1955

With actress Vera-Ellen

'Oscars' [1951]

With actress Vera Ralston

"Wyoming" [1947]

               

JOHN ALTON

Born: 5 October 1901, Sopron/Ödenburg, Austria-Hungary [now Hungary], as Johann [Jacob] Altmann. [His father, Sam, emigrated to the USA in the 1880s and changed his name to Alton. However, he returned to Vienna, reclaimed the name Altmann, and worked for the Széchenyi family. It was in the Széchenyi Castle, Nagycenk, that Johann/Jacob/John was born.]

Died: 2 June 1996, Santa Monica, Calif., USA.

Career: Went to the USA [New York] in 1919 to live with his wealthy uncle Emile and to attend college. He stumbled into motion pictures when the gateman at Hearst's Cosmopolitan Studios on Second Avenue in New York noticed him and said, "You're just the man we're looking for," and made him a dress extra. He was placed next to Marion Davies during a scene from one of her films. He was paid a fee of $12.50 for his efforts and promptly ended his academic life. He later claimed he never even bothered to pick up his books at school. Moved to Hollywood during the winter of 1923-24 and became lab technician at MGM. He was signed as a cameraman by Paramount and went to Europe with dir Ernst Lubitsch to film backgrounds for 'The Student Prince in old Heidelberg'. He ended up staying in Paris for a year heading the camera department of Paramount's Joinville Studios. [He claimed to have discovered Maurice Chevalier, recommended the singer personally to the honeymooning Irving Thalberg and directed a test that was rejected by Metro but impressed Paramount.] Moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1932 to design the country's first sound film studio for Lumiton and Argentina Sono Film. He had agreed to stay for a year, but he ended up marrying Rozalia Kiss, a local journalist, and remained in Argentina for seven years, shooting many pictures and making his debut as director with 'El hijo de papá' in 1933. Returned to Hollywood in 1939 with an award for best photography from the Argentine film industry. Back in Hollywood, he found that he couldn't rely upon his foreign reputation to secure a big-studio assignment. He chose to work at Republic, a B-picture factory which prided itself on the excellence of its photography. Following WW2 service with the Army, during which time he rose to the rank of captain in the US Signal Corps, Alton returned to Hollywood and worked with other B-studios such as RKO and Monogram. From 1940-47, Alton shot 30 unheralded B-pictures. It was not until 1947 that he began to be recognized in Hollywood as a remarkable director of photography, primarily stemming from his association with up-and-coming director Anthony Mann on the low-budget hard-boiled film noir 'T-Men', which remains astonishing today for the risks it took in cloaking the action in black. As doph Allen Daviau has remarked, Alton "was not afraid of the dark," and he emerged as the foremost practitioner of the noir style, especially in his collaborations with Mann. "I found a director in Tony Mann who thought like I did. He not only accepted what I did, he demanded it," Alton recalled. "The other cameramen illuminated for exposure. They'd put a lot of light in it so the audience could see everything. I used light for mood. All my pictures looked different. That's what made my name, that's what set me apart. People asked for me. I gambled. In most cases, the studios objected. They had the idea that the audience should be able to see everything. But when I started making dark pictures, the audience saw there was a purpose to it." The work of Mann and Alton had been noted by MGM, who offered them contracts and teamed them for 'Border Incident' [1949], a film modeled closely on 'T-Men'. Alton's use of chiaroscuro lighting gave majestic beauty to the landscapes, but the film's dark tone and modest pretensions were far from the gloss associated with MGM. "When it came out, MGM were flabbergasted," said Anthony Mann. "It wasn't anything they thought a motion picture should be!" Popular with producers who admired his cost-cutting methods and speed at setting up, Alton was less popular with MGM's established cameramen who used masses of lights, far more assistants, and were accustomed to be given time to assess possible compositions and lighting schemes. Alton says he was often fired over his unconventional ideas, especially at MGM, but was always brought back. The key to his employability was his lightning speed on the set. "I got $ 1,500 per week, when others were getting $ 250, because of my speed, because they made money with me. The secret of fast lighting was to know ahead what to do. I needed a very small crew, and I visualized light in my eye. I could see in the dark. I have good eyes." When Vincente Minnelli, unhappy with the work of Alfred Gilks on 'An American in Paris', insisted on Alton's filming the ballet sequence, it added to the resentment. "With Gilks, every little thing was lit and there were certain things that had to have mood. Alton had never worked in color... he'd done some very fine black-and-white things at Eagle-Lion. He was disliked, however by the other cameramen - they all thought he was egotistical. But he was so fast and used so few lights. I got along just wonderfully with him. I felt that the ballet needed someone who would live dangerously."

