A chrome Leica III in Wolfgang Petersen’s Das Boot, 1981. The actor Herbert Grönemeyer shoots with it in a couple of scenes and also has the lens off in one scene, wiping down the body.
Images from the majestic opening sequence to Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, the rich texture of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde prelude, a sweeping backdrop to the slow, ambling march towards apocalypse.
It is all lovely terror, lush CGI, studio-lit nature as artifice, slow and heavy symbolism.
Wayne and I were poster boys for the Odd Couple. Politically and socially, he was 140 degrees to the right of Genghis Khan. I was oppositely inclined. He’d call me a bomb-throwing Bolshevik. It was a love-hate thing. We’d get in big arguments, especially with a little booze in us.
– Phil Stern
I was in the USSR on my first visit in 1959 doing general coverage for my agency. While there I went to the main post office in Moscow and found the most graphic stamps with the largest images of Stalin and Lenin that I could find. I put them on postcards and addressed them to Wayne at his Newport Beach home. About a year later in a meeting he said to me, “I did get those postcards from Russia, you son of a bitch!” That was his catchphrase, he used it all the time. Like the time I pointed out his son Jonathan Ethan Wayne’s monogrammed initials on his luggage (“You son of a bitch!”).
– Phil Stern
We were once in Durango, Mexico – the middle of nowhere (I digress – but he shot there a lot because of the lack of telephone and telegraph poles, as his pictures were set in the 1800s. Mexico gave him the wide vistas he needed.) He had a turbo jet airplane that he used like most people used like station wagons to transport his family to locations. They’d never come out to the actual location – it was too remote. It was Pilar and Ethan (I think it was the trip with the luggage, actually.) Anyway, Wayne was getting made up and Ethan said to him, “Daddy, why do you make these movies in the ‘middle of nowhere’ as Mommy says?” and Wayne said, “To keep Mommy supplied in tennis balls!”
– Phil Stern
He was a mixed bag, like all of us. He had his tender, warm, loving moments, but he was also an S.O.B.
– Phil Stern
He was very tenacious about protecting his identity as a western, macho he-man. He would not allow anyone to make fun of that except himself.
– Phil Stern
I call him the Cartier-Bresson or Robert Frank of Hollywood. He wouldn’t allow the orchestrated P.R. photograph. He made authentically real photographs, and in the context of Hollywood, to make a real picture is odd.
– Los Angles photography gallery owner, David Fahey
My meeting with Jimmy Dean occurred in 1953, somewhere in the spring. I was aware of him of course. I was driving on Sunset Boulevard west towards Life Magazine’s offices….and passing through Crescent Heights Blvd, green light, coming down the other way, crossing the red light, was a crazy guy on a motorcycle. Anyway, he jammed n is brakes, I jammed on mine, I avoided killing him by a few inches. But anyway, he got up off the bike and he gave me a dopey grin. I was cursing him, using every expletive I could think of. And, that dope grin did it I guess. We became friends right there and we both went to breakfast at Schwab’s drugstore. By this time of course, I knew who he was.
There are some people who you don’t have to do anything with. And Jimmy was one of them: He was totally whimsical. There’s one shot where Dean peeks out of a sweater. I didn’t use a tripod or Strobe lights. I had a hand held Nikon. We broke all the rules that day.
I was a full decade older than Dean, but we hit it off. We were both a little nuts. I was a New York Jewish kid, from the Bronx; he was this Midwest eccentric. Neither of us was part of the Establishment. I feel his politics was only for the underdog.
Back in the Fifties, for me to photograph Marilyn Monroe, it was a catch-as-catch-can situation. I did not have her at my disposal the way some photographers did. So the only time I could get her was either surreptitiously or at a photo opportunity. And in that case, it was important for me to try to get a photograph that doesn’t look the same as the others. So I had to watch carefully and if she did anything unusual with her face or expression, I had to be alert enough to snap it.
I had an assignment from Look Magazine. The assignment was what Sam Goldwyn sees from his window. And I had telephoto cameras located at Sam Goldwyn’s office and it was setup in such a way there was no knowledge whatever of the people below and I was getting intimate pictures of them. And that’s where I was able to get those pictures of Marilyn Monroe walking with Paula Strassberg. At certain days, they were inseparable. And that was the time when she was pregnant during her marriage with Arthur Miller, At one point, her pregnancy was such that she was beginning to show.
And in one of those photos that made, she wore a dark kimono over a white outfit. And the wind blew open the kimono and it was very obvious that she was pregnant.
I believe and I’m not sure about it, that that is the only shot of her pregnant.
