Saturday, May 05, 2012
Archive Set Designer: Ray Moyer
Posted by Maxine Harris
Ray Moyer was the set decorator of such classic films as Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Billy
Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard and Blake Edwards’ Breakfast at Tiffany’s. He received three Oscars for his set design in Cleopatra, Sunset Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, and 1949 film, Samson and Delilah
and Delilah. Born in 1898 in Santa Barbara, California, Moyer was in the perfect place to launch his movie career. The home to Flying A Studios, the world’s largest film studio during the silent film era, Santa Barbara would have been a hot-house of inspiration for the young California in the early
So, what is the job of a set decorator? Well, fairly obviously, they must decorate the set, but it’s so much more than this. The set decorator must create a world which the film’s characters must realistically and conceivably live in. Every single detail must be perfect and, in the case of Cleopatra, historically accurate. Decorating the set involves anything and everything from picking wallpaper and furniture to the positioning of a telephone on a set of drawers.
As I mentioned before, Moyer was the set decorator of iconic 1963 film, Cleopatra, featuring Elizabeth Taylor as the titled character, and her future-husband, Richard Burton as Mark Antony:
Set design was lavish, an absolute necessity for the Ancient Egyptian historical setting. Colours of gold and red are in abundance throughout the film’s decoration, a sign of the extravagant wealth belonging to both the Ancient Egyptian and Roman dominions. It is only since the invention of “film colourisation” that we can truly appreciate the significance and true spectacle of the set decoration of classical Hollywood black and white movies.
Moyer’s supreme talent is without question. His ability to create worlds as diverse as Ancient Egypt and 1960s Manhattan is exceptional, and with three Oscars under his belt, I have no qualms in naming him one of the best set decorators of all time.
Images: Imdb.com Andrewsidea.files.wordpress.com Vi.sualize.us