In 1962, Alton and dir Charles Crichton were abruptly released from 'Birdman of Alcatraz' in the midst of production. Alton decided to 'retire' from active work in the film industry. He chose to work more in painting and theorizing and became a near recluse living in Europe and South America. Occasionally, in buff circles, various rumors circulated to the effect that he had abandoned cinema for painting, that he refused all requests for interviews or to appear at film festivals, that he was living in Switzerland, or even right in Hollywood. In an unheard-of gesture, he even resigned from the American Society of Cinematographers [ASC]. He was the Greta Garbo of cameramen, his disappearance fostering the image of a ferocious artistic purist who would tolerate no intrusion upon his privacy or the sanctity of his vision. When people discovered that he had quietly returned to the United States, he became the subject of tributes at the Telluride Film Festival and the American Museum of the Moving Image. "I went through oblivion," he said the other day. "I deliberately hid. I started traveling. I had a lot of money saved up from my career, almost $ 1 million, and my wife Rozalia and I never told anybody where we were, even the family." He blames his voluntary departure from the industry on short-sighted, inartistic executives and producers whom he couldn't stomach, and says he quit the ASC in a personal dispute with the group's president. "Perhaps I could have been more diplomatic" in dealings with authority, he said, but "if I got to do it all over again, I wouldn't do anything differently." [Using quotes from article by Todd McCarthy in 'Variety', 1993.]

Was a member of the ASC.

Wrote a book on photography, 'Painting with Light' [1949].

Awards: 'Oscar' AA [1951; color; shared] for 'An American In Paris'; Golden Laurel Award nom [1959] for 'The Brothers Karamazov'; LAFCA 'Career Achievement Award' [1993].



> Go to FILMS


'It is often claimed that film noir is more a matter of visual style than of content. If so, cinematographers no less than directors and screenwriters should perhaps be listed among the true auteurs of the noir cycle, and John Alton would certainly rank as one of its prime exponents. In the heyday of the cycle - especially in the early thrillers of Anthony Mann and in Joseph H. Lewis's cult classic, 'The Big Combo' - Alton created archetypes of noir's main genre, the urban thriller. But he also ingeniously extended the idiom into genres with which it is less readily associated, such as the western and the costume drama.

For some years Alton had been trying to persuade the directors he worked with that a cinematographer didn't simply "pump light into a scene. The light has to tell something. There's a meaning, and it establishes a mood." In Mann he at last found "a director I can really sit down and talk with," someone sensitive to the subtleties of light and shadow. In 'T-Men', their first film together, and its successors, his intense downbeat virtuosity meshed with Mann's acute spatial sense to produce an unmistakable style: deep perspective compositions with half-illuminated faces in the foreground... distant backgrounds, ceilinged sets, pervasive darkness and gloom created through high-contrast lighting and filters, angular composition, all creating a screen space at once expansive yet oppressively fatalistic.

Though his film noir work is in many ways his most interesting, Alton was too professional a craftsman to limit himself to a single style. His association with Allan Dwan, which began with 'Driftwood', took in several of the veteran director's autumnal late westerns, including 'Silver Lode' and 'Tennessee's Partner'. To these he brought an austere lyricism, gently melancholy in its clarity, and long, elegant but unobtrusive tracking shots. In Dwan's 'Slightly Scarlet' he demonstrated another facet of his talent, matching James M. Cain's overheated melodrama with a Technicolor palate of startlingly garish hues set off by areas of deep shadow. The result, according to Andrew Sarris, was "one of the most eye-boggling American movies ever made."

