Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Lewton's Law of Physics

Fangoria -- a magazine whose covers scared the hell out of me when I went to the magazine store as a kid -- has a very favorable review of next week's Val Lewton DVD set.

If there's an unsung hero of the Lewton cycle it's probably cinematographer Nick Musuraca, who photographed five of the nine films, including the first, Cat People, and the creepiest, The Seventh Victim. His way of lighting a film was basically to use no more lights than were necessary and use source lights to highlight the key figures in the scene; Jane Greer recalled that the set of Out of the Past was so dark that the actors could barely see each other. It was the perfect combination of necessity and artistry -- necessity, because RKO didn't have much money for sets and the dim lighting helped disguise incomplete or recycled sets, and artistry, because Musuraca and the other RKO cinematographers created a look that was more distinctive, and holds up better with the passing years, than many a brightly-lit film with huge sets.

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