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Ned Scott, unlikely candidate, becomes Hollywood photographer

on Saturday, 29 October 2011. Posted in News

Ned Scott was an unlikely candidate to join the ranks of still photographers in the mid 1930's. Practitioners of that unique art form achieved their positions after careful training in respected and well recognized national schools. Ned Scott never had such training. After becoming a member of the Camera Club of New York, a loosely organized non profit group of photographic enthusiasts, in 1930, Ned Scott befriended fellow members Paul Strand and Henwar Rodakiewicz and fell under the influence of Alfred Stieglitz. They stimulated him to travel to Ranchos Iglesia de Taos in New Mexico to create a photographic study of that iconic structure which he did in 1931. He also involved himself in commercial work in and around New York City. During the early years of the '30's, the Camera Club members critiqued his prints, offered suggestions, and honed his talent. It was with these connections that Scott began his first movie assignment, the Mexican funded but American produced and directed protest film “Redes” in 1934. His stills were so well received that once that production ended, he decided to tote his cameras to Hollywood to become a still photographer. He must have appeared a strange candidate to the established photographer ranks with his excellent recommendations but no formal training. Those wielding the large format cameras on Hollywood stages in the mid 1930's likely had little idea of Paul Strand, Alfred Stieglitz or remote churches in New Mexico. Theirs was a cloistered world. However, it was with Henwar's wide connections among film directors and producers that Scott got his first film job, “Spring Night” with Tania Tuttle in 1935. It wasn't long before he was asked to photograph “The Good Earth” in 1936, but at the last minute he was sidelined due to the fact that he had no union affiliation. Scott corrected that oversight, and more and more film assignments arrived, and Scott's reputation as a freelance stillman continued to strengthen. Only five years after beginning his career as a still photographer, Scott achieved the acclaim of his peers for a character portrait for the film “The Long Voyage Home” in 1940. And so the Camera Club member whose associates included some of the finest fine art photographers of the day stepped successfully and honorably into the world of Hollywood film production, straddling both worlds and finding satisfying achievement in each. Despite this early ringing success, Ned Scott felt something of the outsider among the ranks, a feeling which became magnified when he moved from Santa Monica Canyon to La Canada in 1940 due to health concerns of his wife, Gwladys.

Peter Stackpole photo of Ned Scott

Peter Stackpole photo of Ned Scott taken in 1940 Santa Monica

"The Long Voyage Home" photo of renowned artists on the movie set identified

on Sunday, 30 October 2011. Posted in News

It was my good fortune to locate a Ned Scott photograph of the renowned and acclaimed american artists who worked on the set of director John Ford's classic "The Long Voyage Home" at the request of producer Walter Wanger. By 1940, Walter Wanger had already produced 28 films. A number of these were quite successful, and Wanger became known as a courageous and progressive producer. He truly set himself apart, however, in the production of "Long Voyage Home". He commissioned 9 renowned american artists to document and interpret scenes during the film's production because he felt the film offered the fullness of emotional experience, scenic flavor and human interest. Working through Reeves Lowenthal, director of Associated American Artists, Wanger paid more than $50,000 for these professionals to participate. This was a first in the history of American film, and likely the last, on this scale at least. Calculating this commission in 2011 dollars, the staggering sum of $750,000 was paid. The artists insisted on three things during production: freedom of cloice of subject matter, their own studios and access to projection rooms to view each day's rushes, and access to stage sets at any time with the availability of cast members, in costume for sketching. Ned Scott captured formal portraits of five of these artists. The newly acquired informal photograph, picturing all of them with the exception of Grant Wood, was likely taken off set or even in one of the projection rooms. Ned Scott's image documents an important moment in the history of American film, not likely to be repeated ever again.

