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Fred Zinnemann

Fred Zinnemann and Ned Scott became close friends during the production of Redes film in 1934.  The film was funded by the Mexican government but it was produced and directed by Americans.  Paul Strand was the producer and Fred was the director.  Redes film was his first directorial assignment.  Fred was asked to join the production team by his friend Henwar Rodakiewicz, a member of the Camera Club of New York.  Henwar had prior commitments in the American Southwest and he called on Fred to take his position on the production crew.  Later that year these men all bonded during production days of summer and fall in Alvarado, Mexico, and later they went to Hollywood to ply their specialties in the film business.  Fred was initially from Austria and had emigrated to the United States as a young man.  From a young age he developed a strong interest in film making which was to prove providential when he eventually wound up in Hollywood in 1935.  Some of his noteworthy efforts include, "High Noon","Julia", "A Nun's Story", "From Here to Eternity" (for which he earned an Oscar) and "A Man for All Seasons" (for which he earned a second directorial Oscar). It was a high point for me to have a short relationship with Fred Z toward the end of his life.  I shared letters and phone conversations with him over a period of about 18 months.  The thrust of that dialogue was the uniqueness of Ned Scott as a photographer of human beings, actors included, and the fondness with which he regarded Ned Scott.  One particular phrase I will never forget.  It was a phone call which discussed Redes film.  Fred stated flatly that he thought Ned Scott"s images from that film, especially the portraits of the town's residents (who acted in the film) were the best he had ever seen, or will ever see.  I said, rather too quickly, I think, that Fred felt this way because Ned had captured something heroic in the faces of the men.  Fred's swift reply was, "No, these photos are great because Ned had a pure respect for the individual."  Something that basic was lacking in other photographers, Fred felt.  And as it turns out, Fred was to develop this basic realism as a theme in his career as a director in Hollywood.

Fred Z, in his 1992 autobiography, gave enormous praise to his old friend Ned Scott.  While referring to the Redes film and its aftermath, he extolled the stills from the film as "classics".  Ned Scott and Fred remained friends for years, but after Ned Scott moved away from Santa Monica Canyon in 1940, they slowly drifted apart through distance. In a letter to Ned Scott in 1954, Fred bought up this point, lamenting the fact that they hardly ever got together.  The Zinnemann's lived in Mandeville Canyon, a community of Brentwood, and Ned Scott lived in La Canada.  With today's freeways in the Southern California area, especially Interstate 210, this distance is no obstacle.  But in the 1940's and 1950's, making the journey to and fro was a different matter with long stretches of two lane roads.

Fred Zinnemann

Paul Strand

Ned Scott and Paul Strand were both members of the Camera Club of New York in the early 1930's.  They shared the friendship of another Camera Club member, Henwar Rodakiezicz.  All three worked on the Mexican Film Redes which was produced in 1934 and released in 1936.  Strand's main conridution to this film was the cinematography.  Henwar was the keep-it-together guy who wrote the shooting script, directed on special projects, helped edit and in general kept everyone in a good mood, including Strand.  Ned Scott made the movie stills.  Following the film's production, Strand said of Ned Scott stills that they were "the finest set of film stills I have ever seen of any film."

Paul Strand

Paul Strand and Pailevo during filming scene with Akeley hand cranked camera.

Henwar Rodakiewicz

Ned Scott met Henwar Rodakiewicz in 1931 after he joined the Camera Club of New York. Their friendship was to last until Ned's death in 1964. Ned faithfully kept all Henwar's letters over many years, one of which is displayed here. Henwar was very well connected to those on the leading edge of photographic artistic expression. He was a practitioner himself, preferring natural forms found in nature which were uncluttered by human thought or feeling. Cloud formations and shimmering water surfaces were particularly strong subjects for Henwar. Scott took up the idea himself in his own nature photography.

