The 2018 Audi Dublin International Film Festival kicks off tomorrow evening, and among the many high-profile films on shows, the premieres and the long-awaited international success stories are a number of exciting programmes celebrating both the storied past and the exciting future of film. One example of the former will be taking place at the Irish Film Institute this February, showcasing the work of a man who might be Ireland’s most successful and influential export to Hollywood. Even if he’s a name you might not have heard of.
Cedric Gibbons was born in Dublin in 1893. The son of an architect, Austin and his wife, Veronica, Cedric moved to America sometime around the beginning of the 20th century, settling in New York. In 1924, Cedric met Sam Goldwyn who took him on as a set designer in his fledgling movie company. Goldwyn’s film studio merged with the Metro Picture Corporation and the Louis B. Meyer picture company that same year, creating MGM, and Cedric Gibbons became the principal art director of what was perhaps the big Hollywood studio in a time when the studio’s were at their strongest. Between 1924 and 1956, Gibbons oversaw art direction on nearly every film for MGM. During his long career, Gibbons was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Production Design 38 times, winning 11, including for classic films like The Wizard Of Oz, An American in Paris, and Quo Vadis. The production design on An American in Paris, screening during ADIFF this year, is what you might call, “very good”.
As part of their collaboration with ADIFF, the Irish Film Institute will be screening four films that the Irish-American worked on during his career, allowing a showcase of his work to whole new audiences. Gibbons’ cushy contract with MGM dictated that he would receive credit as art director for every MGM film released in the United States, even when other designers may have done the bulk of the work, but these films are an indication of the legacy of an unseen hand in Hollywood history, with an influence so prominent that he designed the famous Oscar statuette itself. Tickets for these films are available from the IFI now, and you can see the full list below.
The Big Parade – Mon 26 Feb, 1.30pm
Dinner at Eight – Tue 27 Feb, 1.30pm
Grand Hotel – Wed 28 Feb, 1.30pm
An American in Paris – Fri 2 Mar, 1.30pm