Sunday, February 19, 2017

RIP Richard Schickel

'One of the fathers of American film criticism': Time critic Richard Schickel dies at 84

Los Angeles Times
By Jeffrey Fleishman
February 19, 2017

Richard Schickel, whose erudite prose and piercing critiques made him one of America’s most important film critics in an era when cinema became increasingly ingrained in the cultural consciousness, died Saturday in Los Angeles from complications after a series of strokes, his family said. He was 84.  

In a career spanning five decades, thousands of reviews and dozens of books, Schickel chronicled Hollywood’s changing landscape, from the days when studios reigned with stars such as Katharine Hepburn to the rise of independent directors who summoned a new wave of realism that distilled the yearnings of a turbulent nation. A reviewer for Time magazine, Schickel had a legion of followers; he could be incisive and at times bruising in praising or panning a film.

“He was one of the fathers of American film criticism,” said his daughter Erika Schickel, a writer. “He had a singular voice. When he wrote or spoke, he had an old-fashioned way of turning a phrase. He was blunt and succinct both on the page and in life.”  

In his 2015 memoir “Keepers: The Greatest Films — and Personal Favorites — of a Moviegoing Lifetime,” Richard Schickel wrote: “I just like to be there in the dark watching something — almost anything, if truth be known. In this habit — I don’t know if it is amiable or a mild, chronic illness — I have been indulged by wives, girlfriends, just plain friends and children. Of course, a lot of the time I’m alone, unashamedly killing an evening, no questions asked.”

Schickel began his career as a critic in the 1960s, joining a generation of voices, including Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris, who were capturing Hollywood at a time of aesthetic and financial change. Movies were speaking to the country’s identity, its fabric, and film critics often found themselves reviewing not only cinema but the moods of society. In his 1967 review of Stanley Kramer’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” Schickel wrote of the interracial love story starring Sidney Poitier, Spencer Tracy and Hepburn:

“Where to begin discussing the ineptitude with which the nightmare is realized on screen. … Kramer is earnestly preaching away on matters that have long since ceased to be true issues.”

He took on other classics as well, describing “The Best Years of Our Lives” (1946) as “close to travesty” and “The Maltese Falcon” (1941) as “cramped and static.”

But Schickel did not inflate the role of the critic or for that matter the importance of cinema. Movies at their best, he said, were a “joyous enterprise” and at their worst a “harmless addiction.”

"Richard was a giant of American film criticism, one of the last survivors of a golden age," Times film critic Kenneth Turan said. "No one could touch him for the high quality of his writing sustained over so many formats and so many years."

Schickel was a prodigious writer and documentary filmmaker. His 37 biographies, critiques and other books included an array of subjects: Gary Cooper, James Cagney, Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, D.W. Griffith and Elia Kazan. He wrote and worked on 37 documentaries, including “From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga” and “Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin.”

His review of “The Aviator” went like this: “Director Martin Scorsese soars triumphantly close to the sun, and unlike Icarus, never falters in his flight. An epically scaled biography of Howard Hughes, the mad genius of airplanes, movies and womanizing, this is filmmaking on a grand, rare, often curiously poignant scale, featuring a stunning performance by Leonardo DiCaprio as one of the great American nut cases.“

Born in Milwaukee in 1933, Schickel estimated that he had seen 22,590 movies in his lifetime. The first was Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1938. He won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1964 and lectured at USC and Yale University.

He is survived by daughters Erika and Jessica; step-daughter Ali Rubinstein; and grandchildren.

SCHICKEL, Richard (Richard Warren Schickel)
Born: 2/10/1933, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
Died: 2/18/2017, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Richard Schickel’s westerns – producer: director, writer:
Clint Eastwood on Westerns – 1992 [producer]
Eastwood & Co.: Making ‘Unforgiven’ – 1992 [producer, director, writer]

RIP Gerald Hirschfeld

In Memoriam: Gerald Hirschfeld, ASC (1921-2017)

The American Society of Cinematographers
February 16, 2017

It’s with great sadness that the ASC must report the passing of the Society’s most senior member, Gerald Hirschfeld, who was invited to join the organization in 1951. He died on February 13th at the age of 95.

