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Saturday, February 15, 2014

THE REEL REALS: Cedric Gibbons

Cedric Gibbons

One would be hard pressed to find an MGM feature film in the 1920s-1950s bracket that doesn't have Cedric Gibbons listed as "Art Director" in the opening credits. This guy got around the Lot, his work in design and aesthetic composition-- from set dressing to architectural conception-- almost single-handedly defining the Golden Era of the studio's look. With an eye for detail and a gift for creating a visual texture befitting each project's subliminal and environmental realities, he quickly built up a reputation as the head honcho of MGM's art department. 

So totally had Cedric ingratiated himself to the studio's function and reputation, that he was given a contractual stipulation crediting his name to every MGM feature release. This explains why he has over 1000 projects on his resume, though he may have merely supervised or signed off on a great many of them. He primarily got his crafty hands dirty during the beginning of his career. Yet, during his reign, he was such a staple of the Hollywood elite, that he was just as popular and well-known around town as any of the stars, many of whom would call him friend. Indeed, he was even married to Dolores del Rio for a time, a woman so beautiful that he probably wished that he had designed her himself.  

As well as being an instrumental figure in giving credence to cinema as an art form through his steadfast work, he also saw to it that honor would be forever bestowed upon this burgeoning industry, its innovations, and its talents, by signing up with other fellow soldiers like Douglas Fairbanks to create The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. In fact, he designed the trophy that would later be labeled "Oscar." This Irish lad passed away in Hollywood after his many decades of loyal service at the age of 67, leaving a legacy behind him that all cinematic artists continue to build upon and re-envision every generation.

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