Portraits from Philippe Halsman’s Jump series
"Starting in the early 1950s I asked every famous or important person I photographed to jump for me. I was motivated by a genuine curiosity. After all, life has taught us to control and disguise our facial expressions, but it has not taught us to control our jumps. I wanted to see famous people reveal in a jump their ambition or their lack of it, their self-importance or their insecurity, and many other traits."
First row: Anthony Perkins, Ava Gardner, William Holden
Second Row: Eartha Kitt, Danny Kaye, Eva Marie Saint
Third Row: Donald O’Connor, Kim Novak, Harold Lloyd
Fourth Row: Marilyn Monroe, Maurice Chevalier, Lena Horne
Fifth Row: Groucho Marx, Grace Kelly, Ray Bolger
Sixth Row: Sophia Loren, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Audrey Hepburn
Film Noir is a category of film from the 1940’s and 1950s that was America’s answer to the art films coming out of Europe at the time. They were, typically, black and white low budget films which were darkly lit with high contrasts for dramatic intensity and usually employed extreme camera angles. They were gritty in story as well as in look and highly dramatic. A moody cynicism about the scales of justice and America’s flawed postwar capitalist system are running themes throughout noir pictures. These reflected an America recovering from the Great Depression, only to emerge in World War II, which eventually gave way to the Cold War. Noir was a totally new look for film, and it fit the mood of the country at the time. Coming out of the WWII, people no longer wanted the glossy, colorful escapist fare like MGM had been producing; but realistic stories about real people in difficult circumstances, like what they had been through with the war. Europe was already producing these films, but it took America longer to catch on. Film Noir gave an edge to film that had not been seen since the silent film era. Warner Brothers — already known for their realistic bio-pics and gangster stories — along with Fox, were the studios who picked up most on the trend. Noir’s alienated characters are naturally distrustful, seen-it-all, people out to salvage what they can from a ruthless society. They fight dirty. They’re survivors — but they jealously guard their individuality. Death is always just around the corner for characters ready to go out with their sex drive, dignity, intellect, wit, and stylish charm intact. Guns, cigarettes, booze, and sleazy hotel rooms — many of the scripts were adapted from pulp fiction magazines — come with the territory. As its name implies, the visual aspects of film Noir emphasize the high contrast between the black and white extremes of the film stock used predominantly during the period. German Expressionist cinema (“The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” - 1923) was influential on cinematographers attempting to capture a dislocated sense of social isolation that defined characters whose motivations are often centered around their need to escape.
Joan Crawford’s famous Charleston kick as captured in the year 1926.
Joan came to Hollywood in 1925 as a hard-knock Broadway chorus girl without censorship. She was a mascot of such favorite venues as the Cocoanut Grove and the Montmartre, where she would easily devastate her competition in countless Charleston contests. She collected more champion trophies than she knew what to do with.
Her vigorous Charleston became legendary as astonishingly early as 1930. When the age of the flapper buckled to patronizing reconsideration, Joan and her verve remained substantial in the nostalgia for a lost era. “Remember when Joan Crawford was a ‘hotcha’ baby tearing up the floor at the Grove?” sighed fan magazines, newspaper columnists, writers, actors, directors, producers, crew members, and wistful fellow Jazz Age symbols.
A rare exception in the Hollywood practice of impermanence, the memory of Joan as scalding “hey-hey” flapper of the Roaring Twenties never disappeared from the foreground. The beloved Crawford Charleston—breathless, stomping, panting, kicking, sweating, grinning, electrifying—has endured the restless American cultures of nearly nine decades. To this day it continues as an indestructible icon belling the legend of 1920s youth.