ADG Perspective

January-February 2016

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Page 113 of 115

112 P E R S P E C T I V E | J A N UA RY / F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 6 reshoots This beautiful watercolor was painted by the film's ADG Hall of Fame designer William Cameron Menzies for THE SON OF THE SHEIK (1926), Rudolph Valentino's last film, a rollicking and sexy adventure film, with large doses of humor, where the actor portrays both the son and the father (he is almost unrecognizable in the latter role) and acts with himself in split-screen scenes. Mr. Menzies was a graduate of Yale University, who served with the American forces in Europe during World War I. After the war, he attended classes at the Art Students League in New York City, and began his long career working for Famous Players and then for United Artists, designing sets on silent films. He was instrumental in elevating the Hollywood film to an art form, revolutionizing film decor and transforming it from an afterthought to a central component of cinematic design. The grandeur of classic Hollywood epics, historical dramas and opulent romances was heavily influenced by his work. So was the film noir style, which Mr. Menzies pioneered by welding German expressionism with a hard-nosed American realism. His creative energy and craftsmanship were enormous as he would walk through movie sets with a sketch pad under his arm, paying careful attention to every aspect of how a film looked, always seeking to improve each detail.

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