Sunday Reads: Inconceivable! RIP William Goldman

Way back, years ago when I was in college, I studied film. I was only three credits short of a minor in fact…a lot of good that all did.

Anyway, one of the many books that I read was on the scripts of William Goldman. I don’t remember the title but I do remember one part…the discussion of Goldman’s audacity. The way in which he wrote a script.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) | Script Slug

All the President’s Men Script at IMSDb.

Misery Script at IMSDb.

Princess Bride, The Script at IMSDb.

Take a look at the beginning of his script for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

You can find the entire screenplay at the link above…

It is my understanding, if I remember that book correctly, no one had the audacity to write a script like that…

(I don’t know, I always thought Goldman scripts read a lot like a Hemingway novel. The attitude of it, not to mention the structure in the way it is written. )

Maybe it is best to let Goldman explain it himself. From his book, William Goldman: Four Screenplays and Essays

William Goldman: Four Screenplays with Essays – William Goldman – Google Books

 

So here is Goldman’s own example, and like the one excerpt I chose above…this also is from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Goldman will take it further still…as you will shortly see.

And here is the reasoning for Goldman style of writing screenplays/scripts.

And there you have it…the explanation of that magnificent song about raindrops falling on your head…smack dab in the middle of the movie.

I tell you, there was definitely a renaissance of film making in the late sixties and seventies. Aside from Goldman…the other contemporary screenwriter of his time…that also commanded such deserved bravado…would have to be Sidney Lumet. Both men had a handle on expressing the energy and emotions of the time. The spoke the language of that generation…and when you see their films today…there is something still timely about the dialogue and the tension the movies projects to an audience.

For more on William Goldman, here are a generous helping of articles and obituaries for you to read through.

 

William Goldman: the wit and wisdom (‘Follow the money’) of a legendary Chicago-born screenwriter – Chicago Tribune

n his adventures in the screen trade, Chicago-born, Highland Park-raised William Goldman won two screenwriting Academy Awards and the hearts of millions who liked the way his wiseacres talked.

Goldman was the Ben Hecht of the New Hollywood era, a wag with highly commercial Old Hollywood instincts. Goldman’s favorite movie growing up was, in fact, “Gunga Din” (1939), for which Hecht and fellow “Front Page” author Charles MacArthur wrote the rollicking story that had little to do with the Rudyard Kipling poem. Something must’ve clicked for young William, sitting there in the dark, watching Cary Grant and company romping through India (as played by California), hustling, conniving, courting disaster.

Goldman died Friday in New York at the age of 87.

William Goldman, Screenwriting Star and Hollywood Skeptic, Dies at 87 – The New York Times

William Goldman, who won Academy Awards for his screenplays for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “All the President’s Men” and who, despite being one of Hollywood’s most successful screenwriters, was an outspoken critic of the movie industry, died on Friday in Manhattan. He was 87.

The cause was colon cancer and pneumonia, said Susan Burden, his partner.

In his long career, which began in the 1960s and lasted into the 21st century, Mr. Goldman also wrote the screenplays for popular films like “Misery,” “A Bridge Too Far,” “The Stepford Wives” and “Chaplin.” He was a prolific novelist as well, and several of his screenplays were adapted from his own novels, notably “The Princess Bride” and “Marathon Man.”

In a business where writers generally operate in relative obscurity, Mr. Goldman became a celebrity in his own right; in his heyday, his name was as much an asset to a film’s production and success as those of the director and stars. Eight of his films each grossed more than $100 million domestically.

Called “the world’s greatest and most famous living screenwriter” by the critic Joe Queenan in a 2009 profile in The Guardian, Mr. Goldman achieved renown in Hollywood in the late 1960s when he sold his first original screenplay, for “Butch Cassidy,” to 20th Century Fox for $400,000 (the equivalent of more than $2.75 million in 2018 dollars), a record for a screenplay at the time.

‘Who are those guys?’ The artistry of William Goldman (Opinion) – CNN

When we watch movies, we’re tempted to take what they say in one ear and out the other because we’re there to look more than listen.

Screenwriters know this, and, as with anybody compelled to hold up their end of a conversation, they seek ways to attract attention. Their names alone aren’t going to do it, so they find attention and, at times, immortality through a line or two that sticks in an audience’s collective memory bank.
Consider, for instance: “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here. This is the War Room!” from “Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964). The line is credited to Terry Southern, who won literary notoriety for such satiric novels as “The Magic Christian” and “Candy,” but whose “War Room” joke, I bet, is remembered by many more people.
William Goldman, who died Friday in New York at age 87, also started out as a novelist, publishing five novels before he turned 33. But though he went on to publish other books of fiction and nonfiction, Goldman will be remembered more for his Oscar-winning screenplays for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969) and “All the President’s Men” (1976).
Goldman was a virtuoso of pithy dialogue that flowed with sharp, tangy momentum. At its most limber and colorful, the repartee in a Goldman script allowed plenty of room for memorable lines to leap happily into spectators’ ears and stay there.
When in “Butch Cassidy,” Sundance (Robert Redford) confesses that he can’t leap into a river from a high cavern because he can’t swim, Butch (Paul Newman) laughs and says, “Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill ya!” (Of course, they jump.)

And whatever else you want to say about “Butch/Sundance” (that year’s highest-grossing film despite mixed reviews), you have to believe that a writer has to have a pretty good sense of pacing and hearing to leave audiences repeating long afterward the fugitive heroes’ bemused query, “Who are those guys?”

 

Read the rest of the op/ed piece at the link. Here is some of those, Iconic movie lines William Goldman wrote — Quartzy

The Princess Bride (1987)

Inconceivable!

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder today.

As you wish.

William Goldman’s Best Lines – Variety

Here are some of the most memorable lines from movies written by William Goldman – The Boston Globe

Sundance Kid: [Butch and the Kid are on the edge of a cliff preparing to take on the posse pursuing them] Ready?

Butch Cassidy: No, we’ll jump.

Sundance Kid: Like hell, we will.

Butch Cassidy: No, it’ll be okay. If the water’s deep enough and we don’t get squished to death, they’ll never follow us.

Sundance Kid: How do you know?

Butch Cassidy: Would you make a jump like that if you didn’t have to?

Sundance Kid: I have to and I’m not gonna.

Butch Cassidy: Well, we got to. Otherwise, we’re dead. We’re just gonna have to go back down the same way they come. Come on.

Sundance Kid: Just one clear shot, that’s all I want.

Butch Cassidy: Come on.

Sundance Kid: Uh-uh.

Butch Cassidy: [leans into the Kid] We got to!

Sundance Kid: Get away from me.

Butch Cassidy: Why?

Sundance Kid: I wanna fight ‘em!

Butch Cassidy: They’ll kill us.

Sundance Kid: Maybe.

Butch Cassidy: You wanna die?

Sundance Kid: Do you?

