Some years ago my father, Richard Fleischer, was directing the movie “Barabbas” in Rome. One of the most dramatic scenes of the movie was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. At the time that my father was preparing to shoot that scene, a total eclipse of the sun was scheduled to occur at nearby Sienna.
Being an adventurous and creative soul, my father moved the entire company to Sienna to shoot that scene during the total solar eclipse, something that no one had ever done before.
This being the first time, nobody had a clue how to light the set. Using their best guesses, my father and the director of photography set up three cameras each with different settings, crossed their fingers and waited for the sun to almost completely disappear, at which point my father yelled “action.”
The world darkened, a strange and eerie light embraced the assembled crew and, against this backdrop the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was re-enacted. The filmmakers’ guesses turned out to be correct, and one of the most uniquely beautiful motion picture scenes came into being.
We just had to share this fascinating post from the website dedicated to the work and life of Max Fleischer's son, and famed movie director, Richard Fleischer! Richard's son, and the President and CEO of Fleischer Studios, Mark Fleischer, recounts this riveting story from the 1961 set of Barabbas -
You can check out the amazing eclipse footage in this scene from Barabbas here!
The TMC evening continues with two films directed by Max's son, the acclaimed film director Richard Fleischer: the noir classic The Narrow Margin (1952) followed by the sci-fi thriller Soylent Green (1973) starring Charlton Heston. Thanks to animation historian Ray Pointer for helping to make this wonderful event into a reality. Ray's upcoming book The Art and Invention of Max Fleischer: An American Animation Pioneer is due to be released in December of this year.
From start to finish that's more than 4 hours of Fleischer films, covering 35 years of film making, and featuring 3 generations of the Fleischer family. You don't want to miss this!
It's All Relative(s)! - a young journalist writes about animation history and discovers she is a part of the story!
In the Small World Department, Fleischer Studios’ historian Ginny Mahoney was recently contacted by high school sophomore Louisa Goldman. A budding young journalist, Louisa was working on an article about Lucas Gray, an animator living in Santa Monica, who was heavily influenced by the work of early pioneering animators, including Max Fleischer and Fleischer Studios.
Ginny and Louisa had a lovely long conversation about Max and the history of Fleischer Studios, and Louisa wrote up her article. It wasn’t until her family read the article that Louisa found out she was not only writing about Fleischer Studios, she was related to it! And in some very important and foundational ways.
As it turns out, Louisa is related to Roger Goldman, who’s related to Frank Goldman. Frank Goldman is credited with making a huge difference in the survival of Max and Dave's fledgling animation business back in the 1920s. Here’s an excerpt from Out of the Inkwell, Richard Fleischer’s biography about his father, Max Fleischer:
"To cut a long and depressing story short, Max and Dave found it impossible to work for Weiss and quit the company. Shortly after they resigned, Weiss declared bankruptcy and disappeared.
And if that’s not enough, it appears Louisa is also related to J.F. Leventhal. Mr. Leventhal was a very early partner of Max’s and together they created the very first military training films – for WWI.
So, relatively speaking, this was a fabulous connection for both Louisa – and Fleischer Studios!
You can read Louisa’s article, Behind the scenes of Jewish Animation, here.
Richard Fleischer's Out of the Inkwell is available here.
Photo of Fleischer Studios staff, taken outside Goldman-Carpenter Labs, Long Island City, where the studio was located for about a year in 1929. Front row l. to r.: possibly Sid Wallick, Edith Vernick, George Cannata, Seymour Kneitel, Max Fleischer, Charles Shettler, Sid Marcus. Al Eugster behind Vernick (with hat and cigar). Behind Cannata and S. Kneitel is Abner Kneitel. Wearing a white hat (on left) is Rudy Zamora. In distance behind Seymour is Joe Fleischer (wearing suspenders), William Henning is man with his hand on the window. 1929.