Beverly Hills, CA: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer [MGM], 1952. Vintage oversize double weight photograph of James Mason on location in Bronson Canyon, California, for the shooting of "Julius Caesar" in 1952. Shot and struck by the film's still photographer, Bob Willoughby. SIGNED by Willoughby at the bottom right margin in black ink, with his rubber stamp on the verso (noting his Los Angeles address). Full provenance available.
After studying with Saul Bass at the Kann Institute of Art in Los Angeles, Willoughby began working as a photographer for magazines such as "Life," "Look," and "Harper's Bazaar" in the late 1940s. It was while on assignment covering Judy Garland in a "A Star is Born" that Willoughby's ability to capture his subjects' spontaneity, humor, and vulnerability, resulting in images that were far different from more traditional film stills, came to Hollywood's attention and earned him his first "Life" magazine cover. Willoughby spent the next 20-plus years working as a set photographer for every major studio, documenting some of most important films of the era and creating intimate portraits of some of Hollywood's greatest celebrities.
Technically and stylistically innovative, Willoughby built the first remote radio-controlled cameras used on film sets, pioneered the use of the "silent blimp" for 35mm cameras, and created brackets to mount his cameras directly over the movie cameras to capture the same images.
Willoughby moved his family to County Cork, Ireland in 1972, working on only a handful of films through the late 1970s and early 1980s, though he would continue to photograph, exhibit, and publish books for the remainder of his life. The stills in this collection were given by Willoughby to friends in Kilbrittain, Ireland just prior to his move to Vence, France in 1989, where he would remain until his death in 2009.
Perhaps more than any other photographer, Willoughby is responsible for creating the the look of mid-century celebrity and moviemaking in the popular imagination, with his images printed in magazines literally every week of his career. But beyond being prolific, Willoughby's legacy rests with his ability capture the essence of the actors he photographed, as well as the films with which those photographs were associated. As Sydney Pollack said in his introduction to Willoughby's autobiography, "Sometimes a filmmaker gets a look at a photograph taken on his own set and sees the 'soul' of his film in one still photograph. It's rare, but it happens. It happened to me in 1969, the first time I looked at the work of Bob Willoughby during the filming of "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?"
Willoughby's photographs are in the permanent collections of ten museums, including The National Portrait Galleries in Washington, DC and London, the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Tate Modern.
In a custom museum-quality frame, archivally mounted, with UV glass. 16 x 17.25 inches. Near Fine.