Thursday 27 October 2016


Greetings friends and fellow matte painting fanatics, it's well and truly time to clutter up internet servers and bog down your data usage as NZPete enthralls you with yet another mammoth entry in this eye opening cinematic artform.  This month I have put together what I hope will be a fascinating and comprehensive look at the urban landscape and associated architecture that traditional era matte artists have created, often without us, the audience, being any the wiser.  I've assembled a large selection of matte shots - some of which you might have seen and a great many of which have not been illustrated until now - the result of which I've split this article into two parts to accomodate it all.
I had originally included historic urban views as well but have pulled those aside to include in an upcoming blog tentatively titled Great Moments in World History According to the Matte Artist.  Some great stuff to be had there folks.

I've always had something of an amateur interest in 'painted' architecture, in particular the more classic, traditional variety, so there is a healthy collection of such matte shots featured below amid the more avant garde and modernist constructions. Classical fine painters such as the Italian master Canaletto still leave me in awe with his draftsmanship and precision in perspective (I especially love the masterpieces rendered during his English period, though as usual I digress...).  As far as the films illustrated here today, matte painters from all of the Hollywood studios as well as their British counterparts are included, though as is often the case, so many of the fine mattes from the Golden Era are sadly anonymous as far as authorship goes, with sometimes as many as 8 to 12 individual painters employed at any one time at some of the big studio matte departments such as 20th Century Fox, MGM and Warner Bros., especially during the heyday of 1940's.  I've been more successful at pinning down the individuals responsible in much later years as the studios trimmed their effects departments down to just one or two painters.

Among the works displayed below - and in the subsequent follow up article - are some beautifully rendered pastel 'paintings' from MGM who were at the top of the game when it came to architectural draftsmanship and incredible fine detail, often all for just 2 or 3 seconds of screen time, or sometimes none at all as it wasn't at all uncommon for mattes to be dropped during editing.  Matthew Yuricich stated in his oral history which I published in 2012 that Metro Goldwyn Mayer had it all.  As well as a choice roster of some of the finest illustrators in the country, Newcombe's matte department had their own layout man - Bill Meyer - who's job it was to do all of the often difficult draftsmanship prior to the painter becoming involved that was needed to make the matte artist's job easier.

Some of the old time Golden Era artists represented here are Norman Dawn, Howard Fisher, Lee LeBlanc, Jack Rabin, Ray Kellogg,  Russ Lawson, Paul Detlefsen and Mario Larrinaga.  Also featured are some examples from Albert Whitlock, Les Bowie, Cliff Cully, Ray Caple, Peter & Harrison Ellenshaw among others.  Among the latter day matte exponents covered here today are notable talents such as Rocco Gioffre, Mark Sullivan, Syd Dutton, Michele Moen, Richard Kilroy, Paul Lasaine, Caroleen Green and of course, Ken Marschall.  I'm especially grateful to Ken for sharing even more of his fantastic matte art and behind the scenes pictures for this two part blog.  So, read on and enjoy some more of that particular brand of cinematic wizardry that is in a world of it's own.



One of hundreds of classic era pastel and gouache matte paintings produced under Warren Newcombe at MGM.  I don't have a title for this, but it appears to be from the 1940's.  Among the painters employed at the studio were Stanley Poray, Jack Robson, Otto Keichle, Howard Fisher and Rufus Harrington among many others.
Holland born artist Jan Domela was extremely busy over his very long career that spanned the mid to late twenties through to the mid sixties.  This is a matte from an unidentified Paramount picture, probably from the early 1930's.
Vintage matte art composite from Warner Bros' GLORIOUS BETSY (1928) with those ever present moody Warner night clouds which the artists were very fond of painting in so many of that studio's films.
Although it's not a matte painting, this vividly illustrates the value of skilled scenic artists, in this case the 20th Century Fox backing artists in 1937.
Unknown MGM film - 1930's
Fred Sersen's matte department at Fox had showed such ingenuity and technical ability time and time again on scores of high profile productions.  This matte shot is from the highly entertaining THE GHOST AND MRS MUIR (1947).
Orson Welles certainly understood the value of the special photographic effect and was not afraid to explore it's possibilities.  These mattes are from his stunningly photographed film THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI (1948).  Larry Butler and Donald Glouner were most likely in charge, and it's possible that Juan Larrinaga, Lou Litchtenfield or Chesley Bonestell may have been matte artists.
Ernst Lubitsch's witty HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1943) had some interesting matte work by Fred Sersen.
Here is the first of three frames depicting matte painted work to the same Boston street over successive time periods from HEAVEN CAN WAIT.

...same street, some years later.

...and another matte painted revision upon that same street.  Incidentally, the shot also appeared in other non Fox films over the years including a cheap Universal western called EVIL ROY SLADE in the 1970's with none other than Albert Whitlock credited for photographic effects!  Bill Taylor told me that the particular producer of said Universal epic was know as a 'dustbin producer' whereby his numerous productions would be padded out and made to look grand by splicing in shots and sequences from other shows.  Sounds like Roger Corman and Aristide Massacessi all rolled into one!
From the British film HUE AND CRY  (1946)
Another of Jan Domela's several hundred mattes painted over the years, with this Paramount show being unidentified, though likely from the early to mid 30's.
I find this one jaw dropping.  A Newcombe matte from an unidentified MGM film - probably late 40's or early 50's with the detail work, light and shadow being quite phenomenal.
Universal's superior Burt Lancaster prison picture BRUTE FORCE (1947) was a winner all the way.  Lots of effects work including mattes, miniatures, composite TM's and process - with, in some instances, all of these methods combined perfectly in a single shot - all supervised by longtime studio effects man David S. Horsley.  Here are some of the mattes, designed by John DeCuir and rendered by Russ Lawson.  Career Universal effects cinematographer, Roswell Hoffman put together all of the mattes and composites.

