Magazine article American Cinematographer

W. S. Van Dyke's Journal: White Shadows in the South Seas (1927-28)

Magazine article American Cinematographer

W. S. Van Dyke's Journal: White Shadows in the South Seas (1927-28)

Article excerpt

W. S. Van Dyke's Journal: White Shadows in the South Seas (1927-28) Edited and annotated by Rudy Behlmer Scarecrow Press, 152pps., cloth. $34.50

Most of this small book's fascinating information about director Woody "One Take" Van Dyke comes from primary sources. Hence, it's virtually immune to the taints of innuendo, mnemonic error and deliberate revision that invalidate too many attempts to record history. A cache of recently discovered letters written by Van Dyke from Tahiti during production of White Shadows in the South Seas in 1927-28 produced much of the commentary. This correspondence was sent to his inamorata, Josephine Chippo, a beautiful, MGM script clerk who worked on several Van Dyke pictures. Found in the bottom of an old trunk, they were donated in 1992 to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. An unfinished autobiographical manuscript by Van Dyke was also consulted, along with existing studio story conference notes and comments made by performers and production personnel associated with him.

White Shadows was begun by the great documentarian Robert Flaherty, with Van Dyke as co-director. …

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