Tuesday 19 August 2014


I've had a bit of a break, what with other things to do here and so forth, but I'm back with another of my giant, museum gallery scale blog posts of wonderful matte art from the hand made era, many of which you wouldn't have seen before and a good number of which are shown here for the first time in high resolution BluRay matte shots. I've been amassing an enviable collection of terrific BluRay matte screen grabs since we last met and for the most part they are eye popping and I'm most certain you'll approve. I just wish more older material would be released on high definition... so many films deserving of the format, and so few of what I'd term worthy titles that do indeed make it.

 Shots from shows like SOUTH PACIFIC with it's magnificent Bali-Hai mythical paradise look a million dollars now in high resolution as you'll see later in this article, as do some of the old Universal ARABIAN NIGHTS shows, the big MGM Biblical epics and even little classics like MOST DANGEROUS GAME and WHITE ZOMBIE which also are included here for good measure.  Several classic Albert Whitlock shows such as THE WIZ are finally demonstrated at their finest as well, though space issues sadly don't permit me to upload every shot I'd like to!  I'm often trying to dream up subject topics for intended blogs so as to make use of the many, many matte shots I have.

Just before I begin I'd like to poll my readers to try and establish if any of you experience problems in loading my page or certain images and opening up any image links?  I used to make everything into 'jpeg' images but haven't bothered for some time as most of my own files are 'png' images and many earlier matte grabs were 'BMP' images.  It was a hassle to transfer so many files into jpegs for these huge blogs so I haven't bothered in some time.  I raise the question because I've been chatting with Jim Danforth recently and he experiences constant problems trying to access my site.

 Jim told me he finds it problematic to load NZPetes Matte Shot overall, the 'png' files don't seem to display, and worst of all, those same png's refuse to open!  Is this a common problem among you matte enthusiasts I wonder.... and if it is I'm upset as you're missing out on so much great imagery my friends.  Jim's computer refuses to accept anything image wise that's not a regular jpeg or a PDF. I realise my bloggings are often unwieldy and even cumbersome, but hey, the passion runs away with me on this subject and I do want likeminded folks to get their moneys worth.  Please leave comments on this potentially serious issue so as I may address any problems as best I can (with next to nil computer skills). I'd hate to think that all my archival work goes unseen or presented problematically.  Let NZPete know a.s.a.p.

 While on the blog in general, it has been a worry for some time that some (or possibly many for all I know) of you fine folks may be only viewing these posts on those bloody godamned hand held smart-arse phone 'toys' and not on a real computer (or laptop) screen!! Perish the thought.... how on earth can one possibly take in the majesty, grandeur and skill of these talented craftsmen when glancing at their handiwork on something the size of a bar of freakin' soap.  Should I find any readers using said devices to view matte shots, said device will be promptly confiscated and deposited where the sun don't shine!  Get yourself a trustworthy Proctologist or a decent sized computer screen - the choice is yours.  I will be keeping an eye on you... you won't know where or when...!

Anyway, I digress... so back to todays somewhat overdue blog... matte art from what I term lands of wonder, romance and high adventure... and what a treasure trove I have for you today.  Just the label heading this post is enough to conjure up endless visions and memories for each of us from a time when movies were an event that transported us to another time, another place and another dimension.  I have so many shots that I'll break this into 2 or 3 posts (something I'm loathed to do normally as I fear I'll lose interest and never finish the thing as planned).  I'm saving a whole truckload of mattes dedicated to science fiction, future shock and other worlds etc for a subsequent post as I just have too many!

So friends, sit back in your comfy chair, put your feet up, put on an appropriate CD (NZPete personally recommends British band Zero 7 as well as fellow UK group Morcheeba, and no, I'm not getting paid to say that.  man, are they great, especially all their earlier stuff) and journey to some of the best 'lands' the matte artisan has made a reality... just for you.



The totally insane jungle Jill adventure, GREEN MANSIONS (1959) with the fatally miscast Audrey Hepburn as, get this, 'Rima the Bird Girl' (!)  A truly awful film with some decent Lee LeBlanc mattes (one of which still survives in a gallery in his name apparently) and non stop studio process shots melding 2nd unit jungles with MGM stage sets.
Lovely GREEN MANSIONS matte with a Clarence Slifer optical tilt added in (badly pasted here by moi)

Finally in BluRay resolution is Jan Domela's painted Mount Sinai from THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956)

Also from DeMille's THE TEN COMMANDMENTS in BluRay.

Peter Ellenshaw's wonderful matte art from Disney's 20'000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954)  - a film that as with a number of other Disney classics is just crying out to be re-mastered on BluRay... some day!
One of those quintessential Golden Era exotic place mattes that we all grew up with on TV, with this being a Jack Cosgrove shot from Warner's THE DIAMOND QUEEN (1953).  The painting still exists and was one of a couple of dozen discovered nailed to the inside of a barn as insulation (the horror...the horror) years ago.  Many are somewhat worse for wear but others look pretty good, considering and have even been sold for huge sums on auction sites.  Having seen the collection my mouth is still watering.  Lots of old Selznick mattes among them!!
One of my all time favourite films, both as a great movie and as an exceptional SFX showcase - the exciting THIRTY SECONDS OVER TOKYO (1944).  Lots of great Newcombe mattes and some of the best ever miniature conflagrations ever committed to celluloid.

Same film...

Ernst Lubitsch's A ROYAL SCANDAL (1945)

Classic multi element glass shot by Fitch Fulton and Jack Shaw from MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949)
Gorgeous BluRay matte from Hitchcock's SPELLBOUND (1945) painted by Jack Cosgrove.
Classic Fred Sersen mattes from THE RAZOR'S EDGE (1946) -  one of which still exists (right) in the Sersen family hanging above the fireplace of Fred's grandson.  They were going to send me photos but sadly never did  :(
Errol Flynn's THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) matte seen here in BluRay.  This painting, or half of it at least, still exists in the Warner Bros archive.
Four Oscar nominated mattes from Columbia's 1001 NIGHTS (1945) some of which would appear in other films.

