Credits For Directing An Episode

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by Kenny Coyote, Feb 21, 2018.

  1. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Fan

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    Have you noticed that eventually some of the cast started directing as well? They sort of took turns. There were times when you'd see Linda Gray credited for directing an episode. the next week's episode might have Patrick Duffy credited for directing and then next week it could be Larry Hagman. As much as I've watched Dallas though, I never have been able to detect any stylistic difference between the direction of Gray, Duffy, or Hagman. Have you? Are there certain traits each of them possess in their own directing style and if so, can you describe at least one trait for each of those three people?
     
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  2. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Hagman was sometimes allowed a little more atmospheric license that Leonard Katzman wouldn't have permitted another director.

    Katzman kept rigid control over the show's physical style -- static camera and flat lighting and little artistic experimentation. So there wasn't much difference between any of the directors' work on DALLAS. More artful directors weren't asked back, or asked at all.

    Alex Singer only did a third episode when Katzman was gone. Larry Elikann and Corey Allen couldn't get near the show except when Katzman was gone. And Curtis Harrington was once besieged by Katzman on another project who told him he hated Harrington's excellent work.

    I mean, I understand the idea that DALLAS didn't need to get all artsy-fartsy, but Katzman erred in the other extreme. Which ultimately hurt the show, especially in the latter seasons when DALLAS ceased growing creatively, and in fact just got silly -- but it was silly with a static camera and flat lighting.
     
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  3. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    **Correction: Larry Elikann directed the first "The Sting" episode of DALLAS and he never came back. Larry Hagman later said in a DVD commentary "good!" when told Elikann had died. lol

    Corey Allen did one episode in 1978 but didn't come back until the season Katzman was gone.
     
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  4. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Fan

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    I appreciate the insight as the way directors use lighting or even what is meant by "flat lighting" is a mystery to me. I once heard a movie director do a commentary on the DVD of the movie "Another Day In Paradise" with Melanie Griffith and James Woods playing two heroin junkies who committed some pretty intricate robberies to support their habit. The director (Larry Clark?) gave the only interesting director's commentary on that DVD regarding explanations about the way he liked to use light. It's been years since I've seen it so I'd have to rematch it to be able to describe what he exactly he said about how he liked to use lighting. I just remember that it was interesting and he seems to have a different attitude toward directing than most directors which some (apparently important) people had a problem with and that may be why he isn't well known now. he directed a movie titled "Bully" but "Another Day In Paradise"is the only movie I know of that he directed big name actors in. He talked about how he had a very difficult time talking Melanie Griffith into being willing to do a scene where she injected heroin into her jugular vein.

    Anyway, what it "flat lighting" and why do you suppose that Katzmann didn't like artistic approaches towards the way directors used light in Dallas? At least now I know why there seems to be no discernible differences between the directing styles of Duffy, Gray, and Hagman. Katzman kept rigid control and didn't like artistic experimentation.

    I agree with you about Dallas ceasing to grow creatively in its later seasons and I wonder, who do you think they could have replaced Katzmann with that would likely have contributed to at least some creative growth in the later seasons? My choice would be Capice. When Dallas was really at its peak I seem to remember always seeing he name Capice in the credits at the end of each episode.
     
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  5. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Flat-lighting is basically when a room is flooded with light such there are almost no shadows, and it causes the studio sets to look like studio sets. It prevents much in the way of mood or atmosphere, and it makes the contrivance of the melodrama more obvious.

    Why did Katzman prefer flat-lighting? Maybe for the same reason Aaron Spelling did, too -- perhaps they just felt a straight-forward story was enough and that anything else was "pretentious" and gets in the way. (Spelling, of course, would overlight a series because he wants the audience to see every inch of the wardrobe).

    I'm not sure Philip Capice would have done much better with the closing years of DALLAS, though it would have been different no doubt. Katzman was the de facto show-runner even in the early, good years, but he always had conflicts with Capice (David Jacobs said both men "had the exact sane approach to television" and yet didn't get along).

    The muddled year when Bobby was "dead," Katzman was also gone from the series (although he got a "creative consultant" credit), and Capice brought in Peter Dunne and his team of writers to replace Katzman. But while that season started out with promise and more creative experimentation, the new writers (who'd done excellent work on KNOTS LANDING) proved they didn't have a sense of what DALLAS was about, and so the show turned smugly PC and with the much-ballyhooed strengthening of the women comic strip and bogus. So Larry got mad and pulled rank, pushing Capice and Dunne out the door. (Plus, although Capice got along well with the actresses, he had a reputation of being a bit of a high-handed bitch, even firing the show's main composer, Jerrold Immel, because "I don't like guitar" after Immel used spanish guitar in Bobby's funeral episode).

    Katzman came back with Patrick Duffy, as did Katzman's most inspired constructionist who gave DALLAS it most Shakespearean elements, David Paulsen.

    So despite the dreadful "it was just a dream, Pam" opening to Bobby's first season back, it was otherwise one of the most entertaining years the show ever did, such was Katzman's and Paulsen's grasp of the program.