Artists working on "The Long Voyage Home

Ernest Fiene, Luis Quintanilla, Thomas Benton, George Biddle, Raphael Sawyer, Georges Schreiber, Robert Phillipp, James Chapin, Grant Wood (not pictured) by Ned Scott

John Wayne photo from "Stagecoach" graces cover of American Cowboy Magazine

on Tuesday, 01 November 2011. Posted in News

The American Cowboy Magazine issued a Collector's Edition to honor John Wayne, the "Duke" famous among many around the world as the iconic cowboy of the American West. The editors chose Ned Scott's classic portrait depiction of Wayne's character "Ringo" from the 1939 movie "Stagecoach" to grace the magazine's cover. My research over the past ten years has shown that this image is an extremely well dispersed, easily recognized and highly revered portrayal of Wayne. It's not a stretch to claim that this in-character portrait by Ned Scott firmly established the cultural mystique of Wayne over the years as the mythological giant he was to become. The essence of this portrait forever links Wayne to the history of the American West, a principled but often misunderstood human force who overcomes the brutal realities of the landscape while grappling with the duplicity of his fellow men. You cannot get any more American than that!

American Cowboy cover image by Ned Scott

The official title of this magazine issue is "the John Wayne Special Issue 2010/2011". Ned Scott photographed Wayne in a number of poses, gestures, expressions--all in costume for his Ringo character. He also photographed Wayne with other cast members, especially with Claire Trevor's character "Dallas". Inside the magazine issue are other production photographs from the film which Ned Scott created. It is a wonderful and well deserved tribute to an exceptionally gifted photographer. It is just as remarkable that Ned Scott shuttered this photograph with only three years under his belt as a still photographer in Hollywood. It is one of the iconic John Wayne photos.

Ned Scott photos proliferate on internet

on Wednesday, 02 November 2011. Posted in News

Time and purpose have collaborated to produce a nearly perfect research protocol for the Ned Scott Archive. My father once said to a reporter for Look Magazine in 1946 that he estimated that he took 50,000 photographs per year in the film industry. The occasion was Look's bestowing on Ned Scott their Best Photo of the Year award for an image he took from "Tars and Spars". Now all these years later, I can only wildly guess what happened to all those many photographs which he, and many other professionals just like him, created every day while working for the production studios. But today things are different, taking some of the guesswork out of the equation. With the proliferation of the internet, research becomes so much more productive and fruitful. Locating an image which Ned Scott made during work hours on the set is not that difficult. And on many occasions when an image is located, the back of the photo is stamped with his name and the production company and affixed with a paper caption denoting the film for which the image was made. I make note of these photographs and sometimes I purchase them for the archive if they are for sale and in good condition. Seeing Ned Scott's name tied to his production photographs is always satisfying. However, sometimes an image is located which is not so labeled and tied, and sellers or advertisers or bloggers are simply using the image to bring interest to their operation, obtain money through a sale, or enhance their own story. Without correctly labeling the image in question, these people are breaking the law either unknowingly or with purpose. Fortunately, these situations are dwindling in number and frequency. I am seeing today many of Ned Scott's images being correctly used with his name attached for credit. This is a portrait of Gene Tierney Ned Scott made for the movie Shanghai Gesture in 1941, and I offer it as an example of improper use of photography on the internet. I downloaded it from eBay where the seller made no effort to credit Ned Scott.

Gene Tierney for "Shanghai Gesture" by Ned Scott

Despite these improprieties, my research is rewarding and productive. For anyone interested in Gene Tierney prints which Ned Scott saved for his own collection, both color and black and white, please click here to view some of them.