Matte composite from the excellent BRUTE FORCE.  A must see!
The British film industry produced many a fine film, and often with limited post war resourses.  ENCORE (1952) was one such quality entertainment.  Special effects overseen by J.Arthur Rank's own resident wizard, Italian born Filippo Guidobaldi at Pinewood Studios.  Matte artists employed at the time included Albert Whitlock, Joan Suttie, Cliff Culley and Peter Melrose.
Columbia's surprisingly good biopic THE JOLSON STORY (1946) had numerous mattes supervised by Larry Butler and effects cameraman Donald Glouner.  This shot cropped up several times later in other movies.
Also from THE JOLSON STORY is this glorious sequence where night gradually turns to day.  Sensational work.
A curiosity this one, ISLAND OF DOOMED MEN (1940)

Establishing shot from MGM's CHINA SEAS (1935)
One of several Sersen mattes from the Fox film HOUSE ON TELEGRAPH HILL (1951)
Full matte painting from the Osron Welles film BLACK MAGIC (1949).
Two Jan Domela mattes from the Tony Curtis melodrama HOUDINI (1953)
Ralph Hammeras was an all round visual effects expert and had a long career at Fox where he indulged in miniatures, process work and mattes as the need arose.  These painted mattes are from the Jack Benny show CHARLEY'S AUNT (1941)
In the UK, Shepperton Studios had the biggest and busiest effects department, run by veteran Wally Veevers.  On this, David Lean's HOBSON'S CHOICE (1954) matte artists Bob Cuff and George Samuels were kept busy.
Paramount's musical ANYTHING GOES (1956) employed Jan Domela's matte work.
Before and after matte from MGM's film CALL OF THE FLESH (1930)
Newcombe matte from Laurel and Hardy's AIR RAID WARDENS (1943)
Unsure of this one, purportedly from the British film FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE (1954), though I doubt it.
MGM matte overseen by longtime matte director Warren Newcombe from THE GREAT ZIEGFELD (1936)
Same film.  Note the distant ferris wheel was added in later as a miniature.
Matte painted Japan for United States Navy on shore leave, from the very good BRIDGES AT TOKO RI (1954).  Jan Domela was matte artist for John P. Fulton, who won an Academy Award for the excellent miniature work in the film.
Glorious matte art for the opening shot in John Ford's FOUR MEN AND A PRAYER (1938)
Matte art that I'd never noticed until I caught the BluRay... from the excellent Humphrey Bogart drama DEADLINE USA (1952).  Fred Sersen at Fox had artists Emil Kosa jr, Lee LeBlanc, Jim Fetherolf, Ray Kellogg and Matt Yuricich on staff.
Another of my many unidentified MGM Newcombe mattes.
MGM Newcombe matte from unknown film.  If you happen to know what any of these are, drop me a line.
San Francisco being screwed over big time by a giant (six tentacled due to budget constraints!) octopus in Ray Harryhausen's IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA (1955).  Ray wasn't very big on mattes and preferred models so maybe this matte art came from a different film perhaps, with Harryhausen adding in the stop motion tentacle??  Great shot though.

Jan Domela matte painted cityscape and upper half of frame in fact, from the Bing Crosby picture GOING MY WAY (1944).
Unknown title from MGM 1930's

Detail from one of the BROADWAY MELODY OF 1939 pastel mattes rendered at MGM.

Motion picture pioneer Norman Dawn - whom I discussed at length in the previous blog - had a very long career in special effects.  For a time in the 1940's Norman worked under art director Cedric Gibbons in Warren Newcombe's matte department at MGM on a variety of films.  This before and after is from the Clark Gable movie ADVENTURE (1945).
An MGM Newcombe painting from my favourite matte genre, that of the theatre frontage and marquee.  Supposedly from EVERYTHING I HAVE IS YOURS (1952) but no such shot appears in the film, plus that film was directed by Robert Leonard whereas the matte (as with all MGM mattes) has the director's surname scrawled across the bottom - in this case Richard Whorf.  Judging by the many 'shot numbers' penciled on it I gather it was used and reused on several productions.
You'd be hard pressed to find as weird a film as DEMENTIA (1955) aka DAUGHTER OF HORROR.  A bizarre experience to say the least - no dialogue, freaked out dream sequences, deep expressionistic camerawork and more!  I'm not sure just what they were 'on' when they made this, but I'm sure Heisenberg sells it!  Matte art and photographic effects by old time veteran Albert Maxwell Simpson.
The undetectable matte painted 'top up' from Powell & Pressburger's THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP (1943).  The great Walter Percy Day was matte artist.
Before and after from the same film with blitz bombed out London residence.

The pretty engrossing Gregory Peck drama GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT (1947).  Fox Studio's Fred Sersen was effects boss.
Two mattes from the hit TV series HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL from the 1960's.  Jack Rabin and Irving Block handled the matte shots, both of whom had previously worked as matte painters at Fox and I believe, MGM.
Matte art and plate - but no composite available - from the Paramount film HERE COMES COOKIE (1935) with George Burns.  Jan Domela was matte painter.
Evocative and somewhat imposing prison mattes from MGM's film 6000 ENEMIES (1939)
Matte art from Robert Wise's  EXECUTIVE SUITE (1954)
More Newcombe shots from EXECUTIVE SUITE
EXECUTIVE SUITE matte composed of painted additions to a photographic enlargement.
Jan Domela painted this night time city vista for the Grace Kelly-Bing Crosby film THE COUNTRY GIRL (1954)
Matte art serves well in the Greta Garbo star studded GRAND HOTEL (1932)
From LIBERTY which I think was a vintage Laurel & Hardy picture.

An unidentified MGM pastel matte.
MGM Newcombe matte from H.M PULHAM, ESQ (1941)
The wonderful and frequently hilarious NINOTCHKA (1939) starring Greta Garbo had this evening view of Paris courtesy of Warren Newcombe's matte artists.  The Fred Astaire Technicolor & Scope remake, SILK STOCKINGS made much later was also pretty good.
Before and after Jan Domela matte shot from an unidentified Paramount film, probably from the late 1920's.
Chesley Bonestell shown here painting a matte for what may have been ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS (1939), though no such sequence appears in the release version, so maybe it was cut or is from a different film altogether?
A pair of Percy Day mattes of Paris from the French film AU BONHEUR DES DAMES (1929)
Two mattes from Paramount's THE GREAT McGINTY (1940).  Jan Domela was painter and longtime associate Irmin Roberts was effects cinematographer.
RKO matte work, probably by Mario Larrinaga or Byron Crabbe, from CIMARRON (1930)

Cropped frame from what was originally a CinemaScope matte shot from the Warner Bros film LUCKY ME (1954).

