Damien Lovegrove’s Hollywood Style Reborn

Lovegrove 10

I’d swear that I’ve seen selected images from this series of photos countless times at Pinterest, Tumblr and random blogs and sites, but rarely – if ever! – have I seen the photos credited with any attribution for a photographer, model, source publication…anything.

Lovegrove 1

It didn’t take much digging at all. A simple search engine image match brought me right to photographer Damien Lovegrove’s Pro Photo Nut at prophotonut.com, and a posting from way back in 2013 titled “Film Noir – A Hollywood Style Reborn”.

Lovegrove 2

Model/actress Chloe-Jasmine Whichcello (along with a male co-star who only goes by ‘Frank’, so lets guess he’s the photographer’s assistant or some other fellow) dives into a series of stunningly lit images of a glamorous Hollywood blonde femme fatale, with makeup and hair done by Claudia Lucia Spoto, photo styling done by the model herself, assisted by the photographer, Damien Lovegrove. The project was all shot on location in Pipwell Hall, Northamptonshire in England.

Lovegrove 3

Frame by frame, Lovegrove explains the details of how he arranged the lighting, what equipment was used (all of which is way over my head) and how these techniques created the dramatic mid-20th Century Hollywood cinematic film noir look and feel. I was intrigued, and I know absolutely nothing about photography, at least, the technical end of things.

Lovegrove 4

Well, I’m glad to put these striking images out there with credit where credit’s due for once. And I have to say, that Pipwell Hall in Northamptonshire looked suitably dark and gloomy for this film noir stylistic exercise. So much so, that Damien Lovegrove and his talented associates should have returned at some point for a study in gothic horror visuals, perhaps a tribute to England’s Hammer films, with Ms. Whichello doing a stand-in for Veronica Carlson, Ingrid Pitt or Yutte Stensgaard. Hmmmm…

Lovegrove 5

Link below to the ProPhotoNut site to browse the images and read Damien Lovegrove’s text (which ought to be of particular interest to the less photographically challenged among you). And more images from the project follow in the next post.

Lovegrove 6

 

https://www.prophotonut.com/2013/02/17/film-noir-a-hollywood-style-reborn/

 

 

Lichtspiele

Alexi Lubomirski

No one’s advocating smoking, so don’t comment with nasty remarks. Lets face it, traditional film noir or even cliched ‘noir culture’ is more or less a smoke-fest, and whatever the health hazards and general evil-ness of the addiction, smoking does make for some stunning images.

Here, Alexi Lubomirski shoots model Constance Jablonski for Vogue Germany back in 2013 for an editorial called “Lichtspiele”, a series of striking images reminiscent of 1930’s film studio backstage and glamour shots.

Alexi Lubomirski 2

More About Gina Higgins’ American Noir…

G Higgins 9

(See preceding post)

An admitted fan of what I choose to call ‘noir culture’, I’ve long been enamored with not only the classics of American film noir cinema, but noir-ish themes in everything from crime fiction novels to postwar paperback cover illustrations, neo-noir comics to noir-ish narrative style fashion photography. I suspect that in this, California artist Gina Higgins and I may share some interests (or in her case, influences). But take note: There’s more evidence of Hitchcock and David Lynch at work here than Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer.

G Higgins 8

Yes, the work is inspired by, evokes or perhaps even celebrates the iconography, cultural cues and tropes of traditional Film Noir, but seems more rooted in the look and feel of hepcat Rat-Pack era nightlife with all of its undercurrent of danger and dark sensuality. The over-used and often mis-appropriated symbols of so-called noir culture (or lets call them what they sometimes are: Clichés) are missing here. Her paintings are remarkably free of fat-fendered cars, wide-brimmed fedoras, snub-nose revolvers and revealing glimpses of stocking tops, the go-to memes many artists and photographers reach for when they want to telegraph something vaguely ‘noir’. This is the American Noir of 77 Sunset Strip, Frank Kane’s Johnny Liddel, pre-Camelot nightspots where dark romance might be found, and garish neon lights may only illuminate lusts unleashed, or unfulfilled.

G Higgins 1

G Higgins 7

Check out more of Gina Higgins’ work at americannoirpaintings.com, where you’ll also find Giclee prints of her paintings and a handsome looking artist’s monograph book. I already ordered mine, though I’m guessing it’s a POD book, so I won’t receive it till late this month.

“American Noir”…Gina Higgins work really is precisely that.

G Higgins Artist Book

American Noir Paintings Dot Com

https://americannoirpaintings.com

Gina Higgins’ American Noir

Kiss Me Deadly G Higgins

“American Noir”, the ongoing series of stunning large format paintings by California artist Gina Higgins, is aptly named. That they’re noir is apparent. But the way they evoke a time, place and ‘feeling’ of a sensual and dark slice of America may be their real power and beauty.

Can you tell I’ve become hooked?

