Happy 101st birthday, Douglas Slocombe (b. 10th Feb 1913)
Douglas is responsible for one of the greatest in-camera effects ever produced on film: six D’Ascoynes in one shot of Kind Hearts and Coronets, and he is rightly celebrated for it as even now - 65 years later - it’s seamless and perfect, and also unshowy. His work with Ealing gave him plenty of opportunity for creative cinematography effects - making the White Suit very very white; showing what Joe is reading in the Trump in Hue and Cry; the dizzying run down the Eiffel Tower steps in The Lavender Hill Mob, to name a few. But he marries this creativity to his experience as a photojournalist and documentary film-maker before the war to lend his Ealing films a realism that was to become a characteristic of the studio.
His work at Ealing also shows his ability with light and shade, his use of shadows and angles to create atmosphere and tension: Michael Redgrave in the train at the beginning of The Captive Heart, Alec Guinness and Stanley Holloway waiting for a burglar in the dark in The Lavender Hill Mob. And so this mastery of shadows and angles is perfect for one of the most beautifully shot black-and-white British films, The Servant; where every shadow and every mirror reflection shows the growing twists and warps of the story.
Had he not lost his sight in his later years it’s entirely possible that he would have continued working: he made the transition to colour and technicolor wonderfully, bringing quality and class to films as varied as The Italian Job, (elevating what is an average film into a thing of beauty) The Great Gatsby, and the first three Indiana Jones films. He is brilliant without being obtrusive: a true master of the medium.
Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia (1962).
A rare signed photograph of T.E. Lawrence. You can see his signature in the bottom right-hand corner. Circa October 1917.
T.E. Lawrence inspecting a cannon at the Crystal Palace exhibition, early home of the Imperial War Museum.
For Sir Peter. Rest In Peace!!!
Lawrence of Arabia film poster by Chuck Sperry.
August 16, 1888: T.E. Lawrence is born.
He earned the name "Lawrence of Arabia" for his participation in the 1916-1918 Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks. Lawrence’s exploits have, of course, been exaggerated by later accounts, but he did play an important role in several battles, including the captures of Aqaba and Damascus (later depicted in Lawrence of Arabia). Lawrence is best remembered for his actions during World War I and his image as a “gentleman adventurer”, but he remains a contradictory and controversial figure. Although his own supposedly autobiographical accounts made him into an icon, he also wrote of himself:
I’ve been and am absurdly over-estimated. There are no supermen and I’m quite ordinary, and will say so whatever the artistic results.
Prior to the war, Lawrence was an archaeologist who immersed himself n Arab culture; after World War I broke out, he was sent to Cairo because of his knowledge of the regions and languages, but it was not until after the war that he achieved celebrity status, thanks in part to the efforts of Lowell Thomas. Later, he also took part in the Paris Peace Conference and the 1921 Cairo Conference, where his previous acquaintance Faisal was chosen by the British as the first King of Iraq. And, although his efforts came rather too late, he lobbied to restrain European influence in the Middle East, to limited effect.
I tried to combine these two photos. They were unite in life and they still are.
Dahoum and Ned
I wish you could see my cottage. It pleases and tickles me. No kitchen, no food, no cooking equipment, no bed, no drains, no sanitation. No water even, while this drought-in-the-deep-springs persists. There are two rooms, one book-lined the other slenderly furnished with a gramophone and records. Upstairs is one chair, downstairs one chair. A bath and a boiler, in cupboards: two sleeping bags, zip-fastened and labeled in embroidery MEUM and TUUM. When night falls the cottager takes up his bag, unfolds it on the piece of floor he momentarily prefers, and sleeps. No good for your infirmity, but I’ve hitherto been always uncouthly well. The village, a mile off, provides meals.
-T.E. Lawrence to Frederic Manning (November 1934)
I loved you, so I drew these tides of
Men into my hands
And wrote my will across the
Sky and stars
To earn you freedom, the seven
Pillared worthy house,
That your eyes might be
Shining for me
When we came
Death seemed my servant on the
Road, ‘til we were near
And saw you waiting:
When you smiled and in sorrowful
Envy he outran me
And took you apart:
Into his quietness
Love, the way-weary, groped to your body,
Our brief wage
Ours for the moment
Before Earth’s soft hand explored your shape
And the blind
Worms grew fat upon
Men prayed me that I set our work,
The inviolate house,
As a memory of you
But for fit monument I shattered it,
Unfinished: and now
The little things creep out to patch
In the marred shadow
Of your gift.
Peter O’Toole with Katharine Hepburn, 1967.
Finally it’s Christmas!!!
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!!!