Saturday, March 15, 2014


Another documentary for me on cinematographers.  Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond a couple of Hungarian film students fled Hungry during the Soviet invasion of the 1950's.  They ended up in Hollywood eventually shooting about any low budget job they could get while working their way up.  They hooked up with Roger Corman and finally hit the big time working for directors like Spielberg, De Palma and Bogdanovich.  They come off as middle aged teddy bears at time this documentary was made but I suspect that they were a couple of pretty tough characters to survive in the film business.

This is the usual interview type format for these kind of documentaries.  The list of people they have worked with is pulled out, everyone sits for a few minutes and sings their praises, there are lots of film clips of their work, etc.

Probably the most interesting stuff is Zsigmond's time working with Steven Spielberg.  Zsigmond had shot Spielberg's first film The Sugarland Express and later Spielberg used him on Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  There are references to Spielberg and studio firing him five times during the making of that film but the reason for their conflict is never explained.  Zsigmond makes a cryptic remark that he wanted Spielberg to film it like a movie but it is never explained what that meant.  Kovacs shot Peter Bogdanovich's better films and probably was a major influence on him.  He also has a cinematographer credit on Ghostbusters of all things.  This guy worked in about every genre in the film business. 

This is a film more for movie buffs than the general public but it is a lesson in "paying your dues."

104 Minutes.

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