Friday 3 March 2023

KEEP 'EM LAUGHING: Mattes & Trick Shots in Comedies - Part Two

Hi there friends and followers of the sublime, lost art form of traditionally rendered matte painted shots and miscellaneous motion picture wizardry. It is indeed that time again,

Delays in getting this up and running have been due to near apocalyptic weather conditions, with the worst cyclone descending upon New Zealand from the tropics ever recorded, with floods and destruction the likes unseen here since records began.  Whole communities wiped off the map.  My home was partially flooded, though luckily just a spare bedroom and annexes in the basement, though, unfortunately, that just happened to be where I store a vast collection of movie memorabilia such as classic one-sheets, lobby cards, slides and the rest of it.  I managed to save 3/4 of the stuff, but had to throw away a considerable amount of posters and stills.  That said, it's minor compared to the entire districts here wiped out, and that doesn't even come close to what they're going through in Turkey and Syria.


So, before embarking on today's mammoth blog post (would you expect anything less?), here are a few important mentions that traditional matte fans simply cannot overlook.  My Texas based friend and like-minded matte fanatic, Thomas Higginson, has been doing the hard yards in assembling an entire series of excellent featurettes for YouTube on the matte effects work of Albert Whitlock at Universal and Syd Dutton at Illusion Arts.

Utterly essential viewing, one and all, with the link right here.

Working directly from Universal's matte department's well preserved 35mm demo reels, as well as a mass of donated material from Syd Dutton and the late Bill Taylor - among others - Thomas has put together several superb, deep dissections of specific matte effect shots and sequences, which, at the time of this writing, have included the sci-fi tv movie GENESIS II; THE TWILIGHT ZONE tv series; the incredible dust storm from BOUND FOR GLORY and the invisible maritime trick shots from SHIP OF FOOLS.  Nowhere will you find a more detailed inside look at some great visuals as you've never seen them before.  I understand others in the works will include THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING, THE THING, the unrealised 80's version of THE LOST WORLD project and one of my all time matte faves, the incredible COLOSSUS-THE FORBIN PROJECT among others.  Essential viewing!


In my previous post I featured a shot from Charlie Chaplin's classic CITY LIGHTS (1931), which I described as being a matte painted shot.  An anonymous reader has 'put me straight' on that, with it actually being an elaborate and flawless foreground hanging miniature, with very rare photos from an incredibly comprehensive Chaplin website in Italy (The Charlie Chaplin Archive Site) displaying the effect in progress.  See below for breakdown...

I can't even begin to tell you how much I love to discover images such as this.  Extremely rare, especially for the period, for any film maker to openly reveal his secrets.  At left is the foreground miniature rigged up, with the crystal clear image at right - having been photographed on the set with a still camera - showing the extensive trick work married up.  The actual CITY LIGHTS 35mm movie frame is tighter and more accurately aligned, whereas this 'production still' is slightly mis-aligned, with depth of field focal issues evident, but still a marvellous record of such a time.


"Brother, do I need a break.  A few hours on Pete's blog will do quite nicely."

So, now is the moment where we take a break from the daily grind, sit back in a comfy chair, crack open a Jack Daniels & Coke, and enjoy another extensive journey down that well travelled cinematic road, where hundreds of amazing shots have been lovingly assembled and celebrated, and hopefully will be appreciated on a decent sized 'real' screen and NOT on a godammed cell phoney type toy.



***This post, and all 178 previous blog posts known as 'Matte Shot', were originally created by Peter Cook for nzpetesmatteshot, with all content, layout and text originally published at



First up, is this extremely rare uncredited Albert Whitlock matte from and equally rare cinematic artifact THE PHYNX (1970).  I've never been able to find the film and have always wanted to see it - despite the universally dire reviews.  Everyone who's anyone was in this flick, from Kentucky Fried Col.Sanders to Richard Pryor and a whole gaggle of celebs and walk-on cameos.   Frame on right is from Albert's 35mm show reels and has suffered significant colour loss over the years.  A technically complex shot with multi split cloud drift, sunlight slowly creeping across the castle walls and grass, and a most intriguing 'parallax shift' involving soft splits and painting movement in stages, much as Whitlock did with a shot in SHIP OF FOOLS five years previous.

Judy Garland and Gene Kelly's comedy musical FOR ME AND MY GAL (1942), with many fine mattes from the famous MGM Newcombe department.

Steven Spielberg's rowdy epic 1941 (1979) wasn't especially funny but did lay on a great cast of character actors and non-stop special effects shots.  A massive effects show, filled with entirely 'old school' trick work, such as a ton of Lydecker style miniature sequences such as the scene here, with P51 Mustang buzzing Hollywood Blvd and doing crazy barrel rolls etc - all entirely in miniature.  Old time fx veteran A.D Flowers (Adlia Douglas Flowers) was right in his element here, having been one of Buddy Gillespie's assistants back at MGM on Oscar winning films such as the great 30 SECONDS OVER TOKYO and others.  Logan Frazee (shown lower left) was hands on with the many model 'flying' sequences.  I saw this on the huge cinema screen in scope back in '79 and it was fantastic, action wise that is.

More mayhem from 1941, with giant Greg Jein miniature sets and props.  Film was nominated for the FX Oscar in '79, and was a very strong contender, probably should have won, but the film was a bomb at the box office so that pretty much was the nail in it's coffin.  Great effects work throughout!  My full detailed blog article on 1941 can be read here.

A very young Matthew Yuricich is shown here at work at Fox on his first film as fully fledged matte painter, CALL ME MADAM (1953).  Matt said that departmental head, Fred Sersen, was very critical on his draftsmanship for the lower shot with the wine vat and spiral staircase.

The rather delightful Deanna Durbin starred - and sang some very catchy ditties - in the very pleasant MAD ABOUT MUSIC (1938) for Universal.  Russell Lawson would have painted the numerous mattes.

Mark Sullivan's before and after matte from the Kim Basinger flick, NADINE (1987).

MAISIE WAS A LADY (1941) was one of a running series of Maisie comedies from MGM, with the usual excellent Newcombe matte work, rendered with pastels and goache on artists card.  The illuminated theatre facade was an MGM specialty, and one of my own fave 'genres' of matte art.

Probably the least known and sorely under credited exponents of matte work was the highly talented Ken Marschall who, along with colleague and cameraman Bruce Block, created hundreds of invisible mattes for movies, tv and commercials all through the 1980's.  This is one of Ken's from MY BOYFRIEND'S BACK - aka JOHNNY ZOMBIE (1993)

Another wonderful Ken Marschall matte from the same film.

MY BOYFRIEND'S BACK,  low brow teen fluff, astonishingly, directed by the extremely talented and always watchable character actor, Bob Balaban - so memorable in things like Catch 22, Close Encounters, Prince of the City and Report to the Commissioner.

Two Newcombe shots from the hilariously funny, all time classic Marx Bros show A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (1937).  The shipboard 'stateroom sequence' remains an all time comedy gem. Trust me.

Jan Domela matte extensions for the W.C Fields comedy-musical MISSISSIPPI (1935).

