Wright and the cinematographic business | Jorge Gorostiza

Wright at 70, 1937
John Lautner working behind Frank Lloyd Wrigh, 1937

Frank Lloyd Wright‘s relations with the cinema are numerous, in this blog already those of filmmakers have treated each other as Nicholas Ray and David Lynchwith the architect, in addition his buildings have been used as places to roll movies and in my doctoral thesis I wrote on the Ennis-Brown House and his numerous appearances on the screens as scene in very varied movies.

Now I am studying John Lautner‘s work and in an interview I have found a curious anecdote on Wright and the business of the big studies thanks to the distribution.

Lautner declared that Wright:

«It had his own theatre in Wisconsin and also in Arizona, and while I was there as apprentice, we had all the European movies, which were fantastic. Mr. Wright loved the Russian cartoon and René Clair’s French movies, and we saw the better thing. But we could not obtain the best American movies due to his systems of distribution. They need that you rent the bad one, together with the good one. For what finished for saying to the devil with them, for years.

But, finally, it did a trip here [it refers to Hollywood] and I took it with the express intention of breaking the distribution system of movies; what nobody any more might try. It was very enterteining. Without any appointment by no means, we were entering all the principal offices of the big studies of cinema.

Mr. Wright decía:

“Well, I do not believe that you know whom I am, but I am Frank Lloyd Wright, and take place in Arizona and a small theatre”.

Casi todos sabían quién era y le decían,

“Oh, yes. Certainly that we know, because it has been a celebrity for fifty years, whereas the average of a cinematographic star only is five or ten years”.

This way the things are seen from the managerial point of view. Because of it it had a heap of interesting conversations with different persons it brings over of breaking the distribution system. Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that they were leaders of certain studies, the first ones four or five that we went to see could not do anything.

They were tied because of this system. But what happened was that finally we went to see a man who was leader – do not be if of the MGM or another study-, and it had the real control of the distribution of the movies for the cinemas and it might do what was. He was the chief. So Mr. Wright started speaking with him on the problem, he interrupted and said it:

“I know everything on you because I have supported a record of all his life. I was going in a ship to Yokohama with you”

-when he was constructing the Imperial Hotel – this man had the hobby of doing the follow-up of all the passengers of this ship to Yokohama. Frank Lloyd Wright was one, Franz Werfel and several other persons were in this ship. It had everything what him had happened to all these persons, his history completes. So naturally it gave to us a good reception and later he said,

“Well, what does want?”

Mr. Wright said that it wanted to have good movies without having to rent the bad ones or have to do any other absurd business. The man said:

“Everything what wants, without post, at any time”.

This way it broke the distribution system and could obtain good American movies».

This system of distribution that in Spain was calling ” for lots ” was in force for many years and though it was prohibited by the Economic European Community, the distributors continued forcing to the exhibitors -the owners of the cinemas- to that were renting bad and slightly commercial movies, if they wanted to have others more commercial.

Jorge Gorostiza, PhD architecto
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, september 2016
Author of the blog Arquitectura+Cine+Ciudad

Jorge Gorostiza

Doctor arquitecto, proyecta y construye edificios y desarrolla trabajos de urbanismo. Desde 1990, publica numerosos artículos sobre cine y arquitectura en medios de su localidad, revistas como Nosferatu, Nickleodeon, Academia, Lateral, Cahiers du Cinema… y en varios volúmenes colectivos. Entre el 2000 y el 2005 dirige la Filmoteca Canaria. Imparte conferencias sobre arquitectura y cine en instituciones como el CAAM en Gran Canaria, la UIMP, el CENDEAC en Murcia, INCUNA en Gijón, Fundación Telefónica, la ETS de Arquitectura y el CCCB de Barcelona, las ETS de Arquitectura de La Coruña, Sevilla, Valencia y SEU madrileña, La Ciudad de la Luz en Alicante, la UNED en Pamplona, en varios colegios de arquitectos, así como en las universidades del País Vasco, Gerona, Valladolid, Málaga, Granada, SEK en Segovia y CEES de Madrid. Jurado en varios festivales cinematográficos, como los de Alcalá de Henares (2001), San Sebastián (2002), Sitges (2003), Las Palmas (2005) y Documentamadrid (2005), y comisario de las exposiciones Constructores de quimeras. (Centro Conde Duque, Madrid, 1999) y La arquitectura de los sueños (Capilla del Oidor, Alcalá de Henares, 2001).

He publicado bastantes libros y muchos artículos, he impartido conferencias, he sido comisario de exposiciones y jurado en muchísmos festivales. Si quieren saber más no duden en consultar mi blog ARQUITECTURA + CINE + CIUDAD.

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