The Broadway Crane with a Mitchell on Top

Feel free to discuss any topic related to the Mitchell Camera. Both 35 mm and 16 mm models are welcomed here. Also consider posting topics of other major motion picture cameras that you feel are important to the development of the Mitchell Camera. Feel free to upload a photo from the option on each new post.

The Broadway Crane with a Mitchell on Top

Post by craneguy12 » Tue Feb 25, 2014 6:04 am

Hello blog folk! I am a fan of the 1929 movie; Broadway. One of the reasons I love it so much is because of what has become to be known as "The Broadway Crane." I found this website and I would not be surprised if the camera riding on top of this huge crane was a Mitchell. To promote the picture, photos of the giant crane in use was published in many major film magazines. The photo below appeared in the May issue of Photoplay.
broadway crane.jpg
The famous Broadway Crane
This is what the Internet Encyclopedia of Cinematographers say about the crane:

"Hal Mohr was an expert at serving the director by creating whatever look or visual effect that director required for his film. He was one of Hollywood's outstanding innovators with regard to photographic technique. In an era when most film people remained employed by one studio, Mohr jumped from backlot to backlot. A majority of the scores of films he shot during his 50-odd years as a director of photography were made during the sound era, beginning symbolically with 'The Jazz Singer'. Even though the movies had learned to talk, Mohr showed how they need not stop moving. Particularly in 'Broadway', there is startling use of the moving camera: Mohr pioneered the extensive usage of boom and dolly shots, resulting in complicated, dazzling visuals that are among the most stunning examples of early Hollywood expressionism. It also was around this time that he designed a camera crane that remained in use for years.

At the Criterion website they say this about an interview with Mohr:

"then concludes the supplements with an interview with cinematographer Hal Mohr, recorded in 1973 and running about 7-minutes. He talks about the crane created for the film and what it was able to accomplish. He also touches on the stage that had to be built to accommodate it. It has a sad ending, though, where Mohr mentions he last saw the crane rotting away in a junk yard on the Universal lot. It’s a great inclusion, made better with photos taken from the shoot shown over the audio."

And finally: over at, this was posted by Samuel Wilson about the crane:

"Carl Laemmle Jr. remained enamored with Dr. Fejos, entrusted him with a big-budget all-talking adaptation of a landmark Broadway show, and gave him what he wanted most: a new toy. This was the "Broadway Crane," developed by Fejos and cinematographer Hal Mohr to allow the camera almost literally to take flight, gliding, swooping and diving across seemingly vast heights and distances. D.W. Griffith could have used something like it to film the Babylonian scenes of Intolerance, but Fejos and Mohr applied it to the story of a song-and-dance man desperate to get out of a lousy nightclub gig and break into vaudeville. To make room for the crane, the Paradise Club, named ironically in the play, becomes an Expressionist cathedral, more fit for the Phantom of the Opera than the gangsters and showgirls clamoring for attention here."

If anyone here has more photos of the Broadway Crane in use, I would appreciate you sharing them here. And if I find more information (especially if I can see the Mitchell camera on top of the crane platform) I will be happy to post them here.

Broadway Joe


Re: The Great DP Hal Mohr!

Post by Max128fps » Thu Aug 28, 2014 3:40 pm

Below is a page from the magazine, Photoplay in 1929. This Universal's first talking picture.
broadway billboard.jpg
Photoplay magazine for October 1929
And I thought the YouTube video below was of particular interest as we are able to see the famous Broadway Crane shots of 1929. But you have to wait or fast forward to about 8:25 in the vid to start seeing those shots. I'm still doing research to confirm that the camera is indeed a Mitchell on top of the crane - Max

With greatest respect,

Neil Lipes
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:30 pm

Re: Identify Mystery Mitchell and the 1929 Broadway Crane

Post by Neil Lipes » Fri Oct 03, 2014 6:43 pm

Wow I come back after one year and all this new info:-)
To Broadway Joe, I have a great shot on the back lot of Fajos and Mohr on the crane, with Jr. Laemmle in the foreground.
crane2.jpg (76.01 KiB) Viewed 10483 times

Site Admin
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Re: Identify Mystery Mitchell and the 1929 Broadway Crane

Post by admin » Sun Oct 05, 2014 7:02 am

Thanks for sending those Neil, they look great.


