Saturday, 21 July 2012

“The movie business has always been a business like any other, and even more so than most. Every dollar counted and every penny had to show up on the screen. To put it another, blunter way – it was very likely, as a cost-saving device, an economic imperative to utilise to the fullest every board, plank and canvas flat on the studio stages. Sets and parts of sets would get recycled, with lower-budgeted films probably benefiting the most from the cast-offs of the major productions, although even major productions cannibalised sets and parts of sets, architectural trim, chandeliers, wall sconces, sections of staircases, doorways, etc. from other films. Consider this example: George Sidney’s Scaramouche was released in the US in May 1952. Minnelli’s The Bad and the Beautiful, which was shot between April and June 1952, was released in December 1952. A left-over section of one of Scaramouche's most elaborate set pieces, the duel in the theatre, is used as a throwaway in Minnelli’s film. The partial set is not necessary for the short twenty-second, single-shot scene in The Bad and the Beautiful, in which Kirk Douglas rehearses with Lana Turner – but it certainly enhances it.
The set, clearly kept in mothballs for future use, resurfaces for a cameo appearance in Minnelli’s Two Weeks in Another Town, ten years later in 1962, with added-on opera box modules. This time, Kirk Douglas is rehearsing Rosanna Schiaffino. Is it the same ladder?”
- The Secret Life of Objects, Mark Rappaport in Rouge.