As a kid, MUNSTER GO HOME (1966) was one of - if not the - favourite movies of mine, and I never missed an opportunity to catch it on a variety of double features at local movie houses, often with stuff like The Ghost and Mr Chicken, or McHales Navy Join The Air Force.  Matte by Albert Whitlock.

Hey, even the great Alfred Hitchcock gets a slot in this blog with the very dry, black comedy MR AND MRS SMITH (1941), with this expansive winter matte under the supervision of RKO's Vernon Walker.  Matte artist may have been Chesley Bonestell, Al Simpson or Fitch Fulton?

Another RKO show, MR BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE (1948), with effects supervised by Russell Cully.  The bottom matte never appeared in the film but was in the trailer(!)

Universal's MY LITTLE CHICKADEE (1940) with Russ Lawson and John DeCuir both painting in the matte department.

Illusion Arts' dual plane matte stand set up for the teen comedy MANNEQUIN TWO - ON THE MOVE (1991).  The main painting at the rear will feature a simulated cloud move across the screen, achieved through soft split screens. The foreground glass has partial elements that will line up with the main rear painting in the final shot, while allowing the moving clouds to pass realistically behind these elements (trees and tower etc).  Final composite shown below.

MANNEQUIN TWO mattes by Syd Dutton at Illusion Arts.

Comedy westerns were definitely a thing in the late 60's and through the 1970's, with Universal's ONE MORE TRAIN TO ROB (1971) starring George Peppard being one such film.  Highly enjoyable, rollicking heist yarn, made all the more so by Albert Whitlock's numerous and exquisite mattes.  I had hoped to include an image of the original painting here, but alas, 'twas not to be  :(

Another of Whitlock's wonderful mattes from the same film.

I've always been a sucker for the old Bob Hope pictures he did at Paramount, and he did a lot.  This one, NEVER SAY DIE (1939), was penned by the comedic genius of Preston Sturges (younger blog readers won't have a clue of whom I'm speaking, I'm certain!), the film is a giggle and what's more, has a number of great matte shots by old timer Jan Domela, who started at the studio in 1926 and kept on painting mattes till the mid 1960's!  That's a s***load of matte work in anybody's book.

The quaintly wacky British comedy MOUSE ON THE MOON (1963) directed by Richard Lester. No effects credit, but likely Pinewood or Shepperton providing the shots.

More Jan Domela matte shots from Paramount's MIDNIGHT (1939) - a classic of the time, co-written by a young Billy Wilder.

Danny Kaye loved doing these 'twin-look alike' comedies, and ON THE DOUBLE (1961) is typical of the genre, and often laugh-out-loud.  The legendary John P. Fulton was Danny's favourite trick shot man, and worked with him on many films.  This sort of thing was Fulton's forte, with ingenious split screens with matted out body double's arms outstretched and bold interaction between the two Danny's.

John Fulton again supervised the work on the Martin & Lewis spoof, PARDNERS (1956), with Jan Domela painting this vista of 1910 era New York.

The massive, star packed, out of control extravaganza IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (1963) was a bonanza as far as mechanical effects (by Danny Lee) and stunt gags go, with the hefty photographic effects component saved for the extended action climax. The action centres around this street, town square and high rise - all of which were rendered as highly complex visual effects shots.  This wide view is a beautifully painted matte by industry veteran, Howard Fisher.  Note the odd hinge running down the middle of the large masonite panel.  This was inserted years later by Linwood Dunn so as to make the matte art portable for when Dunn conducted numerous SFX seminars, where various miniatures, mattes and a carefully assembled 16mm reel of before and afters would be run (for those too young, there was a time before video tape, digital files, MP4's and cyber things; 16mm celluloid with lots of sprocket holes was the medium of instruction)

Close up detail of Howard's brushwork.  Fisher was an old timer, and very experienced, who began decades before as one of Warren Newcombe's stable of artists at MGM in the 1930's.  Howard painted on many pictures over the decades such as GREEN DOLPHIN STREET and FORBIDDEN PLANET.  Effects men Jim Danforth and Matt Yuricich both knew Howard and said he was quite a character.

The final composite made on 65mm film at Dunn's Film Effects of Hollywood. Around 11 separate elements went into this comp, with a number of different live action plates flawlessly matted in, as well as a huge optical pull back added later.  One of the most memorable mattes of the 1960's.

A revealing before and after shows extensive matte art added into the back lot action.

More complex visual effects work, with large miniatures, matte art, stop motion people and ladder, all assembled meticulously on Cecil Love and James B. Gordon's optical printer.

More MAD WORLD madness, with model work, matte art and great animation cuts by Jim Danforth. Incidentally, I did a full blog report on all of the effects shots in this film previously, which can hopefully be found here.

Establishing matte shot from Charlie Chaplin's last silent picture, MODERN TIMES (1936) - a veritable masterpiece that never dates.  Although without spoken dialogue, the film has a great soundtrack comprising insanely exaggerated industrial sound effects as well as music.

Arguably one of Chaplin's most famous sequences, the incredible roller skating scene, where the little tramp skates repeatedly perilously close to the edge.

Although I somewhere have a behind the scenes pic of the set up, but can't for the life of me find it, I'm sure this wonderful sequence involved a carefully designed and placed foreground miniature of the lower structures, with the close to camera saw horse and plank concealing the rig(?)  Marvellous scene.

More Bob Hope shenanigans, this time it's MONSIEUR BEAUCAIRE (1946), with Jan Domela's mattes for effects boss Gordon Jennings.

Illusion Arts provided this cliffhanger shot for the overwrought MILLION DOLLAR MYSTERY - aka MONEY MANIA (1987).  The old MAD, MAD WORLD formula was attempted, though failed miserably.

A pair of nice Russell Lawson mattes from the comic fantasy flick MR PEABODY AND THE MERMAID (1948)

Bob's back, and this time with the exquisite Hedy Lamarr, for Paramount's MY FAVOURITE SPY (1942), with this exotic North African setting furnished by Jan Domela.

Another all time comedy classic - Universal's hilarious MY MAN GODFREY (1936) with the irrepressible William Powell as Godfrey the butler.  The title sequence along rates mention as an elaborate photographic effects piece.  A vast panoramic matte painting of NYC was photographed with a slow pan across, with all of the cast and crew names gradually illuminating as glistening neons - complete with flickering reflections on the (artifical) rippled water!  Bravo to the great John P. Fulton for orchestrating this, even though it seems somewhat excessive for a moderately budgeted Universal screwball comedy.

Must have been a nightmare to choreograph this set up for each take.

Presumably long time Fulton staffers David Horsely, Jerome Ash, Charlie Baker, Russell Lawson and Roswell Hoffman would have been all involved with this.

This gives you the idea of the neon signage sequencing.  Marvellous.

The massive pan ends on live action of a depression era camp.

More composite shots from MY MAN GODFREY (1936)

I found those Naked Gun movies pretty funny myself, with NAKED GUN 2 1/2 shown here. Lots of excellent matte work from the tiny two man operation called Matte Effects - that being artist Ken Marschall and cameraman Bruce Block.  Almost all of Ken's mattes were done as original negative, with Ken and Bruce both huge admirers of Al Whitlock's methodology, though this one was an optical as a pan and push in was needed.

