"Billy Budd" [1962]

               

ROBERT KRASKER

Born: 12 August 1913, Perth, Australia.

Died: 16 August 1981, London, UK.

Education: Photohändler Schule [Dresden, Germany]; Art School [Paris, France].

Career: Worked as asst at the Paramount Studios in Paris. Came to London in 1932 and became c.asst and c.op for prod/dir Alexander Korda. Later he worked for RKO-Radio British and Two Cities.

Retired in 1965 because of ill health.

Ph test with actress Shani Wallis for 'Oliver!' [1967].

Was a founding member of the BSC.

Appeared in the doc 'Insight Anthony Asquith' [1960, Peter Lee].

Awards: 'Oscar' AA [1950; b&w] for 'The Third Man'; BSC Award [1954] for 'Romeo and Juliet'; BSC Award [1961] for 'El Cid'; BAFTA Film Award nom [1964] for 'The Running Man'.


'Robert Krasker's greatest photographic triumph is undoubtedly 'The Third Man', a work which earned him the Academy Award in 1950. A superb film, thought by many to be [Carol] Reed's finest, it needs no introduction. Krasker was a key factor in its initial impact on contemporary audiences and upon its lasting impact since. The photography has a spidery, deliciously expressionistic quality to it, which Krasker brings not only to the realistic daylight scenes in the Vienna environs but to the famous night scenes in the streets and sewers as well. As was customary other cinematographers needed to be brought in to help. The many second-unit night scenes in the streets and sewers of Vienna were shot, very much with 'The Fallen Idol' in mind, by John Wilcox and Stanley Pavey [ironically, Wilkie Cooper turned down the invitation to do these second unit shots]. Yet 'The Third Man' remains Robert Krasker's masterpiece.
His output is so varied and interesting and so visually distinctive that, if space permitted, one could with profit study many of the films he worked on and learn thereby the art and artifice of motion picture photography from him and no one else, and this is said with all due respect to his many talented fellow-cameramen working during that intensely creative time. Later in his career he became almost 'typed' as the cameraman for great screen epics. From Robert Rossen's 'Alexander the Great', Krasker's first 'epic' assignment, to Samuel Bronston's hugely enjoyable 'El Cid' some years later, both magnificently photographed, the cameraman would show that that delicacy he learned years before under the great Périnal was not submerged by the need to create mere spectacle. That gifted eye of his, however, brought a look to Bronston's next epic that has, in this writer's opinion, never been surpassed. The film was the 1964 'The Fall of the Roman Empire'.
An unusually intelligent super-production, 'The Fall of the Roman Empire' received from its cameraman his very best work ever. Because the film was not the commercial success hoped for it has become somewhat buried, a fact, sadly, that prevents those who admire Bob Krasker from seeing what can be achieved by a skilled, sensitive cameraman with a big enough budget to allow him all the tools he needed. If ever an original Technicolor print of it surfaces in a classics theatre, drop everything and see it. Then, if you have a strong enough stomach, compare this work of beauty against the hysterical, over-the-top and unofficial remake, 'Gladiator'. That simple comparison will eloquently argue the point of the earlier film's vast superiority.
With the alarming decline in motion picture standards and craftsmanship ushered in the late 1960s, and still plaguing us, Robert Krasker, like several of his contemporaries, decided to retire. As there were no films of any distinction being offered him any longer he did not wish to end his career on a sour note. True, his health was failing a little at the same time. But the rubbish-flingers were slowly and inexorably winning the day and Krasker decided that he had done enough. After 'The Trap' in 1965 his only other film was a low-budget 1980 thriller, shot to help a young filmmaker get off the ground [neither the film nor the filmmaker were ever heard from again].
When grace, skill and great style are once again commodities appreciated by audiences and critics then the fine work of Robert Krasker and his fellow-British cameramen will resume their natural prominent place.' [Copyright © 2002 by Daniel H. Guenzel (excerpt)].