Other directors with whom Alton often worked included Vincente Minnelli and Richard Brooks. His Minnelli films saw him turning the glossy MGM house-style to advantage - as in 'Father of the Bride', where Spencer Tracy's nightmare vision of the wedding ceremony crumbling into disaster is all the more surreal for being shot with such knife-edge crispness. Alton's sole Academy Award came for his work on the climactic final ballet of 'An American In Paris', set to Gershwin's tone poem. Whatever the pretensions of the ballet itself, there is no gainsaying the virtuosity of Alton's lighting and camerawork.

For Brooks, Alton produced moodier, more downbeat effects, sometimes - as in 'The Brothers Karamazov' - deliberately jarring. In an attempt to suggest the psychological turmoil of Dostoyevsky's characters, he devised an expressionistic lighting scheme that threw deep shadows of saturated primary colors, a technique widely dismissed as crude and overemphatic. A similar approach, but more subtly applied, worked far better in 'Elmer Gantry'. Many of the movie's nocturnal episodes, though filmed in color, convey a noirish feel of claustrophobic obsession.

Alton's last masterpiece of pure noir cinematography was 'The Big Combo', routine gangland-vengeance stuff transmuted by its visual treatment. Jean-Pierre Coursodon observed how "Lewis's carefully studied spatial organization and positioning of actors, matched by John Alton's masterful balance of sparse lighting and engulfing darkness in predominantly deep-focus setups, create a dazzlingly rich texture which at times... verges on the abstract." In its blend of trash content and sheer overwrought style, 'The Big Combo' strikingly exemplifies how, in the hands of a master like Alton, cinematography can on occasion take precedence over script, acting, and possibly even directing, in determining the key quality of the creative mix.' [From 'International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers' by Philip Kemp, 2000.]

·····

'An American In Paris': 'On December 6, when Minnelli came back to shoot the ballet, he brought with him John Alton, his cameraman on 'Father's Little Dividend'. "I regretted that I hadn't had him for the whole film," says Minnelli. "I think he is one of the greatest cameramen that I have ever worked with. Alton is very flexible; he doesn't have a set mind like [Alfred] Gilks had, and he is capable of modifying his way according to the director's indications." This was Alton's first Technicolor assignment. But even so, he had very definite ideas as to how to bring about certain color effects. "The secret of the ballet's photography," he says, "was the fumata [smoky] quality, which changed all the colors to pastel. In the ballet we used English color quality for the first time. I was inspired, like everybody else on the picture, by the electrical force Gershwin's music generated. In my case this showed itself in the way I used light... We all worked like a team. Every morning we would rush to the studio, eager to do something, even ahead of time. We were just like kids going to the candy store. That's how excited we were..." Many of Alton's colleagues believed that no one could have shot the ballet the way he did: shooting directly into a light, or using less than the minimum of light deemed necessary for a good negative. And others considered him to be "a very arrogant man." There was a row with the electricians' union. "They tried everything to stop his cutting down on lights," says [set decorator Keogh] Gleason. "Alton could light properly and quickly. But the laboratories would say 'It's no good,' because it was cutting down on the procedures. John also said he didn't need any catwalks. That really blew the top off. Of some sixty lights, Alton would use three or four, which cut down tremendously on labor. It's a wonder he didn't have a light dropped on him..." The ballet was completed on January 2, 1951.' [From 'The Movies' Greatest Musicals' by Hugh Fordin, 1975.]

Clips from 'T-Men' [1947], 'Raw Deal' [1947], 'He Walked By Night' [1948] and 'The Big Combo' [1954].

Be patient, loading the clips will take some time [± 40 sec].

