The following is excerpted from Hollywood Frame by Frame: The Unseen Silver Screen in Contact Sheets, 1951-1997.
Introduction, by Author Karina Longworth
In the pre-digital era, contact sheets offered a quick, visual summary of a photo shoot, and photographers, editors, and even subjects would make marks directly on the printed contact sheet pages to signify which images should be printed (and which absolutely shouldn't), how they should be cropped, and whether or not more shooting was needed. Once a frame of film was exposed, it couldn't be deleted, so contact sheets always include "mistakes" -- moments which the photographer, or the subject, may not want anyone to see. The contact sheets in Hollywood Frame by Frame are interesting for all of these reasons, and more. Most movie stars are given approval over which images of themselves are used for publicity purposes, and from the 1950s through the 1970s, the key way stars approved images was by making marks on contact sheets. Publicity departments, too, would use contact sheets to select the right, and wrong, ways to present the images representing a specific film or star. In allowing a glimpse into which images of stars like Grace Kelly, Cary Grant and James Dean commercially useful and which weren't, these contact sheets tell stories about how star personas are invented, while also exposing aspects of the individual celebrities' personalities which the entire industry of celebrity myth-making usually tries to squeeze out.
|Breakfast at Tiffany's (Paramount/The Kobal Collection/Howell Conant)|
|Bus Stop (Archive Photos/Getty Images)|
|Giant (© Sid Avery/mptvimages.com)|
|Julius Caesar (Photo by Peter Stackpole/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)|
|Once Upon a Time in the West (Photo by Bill Ray/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)|
|Raging Bull (Christine Loss)|
|Rear Window (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)|