In her fine book, Film Journal, the great photographer Eve Arnold records a photo session she had with Marlene Dietrich in the mid-sixties. Dietrich was no longer a young woman, but still a lovely and vigorous star.
Arnold, a thorough professional, snapped dozens of still photographs of the great actress.
When Arnold developed the prints, she knew in her gut that Dietrich would not be happy. Dietrich was acutely aware of her image; she knew lighting and angles better than most professional camermen.
In fact, Dietrich would probably be furious.
Arnold sealed the photos and negatives, and sent word to Dietrich that she, Arnold, had botched the job and the pictures were no good.
Arnold left the envelope at Magum studios in Paris with instructions that the pictures be locked away and no one allowed acess.
Well, Marlene Dietrich was a movie star and naturally had to have a look at the photos. She made her way to Magnum, charmed or intimidated everyone in sight, and managed to scrutinize the images.
She was imperious and pitying: “Sad,” she said, “but poor Eve has really lost her touch.”
I want to thank Seraphic friend Toronto Pearl for giving me Eve Arnold’s book, Film Journal, as a gift. I will always cherish it. This fine volume focuses a unique lens on a specific corner of Hollywood life. Highly recommended.
For the last two days of Passover, Seraphic Secret will be off-line. Thus, we will not be writing until Wednesday. We wish all our readers a lovely and meaningful Pesach.