Saturday, February 16, 2013

Architecture of "The Asphalt Jungle" [1950]

The city is big, but the streets are empty. The sky is broad, but buildings crowd the view. The light is harsh, and the shadows are long. In this seminal noir/heist movie, (a criminal's procedural), all the well laid plans go off without a hitch. It's only afterward that the gang of crooks are done in, one by one, by their own moral failings.  The grim and grimy backdrop is a modern metropolis. But the stifling atmosphere is provided by the existential doom of the characters. It is their mutual, inner alienation that makes this gritty place The Asphalt Jungle.

Cinematographer Harold Rosson was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his B/W photography. 

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Architecture of "Auntie Mame" [1958]

The interiors of Mame's duplex apartment at 3 Beekman Place are redecorated 6 times over the course of the movie, supposedly a 9-year period beginning in 1928, but perhaps more closely reflecting the mid-century period in which the book on which it's based was written. As a metaphor for self-reinvention, the sets are the material demonstration that worldliness & glamour might serve as a heady rebuke to the stuffy conformity of postwar middle-America. Of course, the freedom provided by a huge amount of money certainly doesn't hurt. 

Production Design & Art Direction by Malcolm C. Bert

Chinois Nouveau

Powdered Art Deco

Hollywood Regency

Haute Americana

Dali-esque Danish Modern

Tantric Eurasian