"Oklahoma!" [1954]

               

FLOYD CROSBY

Born: 12 December 1899, New York City, as Floyd Delafield Crosby, son of Fredrick Van Schoonhoven Crosby [1860-1920] and Julia Floyd Delafield [1874-1952].

Died: 30 September 1985, Ojai, Calif., USA.

Education: New York Institute of Photography, NY, NY.

Career: Worked at the New York Stock Exchange, Wall Street, New York. A meeting with anthropologist William Beebe led to a job as ph [stills & movies] on the Beebe Haitian Expedition [1927]. For 2 decades he specialized in doc's. He filmed the Matto Grosso Expedition, the Pratt Honduras Expedition, the LaVarre Brazilian-Guiana Expedition and an Indian Expedition. During WWII he worked as a ph in the Air Transport Command [superv by Pare Lorentz] making reference films for pilots. Left the Air Force as a major in 1946. Retired in 1972.

Was a member of the ASC.

Appeared in a December 1930 'Hearst Metrotone News'-item [Vol. 2, No. 225].

With son David

One of his two sons, David Van Cortland Crosby [1940-], is a well-known rock musician ['The Byrds' & 'Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young'].

Awards: 'Oscar' AA [1930/1] for 'Tabu'; Golden Globe Award [1953; b&w] for 'High Noon'.



'Tabu' [1929]: 'I was working with Flaherty in Arizona in 1929 when Murnau came down for a visit and made arrangements with Flaherty to make a picture in Tahiti and one in Hawaii. Unfortunately, I had already made arrangements to go to Mount Athos in Greece and shoot some material there with a friend. When I returned two months later, I sent a wire to Tahiti and got an answer saying 'Come immediately'. When I arrived they had just shot one sequence. Flaherty was having a lot of trouble with his camera and was happy to have me take over the photography. In fact, I was cameraman, operator, assistant and ran the projector at night. I used my own camera, a model-L Debrie. Two years before, MGM had made a picture in Tahiti and sold their developing equipment to a local man. Murnau rented this equipment which consisted of a small printer, a developing tank and drying drums. We broke in a native boy to develop the negative and another boy to make the prints. Neither one had ever seen film before or been in a laboratory. [...] We shot intermittently for ten months, with stops for weather and work on the story. Murnau did every bit of the direction himself. The photography I would say was 50% Murnau and 50% me - in other words, he was specific on some set-ups and let me choose others. [...] The relationship between Murnau and Flaherty was a strange one. Murnau liked Flaherty, but Flaherty hated Murnau, partly because Murnau was a bit Prussian in manner and very selfish, and partly because of jealousy, as Murnau knew ten times as much about direction as Flaherty. [...] Murnau edited the picture in Tahiti and had a negative cutter come down from Hollywood. Soon after 'Tabu' was finished, I went to Brazil on a picture and was there ten months.' [Floyd Crosby in 'Film Dope', No. 8, 1975.]

·····

'Floyd Crosby was certainly not a communist, but during the fifties, some studios did not like him. However, that meant nothing to me. I used him simply because he was a good cameraman. I remember Floyd talking about that, and saying it was somewhat ironic that his patriotism should come under questioning, after he had served in the Air Transport Command during World War II, working with Pare Lorentz on combat documentaries and winning citations for bravery. Floyd was really a great gentlemen and a brilliant cameraman. I went on to use him for my first film as a director, 'Five Guns West', and he was probably the best cameraman I ever worked with. He was quick, efficient and gave me the kind of quality that you would normally associate with much bigger studio films. We got along very well, and although he was somewhat older than I was, we became very good friends and I had great respect for him and for his work. It's not that difficult to get a good cameraman if the cameraman has hours to set up each shot. It's not difficult to get a cameraman who works quickly. He just sets up a few lights, and says he's ready to shoot. But to get somebody to work quickly and does fine work is very unusual.' [Roger Corman]

·····

Although Floyd Crosby's work as a cinematographer stretches back to 'Tabu' [1929] and 'The River' [1936], he achieved his greatest measure of commercial and artistic success in the late 1950s and early 1960s as director of photography for the American director Roger Corman, working on a series of low-budget horror and science fiction films. Crosby was born in 1899 in New York City, and after a brief period on Wall Street, he began working as a still photographer, before turning to cinematography around 1927. Crosby rapidly made a name for himself as a cameraman, working with such pioneer documentarists as Robert Flaherty, Joris Ivens, and Pare Lorentz. But following this early period of celebrity and success, Crosby shied away from the Hollywood mainstream. Except for a few assignments, such as 'The Fight for Life' in 1939 and 'My Father's House' in 1946, he remained a fringe figure in the film community, known for his uncompromising standards and his lack of interest in studio politics.

In 1950, however, he went back to work on Robert Rossen's 'The Brave Bulls' and shot Fred Zinnemann's classic anti-western 'High Noon' the following year. These films showed that Crosby had lost none of his skills as a cinematographer. He was much in demand as a result of his speed and craftsmanship on both projects, but still refused to become tied to any particular producer or director. That is, until he met Corman. The two first worked together on 'Five Guns West' in 1954 and immediately hit it off. "He needed a lot less coaching than a lot of other young directors," Crosby remembered later. "He knew what he wanted, he worked fast, and it was fun. Suddenly we were a team." In an interview I conducted with Corman on 21 April 1986, he remembered working with Crosby with equal fondness. "He was a rarity," Corman reminisced. "He worked fast, which is important to me, and yet his stuff was always good. No matter how fast I moved, Floyd kept right up, and he could light a setup in 10-15 minutes flat, or even faster if need be, and we'd go. That's unusual - lots of people are fast, but you don't want to see the results. With Floyd, you didn't have that problem. Plus, he knew how to set up these really complicated dolly shots quickly . He was the best, and working with him was always a pleasure, professionally and personally."

For Corman, Crosby shot many other films. Most of these films were for American International Pictures, or AIP, Corman's 'home company'. Eventually Crosby worked on other AIP projects not directed by Corman, including 'Bikini Beach' and 'Fireball 500'. After his work as a co-photographer of the undistinguished programmer 'Sweet Kill/The Arousers' [1970], Crosby retired from the industry.

But it is his atmospheric, imaginative work for Corman which is Floyd Crosby's most enduring achievement. The unlikely alliance between Crosby, the seasoned veteran [he was 56 when he shot his first film for Corman], and Corman, the brash young neophyte of 1950s cinema, remains one of the most prolific and resonant partnerships in film. [From article by Wheeler Winston Dixon.]



 FILMS

1927

Beebe Haitian Expedition [William Beebe & Floyd Crosby] unfinished

1928

Acoma the Sky City [Robert Flaherty] 2nd cam; ph: Leon Shamroy; unfinished

1929

Tabu [, a Story of the South Seas] [Robert Flaherty & F.W. Murnau] b&w; cph: R. Flaherty; shot on the islands of Tahiti & Bora Bora; released as a silent film with music track (1931)

1931

Matto Grosso [John S. Clark Jr., David M. Newell & Floyd Crosby] b&w; doc/50m

1933

Pueblo [Seymour Stern] doc; unfinished

1934

Alaska Expedition [Charles E. Bedaux] unfinished; footage used in the doc 'The Champagne Safari' (1995); Charles Eugène Bedaux [1886-1944] announced his intention to cross northeastern British Columbia [BC], Canada, with Citroën half-track trucks on May 25, 1934 in New York City. The Canadian Sub-Arctic Expedition launched from Edmonton, Alberta on July 6, 1934 and contained a formidable array of talent and beauty, including Floyd Crosby, a Hollywood cinematographer, two land surveyors, Frank Swannell and Ernest Lamarque, mining engineer Jack Bocock, a Citroën mechanic, many cowboys, as well as Bedaux’s mistress, his wife and her maid. Due to a combination of weather, terrain and poor planning, the expedition failed and the Citroën vehicles were abandoned. Although Bedaux returned to northern BC in 1936 with plans to build a road, he did not follow through. Collaborationist activities with Nazi-occupied France led to his 1942 arrest in North Africa. Returned to the U.S., he committed suicide in a Florida prison in 1944.

1936

The River [Pare Lorentz] b&w; doc/31m; replaced the nature-film ph Stacy & Horace Woodard; cph: Willard Van Dyke; prod Farm Security Administration

1938

Doctor Rhythm/Dr. Rhythm [Frank Tuttle] b&w; cph: Charles Lang Jr.

1938

Ecce homo [Pare Lorentz] unfinished

1939

Name, Age, Occupation [Pare Lorentz] b&w; doc/?m; ed from footage 'Ecce homo'; released in 1942

1939

The Land [Robert Flaherty] b&w; doc/45m; ph 2 short seq; ph: Robert Flaherty, Irving Lerner, Douglas Baker & Charles Herbert; released in 1942; prod US Department of Agriculture

1939

The Fight for Life [Pare Lorentz] b&w; dram doc/69m; prod U.S. Film Service for the U.S. Department of Health

1939

Power and the Land [Joris Ivens] b&w; doc/38m; cph: Arthur Ornitz; prod U.S. Film Service for the Rural Electrification Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture; 2 more doc's were edited from this footage: 'Bip Goes to Town' & 'The Worst of Farm Disasters'

1940

New Frontiers [Joris Ivens] unfinished

1940

Look to Lockheed for Leadership [Shirley C. Burden] b&w; comm doc/31m; cph: Albert Wetzel

1940

TVA/Tennessee Valley Authority [prod: Arch A. Mercy] b&w; doc/20m; cph: Carl Pryer; prod National Defense Commission

1941

Power for Defense [George Gercke & Guy Bolté] b&w; doc/10m; cph: Carl Pryer; prod National Defense Commission & Tennessee Valley Authority

1942

It's All True [Orson Welles] unfinished; cph (with Joe Noreigo) seq 'My Friend Bonito' (dir by Norman Foster); 'Carnaval' seq ph by Joseph Biroc, William Howard Greene & Harry J. Wild; 'Four Men on a Raft' seq ph by George Fanto; footage used in doc 'It's All True' (1993, Richard Wilson, Myron Meisel & Bill Krohn)

1946

My Father's House/Beit Avi [Herbert Kline] b&w; filmed in Palestine; prod Jewish National Fund

1946

Traffic with the Devil [Gunther von Fritsch] b&w; doc/19m; ep 'Theater of Life'-series

1947

International Ice Patrol [?] b&w; doc/?m

1947

The Rural Co-op [Pare Lorentz] b&w; doc/?m

1948

Going to Blazes! [Gunther von Fritsch] b&w; doc/21m; ep 'Theater of Life'-series

1948

Roseanna McCoy [Irving Reis & (uncred retakes) Nicholas Ray] b&w; uncred cph; ph: Lee Garmes (Gregg Toland was originally scheduled as doph, but he died before start of prod)

1949

Heart to Heart [Gunther von Fritsch] b&w; doc/21m; ep 'Theater of Life'-series

19??

A Letter from Teresa [George Travell] ?; a 'Community Chest' short/?m

1949

Of Men and Music [Irving Reis & (Dimitri Mitropoulos seg) Alexander Hammid] b&w; doc/85m; ph Artur Rubenstein seg (shot in September) & Jascha Heifetz seg (shot in December); other seg ph by Hal Mohr & William O. Steiner

1950

The Brave Bulls [Robert Rossen] b&w; started the film; ph: James Wong Howe

1951

High Noon [Fred Zinnemann] b&w; 'The cameraman, Floyd Crosby, had the courage to give it the style that we had agreed upon. Floyd and I thought that 'High Noon' should look like a newsreel would have looked, if they had had newsreels in those days; and we studied Matthew Brady's photographs of the Civil War as an aid. Crosby used flat lighting that gave the film a grainy quality. There was almost a religious ritual about the way that Westerns were made. There was always a lovely sky with pretty clouds in the background. Instead, Crosby gave the sky a white, cloudless, burnt-out look. From the first day the front office complained about the poor photography, but Floyd went ahead anyway. Subliminally the photography created the effect we wanted; it made the film look more real.' [Fred Zinnemann]

1951

[Jack London's] The Fighter/The First Time [Herbert Kline] b&w; cph: James Wong Howe

1952

Mystery Lake [Larry Lansburgh] c; 64m; wildlife ph: W.W. Goodpaster & Karl Maslowski

1952

Devil Take Us [Herbert Morgan] b&w; short/20m; ep 'Theater of Life'-series

1952

Man Crazy [Irving Lerner] b&w

1953

Man in the Dark/The Man Who Lived Twice [Lew Landers] b&w-sepia/3-D; 68m

1953

The Steel Lady/The Treasure of Kalifa [E.A. Dupont] b&w

1953

From Here to Eternity [Fred Zinnemann] b&w; uncred cph; ph: Burnett Guffey

1953

Stormy, the Thoroughbred [with an Inferiority Complex] [Larry Lansburgh] c; short/46m; cph: Hal Ramser & L. Lansburgh; prod Walt Disney

1953

Monster from the Ocean Floor/It Stalked the Ocean Floor/Monster Maker [Wyott Ordung] b&w; 64m; shot in 6 days

1954

The Snow Creature [W. Lee Wilder] b&w

1954

The Fast and the Furious [Edwards Sampson & John Ireland] b&w; shot in 9 days

1954

Oklahoma! [Fred Zinnemann] tao70 & cs/c; 2uc; ph: Robert Surtees; filmed July-September (location) and September-December (studio)

1954

Five Guns West [Roger Corman] c; shot in 9 days

1955

The Naked Street/The Brass Ring [Maxwell Shane] b&w

1955

Hell's Horizon [Tom Gries] b&w

1955

The Beast with a Million Eyes [David Kramarsky & (uncred) Roger Corman] b&w; int ph (with dir R. Corman); ph: Everett Baker

1955

Apache Woman [Roger Corman] c

1955

Shack Out on 101 [Edward Dein] b&w

1956

Alaska Lifeboat [Herbert Morgan] b&w; doc/21m; ep 'Theater of Life'-series

1956

The Old Man and the Sea [John Sturges (replaced Fred Zinnemann)] c; started ph in June 1956 with dir F. Zinnemann; ph: James Wong Howe (in 1957 with dir J. Sturges)

1956

She-Gods of Shark Reef/Shark Reef [Roger Corman] c; 63m

1956

Naked Paradise/Thunder Over Hawaii [Roger Corman] c; 68m

1956

Attack of the Crab Monsters [Roger Corman] b&w; 67m

1956

Rock All Night [Roger Corman] b&w; 62m; shot in 6 days

1957

Hell Canyon Outlaws/The Tall Trouble [Paul Landres] b&w

1957

Teenage Doll/The Young Rebels [Roger Corman] b&w

1957

Ride Out for Revenge [Bernard Girard] b&w

1957

Reform School Girl [Edward Bernds] b&w

1957

Carnival Rock [Roger Corman] b&w

1957

The Cry Baby Killer [Jus Addiss] b&w; 62m; feature film debut of actor Jack Nicholson

1957

Suicide Battalion [Edward L. Cahn] b&w

1957

War of the Satellites [Roger Corman] b&w; 66m; shot in 8 days

4:3 ratio

1958

machine-gun Kelly [Roger Corman] Superama/b&w

1958

The Screaming Skull [Alex Nicol] b&w; 68m; 2uc: Kenneth Peach

1958

Hot Rod Gang/Fury Unleashed [Lew Landers] b&w

1958

Teenage Cave Man/Out of the Darkness/Prehistoric World [Roger Corman] Superama/b&w; 66m

1958

[Jack London's] Wolf Larsen/The Far Wanderer [Harmon Jones] b&w

1958

Crime & Punishment, U.S.A. [Denis Sanders] b&w

1958

I, Mobster [... The Life of a Gangster]/The Mobster [Roger Corman] cs/b&w

1958

The Wonderful Country [Robert Parrish] c; cph: Alex Phillips

1959

The Miracle of the Hills [Paul Landres] cs/b&w

1959

Terror at Black Falls/Ordeal at Dry Red [Richard C. Sarafian] b&w

1959

Blood and Steel [Bernard L. Kowalski] RegalScope/b&w; 62m

1959

The Rookie [George O'Hanlon] cs/b&w

1960

Twelve Hours to Kill [Edward L. Cahn] cs/b&w

1960

House of Usher/The Fall of the House of Usher [Roger Corman] cs/c; pfx: Ray Mercer; shot in 15 days

1960

The High Powered Rifle/Duel in the City [Maury Dexter] b&w; 62m

1960

Walk Tall [Maury Dexter] cs/c; 60m

1960

Freckles [Andrew V. McLaglen] cs/c

1960

Operation Bottleneck [Edward L. Cahn] b&w

1960

The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come [Andrew V. McLaglen] cs/c

1960

The Gambler Wore a Gun [Edward L. Cahn] b&w

1961

A Cold Wind in August [Alexander Singer] b&w

With actress Barbara Steele

"Pit and the Pendulum"

1961

Pit and the Pendulum [Roger Corman] p/c; pfx: Ray Mercer

1961

Night Tide [Curtis Harrington] b&w; addph; ph: Vilis Lapenieks

1961

The Purple Hills [Maury Dexter] cs/c

1961

The Explosive Generation [Buzz Kulik] b&w

1961

Seven Women from Hell [Robert D. Webb] cs/b&w

1961

The Two Little Bears [Randall Hood] cs/b&w

1961

Woman Hunt/Womanhunt [Maury Dexter] cs/b&w

1961

The Broken Land [John Bushelman] cs/c

1961

Hand of Death/Five Fingers of Death [Gene Nelson] cs/b&w

1962

Premature Burial/The Premature Burial [Roger Corman] p/c

1962

[Edgar Allan Poe's] Tales of Terror [Roger Corman] p/c; optical efx: Ray Mercer

1962

The Firebrand [Maury Dexter] cs/b&w; 63m

1962

The Young Racers [Roger Corman] c

1962

The Raven [Roger Corman] p/c

1963

Black Zoo [Robert Gordon] p/b&w-c

1963

The Yellow Canary [Buzz Kulik] cs/b&w

1963

X/X: The Man With the X-Ray Eyes] [Roger Corman] Spectarama/c

1963

[Edgar Allan Poe's] The Haunted Palace/The Haunted Village [Roger Corman] p/c

With actor Peter Lorre [right]

"The Comedy of Terrors"

1963

The Comedy of Terrors/The Graveside Story [Jacques Tourneur] p/c

1964

Sallah [Shabati] [Ephraim Kishon] b&w; cph: Nissim Leon; filmed in Israel

1964

Bikini Beach [William Asher] p/c

1964

Pajama Party/The Maid and the Martian [Don Weis] p/c

1964

Sex and the College Girl/The Fun Lovers [Joseph Adler] c

1964

Raiders from Beneath the Sea [Maury Dexter] b&w (F. Crosby denied having worked on this film)

1964

Indian Paint [Norman Foster] c

1965

Beach Blanket Bingo [William Asher] p/c

1965

How to Stuff a Wild Bikini [William Asher] p/c

1965

Sergeant Dead Head/Sergeant Deadhead [Norman Taurog] p/c

1965

Beach Ball [Lennie Weinrib] ts/c; 2uc: Gary Kurtz

1966

Fireball 500 [William Asher] p/c; process ph: Jacques Marquette

1966

The Cool Ones/Cool Baby, Cool! [Gene Nelson] p/c

1970

Sweet Kill/The Arousers/A Kiss from Eddie [Curtis Hanson] c; uncred cph (left prod after 5 days); ph: Daniel Lacambre

1995

The Champagne Safari [George Ungar] b&w-c; doc/100m about Charles Bedaux's 'Alaska Expedition' (1934; sponsored by André Citroën) with footage shot by F. Crosby; ph: Joan Hutton, Douglas Kiefer, Kirk Tougas, a.o.


 TELEVISION

1953

The Ford Television Theatre/Ford Theatre/All Star Theater [ep #111 (59) 'For the Love of Kitty' dir by Ted Post] dramatic anthology series/b&w, 1948-51 (CBS-tv; 52 ep/live), 1952-56 (NBC-tv) & 1956-57 (ABC-tv) (195 ep/film); 5th season, 1953-54

1954

Author's Playhouse [9 ep]

1954

Fireside Theatre/Jane Wyman Presents Fireside Theatre/Top Plays of the Year [ep #7.18 'The Indiscreet Mrs. Jarvis' dir by Alan Smithee = ?] 268-part dramatic anthology series/b&w, 1949-58 (NBC-tv); 7th season, 1954-55

1955

TV Reader's Digest [26 ep dir by various, e.g. #30 'The Brainwashing of John Hayes' dir by Harry Horner] 65-part dramatic anthology series/b&w, 1955-56 (2 seasons); 2nd season, 1955-56; other ph: Lester Shorr & Joseph Biroc

1957

The Court of Last Resort [12 ep dir by various] 26-part crime series/b&w, 1957-58 (NBC-tv); other ph: Harry Neumann

1958

Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse [ep #12 'Ballad for a Bad Man/Guns and Guitar' dir by Jerry Hopper] 43-part dramatic anthology series/b&w, 1958-60; 1st season, 1958-59

1959

The Swamp Fox [ep #5 'Redcoat Strategy' & #6 'A Case of Treason' dir by Louis King] 8-part series, 1959-61; other ph: Gordon Avil (2 ep), Lucien Ballard (2 ep) & Philip Lathrop (2 ep); for ABC-tv series 'Walt Disney Presents - Frontierland'

1959

Maverick [ep #63 'Easy Mark' dir by Lew Landers & #65 'Trooper Maverick' dir by Richard L. Bare] 124-part western series/b&w, 1957-62; 3rd season, 1959-60; other ph: Ellis W. Carter, Bert Glennon, Ralph Woolsey, a.o.

1959

Law of the Plainsman/The Westerners [ep #26 'Stella' dir by Paul Landres] pilot + 30-part western series/b&w, 1959-60 (NBC-tv) & 1962 (ABC-tv; reruns)

1960

Wanted: Dead or Alive [ep #66 'The Inheritance' dir by Arthur Hilton] pilot + 98-part western series/b&w, 1958-61; 2nd season, 1959-60; other ph: Howard Schwartz, Stanley Cortez, Guy Roe, a.o.

1961

The New Breed [pilot 'No Fat Cops' dir by Walter Grauman] 36-part police series/b&w, 1961-62; other ph: Meredith Nicholson

1961

Bus Stop [ep #20 'Put Your Dreams Away' dir by Ted Post & #22 'The Ordeal of Kevin Brooke' dir by James B. Clark] 26-part drama series/b&w, 1961-62; other ph: Robert Hauser & J. Peverell Marley (1 ep)

1962

Surfside 6 [ep #60 'A Piece of Tommy Minor' dir by Richard Benedict] 74-part detective series/b&w, 1960-62; 2nd season, 1961-62; other ph: Bert Glennon, a.o.