Albert Whitlock's Emmy Award winning matte work from the miniseries titled A.D (1985)
Ivor Beddoes mattes from the 1959 picture HONEYMOON.  The Beddoes family still own one of these they tell me.
MASTER OF THE WORLD (1961) with effects credited to Butler-Glouner, who always farmed out their mattes to guys like Al Whitlock and sometimes Jan Domela.
Evocative old school Newcombe shot from GREEN DOLPHIN STREET which won the best VFX Oscar in 1947.

Another of the many mattes and trick shots from GREEN DOLPHIN STREET.
One of the many beautiful ILM mattes produced in the early 80's, with this being from the Jim Henson fantasy THE DARK CRYSTAL (1982).  Artist probably Chris Evans.

Another exquisite BluRay matte from the same film.
Jim Danforth's wonderfully exotic glass shot from the 80's tv series BRING 'EM BACK ALIVE.

Fox's special effects ace Fred Sersen supervised this matte for THE CAPTAIN FROM CASTILLE (1947)
Doug Ferris supplied some lovely mattes for the dire ERIK THE VIKING (1989).  Frames here from BluRay.

Bob Cuff also provided some class to his mattes for ERIK THE VIKING.
Jack Cosgrove, Al Simpson and Clarence Slifer were kept busy with many Technicolor mattes on Selznick's THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER (1938)
The utterly magnificent, mythical Bali-Hai as seen in the ever popular musical SOUTH PACIFIC (1958).  If ever a high def format was created for a single matte shot then it just has to be this gorgeous shot (one of many) from this show.

Sumptuous matte art from SOUTH PACIFIC
Same film.
Ray Kellogg matte from the Shirley Temple fantasy THE BLUE BIRD (1940)

A before and after glass shot by British artist Bob Cuff for a UK television commercial in the 1980's.

But four of the scores of mattes painted by Percy Day and assistant Judy Jordan for BONNIE PRINCE CHARLIE (1948).  The film set a record at the time for the sheer number of mattes in a single British film - supposedly some 38 though I couldn't find that many.

One of Mark Sullivan's extraordinary ethereal mattes from HOOK
A jaw dropping Mark Sullivan matte (in BluRay too!) from the late Robin Williams' film HOOK (1990).  Wow!
Albert Whitlock really out did himself with his splendid work (with Syd Dutton) on Mel Brooks' HISTORY OF THE WORLD-PART ONE (1981).  All first generation on original negative, and that's why Al's stuff looks so damned good!

Also from HISTORY OF THE WORLD is this complex painted composite for the French Revolution segment at the end with crowd replication of groups of extras, painted people, building additions and trees added.  Note in this BluRay frame just how loose, yet effective Whitlock's style is.

Spectacular matte art from Samuel Fuller's exciting Indo-China picture CHINA GATE (1957)

Matthew Yuricich's vast expanse was mostly painted here for the 1961 version of CIMARRON.  The old thirties version was far better and had scores more matte shots too!
The off-the-wall 1977 Japanese horror comedy HOUSE (HOUSU) was a non stop rollercoaster ride of utter insanity and a million optical effects, mattes and trick shots that are used so frequently that they look as if the optical guys were making them up on the spot while tripping on some pretty weird shit I'm sure the optical printers must have exploded by the end of post production!  So bloody crazy though I whole heartedly recommend it with a few rowdy mates and a six pack of cold beers.

Another of the many, many mattes from HOUSE seen here in BluRay. If you have to see just one movie this year with severed, laughing heads flying around the room biting teenaged Japanese girls bums, then THIS is your movie!
Sprawling mattes from Fox's DESTINATION GOBI (1953)
High fidelity matte art from BluRay edition of Universals' ARABIAN NIGHTS (1942) with John DeCuir painting some shots under Russell Lawsen.

Another BR matte from same film.

MGM's laughable ATLANTIS, THE LOST CONTINENT (1961) was chock filled with stock shots and stolen fx from numerous other films.  Lee LeBlanc and Matthew Yuricich were matte painters.
Hell, even tough guy Steven Seagal gets a look in here with these dynamic Rocco Gioffre matte shots from the film ON DEADLY GROUND (1994)

Vibrant, saturated matte art from Fox's NOB HILL (1945) with George Raft leading the cast.
Rare original Mario Larrinaga matte painting of Madrid from Warner's THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN (1947)

Beautiful BluRay captures from THE AGONY AND THE ECSTACY (1961) with Emil Kosa supervising mattes.

same film

One of Jan Domela's BluRay mattes also from THE AGONY AND THE ECSTACY

The Richard Burton epic ALEXANDER THE GREAT (1956) used the talents of George Samuels and Bob Cuff, under the supervision of Wally Veevers.
Percy Day's matte work from the 1939 version of THE FOUR FEATHERS

...and here's Doug Ferris' matte work from the 1977 version of the same film.
An unknown but interesting matte from the early years of the artform.

Emil Kosa matte from the Bette Davis historic epic THE VIRGIN QUEEN (1955)
Forties mattes in BluRay from Universals' ALI BABA AND THE 40 THIEVES (1944)
An uncredited matte, probably British in origin, from INN OF THE SIXTH HAPPINESS (1958)

A stunning before and after from ISHTAR (1986) with Mark Sullivan's excellent matte art.
A pair of great ILM mattes from Eddie Murphy's THE GOLDEN CHILD (1986).  Not much of a film but a dazzling display of great FX work all round.  Chris Evans painted the shots.
Detail from an unidentified Albert Whitlock matte painting.      *Photo courtesy of Jim Danforth & John Eppolito
Two of the many mattes seen in THE GREAT RACE (1966) with Cliff Silsby and Albert Maxwell Simpson on brushes.