Film directors photographed by Ned Scott in 1930's and 1940's

on Thursday, 03 November 2011. Posted in News

It was inevitable that Ned Scott would find his camera turned in the direction of a film's director at some point during the movie production. I do not believe that film directors as a group were shy about this kind of activity, but some were less reluctant than others to greet the other end of the camera. Ned Scott's often unscripted and even casual photographs which included film directors with their actors and other cast and crew members became excellent documentations of the film making process. I have tracked a number of these photographs in my research and I am always on the hunt for more. To my surprise, I have discovered that several of these photographs have been published in books of the genre over the years. Each time Ned Scott was correctly credited as the creating photographer. Ned Scott's first director photograph caught Fred Zinnemann on the job in Alvarado, Mexico for "Redes" film. The earliest known Hollywood photograph of a director occurred in 1935 with "Spring Night", Ned Scott's first Hollywood film production with director Tatiana Tuttle, known to everyone as "Tania". Others have been logged and filed in the archive, some Ned Scott saved himself and others I have purchased during research. These include Tay Garnett from "Trade Winds" , James Roosevelt from "Pot O Gold", John Ford from "Stagecoach" and "The Long Voyage Home", Zoltan Korda from "Sahara", Charles Vidor from "A Song to Remember", Fritz Lang from "Hangmen Also Die" and William Wellman from "A Story of G.I. Joe". All of these say something important about each director, and because of that, they are worth documenting as a photograph type. They also relate important aspects of the relationship between director and the cast members. Notice the relaxed intimacy on display in this image of Charles Vidor who directed "A Song to Remember" in 1944. My own personal favorite director photograph is the one of Fritz Lang on the set of "Hangmen Also Die".

director Charles Vidor from "A Song to Remember"

Director Charles Vidor, flanked by Cornel Wilde and Merle Oberon from "A Song to Remember" 1944 by Ned Scott

Warner Baxter photo from "The Crime Doctor" series discovered

on Friday, 04 November 2011. Posted in News

Ned Scott served as a contract photographer for Columbia Studios from 1945-48, and same period when the "Crime Doctor" film series was created. There were nine films in this series, and they all starred Warner Baxter. This film series consists of detective dramas which are consistent in scope and range of content. The quality of the series ranks more favorably than others such as Boston Blackie and Charlie Chan. Generally this series excels because each film carries a psychological undertone, lending to the plot lines a certain unpredictability and heightened suspense. Columbia designed these films to fill the second slot of a double feature headline in movie theaters, and as a result, the budgets for these detective crime dramas were less expansive than first run films. Baxter's co-stars included Nina Foch, Hillary Brooke, John Litel, Mona Barrie, Ellen Drew, Frank Sully, Paul Guilfoyle, and Edward Ciannelli. Baxter had a long and award-filled career beginning in 1914. He received an oscar for his role as the Cisco Kid in the 1928 film "In Old Arizona". He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame right after his death in 1951, an event which occasioned the Los Angeles Times to write a brief tribute to the star. That article was accompanied by the Ned Scott portrait seen here.

Warner Baxter portrait by Ned Scott

Ned Scott created portrait of Warner Baxter as the "crime doctor", Dr. Robert Ordway in Columbia Studios' 1940's detective series.

Hillary Brooke photo from "The Gentleman Misbehaves" located

on Saturday, 05 November 2011. Posted in News

I have just found a undiscovered movie Ned Scott photographed for Columbia Studios in 1946. The title of the movie is "The Gentleman Misbehaves", starring Bob Haymes, Osa Massen and Hillary Brooke. The film is a combination comedy and musical directed by George Sherman. The plot is driven by an arranged marriage to prevent deportation which slowly develops into something more permanent. Life intrudes even into the best laid plans. This film is worth noting here because Ned Scott captured a stunning portrait of Hillary Brooke to support the publicity for the film. Brooke was not known for her eye-catching looks, especially in an era when Rita Hayworth and the rest of the Columbia Girls turned heads and made serious money for Harry Cohn when they got in front of the cameras. But once Ned Scott got her to sit still, magic happened. There were two things my father's peers said about his photography: he understood light (he can thank the Camera Club of New York for that), and he understood women. Something a bit mysterious but at the same time something naggingly famiiar emerges from this photograph. Ladies will probably say "It was the hair". But Ned Scott knew better.


