1966

1966

               

BURNETT GUFFEY

Born: 26 May 1905, Del Rio, Tennessee, USA.

Died: 29 May 1983, Goleta Valley Community Hospital, Goleta, Calif., USA.

Career: Raised in Etowah, Tennessee. Entered the film industry in 1923 as c.asst with William Fox Corporation. Went to Famous Players-Lasky Studios in 1927 and became c.op in 1928 [until 1943]. Became doph in 1943 with Columbia Pictures shooting 'B' pictures. Retired in 1970.

Ph commercials.

Was a member and president [1957-58] of the ASC.

Awards: Golden Globe nom [1950] for 'All the King's Men'; 'Oscar' AA [1953; b&w] for 'From Here to Eternity'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1956; b&w] for 'The Harder They Fall'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1962; b&w] for 'Birdman of Alcatraz'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1965; b&w] for 'King Rat'; 'Oscar' AA [1967] for 'Bonnie and Clyde'.



Burnett Guffey's reputation and contributions to the art of cinematography rest not so much in what he did with the camera and lights, but in what he chose not to do. The major portion of Guffey's career behind the camera was spent deglamorizing the Hollywood film, a task that takes on mammoth proportions when one realizes that he was most active in the 1940s and 1950s. In a period when CinemaScope, spectacle, and lurid color were the rule, Guffey continued to work in black-and-white, stripping the romance from the world's most romantic form.

Although he was capable of achieving the slick commercial look of the more typical Hollywood film, Guffey's personal style led him to work primarily on rugged action and mystery pictures. For these movies he developed what has been characterized as 'flat' photography, a functional rebuttal to the elaborate deep-focus cinematography of Gregg Toland. Using a simple, often single source of light, little or no fill light, and a minimum of camera movement, Guffey provided directors with a naturalistic, gritty look to complement hardboiled stories of criminals, convicts, and men at war.

Set in the seedy world of boxing, 'The Harder They Fall', for which Guffey received an Academy Award nomination, stands as a typical example of his flat style. Making use of minimal contrast, Guffey emphasizes gray. Blacks flow into grays which flow into whites, giving the film a truly monotonal effect. The gray, monotonal quality of Guffey's work was ideally suited for stories that featured characters of ambiguous morality such as Bogart's gunrunner in 'Sirocco', the mobsters aiming for respectability in Phil Karlson's 'The Brothers Rico', and George Segal's P.O.W. camp racketeer in 'King Rat'.

Guffey's tendency toward flat cinematography could be overridden by the potently baroque visuals of a director like Joseph H. Lewis in 'My Name Is Julia Ross' and 'So Dark the Night'. And there was always the danger of the flat cinematography being coupled with dull direction and the lackluster production design of a studio like Columbia to produce deadening visuals. Still, when combined with the proper story and strong direction, Burnett Guffey's flat cinematography provided an alternative aesthetic to the standard studio product. [From article by Eric Schaefer on the filmreference.com website.]

·····

The genius of this celebrated American director of photography was in his use of lighting which served him well through dozens of dark crime flicks, yet he was also able to demonstrate a great sensitivity and external representation of internal human emotions. Adept at both black-and-white and color photography, Burnett Guffey is particularly remembered for his two Academy Award winning efforts: 'From Here to Eternity' [1953], in which the desires of the characters oozed from their lighted pores; and 'Bonnie and Clyde' [1966-67], in which the lighting offered not just a sense of the period, but a subtle irony as well.

Raised in Etowah, Tennessee, Guffey was already in California at age 18 when he found a job at Fox working as an assistant cameraman, and his resume in that capacity includes such silent films as 'The Courtship of Myles Standish' [1923], and 'The Iron Horse' [1924], for which he also did additional photography and which brought him into contact with John Ford for the first time. By 1928, Guffey was a camera operator for Paramount and seven years later worked under Joseph H. August, on the John Ford-directed 'The Informer'. As such, Guffey learned the Hollywood and American adaptation of expressionistic lighting methods which had been prevalent through the gangster cycle at Warner Bros. in the early 1930s, and which reached greater heights during the film noir period of the 40s.

