - a notion that his very own daughter dismissed as foolish. Fulton never seemed to take much pride in the technical wonders he created on screen, and always believed his destiny lay in feature film direction. According to her wonderful article on her father in Monsters From The Vault, Fulton "simply had no feeling for the human condition - not one bit of empathy". He was a curious individual - a man that was next to impossible to get close to. That coupled with his volatile nature and refusal to compromise with fellow film workers made Fulton a tough act indeed. John was forever at loggerheads with studio chiefs, cameramen, art directors and fellow technicians. One report I saw mentioned a strike in the thirties by cameramen at Universal who simply couldn't or wouldn't work with Fulton!
|Sensational opening inferno opticals from SABOTEUR
|HOLD THAT GHOST
|Some of the matte painted scenes from Oscar nominated TULSA
|THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS
|THE INVISIBLE AGENT
Ironically, it was John himself who coaxed his father Fitch Fulton from vaudeville and into the film industry to begin with when former colleague and associate Jack Cosgrove was setting up his matte department for the mammoth GONE WITH THE WIND paint fest. Fitch continued a full on career as matte artist at RKO for many years.
|Fulton-Lerpae travelling matte from SON OF PALEFACE
|Very large scale miniatures for BRIDGES AT TOKO RI
THE BIG ONE.....
|Blue screen set up for the Red Sea set piece
|Cell animation supervised by Joe Alves
|Jan Domela's sensational matte of Mount Sinai
|Fulton re-unites with Danny Kaye for THE COURT JESTER
|THE COURT JESTER Domela matte
One of the reasons Domela moved his little matte painting studio to the far corner of a large Paramount soundstage was to try to distance himself from Fulton and his screaming outbursts. It didn't seem to mater whether Jan had visitors or even family members in his little matte room, Fulton would sure enough come bursting in and start some tirade of one sort or another, regardless of those present. People skills were as far from Fulton's persona as public relations were with Goebbels!
|THE INVISIBLE AGENT
Most of the remaining Paramount shows such as the Jerry Lewis / Dean Martin comedies and latter day Bob Hope films were stripped to the bone cost wise and effects were rushed. From correspondence I've seen from Jan Domela the studio had these so called 'efficiency experts in suits out of New York' (head office) and their duty was to cut costs. Departments were dismantled, employees placed on hiatus - Fulton included - and rehired on a film by film basis. Fulton, like his associates, sought work elsewhere, and Europe beckoned.
|One of John's many travelling mattes from CONQUEST OF SPACE
When one associates all that Fulton had achieved during this comparatively short life it was indeed impressive - with the upcoming BATTLE OF BRITAIN with all it's aerial dog fights and potentially amazing miniatures, I think John's sadly, un-realised career best was quite possibly yet to come.