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Utility Boxes

I spent about an hour over the weekend trying to figure out the correct terminology for what I now believe to be referred to as a “utility box”. Power box, phone box, or electric box — utility box does cover all those bases. As kids we called it the “green box”, and there was one at the end of the street I grew up on where we’d meet, sit, and hang out.

This is not a utility box you could hang out on, but it is in somewhat dense growth of foliage.

Utility Box in Bush

Enter the Ninja

Enter the Ninja (1981) is a really terrible movie, and it’s Wikipedia page is in need of an update, but some of the sets do have pleasing mid-century modern pieces. Additionally, I inadvertently figured out where this death scene came from. And honestly, it loses something as a meme-like clip on Youtube. This is by no means a recommendation to watch this film (let alone purchase it on Blu-ray), but experiencing the scene in the context of the movie itself, caused me to rewind it repeatedly between a state of utter confusion, half-laughs, and a lot of um-ing.

Shots: What Price Hollywood (1932)

What Price Hollywood (1932), directed by George Cukor and starring Constance Bennett, has a number of fascinating dissolve sequences. The first occurs when Bennett’s character Mary Evans is shown dreaming of fame in Hollywood. In a close-up, Mary repeatedly raises her head amidst glittering flashes, when a smaller full figure version of Mary is superimposed. In doubling images, a star is born 1, and a smaller Mary grows in stature as if released from her own magical Academy Award capsule.

What Price Hollywood (1932), Directed by George Cukor and Starring Constance Bennett

  1. Based loosely on silent star Colleen Moore’s experiences in the picture business, What Price Hollywood, written by Adela Rodger St. Johns, is frequently cited as the original story for the later versions of A Star is Born, released in 1937 (Janet Gaynor), 1954 (Judy Garland), 1976 (Barbara Streisand), and 2018 (Lady Gaga). David O. Selznick, the producer of What Price Hollywood, approached Cukor to direct the 1937 version, but Cukor declined as the plots were too similar. RKO thought so too and considered a lawsuit. Ironically, Cukor directed the 1954 version. 

Shots: The Big Combo

I watched The Big Combo (1955) again last night. This shot stuck out to me as a great use of light, shadow, and space, with characters entering from the depth and foreground, and exiting frame right.

The Big Combo, starring Cornel Wilde and Jean Wallace, directed by Joseph H. Lewis with photography by John Alton
The Big Combo (1955)

Starring Cornel Wilde and Jean Wallace, and directed by Joseph H. Lewis and with photography by John Alton, a later film in the classic noir period, the film frequently gets mentioned for its cinematography1. There is something a little late-night-TV about the movie, and its 1.85:1 aspect ratio makes it a more contemporary touchstone where style is concerned.

  1. Currently, an image from the end of the film lives at the top of the Wikipedia entry for film noir