Frank Host, The Noah, Daniel Bourla

Written by Joe D on May 28th, 2008

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I finally watched The Noah, a film I had heard about many years ago. The Noah is directed by Daniel Bourla, it stars Robert Strouse in a one man tour de force performance. He plays an Army Sergeant, who also happens to be the last man on Earth after a nuclear holocaust. Strauss washes up on an island that was once a Chinese communist military base.
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He immediately begins taking inventory and building a latrine. His Army training keeping him active in the face of his insane predicament. I think the film was shot in Puerto Rico on the island of Vieques, the same island Peter Brook shot Lord Of The Flies on a few years earlier.
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Strauss invents an imaginary friend named Friday, all is well until Friday comes up with Friday Ann, an imaginary girl friend. Then all bets are off, Strauss is jealous of Friday and his girl and so they disappear, leaving Strauss alone.
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Happy Birthday Noah!
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All Alone
Here’s the thing about this film. When I first started working in Editing, it was through the auspices of a guy named Frank Host, one of the nicest people ever to grace our planet. Frank was Afro American, he grew up in Harlem. A super intelligent, talented person, he was working in an office when some of the filmmakers working there noticed him and gave him a shot at working in a cutting room. Now this was back in the 50’s. There were very few, probably no Afro American film editors at that time. But some progressive minded filmmakers had recently moved to N.Y.C. from Hollywood to get away from the McCarthyistic Communist witch hunts and some of these open minded people were willing to give a young Black man a chance. Frank told me he worked for a guy named Irv Fagin, an editor who had been a member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and fought the Fascists in Spain.
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Maos in The Moonlight
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Noah Or Moses?
Anyway there were three Black editors of that period that I knew of, Frank, John Carter ( who’s still going strong) and Hugh Robertson ( a good friend of Frank’s who worked with DeDe Allen among others). Frank told me about this film he worked on called The Noah. He described scenes from it and talked about the director, Daniel Bourla, and what a talented guy he was. How he had struggled to make this independent film, against enormous odds and in a constant state of financial turmoil. Frank finished working on the film, I guess Mr. Bourla ran out of cash and the film languished in obscurity. But then I see from the IMDB that it was finished in 1975, I’m not sure when Frank worked on it but I think it was a few years earlier.
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So when I see the film Frank is mentioned as a member of the editorial staff but the main credit goes to another guy. He probably was the last guy to work on the film. Did he undo all of Frank’s work? Re-cut the film from dailies? Was any of Frank’s editing used in the final film? Mysteries of the Film Credit Process. As with many things on Planet Earth the guy who gets the credit is not always the guy who did the work or had the idea.
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The Late, Great Frank G. Host at the Moviola

3 Comments so far ↓

  1. Jun
    1
    2:53
    PM
    FilmWalrus

    I enjoyed hearing the personal connection to the film and editor. That’s great that the film is available today, though it is a shame at the way the credit shifts around.

    As an editor yourself, do you find yourself noticing the rhythm and style of cuts even when you’re not personally involved? I suppose you do, although what I’m really wondering is if you can tell particular influences and even guess at the editor just from watching films? For myself, I often times have to focus on it specifically to understand the artistry being expressed and I suspect that casual viewers are often pretty unaware (probably intentionally) of the skill involved and the difficult decisions made in the editing room.

  2. Jun
    1
    3:11
    PM
    Joe D

    Editing is supposed to be the invisible art, you’re not supposed to notice it. That all changed when Godard shortened À bout de souffle, not by removing whole scenes as Jean Pierre Melville suggested but by jump cutting the action, removing the middle of a shot for example, Belmondo starts towars a phone booth and suddenly he’s there on the phone. I once edited a film with Michael Cimino and now whenever I watch one of his films I can tell which scenes he edited. He has his own idyosyncratic style. DeDe Allen has a unique style, more obvious to me in her earlier films, The Hustler, Little Big Man, Dog Day Afternoon, etc. but it really is supposed to be a mystery. As Jerry Greenberg oncesaid to me , ” No one understands what editing really is, it’s a mystery to the general public and I’m glad for that”.

  3. Apr
    28
    1:24
    PM
    Gabriele

    I absolutely love your blog and find almost all of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for.
    can you offer guest writers to write content available for
    you? I wouldn’t mind creating a post or elaborating on a lot of the subjects you write regarding here. Again, awesome site!

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