on August 25, 2001
The perfect harmony of photography and story has been the goal of professional cinematographers since Billy Bitzer first filmed the ideas of D.W. Griffith. The art of the cinematographer has often been submerged beneath fashionable theories of director as auteur or the star system. The Art of the Cinematographer brings the importance of the cameraman into perspective, focusing on cinematography in the history of film and offering candid interviews with five great exponents of the art. This expanded edition covers both the evolution of cinematographic techniques and the many distinctive personalities and anecdotes which form the history of this pivotal area in filmmaking. 105 photographs, over 50 new to this edition, portray the cameraman at work. In the early days filmmakers really made films-cranking the camera, developing the negatives, turning the projector. the possibilities in film photography attracted early attention in the work of Edwin S. Porter (The Great Train Robbery, 1903) and Bitzer, who anticipated many, if not most, of the tricks and innovations which seem so new today. Among the many who figured decisively in the development of cinematography were Chaplin's cameraman Rollie Totheroh, Keaton's man Elgin Lessley, Fritz Lang's favorite Karl Freund (who later shot the "I Love Lucy" series), Slavko Vorkapich, Ray Rennahan from Technicolor, Gregg Toland (Citizen Kane), Leon Shamroy, Charles B. Lang, and others. These men worked anonymously most of their lives; only recently has cinematography become a popular field for critics, award-givers, and film credit buffs; this is one of the first and most informative books devoted to the subject. Five men who broke the anonymity barrier speak about their careers, which collectively encompass the entire era of American films to date: Arthur Miller, "the Master" (How Green Was My Valley, Anna and the King of Siam), recalls the early years, John Ford, Fritz Lang, Cecil B. DeMille. Hal Mohr (The Jazz Singer, The Front Page, Captain Blood) remembers violating patent laws to make films in 1910, and the strange effects in A Midsummer Night's Dream which won, him the 1935 Academy Award. Hal Rosson (The Wizard of Oz, Singin' in the Rain) former chief glamour photographer for MGM, defends the studio system. Lucien Ballard (The Wild Bunch, True Grit) says, "You know, everybody talks about how little Easy Rider cost, and how much money it made. They should be upset that it cost as much as it did. I could- have made it in five days, and done it twice as good. You had amateurs doing it, and that's why it took four or five weeks." Conrad Hall (In Cold Blood, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) describes his years as a wildcat filmmaker and as a Disney: nature photographer. The quality common to each is his love for the business, and determination that cinematography will remain a sometimes invisible,'but always essential aspect in film. The Art of the Cinematographer provides a complete survey of that aspect.