With actress/wife Merle Oberon [1945]

[Center] with Ernest Borgnine and dir Richard Wilson [r]

"Pay or Die" [1959]

               

LUCIEN BALLARD

Born: 6 May 1908, Miami, Oklahoma, USA, as Lucien Keith Ballard.

Died: 1 October 1988, Rancho Mirage, Calif., USA.

Education: University of Oklahoma, Norman; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Career: 'Well, I was doing a little bit of everything at the time. I'd been kicked out of three or four universities in the Midwest, and I ended up in China. Then I came back and started working in sawmills, out in the woods, surveying. I was in L.A. in 1929, and a girl I knew was a script girl at Paramount They'd had a fire which destroyed their sound stages, so they were working at night a lot. I went over to see her, and I would be on the lot while they were shooting; someone asked me to give him a hand, and I started helping out some of the cameramen, loading cameras onto trucks and things. Pretty soon they asked me to work there. [...] I remember the first picture I was on was a circus picture with Clara Bow, and after we finished, Clara Bow invited me to a party at her home; I came home three days later, and I said, "Boy, this is the business for me!" [From interview with Leonard Maltin in 'Behind the Camera: The Cinematographer's Art', 1971.]

Became general asst, c.asst and c.op [for 5 years working with Victor Milner, Charles Rosher, a.o.] at Paramount. Also active as film editor. As doph with Columbia [1935-1940], RKO [for 2 pictures], 20th Century Fox [1941-45], Universal [2 years], RKO [2 years] and 20th Century Fox [1950-56]. Became freelance.

The film 'Berlin Express' [1947] was shot in Europe. Ballard stayed there for 2 years and didn't ph any films: 'I skied a lot, and lived all over.'

Was married [wooed and won her during the making of 'The Lodger'] to actress Merle Oberon [26 June (in Juarez, Mexico) 1945-August 1949]. Because of facial scars sustained by Oberon in a London car crash in 1937, Ballard designed a compact spotlight that he coined the 'Obie' [Oberon's nickname]. Mounted on the side of the camera, the device lights the subject head on, thus reducing the incidence of unflattering facial lines and shadows.

Was a member of the ASC.

Awards: Venice IFF 'Best Cinematography Award' [1935; shared] for 'The Devil Is a Woman'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1963; b&w] for 'The Caretakers'; NSFC Award [1970] for 'The Wild Bunch'.



Lucien Ballard has to be ranked among the greatest of Hollywood cinematographers. He began his career at Paramount as editor and assistant to the great cameraman Lee Garmes on Josef von Sternberg's 'Morocco', starring Marlene Dietrich. Ballard then entered the next phase of his training when he struggled to make all forms of genre films a bit distinguished. The late 1930s saw his credits accumulate, even through work on many a two-reeler including the comedies of The Three Stooges and Charlie Chase. His principal employer, Columbia Pictures, may have been on Poverty Row, but it afforded Ballard the perfect place to learn to shoot Hollywood films quickly and efficiently.

World War II, with many talented cameramen off working for the military, provided him with a chance to move up to top Hollywood productions. He jumped from Columbia to Twentieth Century-Fox, a top studio. In the mid-1940s he became a bit of a celebrity as the husband of Merle Oberon and the cameraman who struggled with Howard Hughes to create the idiosyncratic Western, 'The Outlaw'.

But then his career stuck and he returned to shooting lower-budget fare. He achieved a measure of excellence with 'The Killer Is Loose' and 'Buchanan Rides Alone' for Budd Boetticher, and 'The Killing' for Stanley Kubrick. In 1962 his career took a turn for the better and he began to achieve fame as an exceptional cameraman with work for director Sam Peckinpah. Their 'Ride the High Country' stands as one of the most beautiful of Westerns. This final phase of Ballard's career was underlined with greatness for the clean, elegant visual style he brought to the Western just, ironically, as that form was passing from the movie screen. [From article by Douglas Gomery on the filmreference.com website.]

·····

Obituary: Lucien Ballard, a cinematographer whose sensuous images contributed to the heyday of the black-and-white film as well as the era of the three-dimensional color spectacular, died Saturday at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He was 84 years old and had been injured in an auto accident. In a career that spanned nearly 50 years, Mr. Ballard worked on more than 100 films with directors as disparate as Josef von Sternberg, Henry Hathaway, Raoul Walsh, Sam Peckinpah and Stanley Kubrick.

