The Naked Eye


1h 11m 1957

Film Details

Release Date
Apr 1957
Premiere Information
New York opening: 21 Apr 1957
Production Company
Camera Eye Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Film Representations, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 11m
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

This film about "the fun and art of photography" begins with a short sequence on the amateur use of photographs to document family members and events, then presents a brief history of the origins of photography and its progress over a little more than a hundred years. The work of European pioneers such as Nicéphore Niépce, Louis Jacques Daguerre and Fox Talbot is introduced, followed by selections of the photographic portraits that American Matthew Brady made of celebrated persons such as Jenny Lind, Brigham Young and Abraham Lincoln. Brady's documentation of the Civil War is also presented. These early, professional photographs were made on glass plates, but in 1888, George Eastman introduces a flexible film base, then manufactures Kodak cameras in which to use it, making it possible for mere amateurs to take photographs. Over the years, photographs of many local, national and international events result in the evolution, in 1936, of Life Magazine, which emphasizes the use of photographs, accompanied by only short, written captions, to present a story or record of an event. Among the people employed by Life is Margaret Bourke-White, whose photographic essays depicting the country and its people during the Depression received great acclaim. During World War II, Life pioneers the use of aerial photography to document bombing raids on Germany and, later, utilizes the same techniques to present novel views of American cities from the air. Famous Life photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, a pioneer in "candid" photography and photo-journalism, is seen returning from an assignment. More than a million of his 35mm negatives have been developed in Life's laboratory. Eisenstaedt also specializes in portraits of famous people, and several of these are presented in a sequence covering the 25th anniversary exhibit of his work. Eisenstaedt's talent has inspired many people to take up photography. The purchase of photographic equipment in the U.S. alone resulted in a profit of approximately a billion dollars a year in the mid-1950s. Another well-known photographer, Weegee (Arthur Felig), described "as an amateur at heart," is seen prowling New York City at night for images to add to his collection of the seamier side of life: pictures of drunks, murderers, gangsters, transvestites, strippers, fires, accidents, police courts and dead bodies. The film's narration notes that each person sees the world differently and that we photograph what interests us. In contrast to the earlier work, approximately the last half of The Naked Eye is devoted to a presentation of photography as art, specifically through the lifework of Edward Weston, most famous for his studies of nature and the forms and sculptures created by natural elements. A sequence depicts Weston, at age seventy, a victim of Parkinson's Disease, at work in his home at Point Lobos, California, with his daughter-in-law, Dody Weston, indexing eight thousand of his greatest photographs while Brett, one of his four sons, works in a darkroom making new prints from the 8 x 10 negatives. By using Weston's personal photographic album, his career is traced from his first studio in Glendale, California, to his marriage to his first wife Flora, and the births of their four sons, through his time in New York when he was influenced by the work of Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen and Paul Strand, and his experiences working in Mexico. When he returns to the U.S. in 1926 and settles on the West Coast, he begins to make abstract images of the forms and shapes found inside vegetables and in nature. Weston also continues a distinguished career as a portrait photographer as evidenced by his studies of Arnold Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky, D. H. Lawrence, Lincoln Steffens, Henry Fonda and many others. In 1937, Weston is awarded a fellowship, the first given to a photographer, by the Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to create a series of photographs of the American West and completes the assignment with the help of his second wife Charis, whom he marries when she is nineteen years old and he is fifty-two. In 1940, Weston is assigned to produce images to complement the publication of a new edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass . During World War II, Weston begins to photograph striking images of female nude forms in sand dunes. He also photographs many of his beloved cats. After eleven years, his marriage with Charis ends and, before being stricken by Parkinson's Disease, he begins to shoot solely in color. Using 8 x 10 sheets of Kodachrome and Ektachrome film, he forces himself to learn new techniques to photograph abstract images in the hope that viewers will discover the wonder that exists in simple things.