MGM Newcombe shot from THE GOOD EARTH (1937)
Peter Ellenshaw's glorious, moody slice of Ireland from DARBY O'GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE (1959).  Where's the darned BluRay on this title Disney people?  A film crying out for the special treatment.

A rare glass shot from pioneering visionary Norman Dawn from GIRL IN THE DARK (1917)

Universal matte shots by Russ Lawson from DESERT LEGION (1953)
Stunningly crisp BluRay definition is evident in this epic matte from the effects filled opening of John Landis' COMING TO AMERICA (1988).  Matte artists were Albert Whitlock and Syd Dutton, with Bill Taylor compositing elements.

Shepperton Matte Department shot from the under rated Boris Karloff picture DIE, MONSTER, DIE (1965)
Louis Litchtenfield mattes from Burt Lancaster's athletic THE FLAME AND THE ARROW (1950)

Another Lou Litchtenfield matte, with this beautiful BluRay perspective piece from FLASH GORDON (1980)Love it!

Cliff Culley's desert accommodation from CARRY ON FOLLOW THAT CAMEL (1965)
Vintage MGM Warren Newcombe matte shot from the Greta Garbo picture QUEEN CHRISTINA (1933)
Opening BluRay matte from Fox's big disaster movie THE RAINS OF RANCHIPUR (1955) - a remake of the earlier 1939 THE RAINS CAME - itself a brilliant FX extravaganza.

...and boy did those rains come down!  Another BluRay matte from RANCHIPUR - a film deserving of it's Oscar nomination for Ray Kellogg's all round top drawer visual effects.

An effective panoramic matte from Universal's BAGDAD (1949).  Some of the mattes were typical recycled shots from other Arabian Nights pictures the studio specialised in.

Before and after Doug Ferris matte from THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN (1989)

Another Ferris shot from the same film.  Beautiful brush work here.

Syd Dutton's cavernous matte art from tv's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1987)
Wonderful matte art from the terrific Errol Flynn adventure CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE (1936) - a film loaded with top notch matte work from the famous Warner Bros Stage 5 VFX Unit headed by Fred Jackman.  This is exactly the sort of Golden Era glass shot that just thrills me no end.  Pure magic to the eye and the soul.

A stunning high rez matte from the same film.  This shot would be recycled in other Warner Bros films such as THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON and others.  Byron Haskin was photographic effects man with Paul Detlefsen as primary matte painter.

A rare before and after from CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE
Irwin Allen's THE LOST WORLD (1960) with Emil Kosa in charge of matte art.

Frank Capra's LOST HORIZON (1937)

Carl Foreman's big time western MACKENNA'S GOLD (1969) used much matte art such as these BluRay frames by Bob Cuff and Ray Caple.

One of Albert Whitlock's trademark atmospherics - entirely painted - with moving clouds, sun rays and moving water as seen in the excellent GREYSTOKE - THE LEGEND OF TARZAN LORD OF THE APES (1984).  Stunning here in BluRay.
Same film

Same film with this truly epic, wholly manufactured visual effects shot by Al Whitlock with Bill Taylor
Some of the glass shots as seen in Michael Curtiz' NOAH'S ARK (1929) - glass artist was Paul Grimm.

Before and after Mark Sullivan matte from NIGHT TRAIN TO KATMANDU
DICK TRACY (1990) certainly deserves a place here, as much for it's wholly 'invented' world as it's supreme matte art from a gaggle of top shelf glass artists such as Paul Lasaine, Harrison Ellenshaw, Michelle Moen and others.

Another of DICK TRACY's fantastic cityscapes as no other film had done before and none since.
An all round absorbing film, this Gregory Peck headliner, KEYS TO THE KINGDOM (1947) was something of a jaw dropper in the matte effects department as well.  Fred Sersen designed and oversaw some great mattes, with this one in particular being something of a Sersen highpoint.  The camera fluidly follows Greg Peck as he walks past a Chinese village and pretty much a 180o degree pan as he comes up to a ruined temple.  Sersen had mastered vast camera moves such as this using huge painted glasses strategically set up with the frames concealed behind fake tree trunks (look close at tree and you'll see it's half painted half real), and utilised it on many 20th Century Fox pictures such as ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM, THE RAZOR'S EDGE, DAVID AND BATHSHEBA and more.  An astonishingly convincing visual effect.

ILM mattes from Tom Hanks' JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO (1990)
Effective matte shots from TIMBUKTU (1959).  Artist unknown.

Walter Percy Day before & after from THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD (1940)

another Pop Day shot from same film
Gerald Larn painted this Great Wall of China matte for GENGHIS KHAN (1965)

Warren Newcombe shots from MGM's THE GLASS SLIPPER (1955)

Matthew Yuricich's Jeruselem as seen in George Stevens' THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD (1965)
Made numerous times, the immortal PRISONER OF ZENDA was always ripe for matte effects.  Here are two shots from the 1937 Selznick version, with Jack Cosgrove and Byron Crabbe providing the glass shots.

A before & after from the 1952 MGM version of ZENDA

Even Albert Whitlock had a hand in the ZENDA legend with the not terribly good 1979 incarnation of same.