Butch Cassidy: Alright. I’ll jump first.

Sundance Kid: Nope.

Butch Cassidy: Then you jump first.

Sundance Kid: No, I said.

Butch Cassidy: What’s the matter with you?

Sundance Kid: I can’t swim!

Butch Cassidy: Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill ya.

 

William Goldman, Butch Cassidy and Princess Bride screenwriter – a life in pictures | Film | The Guardian

This link has some good images…even more here:

William Goldman: Screenwriting Legend’s Greatest Hits [PHOTOS] | Deadline

Stephen King, Lin-Manuel Miranda and other celebs salute ‘legendary adventurer in screenwriting’ William Goldman – Los Angeles Times

William Goldman famously penned the words “Nobody knows anything” in his Hollywood memoir “Adventures in the Screen Trade.” But in the wake of his passing, it is clear that the film industry does know one thing: how much Goldman will be missed.

Critic’s Notebook: William Goldman’s Greatest Gift to Cinema | Hollywood Reporter

For all his catty, conspiratorial barbs, Goldman’s writing both on and off screen is full of affection for the crazy dreamers, big personalities and madcap schemes that get films made.

It is a testament to the storytelling genius of William Goldman, who died today at the age of 87, that he managed to forge a prolific five-decade career as the most famous screenwriter of his generation whilst also earning a reputation as an outspoken critic of the screenwriting trade.

“Screenplay writing is not an art form,” Goldman told Publishers Weekly in 1983. “If you only write screenplays, it is ultimately denigrating to the soul. You may get lucky and get rich, but you sure won’t get happy.”

‘As you wish’: Remembering William Goldman, storyteller, mentor, friend – The Boston Globe

The last time I had dinner with my hero William Goldman was in September, at a restaurant out on Long Island near what had been his summer home for years. He was quite ill by then, in the final stages of the colon cancer that would take his life Friday, but he was still well enough to share a night of wine and food and laughter with me and my wife, Taylor, and Bill’s partner over the last 20 years of his life, Susan Burden.

It was raining that night. Mobility for Bill, because of bad knees, had been a challenge for years. So Susan pulled their car up to the front door, and I helped my friend of 40 years into the East Hampton Grill with the assistance of a very accommodating hostess.

Bill Goldman was always a bear of a man. Sometimes it was like moving Nebraska through a crowded room.

There is so much to read about William Goldman. I will end this post with an article on some suggested readings:

William Goldman: What to Read by (and About) the Legendary Screenwriter – The New York Times

The legacy of William Goldman would have been assured had he only written screenplays. After all, Goldman, who died Friday at 87, wrote the scripts to many critical and commercial favorites, including “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “All the President’s Men,” “The Princess Bride,” “Misery” and “Marathon Man.” Few names in the opening credits were a safer guarantee of wit, intelligence and entertainment.

But Goldman wrote more than screenplays. Aside from his engaging short stories and novels (including the source materials for “Princess Bride” and “Marathon Man”), he wrote several noteworthy volumes of commentary about the entertainment industry, offering an insider’s view that cleared the smoke and smashed the mirrors. And he carried that refreshing candor into his interviews and profiles, carving out a reputation as one of the few heavyweights who dared to demystify the business. Here is some of the best work by and about this brilliant writer, along with snippets of some of his most memorable dialogue.

[…]

‘Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting’

This 1983 essay collection is one of the essential books about movies, a wickedly witty, take-no-prisoners peek behind the curtain of showmanship and bravado, revealing a world in which, as he wrote, “nobody knows anything.” He continued: “Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess — and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.” In her New York Times review, Janet Maslin wrote, “Nevertheless, Mr. Goldman knows a thing or two about how the movie business operates, and he reveals plenty of it here.”

[…]

‘Which Lie Did I Tell? (More Adventures in the Screen Trade)’

Audiences love a sequel, so Goldman gave his readers just that with this 2000 collection of musings on the industry, examinations of his success and failures, and analyses of scripts he admired. In one of the most memorable essays (excerpted in The Telegraph), Goldman addresses the bizarre rumor that he, not the Oscar-winning screenwriters and stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, wrote the script to “Good Will Hunting.” Although he advised them on the project, he did not, in fact, ghostwrite their work: “I think the reason the world was so anxious to believe Matt Damon and Ben Affleck didn’t write their script was simple jealousy,” he writes.

[…]

‘Newman, Hoffman, Redford and Me’ [The Guardian]

Goldman is the classic case of the creative genius who respects the rules, but has lived his entire life as if the rules do not apply to him,” Joe Queenan writes in this 2009 profile. “He encourages young writers to go to Hollywood, but has lived most of his adult life in New York. He knows that stars dominate the industry, but has not been the least bit reluctant to disparage them. He has often been disappointed by the craven stupidity of studio executives, but retains an odd compassion for them.” Goldman’s trademark candor is on full display here, with jabs at critics (“failures and whores”) film sets (“It’s not a great pleasure for me to be there”), and the myopia of executives. (“I heard a story that “Slumdog Millionaire” was going to go directly to DVD. I would have loved to have been in the room when that decision was made.”)

‘William Goldman Sticks by His Theory of Hollywood’ [Chicago Tribune]

In this promotional interview for “Which Lie Did I Tell?,” Goldman explains that he wrote the book, in part, to deflate the popular theories that screenwriting was not an art, but a science: “I was at Oberlin College. This girl stood up — very taut and tense — and said, ‘Mr. Goldman, do you always begin your second theme by page 17?’ I didn’t know what a second theme was.” And he notes a noteworthy shift, during his lifetime, of how his profession is regarded: “When I was growing up, you wanted to write the great American novel or the great Broadway play. Nobody took movies seriously. Writers like William Faulkner and Raymond Chandler went to Hollywood to make enough money to write their novels. But now movies are the center of our culture. Everyone wants to get into the movie business.”

More suggestions at the link…

So that is all for today’s post, it is an open thread…please post links to newsy items in the comments below.


Sunday Reads: Falling Stars… Special Stars… Stars and Death

6685e9eb12abfab6b9c28d0da315c1f8Good Morning

August is a special month on TCM, it is when they have their Summer Under The Stars programming…where every 24 hour day is devoted to one special classic movie star.

We lost a few movie stars this past month, Dennis Farina and Eileen Brennan to name a couple…and in just the last two days…gone are a former Munchkin from the movie The Wizard of Oz, a 70’s actress that helped define the cultural changes facing women, sex, drugs and dysfunctional relationships in film…and a woman who blamed it all on the Bossa Nova.

54ef768a40c255242e9d32fb0cd4b90bAugust is also the time of year for meteor showers…of the Perseid kind.

Before we get to the stories of these fallen stars, let us take a look at some of the news making headlines this morning.

And I guess I should give you a heads up, this is one very long post…so get your coffee/tea/orange juice/prune juice/beer/champagne mimosa, or whatever it is you drink when you get up in the morning/ afternoon, because you will be sitting here a while reading this.