Film Details

Release Date
Apr 1957
Premiere Information
New York opening: 21 Apr 1957
Production Company
Camera Eye Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Film Representations, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 11m
Film Length
8 reels

Articles

Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004)


Elmer Bernstein, the film composer who created unforgettable music for such classics as The Magnificent Seven, To Kill a Mockingbird, and won his only Academy Award for Thoroughly Modern Millie, died of natural causes at his Ojai, California home on August 17. He was 82.

Elmer Bernstein, who was not related to Leonard Bernstein, was born on August 4, 1922, in New York City. He displayed a talent in music at a very young age, and was given a scholarship to study piano at Juilliard when he was only 12. He entered New York University in 1939, where he majored in music education. After graduating in 1942, he joined the Army Air Corps, where he remained throughout World War II, mostly working on scores for propaganda films. It was around this time he became interested in film scoring when he went to see William Dieterle's The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), a film whose score was composed by Bernard Herrmann, a man Bernstein idolized as the ideal film composer.

Bernstein, who originally intended to be a concert pianist and gave several performances in New York after being discharged from military service, decided to relocate to Hollywood in 1950. He did his first score for the football film Saturday's Hero (1950), and then proved his worth with his trenchant, moody music for the Joan Crawford vehicle Sudden Fear (1952). Rumors of his "communist" leanings came to surface at this time, and, feeling the effects of the blacklist, he found himself scoring such cheesy fare as Robot Monster; Cat Women of the Moon (both 1953); and Miss Robin Caruso (1954).

Despite his politics, Otto Preminger hired him to do the music for The Man With the Golden Arm, (1955) in which Frank Sinatra played a heroin-addicted jazz musician. Fittingly, Bernstein used some memorable jazz motifs for the film and his fine scoring put him back on the map. It prompted the attention of Cecil B. De Mille, who had Bernstein replace the ailing Victor Young on The Ten Commandments (1956). His thundering, heavily orchestrated score perfectly suite the bombastic epic, and he promptly earned his first Oscar® nod for music.

After The Ten Commandments (1956), Bernstein continued to distinguish himself in a row of fine films: The Rainmaker (1956), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Some Came Running (1958), The Magnificent Seven (a most memorable galloping march, 1960); To Kill a Mockingbird (unique in its use of single piano notes and haunting use of a flute, 1962); Hud (1963); earned a deserved Academy Award for the delightful, "flapper" music for the Julie Andrews period comedy Thoroughly Modern Mille (1967), and True Grit (1969).

His career faltered by the '80s though, as he did some routine Bill Murray comedies: Meatballs (1980) and Stripes (1981). But then director John Landis had Bernstein write the sumptuous score for his comedy Trading Places (1983), and Bernstein soon found himself back in the game. He then graced the silver screen for a few more years composing some terrific pieces for such popular commercial hits as My Left Foot (1989), A River Runs Through It (1992) and The Age of Innocence (1993). Far From Heaven, his final feature film score, received an Oscar® nomination for Best Score in 2002. He is survived by his wife, Eve; sons Peter and Gregory; daughters Emilie and Elizabeth; and five grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole
Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004)

Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004)