Close up.  Note the painted cops.

Another fine Ken Marschall painted matte from NAKED GUN 2 1/2

The bad guy's oil refinery matte from the same film.

Detail from above.

Totally invisible matte shot for the daytime view of same.

An incredible original negative matte painted by Ken for NAKED GUN 2 that never made the final cut, sadly.

Original matte for above, painted in acrylic upon special German manufactured artists card.  Ken always painted very small and told me he could never understand why other matte artists preferred enormous glass or masonite panels for their shots.

Ernst Lubitsch was the master of subtle, understated and seductive comedy,  NINOTCHKA (1939) is a fine example.  Very witty dialogue, with my favourite line from Greta Garbo's very much pro-Stalin Soviet agent:  "The last mass trials were a great success.  There are going to be fewer, but better Russians".  One of the funniest lines of the era.  Warren Newcombe's guys did the matte shot at MGM.

When he was at his best, W.C Fields was a comic genius.  NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK (1941) was an utterly indescribable, insane pastiche of sight gags, hilarious lines and stuff seemingly made up on the spot.  Lots of effects by John P. Fulton and matte artist Russ Lawson.

Jack Lemmon and Mickey Rooney starred in Columbia's OPERATION MAD BALL (1957), along with the always delectable Kathryn (7th Voyage of Sinbad) Grant.   Mattes, presumably supervised by Lawrence Butler and cameraman Donald Glouner.

Same film.  No idea about artist, but I know that for a short time Matthew Yuricich was 'laid off' by MGM and was snatched up by Donald Glouner over at Columbia around this period for a little while.

A Syd Dutton matte painting from the Steve Martin film L.A STORY (1991), which demonstrates the classic 'donut' night sky that Syd picked up from his mentor, the great Albert Whitlock, who so often painted this sort of cloud arrangement.

The old Abbott & Costello films were often loaded with trick shots - some of which were quite amazing (see later in this blog post).  PARDON MY SARONG (1942) was a pretty enjoyable tropical romp with a number of Russ Lawson mattes to fill out the backlot frame.

A rather nice Lawson matte shot that I bet extended the artificial Universal 'lake' on the studio back lot to South Seas locale.

Nowhere near as good as it's immediate predecessor, THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN (1976) featured several mattes and various opticals.  A definite mixed bag, effects wise, with the producers being unhappy with some of the original matte effects done at Pinewood by Cliff Culley, and appointing Matthew Yuricich to re-do certain shots.  Exactly which ones, I'm not sure?

Same film.

From PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN is this major vfx sequence where the deranged Herbert Lom (incidentally a superb character actor who made hundreds of films!) fires off some laser thing and disintegrates the UN Building in New York.  Matte art with much hand inked roto cel animation.

The UN building is no more.  What appears to a full matte painting, and one I'd bet Yuricich painted.

Remade around four times, the evergreen classic THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (1979) worked best in it's thirties incarnation with Ronald Colman me thinks.  This version here had Peter Sellers in one of his last roles, and a very disappointing saga it turned out to be.  Only really of value for the excellent visual effects work of Albert Whitlock, Bill Taylor, Syd Dutton and their crew.

Beautiful matte work abounds in ZENDA, with this hands down classic Whitlock (or Dutton?) 'donut sky' and rotating windmill being my favourite in the film.  I well recall seeing all of these shots as before and afters on Al's 35mm show reels when I met Syd (by accident) here in Auckland in 1986.  Blew my mind!

Bill Taylor and Dennis Glouner assembled many great blue screen composites of the two Peter's for many scenes, using tried and true old tricks were also used in the older versions.  Bill told me that the director was one to partake in alcoholic beverage during lunch breaks, making afternoons less than productive!

Before and after from the end of PRISONER OF ZENDA with Whitlock pictured here displaying original painting at an A.M.P.A.S day long seminar in the 1980's.  Looking at the painting next to Al, it appears that almost all of the crowd of towns people have also been 'painted in'.

Abbott & Costello in RIDE 'EM COWBOY (1952), with this Russ Lawson matte shot for effects head David S. Horsley.

Another Abbott & Costello show, THE NAUGHTY NINETIES (1945)

Mel Brooks made a few classic comedy spoofs in the mid seventies, but his later material is somewhat lost.  ROBIN HOOD-MEN IN TIGHTS (1993) was very poor indeed, with barely a smirk.  A major multi-painting matte was included as the closing shot, starting off from a castle and zooming out (for no apparent reason) up into the sky, through the clouds and into space(!)  Illusion Arts did the shot with at least 4 separate paintings merged together through dissolves etc as one continuous 'pullback'.  The shot was a waste as, in the actual film they plastered all of the damned end credits over the top of this complicated effect, thus making all that work lost amid the endless list of 'Honeywagon Wranglers', 'Electrician's Wife's Best Friend' etc.

Leslie Nielson was a hoot in the first of THE NAKED GUN series back in 1988.  For the sports arena climax, several mattes were painted, though not all were used.  Ken Marschall and Bruce Block did the matte shots from their base at Gene Warren's Fantasy II, though more often than not, Ken would paint his mattes on his dining room table at home and then deliver the final art to Bruce for compositing.

Ken's stadium grandstand matte art.  Slot gag animation was employed to simulate 'crowd action' at strategic places in the art.

Tests and temp marry up of an ultimately unused matte for THE NAKED GUN

More filled in stadium matte work.

A fully dressed matte from THE NAKED GUN.  Incidentally, one of the funniest lines ever was Nielson's "Mmmmm, nice beaver" and Prescilla Presley's reply "Why thank you...I just had it stuffed".  Had me laughing for days!.

The David Niven - Doris Day marital 'bliss' saga, PLEASE DON'T EAT THE DAISIES (1960) had a single matte, this tilt down of a rundown old villa.  Mostly painted, with old time artist Lee LeBlanc on the brushes.  FX cameraman Clarence Slifer composited the shot. 

LeBlanc's original matte, which still survives to this day, along with a number of Lee's other mattes from things like BEN HUR and others in an art gallery dedicated to his extensive gallery and wildlife art.

Lee LeBlanc at left, with lower pic of him at Fox around 1950.  Details here of the DAISIES matte.

Another Bob Hope picture here - THE PRINCESS AND THE PIRATE (1944), with Clarence W. Slifer in charge of photo effects.

An inexplicably popular film that I absolutely did not care for one bit was THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987).  Several effects groups were connected with the film, with this shot being a Bob Cuff matte.

Bob's daughter-in-law, Joy Cuff, also painted on PRINCESS BRIDE, as did Doug Ferris on some shots.

Also from THE PRINCESS BRIDE was the final closing shot which was farmed out to US based providers, Matte Effects, consisting of Ken Marschall and Bruce Block.  Here is Ken's original almost full frame painting at left, and the separate sky painting.

