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Greg Toland


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#1 Daniel Porto

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 01:14 AM

Greg Toland is one of the most celebrated and influential cinematographers to have ever lived. However, I have had a hard time tracking down any books/articles which focus directly on his work.

If anyone out there knows of any good books or articles please post them below!


THANKS
DANIEL PORTO
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 02:17 AM

"The Making of Citizen Kane" by Carringer has a good chapter on the cinematography, as well as discussing Toland's work on "The Long Voyage Home", with references in the index. That's one of the best resources for a list of articles on or by Toland.

Chief reference was Toland's own article on the movie in "American Cinematographer" ("Realism in Citizen Kane"), which was reprinted in the mid 1970's in AC Magazine, and I think one more time in the 1990's (a link below says Aug. 1991). There was a historical bio in American Cinematographer on Toland in the 1980's. Toland also wrote an article for Popular Photoplay Magazine called "How I Broke the Rules in Citizen Kane".

There was a great New Yorker article on Toland just a year or two ago as well.

I vaguely recall reading old AC articles from the 1930's on Toland's work in "Wuthering Heights" and "Grapes of Wrath", but I'm not certain on that. I've also read articles where he discussed some of his work for "Ball of Fire".

Toland was also discussed in the documentary "Visions of Light".

I'm up in Vancouver away from my books, magazines, and indexes so I can't be more specific, short of searching online for you -- but you can do that yourself.

OK, I'll do a little online searching work for you:

http://3cp.gammadens...arn-Toland.html
http://en.wikipedia....ki/Gregg_Toland
http://www.wellesnet.com/?p=178
http://www.cinematog...DoPh/toland.htm
http://en.wikipedia....ik/Citizen_Kane
http://www.filmrefer...tizen-Kane.html

Abstract of longer article in "New Yorker":
http://www.newyorker...0619fa_fact_als
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#3 Daniel Porto

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 05:03 AM

OK, I'll do a little online searching work for you:


Your spoiling me David!

Sort of reminds me of when I was six and being too lazy to walk... so I asked my dad if he could piggy back me :P


But thank-you for your help as some the websites you just posted I haven't come across and they look like a good read!
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#4 Danny Haritan

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 08:37 PM

Thanks for all the info David... very much appreciated.
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#5 Jean Dodge

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Posted 18 April 2009 - 12:37 PM

As always, Mr. Mullen has the best info in his head and at his command. There's nothing I can add to what he wrote other than enthusiasm and anecdote but I love Toland's work too so I'll throw in what I can.

The research library at FOX studios has all the visual research archived for Toland and John Ford's work with GRAPES OF WRATH - including original glossy prints of FSA field photographers like Dorthea Lange, Russell Lee, etc. slapped into rough binders, gathering dust. I had the pleasure of holding them in my hands once when researching for a Fox feature.

Sadly, the studio sees departments such as this as "wasted storage space" when it comes budget time. None of this sort of material was kept very safe or preserved well despite the best efforts of underfunded librarians. I had a friend who worked in a mailroom years ago who had an INSANELY famous oil portrait from a certain Hitchcock film about fear of heights hanging on the wall in his Palms deficiency apartment, because his boss sent him to a storage room to "toss all that junk" to make room for a copier. (He later got it to a museum, I heard.) Shades of "Rosebud...."

If you love Toland, be sure to see all his films you can find, too - and spell his name right. It's Gregg with three g's - they all stand for "great," and he deserves three or four more of them. LIFE AND DEATH OF A HOLLYWOOD EXTRA is an experimental short - is that on DVD, anyone? It's wild, and funny, too.

Even supposedly minor pictures of his are filled with innovations and magic, and yes, no one has undertaken a full length critical biography, which is well-deserved. The best sources for interviews are all dead now, I'm afraid. Primary sources and anecdotes are all we have, but the movies themselves survive.

The NEW YORKER piece is quite good but barely scratches the surface, and has to be written for laymen. Read Tag Gallagher's John Ford bio for some good stories - the chapter on LONG VOYAGE HOME I recall has a lot on Toland. The Carringer book on KANE is worth reading twice. IIRC, MAD LOVE and STAGECOACH, which Toland did not shoot but chose to screen with Welles as an illustration of "how to do it right" get a lot of consideration. If you screen those before you read the worthy Carringer book of course you will get more from it.

Look around for TUGBOAT ANNIE, COME AND GET IT, and MAD LOVE for second-tier films where his work outshines the directors, in ways. From WUTHERING HEIGHTS and up, until the war got in the way, he made one flawless film after another, with the best directors. Don't forget THE OUTLAW, which was shot years before it was released. All of those major films should be on DVD - but see them in 35mm when you can! Also, watch as many as you can in chronological order to appreciate his innovation/ learning curve. Each is seemingly more assured than the previous. He never rested on what he knew.

And on a last note, I heard once through an assistant that Toland's BNCR, number 002 or no. 003 (- I too am away from home and don't have my books handy - don't quote me on the serial number) somehow made it's way to England and was used for television work up into the late 1960s at least, maybe a bit later. Sadly, it was painted BBC blue and had a pellicle thrown into it, but one day this assistant, whose name I no longer recall - Teddy? - had the pleasure of re-introducing an "old friend" to Mercury Player Agnes Moorehead when she had a cameo on some silly thing like an episode of DOCTOR WHO. A sad reunion at best. I wonder what scrap yard or dentist's lobby the camera graces today?
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#6 Jim Carlile

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 10:07 PM

A great souce for information about Toland is American Cinematographer all through the 30s and 40s. He wrote a number of technical columns-- almost on a monthly basis during the 40s-- and is the subject of many other articles.

Also, the little known and long-forgotten magazine International Photographer is great on this era as well. It was the IATSE trade publication out of Hollywood.

General photographic magazines during this time all ran 'amateur' movie making sections, and there's lots of articles in them too that mention Toland and other major figures.
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