Guffey was finally elevated to director of photography in 1943 with 'Sailor's Holiday' at Columbia, where he spend the bulk of his career. Guffey was frequently assigned to films of Will Jason, Henry Levin and Joseph H. Lewis, handling all genres, including adventure yarns and musicals, with aplomb. As seen in the film collaboration with Levin in particular, the DP had an intuitive sense for lighting that revealed the psychological levels of the characters - a key goal of expressionism. This was particularly true with 'All the King's Men' [1948-49] for director Robert Rossen, where the lighting reflects the darkening of the Willie Stark [Broderick Crawford] character as he is corrupted. Stark is first seen in dusty, almost pastoral light at his farm, but by film's end, the darkness is almost cloying.

As the studio system crumbled in the 50s, directors of photography scrambled to become freelancers, and genre-typing almost disappeared. Because of his flexibility, Guffey was well-suited to handle such efforts as the sweet, light comedy Danny Kaye vehicle 'Me and the Colonel' [1957-58], the playful 'Gidget' [1958], and a return to the camera-as-analyst with 'Birdman of Alcatraz' [1962]. Guffey worked with first-time feature director Gordon Parks in 1968 on 'The Learning Tree', blending the stunning framing for which the director had been celebrated as LIFE magazine photographer with the enveloping, telling lighting for which the DP was heralded. Guffey's last working years were full of triumphs such as 'The Great White Hope' [1970], and transcended even in the silliest of vehicles such as 'Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came' [1969] and 'The Steagle' [1970]. [From the TCM website.]



 FILMS

1924

The Iron Horse/The Iron Trail [John Ford] b&w; 12 reels; uncred addph (+ c.asst); ph: George Schneiderman; prod Fox Film Corporation; later released in an 11 reels sound version

1929

Fairways and Foul [John J. Mescall] b&w; short/20m

1943

Sailor's Holiday [William Berke] b&w; 60m

1944

U-Boat Prisoner/Dangerous Mists [Lew Landers & Budd Boetticher (uncred)] b&w; 66m

1944

The Impatient Years [Irving Cummings] b&w; uncred cph; ph: Joseph Walker

1944

Kansas City Kitty [Del Lord] b&w

1944

The Soul of a Monster [Will Jason] b&w; 61m

1944

The Unwritten Code [Herman Rotsten (replaced Robert Wilmot after 2 weeks)] b&w; 61m

1944

Eve Knew Her Apples [Will Jason] b&w; 64m

1944

Tahiti Nights [Will Jason] b&w; 63m; cph: Benjamin Kline

1944

Eadie Was a Lady [Arthur Dreifuss] b&w; 67m

1944

I Love a Mystery [Henry Levin] b&w; 69m

1944

The Fighting Guardsman [Henry Levin] b&w

1945

The Blonde from Brooklyn [Del Lord] b&w, 65m

1945

The Gay Senorita [Arthur Dreifuss] b&w; 69m

1945

The Girl of the Limberlost [Melchor Ferrer] b&w; 60m

1945

My Name Is Julia Ross [Joseph H. Lewis] b&w; 65m

1945

Meet Me on Broadway/Song of Broadway [Leigh Jason] b&w

1945

A Close Call for Boston Blackie/Lady of Mystery [Lew Landers] b&w; 60m; 9th film in 13-part 'Boston Blackie'-series (Columbia, 1941-49)

1945

The Notorious Lone Wolf [D. Ross Lederman] b&w; 64m; 11th film in 14-part 'The Lone Wolf'-series (Columbia, 1935-49)

1945

So Dark the Night [Joseph H. Lewis] b&w

1945

Night Editor/The Trespasser [Henry Levin] b&w; 65m; cph: Philip Tannura

1946

A Bird in the Head [Edward Bernds] b&w; 'The Three Stooges' short/16m

1946

Gallant Journey [William A. Wellman] b&w; 2uc: George B. Meehan; aph: Elmer Dyer

1946

Johnny O'Clock [Robert Rossen] b&w

1946

Framed/Paula [Richard Wallace] b&w

1946

To the Ends of the Earth [Robert Stevenson & (uncred; finished film) Sidney Buchman] b&w

1947

The Sign of the Ram [John Sturges] b&w

1947

The Gallant Blade [Henry Levin] c; cph: Charles Lawton Jr.

