The Institute of Lifelong Learning recently presented Michael Dryhurst, “Films with Michael,” at the Woodlands Auditorium. Dryhurst, best known as a producer of blockbuster films including Never Say Never Again, Superman, Excalibur, Deliverance (John Boorman’s assistant) and Hudson Hawk, to name a few. His hope and glory won a Golden Globe in 1987.
A producer, director, production manager, cameraman and actor, Dryhurst has been influential in the motion picture industry for over 60 years and president of Michael Dryhurst Products, Ltd. in California.
Dryhurst offered film clips and explained many aspects of what was being produced guiding the audience through information on pre-production, post-production, sets, actors, editing and many other details for make a movie.
From the age of 17, Dryhurst was a clapboard loader. He explained that the sound and video of the early film production were not joined at the same time during filming, and the post-production editing was responsible for joining the two together. The shingle was the guide for the assembly service. With everything streamlined today, the shingle is part of movie history and a director need only say, “Lights, camera, action,” he joked.
Films began shooting primarily in New York City, and with less light, film producers moved to Southern California, he said. He explained the structure and responsibilities of many positions in filmmaking, including director, producer, editor, actors, sound technicians and editor.
“A director takes care of the creation from start to finish and the producer gives him the tools to direct,” said Dryhurst. Offering a clip from Once Upon A Time In The West, the film’s opening had no dialogue but only intense music and an emotional entrance for the lead actor. He said one of the film’s biggest opening scenes featured A Touch of Evil. His music video was very dramatic in demonstration.
He explained that for the movie Jaws, the sounds were edited indoors and outdoors because the winds and waves were sometimes too dominant and the voices had to be matched and duplicated in post-production. “In Inherit the Wind, intense facial expression from all angles was essential and the editing department made the film.” he said. “Spencer Tracy and Burt Lancaster were unmatched in their intensity.”
Sunset Boulevard won William Holden an Oscar, but Dryhurst said Gloria Swanson was nominated and did not receive one. “She was an absolutely perfect actress and should have walked away with one too.”
Another noted actor was Al Pacino in Godfather II. The clip featured a mobster making demands of Pacino’s Michael Corleone. “Pacino had absolutely no dialogue in this scene, but look at his eyes, they say it all.”
He said black-and-white films were very different from the color and computer-generated special effects in films today. “At the time, movies were about story and how actors created their characters.”
He said films today are produced for a much younger generation.
Dryhurst explained the production of several train wreck and car race clips and how the actors and their doubles would switch places and how the editing provided the perfect transition. “You’ll see how Steve McQueen is behind his horse in The Magnificent Seven and how it looks like he’s going away, but it’s his double in the lead. It’s more movie magic. He said that from many action movies have countless doubles because the lead actors can’t be placed in a situation that could cancel the production.
Car chases shown on clips, one being filmed from start to finish, as the cars were carefully choreographed to a slower pace and high speed introduced in post-production.
When asked which actor was the best or worst to work with, Dryhurst’s answers were amusing to say the least. Kudos to Ava Gardner, Sarah Miles, Helen Mirren, Marlon Brando, Burt Lancaster and Robert Mitchum. Not so good on Angela Lansbury and Cybill Shepherd. “I was speaking with Frank Sinatra and he told me . . . ‘Never every BS a BSer’ . . and I didn’t. Applause and laughter followed his comments.
If you missed this LLI session, don’t miss the next “Movies with Michael” scheduled for early October, back by popular demand. Watch for future announcements for more details. This will be a “not to be missed” event.
The Hot Springs Village Lifelong Learning Institute is a group of volunteers who are committed to staying engaged through ongoing education, monthly get-togethers, fun outings, sharing the arts locally and in communities. other areas of Arkansas, local and remote travel and networking.
LLI members receive discounts on courses and events. Non-members can attend events for a slightly higher fee. LLI membership helps support the cause. For more LLI membership and ticket information, go to https://hotspringsvillagepeople.com/hot-springs-village-lifelong-learning-institute/