An excellent example of studio backing scenic artists at work.  Many of the best matte painters got their start as scenic artists with the career move later on into mattes seeming the logical progression.
This sweeping shot with a matte painted New York city is from the Cary Grant film AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER (1957).  Emil Kosa jr was chief matte artist at this studio (Fox) for many years.

The rather late in the scheme of things Hope & Crosby comedy, THE ROAD TO HONG KONG (1962) included this, and other, matte painted shots.  Bob Cuff worked on the mattes under Wally Veevers at Shepperton, probably assisted by Doug Ferris.  I think the shot represents Calcutta, India for memory.  The exact same outdoor roadway and wall features again later in a second matte shot where Hong Kong is painted into the background.
A pair of matte set extensions expand an actual locale for the excellent - and final - Humphrey Bogart picture THE HARDER THEY FALL (1956).  A Columbia film so probably supervised by Larry Butler.  It's possible that Matthew Yuricich may have been involved as he was temporarily laid off from MGM for a bit and was recruited by Columbia effects man Donald Glouner.

A matte from an unidentified picture, most likely a 1930's Columbia film.

The multi talented Mark Sullivan rendered this slice of urban vista for the Meryl Streep comedy DEATH BECOMES HER (1992)

British comedian Norman Wisdom made some pretty funny comedies, with this one being A STITCH IN TIME made in the early 1960's.  Being a Pinewood film it's more than likely that resident matte artist Cliff Culley was tasked with painting a quartet of mattes.

William Wyler's DEAD END (1937) with several effects shots.  Top left is a large scale miniature, allowing for a crane down camera move.  The others are mattes.  British born fx man James Basevi was special effects chief for Samuel Goldwyn Pictures.
Samuel Goldwyn's BALL OF FIRE (1941)
Another of those mystery MGM pastel mattes I'd like to know the titles for.

Detail from above.

A significant matte addition to this street view from MGM's film LOOKING FORWARD (1933)
Two wonderfully convincing Newcombe mattes from the Van Johnson flick IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME (1949).

Skyscraper matte art from HER HIGHNESS AND THE BELLBOY (1945)
Beautifully rendered pastel matte work from ICE FOLLIES OF 1939 (1939).
The excellent DODSWORTH (1936)  directed by William Wyler.
The Shepperton Studios matte department under Wally Veevers contributed some good matte art to THE HORSE'S MOUTH (1958).  Artists working under Veevers at the time included George Samuels, Albert Julion and Bob Cuff.
Universal's BLACK FRIDAY (1940), with Russ Lawson matte art.  This matte appeared in other films as well.
More Lawson matte art, this being from THE INVISIBLE RAY (1936).

Before and after Chesley Bonestell matte from Orson Welles' pivotal CITIZEN KANE (1940)
CITIZEN KANE had a remarkable amount of effects work in it which pushed the technology to the limits.  Vernon L. Walker was effects chief, with Linwood Dunn and Russell Cully on fx camera duties.  Matte artists were Chesley Bonestell, Mario Larrinaga and Fitch Fulton.

More RKO Studios mattes, these being from the popular Bing Crosby film THE BELLS OF ST MARY'S (1945)

A splendid BluRay grab from MGM's EASTER PARADE (1949) with this memorable closing matte shot.

Matte from Columbia's vigilante-gang drama 13 WEST STREET (1962).  Nice perspective work.

The exceptional Gary Cooper movie THE FOUNTAINHEAD (1949) was crammed with photographic effects.  A ton of excellent work - miniatures, matte art, process and incredible composite move in shots - the film is a treat.  Warner Bros' William McGann was effects director and Jack Holden as visual effects designer, with Hans Koenecamp and Edwin DuPar handling the special photography.  The many, many mattes were a joint effort by Paul Detlefsen, Mario Larrinaga, Chesley Bonestell and Louis Litchtenfield.  This shot is a Bonestell matte.

Original Chesley Bonestell matte painting, presumably rendered for the film's trailer.

More from THE FOUNTAINHEAD.  I especially like that top right shot with it's exaggerated perspective.  Terrific.
Same film
Mattes and miniatures from THE FOUNTAINHEAD.  Some effects involved multiple camera tricks all combined successfully in the one shot.

New York city as a painted addition to a backlot shot in Humphrey Bogart's ACROSS THE PACIFIC (1942)

A remarkable full frame painting by MGM's Newcombe department from A STRANGER IN TOWN (1943).  Remarkable not only due to the technical prowess of the artist but also for the very small, basically A3 size of the rendering.

An interesting and incredibly well detailed pastel Newcombe painting from yet another of those mystery MGM pictures.  Love the rendering of light and shadow on this one.  Exquisite!
Interior of a large warehouse from the film FROM THE TERRACE (1960) produced by 20th Century Fox.  L.B Abbott was effects chief, while Emil Kosa jr was senior matte artist of many years.

Invisible before and after Jan Domela matte from an unknown Paramount film of the 1930's.
Production Designer Ken Adams' concept sketch for Albert Whitlock's DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971) Willard Whyte building in Las Vegas.

Albert Whitlock's fictional 'Whyte House' from DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER.

Washington DC by night as seen in this MGM pastel rendering.  Film unknown.

The sort of shot nobody notices, from CAST A GIANT SHADOW (1965) where matte painter Joseph Natanson has painted in the upper floors of the row of now damaged buildings in Palestine.

Jim Danforth painted this evocative cityscape for what he thinks may have been a commercial or possibly a feature as a contract to either Dream Quest or Pacific Title in the 1980's.
Although Albert Whitlock painted a ton of mattes that would fit within this blog post, I'm saving most of 'em for my huge Whitlock special which will have as many of his shots as I have been able to cobble together.  This shot is obviously from EARTHQUAKE (1974).
Mention must be made of this EARTHQUAKE backing as it has been forever misconstrued as being one of Albert Whitlock's mattes in the film, whereas it is not.  Philippines born artist Ben Resella was responsible for the huge backing which was painted at JC Backings in Hollywood and would have a long and highly productive career in the field.

