Movies & TV
Vintage Film Images
Once I rebuilt LowBrowsing in the summer of 2018, I replaced a lot of unique page banners with ones that tied together an entire section of my site. But, this meant that a lot of my favourite images no longer had a place on the site. Therefore, I have made this page to include some of those photographs. These are among my favourite vintage film images because they are visually striking and tell a story specific to the era of filmmaking in which they emerge.
Jean Gabin from La Bete Humaine (d. Jean Renoir, 1938)
Renoir had a penchant for idealism and often worked on scenarios that had communist undertones. However, La Bete Humaine is one of my favourite films because it shows the raw reality of human nature, and the undeniable effects of passion and happenstance.
Kino-Eye (d. Dziga Vertov, 1924)
Although formalism can become tedious experiments in the materialism of a medium and quite abstracted from the narrative capacities of that medium, Vertov manages to blend narrative and ludic qualities of the film medium in Kino-Eye. The self-reflexive symbol of the human eye juxtaposed with a camera lens reveals the shift from modernism to post-modernism as humans would begin integrating their lives with digital technology.
Andre Bazin with his cat
The prolific film critic and theorist, Andre Bazin, died in 1957 at age 40. It is difficult, if not impossible, to study the first half century of cinema without running into Bazin's work. This image reminds me that Bazin didn't take himself too seriously and kept his rhetoric accessible enough for all cinephiles to access his work and ideas. If only all theorists shared these values.
Cloris Leachman from Kiss Me Deadly (d. Robert Aldrich, 1955)
Kiss Me Deadly is considered by many as the last film noir movie, although it has been debated and Orson Welles's Touch of Evil (1958) is offered as terminus instead. This image of the radioactive Pandora's Box punctuates that era's Cold War psychology and the anxieties regarding nuclear Holocaust. There was something tangible about the fear of atomic war and it transcended narratives that normally wouldn't take up such subject matter.
Virgina Mayo from The Tall Stranger (d. Thomas Carr, 1957)
I think I'm just a sucker for beautiful women with big guns. The film's narrative presents an interesting notion for what would develop for the following half century in film stories: the emergence of the anti-hero. I believe that we have now moved past the anti-hero to the "unhero" (Walter White, Marty Byrde, Dexter Morgan), but the portrayal of the anti-hero usually occludes the significance of the "sheeple" surrounding protagonists. In The Tall Stranger, we see how the anti-hero is a product of the idiots around him.
Mari Torocsik from Korhinta or Merry-go-round (d. Zoltan Fabri, 1956)
Socialist Realism was usually on-the-nose with its propaganda and the disingenuous endeavor of promoting communist economies is cringe-worthy for a rational spectator today. However, Merry-go-round interweaves the agitprop with a sweet love story. Throw in that Fabri played with form in a delightful way, and suddenly the heavy-handed propaganda about collectivist farms recedes to the background. This film may have been the only effective vehicle for communist propaganda in cinema ever.
Buster Keaton from Sherlock Jr. (d. Buster Keaton, 1924)
A gorgeous image from one of the great geniuses of cinema. Buster is like Laocoon wrestling with the serpents and his countenance juxtaposes mania with the sublime. That tarrying between mania and sublime is a quality that epitomises silent film comedy.
Marlene Dietrich from marlene dietrich project (Giuliano Bekor)
Famous glamour photographer, Giuliano Bekor, has produced Dietrich portraits with contemporary aesthetic sensibility. I can't seem to track down details about this photography project but this image is one that I find striking as it reveals the endurance of cinema style and aesthetics forged almost a century ago.
Peter Breck from Shock Corridor (d. Samuel Fuller, 1963)
A lot of filmmaking prior to the mid-60s focused on dishonest portrayals of coupling and family - the relationships were so saccharine that it was the definition of cringe. By the early 60s, the Paramount Decree had been in place long enough that indie filmmakers were producing works that could be taken seriously. Fuller had some very impressive films and he was a Tarantino decades earlier.
Gustaf Grundgens from M (d. Fritz Lang, 1931)
I love that this film was conscientious enough to take the violation of children seriously. Hollywood is so wrapped up in its Pizzagate ways (and always has been) that their producers find it hypocritical to do narratives about the protection of children. In fact, this might be the greatest piece of evidence for the legitimacy of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.
Francoise Arnoul from Les Amants du Tage (d. Henri Verneuil, 1955)
Framing Arnoul through the porthole has a nice "kino-eye" effect and also plays on a lot of film theory regarding the keyhole effect.