·····

'The Third Man': 'Filming took place in Vienna and London over a period of six months. Cast and crew began work in Austria at the end of October 1948 and stayed there three weeks. It was a typically inclement autumn, with rain, sleet and snow. The rain gave the streets a pleasing sheen and when it snowed [Carol] Reed could always move filming to the sewers, where the film's culminating chase takes place. Much of the photography was done at night, by the first unit [under the supervision of Robert Krasker]. Stan Pavey headed the second unit in the sewers, while Hans Schneeberger and a third unit handled daytime photography. Orson Welles, incidentally, hated it down in the sewers. According to Reed's biographer Nicholas Wapshott, he complained vigorously to Reed. "Carol, I can't work in a sewer, I come from California! My throat! I'm so cold!" He finished the scenes as quickly as he could. Studio shooting took place in London, first at Isleworth then Shepperton, from December 1948 through to March 1949. At Shepperton Vincent Korda, Alexander's brother, designed the sets, assisted by the gifted backdrop painter Ferdinand Bellan. The Vienna cemetery was recreated there and, in January, when Welles arrived, the Great Wheel scenes were shot with the help of back projection. [From article by Rob White on the screenonline website.]



 FILMS

1937

Over the Moon [Thornton Freeland & William K. Howard] c; uncred ext ph; ph: Harry Stradling Sr.

1941

[The Story of] '......one of our aircraft is missing' [Michael Powell] b&w; assoc photographer (+ co-c.op); ph: Ronald Neame

1941

The Saint Meets the Tiger [Paul L. Stein] b&w

1942

The Rose of Tralee [Germain Burger] b&w; 2nd cam; 1st cam: Jack Parker

1943

The Lamp Still Burns [Maurice Elvey] b&w

1943

The Gentle Sex [Leslie Howard & (uncred) Maurice Elvey] b&w; spec pfx: Derick Williams

1943

The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France/Henry V [Laurence Olivier] c

1944

Caesar and Cleopatra [Gabriel Pascal] c; cph: Jack Cardiff (ext ph Egypt), Jack Hildyard & Freddie Young

1945

Brief Encounter [David Lean] b&w; addph: Ronald Neame

1945

Great Expectations [David Lean] started the film, but was replaced by ph Guy Green after a few days

1946

Odd Man Out/Gang War [Carol Reed] b&w; 2uc: Stanley Grant

1947

Uncle Silas/The Inheritance [Charles Frank] b&w

1948

Bonnie Prince Charlie [Anthony Kimmins & Alexander Korda (uncred)] c; assoc ph: Hone Glendinning; ext ph: Osmond Borradaile

1948

The Third Man [Carol Reed] b&w; addph: John Wilcox, Stanley Pavey & (Austria) Walter Partsch; 3uc: Hans Schneeberger

1949

The Angel with the Trumpet/Angel with a Trumpet [Anthony Bushell] b&w

1949

State Secret/The Great Manhunt [Sidney Gilliat] b&w; addph: John Wilcox

1950

The Wonder Kid [Karl Hartl] b&w; cph: Günther Anders

1950

Entführung ins Glück [Karl Hartl] b&w; cph: Günther Anders; German version of 'The Wonder Kid'

1951

Cry, the Beloved Country/African Fury [Zoltan Korda] b&w; 2uc: David Millen & Peter Lang

1951

Another Man's Poison [Irving Rapper] b&w

1952

Never Let Me Go [Delmer Daves] b&w

1953

Malta Story [Brian Desmond Hurst] b&w; 2uc: Ernest Steward

1953

Senso/The Wanton Countess/Livia [Luchino Visconti] c; took over after the death of G.R. Aldo; cph: G.R. Aldo & Giuseppe Rotunno (uncred final scenes; + co-c.op)

1954

Romeo and Juliet/Giulietta e Romeo [Renato Castellani] c

1955

That Lady [Terence Young] cs/c

1955

Alexander the Great [Robert Rossen] cs/c; 2uc: Theodore J. Pahle

1956

Trapeze [Carol Reed] cs/c; pfx: Walter Castle

1956

The Rising of the Moon [John Ford] b&w; 3 seg ('The Majesty of the Law', 'A Minute's Wait' & '1921'); uncred cph: F.A. Young