Depicting with Light - The Light and Darkness of the Film Noir - John Alton, a Cinematographer

It is a well-known fact that a film is created out of light, but compared to sound, which has been incorporated with the invention of the talkie, it has been receiving relatively little attention. The reason for that can be imagined easily. With sound, as the words such as "text", "sound effect", and "background music" indicate, it is easy to relate it with the "meaning" of the film lying in the background. In this case, what is forgotten is the "particle" of sound referred to by Roland Barthes, thus, for light, which is also composed of "particles", an equal degree of interest as Barthes's "sound" or "écriture" must be appropriated.

"Painting with Light" is a reprint of the same title published in 1949. One of the editors of "Kings of the B's", Todd McCarthy, writes a comment that reflects his deep attachment to the book. The writer is John Alton. As McCarthy also writes, if one remembers this name, Alton, which was only referred to together with the films of Anthony Mann, he would be quite an expert on Film Noir. However, if we mention that he was the cinematographer who won the Academy Award with "An American in Paris", there are probably many who can remember fragments from the movie. As the title indicates, the book explains cinematography as the technique using light, but what is superior about this book compared to many other similar types of books, is that the writer explains cinematography in Hollywood in very specific terms, pointing out the positions of the staff and equipments, and how the writer deals with light, based on his own creative experiences, which are systematically recounted. When explained like this, the book may sound like merely a good manual. If this were a book which only took up "technology" of 50 years ago, there is no need for anyone, who does not have the intention of studying, to read it. Then, what is so attractive about this book?

The appeal of this book lies in the fact that it allows us to understand that learning is always an event which is born at the vanguard, or a discovery of a new relationship by the hand which deals with materials, and that it is not found in the vast amount of technology accumulated in the "factory" called Hollywood, or in the goal of learning and communicating in order to justify that technology. For a film, which can be shot simply as long as a camera is rolled, unexpectedly, or rather, naturally, similar to the material resistance felt when the brush meets the canvas, a way of contacting with light, which is filled with hesitation and decisiveness, is necessary. Therefore, if the distance between the camera and the physical body seems to feel farther than the distance between the brush and the hand, that indicates a problem of sensibility towards the film. For example, referring to a comment by Alton concerning the cinematography of a raining scene, he says the following. "For those who wish to economize, the poor man's rain effect can be produced with just the water in front of the lens covering the entire picture, and in the background some people walking around with shiny umbrellas." The playfulness of light reflected on the surface of the wet umbrella naturally has nothing to do with the "meaning" of the movie, but that alone creates a sufficient reason why people demand rain in a film, and why the writer becomes our "beloved (Alton)".

Although it may not sound so "glorious", the fact that there was a person interested in the "poor man's" cinematography, earlier than the Nouvelle Vague, and that moreover, he was a cinematographer of the first class, is quite interesting. Shooting a film can be described as a repetition of learning to demand what is unexpected, but in Hollywood, such an attitude soon changed into a system of customs carrying solidified meanings in return for glory. Reading the comments written by McCarthy, one can see how difficult that situation had become. The details of "rediscovering" Alton, whose history can be described with pride as "Romanesque", can be obtained by reading McCarthy's moving commentary. Alton was trained under Ernst Rubich, built the Argentine film industry of the '30's almost on his own, established the cinematography of Film Noir, strongly supported the early works of Anthony Mann in "B" movies shot in short periods and at low budget, and was the favorite cameraman of Vincente Minnelli, and his masterpiece is certainly "The Big Combo" [1954, Joseph Lewis].' [Yuzo Morita - Film Critic]



 FILMS

1927

The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg/Old Heidelberg [Ernst Lubitsch & (reshoot love scene) John M. Stahl] b&w; background ph Germany; ph: John J. Mescall

1930

The Song of the Flame [Alan Crosland] c; uncred ph Paris; ph: Lee Garmes

1930

Der Mann, der den Mord beging/Nächte am Bosporus [Kurt Bernhardt] b&w; Turkish loc ph; ph: Curt Courant

1930

L'homme qui assassina [Kurt Bernhardt & Jean Tarride] b&w; French version of 'Der Mann, der den Mord beging'

