The Homecoming (1973)
View image: It starts here...
View image ... and ends here. And nearly everything that happens, except for a slow movement in on the house, happens off-screen.
From Richard T. Jameson, Editor, Movietone News, 1971-81; Editor, Film Comment, 1990-2000:
The opening shot of Joseph Losey's "Accident" (1966) begins under the main-title credits and runs for a minute or so after they have concluded. We're looking at the front of a good-sized but hardly palatial house in the English countryside -- the home, as it happens, of an Oxford don whose academic career has been less than stellar. It's nighttime, tangibly well into the wee hours. No lights are burning, no activity within is apparent. The credits roll without musical accompaniment. On the soundtrack we detect an airplane passing overhead; onscreen, a slight alteration of perspective on the surrounding tree boughs makes us aware that the camera is slowly nudging closer to the house. After a moment, there is the sound of an automobile approaching. The noise grows loud; the engine is racing. Then, a screech of tires and the sound of impact and shattering glass, abruptly cut off. There is a further pause. Then the front door of the house opens, only a hint of light glimmering in the interior. Hesitantly, a man steps out, then begins advancing into the night. Cut to several murky shots impressionistically marking his progress as he moves toward the scene of the titular accident.
The shot, though plain as, uh, day, is remarkable for several reasons. One, of scant concern to most of us, is that with it the director and his first-time cinematographer Gerry Fisher achieved their goal of shooting a color scene that actually looks like what it's supposed to be: a nighttime exterior as seen by moonlight, rather than a day-for-night fakeroo or some other conventional attempt to imitate nighttime via filters and technical trickery. Losey and Fisher went to extreme pains with the film lab to get the shot to look exactly as they wanted it -- even though, as Losey ruefully observed in interview, they knew most theaters would bathe the screen with mauve houselights for the benefit of late-arriving seat-takers, and in any event a few passes in front of the projector's carbon arc would soon alter the image on the emulsion.
So, technically, a real, if effectively unnoticed and ephemeral, coup.
NEW YORK - The situation was so incongruous I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Here I was at one of those New York "press openings" for a new movie. The format was pretty standard. A hotel ballroom was filled with a half-dozen round tables, and each table held a half dozen movie critics. The producer, director, writer and star of the new film moved from table to table, answering questions for 15 minutes before it was time to switch.
"Gold" isn't exactly the best movie Susannah York has ever appeared in. But it brought her to Chicago on a promotional tour, and that was one considerable item in its favor. She sat cross-legged in a suite at the Whitehall, worked through a bunch of grapes and said "Gold" had been a good place to start again after two years away from the movies.