1956

The Story of Esther Costello/The Golden Virgin [David Miller] b&w

1957

The Quiet American [Joseph L. Mankiewicz] b&w

1958

Behind the Mask [Brian Desmond Hurst] c

1958

The Doctor's Dilemma [Anthony Asquith] c

1959

Libel [Anthony Asquith] Metroscope/b&w; 2uc: Douglas Adamsson; spec pfx: Tom Howard

1959

Have Jazz Will Travel: London [Richard Lester] ?; mus doc/?m

1959

The Sound of Jazz [Richard Lester] b&w; mus doc/?m

1959

The Criminal/The Concrete Jungle [Joseph Losey] b&w

1960

Romanoff and Juliet/Dig That Juliet [Peter Ustinov] c

1960

El Cid [Anthony Mann] str70/c; 2uc: Manuel Berenguer

1962

Guns of Darkness [Anthony Asquith] b&w; addph: Harold Haysom

[Left with dir Peter Ustinov - "Billy Budd"

1962

Billy Budd [Peter Ustinov] cs/b&w

[Right] with Anthony Mann - "The Fall of the Roman Empire"

[Right] with producer Samuel Bronston

1962

The Fall of the Roman Empire [Anthony Mann] up70/c; 2uc: Cecilio Paniagua

[Black shirt/below camera] with dir Carol Reed [left/white suit/sunglasses] - "The Running Man"

1963

The Running Man [Carol Reed] p/c

1965

The Collector/The Butterfly Collector [William Wyler] c; UK ph; USA ph: Robert Surtees; 2uc: Norman Warwick

Dir Anthony Mann - Richard Harris - Kirk Douglas - RK

"The Heroes of Telemark"

1965

The Heroes of Telemark [Anthony Mann] p/c; 2uc: Egil S. Woxholt

1965

The Trap/The Mad Trapper [Sidney Hayers] p/c; 2uc: Osmond Borradaile & Bill Boozeboom

1967

Oliver! [Lewis Gilbert] c; artist test (6m) with Shani Wallis

1976

Red [Astrid Frank] c; short/24m

1980

Cry Wolf [Leszek Burzynski] b&w; short/31m


 FILMS AS CAMERA ASSISTANT/OPERATOR

1933

[The Rise of] Catherine the Great [Paul Czinner & Alexander Korda (uncred)] c.asst; ph: Georges Périnal

1934

The Private Life of Don Juan [Alexander Korda] c.asst; ph: Georges Périnal

1935

Things to Come [William Cameron Menzies] c.op; ph: Georges Périnal

1936

Forget-Me-Not/Forever Yours [Zoltan Korda] c.asst; ph: Hans Schneeberger

1936

Rembrandt [Alexander Korda] c.op; ph: Georges Périnal & Richard Angst

1936

Men Are Not Gods [Walter Reisch] c.op; ph: Charles Rosher

1936

The Man Who Could Work Miracles [Lothar Mendes] co-c.op; ph: Harold Rosson

1937

I, Claudius [Josef von Sternberg] c.op; ph: Georges Périnal; unfinished

1937

The Squeaker/Murder on Diamond Row [William K. Howard] c.op; ph: Georges Périnal

1937

The Drum/Drums [Zoltan Korda] c.op; ph: Georges Périnal

1937

The Challenge [Milton Rosmer & Luis Trenker] c.op; ph: Georges Périnal & Albert Benitz

1938

The Four Feathers [Zoltan Korda] c.op; ph: Georges Périnal

1939

The Thief of Bagdad [- An Arabian Fantasy in Technicolor] [Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell & Tim Whelan; (uncred) Zoltan Korda, Alexander Korda & William Cameron Menzies] c.op; ph: Georges Périnal

1940

Old Bill and Son [Ian Dalrymple] c.op; ph: Georges Périnal

1941

Dangerous Moonlight/Suicide Squadron [Brian Desmond Hurst] c.op; ph: Georges Périnal

1941

[The Story of] '......one of our aircraft is missing' [Michael Powell] co-c.op (+ assoc ph); ph: Ronald Neame