Magazine article American Cinematographer

The Year of the Cinematographer

Magazine article American Cinematographer

The Year of the Cinematographer

Article excerpt

FILMEX honors the men behind the camera, by inviting cinematographers from many countries, screening superbly photographed films, and presenting cinematography workshops

Past editions of FILMEX have honored the Director and the Writer by arranging a series of seminars, conferences and workshops concurrent with the Exposition itself. At FILMEX 1974, this was the year of the Cinematographer.

It had been decided early on to cast the FILMEX spotlight on the Director of Photography, that often-unsung hero behind the camera whose artistry can contribute so much to the impact of a successful film and, with that in mind, FILMEX Director Gary Essert and Associate Director Gary Abrahams requested that the American Society of Cinematographers co-sponsor and aid in coordinating the International Cinematographers Conference this year.

The A.S.C. Board of Governors enthusiastically accepted the suggestion and formed a committee to work closely with Conference Coordinator I. William Stalew in lining up an interesting program that would include screenings of outstanding films (with their respective cinematographers present to discuss them) and cinematography workshops for serious film students, with panels including some of the most famous cameramen in the world on hand to discuss techniques and answer questions.

The film program consisted of free morning screenings of pictures of the past which are now regarded as classics of distinguished cinematography. *

The first on the list was the 1932 version of DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. While the film itself has, through the years, become high camp because of its dated script and acting style, it is amazing to note that, after more than 40 years, the photography still holds up magnificently. Its Director of Photography, Karl Struss, ASC, (who, together with the late Charles Rosher, ASC, won the first Academy Award for Cinematography in 1928) was on hand to discuss his work with the audience. Though the fact is totally unrelated, it is interesting to note that Mr. Struss, 88 years young, is a current tennis champion.

The next film program was a double feature which included the Errol Flynn ADVENTURESOF ROBIN HOOD and the 1938 David O. Selznick production of THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER, both filmed in glorious Technicolor and the latter photographed by James Wong Howe, ASC. Mr. Howe was present at the theatre after the screening to tell about the filming of TOM SAWYER (his first color assignment), but a subsequent conference with him, which had been scheduled far in advance, had to be cancelled because of his assignment to photograph the new Barbra Streisand film, FUNNY LADY.

On the third morning, the audience was treated to a screening of THE RED SHOES, an absolutely stunning film which is as beautiful now as the day it was completed in 1948. Superb photography by Jack Cardiff, BSC, adds tremendously to the cinematic art of this memorable production.

Next on the program was Bunuel's LOS OLVIDADOS (THE YOUNG AND THE DAMNED), made in Mexico (1950) and photographed in graphic black and white by Mexico's greatest cinematographer, the legendary Gabriel Figueroa.

On the following morning the capacity audience sat spellbound as David Lean's monumental LAWRENCE OF ARABIA surged across the screen. A magnificent film in every respect, what stays in the mind long after the final fadeout is the incomparable cinematography of three-time Academy Award winner Freddie Young, BSC.

The next film to be shown in this series entitled "A Tribute to the Art of Cinematography" was Akira Kurosáwa's Japanese free-form adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth, THRONE OF BLOOD. In this film, the stunning bravura performance of Toshiro Mifune is perfectly complemented by the mood-drenched black and white cinematography of Azakazu Nakai.

On the following day, THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER was shown. The only film ever directed by Charles Laughton, it features a strange, off-beat performance by Robert Mitchum and richly textured mood-drenched photography in black and white by Stanley Cortez, ASC. …

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