Although Mr. Ballard's credits included two-reel comedies featuring the Three Stooges as well as 3-D efforts like 'Inferno', he was best known for work on such feature films as 'Crime and Punishment', 'Band of Angels', 'The Wild Bunch' and 'True Grit'. He received an Academy Award nomination in 1963 for his cinematography in 'The Caretakers'.

In his review of 'True Grit', Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote: ''Anyone interested in what good cinematography means can compare Ballard's totally different contributions to 'The Wild Bunch' and 'True Grit'. In 'The Wild Bunch', the camera work is hard and bleak and largely unsentimental. The images of 'True Grit' are as romantic and autumnal as its landscapes, which, in the course of the story, turn with the season from the colors of autumn to the white of winter.''

Lucien Ballard discovered the world of film making after a Paramount Studios script woman he was dating took him to a three-day party given by Clara Bow.

Mr. Ballard was married to Merle Oberon from 1945 to 1949 and photographed five of her films, including 'The Lodger'. His last film, before he retired in 1978, was 'Rabbit Test'. He is survived by a brother, two sons, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. [Glenn Collins in The New York Times, October 6, 1988.]



 FILMS

1930

Morocco [Josef von Sternberg] b&w; uncred addph (+ c.asst); cph: Lee Garmes

1934

The Devil Is a Woman/Carnival in Spain [Josef von Sternberg] b&w; uncred cph; ph: J. von Sternberg (took ph credit)

1935

Crime and Punishment [Josef von Sternberg] b&w

1936

The King Steps Out [Josef von Sternberg & (assoc) William Thiele] b&w; uncred cph: J. von Sternberg

1936

The Final Hour [D. Ross Lederman] b&w; 57m

With Dorothy Arzner - "Craig's Wife"

1936

Craig's Wife [Dorothy Arzner] b&w

1936

The Devil's Playground [Erle C. Kenton] b&w

1936

I Promise to Pay [D. Ross Lederman] b&w; 69m

1936

Racketeers in Exile [Erle C. Kenton] b&w; 67m

1937

From Bad to Worse [Del Lord] b&w; short/2 reels

1937

Venus Makes Trouble [Gordon Wiles] b&w; 58m

1937

Girls Can Play [Lambert Hillyer] b&w; 59m

1937

Cash and Carry [Del Lord] b&w; short/18m; with The Three Stooges

1937

Life Begins with Love [Ray McCarey] b&w

1937

The Shadow/The Circus Shadow [C.C. Coleman Jr.] b&w; 59m

1937

Squadron of Honor [C.C. Coleman Jr.] b&w; 55m

1937

Penitentiary [John Brahm] b&w

1937

The Lone Wolf in Paris [Albert S. Rogell] b&w; 66m; 2nd film in 14-part 'The Lone Wolf'-series (Columbia, 1935-49)

1938

Flat Foot Stooges [Charley Chase] b&w; short/2 reels; with The Three Stooges

1938

Highway Patrol [C.C. Coleman Jr.] b&w; 56m

1938

Flight to Fame [C.C. Coleman Jr.] b&w; 57m

1938

The Nightshirt Bandit [Jules White] b&w; short/19m

1938

Rio Grande [Sam Nelson] b&w; 59m

1938

Home on the Rage [Del Lord] b&w; short/17m

1938

Violent Is the Word for Curly [Charley Chase] b&w; short/18m; with The Three Stooges

1938

Three Little Sew and Sews/Three Goofy Gobs [Del Lord] b&w; short/2 reels; with The Three Stooges

1938

The Thundering West [Sam Nelson] b&w; 56m

1938

Texas Stampede [Sam Nelson] b&w; 59m

1938

Let Us Live! [John Brahm] b&w; 68m

1939

Outside These Walls [Ray McCarey] b&w; 58m

1939

Blind Alley [Charles Vidor] b&w; 68m

1939

A Star Is Shorn [Del Lord] b&w; short/2 reels

1939

A-Ducking They Did Go [Del Lord] b&w; short/17m; with The Three Stooges

1939

Yes, We Have No Bonanza [Del Lord] b&w; short/16m; with The Three Stooges

1939

Coast Guard [Edward Ludwig] b&w

1940

No Census, No Feeling [Del Lord] b&w; short/17m; with The Three Stooges

1940

The Villain Still Pursued Her/He Done Her Wrong [Eddie F. Cline] b&w; 67m

1940

The Outlaw [Howard Hughes & Howard Hawks (uncred; left after 2 weeks of shooting)] b&w; uncred ph tests on 16mm & started the film with dir Howard Hawks (+ 2uc with G. Toland); ph: Gregg Toland; spec pfx: Roy Davidson; screened in 1943 in San Francisco and released in 1946

