Posts tagged “#cinema

The King of Marvin Gardens (1972)

In 1972, László Kovács followed director Bob Rafelson, with whom he had worked on Five Easy Pieces, and Jack Nicholson, the film’s star, to a dreary wintertime Atlantic City, New Jersey to shoot a psychological drama in a similar vein: The King of Marvin Gardens. The real estate con at the heart of the plot tells a little about the depressed state of this pre-gambling resort town, which had seen many establishments go under in the previous decade, while new resort facilities were under construction. Kovács’ cinematography lent Rafelson’s film much of its psychological weight and dream-like feel. While not as acclaimed as Five Easy Pieces, The King of Marvin Gardens is a great film that is well worth another view.

The King of Marvin Gardens is available on DVD from the Criterion Collection.

“Mark of the Gun” coming to DVD in December

From Retromedia and BayView Entertainment comes the DVD release of Mark of the Gun (1969, dir. Walter Campos/Wally Campo), a film that was nearly lost, until a 35mm negative was recently discovered in a lab where it had sat unnoticed for nearly 45 years! Shot by László Kovacs, just prior the cinematographer embarked to make Easy Rider (1969, dir. Dennis Hopper), Mark of the Gun “is a classic western tale of outlaws and the women they love.”  The film stars Ross Hagen, a cult hero of 1960s b-movies who worked continuously until his death in 2011. The DVD will be released on December 11 and will contain bonus trailers.



No Subtitles Necessary: László and Vilmos received a great review on the most recent edition of’s Culture Gabfest podcast. Panelist Dana Stevens says that the documentary is “fantastic,” that “[she] learned a lot,” and that “between the two of them, [László and Vilmos] shot…basically all the good movies of the 70s.” You can hear the full podcast here.

Louis (2010)

A few years back, first-time director Dan Pritzker made a very special film that deserves to be lauded again: Louis, a modern take on the silent film and a re-imaging of the boyhood of jazz musician Louis Armstrong. After the interest and acclaim garnered by Michel Hazanavicius‘ The Artist, it seems relevant to take another look at Pritzker’s Louis. Shot by the legendary Vilmos Zsigmond and featuring a virtuosic performance by Oscar-nominated Jackie Earle Haley, reminiscent of the great silent screen stars, Louis follows a young Armstrong (Anthony Coleman) through a turn of the century New Orleans beset with passions and pitfalls. It’s a beautiful film with a wonderful score and it well deserves another look.

The Last Movie (1971)

Coming off of the success of 1969’s Easy Rider, László Kovács again teamed up with writer/director/actor, Dennis Hopper, on The Last Movie, a challenging and innovative industry movie shot on location in Peru. It was a movie that Hopper had tried to make for years, but was only given the latitude to do so after Easy Rider did so well at the box office. Like many forward-thinking and experimental pictures of the day, The Last Movie was not appreciated until many years later, despite earning the Critic’s Prize at the Venice Film Festival. And hopefully the film will see a DVD release in the near future.

Vilmos Zsigmond nominated for a 2012 Maverick Movie Award

Congratulations to Vilmos Zsigmond on being nominated for the 2012 Maverick Movie Award for Best Cinematography. The honored film, “Summer Children,” actually dates back to 1965, but was recently restored and remastered for DVD release. Zsigmond was instrumental in this process and contributed a special feature interview for the DVD, titled “Silhouettes in Shadow and Light.” Directed by James Bruner, “Summer Children” was made in the vein of the European Neo-Realism and New Wave, a style with which Zsigmond and László Kovács would later be credited for helping flourish in an American style. The film is remarkably beautiful and easily ranks among the masterpieces by Roberto Rossellini, Eric Rohmer, Chris Marker, and Alain Resnais in cinematographic terms.

Back Lit: László Kovács for “Shampoo” (1975)

Some of the most visually stunning moments of the film Shampoo (dir. Hal Ashby, 1975) come when László Kovács shoots the characters from the backside. Who can forget this image of Julie Christie in a deep v-backed sequin dress:

Julie Christie in “Shampoo”

Or the films ultimate scene of Warren Beatty gazing out upon a hazy Los Angeles vista:

Warren Beatty in “Shampoo”

Thanks to Here’s Looking Like You Kid for the images.


Revisiting “Heaven’s Gate” (1980)

The legendarily troubled production Heaven’s Gate (1980), which Vilmos Zsigmond shot for director Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter), has recently garnered a sort of prominence it never achieved in its time, but one that critics agree is well deserved. Undergoing digital restoration and a re-edit for release by the Criterion CollectionHeaven’s Gate played at this year’s Venice Film Festival to great acclaim. In an interview with New York Times reporter Dennis Lim, Cimino expressed that among his favorite things about the picture are “the light and color of the images” that Zsigmond captured.

Heaven’s Gate, 1980

Heaven’s Gate, coming soon from the Criterion Collection:
Dennis Lim for the New York Times
Skylar Browning for the Missoula Independent

The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!! (1964)

Although it may have alluded some of their biographies and CVs, László Kovács and Vilmos Zsigmond worked together on The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies, a campy zombie musical shot on location in Long Beach’s Pike Amusement Park. The two cinematographers may not have been proud of this film, which was has been dubbed the “worst movie ever made,” but the whole genre of camp horror has since garnered a cult following and a recent resurgence in film and television. This renaissance does not come without due credit being given to these two pioneers, who started their Hollywood careers by filming such exploitation movies after emigrating to the U.S. in the late 1950s.

“The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies,” 1964

Thanks to Tim Grobaty of the Long Beach Press-Telegram for digging up this gem:

Paradise Alley (1978), dir. Sylvester Stallone


Coming off the success of Rocky (1976), Universal Pictures green-lighted Sylvester Stallone‘s Paradise Alley, a wrestling picture that the young actor wrote, directed, and stared in. László Kovács was behind the camera, capturing the Noir atmosphere of the New York’s seedy boxing parlors of the 1940s. It was pictures like this that led the films that Kovács and Szigmond shot to be labelled “American New Wave.”