Don Knotts was a unique, one of a kind comic talent, that's for sure.  I grew up on his crazy antics. THE RELUCTANT ASTRONAUT (1967) had at least one - and possibly two - effects shots by Al Whitlock.

MIRANDA (1947) was a British comedy about a guy and his very own mermaid.  This shot looks suspiciously like a hanging miniature to me, and it's possible that Albert Whitlock may have been around when they did this, as he was in the employ of Gainsborough Pictures and did work with foreground miniatures, among other things, before embarking on matte painting.

The first of the extremely popular 'Road' pictures for Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, ROAD TO SINGAPORE (1940) had this matte shot by Jan Domela.

Peter Medak's film THE RULING CLASS (1972) was a tour-de-force for Oscar nominated Peter O'Toole, in what is an indescribable smorgasbord of satire, anti-establishment, sacrilege and song & dance(!)  Overlong by a long shot, but worth the time for risk takers like me. 

The final scene from THE RULING CLASS within the Houses of Parliament, though mostly consisting of a considerable set extension just above the lighting fixtures.  Possibly a foreground glass painting(?), with effects not credited, but may be someone like Ray Caple perhaps?

A delightfully daffy and completely off-the-wall, pre-code laugh-fest, MILLION DOLLAR LEGS (1932) occasionally had me splitting my sides through its roughly one hour running time.  W.C Fields starred, and the whole thing reminded me of those very early Marx Bros pictures where pretty much anything goes, if it'll get a laugh.  The matte painting is absolutely wonderful, though I've spotted it in several other Paramount pictures around that decade.  Jan Domela was matte artist.

The 20th Century Fox made Danny Kaye vehicle ON THE RIVIERA (1951) once again had Danny in dual roles as well as a couple of nice mattes such as this one.  Emil Kosa jnr was chief matte artist under Fred Sersen.

Two more mattes from ON THE RIVIERA

Universal's ONE NIGHT IN THE TROPICS (1940) was a musical comedy that introduced Bud Abbott & Lou Costello as secondary characters in what was their first film.

Matte shot from PARDON US (1931), where Laurel & Hardy end up in the joint! Remade as Midnight Express.... nahhh, maybe not?  ;(

Paramount's MY FRIEND IRMA (1949) started off with this invisible matte shot by Jan Domela.

The savagely witty James Coburn political satire, THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST (1967) had this massive wide pan across the frame, from a night time cityscape, up and across a hill, to a highly suspect and villain ridden lair.  Albert Whitlock did the uncredited matte work, along with long time cameraman, Ross Hoffman orchestrating the composite and move on the optical printer.

A closer look at the first part of the wide pan...

...and the latter part of the shot.

While most of Abbott & Costello's films were made by Universal, some were done elsewhere, with THE NOOSE HANGS HIGH (1948) being an Eagle-Lion show.  George Teague was a process specialist and was, at the time, Eagle-Lion's head of camera effects.  Teague used to be Universal's process projection specialist, and for a short time, actually headed up Universal's effects department, but that didn't last.  Mattes at Eagle-Lion were painted by Jack Rabin who, later, would establish his own effects house with friend Irving Block, working mostly of low budget and 'B' pictures.

Extensive matte additions here by Jack Rabin.

The enormously popular THE PALE FACE (1948) starring Bob Hope, was a heap of fun.  Jan Domela furnished the Technicolor mattes with his long time cameraman Irmin Roberts.

This scene from the exceedingly strange Dan Aykroyd film NOTHING BUT TROUBLE (1990) is mostly matte art.  Ken Marschall was painter.
NOTHING BUT TROUBLE mostly painted.

NOTHING BUT TROUBLE before and afters.

W.C Fields was a uniquely, multi-talented comic performer from vaudeville and silents, and proved enormously popular with audiences once Paramount set him up in the thirties.  This Jan Domela matte is from POPPY (1936).  Among his all time classics - though minus matte shots - were the incredibly funny IT'S A GIFT and THE BANK DICK.  Sheer insanity, and all the better for it.

Peter O'Toole gave one of his all time best performances as a sort of fading Errol Flynn-esque boozing shag artist in Richard Benjamin's MY FAVOURITE YEAR (1982) - a delightful play on the era of live television.  For this 50's depiction of New York's live tv district, Matthew Yuricich painted in the appropriate landmarks and neon marquees of the period.  According to Yuricich, when director Benjamin saw this completed matte shot he gasped with disbelief that the production had needlessly located and shot much in NYC, whereas they could have had Matthew just paint the necessary shots.

Yuricich's former apprentice matte artist, Rocco Gioffre, created three very memorable shots for the very funny Chevy Chase road movie NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION (1983).

The second Gioffre shot from the same film.

Probably Rocco's most famous rendering of his career was this gorgeous reveal of the fictional 'Walley World'.  Rocco told me that this painting is proudly in the ownership of director J.J Abrams (whom I was told once has been a purveyor of this very NZ Pete blog site, as well he should!)

Don't bother going to California to visit Walley World folks... it's just a matte shot!

Phenomenally convincing matte trickery by the ever impressive Ken Marschall from the less than phenomenal teen comedy MOVING VIOLATIONS (1985).

More remarkable Ken Marschall matte art from the same film.

Detail from another of Ken's mattes from MOVING VIOLATIONS, proving the old adage that superb matte effects don't make a 'dud' film any better.

Bing Crosby and Bob Hope made a great team, with several 'Road' pictures together as well as other films, usually with Bing being the doorstop for a quick joke cameo.  These shots are from the hit comedy ROAD TO MOROCCO (1942).  Gordon Jennings was Paramount's effects chief, and by all accounts, was an incredibly nice guy to work for.  Jan Domela, as per usual, was matte painter.

Also featured in ROAD TO MOROCCO were several ingenious opticals and some wonderfully accomplished 'talking camels', achieved with meticulously rotoscoped cel animated lip-sync cartoon elements and eye rolling etc.  Almost certainly executed by Anna Osborne, on the Duo-Plane system which was developed for the series of Oscar winning short subjects 'Speaking Of Animals', which is covered later...

The only 'Road' movie made in Technicolor was ROAD TO BALI (1952), again having mattes by Jan Domela and opticals by Paul Lerpae.

Bob and Bing's ROAD TO UTOPIA (1945) was, if not their best film, but certainly their biggest visual effects show.  Absolutely jam packed with mattes, miniatures, opticals and more 'Duo-Plane' animated talking animals.  Could easily have been an effects nominee that year, with solid work throughout.  The Jennings photographic effects department were kept very busy.
"Holy shit Bing.... it's that friggen Cocaine Bear, and he's talking!"  

High quality matte art by Jan Domela from same film, where everything is painted here except the small pocket of folks mid frame.  The number of painted mattes in ROAD TO UTOPIA is substantial, with several invisible shots only evident when seen on BluRay.

Things are looking grim.... ROAD TO UTOPIA.

Lt. Frank Drebin was back for the final in the series, NAKED GUN 3 (1994), with Illusion Arts providing a couple of traditional painted shots as well as some oddly rushed looking digital shots late in the film.  Robert Stromberg painted this one with brush and pigments.