Henwar distinguished himself as a documentary film maker. Among his better known efforts are Portrait of a Young Man in 1932 and Georgia O'Keeffe in 1947. What is not generally known about Henwar's contribution to the world of film is his uncredited assistance on the projects which others conceived and started. Some notable productions on which Henwar collaborated are Paul Strand's Redes in 1934 and Ralph Steiner's The City in 1938. Both of these productions would have languished and failed were it not for Henwar's worthy assistance. He stepped in as writer, director and cameraman, whatever was required to keep things afloat. He was the fixit man, and with his vast connections, accomplishments were the happy outcome for others. He was a man devoted to his genre.

In 1962, sensing the inevitable, Ned Scott gave all his photographic equipment to Henwar.

While living at One University Place in New York City, Henwar wrote Charlie Arnt in 1959 to fill him in on some the the highlights of his life.  It is characteristic of Henwar to abbreviate things when talking about himself.  Henwar was asked by the Director's Guild in New York to list his accomplishments.  Quoting from that letter, Henwar states he was: "free-lance writer-director with producing and editing experience.  Hollywood for six years in various capacities at Paramount and Metro.  Associate director on a number of Bing Crosby musicals and others. Some expeditionary films, OWI during war, also had own film company in New York.  Since then, mainly directing and sometimes writing, occasionally both, mostly documentary yet also entertainment films, often for TV, both with actors and non-actors.  Feature film credits on "The Wave" (Mexico), and "The City" (Worlds Fair-NYC).  Clients: various governments, foundations, corporations, film companies.  Locations: from British Guiana to Alaska.  Subjects include: International Fishing (Grand Banks), Ice Patrol (Newfoundland), Southwest (USA), Puerto Rico (2), Venezuela, NY Subways, Port Authority, Civil Defense, State Trooper, some aspects of anthropology, a Fantasy, Negro Education, Freedom of the Press, (4) Fund raising, Oil Tanker, (2) Comedies. Public Relations: (2) General Motors (1) Ford (2)Proctor and Gamble, Bronx Zoo, some Industrials, Nutrition, Public Health Service, ECA, Department of Agriculture, 375 Park Avenue, Mink, Hookworm, College Relations, Mental Health, Crime (Wanted-CBS), others.  Directed (13) The Search series (CBS) on: Uranium, Stuttering, Mental Illness, Cybernetics, Air Medicine, Crash Injury, Folk Songs, Waco Tornado, etc., which won Peabody, etc., Awards.  (2) one hour shows for 20th Century (CBS): Class of '58 and Generation Without A Cause."

 

Letter from Henwar Rodakiewicz

In a letter from Henwar Rodakiewicz, November 7, 1932 written to Ned following a Camera Club session in which Ned presented his prints for critique, Henwar details the essence of Ned Scott's photographic art. Later in his career, Paul Strand was to write to Ned that, "You are the most promising young photographer I know."  Fred Zinnemann in his 1992 autobiography pointed out that Ned's images from Redes were classics.  Modern day books and magazines proudly carry his 70 year old images on their covers.  The essence of his art was recognized early in his career, and this letter is proof of the quality and depth of his photography.


TEXT of Letter dated November 7, 1932 from Buzzards Bay, Mass., Henwar Rodakiewicz to Ned Scott, 260 East 79th Street, New York City:

Dear Ned,

 

I have been putting off writing to you, partly because I was a little timorous, partly because I was not quite sure of how to express what I wanted to say.

Your work and your attitude toward it made me feel many deep and fine things--things for which words are difficult to capture--and the captured words--out of shyness--difficult to express.  First of all, I want you to realize steadfastly that i am but another average human being with a limited understanding and sympathy for the things around me.  But your pictures struck a note which rang very true indeed, and what I said at the Camera Club that day (if you remember at all) was a true and sincere as what lay before me.  There is a freshness, an honesty, a straightforward feeling, that gives one courage.  Surely it must give that to you.  I know it does--though you hide it behind a basket of tangled words and halting phrases. After all, when I have done something that it--well-right--I am the first of all to recognize it-- the first to denounce it if it misses--I am my own severest critic.  So it must be with you.  Among the pictures there are three or four that are more than fresh and honest--they are also concise--and because of this they reach far above the others.  They are as pure and clean and unhesitating as the line of wind-blown sand against a deep blue sky.  Each is a sharp-cut mint, seen with all your faculties, meaning one unswerving thing, and saying that thing in one steady flow.  That is why they strike deep within, they have an edge that pierces the shrouds of confusion.  The others, fine in spots, ate scattered in their feeling, and so spend their force in many ways instead of driving home.  This is no cause for discouragement--it is a sign of progress--a sign of better understanding.  We all see many things in many ways--all at once sometimes.  It is only by sifting, eliminating, uncovering that we discover the naked truth.  And though a thing may have a number of truths--we can express it but one at a time, for as we do it, we express but one truth about ourselves.  So it is that from your pictures I know as much of you as I have learned in other ways--perhaps a littel more--for it lies there before me--and all I have to do is look and see.  We are all struggling toward some goal--what we do are but steps along the way. If among them one step creaks, it is not therefore unsound.  Perhaps it merely wants to be heard and recognized.  But the creaking may not reach other ears--for it is really meant alone for you.