The rather good Val Guest science fiction movie THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE (1961) was an engrossing affair right from word go.  Lots of effects work directed by Les Bowie, with other luminaries such as Vic Margutti, Brian Johnson, Ray Caple and Ian Scoones being on hand.  The mattes were all excellent, with some being large photo blow ups painted over and altered significantly, and to great effect.  Les Bowie, himself a matte painter, with protoge Ray Caple rendered the mattes, of which there were many.

I love this shot... a wonderful rendering by Caple and Bowie of a dried up River Thames as the planet fries in unrelenting heat.  Looks great in Scope and sepiatone.
THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE.... stirring stuff!

Iconic imagery of UK sci fi cinema.

Effects technicians busy themselves with a miniature set up in Les Bowie's studio with one of Ray Caple's matte paintings seen in the background.
More matte and atmospheric visuals from THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE (1961)
Two extensive matte paintings of London from the delightful Peter Sellers comedy THE SMALLEST SHOW ON EARTH (1957) - a must see for all lovers of old time movie theatres and the long gone personable Mom & Pop operators behind them.  Bob Cuff was matte painter here with Wally Veevers in charge.

Before and after Doug Ferris matte shot from the Frank Oz film LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1986)

Surprisingly flat looking Matthew Yuricich matte art from the actually much better than it sounds DEATH RACE 2000 (1976), directed with a great deal of wit and dry humour by Paul Bartel who was apparently none too happy when producer Roger Corman decided to up the ante and cut in additional footage of gore and mayhem.  Still, a hoot none the less.
While we're on cityscapes of the near future, here is one from the Geoff Murphy sci fi misfire FREEJACK (1992).  Ken Allen and Jesse Silver were matte painters.
Another matte from FREEJACK
Paul Lasaine's incredible painted suburbia from Eddie Murphy's THE DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN (1992)

Percy Day matte shots from FIRST OF THE FEW - aka SPITFIRE (1942)
Alan Maley's painted mansion from Disney's BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS (1970) for which he won the Academy Award.
Another of Alan Maley's mattes from the same film, with this being just one portion of a large 12 foot rectangular painting of Portobello Road.  A young Harrison Ellenshaw recalled assisting with painting some of the brickwork on this, his first Disney job as trainee matte artist.
One of the matte artists at Warner Bros completes a multi-plane painting for an unidentified film.

Syd Dutton's full painted street from GHOST STORY (1982), though the indecisiveness of the director would see this and a substantial number of other mattes that Syd and boss Al Whitlock painted, dropped from the final film.

Ace matte painter and stop motion expert Mark Sullivan made this rendering for his film 1980 16mm short film HIGHRISE

Jan Domela matte work from DESIGN FOR LIVING (1933)

I had to read and study George Orwell's dystopian masterpiece 1984 back in high school in the mid 1970's and still regard it as pertinent today, if not more so.  I was very pleased with Michael Radford's excellent, though necessarily grim film adaptation, released in 1984 no less.  Ray Caple supplied some matte shots including this impressive view.

The metropolis of Frankfurt, Germany as painted by the Sersen department at Fox for the film HEIDI (1937).

Effects man, animator, cinematographer and matte artist Harry Walton painted this matte for Berton Pierce's film ADVENTURADOS (2014).
Walton shown at work on the matte art, with the final on screen composite (as a TV 'breaking news' flash) shown here.

Some great mattes here courtesy of Ray Kellogg's matte department at Fox for the taut Van Johnson suspenser 23 PACES TO BAKER STREET (1956).
Live action plate is rather tiny here in this masked footage, with the painting - shown below - yet to be combined.
... and the final composite is pretty much undetectable.  Jan Domela painted this for an unidentified old Paramount production, probably from the 1930's.  Irmin Roberts handled the compositing.

Not exactly an urban landscape...more of a subterranean urban-scape.  The film is the actually quite entertaining little sci-fi flick, DREAMSCAPE (1984) with Rocco Gioffre supplying the matte art above to compliment the many excellent Peter Kuran optical effects, Craig Reardon make up fx and Jim Aupperle stop motion work.

Samuel Fuller's HOUSE OF BAMBOO (1955) had this Ray Kellogg matte.
As a trial as to just what could be achieved through competent matte art, in 1979, the then budding matte artist Ken Marschall prepared this authentic looking heavily urbanised update of the otherwise low rise suburb sited Anaheim Disneyland.  Ken made three 8x10 enlargements from an original photo he took at the theme park in the 70's and as an experiment painted the mask on the second picture and an entirely fabricated cityscape upon the third photograph to utterly convincing effect.  Ken would go on to become a very much in demand matte painter throughout the next, nearly two decades with the small company Matte Effects co-run with cameraman Bruce Block.

A larger than life slice of urban overload can be appreciated in this rare Albert Whitlock matte from Marty Feldman's satire on materialism IN GOD WE TRU$T (1980).

Before and after frames from BROADWAY MELODY OF 1939 from MGM.
I'm not sure if these shots are matte art or miniature top ups, but the film is Troma's CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH (1986)
Pinewood's matte department have added in an entire city, including those big arsed ugly power stacks, to an otherwise quite ordinary football ground for the Alec Guiness film THE CARD (1952).  There are a couple of very quick cuts during the game from lower, closer angles that give away the fact that none of this is actually present at the location.

The final scene in Steven Spielberg's HOOK (1990) had the camera fly up and over the rooftops in a sort of Mary Poppins-esque fashion (though with none of that film's class).  ILM brought in matte artists Rocco Gioffre and Eric Chauvin to pull off the shot by way of partial miniature house, painted mid shot and a heavily retouched large photo blow up of London, altered to bring it more in line with the period setting.
Rocco Gioffre and Eric Chauvin at work on the above gag.
Before and after from LIFE WITH FATHER (1947) shot on the Warner Bros backlot.
This appears to be an incomplete MGM pastel matte that was presumably dropped at an early stage.
Alan Maley's painted San Francisco from HERBIE RIDES AGAIN (1974)

One of Bob Cuff's mattes from the bitingly funny classic British satire on trade unionism, I'M ALRIGHT JACK (1959).  As a big fan of the under appreciated Peter Sellers, this is one of his best.

