Movies are the greatest things that have ever happened, and anyone who says otherwise is three goblins stacked under an ironic mustache. Sadly, a lot of the people behind some of the best movies ever made get about as much recognition as the guy who sweeps your street at 4 a.m. Once again, it's time to change that. Here are eight people you're already a fan of, even if you've never heard their names before:
8Natalie Kalmus Made This Whole "Color Film" Idea Catch On
Back when the crazy notion that movies could be seen in color was first floated around Hollywood, the studios actually fought against it. It was just too much trouble. Color film was already a thing (as was color in general), but there had yet to be a film that proved its marketability the way Avatar made you say, "Ugh, fine, yes, I guess I'll pay for 3D." Luckily, MGM was cooking up an adaptation of a book of clown nightmares called The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz and brought in Natalie Kalmus, wife of Technicolor's founder, as the film's color consultant. It was her idea to make everything as cartoonishly bright and vibrant as possible -- like Dorothy's iconic shoes, which were silver in the book.
Thematically, red makes more sense, since she's a murderer and all.
After the film's success, Hollywood saw a boom in Technicolor-made films, all of which were crafted and lorded over by one lady no one has heard of who ended up with 366 film credits to her name. See, at the time no one knew how to actually shoot in color, which meant that someone would have to create rules for what does and doesn't look good on camera. And so, Natalie took point -- going over each individual film that partnered with Technicolor to create a specific palette she deemed appealing, then passing it on to the set design and wardrobe department and sometimes even sitting in as the goddamn cinematographer. That means everything from the muted beauty of Rope to the vibrancy of The Ten Commandments was exclusively created by Natalie Kalmus, or as the Rope's screenwriter bitterly called her, the "High Priestess of Technicolor."
Paramount Pictures/Warner Bros.
To reiterate: SHE TOLD HITCHCOCK WHAT TO DO.
Her work would go on to single-handedly influence everything from the look of the modern Western to proper skin tone and hair color on camera -- as her husband had specifically calibrated Technicolor to her image. And along with all of this, Natalie personally crafted the deal between Technicolor and Disney that would help the success of Snow White and subsequently craft your entire freaking childhood.
All of this while working in a male-dominated industry filled with directors who hated her. How are there three biopics for Steve Jobs and not at least 10 for this lady?
7Yoshio Sugino Was The Granddaddy Of Cinematic Violence
Before Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, swordfights in movies consisted of holding a piece of plastic while doing your best "I'm pooping" face. Enter Yoshio Sugino. To give you an idea of who he is that is better than any biography, here he is at age 92:
Sugino, martial arts instructor in Kurosawa's samurai epic, often butted heads with the director on how to portray the swordplay in the film, with Sugino wanting to go the grittier, more grounded route and Kurosawa wanting to stay focused on the fact that audiences were watching a fucking movie. This clash and eventual settlement would create a style of combat that would change film forever.
This movie came out three years before Leave It To Beaver.
Sugino would go on to work on Yojimbo, which was the primary influence (in terms of minor things like plot, themes, characters, and the way that violence was staged) behind A Fistful Of Dollars -- which in turn would help mark the shift in the way that violence was shown in Westerns. The pratfalls and brawls of earlier films in the "Golden Age" of Hollywood would be replaced by pure, sweaty vengeance ... and it can all be traced back to the roughness of Yojimbo. But that wasn't the only genre that Sugino influenced. George Lucas has said that he based a lot of Star Wars on Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, and it's evident in not only the tone and storyline but the dueling as well.
And if this pattern holds, The Force Awakens will be three hours of Indonesian-style vertebrae-shattering.
Before Lucas asked himself, "What if I replaced stakes and tension ... WITH FLIPS?" the lightsaber fights in Star Wars had a suspenseful and brutal weight to them. That's all Kurosawa/Sugino. And now you know why space warriors dress in Japan-style robes.