Thursday 20 June 2024

Captain Caution 1940

An unusual film, particularly for the period, in that all the early model ship sequences appear to have been shot at sea with a real sky and horizon. The latter sequences which have scenic landscape background miniatures and shots requiring fog effects have been shot in the more usual studio tank environment. There are some impressive composite shots with foreground live action set of prisoners on a prison hulk deck with miniature port and ships behind. The scale of the set looks too big a scene to be rear projection so I suspect it must have been an optical composite. It is hard to tell as the copy of the movie I was able to locate (after many years of searching) is still not the best quality.

The miniatures were supervised by Roy Seawright and photographed by Frank Young.

The publicity photos of the burning ship shown above demonstrate an important lesson in miniature photography. The still camera lens height is way too high above the sea level for the models to look convincing with that very distant horizon and gives away the small scale. The lens height would have to be roughly the same height as a scale camera on deck of another ship to be more realistic. Thankfully the cinematography of the miniature shots in the movie does not suffer from this error. Actually the action of this burning ship is only really seen as a rear projected background in a day for night shot in the movie.

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