Friday, August 8, 2014

King of the Duplicators

An interesting behind the scenes short that's showing up on TCM again this evening is The King of the Duplicators, at about 7:45 PM, or following Great Catherine (6:00 PM, 98 min).

This short is a look into the MGM make-up department as it was back in 1968 and, more specifically, the man who ran that department, William Tuttle. Tuttle had by the time this short was made been the head of MGM's make-up department for close to 20 years, although he had been in Hollywood a decade longer than that. The short looks at the way make-up was done back in the day, which of course means not just mascara and rouge and the stuff women get at the cosmetics department, but things like making people age for a biopic or making them look deformed or whatnot.

Apparently a good portion of that process involved making a plaster cast of the actor's face, which is shown in part here and which looks decidedly uncomfortable. After the plaster cast was made, then Tuttle could do his magic with latex and stuff. We get to see quite a few of the casts that had been made over the years, with the most obviously recognizable of them being Jimmy Durante -- you can't miss the nose.

The short is actually quite interesting, although the production values are terrible. It's basically the announcer walking through the MGM make-up department and droning on. Tuttle isn't exactly charismatic, although that's really not his fault. He does his work professionally and well, as is evidenced by all the MGM movies he worked on in the 1950s and 1960s. If you haven't seen this one before, it's well worth the 12 minutes it runs.

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