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Paintings That Played A Role in the Movies


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Paintings have, at times, played significant roles in the story lines of movies. It seems to me that this became the case particularly with a number of Hollywood productions during the 1940s. Here are a few samples that come to mind:

 

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Fritz Lang's Woman in the Window, with a reflection of Joan Bennett in the gallery window as she looks at her own portrait. This is how the film's protagonist, played by Edward G. Robinson, will meet the lady.

 

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Fritz Lang's Scarlet Street. John Decker, a once celebrated, though largely now forgottten, Hollywood artist did a few portraits for the Lang film (all "painted" in the film by Edward G. Robinson). The most famous is the Joan Bennett likeness.

 

 

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Otto Preminger's Laura, with private detective Dana Andrews investigating the murder of the title character, and falling in love with her largely because of this haunting portrait. I rather suspect that when many film fans today think of Gene Tierney they may think of this portrait of her before they do any of the actress's actual film work.

 

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Portrait of Jennie (1948), with starving artist Joseph Cotten inspired to paint the portrait of a little girl, who strangely appears years older each time they meet. The final shot in Selznick's black-and-white production is a colour image of the completed portrait.

 

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A portrait of a different kind from 1944's Picture of Dorian Gray. This sumptuous black-and-white MGM production, had one colour insert shot, as well, that of the portrait depicting the moral and physical decay of the title character. The extreme distortions of the image are analogous to an hallucinogenic experience.

 

Can anyone think of any other films in which a painting played a significant role in the film. For this particular thread, if you have the ability to post an image of the painting, that would be great.

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Is this going to be another film noir-related thread? Looking at the examples in the OP, I am sincerely wondering. I think it's a good thread topic, but it should cover all genres.

 

Just my opinion here folks. And before we bring out the hate brigade...as I said I like this thread idea, but there have been paintings used as plot devices in all kinds of films. So I hope this thread covers all angles and is not genre-biased.

 

But if this thread is going to just be another exercise to talk about noir, then it really should have been started in the noir sub-forum is my feeling on that.

 

Thanks for letting me express my concern. :)

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Is this going to be another film noir-related thread? Looking at the examples in the OP, I am sincerely wondering. I think it's a good thread topic, but it should cover all genres.

 

Just my opinion here folks. And before we bring out the hate brigade...as I said I like this thread idea, but there have been paintings used as plot devices in all kinds of films. So I hope this thread covers all angles and is not genre-biased.

 

But if this thread is going to just be another exercise to talk about noir, then it really should have been started in the noir sub-forum is my feeling on that.

 

Thanks for letting me express my concern. :)

 

Hmmmm....gotta say while it seems any time the name of "Fritz Lang" is even mentioned within a thread lately TB, you seem to have almost a knee-jerk reaction to wanting said thread moved to the Noir forum.

 

However, I'd like to remind to here that Tom also included examples of "Portrait of Jennie" and "The Picture of Dorian Gray" in his opening post, and thus because neither of those films are considered of the Film Noir genre, then I believe your concern here is unjustified.

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Is this going to be another film noir-related thread? Looking at the examples in the OP, I am sincerely wondering. I think it's a good thread topic, but it should cover all genres.

 

Just my opinion here folks. And before we bring out the hate brigade...as I said I like this thread idea, but there have been paintings used as plot devices in all kinds of films. So I hope this thread covers all angles and is not genre-biased.

 

But if this thread is going to just be another exercise to talk about noir, then it really should have been started in the noir sub-forum is my feeling on that.

 

Thanks for letting me express my concern. :)

Instead of complaining about your illusion that this is intended as a film noir thread, which it is not (Portrait of Jennie, film noir, really?), why don't you do a more constructive thing, TB, by suggesting a painting in a film from another genre? 

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The Light That Failed (1939). Based on the Kipling novel, artist Ronald Colman is inspired to paint his first "great" portrait, that of a street girl, played by Ida Lupino (in the role that first brought her to the attention of film critics). 

 

Later in the film, after Colman has turned blind, Lupino, in a moment of spite, will mutilate this portrait. Colman won't know it, though, as no one will have the heart to tell him that his one masterpiece has been butchered.

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Milo looks at the portrait of Marguerite, so fleetingly shown in Sleuth:

 

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Who does it remind you of?

To tell you the truth, facially, the lady in the portrait reminds me of Joanne Woodward. Did you have someone else in mind, Richard?

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Sorry I don't have the ability to show a picture of the portraits:

 

The portrait of Ava Gardner in PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN.

 

THE NAKED MAJA takes its title from a Goya painting, and Ava Gardner stars in this one, too.

 

Poor Joan Fontaine dresses up like a portrait in Manderley, as suggested by the wicked Mrs. Danvers in REBECCA.

 

There are quite a few bios of painters, like REMBRANDT and LUST FOR LIFE, which include self-portraits by the artists.

