STANLEY CORTEZ

Born: 4 November 1908, New York City, NY, USA, as Stanislaus Krantz, son of Austrian immigrants.

Died: 23 December 1997, Los Angeles, Calif., USA.

Education: New York University.

Career: Started in New York City as asst to several still ph, e.g. Edward Steichen and Pierre McDonald. 'I was working for a portrait studio on 5th Avenue and 46th Street in New York City and was watching a parade. Then, I saw Willard Van der Veer, who was a newsreel cameraman for Pathé Revue.' He introduced himself to Van der Veer, who helped him get a job as asst filming the 10-part serial 'The Green Archer' [1925, Spencer Gordon Bennet] at Pathé. After that series was finished, Cortez became an asst with doph Alvin Wyckoff at Paramount Studios in Long Island. Cortez and his brother Ricardo, a distinguished film star, moved to Hollywood in the 1920s. Cortez became c.asst and c.op with Tony Gaudio, Karl Struss, Ray June, Lucien Andriot, Oliver Marsh, a.o. Began shooting tests and 2nd unit at Universal. Became doph at Universal [confined to 'B' films]. Later worked under contract for prod David O. Selznick and Walter Wanger. During WW2 he served with the Army Pictorial Service of the Signal Corps. He ph the conferences at Yalta and Quebec and the funeral of President Roosevelt.

Became member of the ASC in 1933 and served as president in 1985-86.

His brother Ricardo [Jacob Krantz, 1899-1977] was an actor.

Appeared in the 3-part doc 'D.W. Griffith: Father of Film' [1993, Kevin Brownlow & David Gill].

Awards: 'Oscar' AA nom [1942; b&w] & Film Critics of America Award [194?] for 'The Magnificent Ambersons'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1944; b&w; shared] for 'Since You Went Away'; ASC Lifetime Achievement Award [1990].



From a statement [on the issue of colorization in films photographed in black and white] made by Stanley Cortez before the Subcommittee on Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks of the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate on October 24, 1989: 'When a motion picture which was originally photographed in black and white is then colorized, it is not the actor's acting which is changed, nor the writer's writing, nor the composer's music, nor the editor's editing, nor the director's directing. No. It is the cameraman's photography which is totally altered - from what was an expressive work of intricately refined light and shadow to a totally different form, completely foreign to the cinematographer's vision of the story. [...] I concur with the ASC's position that producers should have the right, as owners of films, to exploit them in whatever economic manner they have available to them, provided, however, that any material alterations they allow to be made should be clearly labeled to indicate that they were made to the original version and were done without the collaboration or consent of the cinematographer. This is absolutely necessary to protect our integrity and reputation as artists. [...] I know that perhaps some young people in America today scorn the impressionistic beauty of the classic black and white film - the master achievement of Hollywood's Golden Era. But because some people do not appreciate the black and white picture does not mean all should be robbed of the joy of seeing a classic in its original beauty and splendor. [...] I believe firmly in the preservation of the historical black and white image... to tamper with it would be sacrilegious, no matter what method is used. This would be tantamount to altering a single not of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, which is unthinkable.'

End titles "The Magnificent Ambersons"

Voice of Orson Welles: 'Stanley Cortez was

the Photographer.'

[Right] with dir Orson Welles

"The Magnificent Ambersons"

