Riding the New York City subway with Stanley Kubrick in 1946

Some things never change.

Life on the subway 66 years ago look much like life on the subway in 2012.

And Stanley Kubrick could capture a gorgeous image in 1946, just as he did much later in his life.

The Museum of the City of New York recently posted these photos taken by Kubrick for Look magazine. The author noted that Kubrick's style was very much like "shot from the hip," similar to Walker Evans, who in 1938 shot subway riders with a camera hidden in his coat.

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Filed under: Altered states

Tags: Stanley Kubrick

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  • Sure looks dumpier to me.

    Also, I don't know if NY is similar to CTA, but no indication in the pictures of 3 card monte cons, pen sellers, urinators, etc. However, we do see the origin of someone taking up 3 passengers' places on the longitudinal seats, certainly the inspiration of whomever in apparently the Kruesi administration thought up the idea for here.

    And, I guess, in 1946, nobody would give up a seat for a lady, either.

  • In reply to jack:

    Right. As I said Jack, it's all the same. NYC and Chicago. 1946 and 2012.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    iPod thefts were also prevalent in 1946. ;-)

  • In reply to jack:

    I'll bet the pictures were posed & that's why the women are standing!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Seriously Scooter? Posed? Get real. You've made some wacky comments but this one is way out there.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    On the other hand, it also appears to reinforce something that was evident from Lind's book*, that Negroes did not ride public transportation in the 1940s. I assume that NYC did not have enforced "ride in the back of the car."

    ___________
    *Except for one picture on Cottage Grove. Maybe another.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    There's nothing wacky about saying the photos were posed.
    The most famous of NYC's street photographers WeeGee [Arthur Fellig] posed almost all of his photos in some way.
    He consistently moved or added items to make them more dramatic. In this photo, http://tinyurl.com/7cnx6d9 the body is real, but is posed because it's known that WeeGee added the hat to the scene.
    Or this from http://tinyurl.com/7b324wb "On at least one occasion in 1941, he evidently convinced a mother to participate in a scenario that replicated the ways in which the city’s inhabitants attempted to avoid the summer’s heat. Weegee had the woman take her scantily dressed children out on the fire escape, where they lay on top of sheets and pretended to sleep while he photographed them, as if the city were trapped in a heat wave."
    On another occasion, he got a woman drunk to show her in a disheveled state. He would ask the cops at the scene of a murder to stand in certain positions. He would ask others to stand, sit or have a certain look when he took his photos. He was a buyer of every new type of trick lens & experimented with them.
    The more dramatic the picture, the more money he made.

    And Kubrick was a contemporary & good friend of WeeGee's!
    Case closed, Kubrick posed them!

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    It's anything but wacky.
    WeeGee [Arthur Fellig], the most famous of NYC's street photographers of the 1930s & 1940s, was known to have posed many of his photos to make them more dramatic.
    He would add or move items, he apparently even carried a man's hat in his car in case he needed one for a picture.
    He once move a bicycle next to a boy that was hit by a car, but that wasn't the boy's.
    He always asked the cops to stand in certain positions around a murder victim.
    He got at least one woman drunk to show her as disheveled woman of the streets.
    From this site tinyurl.com/7b324wb "On at least one occasion in 1941, he evidently convinced a mother to participate in a scenario that replicated the ways in which the city’s inhabitants attempted to avoid the summer’s heat. Weegee had the woman take her scantily dressed children out on the fire escape, where they lay on top of sheets and pretended to sleep while he photographed them, as if the city were trapped in a heat wave."

    The more dramatic the photo, the more it sold, so WeeGee made more money.

    And Kubrick was both a friend & contemporary of WeeGee's.
    Kubrick posed the photos, there's no way in 1946, even in a place as supposedly unfriendly as NYC, that the men would have sat & the women stood! Notice how the woman holding the newspaper, but not reading it has it perfectly held so we can read the headline [(B or F)ARE CASHIER'S BROADWAY FLING]!
    Case closed!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    If nothing else, there weren't any camera phones in those days,* and probably not even high speed film, so people would have had to stay still for the flash.

    I can't make out the headline, but obviously, if it were candid, it probably would have been blurred.

    But I do recognize that the woman holding the tabloid was Gracie Allen's grandmother. Must have been. Just ask her uncle whoever.

    ____
    *I can speak for maybe 12 years after that.

  • In reply to jack:

    I could read the headline even on my 14" laptop.
    That's obviously an elevated train, probably the long demolished Third Ave. El. The lighting is excellent, it's daylight, not one person is looking at the photographer, the focus is perfect, I can see, but not read individual lines of text on the newspaper of the woman in front. The train isn't moving & he's using something to support the camera & a relatively slow shutter speed.
    Compare that to the other two photos.
    The one on the train with the two men "sleeping" is also posed. It's on a train in a tunnel, the lighting is the old 600 volt incandescents they used then, but again, no blurring & deep focus. It was done with the lens held open for enough time for the low speed film of that time to get exposed.
    The escalator photo is candid. Note the people looking at the camera, but it's slightly blurred & the fluorescent lighting washes out some of the detail under the recessed fixtures.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I'd say that some of them are staged, but some of them are blurred enough that might not all be. Look at the original blog for more pictures.

  • The first picture appears to have been taken while the train was stopped or in station bc the woman who is standing & reading is not a straphanger (though the woman behind her is hanging onto something).
    The second picture ... does it seem like the guy in the background is a murder victim? A little over the top.
    The third one - appears to be ad hoc - it's blurry and some of the folks heading up are looking back at the camera which seems odd anywhere but more so for NYC.

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