Documentary beautifully explores the twilight years of
golden age production artists
Something’s Gonna Live is a touching look at the lives of some of the longest-lived golden age statesmen from a Hollywood era long past. Director Daniel Raim spent ten years filming the documentary, which captures the twilight years of some of Hollywood’s hardest working and most talented artists. The end result is a film that manages to rise above simple nostalgia or backslapping self-congratulation. Something’s Gonna Live is pure, raw memory captured on film.
Through interviews, archival footage and fly-on-the-wall scenes of the octogenarians at work and play, Raim captures the final years of the art directors behind films such as The Birds, To Kill a Mockingbird, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and In Cold Blood. While there’s plenty of nostalgia and remembrances to be found in Something’s Gonna Live, the film isn’t a career retrospective.
Raim pays just as much attention to these greats’ currant lives as he does their past glories.
Art director Robert “Bob” Boyle lived to be 100 years old. He enjoyed a long professional relationship with Alfred Hitchcock and outlived most of his contemporaries. In Something’s Gonna Live, audiences are treated to Boyle as he shuffles around with a cane and curiosity, touring the seaside community he and storyboard artist Harold Michelson once transformed into the set of The Birds. As the two sit at a table overlooking the ocean and discuss which scenes were matte paintings and which buildings had to be built from scratch, the topic turns to the way the two give birds a weary glance — no longer trusting the feathered pests after they once filming a movie that saw the animals turn deadly.
The two films the documentary pays particular attention to are The Birds and cinematographer Conrad Hall’s work in In Cold Blood. Plenty of other Hollywood legends are touched upon, though. From Henry “Bummy” Bumstead’s professional friendship with “Hitch,” the art director’s nickname for Alfred Hitchcock, to The Ten Commandments‘ art director Albert Nozaki’s firing from Paramount following the Pearl Harbor strike and subsequent imprisonment in an internment camp, there are plenty of fascinating stories told in Something’s Gonna Live.
Just as fascinating, though, are the interviews with the artists in their later years. Bumstead worked well into his life — growing a long relationship with Clint Eastwood. Eastwood’s twin World War II movies, Flags of our Fathers and Letters to Iwo Jima, were Bumstead’s final films. Nozaki, on the other hand, faced faltering eyesight and was forced into relatively early retirement. Footage from 2000 shows Bumstead, Nozaki and Boyle as they tour the back lot of Paramount Studios — the place where the three got their start as production artists.
Raim has a wonderful eye for catching the small moments during his interviews. Thanks to Raim’s own artistic vision, the documentary never becomes a dry, talking heads clip show — instead beautifully showcasing the artists as they discuss their love for their craft and their longing for the golden years.
Before you begin to think that Something’s Gonna Live is a film about old people railing against the change in Hollywood production styles, that’s far from the case. The artists Raim interviews have no problem with the advances in technology (those that knew Hitchcock claim he would have loved computer graphics). Instead, the artists pine for the days where films were made for artistic reasons instead of monetary. That’s something I don’t think anybody can argue against.
Something’s Gonna Live is a wonderful documentary for those that have an interest in the golden age of cinema. Raim’s long-gestating project has come out fully baked and beautifully presented.
The film has just ended a screening in California but, if justice is to be served, it will enjoy future screenings and an eventual DVD release. In the meantime, visit www.somethingsgonnalive.com to learn more about the film and future screenings.
Director: Daniel Raim Notable Cast: Robert F. Boyle, Henry “Bummy” Bumstead, Conrad L. Hall, Harold Michelson, Albert Nozaki, Haskell Wexler Writer: Daniel Raim
Robert Saucedo is an avid movie watcher with seriously poor sleeping habits. The Mikey from Life cereal of film fans, Robert will watch just about anything — good, bad or ugly. He has written about film for newspapers, radio and online for the last 10 years. This has taken a toll on his sanity — of that you can be sure. Follow him on Twitter at @robsaucedo2500.