The man who kidnapped Hannah Anderson has been killed, but at least the Missing teen found safe in Idaho wilderness – The Washington Post

From the BBC News – Indonesia volcano eruption: Six dead on Palue from hot ash covering the beaches near the volcano.

The volcano had rumbled the past year…and it finally erupted.

Earlier Saturday at UCLA, UN Ambassador Samantha Power Gives First Public Speech – ABC News

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power used her first public speech Saturday night to urge young activists to demand results and criticized the UN and red tape-mired bureaucracies that don’t always prioritize progress.

Power told the Fourth Estate Leadership Summit at UCLA that ideology and entrenched methods sometimes get in the way of the work of the UN, but praised those who get results and focus on problem-solving.

“Bureaucracies are built. Positions become entrenched. And while the United Nations has done tremendous good in the world, there are times when the organization has lost its way, when politics and ideology get in the way of impact,” she said.

7645dc51e4efe05da24daa360c90dabbThis next story is ironic, in a twisted religious right-wing nut kind of way. Religious family abandons U.S., gets lost at sea

A northern Arizona family that was lost at sea for weeks in an ill-fated attempt to leave the U.S. over what they consider government interference in religion will fly back home Sunday.

Hannah Gastonguay, 26, said Saturday that she and her husband “decided to take a leap of faith and see where God led us” when they took their two small children and her father-in-law and set sail from San Diego for the tiny island nation of Kiribati in May.

But just weeks into their journey, the Gastonguays hit a series of storms that damaged their small boat, leaving them adrift for weeks, unable to make progress. They were eventually picked up by a Venezuelan fishing vessel, transferred to a Japanese cargo ship and taken to Chile where they are resting in a hotel in the port city of San Antonio.

Their flights home were arranged by U.S. Embassy officials, Gastonguay said. The U.S. State Department was not immediately available for comment.

The island Gastonguay picked out is a small place in the middle of nowhere, it is out in the Pacific Ocean halfway between Hawaii and Australia….and they just took a small boat out for this major trek across the largest body of water in the world? What in the hell would make a person do such a thing? Could it be Satan? Nope…Could it be Jeeeeezuz? Maybe….but I tend to think it was, the stupid.

Hannah Gastonguay said her family was fed up with government control in the U.S. As Christians they don’t believe in “abortion, homosexuality, in the state-controlled church,” she said.

U.S. “churches aren’t their own,” Gastonguay said, suggesting that government regulation interfered with religious independence.

Among other differences, she said they had a problem with being “forced to pay these taxes that pay for abortions we don’t agree with.”

The Gastonguays weren’t members of any church, and Hannah Gastonguay said their faith came from reading the Bible and through prayer.

“The Bible is pretty clear,” she said.

Well, seems pretty clear to me that sailing off across the Pacific in a small boat can be dangerous.

In May, Hannah, her 30-year-old husband Sean, his father Mike, and the couple’s daughters, 3-year-old Ardith and (8 month old) baby Rahab set off. They wouldn’t touch land again for 91 days, she said.

[…]

At one point a fishing ship came into contact with them but left without providing assistance. A Canadian cargo ship came along and offered supplies, but when they pulled up alongside it, the vessels bumped and the smaller ship sustained even more damage.

Do you think the first fishing boat saw that the small boat was full of stupid, anti-woman, geezuz praying, gay-hating, religious tea-bag nuts and got the hell out of there? The prefect of police in Chile says that the Gastonguays did not have the knowledge, ability or expertise to navigate to Kiribati….(no shit) and what will the family do when they finally do get back to the states?

Hannah Gastonguay said the family will now “go back to Arizona” and “come up with a new plan.”

I suggest next time they try a country that does not require them to cross the world via ocean voyage to get there.

Bebe Daniels

Bebe Daniels

And since I touched on the abortion subject…let’s take a look at a few links on that chestnut.

Georgia Officials Are Forcing Through Abortion Restrictions That Lawmakers Didn’t Approve | ThinkProgress

STUDY: Even When Abortion Inspires Mixed Emotions, Women Say It Was The Right Decision For Them | ThinkProgress

This link to a post by Amanda Marcotte is something you may have missed,and I think it is an interesting point…but there hast to be much more to it than this:  Abortion in Europe and America: To understand the difference, you can’t ignore religion.

Please give this article a full read…US abortion ban should not be foisted on Central African Republic: The UK and other donors must ensure US aid restrictions do not deny vital support to women raped in conflict

In his May 2013 report to the security council, the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, noted the conflict’s devastating impact on women and girls, highlighting continuous reports of sexual violence including rape, gang rape and sexual slavery.

Mass sexual violence is not new to CAR. After failed coup attempts in 2001, widespread sexual violence was documented in the country from 2001 to 2003. Some of those crimes are being prosecuted by the international criminal court. The ICC prosecutor noted that “[t]his is the first time the prosecutor is opening an investigation in which allegations of sexual crimes far outnumber alleged killings”.

I will just put this link here, with a warning…if you want to get angry, read it. It is about our special star out of the Lonesome Star State: On Abortion, Wendy Davis Doesn’t Know What She’s Talking About – The Daily Beast by Kristen Powers

Just a few more links before we get to the Hollywood good times stories, after the jump.

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Sunday Reads: A o.k. for oll korrect.

033Good Morning

Can you believe it is already May?  Whoosh, this year is going by fast!

I realize this post is a little late this morning, but I wanted to give Boston Boomer’s late night thread a while to “stew” since it seemed like big news…

Well…because it is Sunday, I have a mix of special interest links, historical long-reads and a dash of Etymology quickies for you to sink your teeth into.

For starters, here is an explanation of the post’s title.

What’s the Real Origin of “OK”? | Mental Floss

OK, here’s the story. On Saturday, March 23, 1839, the editor of the Boston Morning Post published a humorous article about a satirical organization called the “Anti-Bell Ringing Society ” in which he wrote:

The “Chairman of the Committee on Charity Lecture Bells,” is one of the deputation, and perhaps if he should return to Boston, via Providence, he of the Journal, and his train-band, would have his “contribution box,” et ceteras, o.k.—all correct—and cause the corks to fly, like sparks, upward.

It wasn’t as strange as it might seem for the author to coin OK as an abbreviation for “all correct.” There was a fashion then for playful abbreviations like i.s.b.d (it shall be done), r.t.b.s (remains to be seen), and s.p. (small potatoes). They were the early ancestors of OMG, LOL, and tl;dr. A twist on the trend was to base the abbreviations on alternate spellings or misspellings, so “no go” was k.g. (know go) and “all right” was o.w. (oll write). So it wasn’t so surprising for someone come up with o.k. for oll korrect. What is surprising is that it ended up sticking around for so long while the other abbreviations faded away.

