HIDDEN RACIALISM / RACISM

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
earlytalkiebuffRob
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HIDDEN RACIALISM / RACISM

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Sat Jun 09, 2018 1:58 am

Watching Frank Borzage's AFTER TOMORROW (1932) last night prompted me to check the director of photography, whom I discovered was James Wong Howe, but the 'Wong' was left out of his name. Would that have been his choice (although I think 'choice' would have been the wrong word), in order to find work more easily, or would that have been a studio (Fox in this case) decision?

A quick IMDb check reveals several credits as 'James Howe', with variants...

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oldposterho
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Re: HIDDEN RACIALISM / RACISM

Unread post by oldposterho » Sat Jun 09, 2018 7:45 am

That's a good question. Good ol' Lantern has the full JWH name starting in 1924 and he placed a prominent ad in '26 with his full name so he clearly was not afraid of using the Wong name. The studios on the other hand...

Looking at the always credible (ahem) IMDB, it seems most of his silent career was credited without the Wong so there's probably a pretty good case to be made that it wasn't his choice or he chose to not use it as a survival mechanism.

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missdupont
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Re: HIDDEN RACIALISM / RACISM

Unread post by missdupont » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:30 am

There is a James Wong Howe Collection at the Margaret Herrick Library, that might be the place to check about this. They would also have connection to his nephew, who might know as well.

earlytalkiebuffRob
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Re: HIDDEN RACIALISM / RACISM

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:01 am

missdupont wrote:There is a James Wong Howe Collection at the Margaret Herrick Library, that might be the place to check about this. They would also have connection to his nephew, who might know as well.
Had no idea there was a living nephew, so yes, both may be leads. Alas my copy of Todd Rainsberger's book on Howe is on loan to a pal at the moment...

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radiotelefonia
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Re: HIDDEN RACIALISM / RACISM

Unread post by radiotelefonia » Sun Jun 10, 2018 10:20 am

Reportedly, he was credited as James Howe in all of the silent films and early talkies in which he was involved, and the name was switched to James Wong Howe once he began to make films for MGM in the early 30s.
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JFK
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JWH Audio Interview

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radiotelefonia
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Re: HIDDEN RACIALISM / RACISM

Unread post by radiotelefonia » Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:31 pm

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radiotelefonia
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Re: HIDDEN RACIALISM / RACISM

Unread post by radiotelefonia » Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:52 pm

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syd
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Re: HIDDEN RACIALISM / RACISM

Unread post by syd » Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:24 pm

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002146/bio" target="_blank

"Because of the problem with early orthochromatic film registering blue eyes on screen, Howe was soon promoted to operating cameraman at Paramount (the new name for the Lasky Studio), where his talents were noted. A long-time photography buff, Jimmie Howe enjoyed taking still pictures and made extra money photographing the stars. One of his clients was professional "sweet young thing" Mary Miles Minter, of the William Desmond Taylor shooting scandal, who praised Jimmie's photographs because they made her pale blue eyes, which did not register well on film, look dark. When she asked him if he could replicate the effect on motion picture film, he told her he could, and she offered him a job as her cameraman."

"Howe did not know how he'd made Minter's eyes look dark, but he soon realized that the reflection of a piece of black velvet at the studio that had been tacked up near his still camera had cast a shadow in her eyes, causing them to register darkly. Promoted to Minter's cameraman, he fashioned a frame of black velvet through which the camera's lens could protrude; filming Minter's close-ups with the device darkened her eyes, just as she desired. The studio was abuzz with the news that Minter had acquired a mysterious Chinese cameraman who made her blue eyes register on film. Since other blue-eyed actors had the same problem, they began to demand that Jimmie shoot them, and a cinematography star was born."

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