Saturday, April 28, 2012

Gustav Tenggren's Jack and the Beanstalk, 1953

This was probably my favorite picture book as a child. Without understanding why, I was fascinated by Tenngren's color palette. Looking at these illustrations as an adult, I'm in awe how daring he was in some of his color combinations -- placing ruddy reds directly on top of sickly greens and blues, for example, resulted in a darker vision of a story that is usually portrayed much more straightforward manner.
Notice Jack's mother's elegant hand gesture.
This menacing sky is achieved with three quick, simple sweeps of a broad brush.
In most Jack and the Beanstalk stories, the giant's kingdom that is simply nestled in the clouds somehow. This is a darker approach -- the landscape is strange and contrasts with the pleasant land below.
In Tenggren's version, the giant's wife is a compassionate, friendly character, who lives in fear of her husband.
The giant himself was truly menacing. If he said he was going to grind someone's bones to make his bread, he probably meant it.
This illustration also served as the cover for this Little Golden Book (original cost: 25 cents).
Here the giant's wife scolds Jack for making off with their gold -- but she was so kind and lonely for good company she forgave him and fed him an apple tart...
...and furthermore hid him from her husband.
Note the violet framing device subtly suggests three point perspective.
Jack and his mother enjoying the benefits of magic beans. I wonder where this left the poor suffering, widowed Mrs. Giant?

Los Feliz Drive-in, Los Angeles

Few people know that the Los Feliz/Silverlake area of Los Angeles (adjacent to Griffith Park) once had a drive-in theatre -- apparently a twin. It opened in March, 1950 and closed in October, 1956. The Golden State Freeway was built on top of it.  Since I posted this, readers have helped me find out some more information about it, including directing me to this article that appeared in 2012 in the Los Feliz Ledger:
Below, Andrew Ralston sent me this picture of Silver Lake and Atwater Village in 1953 from the Los Angeles Public Library archives. The Los Feliz Drive-in is visible left of center next to the Hyperion Bridge.  It appears there may have been signage on the backside of the screen tower next to the bridge.

A commenter below referred me to an excellent site, Historic  Above, the site of the Los Feliz Drive-in in 1948.  The Hyperion Bridge is just south, crossing the Los Angeles River. There appears to be some sort of industrial building at the site at this time.
Plainly visible here is the Los Feliz Drive-in from this aerial shot in 1955.  Notice the curved terraces for cars, clearly showing that the drive-in was indeed a twin.  The concession stand/projection booth is in the middle.
The 5 Freeway was built soon after, as seen in this 1972 aerial shot. As you can see, the freeway occupies about half of the land where the drive-in once stood.