Behind the Scenes: Ben-Hur (1959)

Ben-Hur #8 (Wyler) (#29)

Ben-Hur was photographed using MGM’s 65mm anamorphic widescreen format, Camera 65.

At the time of its release in 1959, MGMS’s lavish quasi-biblical spectacle Ben-Hur was the most expensive film ever made, with a budget of nearly $16 million. The famed chariot race alone required an 18 acre set at Rome’s Cinecitta Studios, a five week shooting schedule and 7,000 extras. (continue for more behind the scenes pics) Continue Reading ›

Golden Age issues of American Cinematographer

AC 1942 (Shadow of a Doubt, Hitch) copy

(Above) Alfred Hitchcock peers through the camera’s viewfinder on the set of Shadow of a Doubt, which was shot on location in Santa Rose, California.

The Media History Digital Library boasts a database of more than 800,000 pages of digitized materials from vintage periodicals. That includes full issues of American Cinematographer ranging from 1924 to 1942. The database can be accessed here.

What’s interesting about this era of the magazine is that the cinematographers wrote the features themselves. Thus Greg Toland pens a piece in the February 1941 issue on Citizen Kane and Joseph Valentine contributes a feature in the October 1942 issue on Shadow of a Doubt.
AC 1941 (Citizen Kane) copy
(Above) A low-angle camera set-up  from Citizen Kane, a film that broke with the conventions of the era by showing the ceiling of its interiors.
AC 1926 (Ben Hur) (#2) copy
(Above) The chariot race  from the 1925 silent version of Ben-Hur. Continue Reading ›