1933

Los tres berretines/The Three Amateurs [Enrique T. Susini] b&w

1933

El hijo de papá/Papa's Boy [John Alton] b&w; + scrpl/prod

1934

Crimen a las 3/Cien pesos [Luis Saslavsky] b&w

1934

Big Calibre [Robert N. Bradbury] b&w; 58m; cph: William Hyer

1935

Escala en la ciudad [Alberto de Zavalía] b&w

1936

Compañeros [Gerardo Húttula] b&w

1936

Loco lindo/Crazy Dandy [Arturo S. Mom] b&w

1936

Tararira/La bohemia de hoy [Benjamín Fondané] b&w

1936

¡Goal! [Luis José Moglia Barth] b&w

1936

Amalia [Luis José Moglia Barth] b&w

1937

El pobre Pérez/Poor Perez [Luis César Amadori] b&w

1937

Cadetes de San Martín/Cadets of St. Martin [Mario Soffici] b&w; ext ph: Antonio Merayo

1937

La fuga/The Flight [Luis Saslavsky] b&w; or ph Gerardo Húttula

1937

Palermo [Arturo S. Mom] b&w; cph: Francis Boeniger

1937

Tragedias de la vida bohemia/La vida bohemia [Edgar G. Ulmer or Josef Berne] b&w; shot in Hollywood

1938

El último encuentro/The Last Meeting [Luis José Moglia Barth] b&w

1938

Con las alas rotas/With Broken Wings [Orestes Caviglia] b&w; or ph Francis Boeniger & Antonio Merayo

1938

Madreselva/Honeysuckle [Luis César Amadori] b&w

1938

Puerta cerrada/Closed Door [Luis Saslavsky] b&w

1939

Doce mujeres/12 Women [Luis José Moglia Barth] b&w

1939

El matrero/The Outlaw [Orestes Caviglia] b&w

1939

Caminito de gloria [Luis César Amadori] b&w; cph: José María Beltrán

1940

The Courageous Dr. Christian [Bernard Vorhaus] b&w; 67m; 2nd film in 6-part 'Dr. Christian'-series (RKO, 1939-41)

1940

Three Faces West/The Refugee [Bernard Vorhaus] b&w

1940

Dr. Christian Meets the Women [William McGann] b&w; 68m; 3rd film in 'Dr. Christian'-series

1940

Remedy for Riches [Erle C. Kenton] b&w; 60m; 4th film in 'Dr. Christian'-series

1940

Melody for Three [Erle C. Kenton] b&w; 67m; 5th film in 'Dr. Christian'-series

1941

Power Dive [James P. Hogan] b&w; 68m; spec pfx: Jack Cosgrove

1941

Forced Landing [Gordon Wiles] b&w; 66m; spec pfx: Fred Jackman

1941

The Devil Pays Off [John H. Auer] b&w

1941

Mr. District Attorney in the Carter Case/The Carter Case [Bernard Vorhaus] b&w; 67m

1941

I Was a Criminal/The Great Awakening/Passport to Heaven/The Captain of Koepenick [Richard Oswald] b&w

1941

Pardon My Stripes [John H. Auer] b&w; 64m

1942

The Affairs of Jimmy Valentine/Unforgotten Crime [Bernard Vorhaus] b&w

1942

Moonlight Masquerade [John H. Auer] b&w; 67m

1942

Ice-Capades Revue [Bernard Vorhaus] b&w; re-edited/re-release title: 'Rhythm Hits the Ice' (1949)

1942

Johnny Doughboy [John H. Auer] b&w; 63m

1943

The Sultan's Daughter [Arthur Dreifuss] b&w; 64m

1943

Enemy of Women/Mad Lover/Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels [Alfred Zeisler] b&w

1943

The Lady and the Monster/The Lady and the Doctor/Donovan's Brain [George Sherman] b&w; re-edited/re-release title: 'The Tiger Man' (1949)

1944

Storm Over Lisbon [George Sherman] b&w; re-edited/re-release title: 'Inside the Underworld' (1950)

1944

Atlantic City [Ray McCarey; 2ud: Anthony Mann] b&w; re-edited/re-release title: 'Atlantic City Honeymoon' (1950)

