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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Who directed this shot?

And when?

UPDATE (3/11/10): Answer below...

Yep, it's "Twentieth Century" (1934), directed by Howard Hawks and photographed by Joseph H. August, a two-time Oscar nominee for "Gunga Din" (1939) and "Portrait of Jennie" (1948). It struck me because it's not the kind of striking composition we usually associate with the "invisible style" of Hawks -- looks more like a Welles or Wyler shot -- and yet it was made for Columbia Pictures a good seven years before that RKO picture about the guy from Xanadu. August (1890 - 1947) has a very impressive list of credits (151 of them on IMDb) going back to 1913, including silents and very early talkies made with Hawks, John Ford and William Wellman. Among some of his better-known (and strikingly photographed) pictures are Ford's "The Informer" (1935), "The Plough and the Stars" (1936) and "They Were Expendable" (1945), George Cukor's enchanted "Sylvia Scarlett" (1935) and William Dieterlie's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1939). Incredible stuff!

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