Go figure? I don’t know why, but I always spell o.k. like “okay.”

Anyway, I thought that was a fun bit of trivial nonsense that might come in handy one day. You never know.

Okay…I saved a few links over the past week, you may have missed some of them…

From Bloomberg: Barack Obama, Gun Salesman of the Year

President Barack Obama is arguably the nation’s top gun salesman. The “Obama surge,” as the Wall Street Journal calls it (others call it the “Obama bubble“), appears to have increased gun sales in the U.S. by millions of units over his presidency.

The gun lobby/makers must be happy about that!

What the chart doesn’t provide is a reason for the increase. We can probably rule out a couple possibilities. A surge in hunting? Not likely. As Bloomberg News has reported, hunting has been in decline for years. Only about 13.7 million people hunted in 2011, a new low.

How about a crime wave? Nope. Violent crime began declining long before Obama took office and kept on declining through Obama’s first term, right into the teeth of the Great Recession. Preliminary numbers for the first half of 2012 do show a slight uptick of 1.2 percent, but it’s hardly the stuff of national panic. Even if the increase holds, crime in 2012 will be lower than it was in 2008.

So if hunting and crime are both declining, what is rising? Politics, for one.

Crazy talk has not been in short supply since Obama’s first presidential campaign took flight. Talk-radio jocks, the gun lobby and others who invest long in hysteria may preach to the choir, but the choir appears to be increasingly well-armed. Despite survey data indicating a steady decline in the number of households owning guns, the overall quantity of guns keeps rising. (Either a smaller number of people are buying a whole lot more guns, or a large number of gun owners are lying to pollsters, or both.)

There was a story in the New York Times last week that caught my eye: Trinity Church in Manhattan Is Split on How to Spend Its Wealth

There has never been any doubt that Trinity Church is wealthy. But the extent of its wealth has long been a mystery; guessed at by many, known by few.

Now, however, after a lawsuit filed by a disenchanted parishioner, the church has offered an estimate of the value of its assets: more than $2 billion.

The Episcopal parish, known as Trinity Wall Street, traces its holdings to a gift of 215 acres of prime Manhattan farmland donated in 1705 by Queen Anne of England. Since then, the church has parlayed that gift into a rich portfolio of office buildings, stock investments and, soon, mixed-use residential development.

[…]

Over the years, the church has sold or given away much of the original 215 acres from Queen Anne, but it has 14 acres, including 5.5 million square feet of commercial real estate.

It reported $158 million in real estate revenue for 2011, the majority of which went toward maintaining and supporting its real estate operations, the financial statement indicates. Of the $38 million left for the church’s operating budget, some $4 million was spent on communications, $3 million on philanthropic grant spending and $2.5 million on the church’s music program, church officials said. Nearly $6 million went to maintain Trinity’s historic properties, including the main church building, which was built in 1846; St. Paul’s Chapel; and several cemeteries, where luminaries including Alexander Hamilton and Edward I. Koch are buried. The remainder went into the church’s equity investment portfolio.

Of course, with all that wealth comes infighting between the church members and leaders.

Differences over the parish’s mission and direction last year led nearly half the 22-member vestry — an august collection of corporate executives and philanthropists — to resign or be pushed out, after at least seven of them asked, unsuccessfully, that the rector himself step down.

It really is something to read about all the money involved, then to read the comments…when salaries are mention. Damn, these “one of the largest landowners in Manhattan” Episcopals are giving the “Red Prada Slippered” Catholics a run for their money.

Salon had this article last week as well: 6 ways Big Pharma manipulates consumers

The blockbuster pill profit party is over for Big Pharma. Bestselling pills like Lipitor, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Singular and Concerta have gone off patent and sites which their ads sustained are withering on the vine. WebMD, for example, the voice of Pharma on the Web, with a former Pfizer exec serving as CEO, announced it would cut 250 positions in December.

But don’t worry, Wall Street. Pharma isn’t going to deliver disappointing earnings just because it has little or no new drugs coming online and has failed at the very reason for its existence. Here are six new Pharma marketing initiatives that are guaranteed to keep investor expectations high along with our insurance premiums. The secret? Recycling old and discredited drugs and marketing diseases to sell the few new ones.

Read about the six ways at the link.

When I read this next story, I felt sad…but it also made me laugh in a sadistic kind of way….maybe because the whole thing was caught on tape?

‘World’s largest jigsaw’ collapses into 40,000 pieces days before it was due to go on show at Sandringham

A 40 thousand piece jigsaw commemorating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee crashed to the floor and broke leaving its assembler, who had spent more than 200 hours putting it together, heartbroken just days before it was due to go on display at Sandringham.

The jigsaw was put together by craftsman Dave Evans from Weymouth. He spent five weeks creating the 19.5ft by 8ft creation and believes it will enter the Guinness World records as the world’s largest jigsaw once it has been formally accredited.

Speaking to local press about the puzzle’s completion prior to its collapse from the wall of his studio, Mr Evans said: “I’m literally over the moon that I’ve finally reached the last piece. My fingers are sore, my eyes are tired but my heart is full of pride and I honestly couldn’t have done this without the backing of a superb team. I feel like I’ve reached my own moon landing and the eagle has landed.”

He is putting it all back together again. If it collapses a second time…I think someone is trying to tell the man something.

This next link is more recent, from yesterday via the Guardian Hollywood conservative unmasked as notorious Holocaust revisionist

To those who knew him, or thought they knew him, he was a cerebral, fun-loving gadfly who hosted boozy gatherings for Hollywood’s political conservatives. David Stein brought right-wing congressmen, celebrities, writers and entertainment industry figures together for shindigs, closed to outsiders, where they could scorn liberals and proclaim their true beliefs.

Over the past five years Stein’s organisation, Republican Party Animals, drew hundreds to regular events in and around Los Angeles, making him a darling of conservative blogs and talkshows. That he made respected documentaries on the Holocaust added intellectual cachet and Jewish support to Stein’s cocktail of politics, irreverence and rock and roll.

There was just one problem. Stein was not who he claimed. His real name can be revealed for the first time publicly – a close circle of confidants only found out the truth recently – as David Cole. And under that name he was once a reviled Holocaust revisionist who questioned the existence of Nazi gas chambers. He changed identities in January 1998.

Cole’s brazen reinvention as a social networker and political pundit deceived a roll-call of conservative politicians, filmmakers, journalists and broadcasters who had no clue about his past. A falling out with a friend led to his unmasking in his social circle two weeks ago, when a group of former supporters was shown YouTube clips of Cole’s incendiary – and until then forgotten – television appearances in the early 1990s.

As a combative twentysomething with tousled black hair, he was a vilified guest on chat shows hosted by Phil Donahue, Montel Williams and Morton Downey, among others, and was depicted as a neo-Nazi on news shows such as 60 Minutes and 48 Hours.

Read the rest of the exclusive interview at that link above…more stories after the jump.