Same film
A very rare surviving Jan Domela matte painting from Paramount's OMAR KHAYAM (1957).  Jan has 'filled in' the original black matted area around the fort entrance so as to make the matte good as a stock FX shot for possible re-use

Universal matte from DOUBLE CROSSBONES (1951)
Michael Pangrazio's Tibetan temple and landscape from the not too bad THE SHADOW (1994)

Same film, effects shot with miniatures utilised by Matte World.
Glorious old school glass shots by Conrad Tritschler for WHITE ZOMBIE (1932)
Les Bowie effects shot for Ray Harryhausen's SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER (1977)
Terrific matte shot by Percy Day and Wally Veevers from Tyrone Powers' THE BLACK ROSE (1950)

same film which has a ton of mattes and miniatures

Although some of Percy Day's later matte work didn't live up to his earlier high calibre work, this, and several other in THE BLACK ROSE are excellent.
I loved this as a teenager, THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT (1975) covered all the bases in it's day.

Lou Litchtenfield shot from Howard Hawks' LAND OF THE PHARAOHS (1955)

Novelty matte by Al Whitlock from Marty Feldman's THE LAST REMAKE OF BEAU GESTE (1977)

The excellent Omar Shariff-Michael Caine medieval adventure THE LAST VALLEY (1971) with matte art by Gerald Larn, supplemented by Les Bowie miniatures and Wally Veevers compositing of the elements.
One of my fave mattes from the still wonderful JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH (1959).  BluRay grab.

Great art direction... same film.
Glorious matte art by the highly talented Mark Sullivan for a Japanese tv commercial


Ray Caple matte shot from JEWEL OF THE NILE (1985)

The Ingrid Bergman historic epic JOAN OF ARC (1947) used both Jack Cosgrove and Luis McManus painting talents
Laurel & Hardy's BONNIE SCOTLAND (1935)
A nice BluRay grab of Albert Whitlock's opening matte from the rather good Charlton Heston-Middle Ages show THE WAR LORD (1965)

Another undetectable BluRay matte from THE WAR LORD
One of the best painters of the end of the traditional era, Paul Lasaine contributed to many, most Disney related films such as THE SANTA CLAUSE (1994)

Santa's workshop at the North Pole as beautifully rendered on glass by Paul Lasaine for THE SANTA CLAUSE.

An unknown before and after, possibly from a silent Paramount film
The perspective is completely off here, which for the Sersen unit is quite odd.  The film is DRAGONWYCK (1946).  It may have worked better without that church steeple in the foreground.

One of George Lucas' made for tv films of the 80's with this being EWOKS: CARAVAN OF COURAGE I believe.

Same tv movie, with matte art by Mike Pangrazio
Jim Danforth glass shot from Lucasfilms EWOK tv film.
EWOKS original negative matte shot
ILM' matte art from another tv film EWOKS: THE BATTLE FOR ENDOR made in the eighties.
Magnificent BluRay matte from KING OF KINGS (1961) supervised by Lee LeBlanc at MGM.

another extraordinary matte from KING OF KINGS which is stunningly crisp in high definition.
The 1939 version of HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES made by Fox.

...and Albert Whitlock's interpretation of Baskerville Manor from an early 1970's tv version of the same.

Same 70's version with those classic Whitlock night skies and more mood than you can shake a stick at!
Although a strictly cornball story and badly miscast with Americans made up as Chinese, DRAGON SEED (1944) is loaded with a multitude of excellent mattes made under the supervision of MGM's eccentric Warren Newcombe.

A strictly amateur affair, despite the heavy duty future talent involved, EQUINOX (1971) had these Jim Danforth mattes
An extensive matte addition from Fox's DIPLOMATIC COURIER (1952)

Production designer John DeCuir's painting for a proposed matte shot in DIPLOMATIC COURIER
Two Cosgrove shots from GARDEN OF ALLAH (1936)

Terrific BluRay cap of a MARK OF ZORRO (1940) matte shot - a film with a variety of trick shots and technical ingenuity.
Richard Lester's FOUR MUSKETEERS (1974) had several Doug Ferris mattes.
One of cinemas most celebrated glass shots must be this Mario Larrinaga rendition from KING KONG (1933)

Same classic film - with BluRay fidelity.  The same glass shot appeared in THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME made back to back with KONG.

Some oriental mystique - a beautifully designed and executed matte from the 1968 Japanese fable KORONEKO
Rocco Gioffre's delightful full painting which concludes CITY SLICKERS (1991) - all the better in BluRay.

Ray Caple painted the mattes for THE SILENT FLUTE (aka CIRCLE OR IRON) in 1977
Disney's IN SEARCH OF THE CASTAWAYS (1961) had a ton of mattes by Peter Ellenshaw and others.

Same film - not just great art but the best compositing of almost any Disney movie.  All assembled at Pinewood in UK.

Same film, with this matte having sentimental value, being from the New Zealand section of the film.
Mark Sullivan painted this as, if I recollect, a backing for stop motion sequences for a Jim Danforth project, JONGOR.
One of the all time greats, THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING (1975) was as good an adventure as adventure ever gets.  Several mattes by several artists, with most done in England under Wally Veevers.  This one is a Doug Ferris matte.

Same film - this matte was painted by Peter Wood in the UK.  Ron Dobson was another artist involved in this film.

Same film - when the Wally Veevers team failed to properly capture the big 'money shot' as director John Huston desired, the shot was farmed out to Al Whitlock at Universal, the result of which is now cinema legend.  All BluRay grabs.
Whitlock's glass painting.  According to Bill Taylor, Albert painted one or two others which never made the final cut.
Oscar Wilde's comedy of manners, AN IDEAL HUSBAND (1948) was a big matte show, with Percy Day and Peter Ellenshaw painting a lot of mattes to simulate Victorian era London.
Paul Detlefsen's ancient Rome from ANDROCLES AND THE LION (1950)
Errol Flynn in the Rudyard Kipling story KIM (1950)
One of many variations on KING SOLOMON'S MINES (1950)

A more recent version of KING SOLOMON'S MINES made in the 1980's.  Matte by Cliff Culley.
Albert Whitlock's matte art from the British film ROMEO AND JULIET (1954)
A unique look behind the scenes of the matte process for a Soviet fantasy film made in the 1930's.  Title not known.

THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932) with glass shots by Byron Crabbe and Mario Larrinaga.
Another glass shot from same film with actors added via the Dunning Composite Process.

The Edgar Allen Poe pictures were and still remain great sources of creativity under low budgets.  PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1961) is one such film, with wonderful art direction and matte work.  Al Whitlock was hired by Larry Butler to provide the paintings for this show.  BluRay capture shows matte in all it's glory.

Same film - wonderful Whitlock sky, though the odd cropping of castle has always mystified me.

Disney's RETURN TO OZ (1985) didn't really work but did have some good effects work.  Mattes painted by Robert Scifo, Michael Lloyd and UK artist Charles Stoneham.
Same film.  The effects were Oscar nominated as I recall.

Bob Cuff and George Samuels worked on mattes for Laurence Olivier's RICHARD III (1955).  This shot is a full painting

Another of the half dozen mattes from RICHARD III with this also being a full painting.  Some very subtle mattes elsewhere that I missed in DVD but caught only on BluRay.

Matte shot pioneer Ferdinand Pinney Earle painted glass shots on the original 1925 version of BEN HUR

The 1959 remake of BEN HUR had many great mattes by Lee LeBlanc and Matthew Yuricich as these breathtaking  BluRay screen captures will testify.

RKO's much imitated classic GUNGA DIN (1939), probably the work of Mario Larrinaga, though Jan Domela's daughter told me his old letters show that he also worked on the film, maybe on loan from Paramount perhaps?

Russ Lawsen matte from LADY GODIVA OF COVENTRY (1955)

Universal's desert epic, THE GOLDEN HORDE (1951)

Peter Ellenshaw's breathtaking matte that's just oozing with atmosphere and mood from one of Disney's UK productions  ROB ROY, THE HIGHLAND ROGUE (1954)

The first CinemaScope picture, Fox's THE ROBE (1954) with mattes by Kosa, Yuricich and others.
Another BluRay matte from THE ROBE
Also from THE ROBE
The James Coburn spy spoof OUR MAN FLINT (1966) was a hoot, with L.B Abbott's trick shots just adding to the fun

The absorbing Joseph Conrad story, OUTCAST OF THE ISLANDS (1951) began with this well executed set piece of a schooner negotiating rocky reefs and coves - all realised with multi-layered glass paintings and optical superimpositions by Percy Day.  A really good sequence from a really good film.
Matte from THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT (1978) - artist unknown.

A sublime pastel painted Newcombe shot from ROSALIE (1937) from MGM, that is the very epitomy of the studio and the era.  My God I'd love to own this one!

Barely detectable mattes by Mark Sullivan from the Brooke Shields adventure SAHARA (1983)

The Spanish film SEA DEVILS employed the maestro, Emilio Ruiz del Rio for foreground painted mattes such as this.

A spectacular evening matte shot from the Columbia show SALOME (1953)

An odd one - a city beneath the ocean from WARLORDS OF THE DEEP (aka CITY BENEATH THE SEA) from the mid 60's, with mattes by Ray Caple and Bob Cuff with John Mackie on camera duties.

Saturated Technicolor mattes by Russ Lawsen for Universal's COBRA WOMAN (1944) - one of numerous Maria Montez costume vehicles who wasn't half as sexy as Paramount's Dorothy Lamour in her many sarong epics.
Two Bob Cuff mattes from the historic bio-pic on Winston Churchill, YOUNG WINSTON (1972)

Terence Young's ZARAK (1957) with mattes by an uncredited artist, probably in the United Kingdom

Cliff Culley and beginning assistant Leigh Took made a number of mattes for Kevin Connor's WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS (1978)
Same film

Les Bowie supplied this multi element trick shot for Jim Danforth's WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH (1970).  The background sky and sea are painted on glass, the foreground is partial miniature with table salt serving as a waterfall and the people are added in camera as a Schufftan shot via a 45o mirror.  Simply effective.

20th Century Fox's big Viking epic PRINCE VALIANT (1954) had some nice fx shots by Ray Kellogg and co.

Fred Jackman and Hans Koenecamp's matte effects from Warners' THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER (1937)

Storybook test mattes by Jim Danforth for an unrealised project, THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN from the late 1970's
Albert Whitlock's mythical valley from Paul Schrader's CAT PEOPLE (1982) shown here as a terrific BluRay image.

CAT PEOPLE's valley in transition -  a sequence that Whitlock stated didn't seem to have any basis in the context of the overall film.  Beautiful matte work with much manipulation - aided immeasurably by Giorgio Moroder's mesmerising synth score.... as I always say "Music maketh the matte."
Absolutely gorgeous glass shots from a film I've never seen - the Russian fantasy KINGDOM OF THE CROOKED MIRRORS (1963).  My fellow matte enthusiast Domingo Lizcano speaks highly of this film and the effects work.

MGM's 1944 version of KISMET
Gloomy effects shot from the old Orson Welles adaptation of MACBETH (1948)

The dawn of man according to Carl Reiner in Steve Martin's very funny THE LONELY GUY (1984).  Matte by Albert Whitlock who has produced one of his iconic night skies once again.

Some wonderful matte effects from Gary Cooper's THE ADVENTURES OF MARCO POLO (1938) made by Samuel Goldwyn, with effects overseen by James Basevi.
One of the important glass shots from the Douglas Fairbanks film ROBIN HOOD (1922) with an exclusive insight here into the matte process of the day where trick shot pioneer Ferdinand Pinney Earle is shown in the studio with several other glass shot exponents painting this and other glasses for ROBIN HOOD.  Wonderful stuff!