'The Magnificent Ambersons': 'The late, great Stanley Cortez often said that light was "an incredible thing that can't be described," and that every day he learned something new about it. He further maintained that "only two of all the directors I've worked with understood it: Orson Welles and Charles Laughton." For Welles's 'The Magnificent Ambersons' and Laughton's 'The Night of the Hunter', Cortez used light and shadow to create enough perfect black-and-white images to fill an art gallery. Cortez had gone to New York to shoot tests for David O. Selznick when Welles asked to borrow him for 'The Magnificent Ambersons', which was about to start at RKO. Welles had seen some of Cortez's work in Universal mystery films, especially the 1941 comedy-mystery 'The Black Cat', and wanted a somewhat similar look for 'The Magnificent Ambersons'. Cortez arrived in Hollywood on Monday and shot the first scene the next morning, with no preparation. Based on a Booth Tarkington story, the picture takes place in the early part of this century, and relates the tale of an American family that is unable to change with the times. Three interior floors of the Amberson home, filled with gingerbread woodwork, fancy wallpaper, heavy furniture and a massive staircase, were built on Stage 3 at RKO's Hollywood studio. Cortez recalled that when he'd seen the set before he went to New York, he said to himself, "I pity the poor bastard who has to photograph this damned thing!" Snow scenes involving a sleigh ride were set up in the big ice plant in downtown Los Angeles. Street scenes and other exteriors were made at RKO-Pathé in Culver City. Welles and Cortez struck up a good rapport, but Welles later became increasingly impatient with Cortez's perfectionistic approach to lighting. The cameraman was quoted as saying, "When you're doing a picture with Orson Welles, Orson runs the show, and if he doesn't, his voice does." However, the extra effort paid off in artistic compositions, rich blacks and scenes of remarkable depth. Welles was still producing and acting in his Mercury Theatre radio dramas, and sometimes was unable to be on the set. On these occasions he left recorded directions for Cortez and editor Robert Wise, who would film the scenes without him. The 10-day shoot in the ice house made it possible to use real snow and show the frosty breath of the actors, but it was tough going. In their attempts to stay warm, the crew wore fur-lined leather coveralls and sipped brandy. Arc lights were used to create a sunlit effect on the snow, and the cold caused incandescents to burst at unexpected moments. At one point, actor Ray Collins was sidelined with pneumonia. Because RKO was committed to furnishing double-bill programs, a new studio chief decreed that no feature could be longer than 7,500 feet. Cortez was horrified when many of his favorite scenes from 'The Magnificent Ambersons' were chopped out. Even in its truncated state, the picture stands as one of the finest examples of black-and-white cinematography ever to grace the screen.' [From the ASC website, © 1999.]

·····

Stanley Cortez, while a solid contributor to Hollywood hack works, played an important part in the creation of a handful of transcendent masterpieces: 'The Magnificent Ambersons', 'The Night of the Hunter', 'The Three Faces of Eve', and 'Shock Corridor.' Cortez was also able to give otherwise mediocre works a certain interest by means of experimental techniques.

Before Cortez started making films, he worked as a designer of elegant sets for several portrait photographers' studios. This work may well have instilled in him his great talent: a strong feeling for space and an ability to move his camera through that space in such a way as to embody it in film's two-dimensional format. Cortez lent an additional depth to his spatial capability by making the set into an objective correlative of the characters' psyche.

In 1941 Cortez had his big chance of working with Orson Welles on 'The Magnificent Ambersons.' Cortez saw the set for the film before being appointed first cameraman. His spatial sense told him that filming among these sets would be a tremendous challenge. Welles's cinematic genius told him that Cortez's mastery of studio space was exactly what this film - having a house as its main setting, indeed, its main character - demanded. Much of Cortez's great work was cut out later by the studio. There is the famous long take where the camera seems to explore the now empty Amberson mansion. The camera (a hand-held Mitchell) in this and another similar shot had to enter various rooms which were literally created and dismantled on cue and within seconds by the crew. The film contained documentary-like moments - for example, the opening shots which look like period photographs or engravings. These vignettes of turn-of-the-century life are carefully framed and often done in triangularly posed three-shots that give an atmosphere of bygone formality and order.

Charles Laughton gave Cortez another challenge - 'The Night of the Hunter.' The extraordinary film demanded trial underwater shots and expressionistically lighted sets. The camera movements have a musical quality about them, and with the possible exception of the work of Charles Rosher and Karl Struss on 'Sunrise', 'The Night of the Hunter' contains the most beautiful camera ballet and shots of light on water ever done. As Cortez says, the camera work is musically conceived. In 'The Three Faces of Eve', Cortez found his actress Joanne Woodward would be to him what Garbo was to William Daniels and Dietrich to Lee Garmes. Cortez's subtle modulations of lighting match Woodward's equally subtle changes of expression, and both together create the sense of Eve, a psychologically split personality, becoming someone else. The labyrinthine hallways and rooms of the studio set representing a mental hospital for Samuel Fuller's 'Shock Corridor' is transformed by Cortez's camera into a symbol of incarceration and insanity. [From article by Rodney Farnsworth on the Film Reference website.]