1941

Wild Geese Calling [John Brahm] b&w

1941

Swamp Water/The Man Who Came Back [Jean Renoir & (uncred) Irving Pichel] b&w; uncred cph (replaced by P. Marley); ph: Peverell Marley

1941

Moontide [Archie Mayo & (uncred) Fritz Lang] b&w; uncred cph (with dir Fritz Lang); ph: Charles G. Clarke

1942

Whispering Ghosts [Alfred L. Werker] b&w

1942

Orchestra Wives [John Brahm (uncred; started the film) & Archie Mayo (finished the film)] b&w

1942

The Undying Monster/The Hammond Mystery [John Brahm] b&w; 63m

1942

Tonight We Raid Calais [John Brahm] b&w

1943

Bomber's Moon [Charles Fuhr (= Edward Ludwig + Harold Schuster) (replaced E. Ludwig); (uncred fill-in for 2 days) John Brahm] b&w; 69m; spec pfx: Fred Sersen

1943

Holy Matrimony [John M. Stahl] b&w

1943

The Lodger [John Brahm] b&w; spec pfx: Fred Sersen

1944

Sweet and Low-Down [Archie Mayo] b&w

1944

Laura [Otto Preminger (replaced Rouben Mamoulian)] replaced by doph Joseph LaShelle well into the shooting; 'We [Mamoulian & Ballard] shot 75% of that film together, and it was going so well that everyone wanted to take credit for it - and it was all Mamoulian. Finally he was taken off the film, and Otto Preminger came in with another cameraman - but even there he had it easy, because Mamoulian had set every scene.'*

With actress Merle Oberon - "This Love of Ours"

1945

This Love of Ours [William Dieterle] b&w

1946

Temptation [Irving Pichel] b&w

1947

Night Song [John Cromwell] b&w

1947

Berlin Express [Jacques Tourneur] b&w

1950

The House on Telegraph Hill [Robert Wise] b&w; spec pfx: Fred Sersen

1951

Let's Make It Legal [Richard Sale] b&w; spec pfx: Fred Sersen

1951

Fixed Bayonets! [Samuel Fuller] b&w

1951

Return of the Texan [Delmer Daves] b&w

1951

Diplomatic Courier [Henry Hathaway] b&w

1951

Don't Bother to Knock [Roy Baker] b&w; spec pfx: Ray Kellogg

1952

O. Henry's Full House/Full House [seg 'The Clarion Call' dir by Henry Hathaway] b&w; 5 seg (also version with 4 seg); filmed January; other ph: Lloyd Ahern (1 seg), Milton Krasner (1 seg) & Joseph MacDonald (2 seg)

1952

Night Without Sleep [Roy Baker] b&w

1952

The Glory Brigade [Robert D. Webb] b&w

1952

The Desert Rats [Robert Wise] b&w; spec pfx: Ray Kellogg

1953

Inferno [Roy Baker] c; originally in 3-D

1953

Prince Valiant [Henry Hathaway] cs/c; uncred loc ph (Scotland): Charles G. Clarke; spec pfx: Ray Kellogg

1953

New Faces [Harry Horner] cs/c

1954

The Raid [Hugo Fregonese] c

1954

White Feather [Robert D. Webb] cs/c

1954

The Magnificent Matador/The Brave and the Beautiful [Budd Boetticher] cs/c

1955

Seven Cities of Gold [Robert D. Webb] cs/c; vfx: Ray Kellogg

1955

A Kiss Before Dying [Gerd Oswald] cs/c

1955

The Killer Is Loose [Budd Boetticher] b&w

1955

The Killing [Stanley Kubrick] b&w; process ph: Paul Eagler; pfx: Jack Rabin & Louis DeWitt

1956

The Proud Ones [Robert D. Webb] cs/c; spec pfx: Ray Kellogg

[Right] with Clark Gable - "The King and Four Queens"

1956

The King and Four Queens [Raoul Walsh] cs/c

1956

I Married a Woman [Hal Kanter] RKO-Scope/b&w-c; spec pfx: Linwood G. Dunn; released 1958

