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Friday Night Spotlight - A. Arnold Gillespie
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Friday Night Spotlight - A. Arnold Gillespie

Dubbed the "Wizard of MGM," visual effects artist A. Arnold "Buddy" Gillespie created some of the most amazing scenes in movies of that studio. From the "ape man" swinging on a grapevine in Tarzan and His Mate (1934) to a brick wall collapsing on top of Clark Gable in San Francisco (1936) and a tornado tearing through Kansas in The Wizard of Oz (1939), Gillespie and his team of experts made audiences feel that the spectacularly implausible was perfectly believable. TCM continues its Friday Night Spotlight with a look at the career of Gillespie (1899-1978), who started at MGM as a set designer in 1925 and by 1936 had become head of the studio's special effects department. He remained at the studio through the mid-1960s.

This entry in the series is co-hosted by two OscarĀ®-winning craftsmen: Visual Effects Supervisor Craig Barron and sound designer Ben Burtt, along with TCM host Ben Mankiewicz. Barron has contributed to some of the most richly visual movies of the past 35 years including Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Titanic (1997) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). Burtt's credits include the Star Wars films, E.T. the Extra- Terrestrial (1982) and WALL-E (2008). The two craftsmen have appeared together on TCM before, discussing special effects in classic films, and have presented at the TCM Classic Film Festival. They also have joined in multi-media presentations through outreach programs of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Under Gillespie's supervision, MGM gained the reputation of having the most creative visual effects of any Hollywood studio. Other titles in our tribute include such milestones as Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), The Good Earth (1937), Forbidden Planet (1956), North by Northwest (1959), Ben-Hur (1959) and How the West Was Won (1962).