Henry Bumstead and the World of Hollywood Art Direction

Henry Bumstead and the World of Hollywood Art Direction

Andrew Horton
Copyright Date: 2003
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/705197
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    Henry Bumstead and the World of Hollywood Art Direction
    Book Description:

    From a hotel in Marrakech inThe Man Who Knew Too Much,to small-town Alabama inTo Kill a Mockingbird,to Mission Control inSpace Cowboys,creating a fictional, yet wholly believable world in which to film a movie has been the passion and life's work of Henry Bumstead, one of Hollywood's most celebrated production designers. In a career that has spanned nearly seventy years, Bumstead has worked on more than one hundred movies and television films. His many honors include Academy Awards for Art Direction forTo Kill a MockingbirdandThe Sting,as well as nominations forVertigoandThe Unforgiven.

    This popularly written and extensively illustrated book tells the intertwining stories of Henry Bumstead's career and the evolution of Hollywood art direction. Andrew Horton combines his analysis of Bumstead's design work with wide-ranging interviews in which Bumstead talks about working with top directors, including Alfred Hitchcock, George Roy Hill, Robert Mulligan, and Clint Eastwood, as well as such stars as Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Doris Day, Jimmy Stewart, Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, Jerry Lewis, and James Cagney. Numerous production drawings, storyboards, and film stills illustrate how Bumstead's designs translated to film. This portrait of Bumstead's career underscores an art director's crucial role in shaping the look of a film and also tracks the changes in production design from the studio era through location shooting to today's use of high-tech special effects.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79761-1
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction: “Not Everything You Draw Shows Up in the Shot!”
    (pp. 1-17)

    In early August 2000, Henry Bumstead, one of Hollywood’s most celebrated art directors and production designers, walked on stage in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Film Festival Awards ceremony to receive a special award in production design for a lifetime of work. At age eighty-five, “Bummy” had spent quite a week, for his eighty-seventh film—Clint Eastwood’sSpace Cowboys—had just opened to strong reviews and equally strong box office receipts. Bumstead could well afford to smile that week, for few individuals have left such a legacy in Hollywood. As Clint Eastwood made clear in a comment the year before,...

  5. one The Paramount Years: “We All Wore Suits and Ties”
    (pp. 18-48)

    Bumstead joined Paramount Studios in 1937 and worked there until 1960, when he moved to Universal Studios. Paramount, one of the “Big Five” studios, had begun in 1914 as a film distribution company owned by W.W. Hodkinson and was to flourish in the years to come under the control of producer David Selznick (Schatz chap. 5). In fact, it became an extremely powerful studio during the silent period, working with the likes of Cecil De Mille on such spectacles asThe Ten Commandments(1923).

    Nineteen twenty-three was also the year that Hans Dreier arrived at Paramount from the famous German...

  6. two The Hitchcock Films: “Never in My Wildest Dreams!”
    (pp. 49-73)

    “Never in my wildest dreams,” Bumstead remarks, “did I ever believe I would work with Alfred Hitchcock!” After all these years, there is still a wide smile on his face when he explains what an unexpected opportunity it was.

    It was 1956, and he was working onThe Vagabond King, a rendition of the often-told story of the French poet François Villon and a remake of the Ronald Colman filmIf I Were King(1938), scripted by Preston Sturges. Michael Curtiz was the director, and Bummy’s challenge was to create a Gothic look on the Paramount lot. “I mean to...

  7. three Universal Studios, Robert Mulligan, and To Kill a Mockingbird
    (pp. 74-93)

    Henry Bumstead was very surprised when he won the Oscar for Robert Mulligan’sTo Kill a Mockingbird. Often the cast and crew of a film know whether it will be a big hit when they are working on it. But according to Bumstead, withTo Kill a Mockingbird, “The studio thought it was slow and didn’t know what they would do with it. They weren’t sure anyone would really be interested in it when they previewed it. Then they realized they had a hit!” Part of that surprise comes, of course, from the kind of studio Universal had always been,...

  8. four Working with George Roy Hill: From Dresden to Venice and Everywhere in Between
    (pp. 94-119)

    The Sting(1973) was to be Bumstead’s second Oscar-winning film and the second of eight films made with director George Roy Hill. His other projects with Hill includedSlaughterhouse-Five(1972),The Great Waldo Pepper(1975),Slap Shot(1977),A Little Romance(1979),The World According to Garp(1982),The Little Drummer Girl(1984), and Hill’s final film,Funny Farm(1988).

    There is always a sense of respect and affection for Hill when Bummy speaks of his work for “George,” as he always refers to this director, who refused to stick to a single genre or style. Thus working with George...

  9. five The Eastwood Films: “Clint Does His Homework”
    (pp. 120-146)

    It’s a simple fact of film history that most established directors have surrounded themselves with a trusted team of coworkers and artists whom they enjoy working with and who they know will make a big contribution to their films. But part of the pleasure of following Henry Bumstead’s career is to see the variety of talented directors he has had the opportunity to work with. This final “director-centered” chapter concerns Bummy’s work with Clint Eastwood. And the differences between Eastwood and the other directors with whom Bumstead has made four or more films—Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Mulligan, and George Roy...

  10. six Final Takes on a Handful of Favorites
    (pp. 147-166)

    Production designer Patrizia von Brandenstein (Breaking Away, Amadeus,etc.) conveys one of the deep pleasures of the field: “One of the attractive things about this business of production design is the opportunity to become an expert on a lot of different subjects in a very short time” (LoBrutto 182). My study of Henry Bumstead’s wide-ranging contribution to Hollywood art direction and production design closes with a look at a handful of films that stand out in his mind because of the directors he worked with or the special challenges of the project or both. We could easily have listed a...

  11. Toward a Conclusion
    (pp. 167-172)

    As I completed my interviews for this study during the fall of 2001, Bummy was invited to speak at the Los Angeles Film School. I was fortunate to be able to join him on that balmy autumn afternoon, not long after the tragic events of September 11. Almost a hundred students joined him in a large auditorium as he showed 35mm footage fromVertigo, Space Cowboys,andAbsolute Power, speaking informally about each and answering questions from those present.

    It was a pleasure for me to watch the students catching on to both Bummy and everything he represents: a shining...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 173-174)
  13. Filmography
    (pp. 175-180)
  14. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 181-184)
  15. Index
    (pp. 185-193)