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1 item from 2013

The Forgotten: The Glove on the Mantelpiece

6 March 2013 1:52 PM, PST | MUBI | See recent MUBI news »

Forgive me, I'm on a production designer kick at present.

According to Screen Deco by Edward Mandelbaum and Eric Myers, MGM's head of department Cedric Gibbons was an early exponent of the constructed set, back in the early teens when rooms were often nothing more than painted flats. He's "the man who put the glove on the mantelpiece," meaning that before that you couldn't put anything on a mantelpiece since it was nothing but a trompe l'oeil bunch of brushstrokes. You'd have to put ball-bearings in your glove and magnetize it from behind, or something. Messy.

In 1928, the year sound came, Gibbons staged another, quiet revolution with Our Dancing Daughters, an early Joan Crawford vehicle, and what's known as a "soundie"—there's sound effects and a recorded score, but no synch dialogue. (Odd moment: an offscreen voice calls for Joan to do her dance, and then her lips move soundlessly in reply, »

- David Cairns

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