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Late Night Atomic Tales

sticker_vintage_atomic_flashlight_firecrackers_ad-p217956952215296130bfd7p_400Good Evening!

Banjoville is expecting 4 inches of snow tonight, and since I am avoiding the news at all cost… this post is going to be ATOMIC in nature.

Many of the articles I will be linking to are from years ago, some as far back as the 1980’s.

Let’s get on with the show….

First, some mood music.

Alright, back in the good old days,  when the government tested the atomic bomb in the deserts of Western United States, radioactive fallout from these bombs drifted over areas downwind from the test sites. The people who lived in these communities were screwed, meaning they suffered high cancer rates and many of them died.

It wasn’t just the regular folks who were affected. Hollywood stars, in fact one of the most famous icons of American History, also found themselves cancer stricken.

Think about this…John Wayne, American as apple pie…our iconic symbol of toughness and grit…was the America he loved responsible for his death? Talk about irony!

The Conqueror (1956): The Film that Killed John Wayne…Literally

Of the 173 film appearances of John Wayne, The Conqueror is one of his lesser known roles, and for good reason. In this movie, which Wayne actually asked director Dick Powell to star in, he plays the Mongolian warrior Genghis Khan.

Right off the bat it sounds ridiculous; John Wayne playing an Asian. The gave him makeup to make his eyes seem slanted and of course, gave him a Fu Man Chu facial hair style. Wayne, who needed to make only one movie to finish out his contract with RKO was heavily dissuaded by Powell to not take up this role and with the script thrown in the trash, Wayne pulled it out and said he wanted to play Genghis Khan as a cowboy would, and Powell then famously quipped, “Who am I to turn down John Wayne?”

A quick summary of the story can be found here from the film’s Wikipedia page:

The exterior scenes were shot on location near St. George, Utah, 137 miles (220 km) downwind of the United States government’s Nevada National Security Site. In 1953, extensive above-ground nuclear weapons testing occurred at the test site, as part of Operation Upshot-Knothole. The cast and crew spent many difficult weeks on location, and in addition Hughes later shipped 60 tons of dirt back to Hollywood in order to match the Utah terrain and lend verisimilitude to studio re-shoots.[4] The filmmakers knew about the nuclear tests[4] but the federal government reassured residents that the tests caused no hazard to public health.[9]

Director Dick Powell died of cancer in January 1963, seven years after the film’s release. Pedro Armendáriz was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 1960, and committed suicide in 1963 after he learned his condition had become terminal. Hayward, Wayne, and Moorehead all died of cancer in the 1970s. Cast member actor John Hoyt died of lung cancer in 1991. Skeptics point to other factors such as the wide use of tobacco — Wayne and Moorehead in particular were heavy smokers. The cast and crew totaled 220 people. By 1981, 91 of them had developed some form of cancer and 46 had died of the disease. Several of Wayne and Hayward’s relatives also had cancer scares as well after visiting the set. Michael Wayne developed skin cancer, his brother Patrick had a benign tumor removed from his breast and Hayward’s son Tim Barker had a benign tumor removed from his mouth. [9][10]

Dr. Robert Pendleton, professor of biology at the University of Utah, stated, “With these numbers, this case could qualify as an epidemic. The connection between fallout radiation and cancer in individual cases has been practically impossible to prove conclusively. But in a group this size you’d expect only 30-some cancers to develop. With 91, I think the tie-in to their exposure on the set of The Conqueror would hold up in a court of law.” Indeed, several cast and crew members, as well as relatives of those who died, considered suing the government for negligence, claiming it knew more about the hazards in the area than it let on.[9][11]

Okay, what is with that code name…Operation Upshot-Knothole? Doesn’t that translate into, stick it up your ass…or maybe it was just the government’s way of saying,  fuck you?

From the archives of People Magazine, in an article that was published in November of 1980: The Children of John Wayne, Susan Hayward and Dick Powell Fear That Fallout Killed Their Parents : People.com

Few moviegoers remember The Conqueror, a sappy 1956 film about a love affair between Genghis Khan and a beautiful captive princess. But to the families of its stars, John Wayne and Susan Hayward, and of its director-producer, Dick Powell, memories of The Conqueror have begun to acquire nightmarish clarity. The movie was shot from June through August 1954 among the scenic red bluffs and white dunes near Saint George, Utah, an area chosen by Powell for its similarity to the central Asian steppes. At the time it did not seem significant that Saint George was only 137 miles from the atomic testing range at Yucca Flat, Nev.; the federal government, after all, was constantly reassuring local residents back then that the bomb tests posed no health hazard. Now, 17 years after aboveground nuclear tests were outlawed, Saint George is plagued by an extraordinarily high rate of cancer (PEOPLE, Oct. 1, 1979)—and the illustrious alumni of The Conqueror and their offspring are wondering whether their own grim medical histories are more than an uncommon run of bad luck.

Of The Conqueror’s 220 cast and crew members from Hollywood, an astonishing 91 have contracted cancer, PEOPLE has ascertained. Forty-six of them, including Wayne, Hayward and Powell, have died of the disease. Another star of the film, Pedro Armendariz, survived cancer of the kidney four years after finishing the movie—but killed himself in 1963 at the age of 51 when he learned that he had terminal cancer of the lymphatic system. Says Dr. Robert C. Pendleton, director of radiological health at the University of Utah: “With these numbers, this case could qualify as an epidemic. The connection between fallout radiation and cancer in individual cases has been practically impossible to prove conclusively. But in a group this size you’d expect only 30-some cancers to develop. With 91, I think the tie-in to their exposure on the set of The Conqueror would hold up even in a court of law.”

From what I understand, there was even a photo of the Duke holding a Geiger counter while on location. Back to the People article:

Though previously inclined to keep the past buried and their suspicions to themselves, several Conqueror cast members and relatives of cancer victims are now considering a suit against the government for negligence. For a few of them, more than a death in the family is involved. The children of Wayne and Hayward accompanied their parents to the Conqueror location and have already had alarming brushes with cancer. Michael Wayne, 45, developed skin cancer in 1975. His brother Patrick, 41, was operated on for a breast tumor 11 years ago (fortunately it was benign). Tim Barker, 35, a son of Susan Hayward, had a benign tumor removed from his mouth in 1968. “I still smoke a pack a day,” admits Barker. “So who knows just what might have caused it? Smoking doesn’t help. But I’ll tell you, radiation doesn’t help either.” Dr. Ronald S. Oseas of Harbor UCLA Medical Center agrees. “It is known that radiation contributes to the risk of cancer,” he says. “With these numbers, it is highly probable that the Conqueror group was affected by that additive effect.”

