Thursday, August 25, 2011

In the Land Before CGI: The Hurricane

Since I've long wanted to include John Ford's The Hurricane on an edition of In the Land Before CGI, I figured what better time than with Hurricane Irene making her way up the coast. Made in 1937 and playing as an island soap opera, it's not as well regarded by Ford fans as many of his other films but that has more to do with the fact that so many of his other films are masterpieces (Stagecoach, The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, etc) than with The Hurricane's quality. Oh, it's nothing great on the story side of things, to be sure, but Ford handles soap opera pretty damn well for a man who was so associated with the more macho side of cinema.

And let's lay something else on the table: When you watch a movie called The Hurricane, you're watching to see the hurricane. I mean, seriously, let's be honest here, that's the primary objective.

And, wow, does Ford deliver!

With both miniature and full scale effects by James Basevi, effects photography by R.O. Binger and sound recording by Jack Noyes and Thomas Moulton, the climactic hurricane is a wonder to behold. I've assembled only a couple of minutes of the much longer hurricane sequence, omitting most character action and just focusing on the effects, shown in order as the island goes from wave battered to, finally, underwater. Enjoy the clips.
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