    But a decision was soon made, apparently deliberately and consciously, to turn DALLAS toward overtly self-satirical campiness. And when Paulsen decided he wanted to leave in '88, Hagman made an oblique slam in the press saying that it was probably good that Paulsen was going because he supposedly didn't have "a sense of humor" (which seems to support the idea that an intentional comedic tone was planned for the next few seasons). So, proving that Paulsen indeed had a sense of humor, he went over to become the show-runner of deeply troubled DYNASTY and gave that show's Season 9 the best storylines it had had in 6 or 7 years.

    But we all started wondering why Katzman was so intent on getting back control over DALLAS if he was going to eventually start dishing out worse crap than Capice/Dunne had ever delivered the year Bobby was dead. (And, proving Jacobs more-or-less correct, Katzman hired back Jerrold Immel and then fired him again),

    Control for control's sake, one assumes.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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  6. Karin Schill

    Karin Schill Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Interesting observations about the static camera and flat lighting @Snarky's Ghost . I have never thought of that before. But I guess it's true for most of it although I have on occasion seen episodes where we see the sharp shadows on the walls too. At that point I assumed there was something wrong with the lightning! :lol:

    I think the reason why they tried to keep a show like Dallas simple and not give different directors much artistic freedom was because the show needs to fit together as a whole. I mean if something stands out too much people will think about that technical detail rather than the plot and well in all soap operas it is the characters and their drama that pulls you in. So too much artistic experimentation might be considered distracting from the story.

    Also another thing that we need to remember is that a director works closely together with the cast so they needed to have directors who got along with the actors. If the collaboration didn't work between cast and director it's not a good thing. A good director helps the cast perfect their performances but without interferring too much with the actors interpretation of the characters. It's a fine balance. I've heard over and over how actors say that they love to work for other actors who has turned directors since they get what it's like being an actor. So they are actor's directors. Maybe that's also a reason why Larry and Patrick were given so much directing work on the show, because they knew how to get good performances out of their co-stars and they all got along.

    Then if they differ stylistically. I am not sure. I think Patrick directed the episode when Bobby won the election and there was a scene where we see Bobby and Pam sitting in the stairs that was filmed so you could see the bars of the stairs in front of them. I don't know if that was supposed to symbolize something.

    I noticed Larry directed the episode where JR married Cally in a way that he placed Sue Ellen and John Ross in between them in the picture. That was really clever composition of the image.

    I think Linda used some high angles in some of the episodes she directed. Like in the episode where Bobby and JR had a fight and also of the ballroom in Austria. I've often wondered if her directing that episode meant that she went with them on location in Europe. :)
     
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  7. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    Surely it's possible to enhance a scene without making it look bizarre or spooky (unless it's a spooky scene of course).
    Sometimes you can "paint" the scene, without dialogue or an obvious plot development. But that doesn't mean it's not "Dallas" anymore.

    I'll never forget that suprising camera angle on Knots Landing when they filmed Abby's office from a previously unused corner. It made her office look three-dimensional and that's beautiful but not necessarily distracting. That office always had a mushy/swampy atmosphere but I'm not sure why.
     
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  8. garry

    garry Soap Chat Member

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    In Europe it was all Katzman's directing, also in Hong Kong. Other directors, including Linda Gray stayed in Los Angeles on the MGM lot directing the remaining scenes of those episodes. Katzman never took a credit for them.
     
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  9. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Yeah, there are some very distinctive/unusual looking moments in DALLAS (and even more in New DALLAS) that don't take me out of the moment -- instead, they enhance the moment. And noticing how stuff works doesn't necessarily make it less effective.

    On my latest re-watch of KNOTS, I could detect Larry Elikann's directing style from a "Next ... on Knots Landing" preview.

    Can you remember the season/episode/scene?
     
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  10. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    She tried to turn Gary's money in more money, so that must have been season 4.
    I don't remember the episode or what the scene was about. although she had a guest...was it Mark St. Claire?...then it must have been season 5.
    Maybe that particular corner (with table and chairs I think) may have been visible before, but they had never filmed from that position into the office.

    Btw, this is a good example of "painting a scene" without specifically explaining the character's feelings or motivations:
    upload_2018-2-24_3-9-44.png
    The radio informs Angela that Chase has won the election (S1 Ep 13) but there's no anger or threats, and yet it makes Angela look more powerful and threatening.
     
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  11. AndyLaird

    AndyLaird Soap Chat Active Member

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    I too have often wondered why Spelling (Dynasty) and Katzman (Dallas) preferred flat lighting. I guess another reason may be that it presumably makes it much quicker to set up each shot, thereby keeping production on schedule and budget? Perhaps Snarky's Ghost or someone can confirm.

    There used to be a very informative thread on here about Bradford May and how the lighting in episodes he directed was much more creative but it seems to have gone. Those may be the episodes with sharp shadows that you're thinking of.
     
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  12. Barbara Belle of The Ball

    Barbara Belle of The Ball Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I always thought it was cool that Victor French aka Isaiah Edwards from Little House on the Prairie directed Dallas.
     
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