Before and after matte art by Albert Whitlock from Alfred Hitchcock's delightfully un-PC blacker than black FRENZY  (1972).  A shot that nobody ever picks up on as it's just so damned well drawn out (just love Al's deliberate wide angle lens simulated perspective distortion).  A classic.
Italian film director and all round technician, Mario Bava, provided a number of foreground mattes to pal Dario Argento for the eerie and brilliantly photographed chiller INFERNO (1980) where Italian locations have been given a New York sensibility.  Probably Dario's last half way decent film, with more recent efforts being simply atrocious... just check out the pseudo follow up to this, the excrutiatingly inept MOTHER OF TEARS (2007) if you don't believe me.... as bad as bad can get.  Even Ed Wood and Andy Milligan made better films than that one.  Jeeeeeesus!
The climactic action set piece of HIGHLANDER (1986) supposedly takes place in New York though all of the surrounding streets, buildings and architecture is pure Ray Caple matte art.

Unknown, though magnificent MGM Newcombe matte art.  Just sublime.

Albert Whitlock matte shot from the death defying Andrew V. McLaglen movie THE HELLFIGHTERS (1968)
The still fantastic original KING KONG (1933) was packed with great effects - both visual and audible - and is one of my favourites.  The shot at left of Manhattan is mostly a miniature El Train and nearby building facades, with the distant skyscrapers being painted.  As for the shot at right, the actual airfield has been matted together with a long view of Manhattan Island, which may, or may not, be painted?

Also from KONG, miniature or maybe painted Empire State, crashed model airplane matted in, and glass painted city.
Ken Marschall painted this community hospital for the Steve Martin comedy FATHER OF THE BRIDE PART II (1995).  As with virtually all of Ken's many mattes, the shot was entirely first generation, original negative, thus ensuring maximum fidelity of both the live action elements and the painted addition.  Original negative is especially good for night shots where the alternative methods where duping would be involved tends to wash out 'blacks' and give composites an obvious processed look.  Bruce Block was cameraman on all of Ken's matte shots and he deserves much credit for sealing the deal on screen.

Throughout the 1980's Mark Sullivan worked on a number of commercials between feature film assignments, with this spectacular frame being from one of several DODGE advertisements.  Mark told me the client commented that Mark had just kept putting in more and more detail  with the remark "Does this guy not know when to stop?"  Mark said to me it offended him at the time but later he felt the remark was probably right.

I've often written about that insane Japanese teen haunted house flick HOUSE (1987) - a film loaded to bursting point with mucho flipped out opticals, demented concepts and much matte art.  Crazy beyond description...and that's just why I dig it!
Unknown title from MGM.

Bob Kayganich painted on a number of smaller features during the last few years of the traditional era, with FLESH GORDON MEETS THE COSMIC CHEERLEADERS being one such effort.  I'm a sucker for extreme perspective art and this one is most intriguing.

For the Oscar winning Dustin Hoffman picture, RAINMAN (1988),  matte painter Mark Sullivan contributed this completely invisible shot at the beginning of the film.  At left is the live action plate and right the matte art.  Below is the final composite.

To run a split or blend through the sky would seem tricky to me but Sullivan has pulled it off seemlessly.
Although this frame was taken from Richard Attenborough's solid bio-pic CHAPLIN (1992), the shot is in fact from the 1974 film MAME.  Hardly surprising as Albert Whitlock worked on both films.  The city is a glass painting with the liner a separate glass painting moved frame by frame in front of the city art.  The plumes of smoke have been introduced via another pass through the matte camera.

Post war Nuremberg as depicted in this sprawling matte painted vista in Stanley Kramer's gripping JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG (1961).  No effects credit though Al Whitlock did paint on several of Kramer's films.

Disney's THE LOVE BUG (1968) had scores of mattes and visual effects.  This opening view of San Francisco is entirely an Alan Maley matte painting with the car being a miniature pulled along on wire.  I completely fell for this shot and never suspected a thing until Harrison Ellenshaw showed me the glass painting.

The penultimate shot from THE LOVE BUG is also a major matte painting with just an area of street traffic being real and all else an Alan Maley painting.
San Francisco birds eye vantage point is a full matte painting as seen in THE LOVE BUG.

The Hollywood hills and the city below constitute matte art by Syd Dutton from the Dan Aykroyd film DRAGNET (1987).  The shot pulls out and pans across to reveal the sign.

ILM's Caroleen Green painted much of this tenement house for the film BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED (1987)
I'm not sure about this one... it looks as though the buildings have been painted in.  Also from BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED.

Matthew Yuricich and Rocco Gioffre worked on mattes for the film DAMNATION ALLEY (1978) while CE3K was under way, with Matthew quietly asking Rocco that if the coast was clear to shut the door and they could paint some DAMNATION shots while on the CLOSE ENCOUNTERS payroll.

One of my all time favourite trick shots is this winner from the tele-movie THE JOSEPHINE BAKER STORY made in the late eighties.  Ken Marschall painted this positively jaw dropping matte - and as with all of Ken's mattes, it's a very small painting at that.  The upper left shows Ken's concept drawing, while the upper right shows the cleverly devised live action element as photographed by effects cameraman Bruce Block where we have a group of people outside the club as well as the head and shoulders of an actor playing the cabbie, who would in turn be exposed into Ken's painted taxi cab. The bottom left shows Ken's incredible painting which occupies virtually the entire frame.  The seemless latent image composite can be seen at right.  Ken recalled that they may have introduced some flashing background lights to the shot as a separate pass.  This blows my mind each time I study it.  Bravo Matte Effects!

Close up detailed look at Ken Marschall's above mentioned matte.  Note the painted in reflections upon the taxi windscreen.  Simply stunning, and so small!  Click here for the first of my three part article on Ken's work, and here for part two, and lastly here for the third and final chapter.
Another of Ken and Bruce's amazing mattes from THE JOSEPHINE BAKER STORY where 1940's NYC has been created most convincingly.  For the full lowdown on Ken Marschall and Bruce Block check out my extensive (and I do mean extensive) three part blog on Matte Effects from last year.
Close up of Ken's matte art

Rocco Gioffre painted these two mattes of Mom and Apple Pie Americana for the Joe Dante film GREMLINS (1984)

ILM's matte department supplied this great opening shot for the very peculiar JOE VS THE VOLCANO (1990).  I'm trying to recall, I think it was Yusei Usugei who painted this one?
Matte art from James Cagney's ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES (1938).  Byron Haskin ran Warner Bros famous Stage 5 effects shop with up to eight matte artists employed at any one time.  Chief matte artist was Paul Detlefsen.