Robert's original matte art on masonite/hardboard.

Dramatic tilt-down shot from NAKED GUN 3.

An interesting matte from NAKED GUN 3 that most people never spotted was this extreme down view from atop the 'fly tower' and grid area high above the stage in a theatre, as characters cling to guy wire.

The Hope-Crosby 'Road' pictures had pretty much had their day by the time ROAD TO HONG KONG (1962) was made.  Not especially memorable, though Dorothy Lamour still looked great and the film had a hilarious bunch of 'A list' cameos, especially Peter Sellers.  Unlike the previous films, this one was a British production, made at Shepperton Studios.  A number of mattes were used, with Bob Cuff being principal matte artist for Wally Veevers.  This shot is interesting, with the exact same live action plate being used for this matte of India and a later matte (below) for Hong Kong!

Same plate locale used for this HK matte shot.

Very interesting shot here from ROAD TO HONG KONG, with what almost appears to be one of Percy Day's mattes, maybe unused, from BLACK NARCISSUS, though upon reflection I think Bob Cuff probably painted this from scratch, as the man loved painting!

A closer view...

NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION (1989), with uncredited effects by the always reliable Dream Quest.

A selection of vintage Jan Domela shots from PARIS HONEYMOON (1938).

An atmospheric night vista that was painted at Illusion Arts, though not included in the final cut, of the film SPEECHLESS (1994).  Love that very, very Whitlock inspired cloudscape!

The eighties spurned a whole slew of completely unwanted and often idiotic 'baby' themed so-called comedies, with this Diane Keaton flick, BABY BOOM (1987) being slightly better than average.  Noteworthy, for some astonishing matte work by artist Ken Marschall and associate Bruce Block, with this jaw dropper of a matte painting being the best excuse to see the film.

The final, totally realistic original negative composite, and a close up of Ken's very small artwork.  Ken told me that this was his favourite among the hundreds of mattes he did, and still has stored away.  He was especially pleased with how the painted balloons turned out.  There were other mattes as well, but those didn't survive the final edit.

HIGH SCHOOL HIGH (1996) was dismissed by the critics, yet had me chuckling throughout.  This matte painted school is one of Robert Stromberg's, at Illusion Arts.


HIGH SCHOOL HIGH final shot.

Matthew Yuricich did so much uncredited and overlooked work over the decades, with this unique before and after from a show called OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS (1990).  Note detail of art at right.

The Ronald Colman classic, IF I WERE KING (1938), a beautifully photographed 14th Century escapade.  Mattes by Jan Domela and effects cinematographer Irmin Roberts.

Another matte from IF I WERE KING, a film in which Ronald Colman is so good.

A great before and after from Paramount's IF I WERE KING (1938)

Silent star Marion Davies was a pure delight in the mistaken identity farce BEVERLY OF GRAUSTARK (1926).  Great fun, with some interesting vintage mattes and early Dunning composite shots. No mentions of 'Rosebud' here please!  ;)

Early matte work from BEVERLY OF GRAUSTARK (1926).

BEVERLY OF GRAUSTARK was bold for the day with closing sequences processed in 2-Tone colour, with this shot probably being an in camera glass shot.  

British comic Norman Wisdom made many low budget flicks through the 1960's mostly, with THE EARLY BIRD (1965) probably being his biggest film, shot in colour with tons of stunts, pratfalls and visual effects shots.  This is a Cliff Culley matte, and is one of the first on-screen credits Cliff actually received after being in effects work since the mid 1940's.

Poor ole' Norman has many a misadventure in THE EARLY BIRD, with this extended bit involving a runaway lawn mower destroying a millionaire's estate.  Lots of clever puppet and miniature work as things go completely out of control.

Pity the shiny Rolls Royce, flattened by falling tree, all in miniature.  I presume Pinewood guys like Bert Luxford, Jimmy Snow, Frank George and John Stears must have been involved with all the model work.

Cliff Culley matte art coupled with miniature fire ladders, animation and smoke overlays.

Final scene in THE EARLY BIRD has Norm crash a fire truck into milk factory, with the whole building cracking apart via cel animation atop matte art.

Syd Dutton painted this superb imaginary palatial HQ for wacko evangelical religious zealot, Peter Boyle, for Marty Feldman's spoof IN GOD WE TRUST (1980)

Another Charlie Chaplin classic from long ago, THE GOLD RUSH (1925) had several mattes or glass shots as I think this one to be, as well as other complex trickery.

One of the effects sequences in THE GOLD RUSH involves a character trapped on a gradually slipping away ice cap.  Done as a miniature set with the actor added either by the Dunning or the Williams travelling matte composite method.  

The partial translucency of the actor tends to suggest the Dunning matting process may well have been used, with this artifact often seen with that technique.

Another memorable moment from Chaplin's THE GOLD RUSH has the two guys desperately attempt to prevent their cabin from toppling over the abyss.

I don't know how Chaplin pulled this off, other than with large miniature chasm set and cabin, and excellent optical composite photography adding the people into the shot.

Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida starred in the Universal film STRANGE BEDFELLOWS (1965), with Albert Whitlock providing this uncredited matte shot.

A typically spectacular Newcombe shot from the film TWO FACED WOMAN (1941), though I'm not sure if this daytime view was in the final film?

Mattes from TWO FACE WOMAN (1941) with Greta Garbo.

Here's another Norman Wisdom comedy from the UK; THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN (1960) - not to be confused with the excellent Kirk Douglas western of the same name made a decade later.  This is a wacky one, even by Wisdom's standards, where the US are conned into shifting an entire English town and rebuilding it in a more preferable locale. Several fx shots including painted mattes and miniatures, not credited but possibly Cliff Culley or the Wally Veevers people across town.

One of the many uncredited mattes that Al Whitlock did over his long career was for SOME KIND OF NUT (1969), with Dick Van Dyke, whom I can tolerate only in small doses.

The first Bob Hope Pale Face film was a massive hit, so naturally Paramount mounted a sequel, SON OF PALEFACE (1952), and a variety of trick shots and mattes were needed, such as this Jan Domela matte of the town in the distance.

Silly gags abound in SON OF PALEFACE, but nobody complained.

The sweltering desert offers a 'cool' respite, with an ice-capades mirage.  Hope, in a single uninterrupted shot, drives from hot, sandy environs into an arctic environ, complete with ice skaters, and then out the other side back into the desert heat!!  A cleverly devised and very complex visual effect sequence, designed by Gordon Jennings, involving moving split screens by ace optical man Paul Lerpae, with exterior location and interior set combined on the optical printer.

SON OF PALEFACE concludes with this multi-element composite by Paul Lerpae.

One of my all time favourite Syd Dutton matte paintings, created for the exceedingly mediocre Mel Brooks spoof SPACEBALLS (1987)

Close up detail of Syd's loose and impressionistic brush work. Love Syd's backlight.

Also from SPACEBALLS was this push in shot, I think painted by Robert Stromberg, of the galactic diner.

