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Character portrait from "Long Voyage Home" movie exhibited by Academy 1940

on Friday, 07 October 2011. Posted in News

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized Ned Scott's character photography in a 1940 exhibit curated and mounted in their building in Hollywood, California. The exhibit was called "Stars in Camera Art". I only discovered this mounted 11 x 14 Academy print very recently, and it was offered for sale. I knew that my father worked director John Ford's film "The Long Voyage Home", the origin of this print, but I never knew that one of his character photographs from the film would become the subject of such high level acclaim by the film industry. This item was never discussed around the house when I was growing up, and it should have been. What I learned as a young boy, long after my father left the business, was that his work was outstanding but it yielded little personal reward. No breaks came his way. This fine display print, kept so well over 71 years, shatters that myth. Proof now exists that he had the respect of his peers early in his career. It's about time.

The subject matter of this display photograph is "Cocky", the sometimes irascible but always lovable mess steward aboard the merchant vessel SS Glencairn. Actor Barry Fitzgerald played the part. Ned Scott captured these qualities perfectly in his portrait study of Fitzgerald's character. Ned Scott's dramatic flair lent gravity and purpose to the character portrayal. Lighting was soft and frontal with little background except a dark slate which sets off the white jacketed uniform of the mess steward. The black tie which Cocky is adjusting in a cranky gesture harmonizes with the black background of the photograph, linking the forms together in a eye-pleasing whole. The overall effect of the actor's gestures and facial expression is emphasized by the interaction of white forms and black forms manipulated by Ned Scott. One tends to remember this photograph long after viewing it.

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