20th Century Fox's GREENWICH VILLAGE (1944) had these moody setting Sersen mattes.

Emil Kosa jnr was no doubt responsible for this matte of Moscow's Red Square in the James Coburn spoof OUR MAN FLINT (1966).  I love the distant light.

Either a Jan Domela matte or an Ivyl Burks miniature - I'm not sure which - from Paramount's EASY LIVING (1937)

For the 1986 post apocalyptic road movie CHERRY 2000, Matte Effects' Ken Marschall and Bruce Block were contracted to provide a half dozen shots.  Ken told me about how this shot came about:  "I don't recall where the foreground was shot, but likely in the Las Vegas region where a lot of other scenes were filmed. Shown here is one of the production sketches done by someone in the studio's art department.  The late notes in red pen on a tissue overlay (at right) are mine as Bruce Block told me what final thoughts the director had before I started the painting.  I seem to recall that we presented the painting to the director, so I don't have it any longer to photograph".

Final original negative composite:  CHERRY 2000

Pinewood's Cliff Culley or Charles Stoneham would have painted this dizzying downview for the amusing Morcombe and Wise spoof THE INTELLIGENCE MEN from the mid 1960's.
Images here show Harry Walton finalising his matte of Washington DC for the Walter Matthau film HOPSCOTCH (1980).  The matte was made as a squeezed, rear projected composite and is totally convincing on screen.

Close up of Harry Walton's DC matte art which was painted and photographed squeezed, with the image assuming the correct 2.35:1 aspect during anamorphic projection of release prints.
I've unsqueezed these before and after frames for comparison.  Interestingly, Harry told me that he had to do this shot as a matte as the production found it much cheaper to shoot in Atlanta than to shoot in Washington, so a matte was called for.
No study of the urban landscape could be complete without mention being made of the deliriously colourful world of Tracytown as seen in DICK TRACY (1990)

Tracytown.... ya gotta love it!
I've not shown this pic before - the full, complete evening view of Tracytown where the camera picks up on Tracy leaving a doorway at lower right and tracks up and across a moving train element and all the way over to the Ritz Club at far left where we have more live action.  Fantastic painting and sequence, with a number of artists working it all out.

Irving Block and Jack Rabin shook New York to it's foundations for the low budget Red Scare picture INVASION USA (1952)
Mark Sullivan worked for a time at ILM and among other films he did BACKDRAFT (1991) for which he painted the upper matte and the miniature effects crew added a flaming conflagration to chilling effect.  The running man on the rooftop was doubled in separately.

I rather like some of the non-monster Japanese sci-fi flicks, with LATITUDE ZERO (1969) being of particular interest.  Lots of mattes and blue screen  marry ups of people in miniature settings.
For Jean-Claude van Damme's post apocalyptic action melodrama, CYBORG (1989), Ken Marschall painted this wonderful, all encompassing vista of carnage on an epic scale.  The matte art is better than anything else as far as this bummer of a movie is concerned.

Michele Moen at work on Gotham City for a shot in BATMAN RETURNS (1992)

...and here's the final shot.

Matte World's Bill Mather and Craig Barron prep a master shot for BATMAN RETURNS.
Bill Mather's matte art for a tilt down composite in BATMAN RETURNS (1992)

Dramatic up angle matte of Gotham City from the same film.

Matthew Yuricich painted this night shot for the Robert Redford film LEGAL EAGLES (1986)
One of Jim Danforth's many mattes, this being from a commercial for Dodge Monaco where a road is supposed to connect New York with the South of France.  Everything, bar the road and car is painted, though this 35mm clip doesn't yet have the left and right VistaVision ocean plates added.

George Samuels was senior matte artist for years at Shepperton Studios in the UK and this is one of his matte paintings from THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS (1963).  New effects recruit Doug Ferris provided the stop motion animated car that zooms through the now desolate Paris.

Caroleen Green was one of the many highly skilled artists to work at Industrial Light & Magic through the 1980's.  Here she is seen painting a shot for GHOSTBUSTERS II (1989).

One of Mark Sullivan's mattes from GHOSTBUSTERS II

Another of Mark's extraordinary matte paintings from the same film, and one that I find so inspirational.

Yeah, so... they're out of order... so what are 'ya gonna do?   One of the many mattes from the first GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)... and, no it's not the one with those all-chick ghostfighters!  Matthew Yuricich was chief matte artist, with Michele Moen and Deno Ganakes working alongside.

One of Yuricich's best.... also from GHOSTBUSTERS.

Matthew Yuricich at work.  Just love the perspective lines.
Another of Yuricich's mattes from same film.
Same film.
Another of Yuricich's mattes used for the explosive climax.
...and here is that same matte art, supplemented by a miniature 'Ghost Central', and all so perfectly integrated that one would never suspect matte art had been utilised.

A shot from the original FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) where a city horizon has been painted in from the end of the street.
I rather enjoyed the Sam Raimi anti-superhero actioner DARKMAN (1990).  The film hit all the bases for me even though that director's work doesn't usually move me.  Anyway, there are loads of great effects from several suppliers with these miniature motion control shots from Craig Barron's Matte World.

Matte painters Richard Kilroy and Rick Rische painted the mattes for DARKMAN, with these high steel shots being the best set piece in the film.
Richard Kilroy painted this sensational closing shot, complete with descending elevator.  Love the perspective here.

The very loud and utterly frantic Richard Pryor comedy CRITICAL CONDITION (1986) benefited from excellent Syd Dutton-Bill Taylor matte shots of the fictional hospital on a small island off Manhattan in one mother of a storm.

Rocco Gioffre painted some Prohibition era mattes for Eddie Murphy's HARLEM NIGHTS (1989)

Same film.

Rocco's former mentor and friend, Matt Yuricich, came on board to paint this shot for HARLEM NIGHTS.
For the surprisingly funny Dudley Moore satire on the world of Madison Avenue advertising jerks, CRAZY PEOPLE (1989), Ken Marschall painted this matte of Times Square.

Final original negative composite by cameraman Bruce Block.  You'd never know a trick had been carried out.