 FILMS

1932

Scherzo [Stanley Cortez] b&w; exp short/20m; + scrpl; negative was destroyed in a fire

1936

Four Days' Wonder [Sidney Salkow] b&w; 60m

1937

The Wildcatter [Lewis D. Collins] b&w; 58m

1937

I Cover the War [Arthur Lubin] b&w; 65m; cph: Harry Neumann

1937

Armored Car [Lewis R. Foster] b&w; 64m

1937

The Black Doll [Otis Garrett] b&w; 66m; cph: Ira Morgan

1938

The Lady in the Morgue/The Case of the Missing Blonde [Otis Garrett] b&w; 65m

1938

Danger on the Air [Otis Garrett] b&w; 65m

1938 

Personal Secretary/The Comet [Otis Garrett] b&w; 61m; 2nd cam: Maury Gertsman

1938

The Last Express [Otis Garrett] b&w; 63m

1938

Exposed [Harold Schuster] b&w; 60m

1939

Risky Business [Arthur Lubin] b&w; 67m

1939

For Love or Money/Tomorrow at Midnight [Albert S. Rogell] b&w; 67m

1939

They Asked for It [Frank McDonald] b&w; 61m

1939

The Forgotten Woman [Harold Young] b&w; 63m; 'I used a photographic technique there in which I tried to penetrate the thoughts of the nurse, by showing them inside her head. I made one of her eyes completely fill the screen - that was entirely new then - and in the eye I showed the reflection of all kinds of thoughts, so that you were looking through the eye as through a telescope into the recesses of the brain. I used colored lights for this black and white film so as to achieve striking contrasts within the iris, the white of the eye. Of course, people said I was much too arty!'*

1939

Hawaiian Nights [Albert S. Rogell] b&w; 65m

1939

Laugh It Off/Lady Be Gay [Albert S. Rogell] b&w; 63m

1939

It's a Date [William A. Seiter] b&w; uncred background ph (Hawaii); ph: Joseph Valentine

1940

Alias the Deacon/The Hillbilly Deacon [Christy Cabanne] b&w

1940

Love, Honor and Oh Baby! [Charles Lamont] b&w; 59m

1940

Margie [Otis Garrett & Paul Girard Smith] b&w; 59m

1940

The Leather Pushers [John Rawlins] b&w; 64m

1940

Meet the Wildcat [Arthur Lubin] b&w; 61m

1940

A Dangerous Game [John Rawlins] b&w; 61m

1941

The Black Cat [Albert S. Rogell] b&w; 69m

1941

San Antonio Rose [Charles Lamont] b&w; 62m

1941

Badlands of Dakota [Alfred E. Green] b&w

1941

Sealed Lips [George Waggner] b&w; 62m

1941

Moonlight In Hawaii [Charles Lamont] b&w; 60m

1941

Bombay Clipper [John Rawlins] b&w; 61m

[Left] with dir Orson Welles

"The Magnificent Ambersons"

1941

The Magnificent Ambersons [Orson Welles; (uncred) Robert Wise, Jack Moss & Freddie Fleck] b&w; 88m & (preview) 131m; uncred addph: Russell Metty, Nicholas Musuraca (with dir J. Moss + final seq with dir F. Fleck), Jack McKenzie (with dir R. Wise), Russell A. Cully & Harry J. Wild; process ph: Clifford Stine; filmed October 1941-January 1942 + retakes in April & May 1942

1942

Eagle Squadron [Arthur Lubin] b&w; 2uc: Woody Bredell; background ph: Ernest B. Schoedsack & Harry Watts; spec pfx: John P. Fulton; 'We shot it with Plus-X film, and where normally our exposure would be 3/5, I exposed at f/16. It was a time when Leon Shamroy, Arthur Miller, Gregg Toland and myself were the four cameramen in Hollywood going for depth of field. Gregg used special Waterhouse stops: pieces of metal with small holes inserted in the lens, and I did, too. So, 'Eagle Squadron' was an experiment in Tolandesque techniques, and very interesting. And as so often, in that picture I put the key light on the floor, or any strange place, rather than in a fixed spot, which they so often do in Hollywood.'*

1942

Flesh and Fantasy/Six Destinies [Julien Duvivier] b&w; 3 seg; ph seg 2 (filmed July); ph seg 1 (filmed March 1943) & seg 3 (filmed September 1942): Paul Ivano; Cortez was replaced by Ivano because he was scheduled to ph 'The Powers Girl', however, modern sources state that he left because Duvivier complained about his slow shooting pace; a 4th seg was cut from the film and expanded into 'Destiny' (d: Reginald Le Borg & (uncred) Julien Duvivier; ph: George Robinson & Paul Ivano; filmed 1942-43 & August/September 1944)