1948

Photoplay Gold Medal Awards [Ralph Staub] b&w; doc/10m; ep series 'Screen Snapshots'

1948

Smiles and Styles [Ralph Staub] b&w; doc/10m; ep series 'Screen Snapshots'

1948

The Undercover Man/Chicago Story [Joseph H. Lewis] b&w

1948

Knock on Any Door [Nicholas Ray] b&w

1948

All the King's Men [Robert Rossen] b&w

1949

The Reckless Moment [Max Ophüls] b&w

1949

And Baby Makes Three [Henry Levin] b&w

1949

Father Is a Bachelor [Norman Foster & Abby Berlin] b&w

1949

In a Lonely Place [Nicholas Ray] b&w

1949

Convicted [Henry Levin] b&w

1950

Emergency Wedding/Jealousy [Edward Buzzell] b&w

1950

Two of a Kind [Henry Levin] b&w

1950

Sirocco [Curtis Bernhardt] b&w

1951

The Family Secret [Henry Levin] b&w

1951

Scandal Sheet/The Dark Page [Phil Karlson] b&w

1951

Boots Malone [William Dieterle] b&w; 2uc; ph: Charles Lawton Jr.

1951

The Sniper [Edward Dmytryk] b&w

1952

Assignment - Paris/European Edition [Robert Parrish & Phil Karlson] b&w; cph: Ray Cory

1952

The Last Posse [Alfred L. Werker] b&w

1953

From Here to Eternity [Fred Zinnemann] b&w; uncred cph: Floyd Crosby

1953

Human Desire [Fritz Lang] b&w

1954

The Bamboo Prison [Lewis Seiler] b&w

1954

The Violent Men/Rough Company/The Bandits [Rudolph Maté] cs/c; cph: W. Howard Greene

1954

Private Hell 36 [Don Siegel] b&w

1954

Tight Spot [Phil Karlson] b&w

1955

Count Three and Pray/The Calico Pony [George Sherman] cs/c

1955

Three Stripes in the Sun/The Gentle Sergeant [Richard Murphy] b&w

1955

Battle Stations [Lewis Seiler] b&w

1955

Storm Center [Daniel Taradash] b&w; originally scheduled for a 1952 start

1955

The Harder They Fall [Mark Robson] b&w

1956

Nightfall [Jacques Tourneur] b&w

1956

The Strange One/End as a Man [Jack Garfein] b&w; addph: Clifford Poland

1956

The Brothers Rico [Phil Karlson] b&w

1957

Decision at Sundown [Budd Boetticher] c

1957

The True Story of Lynn Stuart [Lewis Seiler] b&w

1957

Screaming Mimi [Gerd Oswald] b&w

1957

Me and the Colonel [Peter Glenville] b&w; 2uc: Ghislain Cloquet

1958

Gidget [Paul Wendkos] cs/c

1958

They Came to Cordura [Robert Rossen] cs/c; 2uc: Frank G. Carson

1959

Edge of Eternity [Don Siegel] cs/c; uncred 2uc: Wilfred Cline

1959

The Mountain Road [Daniel Mann] b&w

1959

Let No Man Write My Epitaph [Philip Leacock] b&w

1960

Hell to Eternity [Phil Karlson] b&w

1960

Cry for Happy [George Marshall] p/c

1961

Homicidal [William Castle] b&w

1961

Mr. Sardonicus/Sardonicus [William Castle] b&w

1961

Kid Galahad [Phil Karlson] c

1962

Birdman of Alcatraz [John Frankenheimer (replaced Charles Crichton)] b&w; replaced John Alton after 16 days

1963

4 for Texas [Robert Aldrich] c; co-2uc; ph: Ernest Laszlo

1963

Flight from Ashiya [Michael Anderson] p/c; cph: Joseph MacDonald

1964

Good Neighbor Sam [David Swift] c

[Right] with dir Bryan Forbes - "King Rat"

1965

King Rat [Bryan Forbes] b&w

1965

The Silencers [Phil Karlson] c

1966

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying [David Swift] p/c

1966

Bonnie and Clyde/Bonnie and Clyde... Were Killers! [Arthur Penn] c

1967

The Ambushers [Henry Levin] c; cph: Edward Colman; 2uc: Tony Braun & Jack A. Marta

1968

The Split [Gordon Flemyng] p/c

1968

The Madwoman of Chaillot [Bryan Forbes] p/c; cph: Claude Renoir

1968

Where It's at [Garson Kanin] c

1968

The Learning Tree [Gordon Parks] p/c; spec pfx: Albert Whitlock

1969

Some Kind of a Nut [Garson Kanin] c; cph: Gerald Hirschfeld (1968 shooting period); spec pfx: Jerome Rosenfeld