The pictures I most like are not necessarily pictures of Hollywood stars. I’m always looking for the perfect picture, and it does not matter who’s in it. And I can also add that I am more than 90 years old and have been holding a camera since age 14, and I have not yet found the perfect picture yet. But I will always keep looking for it.
[I shot] Sinatra literally in the position of Christ nailed to the cross. He choreographed it himself. This was a personal gag created for Mervyn Leroy, a director he had contempt for. He sent it along with a note that said, “O.K., you now have me where you want me. Frank.”
Bogart trusted me. [James] Dean trusted me. And Wayne. During the war, Wayne was never in the military. Bogart and Wayne may have seen themselves as a lot more macho than they actually were. I, in contrats, had been wounded. So my reputation in their eyes was as a tough guy.
But like I said before – the most important thing is access for the photographer. There are many good photographers but they are not appreciated for their work that they do not gain access to the appropriate places.
Sinatra especially for some reason liked the photos I made and he liked me. He didn’t love me but he liked me. He gave me access to the many things he did: his concerts, special events, television shows and when he worked in movies. I had many assignments with Sinatra, the most important one perhaps was the inauguration in 1961 of President Kennedy. And when Kennedy had a big gala, he appointed Sinatra to do all the entertainment. In that case, he asked me to be the resident photographer.
In my mind a photographer is like a carpenter. He can make a beautiful cabinet and you can exclaim `it’s a work of art,’ but it’s never going to be a Rembrandt.
Matisse I ain’t.
I was in my cutting room around 1 in the morning, and he strolls in smoking a cigarette and says, “Can I watch?” I said: “Yeah, you can watch. You wanna see a Jew go down? Stand there.” That was the night I coined the expression, “You cannot polish a turd.” And then Kubrick looked at me and said, “You can if you freeze it.”
– Jerry Lewis, who was editing a film at the same studio Kubrick was editing “2001”
He was obviously always a step ahead of me. He called me one, I remember I was at Warner’s, I think it was around the time he was getting ready to do Lyndon, and he said, ‘Do you have any of those special BNC cameras that we used for rear process?’ I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘For sentimental reasons. I started out on them. I’d love to buy one from you if I could get one.’ So I called the camera department and I said, ‘Do you have any of those?’ And they said, ‘We’ve got a couple of those.’ I called Stanley back….He said, ‘I’d love to get those cameras. I admire the workmanship.’ I said, ‘Great,’ and sent him one of those, or maybe two of them, I can’t remember.
About six months later, Gottschalk, who ran Panavision for us, and who was a certified camera and optical genius, called and said: ‘Why are you sending those rear-projection cameras to Stanley Kubrick?’ I said, ‘Because he asked for them. I mean, they sit down there, we don’t use rear-projection anymore. We’re doing front-projection.’ He said, ‘They’re priceless, they are the most fantastic works ever put into a camera. They are brilliantly conceived and brilliantly executed camera works. You could never build a camera like it if your life depended on it. I want to get everyone I can, because I can’t duplicate the work that went into them.’
Stanley had anticipated it and acquired them and built his own cameras!
– John Calley, Former President of Warner Bros., CEO of Sony Pictures
He looked for the old-fashioned Mitchell BNC cameras for a very specific reason. These were the only cameras, to his knowledge, where he had a chance of fitting these big Zeiss lenses.
– Jan Harlan, Executive Producer
And Stanley sent me this lens and said, could I mount it on his BNC camera? I said it’s absolutely impossible because the BNC has two shutters, a thick aperture plate, and all that between the film plane and the rear element of the lens. And so I explained that to Stanley and said we’d have to damn near wreck your camera and make it purely dedicated to do this. And he said, ‘Fine, go ahead and do it.’
It was originally a lens designed, developed, and manufactured by Zeiss for NASA. NASA was planning to use it in satellite photography. For that reason, it’s an extremely fast lens. It’s an f0.7 which is two stops faster than lenses that are even available today. Of course Stanely’s intention for these lenses was to shoot the famous candlelit scenes in Barry Lyndon. That being the case, he shot with the lenses wide open, f0.7. The consequence of that, he had practically no depth of field at all. It was quite a chore to do it, but of course the images were absolutely gorgeous.
– Ed Di Giulio, Cinematographer
A book I will be buying very soon is Steve Schapiro’s Taxi Driver from Taschen Books.
Schaprio is a photojournalist and documentary photographer and has also been the still photographer for many of the seminal films in the seventies including The Godfather, Midnight Cowboy, and The Way We Were.
To view more of his work, visit his site.
To purchase Taxi Driver, click here.