Earle's finished glass composite.
A very nice BluRay shot of the eerie castle (a full painting) from THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (1964).  Both Ray Caple and Bob Cuff shared painting duties on the film.  I didn't use the similar daytime matte as it was grainy due to the film makers choice to add lap dissolves in and out of the shot - always an absolute bug bear for trying to obtain clean mattes from older films.

An utterly sumptuous glass shot by Mark Sullivan from the 1985 film MIRACLES.  It has a determined Larrinaga-Skull Island feel about it.

Ray Caple's matte for the Cinderella inspired SLIPPER AND THE ROSE (1976)

Now, as a film I thought SON OF KONG was a stinker!  However the glass shots were beautiful indeed and some of the technical work was a step up from the original film too. 

Skull Island from SON OF KONG to me looks even better than that in KING KONG.  A magnificent rendering, either by Byron Crabbe or Mario Larrinaga.
A trio of Lawsen mattes from Universal's THE FLAME OF ARABY (1951)
One of many exquisite Newcombe matte shots seen in the 1938 film MARIE ANTOINETTE.
Gerald Larn's extensive glass painting of the Tower of London and Traitor's Gate for the excellent ANNE OF THE THOUSAND DAYS (1969).  The foreground is real, the gate and inside a miniature and the sky is a real sky burnt in.
Steps of the hanging miniature process that veteran Universal special effects chief, Phil Whitman used for THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1923) to amazingly convincing effect.

A delightful snowy cityscape from the turn of the century as seen in Orson Welles' THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS

BluRay grab of one of a great many expansive matte shots from Fox's big CinemaScope roadshow THE EGYPTIAN (1954).  Effects supervised by Ray Kellogg, with artists Emil Kosa jr, Lee LeBlanc, Cliff Silsby and others.

Wartime Britain created entirely in California for Hitchcock's excellent SUSPICION (1941) - a first rate thriller packed with a truckload of matte shots and painted additions that weren't always noticeable in regular DVD.  An RKO picture so mattes possibly by Chesley Bonestell, Fitch Fulton and Albert Maxwell Simpson.
One of ILM's mattes from LABYRINTH (1986) painted by Caroleen Green.

Same film

Rare, vintage glass shots from the very early incarnation of Jules Verne's MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (1929)
A great true life adventure was the story of STANLEY AND LIVINGSTONE  filmed in 1939 with Spencer Tracy.

Emil Kosa matte from THE STORY OF RUTH (1960)
One of my number one ILM mattes is this wonderful Mike Pangrazio rendering which I think was from RETURN OF THE JEDI or one of those EWOK tele-movies... I forget which as I've only seen those once, years ago.
A Mike Pangrazio full painting intended for INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (1984) but ultimately unused as is, and instead flopped and re-jigged as a more effective sunset sillohette (see below) that worked a treat.

BluRay shot of Mike's painting (above) as used in same film to excellent effect.

Same film with Pangrazio shown here at work on the matte art.
Same film - Frank Ordaz painted this entire shot with Neil Krepela adding in steam elements and blue screened actors.
The third Indy film INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (1989) would utilise Mark Sullivan's matte skills.

Disney's JOHNNY TREMAIN (1957) was a big matte show, with Albert Whitlock heavily involved with Peter Ellenshaw

Cliff Culley's painted Sudan for the Charlton Heston-Laurence Olivier picture KHARTOUM (1966)

Ivor Beddoes was a jack of all trades in the British film industry, with matte painting being just one of his many talents.  Shown here are three of Ivor's perfectly blended mattes from THE LONG SHIPS (1964)
Definitely a land of wonder was Peter Ellenshaw's Edwardian London as seen in the ever popular MARY POPPINS (1964).  London never looked so dreamlike nor magical as it did when Peter's brush was at work.  Although from a BluRay, the quality was quite disappointingly soft and not at all what I'd anticipated,sadly.

same film

Same film - a frame from the eye popping dusk to night transitional matte shot with all those sparkling gaslights flickering into life.  The stuff that matte dreams are made of.
Paris at the time of the French Revolution as realised by MGM's matte department for the classic Ronald Colman picture THE TALE OF TWO CITIES (1935).  I've forever loved that shot at right which personifies not just the films narrative period, but the movie industry's creative period of the time so beautifully.

The film TALES OF HOFFMAN (1951) with strongly romanticised matte work, uncredited but may have been painted by Ivor Beddoes who was involved in the film.

Thar she blows.... one of the numerous mattes supervised by David Stipes for the 80's tv show TALES OF THE GOLD MONKEY where a number of budding matte artists got to paint occasionally.
Ealing's historic telling of SCOTT OF THE ANTARCTIC (1948) saw resident matte and effects man Geoff Dickinson create the miniature-painted set up at left and the ice cave glass shot at right among other VFX.  Note, the ice cave was 'stolen' by Harryhausen for a shot in SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER many years later.

Mattes from Columbia's SERPENT OF THE NILE (1953)

The much remade and imitated H.Rider Haggard story SHE (1935) was a good effects show, with glass shots by Byron Crabbe and Mario Larrinaga.

A revealing look at the very early Hall Process at work which was basically a foreground painted cut out, which when well planned provided first generation composites on set.  The film appears to be a German version of SCHEHERAZADE probably made in the 1920's (?)

Another later version of the same story, SCHEHERAZADE (1962) demonstrates an Emilio Ruiz matte before & after.

ILM again came to the fore in 1988 with some of their best ever visual effects work for Ron Howard's WILLOW. Breathtaking matte art, stop motion, fx animation and optical composites abound, with the BluRay shot above being a latent image Chistopher Evans matte shot.  Rarely bettered!

