Letters

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Call for Support

As a professional video operator working in TV commercials and features in England, I am in the process of setting up an association for British video operators and co-ordinators. I would very much like to hear from any of our American colleagues who may be doing the same, or already have such groups.

I have written many letters and would appreciate it if you could help elicit interest in this project.

-Tom Jeffers

5 Fountin Ave.

Hanworth, Middlesex,

England

More Help Wanted

Following our television series, Unknown Chaplin and Buster Keaton - a Hard Act to Follow, we are embarking on a program about Harold Lloyd.

If any of your readers worked with Lloyd we would be delighted to hear from them. We are particularly anxious to hear from anyone who knew him in the silent days.

Finally, a dilemma from the Keaton program: what happened to Elgin Lessley? Despite the most energetic research by us, and by Al Keller, ASC, we can follow his career no further than 1928 and The Cameraman. He was not a member of the ASC, though he was of the Static Club, but any information would be most gratefully received.

-Kevin Brownlow/David Gill

Thames Television

306-316 Euston Road

London NW 13BB

Voila!

There are so many brilliant French cinematographers, past and present, I hope you will allow me to correct a statement made on page 51 of your April 1988 edition.

Philippe Rousselot is certainly one of the great French directors of photography of today and it therefore came as no surprise that his fine work on Hope and Glory was honored by an Oscar nomination. However, it is not true to say he is only the second Frenchman to be nominated during the 60 year history of the Academy. I think there are at least five others and three of them, together with Ghislain Cloquet, ASC, won Oscars:

Thief of Baghdad, (1940), Georges Perinal, Oscar; Roman Holiday (1953), Henri Alekan (with Frank Planer), nomination; The Longest Day (1962), Jean Bourgoin and Walter Wottitz, Oscar; Is Paris Burning? (1966), Marcel Grignon, nomination; and Cloquet for Tess an Oscar in 1980 along with Geoffrey Unsworth.

-Sydney W. Samuelson

London, England

More on Dracula

Allow me to add to the informative look-back at the 1931 Dracula (May, 1988 issue).

The incomplete print of the Spanish language version does not exist at the Museum of Modern Art. It was borrowed from the Library of Congress and screened at MOMA - only once - in August 1977. Audiences were startled to see how cinematic and inventive the director/ cameraman team of George Meiford and George Robinson was. Their emphasis on camera movement and stage effects made the Browning/Freund English language version pale by comparison! Universal may have felt more comfortable in subjecting a foreign audience to stronger stuff.

For example: In Melford's version, water runs down the crypt steps, and stops when Dracula opens his coffin. Smoke pours out as he rises, with no shy "panning away" as was done with Bela Lugosi. Different takes of vermin are used; we see "new" shots of the rat and the giant bug creeping out of its box. Even the opening glass shot is different.

The miniature Castle Dracula, built for Karl Freund by Universal propmaker William Davidson, is barely visible in Browning's film. Yet here, it is flaunted in profile, in a beautiful composite showing a precipice and water below. (It may have inspired a similar tableau in White Zombie.) Renfield's stay at the inn is better developed, as in Murnau's Nosferatu. In the castle, he bloodies his finger on a blade, not a mere paper clip.

Though the Spanish dialogue is longer, the pace seems quicker, because more is happening visually. It doesn't languish like the film. Villar's Dracula bares fangs, in contrast to Lugosi's "toothlessness." The ample bosoms of the female leads heave from low-cut peasant dresses. …