The concerned survivors are not antinuke activists; most say their faith in safe nuclear energy is unshaken. What angers them is mounting evidence that the government knew a great deal more about the danger of fallout from the tests than it told. Aboveground nuclear explosions at the Nevada Test Site went on from January 1951 until August 1963. During that time the Atomic Energy Commission devoted most of its public-information efforts to reassuring apprehensive citizens. One 1955 AEC booklet distributed near the test site, for example, advised: “Your best action is not to be worried about fallout.” Yet Dr. Harold Knapp, the DNA’s adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former member of the Fallout Studies Branch of the AEC, says the experts knew better even then. “The government definitely had a complete awareness of what was going on,” he now says. “To a trained professional, the information contained in some of their once-confidential reports is most shocking.” A recently published report prepared for congressional investigators on the impact of the bomb tests concludes: “All evidence suggesting that radiation was having harmful effects, be it on sheep or on the people, was not only disregarded but actually suppressed…The greatest irony of our atmospheric nuclear testing program is that the only victims of U.S. nuclear arms since World War II have been our own people.”

No bombs were tested during the actual filming of The Conqueror, but 11 explosions occurred the year before. Two of them were particularly “dirty,” depositing long-lasting radiation over the area. The 51.5-kiloton shot code-named “Simon” was fired on April 25, 1953, and the 32.4-kiloton blast “Harry” went off May 19. (In contrast, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was 13 kilotons.) “Fallout was very abundant more than a year after Harry,” says Dr. Pendleton, a former AEC researcher. “Some of the isotopes, such as strontium 90 and cesium 137, would not have diminished much.” Pendleton points out that radioactivity can concentrate in “hot spots” such as the rolling dunes of Snow Canyon, a natural reservoir for windblown material. It was the place where much of The Conqueror was filmed. Pendleton also notes that radioactive substances enter the food chain. By eating local meat and produce, the Conqueror cast and crew were increasing their risk.

Wow! You can read the rest of that archived article at the link…but it wasn’t just the cast and crew of The Conqueror, a film that was dubbed an “RKO Radioactive Production.”  Check this out…from People again, this time in an article published in 1979: A Flinty Grandmother Battles for the Victims of Utah’s Nuclear Tragedy : People.com

On the morning of May 19, 1953, a dry lake bed at Yucca Flat, Nev. cracked under a devastating explosion. A bright orange fireball climbed into the sky, dissolved into a purplish mushroom cloud, then floated eastward on the wind. Moments after the blast, the residents of St. George, Utah—145 miles away—felt the ground beneath them tremble. A few hours later, a gray ash fell from the sky, coating their pastures, clinging to laundry and burning the skin of people it touched.

Known locally as “Dirty Harry,” the atom bomb that caused the fallout was not the first to leave its mark on St. George, though at 32 kilotons, it was one of the largest. From 1951 until the 1963 nuclear test-ban treaty, the Atomic Energy Commission set off at least 100 aboveground devices at the Nevada testing site. Yet, though herds of sheep and pigs in St. George fell dead within days of Dirty Harry, the AEC ignored those who claimed any connection between fallout and injury to man or beast. For decades, the government has clung to this position, and, for almost as long, one St. George woman, Irma Thomas, 72, has waged a quiet but tenacious battle to prove the bureaucrats wrong. Says Thomas: “All I ever wanted to do was let the government know what they did to the people of St. George.”

Her struggle may be nearing an end at last. Reputable scientists now suspect that the tests caused a phenomenally high rate of cancer and thyroid diseases among residents of St. George. They have also linked them to a variety of other problems; one researcher has even theorized that the fallout may have caused a decline in SAT scores among Utah high school students. The federal government no longer flatly denies such dire possibilities. Spurred in part by Irma Thomas’ efforts, 442 victims and their families have sued the government, charging negligence and failure to warn the residents of the danger they faced and demanding a reported $230 million. “We were used as fodder, the same as our young men were used in Vietnam,” a bitter Irma declares. “The blasts were detonated only when the wind blew in our direction. They avoided the populated areas of Las Vegas and Los Angeles. They saw us as expendable.”

Hey..they were expendable? That was a John Wayne film too.

Take a look at those old articles, interesting indeed. If you want to read more about it, see these links below:

The Straight Dope: Did John Wayne die of cancer caused by a radioactive movie set?

Alamo Central Forum – The Conqueror (1956) Film that Killed John Wayne

And for information on the high cancer rates in Utah…check these out:

Utah has highest skin cancer rates in the country – U N I V E R S E

Report shows Sandy has Utah’s highest cancer rates | Health | Draper / Riverton / Bluffdale / Sandy News

The danger down below: Cancer cluster raises questions about legacy of toxic waste in Utah soil | Deseret News

EPA in Utah | About EPA | US EPA

EPA fact sheet presents statistics about skin cancer for Utah and the United States as a whole.

Utah – Office Of Epidemiology Cancer Cluster Investigations

Overview of Utah Cancer Incidence and Mortality

High Utah cancer rates prompt call for prevention | ksl.com

RADIATION-ASSOCIATED CANCER IN UTAH FROM 1973 TO 2001
PREPARED FOR REP. JIM MATHESON House Oversight Committee

Another radioactive story I have for you tonight could be a subject of a Hollywood B horror picture itself.  Glow in the dark atomic paint and a workforce of unsuspecting women is just the kind of combination to bring all sorts of scary things….fifty foot giant women, glowing girls, and radioactive graves. (That last bit is actually true.) United States Radium Corporation – Wikipedia

The United States Radium Corporation was a company, most notorious for its operations between the years 1917 to 1926 in Orange, New Jersey, in the United States that led to stronger worker protection laws. After initial success in developing a glow-in-the-dark radioactive paint, the company was subject to several lawsuits in the late 1920s in the wake of severe illnesses and deaths of workers (the Radium Girls) who had ingested radioactive material when they licked their brushes to paint the thin lines and other details on the faces of clocks, watches and other instruments. The workers had been told that the paint was harmless.[1] During World War I and World War II, the company produced luminous watches and gauges for the United States Army for use by soldiers.[2]

U.S. Radium was the subject of major radioactive contamination of its workers, primarily women who painted the dials of watches and other instruments with luminous paint.[1]

Westclox…and those glow in the dark clock faces. Here is a photo of these Radium Girls working in one of the factories:

More great pictures here: Westclox Factory Photos and Postcards, Peru, Illinois

Anyway, the old Westclox factory in Peru IL caught fire last year and it was burning for weeks…it took 6 days to get it under control and they still are going back and forth over the clean-up. Here are a few articles from the local newspaper about the fire are below, including some updates from December 2012 and January 2013.

Westclox Factory Fire: Illinois Landmark Destroyed

Peru agrees to push for Westclox cleanup – LaSalle News Tribune – LaSalle, IL

Westclox fire unanimous choice for No. 1 story of 2012 – LaSalle News Tribune – LaSalle, IL

Former firefighter reflects on New Year’s injury at Westclox fire – MyWebTimes.com

Yes, it is an atomic link dump!

