Alec Baldwin on Stanley Kubrick the Photographer


[MUSIC PLAYING] My name is Donald Albrecht. I’m the curator of
architecture and design at the Museum of the
City of New York. And I’m Sean Corcoran. And I’m the curator of
prints and photographs here at the Museum of
the City of New York. And we’re with Alec Baldwin
speaking about Stanley Kubrick. What was it that made the
museum keen on this exhibition? Like, what was the
genesis of this exhibit? Well, the Museum has
the New York stories for Look Magazine. The parent company Cowles
donated the material in the 1950s. And there were about
15,000 Kubrick negatives. What was the beginning
for him with a camera? Was he prompted by his family? Yeah, his father– his
father was a dentist, but he was a very serious
amateur photographer. And as a kid, they had
a dark room at home. In the Bronx. In the Bronx. And he became very
serious about it. And until like as
a 17-year-old, he had the courage to kind
of go down to the editors and show him his pictures. I think for people who love
Kubrick’s films, for people who really worship
Kubrick as a filmmaker, so much of it is that Kubrick
pulls you into his time zone, if you will, his dimension. And you see that
Kubrick is so, you know, incontrovertibly influenced
in the way he shot films as a still photographer– Right, yes. –images that he held for these
excruciating lengths of time to just have you to just
to take it in like you were like you’re sitting on
a bench at the Met, you know, looking at some beautiful
painting, you know. What’s also interesting about
the collection is he starts– he’s only 17 years old. He’s still in high school. Right. And you see his eye
developing, becoming more and more sophisticated,
his use of low camera angles, the use of dramatic lighting. All of this is refined by the
time he leaves Look in 1950 and starts his own film career. So this is a
photograph of Kubrick in a dressing room with
Rosemary Williams, who was the subject of the assignment. Rosemary Williams was an on
the rise stage performer. He’s following her on the
stage behind the scenes but also in her personal life. And that becomes a way
of working that carries kind of throughout the career. Our next picture is
Mickey the Shoeshine Boy. This was one of Kubrick’s
first extended assignments to again really profile– in this case, a young
Irish kid, who shined shoes to support
his family members. This is probably, I would say,
the sweetest of the shoots. It’s very endearing, because you
see this young boy struggling but enjoying himself. You see him with his friends. There’s a lot of camaraderie. You see him wandering
the streets of New York. And it’s the New York
of the late ’40s. So it was not the New York
at the glass towers yet. It’s still in New
York of the warriors. And it’s a very,
very sweet shoot in contrast to
many of the others. My first introduction
to Kubrick as a director was to watch Strangelove. And Strangelove, like
all of his films, there’s always a
massive tableau. There’s the war room. And although, he’s
cutting in when he needs to cut in,
when it’s right, no one was more right with
that cut than Kubrick. He’s wide as much
as he can possibly be for the scene to play. And I wonder if you
watched his films and do you see that
in his films as well? Give me some examples
of what you– where you see this– the 17-year-old
still photographer from the Bronx
expressing the same thing but in the moving picture? You see it most clearly– you can see the Look
connection most clearly in the first– and
in the second feature film, which is Killer’s Kiss. There you see it most clearly. And then by the time
you’re into later films, it seems to be changing. How would you
describe the change? It’s less focused
on New York City, and it’s less film noir. And the late ’40s photography
is very film noir. It’s a very masculine oeuvre. Yes. You know, it’s men– it’s almost Mametian. He’s like Mamet in
exploring the predation of men in the workplace,
men in society. It’s a man’s world. Women are almost
absent from his films. And you see that
in the photographs. This is unpublished,
the picture itself. But it’s part of a big shoot
on Rocky Graziano the boxer. And the shoot is– the
assignment is called, He’s a Good Boy Now, because he
had had trouble with the law, and he’s come back. And Kubrick follows him
through his personal life, which is now happy. But he also goes to the
boxing ring, the trainer. And in this photograph,
Kubrick is photographing Graziano in the shower. And what we find
interesting about is Graziano was looking back. He’s acknowledging that
he’s being photographed. It’s a fabulous picture. It’s a fabulous picture. Plus, I always tell people now– I mean, I just turned 60. And I say to people
now when they’re young, I say, do all the nude
photographs when you’re young. What do you hope people will
take away from the experience when they come and see the
exhibit here at the Museum? The formative stages of
a great artists career and what he learned and
what he may of– what he didn’t learn. And he himself said,
had I gone to college, I probably would not
have become a filmmaker, that Look was my college. And at that by
the time I was 21, I learned how the
world worked, he said, because of not only
working within “Look,” but also photographing
people in intimate moments, watching for human interactions. He really credits the Look
years as his college. Thank you for joining us. Please come into the exhibition. I will be here. I can’t wait. Thank you very much. Thank you. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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