Henwar

 

Transcript available here

Henwar Rodakiewicz Henwar Rodakiewicz Henwar Rodakiewicz Henwar Rodakiewicz Henwar Rodakiewicz

Cornelia Runyon

Cornelia Runyon was an artist by temperament, and later in life, an artist for real. Besides that she was a wife, mother and a social center. Ned Scott went to her home in Brentwood, California some four months after returning from the Mexican film project with Paul Strand. That evening, he met Gwladys von Ettinghausen, a screen writer with MGM, the woman who eight months later would become his wife. But it was the other people at the gathering that night who were to be key components to his future as a still cameraman in Hollywood.

Agnes De Mille has written that the majority of Cornelia's acquaintances in those years were members of the "moving-picture" colony. It was these personages that Ned Scott encountered as he visited Cornelia's Brentwood home in the years of 1935 and 1936, along with, one must presume, the other "Zopilotes" (his transplanted Mexican crew of Henwar Rodakiewicz, Fred Zinnemann and Gunther von Fritsch). He made important contacts. Prints which he brought with him to these gatherings were passed around. See Clara B. de Mille letter. Discussion took place. He must have made a very favorable impression on this Western crowd, this man from New York, because he was given a very important assignment very early in his career. That assignment was the still work for "The Good Earth". He was equipped and ready to go on the job, but for one thing. He discovered on the eve of filming that without a union card, he could not perform his task. A bitter lesson learned, and as he secured his membership in the union (I.A.T.S.E.), he discovered that he was one of the last to do so before that door mysteriously closed to new members.

That Cornelia was a huge boost in those years is undeniable. She remained a close friend through the '50's, often inviting the Scott family to her spectacular new house overlooking the palisade cliffs just north of Malibu. Built and finished just before Pearl Harbor Day, 1941, this house became the locus of her art career as a sculptor. She worked in natural stone, gathered there just below her house on the rambling and wild beaches of the region or on trips to the desert areas nearby. She had her first curated one man exhibit at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1961.

I remember those visits to Cornelia's house in the late '40's and '50's.  As a young boy in love with the ocean, I spent hours and hours on the beach below her house, exploring.  To get there, I had to climb down a wooden staircase which clung to the cliff face.  There was an outdoor sink half way down which I used to clean out my treasures I found and to wash my bathing suit in fresh water.  This was the same sink which Cornelia would used to wash and inspect her stone pieces which she would collect along the beach and tidal zones.  I remember she had a rubber boat which she would take out just beyond the breakers to search for likely stone candidates. Her studio was an outdoor studio, no more than 30 feet from the cliff edge, and I can still remember watching her work her stones as she sat there in the bright Malibu sunlight.

Ned Scott would occasionally bring Hollywood star personalities to Cornelia's house as part of his assignments as a still photographer. A few of the images from these photo sessions crop up on the web, and i make note of them, or purchase them when I can.  Among those stars he photographed at Cornelia's were Adele Jergens and Ann Miller, both Columbia Pictures personalities at the time.

 

Cornelia Runyon Cornelia Runyon Cornelia Runyon Cornelia Runyon at her Malibu home, 1942

Rev. Mark A. Mathews

Rev. Mark A. Mathews