DeCuir transitions to freelance production design.
The Great White Hope
Director: Martin Ritt
Won 1 Golden Globe: Most Promising Newcomer - Male
Nominated for 2 Oscars: Best Actor and Best Actress
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes: Best Actor and Best Promising Newcomer - Female
Summary: Boxer Jack Jefferson is the world’s reigning heavyweight boxing champion. There’s just one problem, he is also the first black heavyweight champion, and that bothers a lof of people. Jack’s celebration is cut short, as Jack is framed for crossing a state line with Eleanor, his white fiancé, a violation of the Mann Act. Facing a prison sentence, Jack escapes to Europe, with Eleanor in tow, encountering problems in England, and then Franc, and eventually landing in Cuba. In Havana, Jack agrees to enter the boxing ring for what might be the bout of his life. Both Jones and Alexander (the leading actors) were nominated for Oscars.
With DeCuir Sr. as Production Designer and DeCuir Jr. as Art Director, this father and son project has inspired designers since its release in 1984. This film is largely admired for the presence and even character of the main building, 55 Central Park West, designed by John DeCuir Sr.
“[Spook Central] played such an important role that in my mind it became a character in the film,” says DeCuir Jr. 55 Central Park West was so important to the story that it was fabricated from many different parts to create a narrative environment that was just right. The lower street and main part of the building were filmed on location in New York, where the real building exists. However, they couldn’t cause a sinkhole and explosion on the streets of Manhattan so they recreated the street on a stage in Los Angeles. The temple and the upper floors of the building were created with matte paintings, miniatures, and full-size sets for shots throughout the movie. DeCuir Sr. constructed both Dana’s and Louis’ apartments as a single unit at The Burbank Studios in LA. You can learn more about the process of creating Spook Central in the Connectivity lesson in The Pillars of Design.
*This information is liable to change as further updates occur.