Born April 25, 1921, in New York City, Hirschfeld was an avid moviegoer as a boy and developed an interest in photography. Self-taught, he began to learn his craft. “There were no film schools in those days, so I was always looking for new [photography] books, new information,” he told American Cinematographer in 2007. “By going to the movies, I gradually learned the styles of all the top Hollywood cameramen.”

Hirschfeld joined the U.S. Army at the age of 19. Serving at the Signal Corps Photographic Center during World War II, he was an assistant and operator for established Hollywood cinematographers including ASC members Leo Tover and Stanley Cortez. He later shot numerous training films, also doing process photography. “I entered the service as a still photographer and came out a cinematographer,” Hirschfeld said. After he was discharged, Tover became his mentor and helped him become established as a freelance cinematographer.

In 1949, Hirschfeld shot his first feature film, the crime picture C-Man — shot in just 11 days. After a few other feature and TV projects, he began to focus on shooting TV commercials, working at the NYC production house MPO Videotronics. “It was a great training ground because we encountered so many varied situations,” he described. And clients were impressed with his work — Hirschfeld soon became the busiest cameraman in New York City, and MPO made him a vice president in the rapidly growing company. There, he oversaw a dozen full-time camera crews and established an admired reputation for being a precise, exacting, perfectionist. Among his crew over the years were future ASC greats Owen Roizman (AC and operator) and Gordon Willis (operator).

“Jerry was a perfectionist and relentless on the set and I learned a lot from him,” Roizman would later describe.

“I was pretty tough, that’s true,” Hirschfeld noted. “But it was only because I was always trying to push myself, to learn a be a better cinematographer, and I expected the same work ethic from everyone around me.”

Hirschfeld’s reputation led to his first major feature assignment, shooting the Cold War drama Fail-Safe (1964) for director Sidney Lumet.

While he continued to work at MPO on high-end commercials, Hirschfeld would go on to shoot some 40 feature films, including The Incident (1967), Goodbye Columbus (1969), Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970), Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970), Young Frankenstein (1974), Two Minute Warning (1976), The World’s Greatest Lover (1977), The Bell Jar (1979), Neighbors (1981), My Favorite Year (1982) and To Be or Not to Be (1986).

A natural educator, Hirschfeld penned numerous stories for American Cinematographer magazine over the years, carefully detailing his work in various productions, and later wrote the in-depth instructionals Image Control: Motion Picture and Video Camera Filters and Lab Techniques for the ASC Press and The Hand Exposure Meter Book (with co-author Bob Shell).

In 2004, Hirschfeld was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Ashland Independent Film Festival, recognizing his 60 years of filmmaking experience.
Hirschfeld in his later years.

In 2007, Hirschfeld was honored with the President’s Award during the 21st annual ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards ceremony, for his contributions to advancing the art and craft of filmmaking. “I deeply appreciate this honor,” he said. “I also appreciate everything the ASC has done for me over the years.”

Hirschfeld is survived by his wife, Julia Tucker, and his sons Marc, Eric, Burt and Alec (the latter of which also became a respected operator and director of photography). He also has six grandchildren.

There is no further information about services at this time.

Born: 4/25/1921, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 2/13/2017, Ashland, Oregon, U.S.A.

Gerald Hirschfeld’s western – cinematographer:
Doc – 1971

Saturday, February 18, 2017

RIP Josefina Leiner

Murió primera actriz, Josefina Leiner

Mundo Hispanico

Actress of the Golden Age Josefina Noguera Escobar, better known as Josefina Leiner, passed away Thursday at 88 years of age.

The singer, who participated in films with Pedro Infante and Germán Valdés, died of natural causes in the company of her family, according to a statement.

Josefina participated in films like The children of Maria Morales, next to Pedro Infante, in 1952; Chucho, El Remendado, along with Germán Valdés "Tin Tan", in 1952; The Lunar of the Family, with Luis Aguilar and Sara Garcia, in 1953; The Physician of the Locas sharing scene with Germán Valdés "Tin Tan" and Rosita Arenas, in 1956; Pablo and Carolina, next to Irasema Dilián and Pedro Infante. In 1957; As well as Viva Jalisco, Que Es Mi Tierra, in the company of Manuel Capetillo, in 1961.