1956

The Unholy Wife/The Lady and the Prowler [John Farrow] RKO-Scope/c

1957

Band of Angels [Raoul Walsh] c

1958

Murder by Contract [Irving Lerner] b&w

1958

Buchanan Rides Alone/The Name's Buchanan [Budd Boetticher] c

1958

City of Fear [Irving Lerner] b&w

1958

Anna Lucasta [Arnold Laven & (assoc) Irving Lerner] b&w

1958

Al Capone [Richard Wilson] b&w

1959

Arruza [Budd Boetticher] c; doc/73m; cph: J. Carlos Carbajal; LB worked on this film in his spare time until 1964 (uncred on 1968 version)

1959

The Bramble Bush [Daniel Petrie] c

1959

The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond [Budd Boetticher] b&w; 'We wanted to go for an authentic atmosphere for the 1920s where the film was showing. So after seeing some of the rushes, the producer went to Boetticher and said, 'I thought you said Ballard was a great cameraman - this looks like it was shot in 1920!' And Budd said, 'It's supposed to look like it was shot in 1920!'*

1959

Pay or Die [Richard Wilson] b&w

1960

Desire in the Dust [William F. Claxton] cs/b&w

With actress Hayley Mills - "The Parent Trap"

1960

The Parent Trap [David Swift] c; spec pfx: Ub Iwerks

1961

Marines, Let's Go! [Raoul Walsh] cs/c

1961

Susan Slade [Delmer Daves] c

[Left] with Sam Peckinpah - "Ride the High Country"

1961

Ride the High Country/Guns in the Afternoon [Sam Peckinpah] cs/c

1962

[Elfego Baca:] Six Gun Law [Christian Nyby] c; comp of 2 ep of tv-series; see Television (1958)

1963

The Caretakers/Borderlines [Hall Bartlett] b&w

1963

Wives and Lovers [John Rich] b&w

1963

Wall of Noise [Richard Wilson] b&w

1963

Take Her, She's Mine [Henry Koster] cs/c

1964

The New Interns [John Rich] b&w

1964

Roustabout [John Rich] ts/c; spec pfx: Paul K. Lerpae; process ph: Farciot Edouart

1964

Dear Brigitte [Henry Koster] cs/c; spec pfx: L.B. Abbott & Emil Kosa Jr.

1965

The Sons of Katie Elder [Henry Hathaway] p/c

1965

Boeing Boeing [John Rich] c; spec pfx: Paul K. Lerpae; process ph: Farciot Edouart

1965

Nevada Smith [Henry Hathaway] p/c

1966

An Eye for an Eye/Talion [Michael D. Moore] c

1967

Hour of the Gun [John Sturges] p/c

1967

Will Penny [Tom Gries] c; spec pfx: Paul K. Lerpae

1967

The Party [Blake Edwards] p/c; first feature film to use video-assist during shooting

1968

How Sweet It Is! [Jerry Paris] p/c

1968

The Wild Bunch [Sam Peckinpah] p35 & p70/c

1968

True Grit [Henry Hathaway] c

1969

A Time for Dying [Budd Boetticher] c

1969

The Ballad of Cable Hogue [Sam Peckinpah] c

1969

The Hawaiians/Master of the Islands [Tom Gries] p/c; cph: Philip Lathrop (replaced Ballard who fell ill)

1970

Elvis: That's the Way It Is [Denis Sanders] p/c; mus doc/97m

1971

What's the Matter with Helen? [Curtis Harrington] c

1971

Junior Bonner [Sam Peckinpah] tao35/c

1972

The Getaway [Sam Peckinpah] tao35/c

1972

Lady Ice [Tom Gries (replaced Richard Colla)] p/c; uwph: Jordan Klein Sr.

1973

Mikey and Nicky [Elaine May] c; ph end seq; ph: Victor Kemper & Bernie Abramson; driving seq ph: Jack Cooperman; addph: Jerry File; released 1976

1973

Thomasine & Bushrod [Gordon Parks Jr.] c

1973

Three the Hard Way [Gordon Parks Jr.] c

1974

The Three Stooges Follies [Spencer Gordon Bennet & Del Lord] b&w; comp of 7 shorts from the 30s & 40s; other ph: Charles Harten & Ira H. Morgan

With dir Tom Gries [right] - "Breakout"

1974

Breakout [Tom Gries] p/c; 2uc: Manuel Berenguer & Felix Martin

1975

Breakheart Pass [Tom Gries] c; 2uc: Robert McBride

1975

From Noon Till Three [Frank D. Gilroy] p/c

1976

St. Ives [J. Lee Thompson] c

1976

Drum [Steve Carver (replaced Burt Kennedy)] p/c

1977

Rabbit Test [Joan Rivers] c

1985

My Kingdom For... [Budd Boetticher] c; doc/85m

*From interview with Leonard Maltin in 'Behind the Camera: The Cinematographer's Art', 1971.