 

Tom, I think you're right that, for whatever reason, this motif is more common in the 1940s.

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The painting "Susanna and the Elders" in Psycho is key to the story. It's the painting that covers the hole through which Norman Bates peeps at Marian Crane. 

 

The story content of the painting refers to two men who peep at Susanna as she bathes, then try to blackmail her and rape her. The story has been depicted many times in paintings. I'm not sure which one Hitchcock uses, but I'm pretty sure it's not Rembrandt's version.

 

With Hitchcock, everything is there for a reason!

 

 

 

 

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Picture of Dorian Gray is film noir, I must be losing my marbles. Someone dial 911.

Or maybe you are losing your manners, because there obviously was a more pleasant way to state that, instead of jumping on the hate bandwagon, which your post implies you are doing.

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As I recall, in the biopics of both Vincent van Gogh("Lust for Life") and Frida Kahlo("Frida"), the directors of each of these films would focus upon the painting done by the artist and then use it to cinematically segue either into or out of a scene.

 

(...and there might be other films which have used this technique, but these two came immediately to mind here, Tom)

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There are quite a few bios of painters, like REMBRANDT and LUST FOR LIFE, which include self-portraits by the artists.

 

That's right,and I feel the OP should have mentioned these at the very beginning of the thread. When those were curiously omitted, I got the rightful impression the focus was once again going to be noir.

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The Uninvited (1944). The portrait of "Mary Meredith," who may or may not be a ghost  that may or may not be the mother of tormented heroine Gail Russell. That's Cornelia Otis Skinner standing beside the portrait, the strange guardian of Mary's legacy.

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Instead of complaining about your illusion that this is intended as a film noir thread, which it is not (Portrait of Jennie, film noir, really?), why don't you do a more constructive thing, TB, by suggesting a painting in a film from another genre? 

I felt like I was being constructive the way I worded my earlier reply, plus I was doing it respectfully. PORTRAIT OF JENNIE may not technically be a noir, but it shares stylistic elements with noir. And PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY seems like a horror-noir. I did not see any examples in the beginning of biopics about painters (which should have been the most obvious way to begin the thread) nor were there any examples in the musical genre. 

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That's right,and I feel the OP should have mentioned these at the very beginning of the thread. When those were curiously omitted, I got the rightful impression the focus was once again going to be noir.

Why do you aggressively persist with this logic, TB? Dorian Gray is NOT noir. Portrait of Jennie is NOT noir. And they were both in the original posting. So, no, you didn't get a "rightful" impression at all. You jumped to a false conclusion!

 

And I also notice that you still haven't added anything constructive to the thread. You only want to continue to complain.

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Or maybe you are losing your manners, because there obviously was a more pleasant way to state that, instead of jumping on the hate bandwagon, which your post implies you are doing.

 

Honestly, your post showed no manners to judge the original post. Since you are claiming to be an expert in classic movies a knowledge of film noir is not that heady of a topic. Now I really don't want to judge you but you kind of asked for it by saying this post does not belong in this category. It CLEARLY covers more than film noir, even if we took the broadest definition possible.

 

You can report me if you wish but i doubt they make a case as this is not a film noir category topic. No way, no how hombre. Sorry if you can't accept the facts or I hurt your feelings, but ever now and then my psychosis acts up, lol. I'm innocent. And i am deleting the offending post to make you happy.

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Honestly, your post showed no manners to judge the original post. Since you are claiming to be an expert in classic movies a knowledge of film noir is not that heady of a topic. Now I really don't want to judge you but you kind of asked for it by saying this post does not belong in this category. It CLEARLY covers more than film noir, even if we took the broadest definition possible.

 

You can report me if you wish but i doubt they make a case as this is not a film noir category topic. No way, no how hombre. Sorry if you can't accept the facts or I hurt your feelings, but ever now and then my psychosis acts up, lol. I'm innocent. And i am deleting the offending post to make you happy.

You are interpreting it as a judgment of the original post. It was a concern, which I stated in my reply, and I feel it is a valid concern. You do not agree with that, fine, but please stop hating on me. Discuss it with me as a respectful adult or else do not post directly to me. Thank you.

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Spellbound. Most memorably, a collaboration of Alfred Hitchcock and Salavador Dali, with Dali involved with the set design for the film's dream sequences. This Dali painting now has, peaking out from beside the chimney, a "murderer"?

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Sorry I don't have the ability to show a picture of the portraits:

 

The portrait of Ava Gardner in PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN.

 

 

I've got this painting here, kingrat. Thanks for the reminder.

 

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I also notice that you still haven't added anything constructive to the thread. You only want to continue to complain.

Not true. I am going to deliberately provide an example outside the noir genre. Here is a Betty Grable musical comedy with a plot that hinges on a painting:

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THAT LADY IN ERMINE (1948)

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