MAGIC IN THE MOVIES: The Story of Special Effects by Jane & Katy Hall O'Connor

MAGIC IN THE MOVIES: The Story of Special Effects

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The King Kong who terrorized New York in the original movie was really only 18"" tall, but a separate giant hand was constructed to hold Fay Wray for her screaming scenes. The battleship in Tora! Tora! Tora! was also a miniature, but a hefty 40-foot one scaled down from the actual 640 feet. The blizzards that raged in silent movies were not real snow but dyed cornflakes--whose crunch became a problem with the advent of talkies. Today shredded plastic is used, just as plastic has replaced the mostly-sugar ""candy glass"" through which heroes used to fall or leap. The Star Wars wookie had a coat of yak hair; three different models plus one real shark were used for the man-eating terror of Jaws; and the painful length to which Lon Chancy would go to achieve glazed eyeballs and other monstrous features was horrible in itself. O'Connor and Hall supplement these and other revelations with photos of the tricks as screened and in the making, and with a good deal of mechanical detail on monster makeup, hydraulic and pneumatic and radio-directed motion, and such old ploys as rear-projection, stop-motion photos, and matte painting. Unfortunately the small-print, small-margin format doesn't suit the just-for-fun subject or the authors' light touch. However, disaster-and monster-movie freaks will relish the revelations; and young movie-makers might notice that many of the masters' spectacular effects are astoundingly simple.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1981
Publisher: Doubleday