Albert Whitlock rendered this delightful homage to a certain monkey movie classic, for the ending of SPACEBALLS.  "Damn you all to hell".

For the John Landis spy spoof SPIES LIKE US (1985), Ray Caple painted this view of Afghanistan.

Derek Meddings miniature effects from SPIES LIKE US.  Incidentally, Derek appeared in a cameo, as did a whole truckload of film guys like Ray Harryhausen and various director friends of Landis.

Probably the funniest thing in STRANGE BREW (1983) was this neat title sequence.

STRANGE BREW matte paintings by veteran Matthew Yuricich.

More Yuricich matte work from STRANGE BREW

The Sandra Dee lightweight romantic comedy THAT FUNNY FEELING (1965) had a couple of nice mattes by Al Whitlock, but it was the work of effects house Project Unlimited that really stole the show.  See below...

It may not look like much but this remarkable brief scene is a masterpiece of movie magic.  A rude and obnoxious driver of a red speedster roars through the traffic, cutting off other cars and causing a pile up before speeding off down the freeway.  Fabulous work here, designed and executed largely by Jim Danforth.  See below...

From Jim's memoir, Dinosaurs, Dragons & Drama, comes this excellent breakdown.  A miniature freeway side was constructed at Project Unlimited, with model cars animated via stop motion, with Jim concentrating upon the main red car, while other staffers worked on secondary traffic.  What sells this is the absolutely bullseye matching of the actual LA location and the miniature set, with perfect line up, perspective, lighting and above all else, combined with subtle matte art blending as latent image on original negative.  According to Jim, the studio were so 'wrapped' with this sensational shot that they had it spliced into a continuous loop and screened it over and over.  I rate it as one of the all time great visual effects moments.

Another of Albert's mattes from THAT FUNNY FEELING.

Mattes from the Rank comedy starring Alec Guinness THE CARD (1952).  Bill Warrington, although not a matte artist, was in charge of the matte department, with various artists working under him such as Les Bowie, Albert Whitlock and Cliff Culley.

Don Knotts did this quite amusing remake of the old Bob Hope classic, The Pale Face, with THE SHAKIEST GUN IN THE WEST (1967).  This wonderful matte was the work of Al Whitlock, with a quite considerable amount of the frame here being pure paint, with just the folks with the three partial mock up carriages in the background being real.  All else was painted, including the foreground rolling stock, the station interior, the background left carriage and the luggage trolley and even the group of people at extreme left!  I'd love to see Al's actual painting for this.

An entirely matte painted shot, with the massive thousand seat movie house, The Grand - seen in better times - from the utterly delightful British comedy THE SMALLEST SHOW ON EARTH (1957), which for reasons that escape me was retitled BIG TIME OPERATORS for American  release(!).  Bob Cuff was one of Shepperton's finest matte artists, and not only did he do the mattes for the film but also got an on-screen credit - although in smaller font, under Wally Veevers' name - but a credit, is a credit, as they say.

A second full frame matte, also by Bob Cuff, shows the Grand burnt to the ground. One of the great old British comedies, as well as being a loving and sentimental tribute to the days of old time movie houses; Saturday matinees, double features, film breakages, cartoon & travelogue preceding the main show, wonky projection and that unmistakable aroma of old popcorn and Jaffa's that these places used to be known for.  Very fond memories by your blogger of all such things, from a movie crazy childhood and beyond.... all now but a distant memory, sadly.  Screw multiplexes... The Devil's work!

Time for some astonishingly good trickery from Abbott & Costello's TIME OF THEIR LIVES (1946), where ghostly goings-ons with spirits from 1776 cause mischief in the 1940's.  An absolute rollercoaster ride of extremely well done optical effects by veteran Universal photographic effects men David Stanley Horsley and Jerome Ash.

Highly complex travelling matte combination work was carried out for a number of quite eye popping set pieces, such as this one where an elegant lady spirit loses here attire, piece by piece, during a confrontation on a staircase.  Many frames needed to demonstrate the work...

Who get's the biggest surprise, the ghost or the real woman?  Both run screaming for their 'lives', so to speak.  The ghostly gal runs down and then back up the stairs, with items of garment being thrown off as she goes...

I've no idea how Horsley pulled this one off, other than via travelling matte and much roto support?

Possibly achieved as per the old Fulton method by draping the set and stairs in black velvet, with body double suited in black beneath the elegant attire, allowing high contrast mattes to be pulled on Ross Hoffman's optical printer?

Now it's just down to 'her' stockings and long lace gloves running up the stairs!

The sequence in full, though of course you'll need a REAL computer monitor to properly appreciate such magic as presented here by NZ Pete.

But wait!!...There's more!  Also from TIME OF THEIR LIVES is another spectacular visual effect where Lou Costello and lady friend 'survive' a hit and run as the car simply passes through them, or did they pass through the car??

Again, I'm baffled by this terrific scene.  Definitely has some degree of matte line on the upper right edge of both actors, though whether that's roto work or from photo-chemical composite photography, I don't know?

I'd love to see the original elements in a break down.

I'm presuming it to be a combination of travelling matte achieved right there on the exterior set, isolating the actors; a second take with the car, without the actors, and a great deal of careful hand drawn and inked rotoscope mattes made on cels.  Millie Winebrenner was Universal's long time rotoscope artist (and, as Syd Dutton told me, a good cartoonist/caricature artist) who had worked as far back as the John Fulton days and onward well into the Whitlock era as a permanent staffer in the matte department.

Universal's veteran optical cinematographer, Roswell Hoffman was also one whose career stretched back to the early Fulton days, being an employee from 1931 through to 1974, with probably a thousand fx composites under his belt.

Welcome to the Pearly Gates - the final matte from TIME OF THEIR LIVES (1946)

A Les Bowie shot of a collapsing bridge in THOSE FANTASTIC FLYING FOOLS (1967) - made at a time when titles such as this were all the rage.

The cheeky Hal Roach ghost comedy TOPPER RETURNS (1941) was a bit of a hoot.  Lots of funny bits, especially here with the always great Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson and Marlboro puffing spectre.

Roy Seawright was the in house Hal Roach photographic effects man, with Jack Shaw painting mattes and William Draper and Frank Young on opticals.  Matte here from TOPPER RETURNS 

Also from same film is this very nifty bit combining miniatures, matte art and real water.

A pair of Jack Shaw mattes of The Riviera from TOPPER TAKES A TRIP (1939)

Peter Melrose painted this shot from Blake Edwards' TRAIL OF THE PINK PANTHER (1982) - a film comprised of out takes from unused footage from the earlier Sellers films.

A great cast of UK comics in SCHOOL FOR SCOUNDRELS (1960), though I don't know who did this matte shot for Tom Howard.

Jan Domela painted this matte for the Clark Gable comedy TEACHER'S PET (1958)

This was apparently Albert Whitlock's first matte shot for Universal.  The film is THAT TOUCH OF MINK (1962) starring Cary Grant.  I had hoped to demonstrate the original matte art with this, but it wasn't possible as things turned out.

I don't go much for Terry Gilliam's films myself, with TIME BANDITS (1981) being a real drag.  Mattes painted by Ray Caple, with this shot being especially good.

