prowler prowler
Cartoon Culture

The Prowler at Film Forum

The Prowler

Beginning this Friday, a restored print of Joseph Losey’s film noir The Prowler plays for one week at the Film Forum in Manhattan. The film was co-scripted by blacklisted Hollywood Ten member Dalton Trumbo, photographed by three-time Oscar winner Arthur Miller, produced by Sam Spiegel (Lawrence of Arabia), and production designed by (get ready for this) John Hubley.

I asked a couple of the Hubley kids about this project recently and they told me that their dad actually worked on a number of live-action films and theatrical productions. John had earlier helped Losey with the design of an LA stage production of Bertolt Brecht’s Life of Galileo starring Charles Laughton. When Losey directed Prowler, he called on Hubley to explore the cinematic staging possibilities and push it beyond his own sensibilities, which were rooted in theater. Hubley was not the only Golden Age animation artist who worked in live-action. Just to name a few other examples, Ray Aragon storyboarded Norman Jewison’s In the Heat of the Night, Mary Blair did color design for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (directed by Disney animator David Swift), and Tyrus Wong worked for decades as a production designer at Warner Bros. It’s (yet another) area of animation history that is poorly documented and ripe for further research.

  • Pablo Ferro comes to mind as another designer with strong (NY) animation roots. . .

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    It also reminds me of the fact that Frank Tashlin had a foot in both worlds: that he worked in animation through the mid-1940s and then switched to live film starting with 1951’s “The Lemon Drop Kid” with Bob Hope.

  • Amazing.

  • Losey directed the Laughton version of “Life of Galileo” -Brecht had met Losey in Moscow when the writer was working “Kuhle Wampe”. This was 1947 in Hollywood Hills.

    One scene in particular (as scripted) -when Barbarini transforms bit by bit into Pope Urban -ranks amongst the world’s greatest pieces of literature.

    Incidentally, I’ve got post set for tomorrow on Caspar Neher -Brecht’s longtime production designer. I’ll have to scrounge for images from the LA production of Galileo, I’m sure I have them somewhere.

    Brecht had a demonstrable effect on all his collaborators, comparing the Hubley sets to Neher designs would be enlightening.

    Another interesting note: the original plan for the production of Galileo fell apart when producer Mike Todd offered to provide elaborate Renaissance sets from Hollywood lots. That, of course, goes against the very core of the play.

    Mike Todd would go on to (amongst other things) promulgate Odorama. The Hubley film, now lost, “Scent of Old Whiff” was produced in 1960 for him to play with “Scent of Mystery”.

  • Mark

    I see the great Boris Leven is credited with designing the film (he did Sound of Music, West Side Story, The King of Comedy, Anatomy of a Murder–among many other incredibly designed films).

    Did he hire Hubley to work for him, much like Robert Boyle hired Mary Blair to work for him on “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying?”

  • Mark

    Don’t forget also, that Dean Tavaoularis (Bonnie and Clyde, Zabriskie Point, Little Big Man, The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather Part 2, Apocalypse Now, One from the Heart, The Outsiders, Rumblefish, Tucker: The Man and his Dreams) got his start at Disney doing inbetweens, some story, and some layout on Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.

  • Mark

    That is Dean Tavoularis, Production Designer…if you wanna tweak my comment.

  • w

    There’s a book in that there post…This also explains why I love the palette for ‘How to Succeed in Business’ . I had no idea it was Mary Blair behind it! Thanks guys.

  • Trevor

    I just want to say that Dalton Trumbo is the best name I’ve ever heard

  • It’s interesting seeing those familiar names show up in unlikely places.

    To give another example, Eddie Fitzgerald once wrote in his blog that he did some storyboarding work for “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”