Magazine article American Cinematographer

In Memoriam: James M. Glennon

Magazine article American Cinematographer

In Memoriam: James M. Glennon

Article excerpt

James M. Glennon, ASC, who won an Emmy Award for his work on the HBO series Deadwood, died on October 19, 2006. ASC President Daryn Okada notes that Glennon "truly embodied the spirit of the ASC, taking to heart the meaning of our motto: loyalty, progress, and artistry."

The son of early ASC member Bert "Duke" Glennon (whose credits included Cecil B. DeMille's silent The Ten Commandments, John Ford's Stagecoach, Josef von Sternberg's Blonde Venus and Dorothy Arzner's Christopher Strong) and script supervisor Mary Coleman, James was born in 1942 in Los Angeles. After working as an extra and stand-in, he took a job in the Warner Bros. mailroom and enrolled in the film program at the University of California-Los Angeles.

As Glennon would recount, "Jack Warner told me once, 'If you want to be a cameraman, buy a camera.' My dad said the same thing." Taking this advice to heart, Glennon became half owner of an Éclair NPR, the camera he would use to shoot his first feature as a director of photography, Jaws of Death. (He also played a small role in the film.) As he continued honing his skills during his post-collegiate years, Glennon worked as a camera assistant, and by 1968, he had joined the camera union, then Local 659.

In 1973, Glennon jumped to camera operator, thanks largely to the encouragement of future ASC member Matthew Leonetti; the two worked together on such films as Breaking Away and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Glennon went on to operate the camera for ASC members Owen Roizman (The Electric Horseman, Absence of Malice, Taps); John Bailey (Ordinary People); Caleb Deschanel (Let's Spend the Night Together); and Jordan Cronenweth (Altered States), to name only a few.

Glennon began picking up work as a 2nd-unit director of photography, and his hard work paid dividends in 1980, when he was offered the opportunity to shoot American unit photography for Return of the Jedi. By the time he photographed Gregory Nava's El Norte a few years later, Glennon could officially present himself as a full-time director of photography.

Glennon enjoyed a number of successful collaborations with directors, including Joyce Chopra, for whom he shot Smooth Talk, Murder in New Hampshire, Baby Snatcher and Disappearance of Nora, among other projects. …

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