1944

Lake Placid Serenade [Steve Sekely] b&w; re-edited/re-release title: 'Winter Serenade' (1953)

1944

Song of Mexico [James A. FitzPatrick] b&w; cph: Jorge Stahl; 57m

1945

Girls of the Big House [George Archainbaud] b&w; 68m

1945

Love, Honor and Goodbye [Albert S. Rogell] b&w

1945

Mexicana/Beyond the Border [Alfred Santell] b&w; ph background shots Mexico; ph: Jack Marta; re-edited/re-release title: 'Beyond the Rio Grande' (1949)

1945

A Guy Could Change [William K. Howard] b&w; 65m

1945

The Madonna's Secret [William Thiele] b&w

1945

Murder in the Music Hall [John English] b&w; ice skating ph; ph: Jack A. Marta; re-edited/re-release title: 'Midnight Melody' (1953)

1945

One Exciting Week [William Beaudine] b&w; 69m

1946

Affairs of Geraldine [George Blair] b&w; 68

1946

Winter Wonderland [Bernard Vorhaus] b&w

1946

The Magnificent Rogue [Albert S. Rogell] b&w

1946

Hit Parade of 1947/High and Happy [Frank McDonald] b&w

1946

Wyoming [Joseph Kane] b&w

1947

The Ghost Goes Wild [George Blair] b&w; 66m

1947

Robin Hood of Texas [Lesley Selander] b&w; uncred cph (?); ph: William Bradford

1947

The Trespasser [George Blair] b&w

1947

The Pretender [W. Lee Wilder] b&w; 69m

1947

Bury Me Dead [Bernard Vorhaus] b&w; 69m; re-edited tv-version (26m): 'Death by Proxy/Back Home from the Dead'

1947

Driftwood [Allan Dwan] b&w

1947

T-Men [Anthony Mann] b&w; pfx: George J. Teague; ''T-Men', was an instant hit, even gaining a spread in Life magazine, which was almost unheard of for the product of a low-budget studio [Eagle-Lion]. The story of government agents infiltrating a counterfeiting gang is routine, but its telling, from the opening night-time shootout staged in strange perspectives, is not. The oppressive close-ups of half-illuminated faces, the use of deep focus, dissonant lighting and baroque compositions gave the film distinctive vigor and established the reputations of both Alton and Mann.' [Tom Vallance, 1996]

[Left] - "Raw Deal"

1947

Raw Deal [Anthony Mann] b&w; spec pfx: George J. Teague

1948

The Amazing Mr. X/The Spiritualist [Bernard Vorhaus] b&w

1948

Hollow Triumph/The Scar [Steve Sekely] b&w

1948

Canon City [Crane Wilbur] b&w; 2uc: Walter Strenge

1948

He Walked By Night/The L.A. Investigator [Alfred Werker & (uncred; completed film) Anthony Mann] b&w; pfx: George J. Teague; spec art efx: Jack R. Rabin

1948

Red Stallion in the Rockies [Ralph Murphy] c; 2uc: Guy Roe

1948

Reign of Terror/The Black Book [Anthony Mann] b&w; ''Reign of Terror', portrays the French Revolution in noir terms, and Mann praised Alton and the set designer William Cameron Menzies for creating seemingly lavish effects from a minuscule budget. Mann's breathless pacing and some of Alton's most extreme lighting effects and camera set-ups make this one of their most delirious entertainments. [Tom Vallance, 1996]

1948

The Crooked Way [Robert Florey] b&w

1949

Border Incident [Anthony Mann] b&w

1949

Captain China [Lewis R. Foster] b&w; replaced scheduled ph Ernest Laszlo

1949

Devil's Doorway [Anthony Mann] b&w

[Left] with dir John Sturges

"Mystery Street"

