Monday, June 18, 2007

Two Special Faces Photographed: Fernandel reacts for Philippe Halsman, Anna Russell on Positive Stinking

I recently found a nice old copy of renowned Life Magazine photographer Philippe Halsman's book, 'The Frenchman: A Photographic Interview With Fernandel'. Published by Simon & Schuster in 1949, it's an odd and quietly surprising little book, fitting right in with Halsman's oddly wonderful style.

I vaguely knew of the French actor Fernandel. I've not seen his films, but it's near impossible to forget that face.

The charm of the book put me in mind of another quirky little book, Anna Russell's 'The Power Of Being A Positive Stinker: A Practical Guide On How To Inspire Nobody'. 'Perpetrated' by the incomparable Ms. Russell, with photographs by Arthur Jacob, and published in 1955.

If you're not familiar with her, I strongly encourage you to investigate the works of British-Canadian comedienne Anna Russell. She was one of the coolest people to ever draw a breath.

Anyway, I just thought it might be fun to line up a few of the photos from the two books and see how they got along...

In Ms. Russell's book, as she draws the reader through her 'guide to life', the recto pages contain a photograph corresponding to the verso side text.

In 'The Frenchman', a recto page will contain one stark 'interview question' posed to M. Fernandel, and his response is discovered upon turning the page.

(Click on the example to the right for a demonstration)➔

Though both books have long been out of print, it turns out that 'The Frenchman' has recently been reprinted.

There's more info about the new edition at the Taschen Books website, and you can read Phillippe Halsman's original foreword to the book there as well. I confess I'm a little curious about the new version. Looking at the page count, it's over twice as long as the original. What's the story there?

- For related facial studies on this blog, follow links to:
'Zero Mostel's Face, Zero Mostel's Life' and
'Victor Borge mugs in Smörgås Borge'

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