Monday, March 31, 2014

Capa, Hitchcock & Rear Window


Commander K. and Hitch, Hoxton, UK
Statue by Antony Donaldson

One of my great heroes, Robert Capa (http://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/robert-capa.html), inspired one of my favorite movies, Rear Window (www.amzn.com/B008DCAG9M).  This film was directed by Alfred Hitchcock (http://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/the-lady-vanishes.html) and starred Jimmy Stewart -- two other heroes of mine.

June 6, 1944, Omaha Beach, Robert Capa
Robert Capa was a Hungarian-born photographer who documented the Allied liberation of Western Europe in World War II.  He was fiercely anti-fascist, but also disdained socialism -- my kind of guy!  He took extraordinary risks as a war photographer.  His mantra was "If you're pictures are no good, you're not close enough."   He got closer than any other photographer on June 6, 1944.  Only eight out of the 100 or so shots that he took that day survived the developing process.  Those eight shots, however, are truly amazing.

On the day that Paris was liberated, August 25, 1944, Capa rode into the capital city "on a tank made by the Americans who had accepted me, riding with the Spanish Republicans with whom I fought against fascism long years ago, I was returning to Paris-- the beautiful city where I first lean red to eat, drink and love."  (Source: Slightly Out of Focus, Robert Capa 1947www.amzn.com/0375753966)

Ingrid Bergman 1915 - 1982
After the war he met and had an affair with the actress Ingrid Bergman who had been sent to Europe in 1945 to entertain the many American troops in the European Theatre of Operations.  Just after the war Alfred Hitchcock cast Bergman in Notorious with Cary Grant.  Capa hung around the set where he became friends with the famous director.

Capa was totally committed to his trade as a photographer which meant that he had to be ready to travel on a moment's notice to war zones and other locations.  He could not commit himself to a traditional marriage with Bergman who also could not accompany him into dangerous war zones.

On the set of Notorious (1946) Bergman turned to Hitchcock as her father confessor, telling of her frustrations with Capa between takes.

Alfred Hitchcock Blue plaque
153 Cromwell Road, London
Photo courtesy: Tim Lyons
Hitchcock remembered these tales of the adventurous photographer and the glamorous beauty and incorporated them into his film Rear Window.  Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly starred in Rear Window which follows the adventures of a bed-ridden photographer (racing accident) who may or may not have witnesssed a murder from outside the window of his NYC apartment.  Stewart had, like Capa, exposed himself to great danger in world War II piloting over 20 missions in a B-24.  (http://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/duxford-andgeorge-carlin.html).

Hitchcock statue, Hoxton
Gainsborough Studios
The enormous bust of Hitchcock made by Antony Donaldson can be found in London's east end neighbourhood of Hoxton.  Gainsborough studios was used by Alfred Hitchcock during his "English" period.  The statue is surrounded by apartment buildings which could easily provide a location for an updated version of Rear Window.

Rear Window was released in 1954, the same year that Robert Capa stepped on a landmine and was killed in Vietnam.

Source: Richard Whelan's Introduction to Robert Capa's 1947 memoir Slightly Out of Focus www.amzn.com/0375753966.




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