British matte exponent Leigh Took is shown here painting a somewhat futuristic matte for a Canadian IMAX presentation.

A test comp of Leigh's IMAX matte.
I know the title but it's slipped my mind with this old MGM Newcombe matte.

Jim Danforth was enlisted by George Romero for this DAY OF THE DEAD (1985) matte shot that required several additional buildings added between palm trees and on right. Moving palm foliage was retained from background plate—within painted leaves around edges.   In another cut, the zombies were painted out to give the effect of the same street deserted

David Stipes Productions had the effects contract for the early 90's version of THE FLASH, with matte artist Richard Kilroy painting this city wide view.

Richard Kilroy working on THE FLASH.
Syd Dutton's version of Gotham City for BATMAN FOREVER (1995) with glass painted city and bridge, augmented by foreground miniatures.
Ahhhh...another of my favourite mattes.  This is one of Rocco Gioffre's best ever, from the action film HARLEY DAVIDSON AND THE MARLBORO MAN (1991).
Rocco's magnificent artwork.  The final shot is a multiple element affair with a freeway plate shot somewhere in Arizona (I seem to recall), the live action plate with the two actors in front of a partial billboard, and finally, Rocco's tremendous painting - all perfectly married together.

Same film - another of several mattes by a quartet of matte artists.  This one is by Jesse Silver, and again, is completely convincing for all of the 2 seconds it's on screen.
Same film, with another of Rocco's mattes that slipped by most viewers - me included!

The central skyscraper is a Matthew Yuricich painting from HARLEY DAVIDSON AND THE MARLBORO MAN.
Before and after of a Ken Marschall matte from KID GLOVES (1987).  Ken explained how the shot worked:  "The painting hasn't turned up, but here are some scans of clips showing the original scene and the final.  I'm sure we animated the red blinking lights atop the buildings by running the film through the matte camera a second time and shooting an opaque backlit card with little holes in it, gelled with red.  While Bruce manned the camera, which was running at something like a frame a second, I stood in front of the backlit element holding a small card, blocking out and then exposing the lights after a count of so many frames.  If we did the blinking lights on the more distant building, this required a third pass through the matte camera".
Old time matte painter Cliff Silsby painted this shot for Blake Edwards' THE GREAT RACE (1965) with Linwood Dunn and James B. Gordon's Film Effects of Hollywood contracted for much trick work.


A sublime visual effects experience, and so much more satisfying than these 'beat the audience over the head with a sledgehammer' efforts around today.  BLADERUNNER (1982) was an extraordinary event with flawless fx art direction and execution. While Matthew Yuricich painted most of the mattes, assistant Rocco Gioffre painted several such as this.

Matt Yuricich shot from BLADERUNNER. Beautiful deliberate pacing, intelligent editing, magnificent production design and of course, Vangelis' mesmerising score. Please DON'T remake, or, dare I say it, RE-BOOT this. God help us!

BLADERUNNER - our world of the very, very near future as the clock ticks by...

A young Rocco Gioffre at work.
The Spencer Tracy picture EDISON, THE MAN (1940) had some nice work in it, such as the bit where Thomas Edison lights up New York.  Just wait till he gets that damned power bill though!

For THE HONEYMOON MACHINE (1961) Matthew Yuricich contributed some mattes of Venice (sort of a concrete jungle if you've ever negotiated those myriad narrow passageways between medieval buildings).

Paul Lasaine painted many fabulous and invisible mattes of the White House and environs for the Presidential comedy DAVE (1993).
Unknown matte from Golden Era MGM
Another unidentified matte, this time from the Howard Anderson company, circa 1930's.

Another of those DODGE commercials of the 1980's with Mark Sullivan contracted to supply the matte shot.

Final shot with stray dog.

Jan Domela matte from the Charlton Heston film noir DARK CITY (1950)
Some clips showing the progression of a matte from the film I LOVE TROUBLE (1994).  Ken Marschall was matte painter and described the shot thus:  "I don't recall where this was shot but the scene is supposed to represent Las Vegas. Shown here is one of the concept artworks by somebody else which were photocopies, spray mounted over 8x10 photos and then coloured.  The final composite of course had a backlit element for the red neon.  This element was created by doing the artwork with a black pen on white paper or board, then having a dense negative stat made on film at the required scale.  This was then carefully positioned on a large black opaque card and gelled with red.  I don't remember if we did cute things to animate the neon over several passes, but we might have".
I know nothing about this other than it's from something titled HACKSAW.  I'm not certain if it's even traditional or what but I like the sheer audacity of the image, so here it is.
Probably a Cliff Culley matte done at Pinewood from the Bob Hope film CALL ME BWANA (1963)

I'd like to know what this is from if anyone recognises it.
Shepperton's Gerald Larn painted this technically impressive matte for the British film THE BEST HOUSE IN LONDON (1968).  Superb matching and blending.
More from same film.
Another Ken Marschall matte, this time from FRIGHT NIGHT 2 (1989).  Ken has painted the shot squeezed for an eventual anamorphic release format.
FRIGHT NIGHT 2 composite
Syd Dutton, Bill Taylor and Robert Stromberg of Illusion Arts made a few mattes for the film ENTERTAINING ANGELS: THE DOROTHY DAY STORY (1996) which was apparently their last traditional matte assignment.
Before and after Dutton matte from same film.
Classic Golden Era matte work from Warner Bros. ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT (1942)

A dramatic MGM Newcombe shot pullback from the final scene in IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER (1955)
I have tremendous admiration for Mark Sullivan, as one of the best matte effects guys of his generation, and if any shot can testify to that then it must be this one from BUGSY (1991).  Mark told me that he enjoyed painting lettering, and this matte certainly fits the bill in that department.  For all you ever wanted to know about Mark's astonishing visual effects career, click here for my extensive interview and tribute.

Another Mark Sullivan shot from BUGSY that is entirely convincing as Mark transforms modern day Los Angeles into 1940's gangster territory.
Two mattes from the Errol Flynn picture GENTLEMAN JIM (1942) made at Warner Bros.