Also from WILLOW is this Sean Joyce BluRay matte.

WILLOW again - Chris Evans' stupendous closing shot.  I'd love to be able to examine the actual glass artwork up close.
Walter Percy 'Pop' Day classic matte shot from Powell & Pressburger's BLACK NARCISSUS (1947)

The Nazi's notorious Colditz Castle has been many times depicted via matte art in feature films over the years.  This shot is Albert Whitlock's version of the infamous prison from the film ESCAPE OF THE BIRDMEN (1971)
Storybook Copenhagen as seen in HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSON (1952).  Author of the essential book The Invisible Art, Craig Barron once mentioned to me having seen the original painting as seen above hanging upon the wall of the living room of Clarence Slifer - the films photographic effects man - while compiling interviews with industry effects veterans for his book.  I wonder where it is now?

Lou Litchtenfield supervised the mattes for Warner Brothers' HELEN OF TROY (1956).  Lots of mattes in this film.

Laurence Olivier's HENRY V (1944) glass shot by Percy Day purposely designed to resemble the tapestries of the era.
HOLLYWOOD REVUE OF 1929 (1929) matte shot and some sequences in early Technicolor at MGM

Alan Maley ran Disney's matte department for several years and among the projects he oversaw was the visual effects filled BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS (1971) for which he received an Oscar nomination.  A great many fanciful painted mattes of wartime England are utilised as seen in these  BluRay images.

Same film.  Another favourite glass painting.

MGM specialised in big, glossy, widescreen epics and never shied away from extensive use of mattes, such as seen here in THE PRODIGAL (1955)

Peter Ellenshaw excelled himself on the film QUO VADIS (1951) with not just superb painting and matching, but exceptional  matte photography that almost appears first generation in quality.

Another arresting Ellenshaw matte comp from QUO VADIS.  Some of Peter's best ever work here (and that's saying something!) in a film that excels in all facets of visual effects - from mattes to miniatures and optical comps - the film should have been a contender for VFX Oscar that year... but don't get me started on bloody Oscar injustices!
Some interesting mattes from the Columbia film SLAVES OF BABYLON (1953)

An uncredited though very effective matte (possibly an in camera glass shot) from SOLOMON AND SHEBA (1959)

A Russell Lawsen matte from SON OF ALI-BABA (1952) with a very young Tony Curtis in action.

The timeless ALICE IN WONDERLAND was remade as a tv movie in the mid 80's with this matte being either by Syd Dutton or Albert Whitlock.
Doug Ferris matte from the mis-judged SANTA CLAUS - THE MOVIE (1985)
Irwin Allen's oddity, THE STORY OF MANKIND (1957) was a curiosity if ever there were one, with eccentric, mix and match cast and acres of stock footage from other Warner Bros films, with the above matte no doubt being such an example.  What on earth were they thinking?

Tyrone Powers' recreation of the building of the Suez canal in SUEZ (1938) was an effects bonanza for Fred Sersen, Ralph Hammeras and Louis Witte.  Many excellent mattes, superb integration of models with live action and a bitch of a sand storm which wipes the whole place out being especially well handled.  Top technical work throughout.

Richard Donner's still fantastic SUPERMAN-THE MOVIE (1978) was a winner all the way.  Les Bowie and long time associate Ray Caple painted the mattes.

Same film - the Fortess of Solitude looked a stunner in '78 and still looks a stunner today some 35 years later.

Gerald Larn, Bryan Evans and Doug Ferris painted 16th Century mattes for THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (1967)
I've often spoken of my admiration of the Newcombe department at MGM, whose output was defined by a common factor: quality.  This is a classic era original Newcombe painting as used in the film THE YEARLING (1946) with the painting now in a private collection.

The Yul Brynner Cossack melodrama TARAS BULBA (1962) was the one and only occasion that long time Universal matte artist ever received screen credit to my knowledge.
Also from TARAS BULBA were a number of mattes for the chasm sequence.  According to Rolf Giesen, soon to be Universal matte maestro Al Whitlock was hired to paint some of these, no doubt through Butler-Glouner or Howard A.Anderson who shared the visual effects contract on the production.

Pirate yarns always provide good potential for the matte artist.  SWASHBUCKLER (aka THE SCARLET BUCCANEER) made in 1976 used a number of largely undetectable Albert Whitlock mattes.
The Rock Hudson sand and swords epic THE GOLDEN BLADE (1953) gains production value with this spectacular Russ Lawsen matte shot (here in BluRay).  This shot was actually lifted from an earlier Universal picture, BAGHDAD from 1949.

Another GOLDEN BLADE BluRay matte which also has shown up in several other movies of the period.

The ancient city of Mecca as painted by Doug Ferris for THE MESSAGE (aka MOHAMMED, MESSENGER OF GOD)

Early 20th century Manila Bay, Philippines, painted as a matte for the rousing Gary Cooper-David Niven actioner THE REAL GLORY (1939) for Samuel Goldwyn Productions.

The classic 1921 star vehicle which made Rudolph Valentino a household name, THE SHEIK had much glass work.
A Les Bowie before and after showing an on set glass painted castle and scenery being set up for a scene in LANCELOT AND GUINEVIERE from the mid 1960's.

The long running Tarzan series of films has allowed art directors and matte exponents plenty of elbow room to be creative.  Here we have a shot from RKO's TARZAN AND THE AMAZONS (1945)What follows is a selection of amazing and imaginative mattes from a variety of Tarzan pictures.

Same film - imagination and then some!



The first of the MGM films was TARZAN THE APE MAN (1932)






TARZAN'S SECRET ADVENTURE (1941)    Note, this and other Tarzan mattes were often recycled and appeared in sometimes as many as 3 individual films in the series.