Hillary Brooke as Nina Mallory in "The Gentleman Misbehaves" by Ned Scott in 1947

Character actor Charlie Arnt teams up with Ned Scott to produce portfolio 1936

on Monday, 07 November 2011. Posted in News

Character actor Charlie Arnt and Ned Scott developed a portfolio of character roles in 1936. The chief objective of this effort was the promotion of Charlie Arnt as a specialty actor. It turned out that Ned Scott used it for his own promotional purposes as well. The characters which Arnt portrayed reflected the cultural and political atmosphere of the time. Bums, tramps and hobos are depicted as well as drunks, yokels, country boys, and beach bums. A Nazi appears along with a despotic plantation overseer. Since trains were the preferred mode of getting around the country in the mid 1930's, the nervous train station clerk and station master show up. A cowboy and a country vet appear. In the varied world of criminal activity of the day, gangsters of several types fill the frame wielding knives or nearly being knifed at the behest of the crime boss. There's an insomniac and a hen-pecked husband. There's even a French military general whose fate is sealed by the firing squad. A smooth talking hustler and a carnival barker have their day. The profligate womanizer. And the magician. And the bartender, both legit and speakeasy types.

After 1940, Ned Scott and Charlie Arnt were neighbors, living on the same road in La Canada, California only three doors away from each other. Charlie's son Derek and I were friends before the the family moved away to Orcas Island, Washington in the early 1950's. I remember Charlie as being a very warm and funny guy who never failed to be the crowd pleaser wherever he went. I remember Charlie had a basset hound who was fond of howling at the full moon. It drove my father crazy!

Charlie Arnt as the vagabond

Charactor actor Charlie Arnt as the vagabond 1936 by Ned Scott

Celebrating many productive years with MPTV

on Friday, 11 November 2011. Posted in News

It was in 1999 that The Ned Scott Archive and the Motion Picture and Television Archive in Los Angeles began a long and successful relationship. Long time still photographer Sid Avery, the founder of MPTV, was motivated to establish a high quality process for gathering, storing and preserving photographic material which had survived over the years from the work of the many men and women just like himself who toiled in the Hollywood film industry. Sid realized that this would be important to future enthusiasts of the film industry as well as researchers and historians. Having tried to collect together his own material from his many productive years as a still photographer, Sid realized that most of it had disappeared and was not recoverable. Understanding that this condition was likely the same story with material produced by other Hollywood photographers, Sid got busy reaching out for surviving photographic material before it vanished. Right about that time, the Ned Scott Archive was looking for a place to showcase Ned Scott's photographic material. A formal arrangement was established, and as a result Ned Scott's images have reached grateful audiences worldwide through the MPTV net. No one else has done more to preserve and highlight the fine photographic material produced for so many years in the Hollywood film industry. Sid Avery's vision was spot on and timely, and our world is a better place because of it. Visit MPTV often for your enjoyment.

Sid Avery, Founder of MPTV

Sid Avery, Founder of MPTV

Self Portrait of Ned Scott as a young man

on Sunday, 13 November 2011. Posted in News

It is highly likely that Ned Scott created this self portrait during the year 1931, right after joining the Camera Club of New York. I do not yet know just how or under what circumstances my father joined that august group of photographers in 1930, but I do know that he used his Graflex 5 x 7 to shutter this image of himself. It was the same camera he used to shoot his 1931 photographic study of famed New Mexico church Ranchos Iglesia de Taos, a task which fell to many of the members of the Club. As a matter of fact, Paul Strand made his own study in the same year, one of several he was to do in the 1930's. I look at this self portrait of my father these many years later, and he appears a stranger to me. When I was growing up as a young boy, I saw a very different man. What I remember most about him was a consuming warmth which radiated from him in a quiet and firm way. There was not a trace of the stern aloofness masking a touch of anger, or perhaps hauteur which is on view in this portrait. I never knew this man. Life changed him in a better way and he became more open to life, excited about the world around him, and eager to express himself creatively. Letters he was to write in 1935, just four years later, confirm that this change was firmly underway. And so by the beginning of his years in Hollywood as a still photographer, this new man's photographic eye cast a more accepting, encompassing and respectful gaze on his subjects. At the time Ned Scott snapped this photo of himself, he was seven years from creating the most iconic of John Wayne photos ( movie Stagecoach) and fifteen years from making the most famous of the photos of Rita Hayworth (Down to Earth). The man in this photgraph would never have had the subtlety to bring out the nuances of a refined Hollywood character actor or the graceful essence of a natural beauty.

Ned Scott self portrait

A self portrait of Ned Scott as a young man of 25

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