Sunday, September 29, 2013

Movie of the Week: James Wong Howe: Cinematographer (Documentary) Review

I can't really bring myself to "review" this documentary. I'd rather tell you what I thought and what I took from it, especially as someone studying Film.

James Wong Howe in 1969

First, this 30-minute documentary gives a brief account (through director Daniel Mann's narration) of James Wong Howe's childhood and early adult life. Then, the remainder of it unfolds with the words of Mr. Howe himself (through an interview with Frank McGeary) as he talks about the ins and outs of his cinematography and cinematography in general. We are also shown clips and images on the sets of some of the films he's worked on--behind-the-scenes footage from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938) is shown more extensively.

Movie poster for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938)

As an aspiring filmmaker, I learned so much in this 30-minute movie--so much about cinematography and storytelling. I learned about creativity and innovation. I was inspired--and who doesn't love the feeling of being inspired? 

James Wong Howe with his first Oscar for Best Cinematography (1956)

I would have loved for this documentary to have dug a little deeper into James Wong Howe's experiences on set. For example, he told an incredible story about how he was able to fix a very big problem on the set of Call of the Canyon (1923)--you'd have to see it and hear it to believe it. It would have been awesome to hear more stories like that. Alas, time didn't permit a lot of things in this documentary, but it was still great to watch.

Movie poster for The Call of the Canyon (1923)

I highly recommend watching James Wong Howe: Cinematographer for historical, educational, inspirational, and motivational purposes!

Here it is on Vimeo: 


All of the above images (with the exception of James Wong Howe with his Oscar) were obtained from Wikipedia and are all being used for informational and educational purposes only. The image Oscar image of Mr. Howe was obtained from the Academy's official website.

 If the owner(s) of any of these images wishes to have them removed, please contact me and I will do so immediately.


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