I know this post is long and there are lots of things for you to look at…feel free to think of this as an open thread.  Enjoy your evening and see y’all in the comments!


Sunday Reads: Themes and Variations…

Vintage Advertisement Good Morning!

Well, we all knew that the Newt Master was going to take South Carolina. So if its alright with you, I’d like to avoid all that Primary fodder and spend today’s morning reads on items associated with film. Real Film. The kind that has gone the way of 8–Tracks and buggy whips.

The past few weeks we have seen companies file bankruptcy left and right.  (Personally, I cannot understand how the company that gave us the Twinkie and Wonder Bread failed so miserably. I mean, in this land of milk and Hohos…or if you prefer, Ding Dongs, how can Hostess not succeed?)

However, there was one company who filed for Chapter 11, that should have seen the writing on the wall.

In his 1973 hit song Kodachrome, Paul Simon warned everyone who had a Nikon camera and loved to take a photograph that everything looks worse in black and white.

You can colour him prophetic. Eastman Kodak, maker of the Kodachrome colour slide film immortalized by Simon, filed for bankruptcy protection and was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.

Here’s some history for you:

Between its humble beginnings as a two-man partner-ship formed 132 years ago and now the most humbling of denouements, the Kodak brand enjoyed immense popularity, exercised social influence and wielded corporate power. In 1930, Kodak joined the stable of blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average listings. At Kodak’s peak of market dominance in the mid-1970s, 90 per cent of the film and 85 per cent of the cameras sold in the United States were theirs. The user-friendly, low-tech, point-and-shoot Kodak Instamatic, its top-of-the-line version complete with flashcubes, was omnipresent in Canada too through the 1960s and ’70s, and it acted as something of a democratizing social force. Rich or poor, everyone could be a shutterbug, and people of all ages were forever churning through Kodacolor 126 film cartridges.

At the same time, Kodachrome saturated the 35mm market and all those Nikon cameras were capturing the nice bright colours, preserving the greens of summer, making people think all the world was a sunny day, oh yeah – just like the song said.

By 1983, the little company that George Eastman and Henry Strong founded in Rochester, N.Y., about a century earlier had 60,400 people on its payroll and was the quintessential portrait of an American success story.

It has been reported that Kodak got too fat and sassy at that point, its management too complacent at the top of the photography industry to keep innovating in order to fend off rivals like Japan’s Fuji Corp., many of them leaner and hungrier and more than capable of stealing market share. Fuji became the official camera and film of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics – setting up shop in Kodak’s back yard as it were – and the foothold gained in the U.S. market through that one strategic partnership was incredibly valuable.

Strangely, Kodak was slow to read the writing on the wall and as the rest of the industry wholeheartedly embraced the advent of digital technology, too much of Kodak’s identity, inventory and infrastructure was still tied up in film, a throwback commodity that was becoming obsolete. They believed in its staying power, as this statement from Kodak corporate literature suggests.

“While electronic or digital technologies will continue to provide many enhancements for home and commercial use, film will remain the highest quality medium for image capture well into the 21st century.”

Yes, film is the quintessential medium to capture an image, but unfortunately the public has become a digital technology consumer. Film, records, videos, books…the list goes on. Everything is there at your fingertips. Literally. Just swipe your index finger along a touch screen and voila…you can watch, listen or read anything that tickles your fancy. So as the article concludes:

So it was not Mama who took our Kodachrome away, as Simon feared all those years ago, it was digital technology.

Now that Kodak has bankruptcy protection, the company has a year to reorganize. Bankruptcy protection: Kodak gets a year to reorganize – CSMonitor.com

Girded by a $950 million financing deal with Citigroup Inc., the photography pioneer aims to keep operating normally during bankruptcy while it peddles a trove of digital-imaging patents.

After years of mammoth cost-cutting and turnaround efforts, Kodak ran short of cash and sought protection from its creditors Thursday. It is required under its bankruptcy financing terms to produce a reorganization plan by Feb. 15, 2013.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Allan Gropper in New York gave Kodak permission to borrow an initial $650 million from Citigroup.

He also set a June 30 deadline for Kodak to seek his approval of bidding procedures for the sale of 1,100 patents that analysts estimate could fetch at least $2 billion. No buyers have emerged since Kodak started shopping them around in July.

Through negotiations and lawsuits, Kodak has already collected $1.9 billion in patent licensing fees and royalties since 2008. Last week, it intensified efforts to defend its intellectual property by filing patent-infringement lawsuits against Apple Inc., HTC Corp., Samsung Electronics and Fujifilm Corp.

Kodak is also involved another high figure dispute at the US International Trade Commission, with Apple and Blackberry’s maker Research in Motion, Ltd. regarding image preview technology.

Kodak is hoping to see a billion dollar settlement from the trade disputes, however the decision has been put off until September.

The Independent had this to say about Kodak and Chapter 11: The moment it all went wrong for Kodak

When companies go bust, we, the customers, rarely pay much heed. It’s all about judges, restructuring and then, if they are lucky, their re-emerging in some shrunken form to carry on as if nothing had happened. Not so in the case of Kodak, which is now taking the walk of ignominy to the bankruptcy courts.

For this is a company we care about – at least if we were born before 1986 or so, when Kodak was at the peak of its commercial powers. A hundred years earlier George Eastman, the company’s founder, had invented roll film, which replaced photographic plates and allowed photography to become a hobby of the masses. Kodak did not quite own the 20th century, but it did become the curator of our memories.

“One of the interesting parts of this bankruptcy story is everyone’s saddened by it,” notes Robert Burley, professor of photography at Ryerson University in Toronto. “There’s a kind of emotional connection to Kodak for many people. You could find that name inside every American household and, in the last five years, it’s disappeared.”

I think that is a fair assessment, it is a sad thing to read about Kodak filling for bankruptcy because so much of our lives can be connected to a Kodak Moment…My family has boxes and boxes of Kodak Moments. Those cherished photos tucked away will remain, eventually fading into a yellowed memory that can be touched and held in your fingertips. Only to be replaced by a memory stick and a glossy printout, very sad indeed.

Here are a few links for you that honor the thing we call film…Kodachrome…A fond farewell to Kodak.

Eastman Kodak film negatives

Eastman Kodak black and white film, negatives, film development reels and black and white prints. Photograph: Gary Cameron/Reuters

I’ve wanted to write something about the imminent demise of Kodak since rumours about their bankruptcy started circulating a couple of months ago. But it wasn’t until I caught a repeat of British fashion photographer Rankin’s TV programme about Time magazine’s veteran photojournalists that something really caught my eye, taking me back to my early experience of being a photographer. It brought home what Kodak meant to me.