1949

Mystery Street/Murder at Harvard [John Sturges] b&w

1950

Father of the Bride [Vincente Minnelli] b&w

1950

Grounds for Marriage [Robert Z. Leonard] b&w

1950

It's a Big Country [: An American Anthology] [Clarence Brown, Don Hartman, John Sturges, Richard Thorpe, Charles Vidor, Don Weis & William A. Wellman] b&w; 8 seg (but seg #3 was cut from the film); other ph: Ray June, Joseph Ruttenberg & William C. Mellor

1950

Father's Little Dividend [Vincente Minnelli (dir while on a break from 'An American in Paris')] b&w

With actress Leslie Caron - "An American In Paris"

1950

An American In Paris [Vincente Minnelli] c; ph final ballet seq (filmed December 1950-January 1951); ph: Alfred Gilks; ph 'I Got Rhythm'-number: Harold Rosson; loc ph Paris: Geoffrey Unsworth

1951

The People Against O'Hara [John Sturges; (uncred fill-in) Bert Glazer & J.J. Cohen] b&w

1951

Singin' in the Rain [Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen] started the film, but was replaced after a few days shooting by Harold Rosson because his work was 'too dark'

1951

Talk About a Stranger/The Enemy [David Bradley] b&w; 65m

1952

Washington Story/Target for Scandal [Robert Pirosh] b&w

1952

Apache War Smoke [Harold Kress] b&w; 65m

1952

Battle Circus [Richard Brooks] b&w

1952

Count the Hours/Every Minute Counts [Don Siegel] b&w

1952

Duffy of San Quentin/Men Behind Bars [Walter Doniger] b&w; released in 1954

1953

The Steel Cage [Walter Doniger] b&w; cph: Joseph Biroc; comp of 3 unaired ep of tv-series 'Duffy of San Quentin'; released in 1954

1953

Take the High Ground! [Richard Brooks] c

1953

I, the Jury [Harry Essex] b&w

1953

Witness to Murder [Roy Rowland] b&w

1953

Silver Lode [Allan Dwan] c

1954

Passion [Allan Dwan (replaced Harmon Jones)] c

1954

Cattle Queen of Montana [Allan Dwan] c

1954

The Big Combo [Joseph Lewis] b&w; spec pfx: Louis DeWitt & Jack Rabin; ''The Big Combo' is both brutal and erotic with a sense of pessimistic fatalism reflected in the low-key, high-contrast camerawork. It is literally one of the darkest of Alton's films, with minimal set-dressing. Virtually the entire film takes place at night, with the actors in dimly lit rooms. For the final scene, Lewis told Alton he required an airport set. "Just drape the set in black velvet," said Alton, "and we'll put a revolving light that goes around. You'll have an airport in about 10 minutes." The result was totally convincing and, with some banks of mist added, bleakly atmospheric.' [Tom Vallance, 1996]

1954

Escape to Burma [Allan Dwan] sus/c

1955

Pearl of the South Pacific [Allan Dwan] sus/c

1955

Tennessee's Partner [Allan Dwan] sus/c

1955

Slightly Scarlet [Allan Dwan (replaced Kurt Neumann)] sus/c

1955

The Catered Affair/Wedding Breakfast [Richard Brooks] b&w

1956

Tea and Sympathy [Vincente Minnelli] cs/c

1956

The Teahouse of the August Moon [Daniel Mann] cs/c; ph June-July; uncred ph Japan (April-June; stormy weather forced prod to return to Hollywood): Russell Harlan

1956

Designing Woman [Vincente Minnelli] cs/c

1957

The Brothers Karamazov/The Murderer Dmitri Karamazov [Richard Brooks] c

1958

Lonelyhearts/Miss Lonelyheart [Vincent J. Donehue] b&w

1959

12 to the Moon [David Bradley] b&w; spec pfx: Howard A. Anderson

1959

Elmer Gantry [Richard Brooks] c

1962

Birdman of Alcatraz [John Frankenheimer (replaced Charles Crichton)] replaced by ph Burnett Guffey after 16 days


 TELEVISION

1966

Mission: Impossible [pilot dir by Bernard L. Kowalski] 171-part adventure/international intrigue series, 1966-73 (CBS-tv); 1st season, 1966-67