Also from TIME BANDITS was this shot by Caple, which I believe Gilliam was never happy with, and was constantly asking for the 'broken glass' to look better.

One of the great cinema classics was Ernst Lubitsch's TO BE OR NOT TO BE (1942) starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard.  Bold, for the day, to mix serious drama with out and out hysterical comedy in the same film.  Many wonderful lines and bits.  Effects overseen by Lawrence W. Butler, with this anonymous matte of the theatre district in Warsaw, Poland, being a set extension for the upper half of the frame.

Another favourite film of NZ Pete was Preston Sturges' UNFAITHFULLY YOURS (1948), featuring a never better Rex Harrison and his elaborate attempts to kill off his wife.  Much funnier than it may sound, with the smooth as silk 'fantasy murder' completely coming apart when carried out as 'the real thing'.  Side splittingly funny, I laughed till my spleen exploded!  Here's a matte by one of Fred Sersen's artists.

A key scene in UNFAITHFULLY YOURS has orchestral conductor Rex drift into his long planned fantasy of knocking off his old lady.  What is most fascinating is just how in the hell Sersen and DOP Victor Milner pulled off this amazing shot?  Shot starts in long shot, and slowly pushes in (not a zoom, mind you...a push in) and eventually goes right up to and virtually into his eyeball!!!  If any cinematographers are reading this, I'd love to know how the focus puller managed to make this work so well.   Perhaps shot in reverse, as a pull out?  Hitchcock did something similar a decade before with YOUNG AND INNOCENT with the drummer and his 'twitch'.  Very impressive.

Although the overlong, yet bouncy Julie Andrews musical-comedy THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE (1967) had some inexplicably poor quality work from the usually reliable Albert Whitlock, at least this shot was of high enough standard to slip by unnoticed.

The Naval comedy SAILORS THREE (1940)  from Ealing Studios, had some nicely done model work and matte art on a very, very tight wartime budget.  Roy Kellino was Ealing's effects man.

As far from the master, John LeCarre as one could hope to get; THE SPY WITH A COLD NOSE (1966) about a dog employed by MI5, had matte shots by Gerald Larn (main image) and Doug Ferris at Shepperton. Not by any means to be confused with the brilliant SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD with Richard Burton.

These huge cast of international star 'round the world' roadshow epics were very much in vogue in the sixties, with numerous along the same lines.  THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES - OR HOW I FLEW FROM LONDON TO PARIS IN 25 HOURS AND 11 MINUTES (1965) - and they all had absurdly long titles as if to lend more grandeur to the event!  Cliff Culley was matte artist, possibly assisted by Charles Stoneham, with Roy Field on fx camera duties.

Painted Paris and onlookers from same film.

Period riverboat antics, THREE MEN IN A BOAT (1956) from Shepperton's fx dept.

Dramatic closing shot from the hit Gene Wilder-Richard Pryor action comedy SILVER STREAK (1976).  I was told once that Louis Litchtenfield probably painted this .

Stunning matte art is all that I can recommend for the utterly dreadful SNOW WHITE AND THE THREE STOOGES (1960).  L.B Abbott was photographic effects chief, with Emil Kosa jnr painting mattes.

Some more quality mattes from the same diabolically awful film.

The Ritz Brothers were a budget variation on the great Marx Bros, though not in that same league by any means, and here they play up in one of many versions of THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1939).  Fred Sersen's matte artists included Ray Kellogg, Fitch Fulton, Ralph Hammeras and  Gil Riswold.

The pre-code classic TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1932) from the great Ernst Lubitsch, was a sophisticated, sultry, sexy and very smooth affair - with Herbert Marshall perfectly cast.  Paramount's Jan Domela would have painted the matte shot.

Producer Jerry Fairbanks made a whole series of very popular one-reeler short subjects SPEAKING OF ANIMALS in the early 1940's, winning an Oscar for one of them.  They must have really been a hit back in the day as they still look incredible today.  Cleverly edited animal footage supplemented by intricate rotoscope work and cel animated lip sync for hilarious voice overs and popular songs of the day.

Anna Osborne was key animator for the SPEAKING OF ANIMALS series, and her team deserve a bow for such high quality work.  I still have a VHS collection of all of 'em.

The bull in baritone singing  'The Cow-Cow Boogie' - brilliant stuff that had my kids wrapped back in the eighties.

James Garner and Doris Day were fun in THE THRILL OF IT ALL (1963), as was Carl Reiner.  Matte shots by Albert Whitlock.

Matte art and much creative Buddy Gillespie model work in the Clark Gable-Myrna Loy flick TOO HOT TO HANDLE (1938)

Another Clark Gable picture from MGM, THEY MET IN BOMBAY (1941), was entertaining and seemingly exotic, though all foreign locales were furnished by excellent Newcombe mattes expanding the MGM back lot.

The crazy Laurel and Hardy misadventure, SWISS MISS (1938) from Hal Roach Studios, had a few mattes by Luis McManus.

The Danny DeVito satire THE RATINGS GAME (1984) had Dream Quest as vfx contractor, with artists Rocco Gioffre and Mark Sullivan sharing brush duties.

Mark Sullivan told me about this effect: "Rocco and I were creating some shots, at Dream Quest, for a Danny DeVito directed HBO film called THE RATINGS GAME.  One day, a Hill high speed camera was being used at the facility to film some falling coins, for another Dream Quest project. The camera was capable of running at some insanely fast frame rates, for extreme slow motion effects. Rocco seized the opportunity to shoot some elements for this stormy sea scene. While the camera was screaming along at 400 frames per second, Rocco tossed about a quarter cup full of powdered coffee creamer up into the air, into frame, in front of a black background. He later tossed some powdered hand soap for the rain element. Everyone was amazed in dailies at how effective these elements were. Along with Rocco’s high speed elements, this shot was a combination of a glass painting, (the ship) and a background painting on panel (the sky). I did the painting work.  Bob Bailey did the photography, which included a motion control camera move to simulate the shot being taken from another boat in rough, choppy seas. The rain and wave were back projected and shot on a separate exposure, so the camera could photograph them with the same motion as it did with the painting passes. The back panel sky painting was shot as multiple split screen passes, moving at different rates, to suggest the clouds were churning."

Some uncredited mattes from the Bob Hope comedy THEY GOT ME COVERED (1943), made by Samuel Goldwyn Studios as opposed to Bob's usual 'home' at Paramount for some reason.

A mod update of the old Gunga Din story, with the Rat Pack on the loose, SERGEANTS 3 (1961) was a United Artists show, with no effects credit.

The insufferable UNDER THE RAINBOW (1981), concerning the alleged making of The Wizard Of Oz, did at least have this clever use of a matte painting, by Matthew Yuricich.  Carrie Fisher did look so sweet though.