G Higgins 6

Gina Higgins may have been born in New Orleans, but she grew up in Los Angeles off Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills. That Los Angeles-Hollywood vibe seems to permeate her work – from film culture to Sunset Boulevard to retro L.A. nightlife. Still a teenager, she took a break from her college education to study and draw abroad in France and Italy (basically like winning the lottery for an art student) then returned to complete her degree, graduating from the University of Southern California Roski School Of Fine Art.

Insomnia G Higgins

Early Higgins illustrations became sought after work for clients like Liz Claiborne, Etienne Aigner, MGM, CBS and others, and then in 2009 Higgins began her signature series of large format paintings (acrylics on canvas, if I’ve read the notes right on various sites) that became “American Noir’. Clearly a masterful figurative painter, Higgins doesn’t seem to be content with straightforward representational realism. Her figures and faces are personalized, stylized and manipulated with a skilled hand till they’re kind of one – almost organically – with her semi-surreal settings and backgrounds. I’ve never seen a Gina Higgins painting in the flesh, but something tells me it would make me want to cry.

See next post…

G Higgins 5

G Higgins 4

G Higgins 3

Mister Cool

Ezekiel Easy Rawlins

Mister Cool: I mean, he just is. And never more so than in this film that was a gem to many critics but a flop at the box office for some reason. Denzel Washington strikes a pose as Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins from the 1995 film adaptation of Walter Mosley’s first published novel Devil In A Blue Dress (1990).

Noir City Daydreaming: On The Road

chicago - music box -

Maybe your daydream is striking it rich with a Lotto ticket. Maybe it’s just being able to turn on a cable news show without wondering if the world’s gone completely mad.

Mine? Sounds silly, but I think mine would be to do a noir film fest version of ‘Deadheading’. You know, ‘Deadheads’: The caravans of post-hippies that travelled from one Grateful Dead concert to another, long after real hippies became grandparents out in the suburbs. But no tie-dye and bellbottoms for me, because I’d be travelling from city to city to take in each of the Film Noir Foundation’s Noir City Film Festivals. Start at The Music Box Theatre in Chicago, then the Balboa Theater in San Francisco, The Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles, the Redford Theatre in Detroit, then all the way back to the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, and on and on…

3 noir city posters

But it’d have to be done right.

I’d start at one of those specialty auto rental agencies that supply vehicles for film and TV productions, wanting something postwar but pre-tailfins, and absolutely enormous with big fat fenders. Maybe for one of the cross-country treks I might swap the wheels for a train, Union Station in Chicago to Union Station in Los Angeles (think how many flicks we’ve watched with scenes shot there). It’d only be Amtrak, of course, not the Santa Fe Super Chief, but still. Advance research online could take care of lodging, pinpointing some aging hotels that haven’t turned into crack dens or SRO’s yet, and then locate piano bars and all-nite diners (I said it’s a daydream, didn’t I?) Imagine: Getting all duked up, hit the festival to see some genre classics, restorations and little-known’s on the big screen instead of a TV, or worse, a laptop. Cocktails after, like a Rob Roy or Ramos Gin Fizz at a jazz lounge where the music’s as smoky as the atmosphere (smoking would not only be legal, but insisted on in this mythical trip, though of course, not a health hazard), followed by a wee hours bite in a period-perfect greasy spoon before turning in. Then up at noon the next day, pack up the land cruiser and hit the highway for the next burg.

detroit

Daydream with me here, noir fans. Now I’m no Cosplay fan, but proper attire would be essential. For the fellows? Suits: mandatory, along with those ridiculously short, stubby ties so popular in the late forties. A full brimmed fedora on top, and depending on the weather, one of those huge topcoats a person can almost get lost in. Bonus points for a monogrammed white handkerchief always at the ready, a plain silver Zippo lighter, and a billfold (not a wallet, a billfold) with actual paper money inside, even if you normally pay with your phone or a swipe of a chip card.

san francisco 2009

For the gals: Pleated slacks may be fine for the long city-to-city drives, but it’s strictly padded shoulder dresses for the theatres and after, hats encouraged if you can figure out where to buy one, wide brims and netting a plus. Sorry, but bare-legged is out, hose a must, and be sure to tote around a clutch whether you need it or not, though there’d be no point in packing a lighter because you’d just dangle your cigarette between the very tips of your red-nailed fingers (that match your red lipstick) till someone lit you up.

san francisco 2011

Obviously, it’s never gonna happen. Even if there was some way to take off work for days and weeks at a time, I suspect there’d be a few calls from the credit card companies, somewhere between the train tickets and the reservations at the seedy hotels. And really, just where do you even buy monogrammed white handkerchiefs or fancy hats with netting today? I said it was a daydream, albeit ‘Noir Daydreaming’. But these utterly gorgeous Film Noir Foundation Noir City Film Festival posters sure can make a person fantasize, can’t they?

san francisco 2018

Jazz Noir

jazz noir

As if there could be something better to listen to when you’re writing noir-ish crime fiction, circa 1959?