Neil Lipes
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:30 pm

Re: Identify Mystery Mitchell and the 1929 Broadway Crane

Post by Neil Lipes » Sun Oct 05, 2014 9:48 pm

It's my sincere pleasure to share these pieces of Hollywood history, as I have many additional, I shall leave it to those on the forum to ask for more:-)

Laemmle Jr. is more than a figure from Hollywood's past, he is a man I corresponded with during the mid 1970's, as part of my effort to produce a short history of Universal that would have been shown to all those visiting Universal in California, as well as in Florida.

The history of Universal is and has always been a passion of mine, I contributed much historical and photographic information to the great film author, Greg Mank on his most recent book on horror cinema


Re: Identify Mystery Mitchell and the 1929 Broadway Crane

Post by 35mmKing » Tue Oct 07, 2014 8:38 am

I have enjoyed reading this thread and also the rare, recently uploaded photos. If you have time to share, I would love to learn and see more.



Re: Identify Mystery Mitchell and the 1929 Broadway Crane

Post by mrcinephd » Wed Oct 08, 2014 8:18 am

I've been reading this thread for quite some time and noted that it has blossomed in some unique ways! I enjoyed the historic photos as well and would like to see more.

Keep on Filmin'

Neil Lipes
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:30 pm

Re: Identify Mystery Mitchell and the 1929 Broadway Crane

Post by Neil Lipes » Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:44 am

You know I composed a great reply here, and this site does not auto save anything, my hand hit a key and poof, gone:-(

Due to the response, I shall consider it a mandate for more rare pictures from the golden age of Hollywood, an age of aesthetic highbrow never to be equaled.

I will descend into the fog of my Nitrate vault and begin the search................if any early jazz lovers are on this forum and would like some great stuff from Universals King of Jazz, let me know.

Remember, movies are (used to be) your greatest form of to sex, as Veronica Lake acidly exclaimed "Hollywood is nothing but a giant orgy farm"...........this quip coming due to a young turk producer attempting as many others had, to get in her pants:-)...............on this night those gams were locked up as tight as San Quentin.

Neil Lipes
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:30 pm

Re: Identify Mystery Mitchell and the 1929 Broadway Crane

Post by Neil Lipes » Sun Oct 12, 2014 11:42 am

Sunday morning greetings from Gotham! While I search for more gems, consider the following:

Extensive daylight exterior 'lensing' was done on this film, yet almost none of it exists on the release print!
What remains today are interior shots of the club, and night shots on the back wonders what happened to all the daytime lensed scenes? Indeed I have several pictures of Mohr on the crane shooting in daylight.........crowd scenes etc.
Broadway PB-273 (1).jpg
Fajos on sound truck with sound crew members, the group of men in front of the Mole/Richardson lamps are the NY execs of the play Broadway.
Broadway PB-115.jpg
Backlot, Fajos and Mohr on the crane, daytime shoot, never made it into the release print
Broadway PB-115.jpg (66.27 KiB) Viewed 10426 times
Broadway PB-272.jpg
Interior shot, Mohr and his assistant line up shot.
Broadway PB-110.jpg
On the crane are director Fajos, DP Mohr, un-named crane operator, and if you look to the front left the second person standing there which you can just see from the side is Laemmle Jr.
Fejos-Broadway [3].jpg
Fajos, Mohr, and in front Laemmle Jr.
The Broadway crane and Mitchell in action on the U film Nagana.

Neil Lipes
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:30 pm

Re: Identify Mystery Mitchell and the 1929 Broadway Crane

Post by Neil Lipes » Sun Oct 19, 2014 12:19 pm

The last picture has Fajos, Mohr, Myrna Kennedy, and Universal president Carl (uncle Carl) Laemmle on the crane.

Hope you are are enjoying:-)
Fejos-Broadway [4].jpg

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