Elmer Bernstein, the film composer who created unforgettable music for such classics as The Magnificent Seven, To Kill a Mockingbird, and won his only Academy Award for Thoroughly Modern Millie, died of natural causes at his Ojai, California home on August 17. He was 82. Elmer Bernstein, who was not related to Leonard Bernstein, was born on August 4, 1922, in New York City. He displayed a talent in music at a very young age, and was given a scholarship to study piano at Juilliard when he was only 12. He entered New York University in 1939, where he majored in music education. After graduating in 1942, he joined the Army Air Corps, where he remained throughout World War II, mostly working on scores for propaganda films. It was around this time he became interested in film scoring when he went to see William Dieterle's The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), a film whose score was composed by Bernard Herrmann, a man Bernstein idolized as the ideal film composer. Bernstein, who originally intended to be a concert pianist and gave several performances in New York after being discharged from military service, decided to relocate to Hollywood in 1950. He did his first score for the football film Saturday's Hero (1950), and then proved his worth with his trenchant, moody music for the Joan Crawford vehicle Sudden Fear (1952). Rumors of his "communist" leanings came to surface at this time, and, feeling the effects of the blacklist, he found himself scoring such cheesy fare as Robot Monster; Cat Women of the Moon (both 1953); and Miss Robin Caruso (1954). Despite his politics, Otto Preminger hired him to do the music for The Man With the Golden Arm, (1955) in which Frank Sinatra played a heroin-addicted jazz musician. Fittingly, Bernstein used some memorable jazz motifs for the film and his fine scoring put him back on the map. It prompted the attention of Cecil B. De Mille, who had Bernstein replace the ailing Victor Young on The Ten Commandments (1956). His thundering, heavily orchestrated score perfectly suite the bombastic epic, and he promptly earned his first Oscar® nod for music. After The Ten Commandments (1956), Bernstein continued to distinguish himself in a row of fine films: The Rainmaker (1956), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Some Came Running (1958), The Magnificent Seven (a most memorable galloping march, 1960); To Kill a Mockingbird (unique in its use of single piano notes and haunting use of a flute, 1962); Hud (1963); earned a deserved Academy Award for the delightful, "flapper" music for the Julie Andrews period comedy Thoroughly Modern Mille (1967), and True Grit (1969). His career faltered by the '80s though, as he did some routine Bill Murray comedies: Meatballs (1980) and Stripes (1981). But then director John Landis had Bernstein write the sumptuous score for his comedy Trading Places (1983), and Bernstein soon found himself back in the game. He then graced the silver screen for a few more years composing some terrific pieces for such popular commercial hits as My Left Foot (1989), A River Runs Through It (1992) and The Age of Innocence (1993). Far From Heaven, his final feature film score, received an Oscar® nomination for Best Score in 2002. He is survived by his wife, Eve; sons Peter and Gregory; daughters Emilie and Elizabeth; and five grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The film begins with the following quotation: "Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun-Ecclesiastes." A credit after the main title elaborates: "A film about the fun and art of photography." Louis Clyde Stoumen's principal credit reads: "Written, Directed and Produced by Louis Clyde Stoumen." He also photographed and edited the film. Although the onscreen credits include a 1956 copyright statement, the film was not included in the Copyright Catalog.
       The credits state that the film features photographs by the following artists: Weegee, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Margaret Bourke-White, Ansel Adams, Matthew Brady, Louis Jacques Daguerre, Harold E. Edgerton, William H. Jackson, Nadar, Rosario Mazzeo, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Brett Weston, Cole Weston and "the photographic lifework of Edward Weston." The film features footage of a number of the photographers themselves, with some of the footage, such as that of Weegee and the Weston family, having been shot specifically for The Naked Eye.
       The opening credits include the following acknowledgments: "For creative assistance and loan of photographs, grateful thanks to: Duell, Sloane & Pearce, George Eastman House, The Library of Congress, Life Magazine, The Museum of Modern Art and U.S. National Park Service. Scenes from the film The Photographer were photographed by Benjamin Doniger and directed by Willard Van Dyke."
       According to a June 13, 1956 Daily Variety news item, after the Production Code Administration originally denied the film a seal due to the inclusion of Edward Weston's photographs of female nudes, PCA administrator Geoffrey Shurlock reversed the decision and stated that Weston is "a great artist." The final few minutes of the film, depicting Weston's work in color, were originally presented in color, but were in black-and-white in the print viewed.
       The Naked Eye won the Robert J. Flaherty Award for Creative Achievement in Documentary Films and was screened at the Edinburgh and Venice Film Festivals in 1956. The film received the Award Speciale at Venice and was also nominated for an Academy Award as Best Feature Documentary of 1956. Although the film lost to Jacques-Yves Cousteau's The Silent World, that same year Stoumen won an Oscar for his short documentary The True Story of the Civil War.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States March 1957

Released in United States Spring March 1957

b&w

Released in United States March 1957

Released in United States Spring March 1957