Her career began in 1953 with her participation in Sucedió in Acapulco, next to Martha Roth, Raúl Martínez and Domingo Soler.

In addition to her long career in the Golden Cinema, she also participated in the TV series Marcela (1962) with Felipe del Castillo and Bárbara Gil, as well as in Studio Raleigh with Pedro Vargas and Paco Malgesto.

LEINER, Joesfina (Josefina Noguera Escobar)
Born: 1929, Mexico
Died: 2/19/2017, Mexico

Josefina Leiner’s western – actress:
The Children of Maria Morales – 1952 (Lupe)

RIP Pasquale Squitieri

Mourning in the cinema as screenwriter and director Squitieri has died

Il Mattino
February 18, 2017

Goodbye to Pasquale Squitieri. The director was born in Naples November 27, 1938, and he passed away this morning surrounded by the affection of his loved ones in the hospital Villa San Pietro in Rome. His death was made known by his brother Nicholas, his second wife Ottavia Fusco and daughter Claudia. The funeral will be held tomorrow in Rome from 11 to 6.

He began his film career in 1969 with “lo e Dio”, produced by Vittorio De Sica, and under the pseudonym William Redford which he also used in two films  spaghetti western genre films. His career ended very early when Squitieri dedicated his life to current issues and reality in Italian society: Contacts between the Mafia and politics, drugs, terrorism, the "white deaths" and immigration. But his fame is mainly due to his historical and political films, some of which have earned him much criticism. This is the case of " Li chiamarono... briganti!", In 1999 he withdrew immediately from the industry under mysterious circumstances.

In 1971 he writers an open letter to L'Espresso about the case of Pinelli but over the years moves to the right, and in 1994 he became a senator in the National Alliance.

He was also famous in the 1970's for his relationship with the actress Claudia Cardinale with whom he has a daughter Claudia Squitieri born in 1979.

SQUITIERI Pasquale (aka William Redford)
Born: 11/27/1938, Naples, Campania, Italy
Died: 2/18/2017, Rome, Lazio, Italy

Pasquale Squitieri’s westerns – director, writer, actor
Django Defies Sartana – 1970 director, writer, actor
Vengeance Trail – 1971 director, writer

Friday, February 17, 2017

RIP Warren Frost

Warren Frost, Character Actor Known for ‘Twin Peaks’ and ‘Seinfeld,’ Dies at 91

By Cynthia Littleton
February 17, 2017

Warren Frost, the character actor best known for his role as Dr. Will Hayward on “Twin Peaks,” died Friday after a long illness at his home in Middlebury, Vt. He was 91.

Frost had recently come out of retirement to reprise his “Twin Peaks” role for the sequel to the ABC series that is set to debut on Showtime in May. Frost was the father of Mark Frost, the co-creator with filmmaker David Lynch of the revered mystery-fantasy franchise.

Warren Frost had a long career before and after the original “Twin Peaks.” He logged a memorable guest role on “Seinfeld,” playing the father of George Costanza’s finacee in five episodes. He also limned a recurring character on the Andy Griffith legal drama “Matlock” and had guest shots on series including “The Larry Sanders Show,” “L.A. Law” and “Murphy Brown.”

“We’re saddened today to announce the passing of our dear old dad, Warren Frost,” Mark Frost said. “From the Normandy shores on D-Day to his 50-year career on stage and screen, he remained the same humble guy from Vermont who taught us that a life devoted to telling the right kind of truths can make a real difference in the lives of others. We’re grateful to have shared him with the world for as long as we did.”

FROST, Warren (Warren Lindsay Frost)
Born: 6/5/1925, Essex Junction, Vermont, U.S.A.
Died:  2/17/2017, Middlebury, Vermont, U.S.A.

Warren Frost’s western – actor:
Death Valley Days (TV) – 1957 (John Chapman)
The Gray Ghost (TV) - 1957 (Captain Leonard Wood)