DONG KINGMAN AND 55 DAYS AT PEKING

 

 

From Wikipedia: Dong Kingman was a Chinese American artist and one of America’s leading watercolor masters. As a painter on the forefront of the California Style School of painting, he was known for his urban and landscape paintings, as well as his graphic design work in the Hollywood film industry. He has won widespread critical acclaim and his works are included in over 50 public and private collections worldwide, including Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Brooklyn Museum; deYoung Museum and Art Institute, Chicago.

Kingman did the credit illustrations for 55 DAYS IN PEKING.  Although extremely flawed, “55 Days” is one of my favorite films which I have seen scores of times.  Yet, despite being a massive spectacle shot in Spain by producer by Samuel Bronstein, it has one of the most delicate and exquisite credits sequences put on film.  Demitri Tiomkin, known for musical bombast does something quite different with this title sequence.  Musically complimenting Kingman’s graceful illustrations the composer re-orchestrated the film’s “love theme” into  a gentle atmospheric  composition which, when combined with the Kingman illustrations, gives the film’s title sequence an almost dream-like quality.    Hauntingly beautifully, it’s almost a film within a film that I often enjoy watching  over and over.   It is a masterpiece of the form which, unfortunately, is woefully neglected today.

Here are Kingman’s titles and some other watercolors he prepared for the film.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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