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Thread: Article: Ries Tripod story, New England Journal of Photographic History

  1. #1

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    Article: Ries Tripod story, New England Journal of Photographic History

    Over a year ago I started working to learn the history of the Ries Tripod. The factory is near my home and I got acquainted with the new owners, Spencer & Debby Hughes when I bought a part for my old ries. What little they knew sounded like it might make an interesting article. The story uncovered contains accounts of sex and violence, so it'll hold your attention! Several who previewed it said it would make a great movie. Neither the owners of the factory nor the Ries descendants who I interviewed and who provided some of the photos knew much of the story of the brothers. We'd like to have turned it into a documentary, but the cost was prohibitive.

    As much as the story of the tripod, it is the story of the 5 Ries brothers who moved from Chicago to Hollywood in 1913 along with the early film industry. Irving filmed newsreels during the Mexican Revolution (he came under machine gun fire and was thrown into a Mexican Jail) He also was embedded with the German Army in World War I before the US became involved, and--in an early case of identity theft--his identity was stolen by a German spy.

    Irving, Park and Paul all were involved in cinematography. Irving was head of the special effects department at MGM. Irving and Ray filmed over 500 movies each. Irving filmed the first movie in which Laurel and Hardy appeared together. Ray filmed the first serial with sound. Irving filmed a color movie in 1929 that is being restored by Warner Brothers. Ray provided the special effects in Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind. Irving provided some of the special effects in "Singin' in the Rain" which to some degree parallels his career in moving from silent films to "talkies". Irving was nominated for an Academy Award for special effects in the science fiction movie, "Forbidden Planet." Unfortunately, the film went up against..."The Ten Commandments". (God will win every time!)

    These are just some of the highlights. The story is being published late this month or in December (2014) in the New England Journal of Photographic History. I don't know if non members can order the magazine or not, but--if not--membership is only $30/year. I don't know if the article will be posted for non members to read on their website or not (probably not). For members, the Journal's website will have a section of bonus photos that don't appear in the printed journal.

    Ries also hopes to get permission to post a copy of the article on their website, but it may be the better part of a year before and if that happens. So if you have or plan to get a Ries Tripod, or if you just appreciate history, you might want to arrange to get a copy of the Journal. Anyone with a Ries Tripod would really come away with a new appreciation for it and probably learn a little besides--I know that I did!

    --bob

  2. #2
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    Re: Article: Ries Tripod story, New England Journal of Photographic History

    Quote Originally Posted by R. Peters View Post
    The story uncovers accounts of sex and violence, so it'll hold your attention!
    "Sex, Lies, and Ries Tripods"

    Sounds like my Ries J600 tripod enjoys a bawdy background!

    Looking forward to the story – makes one curious about steady tripods from unstable families...

  3. #3

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    Re: Article: Ries Tripod story, New England Journal of Photographic History

    Digital or Hardcopies of the complete Journal or affordable digital copies of "The Ries Brothers and their place in Hollywood History" can now be ordered from this website: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/708540. It's a surprisingly interesting story.

    If cinematography history interests you, there is also a new book available through Amazon and other bookstores: The American Cinematographer in the Great War 1914-1918. The authors mention Irving Ries and discovered that he was awarded the Iron Cross by the German Army (this happened in 1915 while the US was still neutral). Ries was the only American Cinematographer in WW-I to have received the Iron Cross! (Since one of Irving's younger brothers, Park, served in the US Army, this surely must have led to some interesting conversations at family reunions after the war.)

  4. #4

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    Re: Article: Ries Tripod story, New England Journal of Photographic History

    where's the sex part???

  5. #5

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    Re: Article: Ries Tripod story, New England Journal of Photographic History

    Quote Originally Posted by R. Peters View Post
    Digital or Hardcopies of the complete Journal or affordable digital copies of "The Ries Brothers and their place in Hollywood History" can now be ordered from this website: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/708540. It's a surprisingly interesting story.

    If cinematography history interests you, there is also a new book available through Amazon and other bookstores: The American Cinematographer in the Great War 1914-1918. The authors mention Irving Ries and discovered that he was awarded the Iron Cross by the German Army (this happened in 1915 while the US was still neutral). Ries was the only American Cinematographer in WW-I to have received the Iron Cross! (Since one of Irving's younger brothers, Park, served in the US Army, this surely must have led to some interesting conversations at family reunions after the war.)
    Thank you very much for this information. Being the Ries tripod freak that I am, I ordered a copy.
    David

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