Bill Mather's matte for BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA (1991)
A terrible film that's bareable only for a few sensational Albert Whitlock mattes that's RED SONYA (1985).
Another remarkable Whitlock shot in BluRay complete with moving clouds, lava flow and sunlight rays.
Veteran artist Albert Maxwell Simpson's ancient China as painted for John Wayne's THE CONQUEROR (1956)

Doug Ferris mattes from John Boorman's exceptional EXCALIBUR (1980) - one of the most exquisitely photographed and designed films of it's type.  A journey in itself.
One of Al Whitlock's broad, panoramic mattes from Andrew V. McLaglen's THE WAY WEST (1967)

A vintage old time Saturday matinee serial glass shot from the 1940's, possibly from a Republic show.
The James Stewart western THE RARE BREED (1966) where Albert Whitlock has painted the entire frame except a narrow strip where the roadway can be seen.
Artist Pony Horton made this and other shots for WIZARDS OF THE LOST KINGDOM as in camera old style glass shots.

MGM Newcombe shot from Fred Astaire's YOLANDA AND THE THIEF (1945)
A Christopher Evans before and after from DRAGONSLAYER (1981)
A good, fun adventure yarn, Disney's ISLAND AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD (1974) had dozens of mattes and a ton of model and composite shots.  Alan Maley and Harrison Ellenshaw were key in making the mattes work.

One of Alfred Hitchcock's rare dull as ditchwater films, UNDER CAPRICORN (1949) did in it's favour have a number of great mattes.  Although a British film, it appears that some, if not all of the mattes were made in Hollywood at Warner Brothers by Mario Larrinaga and others.

A rare, original matte painting by Mario Larrinaga from UNDER CAPRICORN.

A Lee LeBlanc matte from the film UNTAMED (1955)

Recognised mostly as a key shot from Ray Harryhausen's THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958), the matte is in fact an old Russ Lawsen shot from a Universal film VEILS OF BAGHDAD (1953) and has appeared in a few other films as well such as THE KING'S PIRATE (1967) which even boasted Whitlock's name on screen as 'matte supervisor'!
The final shot from THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987) was a matte by either Bob Cuff or Ken Marschal
Two Al Whitlock mattes from JACK THE GIANT KILLER (1961)

The 1944 film of the classic Charlotte Bronte story JANE EYRE is very, very big on mood.

A stunning shot from the same film.
Mark Sullivan painted this spectacular vista for a Dodge television commercial in 1984.

Another of those Maria Montez sex siren Technicolor fantasies of the forties, this is WHITE SAVAGE (1943)

An early Matt Yuricich assignment was WHITE WITCH DOCTOR in 1953.

Veteran matte painter Paul Detlefsen, shown here upper left, and one of his early glass paintings for the silent epic DANCER OF THE NILE made in the late 1920's.
More Detlefsen shots from DANCER OF THE NILE

Majestic doesn't even begin to describe this tangibly steamy matte from the old 1940 version of SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON.  Matte artist was Albert Maxwell Simpson who along his substantial career had painted on KING KONG, with that same flavour evident here.

Same film

Very poetic glass shot from the Soviet film THE TALE OF TSAR SULTAN

The imaginative ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS (1964) with mattes by Albert Whitlock
Peter Ellenshaw's England of olde - SWORD AND THE ROSE (1954)
One of Albert Whitlock and Bill Taylor's best effects shots is the mammoth sunrise shot from Sidney Lumet's THE WIZ (1978) seen here in all it's high res BluRay glory.  Amazingly complex shot for all involved.  Bravo!

Also from THE WIZ is this in camera foreground glass shot of a highly romanticised New York skyline.

Old MGM Newcombe shots from the Gene Kelly THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1948)

Epic matte from THE BIBLE (1966), possibly the work of Albert Maxwell Simpson.

Universals' THE DESERT HAWK (1950)
Alan Maley shot from Disney's THE WORLD'S GREATEST ATHLETE (1973)
Golden era elegance - SCARAMOUCHE (1952)

Swashing the buckles in YANKEE BUCCANEER (1952)
A matte from an unidentified Japanese film.
Before and after Doug Ferris matte shot from a British commercial.
Byron Haskin's film CAPTAIN SINDBAD (1963) with mattes made under Tom Howard at MGM-Elstree
John Boorman's EXORCIST II-THE HERETIC (1977) was a misfire in more ways than one.  Some interesting mattes by Albert Whitlock made the film watchable I suppose.
Camelot in all it's celebrated glory as painted by Leigh Took and Dennis Lowe for the film FIRST KNIGHT (1995)
Detail of some of Leigh's Kingdom of Camelot from above.  While Took painted the city, Dennis Lowe handled the brushwork for the foreground, landmarks and villages etc

Peter Melrose and Doug Ferris mattes from Roman Polanski's FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS (1967)
Ray Kellogg effects shot from THE KING AND I (1956) with beautiful miniature steamer and cut out profiles of 19th century Bangkok all filmed in the Fox tank.
I love haunted house matte shots, with this BluRay shot being a winner for sure.  THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (1960) has some great work, possibly by Al Whitlock who painted freelance at the time for Larry Butler

Bela Lugosi's DRACULA (1931) with glass shots supervised by Frank Booth.
Same film, in vivid high definition.
The under rated Frank Langella interpretation of the bloodsucker, DRACULA (1979) was an Albert Whitlock assignment.

And to finish off, a Russ Lawsen matte from the exceedingly dry BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH (1954)

*Well friends, that'll do for now.... all this two finger typing takes it out of a guy.  Stay tuned for Part Two of Lands Of Wonder where we'll take a look at the future and lands of a science fiction or other worldly genre, with some great BluRay shots among them.