1969

Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came?/War Games [Hy Averback] c

1970

Halls of Anger [Paul Bogart] c

1970

The Great White Hope [Martin Ritt] p/c; spec pfx: L.B. Abbott & Art Cruickshank

1970

The Steagle [Paul Sylbert] c


 TELEVISION

1953

Ford Theatre/Ford Theater [ep #54 'The Fugitives' dir by Phil Karlson & #60 'For Value Received' dir by Arnold Laven] 195-part anthology series/b&w, 1952-57; 2nd season, 1953-54; for NBC-tv & ABC-tv (5th season, 1956-57); also on CBS-tv ('The Ford Television Theater' - live) from 1948-51

1954

Ford Theatre/Ford Theater [ep #101 'The Lilac Bush' dir by Arnold Laven] 3rd season, 1954-55; see 1953

1956

Ford Theatre/Ford Theater [ep #174 'Mrs. Wane Comes to Call' dir by Oscar Rudolph] 5th season, 1956-57; see 1953

1957

Not One Shall Die [David Lowell Rich] tvm/?m

1958

The Donna Reed Show [ep #1 'Weekend Trip' dir by Andrew McCullough] 275-part sitcom series/b&w, 1958-66

1958

Alcoa Theatre [ep 'Eddie' dir by Jack Smight] anthology series/b&w, 1957-60 (started as 'The Alcoa Hour', 1955-57; alternated with 'Goodyear Theatre' during its five-season run); 2nd season, 1958-59

1959

The Law and Mr. Jones [unaired pilot 'Lincoln' dir by Jack Smight] 45-part crime series/b&w, 1960-61 (32 ep) & 1962 (13 ep); other ph: Howard Schwartz

1959

Goodyear Theatre [ep 'All in the Family' dir by Oscar Rudolph] anthology series/b&w, 1957-60 (started as the 'Goodyear TV Playhouse', 1951-57 - live; alternated with 'Alcoa Theatre'); 3rd season, 1959-60

1965

Gidget [ep #24 'Ring-a-Ding-Dingbat' dir by Hal Cooper & #28 'One More for the Road' dir by Jerrold Bernstein] 32-part sitcom series, 1965-66; other ph: Gert Andersen, Fred Gately, a.o.

1966

Somewhere in Italy... Company B! [Danny Arnold] unsold pilot; aired in August as ep #2 of series 'Preview Tonight' (ABC-tv)

1968

The Outcasts [pilot dir by Robert Butler] 26-part western series, 1968-69


 FILMS AS CAMERA ASSISTANT/OPERATOR

1923

The Courtship of Myles Standish [Frederick Sullivan] c.asst; ph: George Rizard

1924

The Iron Horse/The Iron Trail [John Ford] c.asst (+ uncred addph); ph: George Schneiderman

1926

The Yankee Clipper/White Wings [Rupert Julian] c.asst; ph: John J. Mescall

1928

Love Over Night [Edward H. Griffith] c.asst; ph: John J. Mescall

1928

The Leatherneck [Howard Higgin] ?; ph: John J. Mescall

1930

Danger Lights [George B. Seitz] co-c.op; ph: Karl Struss & John W. Boyle

1932

The Conquerors/Pioneer Builders [William A. Wellman] co-c.op; ph: Edward Cronjager

1934

The Night Life of the Gods [Lowell Sherman] co-2nd cam; ph: John J. Mescall

1934

Clive of India [Richard Boleslawski] c.op; ph: J. Peverell Marley

1935

The Informer [John Ford] c.op; ph: Joseph H. August

1936

You Only Live Once [Fritz Lang] c.asst; ph: Leon Shamroy

1938

Letter of Introduction [John M. Stahl] c.op; ph: Karl Freund

1939

Framed [Harold Schuster] c.op; ph: Jerome Ash

1940

Foreign Correspondent [Alfred Hitchcock] c.op; ph: Rudolph Maté

1940

That Hamilton Woman/Lady Hamilton [Alexander Korda] c.op; ph: Rudolph Maté

1943

Cover Girl [Charles Vidor] c.op; ph: Rudolph Maté & Allen M. Davey