Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Films Photographers Would Love Part 2: LOVERS AND LOLLIPOPS

I'm so happy I ran across this film tonight on TCM. I was hooked by the ambiance of this film immediately. "Lovers and Lollipops" is a black and white American film made in 1955, which is remarkable in and of itself if you're familiar with New Wave film chronology. I like the film's documentary style and use of natural actors. The plot is, in a nutshell, the adventures of a 7 year old child who doesn't like her mother's new boyfriend. That's basically it ~ 90 minutes of a bratty kid and a courting couple. Beyond the "look" of the film, I love that no less than three different cameras are featured in the film, one of which is the little girl's Brownie camera that she totes around with her snapping pictures without missing a beat.

BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE TO THIS STORY!! Little wonder that this film is made by a married photographer couple: Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin. You'll recognize a few of Orkin's photographs I can assure you. In any case here's a litte bit about them I nabbed from the TCM website.

The filmography of Morris Engel is short – three films in half a dozen years – and that of Ruth Orkin is shorter still, since she collaborated with Engel on only the first two of those movies. Yet the husband-and-wife team made a lasting impact on international cinema with their brief excursion into feature filmmaking during the 1950s. At a time when the major Hollywood studios still dominated most aspects of American production, Engel and Orkin were pioneers of independent filmmaking who made up in energy and creativity what they lacked in substantial budgets and fancy techniques. Lovers and Lollipops (1956) is an excellent example of their distinctive style....

As the eye-catching images of their films testify, Engel and Orkin started out as photographers. Engel studied at the left-wing Photo League cooperative in the 1920s, covered the start of the Normandy invasion in 1944 as a combat photographer, and then became a photojournalist, working for such major magazines as McCall’s and Collier’s. Orkin went to work for MGM in 1942, hoping to become a director, but quit when she realized the obstacles facing a woman in the male-controlled film industry. Turning to photojournalism, she contributed to Life, Look, and other top-flight publications; when cancer cut back her mobility in the late 1950s she stayed active but changed her strategy, taking some of the most highly regarded photos of her career from her apartment windows. She and Engel married while working on their first film, Little Fugitive (1953), and remained so until her death in 1985. Engel went back to commercial photography when Orkin’s illness struck, but continued to dabble in film and video until his death in 2005.

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