Fred Astaire lives dangerously in THE BELLE OF NEW YORK (1952).  Warren Newcombe was matte supervisor.
The frantic and funny Jack Benny laugh-fest THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT (1945).  Chesley Bonestell painted mattes on this and possibly others such as Jack Shaw, Hans Batholowsky, Paul Detlefsen and Mario Larrinaga, all of whom were long time Warners matte painters.
A stunner of a matte from Richard Attenborough's film on the life and career of The Little Tramp, CHAPLIN (1992).  Matte artists Syd Dutton and Albert Whitlock were attached to the project.

Warner Bros. matte department, known as 'Stage 5', were kept extremely busy during their heyday, the 1940's, with scores of projects with all manner of often elaborate trick work.  HUMORESQUE (1946) wasn't a major effects film and just had a couple of mattes such as this.

The 1991 comedy HEXED had three matte shots in it though much confusion about just who painted what remains to this day.  The film was a Matte Effects contract - Ken Marschall and Bruce Block's company. Even though it was their assignment, both Ken and Bruce are at a loss to recall who worked on the show as they were apparently busy at the time with various projects and another one or two artists contributed mattes, with painter Rick Rische being one of them.

On this shot from HEXED, Ken said:  "I still have the three original paintings, only one of which I did - the wide angled view of the Holiday Palace hotel rooftop (shown here).  At least I know I painted some of it, although a lot of it looks like it someone else's work.  The shot may have been designed as a slow tilt down".  As my readers will know by now, I just love these sorts of extreme perspective draftsmanship.
This matte from HEXED may possibly be Rick Rische's work, though both Ken and Rick can't recall who did what.
Warner Bros. matte shots from the very funny Edward G. Robinson con man comedy, LARCENY INC (1942)

I'd originally intended to save any futuristic shots for their own separate blog someday, though I found several great mattes that are irresistable.  This is one of four mattes to be found in DEMOLITION MAN (1993).  Brian Flora is pictured here working on the final touches of this shot.

For another of the DEMOLITION MAN's mattes, artist Mark Sullivan first painted this concept piece as a guide.
And here's Mark with his finished matte and the composite.
On the same film Michael Pangrazio came on board to paint this shot.

Last DEMOLITION MAN shot is another Mark Sullivan matte painting.
A portion of one of Illusion Arts' matte paintings from THE BUTCHER'S WIFE (1991)

This, I think, is the full, or one of the full, paintings by Syd Dutton or Robert Stromberg for THE BUTCHER'S WIFE.
A romantic Parisian street as painted by Rocco Gioffre for a Japanese music video that was directed by Training Day director Antoine Fuqua.
This is just a portion of one of Illusion Arts' mattes which Bill Taylor describes:  "The industrial building is cropped from a matte painting made for the first commercial we did for Terry Bedford, (who was for a time the hottest commercial director around, also the D.P. for "Monty Python and the Holy Grail").  It's supposed to be a modern Coca Cola bottling plant.  The signage was on a separate plane, not shown here."

This elegant monument to Frank Lloyd Wright 30's styled skyscraper architecture was painted by Mark Sullivan for the Coen brothers film THE HUDSUCKER PROXY (1994)

Here we have the famous Alamo in Texas which was an entirely painted matte except the small set with the actor.  This was for the tv series AMAZING STORIES (1985) with Mark Sullivan providing the matte work.
Joe Dante's GREMLINS 2 - A NEW BATCH (1990) was fun but didn't quite know when to quit.  Several mattes by Craig Barron and Mike Pangrazio's vfx firm Matte World such as this shot.

Matte World's Brian Flora contributed this painting for a dramatic GREMLINS 2 tilt up shot.
My crude paste up of the final shot with Dante's favourite character actor, the legendary Dick Miller seen at right.
Also from GREMLINS 2 is this shot that I strongly suspect is a Matte World painting.
Before and after Gotham City matte work by Doug Ferris for the Tim Burton BATMAN (1989)
A whole slew of British matte artists painted on BATMAN under Derek Meddings' supervision.  This beautiful glass painting was the work of J.P Trevor.

So damned dark, I know... BATMAN caused so many complaints to the distributor by angry projectionists here in NZ when it was released stating they just couldn't see the bloody image much of the time, so focus and framing were an issue, especially in the big movie houses with a long 'throw'.  Anyway, these dramatic downviews on Gotham City were painted by Ray Caple.
Leigh Took painted this terrific BATMAN street scene.
While speaking of Leigh, here he is painting  one layer of a multi-plane glass shot for the film CHICAGO JOE AND THE SHOW GIRL (1990) where wartime London neighbourhoods are in danger of German bombs.

Another view of Leigh Took's painting with the Magic Camera Company motion control system visible.
Two painted shots that open John Carpenter's still groovy ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981) - a film light years better than it's toe curlingly abysmal sequel.  Matte artists were Jena Holman, Robert Skotak and James Cameron (yes... the James Cameron).
Original matte painting of above shot.

Former Pinewood matte artist Charles Stoneham went freelance on films such as Lindsay Anderson's BRITANNIA HOSPITAL (1982)
Mark Sullivan and Rocco Gioffre worked together on this matte for the film HIGHWAY TO HELL (1989)
The HIGHWAY TO HELL matte as it looks today.  Mark painted the majority of the building while Rocco tended to the lower part and blending of live action as the actor runs up the stairs and we get a massive tilt up.
Matthew Yuricich produced this set extending matte for the film CANNERY ROW (1982)

Matthew Yuricich, assisted by his son Dana, painted a half dozen mattes for Douglas Trumbull's ambitious BRAINSTORM (1982)
One of four mattes from a single BRAINSTORM sequence where the actor cycles home at night through deserted city streets - all of which were entirely fabricated on the matte stand by Yuricich.
Another of Matthew's substantial BRAINSTORM city paintings where only the cyclist and a tiny slot of road are genuine.  These shots were made as much as a time and cost saver as anything as the expense of rigging and lighting such vast stretches of urban zone would have seriously set the production back in pocket money.

Before getting into miniatures and visual effects supervision on several 007 pictures, Steve Begg was a matte artist for Cliff Cully at Westbury Design and Optical in the UK.  This bold matte shot is one of Steve's from the inexplicable post apocalyptic, bold new world sci-fi flick HARDWARE (1990).

...another of those unknown mattes from MGM.

Well folks, that's about it for this edition.  I still have a few hundred more on this topic so I'll be back with Part 2 before you can say NZPete's Matte Shot.