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.
The scene in Billy Wilder’s Stalag 17 when the fellow prisoners of Barracks Four open up Sefton’s foot locker. Among the goodies are a couple of Leica III’s (with collapsible Elmars) mounted on the inside of the box’s lid.
Identification of the bodies and lenses comes from the invaluable geek resource, Andrew Nemeth’s Leica FAQ
People copy, people steal. Most of the pictures they make nowadays are loaded down with special effects. I couldn’t do that. I quit smoking because I couldn’t reload my Zippo.
An invaluable image I refer to all the time, this guide displays the framelines for different focal length lenses for rangefinder Leica M6 cameras with 0.58x, 0.72x and 0.85x viewfinder magnifications.
Jack Nicholson using a Leica III/A and VIDOM finder in Chinatown.
Each time I see any of my movies, there are plenty of things that I would like to change. It doesn’t mean that the movie would be any better. For example, when Gittes is photographing on the roof, the couple downstairs, and I wanted to see the reflection of it in the lens of his Leica. I was hesitating a lot and discussing it, which way to put it, put it upside down or the way it is, in the lens normally it should reflect upside down. And I thought for the audience’s sake, we won’t put it upside down. Today, I would definitely put it upside down.
Brassed and beautiful. One of the great things about Leicas is that when they are used well over the years, brassing takes over the body. The black paint slowly disappears to reveal the warmth of the soft metal below. All of the Leicas that I have continually bought and sold over the years have been production M6 bodies and the top plates are made of a zinc alloy.
No brassing for me unless I buy an MP or an M4 or earlier.
Jim Marshall’s Leica M4:
It’s a very fine line to draw about taking pictures, you know, not invading someone’s privacy.
Elliott Erwitt’s Leica M3:
All the technique in the world doesn’t compensate for the inability to notice.
Leica camera owners are the worst of the gear fetishists in the photography world. I count myself among them…to a certain extent. Obsessing over serial numbers, special alligator skin models and collapsible lens hoods is small talk for us.
The use of Leicas in movies is something I count as a geeky guilty pleasure, though nothing will take me out of a movie quicker than when I spot an M8 or a screw mount lens.
What has to be the coolest movie sighting of a Leica so far is the appearance of one in the stop-motion animated film of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. Only a camera fetishist would go to the lengths required to construct a miniature M3. And a true Leica fetishist would make sure that when Coraline looks through the viewfinder, the POV through the viewfinder had the single M3 50mm frame line exactly where it should be.
I cannot take credit for the identification of the model nor of the frame lines’ accuracy. That came from the Leica Users Group.
See, rent or buy Coraline now. It is a wonderful film and is so far the closest Neil Gaiman has come to having a film successfully convey his singular magic and imagination.
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