Tuesday, February 19, 2008

February 19, 2008
Got a complaint from a reader who maintains I don't know what I'm talking about in my February editorial in True West where I raved about the hats in There Will Be Blood. It's the usual anti-Hollywood hat brigade line, of which I was once a member. Meanwhile, here's a great insight to Daniel Plainview's lid. Got this from Mark Boardman:

And to Top It All Off. . .

Daniel Day-Lewis is considered a shoo-in for the Best Actor Oscar, along with the broad-brimmed, brown, sweat-stained hat he wore. There Will Be Blood director Paul Thomas Anderson has said it was key to the portrayal of Daniel Plainview, the rapacious California oilman. Anderson's longtime costume designer, Mark Bridges, talks about The Hat.

How did you choose that hat? What did it mean to the movie?
Leading up to the first time we see that hat, his hats kind of echo or inform what's going on with his career and life. He starts with a miner hat that is unshaped and unformed. By 1911, he had this hat. Daniel Day-Lewis felt the hats were very important to his character. There were three choices that were all good, and he took them and lived with them for days. He sort of creates mini-worlds, and so he took them, just took them for a spin, so to speak, and settled on that one as what he felt most comfortable with and most represented in his mind the character he was creating. And it took on a kind of magic where he would be Daniel Day-Lewis, but you knew he was Daniel Plainview once the hat went on. So that was very rewarding to me.

And by the way, the sweat stains are real. It was worn day in and day out and has been much loved by all who've come in contact with it.

And it's great that it's become an iconic image of the film. It was a found item, from one of the local costume rental shops. The hat size, the height of the crown, the coloring, the quality of it, everything about it was right. Again I have to say it took on a kind of magic, too, that we had it, that it was found. I love when that happens.
—Interview conducted and condensed by John Pancake

Meanwhile here are sketches 5,780 thru 5,787:

Still working hard on the Steins Pass robbery. The guy in red is a study for Tom Black Jack Ketchum, as he may have looked in 1897 at the time of the Classic Gunfight:

Finally watched Ace In The Hole (1951), the Billy Wilder film starring Kirk Douglas about a New York reporter, Charles Tatum (Douglas) who is stranded in Albuquerque and stumbles onto a story of a miner trapped in a cave-in near Gallup, New Mexico. I've seen parts of it several times on Turner Classic Movies, but I wanted to see it en toto—watched the commentary track and it is amazing, giving all the backstory and production problems and hidden symbolism (the term "friend" evolves throughout the film and takes on a sinister aspect at the end). And, of course, as a bonus, the trading post and surrounding area where they filmed the exteriors really reminds me of our family car trips to Iowa from Arizona and back. I always looked forward to that stretch of old Route 66 because of all the gigantic signs ("World's Largest Buffalo!"), curio shops and the In-din villages, like Laguna Pueblo.

The film was not successful in the U.S. but found a large following in Europe. Then when Woody Allen and Sam Pecinpah both listed it as one of their favorites it has sort of been rediscovered here. It's very dark but it has an integrity lacking in so much of the early fifties pap.

I've had the flick for two weeks (Netflix) and finally got a chance to view it last night.

"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going."
—Beverly Sills

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