I’m a CD and vinyl person myself. Old fashioned? Maybe. The Jazz Noir 3-CD set includes 60 pieces of jazzy 1950’s film noir themes and background tracks. A couple television series themes snuck in there too, but that’s cool. Touch Of Evil, The Man With The Golden Arm, Anatomy Of A Murder, 77 Sunset Strip, The Asphalt Jungle and so much more. Pure inspirational mood music, and I swear, it makes my fingers dance across the keyboard.

Noir City

dark cabaret

The latest Film Noir Foundation’s Noir City e-magazine (number 25) came out right before the holidays like a Christmas present for noir buffs, though this buff was a busy buff and only able to get through a portion before the halls had to be decked and all the fa-la-la-ing taken care of. But recently when a loooong waiting room delay found me without a book, a magazine or even a comic to browse, I remembered the PDF issue was still lurking on my laptop.

hot shadows

Noir City is about as good as it gets, as far as I’m concerned. This time the e-mag is just a whisker shy of a hundred pages, each in lushly illustrative designs by AD Michael Kronenberg. This issue focuses on International Noir, with articles on noir cinema in Mexico, Japan, Iran and more. But that’s just for starters, the e-mag also including articles on comic artist Jim Steranko’s noir work, a graphic novel adaptation of Lawrence Block’s Eight Million Ways To Die, an interview with Hard Case Crime co-founder Charles Ardai…well, it just goes on and on.

steranko

If you haven’t looked into The Film Noir Foundation, do so. Your contributions not only help support the organization’s festivals, vital film preservation and restoration work, but also can snag a subscription to this extremely cool publication.

Murder, My Sweet (1944)

msm 1

As planned, I knocked off Saturday night by 11:00 to hunker down with TCM’s weekly Noir Alley feature, hosted by ‘The Czar Of Noir’ Eddie Muller, for RKO’s 1944 Murder, My Sweet. Not unlike Warner Brothers’ 1941 classic The Maltese Falcon, many consider Murder, My Sweet a kind of ‘proto-noir’, exhibiting all the style, queues and characteristics we associate with film noir, even though it was made before the post-WWII period some scholarly types prefer to pinpoint as the noir era.

msm 4

Directed by noir-maestro Edward Dmytryk, the film’s a pretty faithful adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s 1940 novel Farewell, My Lovely, which had already been done without the Phillip Marlowe character as part of the Falcon film series in 1942’s The Flacon Takes Over. A few things are changed, some plot points downplayed or eliminated due to production code limitations, such as the key character’s obvious homosexuality (which remains hinted at none too subtly), and a narcotics operation. Early on when private eye Marlowe reluctantly starts his search for missing nightclub songbird Velma Valento, the bar is no longer a segregated African American club. Even Los Angeles’ infamous offshore gambling boat scene is discarded, not due to any censorship, but only because the studio didn’t want to offend the real-life gangsters in charge or the bigwigs who patronized them.

msm 5

The title change makes sense in hindsight. This film would re-launch actor Dick Powell’s career, and following an initial Minneapolis test screening under the novel’s Farewell, My Lovely title, it was decided that audiences would rightly expect a lightweight musical or romantic comedy with Powell’s name on the marquee. Powell (real name, born 1904) had been a very successful pretty boy singer/dancer throughout the 1930’s, but at age 40, it was time to reinvent his image. He’d actively campaigned for – and lost – the Fred MacMurray role in Double Indemnity. This was his big chance to start a whole new phase, and he acquitted himself well here, going on to star in a number of high-profile film noir classics and 1950’s crime melodramas, as well as taking over in the director’s chair.

msm 2

Murder, My Sweet was also intended to reinvigorate Claire Trevor’s stalled career. Trevor (born Claire Wemlinger in 1910) had recently been relegated to B-movies and westerns, and not always in the lead. But her performance here as the lusty trophy wife of a quirky but wealthy old codger pretty much steams up the screen. Even so, some say she was upstaged by former child star Anne Shirley (born Dawn Evelyeen Paria in 1918) as Trevor’s spoiled but feisty stepdaughter. Shirley sizzles in this film, which sadly was her last, choosing to retire at a young 26. But what a way to bow out.

msm 6

Dymtryk, later one of the infamous Hollywood Ten in the Red Scare era, is the brilliant director of films like Crossfire, The Caine Mutiny and Walk On The Wild Side. Here he deploys a bag of B-movie tricks to squeeze out every ounce of irony, sass and stunning visuals from the locations, sets and each actor’s performance. There are just so many memorable shots and sequences in this film, my own favorite coming early on when flashing neon sign lights make hulking thug Moose Malloy’s threatening reflection appear and disappear in the private eye Phillip Marlowe’s office window.

Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely was made again in 1975 with the real title, this time starring a world-weary Robert Mitchum as Phillip Marlowe, along with Charlotte Rampling and Sylvia Miles, and even a young pre-Rocky Sylvester Stallone in a small part as a lovesick brothel thug.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