This weekend, while watching CBS This Morning, there was a segment devoted to “Rescuing Scenic Backdrops from Hollywood’s Golden Age.” It’s so interesting to learn where all the better known painted movie back-drops went, such as the Yellow Brick Road in The Wizard of Oz, the water and mountains as seen from the terrace in The Sound of Music, and many other famous scenes.
Karen Maness is writing a book called The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop where she says these backdrop paintings are “some of the largest paintings ever created by exceptionally skilled artists—never recognized, never credited, and part of what makes cinematic history and these films extraordinary.” It would be a downright shame for them to be ruined or destroyed.
Three people (Tom Walsh, a production designer, Lynne Coakley of JC Backings Corporation and Mary McNamara from the LA Times) got together to save these works of art and created the Backdrop Recovery Project. They cataloged more than 200 backdrops and have sent them on to institutions like the University of Texas at Austin where the author, Karen Maness, uses them to inspire her students. What a great way to preserve these cultural works of art and share them with generations to come!
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