Souls At Sea 1937

Supervised by Gordon Jennings, this film has a couple of shots of a miniature matching the full size ship featured more predominantly throughout. The miniature ship effects are employed for explosion and sinking scenes.

There is also a miniature set representing the cargo hold with silhouetted mattes of live action people placed over the top. When the explosion happens the mattes are not dense enough to prevent the background from bleeding through the silhouettes.

Captains Courageous 1937

This was one of my favorite films as a kid. It has a couple of miniature ship shots in it and a terrific title treatment using crashing waves to change the text. In these days the miniatures were the province of the art department, a separate special effects department was still not thought necessary. Its not surprising to find that Arnold Gillespie was an associate art director on the film under MGM’s chief art director Cedric Gibbons.

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Captain Blood 1935

Captain Blood really re-invigoratedĀ  the swashbuckler genre. The previous era of swashbucklers had been made in the 1920’s when full size ships were more the style than the use of miniatures. In fact this film borrowed some footage from the silent movie Sea Hawk made in 1924. The miniature work is energetic with impressive scenes of splintering hulls and spars, setting the bar for the classic pirate films to follow. Fred Jackman was the special effects supervisor. He was the head of Warner Brothers special effects department but left around this time to start his own independent special effects company.

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