In the '20s, Willard Van Dyke was a still photographer who apprenticed himself to Edward Weston; in the '30s he moved into socially aware film-making; and during World War II he became an army propagandist. The '50s found him doing personally unsatisfying commercial and documentary work, but the next decade gave him the chance to take over the film department of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, where he introduced the contemporary work of 'downtown' film-makers into the moribund repertory. Now a spry and chipper 76, he has returned to technically pure and richly beautiful still photography; and Rothschild's film allows him to present himself and his career very sympathetically. He is so successful at this, in fact, that subsequent viewing of his famous 1939 documentary, The City, is a mite disappointing. The montage is splendid, but the message - that we should abandon squalid cities to live in healthy industrial parks - is embarrassingly naïve, in retrospect at least.
Cast and crew
Amalie R Rothschild
Julie Sloane, Amalie R Rothschild
Willard Van Dyke Cole Weston Ralph Steiner Joris Ivens Donald Richie