The documentary includes a clip of an old BBC Omnibus film about the great war photographer and Life staffer Larry Burrows, who returned time and again to Vietnam to document the war, and eventually died there. Here he was, I guess early in the morning, getting ready to go out for the day, sitting and talking about his experiences to the film crew while opening box after box of Kodak film. He was taking out those lovely, tiny, dome-topped tin canisters and chucking the boxes at his feet until it formed a veritable pile of discarded cardboard.

That was the thing about shooting on film and printing on paper: every time, it felt fresh. Fresh film, chilled from a fridge. Box fresh, beautifully packaged by Kodak in cute yellow boxes that opened with one thumb, perforated in exactly the right place. It was photographic paper that seemed somehow less greasy than the Ilford equivalent when it slipped through your fingers in the developing tray. It was printing paper packed in stylishly thin and flat boxes, in the same yellow Kodak livery. Was it really more contrasty than the competition? Were the blacks deeper, or did it just feel better when soaked through?

When Kodak stopped making their Kodachrome film in 2010, the company issued this press release and tribute. Take some time to look at the images, some of them like the one below will obviously be recognized as photographs which defined a mood, a moment, a war, a life…

Kodak: A Thousand Words – A Tribute to KODACHROME: A Photography Icon

They say all good things in life come to an end. Today we announced that Kodak will retire KODACHROME Film, concluding its 74-year run.

It was a difficult decision, given its rich history. At the end of the day, photographers have told us and showed us they’ve moved on to newer other Kodak films and/or digital. KODACHROME Film currently represents a fraction of one percent of our film sales. We at Kodak want to celebrate with you the rich history of this storied film. Feel free to share with us your fondest memories of Kodachrome.


© Steve McCurry
Sharbat Gula, Afghan Girl, at Nasir Bagh refugee camp near Peshawar, Pakistan, 1984.

I’ve had the profound privilege of working with the world’s greatest photographers in my role here at Kodak. I serve as the company’s liaison with the pro community, and I’ve gotten to know the best of the best.  Each one has their Kodachrome story.

Please read those stories…and,

View our slideshow of great KODACHROME moments.

Another farewell to Kodachrome, this time from CBS Sunday Morning:

They are fast becoming a memory of Christmas past – photographs taken the old way, with film. And the most famous film of all — Kodachrome — is itself about to become a memory, as CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod reports.

Professional photographer Kent Miller is up before sunrise making sure everything’s perfect for his photo shoot. He wants to capture a triathlete named Carlos Lema at the foot of the George Washington Bridge just across the river from Manhattan in just the right light at dawn.

His film of choice, as it has been for millions of others, is Kodachrome.

“Kodachrome is probably the first professional film I ever really shot,” Miller said.

A professional photographer for more than 20 years, Miller shoots mostly digital now. But this is a job for film, and not just any film – Kodachrome.

“It just reproduces colors in a way that most other films never did, and it lasts forever,” Miller said. “It’s something that is difficult to do with just shooting digital until you bring it in to Photoshop and resaturate and do all your work in there. But just straight out the camera it doesn’t have that density and dynamic ranges as the Kodachrome does just naturally.”

[…]

Todd Gustavson is the curator of technology at the Eastman House – Kodak’s museum in Rochester, N.Y.

“It’s a baby boom product,” he said. “After World War II – availability of new automobiles, national parks were open – and people were able to have some time to travel and of course now there is a this new color film which you could use to document your family vacations and then of course come back and show your friends and neighbors your slides on your carousel or Kodak slide projector.”

Back in 2010, when this story was reported, the last place on earth who could develop the Kodachrome film was on its last week of production.

Kodachrome isn’t a do-it-yourself kind of film. Those long-lasting brilliant colors are the result of a unique developing process involving special chemicals only Kodak makes – or made to be more precise.

It isn’t something you can develop in your basement darkroom.

“The real difference between Kodachrome and all the other color films is that the dyes that make up the image you see in the film, in Kodachrome, don’t get incorporated into the film until it is actually developed,” explained Grant Steinle, who now runs the business his father started .

They’re sad at Dwayne’s, but not at all surprised. They’ve been watching their Kodachrome business shrink, even as other labs stopped processing Kodachrome and Dwayne’s became the only place people from around the world could send their film to be developed.

They’re still doing 700 rolls a day, but that’s not nearly enough demand to convince Kodak to make more chemicals. They’ve got just enough for another week.

“It’s going to be really sad day, it was an important part of our business and Kodachrome was an important part of the history of all of photography,” Grant Steinle said. “To know it was the first consumer color film that was available. Lots of really iconic images of the 20th century were captured on Kodachrome.”

Here are some wonderful images, captured on Kodachrome by one of the photographers for Vanity Fair. The Last Roll of Kodachrome—Frame by Frame! | Culture | Vanity Fair

Two years ago, photographer Steve McCurry heard the whispers. Due to the digital-photography revolution, Kodak was considering discontinuing one of the most legendary film stocks of all time: Kodachrome, a film which was to color slides what the saxophone was to jazz. McCurry spoke with Kodak’s worldwide-marketing wizard Audrey Jonckheer, hoping to persuade Kodak to bequeath him the very last roll that came off the assembly line in Rochester, New York. They readily agreed. And recently, McCurry—most famous for his National Geographic cover of an Afghan girl in a refugee camp, shot on Kodachrome—loaded his Nikon F6 with the 36-exposure spool and headed east, intending to concentrate on visual artists like himself, relying on his typical mix of portraiture, photojournalism, and street photography.

Herewith, presented for the first time in their entirety, are the frames from that historic final roll, which accompanied McCurry from the manufacturing plant in Rochester to his home in Manhattan (where he is a member of the prestigious photo agency Magnum), to Bombay, Rajasthan, Bombay, Istanbul, London, and back to New York. (The camera was X-rayed twice at airports along the way.) McCurry’s final stop, on July 12, 2010: Dwayne’s Photo, in Parsons, Kansas—the only lab on Earth that still developed Kodachrome—which halted all such processing in late December.

Now, these next links are not Kodachrome specific, but nevertheless, photos taken with film.

For some images of the The Iran Hostage Crisis, 31 Years Later — PICTURES – – NationalJournal.com

Jan. 20 marks the 31-year anniversary of the release of hostages from Iran. Fifty-two Americans were held for 444 days in the American Embassy in Tehran, in one of the most significant flash points in the long, tumultuous relationship between the two countries.

Gin and Tacos has some links to photo galleries in one of the blog’s latest post: ginandtacos.com » Blog Archive » NPF: TORCH-PASSING

NASA’s newly released, true color, hi-res scans of the photographs from the Gemini missions (pre-Apollo).

[…]

If space isn’t interesting to you, take a look through one of my other favorites, the Prokudin-Gorsky color photographs taken in Russia between 1900 and 1910. Or learn more about the pioneer of color photography here. It’s pretty difficult to convince your brain that this photo was taken in 1905, isn’t it?

Of course I  must link to one of my favorite sites: Shorpy Historical Photo Archive | Vintage Fine Art Prints

More after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »