GREAT CINEMATOGRAPHERS


#1: © Photo by Thys Ockersen [1973]

#3: [Behind camera] with François Truffaut

 

   


HENRI DECAË

 

Born: 31 July 1915, Saint-Denis, Seine-Saint-Denis, Île-de-France, France.

Died: 7 March 1987, Paris, France.

Education: École technique de photographie et de cinéma [ETPC] [later École nationale de photographie et cinématographie (ENPC) (École Vaugirard); now L'École nationale supérieure Louis-Lumière] [graduated in 1935].

Career: Bought a camera when he was 10 and made a number of amateur films, some with his brother Claude. Entered the film industry as a sound recording engineer and sound editor, working for the company Poste Parisien. Was cameraman in the French Air Force [Service Cinématographique de l'Armée de l'Air] during WW2. In 1945, he became photographic reporter for six months for the magazine 'Le Petit Parisien'. Began making documentaries and directing and photographing industrial and commercial films, then in 1947 made his first feature.

Ph commercials.

Appeared in a seg of the newsreel magazine 'Actualités Gaumont' [June 1970], a report on the shooting of 'Le cercle rouge'.



In an interview made shortly after 'Le cercle rouge' Jean-Pierre Melville had some harsh things to say about his long-time collaborator, accusing him of, among other things, a deterioration in professional standards. There must be more to this story than appears, however, since Henri Decaë's work pre- and post-'Le cercle rouge' is nothing if not professional. The worst he can be charged with is that lately his directors have been getting less interesting: from the second most popular cameraman of the Nouvelle Vague to being Lewis Gilbert's regular is a deterioration indeed. But his versatility is amply demonstrated by the midsummer riot of colors in 'A double tour' contrasted with the gray, wintery Paris of 'Les 400 coups'; or the formal romanticism of 'Les amants' in opposition to the surreal warscapes of 'Castle Keep'. Always a color specialist, even before color became inescapable, he has also proved particularly adept at night sequences of varying moods. [Markku Salmi in 'Film Dope', No. 9, April 1976.]


 

 FILMS [see also SHORT FILMS & DOCUMENTARIES AS DIRECTOR]

194?

Pif, paf, pouf [?] unreleased

1942

Premier prix du conservatoire [René Guy-Grand] b&w; doc/29m; cph: Georges Raulet

1944

Chanson de rue [Léo Sevestre] b&w; mus doc/?m

1945

Marseille, premier port de France [Jean Mineur] b&w; doc/?m

1945

L'accordéon et ses vedettes [Léo Sevestre] b&w; mus doc/?m

1946

Nostalgie champêtre [Léo Sevestre] b&w; short/?m

1946

Hommes et bêtes [Jean Mineur] b&w; ?/?m

1946

Sport de la voile [Léo Sevestre & L. Motard] b&w; ?/?m

1946

Le charcutier de Machonville [Vicky Ivernel] c.op; ph: Marcel Fradétal

1947

Les drames du Bois de Boulogne [Jacques Loew] b&w; short/19m

1947

Le silence de la mer/The Silence of the Sea [Jean-Pierre Melville] b&w; + co-ed/co-sound dubbing/mixing; shooting started with ph Luc Mirot, who was sacked and replaced by André Villard, who was replaced by H. Decaë (J-P. Melville: 'Henri Decaë, a young man as sympathetic as he was shy, gifted with great intelligence, and exactly sharing my tastes for all things cinema. The first day we worked together was very pleasant, the second, delightful. From the third day onwards the die was cast.'); filmed between August & December (27 shooting days); released 1949

1948

Un homme à la mer [Jacques Loew] ?; ?/?m

1948

Sous les palmes de Marrakech [Jean Mineur] ?; doc/?m

1948

Marrakech, capitale du Sud [Jean Mineur] ?; doc/?m

1948

Le Mellah de Marrakech [Jean Mineur] ?; doc/?m

1948

Bons baisers de Dinard [Jacques Loew] ?; doc/18m

1949

Vacances blanches [Marc de Gastyne] ?; ?/?m

1949

Les enfants terribles/The Strange Ones [Jean-Pierre Melville] b&w; filmed 1949-50

1950

Cher vieux Paris!/Paris des artistes [Marc de Gastyne] 16mm/b&w; doc/32m

 

 

1950

Le premier pas [Armand Chartier] b&w; doc/21m; prod for Ministère de l'agriculture

1950

Paré pour accoster! [Jacques Loew] b&w; short/17m

1950

Bertrand, coeur-de-lion/Bernard and the Lion [Robert Dhéry] b&w

1950

Caroline du Sud [Marc de Gastyne] b&w; short/24m

1951

Caroline au pays natal [Marc de Gastyne] b&w; short/18m

1951

La course de taureaux/Bullfight [Pierre Braunberger] b&w; doc/76m; cph: Jimmy Berliet

1951

Au coeur de la Casbah/Maria Pilar [Pierre Cardinal] b&w

1951

La lutte contre le gaspillage [Léo Sevestre] ?; doc/?m

1951

Escale à Paris [Michel Lukine] ?; ?/?m; cph: ?

1951

Si ça vous chante [Jacques Loew] b&w; ?/?m; unreleased

1952

L'or des Pharaons/Le masque de Tout Ankh Amon/L'or du Nil [Marc de Gastyne] ?; doc/?m; unreleased; see 1967

1952

Avec les gens du voyage [Marc de Gastyne] ?; ?/32m; cph: ?

1952

Le grand cirque s'en va [Marc de Gastyne] ?; doc/26m; cph: ?

1952

Crève-coeur [Jacques Dupont] c; doc/90m; cph: Jean Rabier; was replaced as ph by Jean Rabier, his c.op, after he was wounded in an explosion and had to return to Paris

1953

Cow-boys français [Jean Vaudremont] ?; doc/?m

1953

Village de la France Australe [Jean Vaudremont] c; doc/?m

1953

La beauté de l'effort [Marc de Gastyne] 16mm/b&w; doc/15m

1953

L'homme et les bêtes [Marc de Gastyne] ?; ?/?m; cph: Alain Levent & André Cantenys

1953

Stock-car (À tout casser!) [Jacques Dupont] ?; doc/345mtr; cph: Jean Rabier

1953

L'Egypte éternelle [Marc de Gastyne] ?; doc/?m

1953

Un monde troublant [Marc de Gastyne] ?; ?/?m

1954

Coureurs de brousse [Jacques Dupont] ?; ?/?m

1954

Navigation marchande [atlantique]/Marine marchande [Georges Franju] b&w; doc/30m

1955

Mer Caraïbe [Henri de Hubsch] ?; doc/22m

1955

La grande terre [Jean Vaudremont] ?; ?/?m

1955

Bob le Flambeur [Jean-Pierre Melville] b&w; + voice

1956

L'enfant au fennec [Jacques Dupont] 16mm/c; short/20m

1956

Israël... terre retrouvée [Marc de Gastyne] ?; doc/28m; cph: Jean Rabier

1956

Propre à rien/Good for Nothing [Marc de Gastyne] c; short/25m; cph: Jean Rabier

1956

S.O.S. Noronha [Georges Rouquier] c

1957

La voix des anches [Claude-Yvon Leduc] ?; ?/?m

1957

De bouche à oreille [Claude-Yvon Leduc] ?; ?/?m

1957

Neuf à trois ou La journée d'une vedette [Claude-Yvon Leduc] ?; ?/?m

1957

Piano, mon ami [Claude-Yvon Leduc] b&w; doc/?m

1957

Confidences d'un piano [Claude-Yvon Leduc] ?; ?/?m

1957

Robinson [Marc de Gastyne] 16mm/c; short/35m; c.op: Jean Rabier

1957

Les plus beaux jours [Marc de Gastyne] ?; ?/?m

1957

Le désir mène les hommes [Émile (Mick) Roussel] b&w

 

 

1957

Ascenseur pour l'échafaud/Elevator to the Gallows/Frantic [Louis Malle] b&w

1957

Le beau Serge/Handsome Serge [Claude Chabrol] b&w; filmed 1957-58

1958

Bois et cuivres [Claude-Yvon Leduc] ?; ?/?m; cph: ?

1958

Les cuivres à la voix d'or [Claude-Yvon Leduc] ?; ?/?m

1958

Le château du passé [Marc de Gastyne] ?; short/20m; cph: Jean Rabier; or ph Jacques Duhamel

1958

L'A.F.P. nous communique [Jean-Pierre Melville] unfinished; J-P. Melville: 'Before making 'Deux hommes dans Manhattan', I had begun writing a thriller which was set in Cannes during the film festival. We were ready to start when I decided to abandon it. So I abandoned this project and, still with Decaë as my cameraman, began shooting another script 'L'A.F.P. nous communique'. I already had twenty minutes in the can when de Gaulle came to power in May 1958. That was the end of it for me. 'L'A.F.P nous communique' died with the Fourth Republic. [Later that year] I transposed the story of 'L'A.F.P. nous communique' to New York, where I went in November 1958 to shoot the exteriors ('Deux hommes dans Manhattan'). Decaë wasn't free. He had become cameraman-in-chief to the Nouvelle Vague.' [From the book 'Melville' by Rui Nogueira, 1971.]

 

 

1958

Les amants/The Lovers [Louis Malle] ds/b&w

1958

Les cousins/The Cousins [Claude Chabrol] b&w

1958

Les quatre cents coups/The 400 Blows [François Truffaut] ds/b&w; filmed 1958-59

1959

Un témoin dans la ville/Witness in the City [Edouard Molinaro] b&w

1959

La sentence/The Verdict [Jean Valère] b&w

1959

À double tour/Web of Passion/Leda [Claude Chabrol] c

1959

Plein soleil/Purple Noon/Lust for Evil/Blazing Sun [René Clément] c

1959

Les bonnes femmes/The Good Time Girls/Girls... Girls!! [Claude Chabrol] b&w; filmed 1959-60

1960

Images d'hier et d'aujourd'hui [Claude-Yvon Leduc] ?; ?/?m; cph: ?

1960

Ce monde banal [Jean Wagner] a short film shot in 3 days, but unedited; prod by Jean-Pierre Melville

1960

Che gioia vivere/Quelle joie de vivre [René Clément] ds/b&w

1961

Léon Morin, prêtre/Léon Morin, Priest [Jean-Pierre Melville] b&w

1961

Le village du milieu des brûmes [Armand Chartier] ?; ?/?m

1961

Vie privée/A Very Private Affair [Louis Malle] c

1961

Eva/Eve [Joseph Losey] b&w; uncred ph Venice FF seq (filmed September); ph: Gianni Di Venanzo; filmed November 1961-January 1962

1961

Les sept péchés capitaux/The Seven Deadly Sins/Seven Capital Sins [1. Sylvain Dhomme & MaxDouy ('La colère'), 2. Edouard Molinaro ('L'envie'), 3. Jean-Luc Godard ('La paresse'), 4. Jacques Demy ('La luxure'), 5. Roger Vadim ('L'orgueil'), 6. Philippe de Broca ('La gourmandise') & 7. Claude Chabrol ('L'avarice')] ds/b&w; 7 seg; ph seg 3, 4 & 5; other ph: Jean Penzer (seg 1 & 6), Louis Miaille (seg 2) & Jean Rabier (seg 7) 

1961

Le marionnettiste: Football [Jean-Jacques Languepin] 16mm/c; mime film/19m

1962

[Cybèle ou] Les dimanches de Ville d'Avray/Sundays and Cybele [Serge Bourguignon] fs/b&w

1962

Le jour et l'heure/The Day and the Hour/Today We Live [René Clément] fs/b&w

1962

L'aîné des Ferchaux/An Honorable Young Man/Magnet of Doom [Jean-Pierre Melville] fs/c

1963

La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler [Maurice Cloche] c

1963

Dragées au poivre/Sweet and Sour [Jacques Baratier] b&w

1963

Le marionnettiste [Jean-Jacques Languepin] 16mm/c; short/11m

1963

Les félins/The Love Cage/Joy House [René Clément] fs/b&w

1963

La ronde/Circle of Love [Roger Vadim] fs/c; filmed 1963-64

1964

La tulipe noire/The Black Tulip [Christian-Jaque] Superpanorama 70/c; 2uc: Wladimir Ivanov

1964

Week-end à Zuydcoote/Weekend at Dunkirk [Henri Verneuil] fs/c

1964

Le corniaud/The Sucker [Gérard Oury] fs/c; 2uc: Wladimir Ivanov

1964

Viva Maria! [Louis Malle] p/c; filmed 1964-65

1965

Hotel Paradiso [Peter Glenville] p/c

1966

Le voleur/The Thief of Paris [Louis Malle] c

 

Next to Anatole Litvak [glasses] - "The Night of the Generals"

 

1966

The Night of the Generals [Anatole Litvak] p/c

1967

Toutankhamon et son royaume [Marc de Gastyne] ?; doc/?m; re-edited version of 'L'or des Pharaons' (1952)

1967

The Comedians [Peter Glenville] p/c

 

 

1967

Le samouraï/The Godson [Jean-Pierre Melville] c

1967

Diaboliquement vôtre/Diabolically Yours [Julien Duvivier] c

1968

Castle Keep [Sydney Pollack] p (+ 70bu)/c

1968

The Only Game in Town [George Stevens] c; spec pfx: L.B. Abbott & Art Cruickshank; filmed 1968-69

 

Actor Jean Gabin - Henri Verneuil - H. Decaë - "Le clan des Siciliens"

 

1969

Le clan des Siciliens/The Sicilian Clan [Henri Verneuil] p/c

1969

Hello-Goodbye [Jean Negulesco (replaced Ronald Neame)] c

1970

Le cercle rouge [Jean-Pierre Melville] c

1970

The Light at the Edge of the World/La luz del fin del mundo [Kevin Billington] p/c; 2uc: Cecilio Paniagua

1971

Jo/The Gazebo [Jean Girault] c

1971

La folie des grandeurs/Delusions of Grandeur [Gérard Oury] c; 2uc: Wladimir Ivanov

1971

Le droit d'aimer/Elle lui dirait dans l'île [Eric Le Hung] c

1972

Don Juan ou Si Don Juan était une femme.../Don Juan (Or If Don Juan Were a Woman) [Roger Vadim] c; cph: Andréas Winding

1972

Two People [Robert Wise] c; ph New York: Gerald Hirschfeld

 

[Right] with dir Lewis Gilbert - "Operation: Daybreak"

© Photo by Thys Ockersen

 

1973

Operation: Daybreak/The Price of Freedom/Seven Men at Daybreak [Lewis Gilbert] c

1973

Les aventures de Rabbi Jacob/The Mad Adventures of 'Rabbi' Jacob [Gérard Oury] c; c.op 2u: Vladimir Ivanov

1974

La moutarde me monte au nez/French Mustard/Lucky Pierre [Claude Zidi] p/c

1974

Isabelle devant le désir/Isabelle and Lust [Jean-Pierre Berckmans] c

1975

La course à l'échalote [Claude Zidi] p/c

1976

Seven Nights in Japan [Lewis Gilbert] c

1977

Bobby Deerfield [Sydney Pollack] p/c; add racing footage: Tony Maylam & John Jopson

1977

Le point de mire/Focal Point [Jean-Claude Tramont] c

1977

Mort d'un pourri/The Twisted Detective [Georges Lautner] c

1977

The Boys from Brazil [Franklin J. Schaffner] c; filmed 1977-78

1978

Ils sont fous, ces sorciers! [Georges Lautner] c

1978

Flic ou voyou/Cop or Hood [Georges Lautner] c; 2uc: Jean-Yves Coic

1978

An Almost Perfect Affair [Michael Ritchie] c

1979

Le guignolo [Georges Lautner] c; 2uc: Jean-Yves Coic

1979

The Island [Michael Ritchie] p (35mm + 70bu)/c; sea ph: Neil Roach; matte ph: Bill Taylor; spec vfx: Albert J. Whitlock

1980

Le coup du parapluie/The Umbrella Coup [Gérard Oury] c; 2uc: Jean-Yves Coic

1980

Inspecteur la Bavure/Inspector Blunder [Claude Zidi] c

1980

Est-ce bien raisonnable? [Georges Lautner] c

1980

Exposed [James Toback] c; released 1983

1981

Le professionnel/The Professional [Georges Lautner] c

1982

L'été de nos 15 ans [Marcel Jullian] c; 2uc: Jean-Yves Coic

1983

Attention, une femme peut en cacher une autre!/My Other Husband [Georges Lautner] c; 2uc: Pascal Lebègue

1983

Les parents ne sont pas simples cette année [Marcel Jullian] c

1984

La vengeance du serpent à plumes [Gérard Oury] p/c

 

 TELEVISION

1979

The Hard Way [Michael Dryhurst] tvm

1986

Le tiroir secret [Edouard Molinaro, Nadine Trintignant, Michael Boisrond & Roger Gillioz] 6-part miniseries; other ph: Michel Carré, Claude Robin & Dario Di Palma

1986

Riviera [Alan Smithee (= John Frankenheimer)] tvm; cph: Bernard Lutic

 

 SHORT FILMS & DOCUMENTARIES AS DIRECTOR

1941

Eau vive [co-d: Claude Decaë; + ph]

1942

Glaciers [+ ph]

1943

Au-delà du visible [+ ph]

1945

A tous les vents [+ ph] prod Les Films Jean Mineur

1949

Pensez à ceux qui sont en-dessous! [+ ph]

1949

Surveillez votre tenue [+ ph]

1949

Evitez le désordre [+ ph]

1949

Ne compromettez pas vos loisirs [+ ph]

1949

Apprenez à soulever une charge [+ ph]

1949

Faites soigner vos égratignures [+ ph]

1949

Trois hommes en Corse [co-d: Claude Decaë; dram doc/b&w/17m] ph: ?

1950

Le carnaval sacré [ph: ?] unreleased

1950

À cheval [+ ph]

1951

Faits d'hiver [ph: ?]

1951

Visite au haras [+ ph]

1951

Le garde-chasse [+ ph]