1942

The Powers Girl/Hello Beautiful [Norman Z. McLeod] b&w

1943

Since You Went Away [John Cromwell; (uncred) Tay Garnett, Eddie Cline (comedy seq) & David O. Selznick (fill-in for 4 days)] b&w; replaced ph George Barnes, who was fired after 2 weeks ('I called George and asked him what the problem was. There was one: I can't go into the story, because I worshipped him and do still, although he's dead, God rest his soul. I redid most of the scenes he did, I'm afraid.'*); cph: Lee Garmes (finished the film); spec pfx: John R. Cosgrove; filmed September 1943-February 1944

1945

[The United States Army Presents PMF 5019] Let There Be Light [John Huston] b&w; doc/58m; uncred; uncred cph: George Smith, Lloyd Fromm, John Doran & Joseph Jackman; prod Army Pictorial Service; banned, but released in 1980

1946

Smash-Up [: The Story of a Woman]/A Woman Destroyed [Stuart Heisler] b&w; spec ph: David S. Horsley

[Left] with dir Fritz Lang - "Secret Beyond the Door"

Actress Natalie Schafer - Fritz Lang - actress Joan Bennett - SC - actor Michael Redgrave

1947

Secret Beyond the Door... [Fritz Lang] b&w

1947

Smart Woman [Edward A. Blatt] b&w

1948

The Man on the Eiffel Tower [Burgess Meredith & (uncred; started as dir) Irving Allen] c; assoc ph: Tony Braun

1949

The Underworld Story/The Whipped [Cyril Endfield] b&w

1949

The Admiral Was a Lady [Albert S. Rogell] b&w

1950

Stronghold [Steve Sekely] b&w

1950

Furia roja [Steve Sekely & Víctor Urruchúa] b&w; Spanish version of 'Stronghold'

1951

The Basketball Fix/The Big Decision [Felix Feist] b&w; 65m

1951

Fort Defiance [John Rawlins] c

1951

De l'autre côté de l'eau/From the Other Side of the Water [Robert Darène] b&w; short/600mtrs; ph USA seq; ph Paris seq: ?

1952

Models, Inc./Call Girl/That Kind of Girl [Reginald Le Borg] b&w

1952

Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd [Charles Lamont] c

1952

The Neanderthal Man [E.A. Dupont] b&w

1952

Dragon's Gold [Aubrey Wisberg & Jack Pollexfen] b&w

1953

The Diamond Queen [John Brahm] c

1953

Shark River [John Rawlins] c

1953

Yesterday and Today [Abner J. Greshler] b&w; comp of silent films/57m; ph presenter seq (dir by Hal Walker)

1953

Riders to the Stars [Richard Carlson] c; spec pfx: Jack R. Glass

1953

Apache [Robert Aldrich] c; uncred cph (was fired); ph: Ernest Laszlo

1954

Black Tuesday [Hugo Fregonese] b&w

1954

The Night of the Hunter [Charles Laughton; 2 scenes dir by Terry Sanders] b&w; spec pfx: Louis DeWitt & Jack Rabin; 'But better still was the scene of the child in the loft, looking down and seeing the preacher in the distance; we built the whole set in perspective, between the hayloft and the fence, which was about 500 feet away. The figure moving against the horizon wasn't Mitchum at all. It was a midget on a little pony. The lighting gave the illusion I needed; the feeling of mystery, of strange shadows.' [See photo above.]*; restored in 2001

1955

The Naked and the Dead [Charles Laughton] worked for 8 months on this project; dir in 1958 by Raoul Walsh and ph by Joseph LaShelle

1956

Man from Del Rio [Harry Horner] b&w

1956

Top Secret Affair/Their Secret Affair [H.C. Potter] b&w; William H. Clothier was originally scheduled (December 1955) as ph

1957

The Three Faces of Eve [Nunnally Johnson] cs/b&w; spec pfx: L.B. Abbott; 'Again, as in so many of my films, I was given an off-beat subject, a psychological subject. I read the script thoroughly, and oddly enough I backed out of treating each episode with a different photographic technique. I told Nunnally Johnson that Joanne Woodward must play the whole thing, that we couldn't help her with lighting. Finally, Nunnally came up with the idea of her putting her hand in front of her face at the end of each scene to indicate the change of characters. She looked up, and she was different. All I gave her was a very subtle change of light as she went from one person to another.'*

1957

South Pacific [Joshua Logan] cs & tao70/c; uncred 2uc; ph: Leon Shamroy

1958

Thunder in the Sun [Russell Rouse] c; 2uc: William F. Whitley; spec pfx: Jack Rabin & Louis DeWitt

1959

Vice Raid [Edward L. Cahn] b&w

1959

The Angry Red Planet/Invasion of Mars/Journey to Planet Four [Ib Melchior] c

1960

Dinosaurus! [Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.] cs/c; uwph (+ dir): Paul Stader; spec pfx: Tim Baar, Gene Warren & Wah Chang

1961

Back Street [David Miller] c; addph: Frank J. Calabria

1962

Madmen of Mandoras/Amazing Mr. H [David Bradley] tao/b&w; re-edited and combined with new footage: 'They Saved Hitler's Brain'

1963

Shock Corridor [Samuel Fuller] b&w/c; cph: S. Fuller (16mm color footage in dream seq); spec optical efx: Linwood G. Dunn; filmed in 16 days

1963

A Comedy Tale of Fanny Hill [Leslie Goodwins] ?; short/?m

1963

Nightmare in the Sun [Marc Lawrence] c

1964

The Naked Kiss/The Iron Kiss [Samuel Fuller] b&w; cph (16mm footage): S. Fuller

1964

The Candidate/Party Girls for the Candidate/The Playmates and the Candidate [Robert Angus] b&w

1964

Young Dillinger [Terry O. Morse] b&w

1965

The Navy vs. the Night Monsters/Monsters of the Night/The Night Crawlers [Michael Hoey; (uncred) Jon Hall & Arthur Pierce] c

1965

The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini [Don Weis] p/c

1967

Blue [Silvio Narizzano] p/c

1968

The Bridge at Remagen [John Guillermin] p/c

1969

Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon [Otto Preminger] c; cph title seq; ph: Boris Kaufman

1972

Doomsday Machine/Armageddon/Doomsday/Escape from Planet Earth [Harry Hope & Lee Sholem] c; creator spec vfx: David L. Hewitt; dir sfx ph: William C. Davies; started filming in January 1967 with dir Herbert J. Leder; project abandoned; re-started in 1972

1973

Chinatown [Roman Polanski] replaced after 1 week by John A. Alonzo

1977

Un autre homme, une autre chance/Another Man [, Another Chance] [, Another Woman] [Claude Lelouch] c; USA ph; France ph: Jacques Lefrançois

1977

Damien: Omen II [Don Taylor (replaced Mike Hodges)] p/c; miniatures ph; ph: Bill Butler & Gilbert Taylor (Israel)

1979

When Time Ran Out.../The Day the World Ended/Earth's Final Fury [James Goldstone] p/c; miniature ph; ph: Fred J. Koenekamp

*From interview in 'Hollywood Cameramen' by Charles Higham, 1970.


 TELEVISION

1959

Wanted: Dead or Alive [ep #55 'The Monster' dir by Thomas Carr & #56 'The Most Beautiful Woman' dir by Arthur Hilton] pilot + 94-part series/b&w, 1958-61; 2nd season, 1959-60

1964

The Alfred Hitchcock Hour [ep #81 'An Unlocked Window' dir by Joseph M. Newman] 93-part series/b&w, 1962-65 (followed 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents', 1955-62); 3rd season, 1964-65

1966

Sedgewick Hawk-Styles [William Asher] unsold & unaired pilot/b&w/30m

1971

The Date [Robert Hansley] tvm

1971

Family Affair [various] 138-part series, 1966-71; other ph: Paul Ivano, Michael P. Joyce & Philip Tannura

1971

Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate [Ted Post] tvm


 MISCELLANEOUS

1929

Broadway [Paul Fejos] c.asst; ph: Hal Mohr

1930

The Bat Whispers [Roland West] c.asst; ph (65mm Magnifilm version): Robert H. Planck

1931

Devotion [Robert Milton] co-c.asst; ph: Hal Mohr

1931

Palmy Days [A. Edward Sutherland] ?; ph: Gregg Toland

1931

Panama Flo [Ralph Murphy] co-2nd cam; ph: Arthur C. Miller

1931

Lady with a Past/Reputation [Edward H. Griffith] co-2nd cam; ph: Hal Mohr

1933

My Lips Betray [John G. Blystone] co-c.op; ph: Lee Garmes

1933

Shanghai Madness [John G. Blystone] co-c.op; ph: Lee Garmes

1933

Roman Scandals [Frank Tuttle] ?; ph: Ray June & Gregg Toland

1934

Gold Diggers of 1935 [Busby Berkeley] c.op; ph: George Barnes

1934

A Midsummer Night's Dream [William Dieterle & Max Reinhardt] co-c.op; ph: Hal Mohr

1989

Continental [Xavier Villaverde] co-acknowledgement; ph: Javier G. Salmones