Peter Ustinov wrote and directed VICE VERSA (1947) - an overlong but highly imaginative fantasy of role reversal, that was remade some 40 years later.  Some excellent trick shots, supervised by Rank's then chief of effects, Henry Harris, such as this wild head twister of a shot which surely must have influenced William Friedkin when he did The Exorcist(??)  Film is worth viewing for the wonderful, old fashioned title sequence, done as a series of vintage lantern slides, and painstakingly set out and phrased in very Victorian era text, such as: 'Ices and nectarines may sometimes be obtained from smartly uniformed attendants by request';   'Director of Kinema-Photography, Mr Jack Hildyard';   'Associate Producer and Factotum Mr Paul Sherrif';   'All Wonderful & Extravaganza Effects by Professor Henry Harris';   'Continuity & Feats of Memory Mlle. Tilly Day';   'Sound Editor & Tricks of the Ear Dr Harry Miller; and my fave 'Editor in Charge of Magic Lantern Decoupage Mr John Guthridge'.  I'm sure the great wordsmith himself, Mr Ustinov must have been behind the delightful title cards.    

Michael Curtiz' WE'RE NO ANGELS (1954) used motion mattes for some tilt up and down shots, which was not something that Paramount did very often, even having their patented Motion Repeater.  John P. Fulton was in charge, with Jan Domela on mattes and Irmin Roberts as FX cameraman.

An excellent VistaVision Domela shot from WE'RE NO ANGELS.

Same film, with this interesting shot that I suspect involves foreground miniature set; ship and background painted on glass, and a process projected sea element

A majestic painted sky forms a major tilt down for the opening of the Ealing charmer WHISKEY GALORE (1948).  Most likely that Geoffrey Dickinson painted the mattes, as Ealing's artist in residence.

Three matte comps from WHISKEY GALORE as well as what I think to be a foreground miniature (lower left) shot.

I only ever liked Dudley Moore when he was paired with comic genius Peter Cook (no relation) in those old things like the hilarious Bedazzled and various tv and radio specials.  This shot is a great matte by Matthew Yuricich from the abysmal, barely watchable parody WHOLLY MOSES (1979).

Two more Yuricich shots from the 'to be avoided at all costs' WHOLLY MOSES.

The very funny murder mystery with Abbott & Costello, WHO DONE IT (1942).  Dizzying matte work featured at climax, with both Russ Lawson and John DeCuir on the brushes.  I do love extreme perspective matte art.

Two barely noticeable matte top ups from the Frank Capra picture YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU (1938) from Columbia Pictures.  No effects credit but may be someone like Chesley Bonestell or Ted Withers?

I kind of hammered Mel in previous examples from his films for his weaker than usual latter day output.  YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974) however harks back to the days when Mel could do no wrong.  Brilliant, pitch perfect retelling of the Percy (Mary) Shelley horror fable.  Superbly made, and thankfully shot in B&W as it damned well should be!  I'll bet Fox had arguments with Brooks about that choice!  Incidentally, when I saw this on first release here in my teens (at the Plaza theatre, Auckland) I was bitterly disappointed to find the film not in colour, especially as all of the front-of-house stills were in damned full colour!!

The classic castle on the rain soaked hill top from same film, as painted by Matthew Yuricich.  In my oral history with Matt he mentioned that the painted, completed glass got broken before photography.  He thought that perhaps one of his boys stepped on it, but couldn't recall.  He managed to repair the cracked glass, and by all accounts, it was an excellent fix.

Two more Yuricich shots from YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN.  Incidentally, Gene Wilder was never better than in this movie.

Another Matt Yuricich shot, this time from the Tom Hanks flick VOLUNTEERS (1985).

WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER (1957) was quite a clever satire on commercialism.  L.B Abbott's matte artist Emil Kosa jnr was no doubt responsible for the shot.

Frantic screwball type vehicle for pop icon Madonna, WHO'S THAT GIRL (1987) had some good effects work such as this prison matte by Rocco Gioffre.

Before and after look at Mark Sullivan's rooftop matte painted shot for WHO'S THAT GIRL 

Some vintage Albert Whitlock shots here, from the J.Arthur Rank comedy YOU KNOW WHAT SAILORS ARE (1953), when Al was head painter at Pinewood before heading across the pond to the States a year later.

Other Whitlock shots from same film.  Noteworthy for old time character actor Akim Tamiroff - an incredibly busy actor in a thousand flicks - who's hilarious in this.

Jeff Goldblum and Cyndi Lauper in a weird psychic/mystical adventure with Peter Falk, VIBES (1988), with mattes I think, by Matthew Yuricich.

I've always had a liking for the films of Woody Allen, especially his 'earlier & funnier films' (Take The Money and Run and Bananas still being fucking hilarious!) as well as his books and old 1960's stand up records.  Woody's pseudo documentary, ZELIG (1982) was a masterpiece in clever fakery and seemingly convincing historic recreations where Woody's mysterious Leonard Zelig mixes and mingles with everyone from Hitler to Herbert Hoover, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Amelia Earhart, Babe Ruth and Chaplin among others.  Brilliantly photographed by the legendary Gordon Willis, with subtle and seamless optical trickery by R/Greenberg and Associates, with Joel Hynek supervising, not to mention amazingly good photo retouching.  The fake marry-ups far outshine similar shots ILM did much later for Forrest Gump, which were strictly show-pony shots and a gimmick-fest, and little more. Superb work in all ZELIG departments, and a magnificent score too.  *Note, The shots with Hitler above have Woody/Zelig flawlessly inserted within the footage, with top right frame having Zelig in background interacting 2nd from right.  The other lower Hitler frame has Zelig with arm outstretched, waving to the newsreel camera of Leni Riefenstahl.

I didn't care for it back in the day, but looking at WRONG IS RIGHT (1982) recently, it was a more satisfying experience. Sean Connery headlines in this Richard Brooks film.  Several effects contributors, with an uncredited Ken Marschall painting and providing these opening shots.

More from WRONG IS RIGHT, (which out of interest was titled THE MAN WITH THE DEADLY LENS here in New Zealand and other foreign territories, complete with ludicrous Bond styled ad art and posters to look like a 007 flick!  No shit!)  Anyway, the top left matte was by Joe Musso, while the other optical combination shots of NY being destroyed were done (not well) by Fox veteran Bill Abbott.

Two Jan Domela mattes from WEDDING PRESENT (1936).

The Duke, sans horse or six shooter, in the romantic comedy WITHOUT RESERVATIONS (1946). Some interesting matte work with what I took to be an extensive painted railway station for the lower frame.

Syd Dutton supervised the rendering of this new age church and environs for the film WAYNE'S WORLD 2 (1993).  Only worth it for a highly amusing extended sequence with a purposely badly dubbed James Hong, which, if you're anything like me, you grew up on badly dubbed Hong Kong action flicks, which this spoofs to perfection. Hilarious!

The final composite, with moving clouds and sunlight breaking through.

A typically exquisite matte from one of Warren Newcombe's many artists, for the film THE WILD MAN OF BORNEO (1941).

***This post, and all 178 previous blog posts known as 'Matte Shot', were originally created by Peter Cook for nzpetesmatteshot, with all content, layout and text originally published at

Well, that's about it for this blog post.  Hope you found it fascinating.