 TELEVISION

1957

Maverick [various] 124-part western series/b&w, 1957-62

1958

Walt Disney Presents - [Frontierland] [ep #5 'Elfego Baca Attorney at Law' dir by Christian Nyby (CN) & #6 'Elfego Baca - The Griswold Murder' dir by CN] 10-part western series, 1958-60; 1st season (6 ep), 1958-59; other ph: William E. Snyder (pilot/ep #1 'The Nine Lives of Elfego Baca' + ep #2-4); ep #5 & 6 released theatrically outside USA as 'Six Gun Law' (1962)

1959

The 33rd [James Goldstone] unaired & unsold pilot/b&w

1959

Walt Disney Presents - Elfego Baca [ep #7 'Move Along, Mustangers' dir by George Sherman (GS), #8 'Mustang Man, Mustang Maid' dir by GS, #9 'Friendly Enemies at Law' dir by William Beaudine (WB) & #10 'Gus Tomlin Is Dead' dir by WB] 2nd season (4 ep), 1959-60; see 1958

1959

The Westerner [ep #1 'Jeff' dir by Sam Peckinpah (SP), #6 'The Courting of Libby' dir by SP & #10 'Line Camp' dir by Tom Gries] pilot + 13-part western series/b&w, 1960; other ph: George Diskant (pilot), Howard Schwartz & Frank Carson; syndicated in 1966 as 'The Westerners/Law of the Plainsman'

1960

[Dick Powell's] Zane Grey Theater/The Westerners [ep #118 'Stagecoach to Yuma' dir by William D. Faralla] 146-part western anthology series, 1956-61 (1962: reruns)/b&w; 4th season, 1959-60

1960

Black Saddle/The Westerners [ep #44 'End of the Line' dir by William F. Claxton] 44-part western series, 1959-60/b&w; for NBC-tv (1959) & ABC-tv (1959-60)

1960

The Swamp Fox [ep #7 'A Woman's Courage' dir by Lewis R. Foster (LRF) & #8 'Horses for Greene' dir by LRF] 8-part 'Walt Disney Presents - Frontierland'-series, 1959-61; 2nd season, 1961

1960

Zorro [ep #1 'El Bandido' dir by William Witney (WW) & #2 'Adios El Cuchillo' dir by WW] 4-part 'Walt Disney Presents'-series/b&w; followed 78-part western series, 1957-59

1961

The Dick Powell Show/The Dick Powell Theatre (1963) [ep #10 'Up Jumped the Devil' dir by Otto Lang] 60-part dramatic anthology series/b&w, 1961-63; 1st season, 1961-62; other ph: George E. Diskant & Carl Guthrie

1966

McNab's Lab [John Rich] unsold pilot

1966

Noon Wine [Sam Peckinpah] tvm/48m; ep #10 of series 'ABC Stage 67' (1966-67)


 MISCELLANEOUS

1929

Dangerous Curves [Lothar Mendes] general asst; ph: Harry Fischbeck

1929

The Love Parade [Ernst Lubitsch] co-c.op; ph: Victor Milner

1930

Monte Carlo [Ernst Lubitsch] c.op; ph: Victor Milner

1930

Morocco [Josef von Sternberg] c.asst (+ uncred addph); ph: Lee Garmes

1931

I Take This Woman [Marion Gering] co-c.asst; ph: Victor Milner

1931

Beloved Bachelor [Lloyd Corrigan] co-c.asst; ph: Charles Rosher

1931

Broken Lullaby/The Man I Killed [Ernst Lubitsch] co-c.asst; ph: Victor Milner

1931

One Hour with You [Ernst Lubitsch] co-c.asst; ph: Victor Milner; also French version 'Une heure près de toi'

1932

This Is the Night [Frank Tuttle] co-c.asst; ph: Victor Milner

1932

Blonde Venus [Josef von Sternberg] co-c.asst; ph: Bert Glennon

1933

Big Executive [Erle C. Kenton] co-c.asst; ph: Harry Fischbeck