Considering that Collateral takes place over the course of a single night, its portrayal of LA’s nocturnal landscape is integral to the film. Due to the city’s recent retrofit of over 140,000 street lights, that nocturnal landscape has changed forever.
Far more than a plot device heralding George Bailey’s dark night of the soul, softly falling snow is something of a central character in Frank Capra’s 1946 holiday classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. But the cheap “fake snow” so often used on movie sets back in the day — often just cornflakes painted white — simply would not do; Capra wanted real snow, or something as close to the real thing as he and his prop department could get. Here, LIFE.com documents the use of a revolutionary new snow-making process employed during the making of It’s a Wonderful Life — a process that, for the first time, allowed filmmakers to produce and control remarkably realistic onscreen snowfall, drifts, flurries and landscapes.
It is fitting, then, that the first actor Mr. Lee shot that way was himself. The double-dolly shot is not just his signature because, like him, it is brash, blunt, divisive and innovative. Its form also mirrors the bravado and unflappable determination of Mr. Lee’s unyielding career. “I knew I was going to be good before I ever went to film school,” Mr. Lee said, signing his last poster and settling into an armchair.