GREAT CINEMATOGRAPHERS


#2: [Left] with dir Stanley Kramer - photo Thys Ockersen Archive

 

   


ERNEST LASZLO

 

Born: 23 April 1898, Budapest, Austria-Hungary [now Hungary], as Ernö László.

Died: 6 January 1984, Motion Picture & Television Hospital, Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, Calif., USA.

Career: Emigrating to the USA from Budapest, Laszlo became a c.asst on 'Tongues of Scandal' in 1926. Four years later he was promoted to operative cameraman at Paramount, where he seconded many of the studio's top directors of photography. At the same time he worked on several independent productions as a director of photography. His 'poverty row' efforts included 'The Pace That Kills', 'The White Outlaw' and 'The Primrose Path'. He also helped film the Technicolor sequence of Howard Hughes' 'Hell's Angels'. In 1943 he received his first major screen credit as director of photography of Paramount's 'The Hitler Gang' [1943-44]. Before hooking up with dir Stanley Kramer, his most notable collaboration was with dir Robert Aldrich.

Was a member [and president, 1972-74] of the ASC.

Awards: 'Oscar' AA nom [1961; b&w] for 'Inherit the Wind'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1962; b&w] for 'Judgment at Nuremberg'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1964; color] for 'It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World'; 'Oscar' AA [1966; b&w] for 'Ship of Fools'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1967; color] for 'Fantastic Voyage'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1969] for 'Star!'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1971] for 'Airport'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1977] for 'Logan's Run'; Society of Camera Operators [SOC] 'Governors' Award' [1983].



A superior craftsman and technician, Ernest Laszlo belonged to a generation of cameramen trained by the master cinematographers of the silent era. He became a director of photography towards the end of the traditional Hollywood studio system, and tended to work with strong directors who brought a new realism to the commercial American cinema. Robert Aldrich, Otto Preminger, Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, and Stanley Kramer generally functioned as their own bosses, on the set if not in the final edit, and they dealt with reality in their films rather than Hollywood fantasy. Laszlo painted their naturalistic visions on celluloid with dramatic lighting and a detached eye. He possessed an almost Germanic style, influenced in part by the German cinema of the 1920s, and throughout his career was rarely required to shoot romantically pretty pictures.

Laszlo photographed a few low-budget B-movies, and some comedy shorts, then joined Paramount as a camera operator. He was finally promoted to director of photography by director John Farrow on 'The Hitler Gang' [1943-44] and 'Two Years Before the Mast' [1944]. They are dark, brooding, atmospheric films, and earned Laszlo recognition for his mastery of low-key lighting. He introduced a new style of cinematography at Paramount. By eliminating most of the fill light, he achieved a more realistic look instead of the usual soft, glossy Paramount visuals.

Laszlo carried his style over to some of the most memorable films noirs. 'D.O.A.', directed by former cameraman Rudolph Maté, is a fine example, the seedy underworld perfectly captured by Laszlo's chiaroscuro lighting and fluid camera.

Billy Wilder's 'Stalag 17' was treated in a realistic manner, its story of a German prison camp during the Second World War evoked with stark Laszlo cinematography. The low-key lighting and the documentary style were uncommon in major studio Hollywood at the time, and the film's success proved that movies did not have to be candy-coated to work with audiences.

Laszlo had a productive relationship with Robert Aldrich. 'Apache' and 'Vera Cruz' used beautiful locations and reveal a strong sense of landscape. 'Kiss Me Deadly' and 'The Big Knife' are brilliantly photographed, cynical, latter-day noir. Laszlo cited 'Kiss Me Deadly' as his best black-and-white work, with its reliance on actual locations.

Laszlo also contributed outstanding black-and-white photography to Stanley Kramer's 'Inherit the Wind', 'Judgment at Nuremberg', and 'Ship of Fools'. Each has a claustrophobic setting [courtrooms and an ocean liner], and Laszlo was called upon to make great use of close-ups to accentuate the drama. The Kramer films are presented in a documentary-like fashion, with Laszlo utilizing deep grays and blacks in keeping with the somber dramatics.

Ernest Laszlo helped bring realism to the American cinema through his naturalistic cinematography, breaking down the barriers imposed by the glamour-conscious studios of the 1940s. He was fortunate to work with directors willing to suspend the usual high-key lighting effects in order to create genuine settings, and fused a new and practical form of photography for motion pictures. [From an article by John A. Gallagher on the filmreference.com website.]


 

 FILMS

1927

Hell's Angels [Howard Hughes (replaced Luther Reed); (uncred) Edmund Goulding & James Whale] b&w-tinted-c; uncred 2uc (worked on the Technicolor footage); ph: Elmer Dyer, Antonio Gaudio, Harry Perry, a.o.; filmed April 1927-July 1928 (silent version) and September-December 1929 (sound version)

1928

Here Comes a Sailor [Les Goodwins] b&w; short/20m; prod Weiss Brothers Artclass Pictures (WBAP)

1928

The Pace That Kills [Norton Parker & William O'Connor] b&w; 64m; prod True-Life Photoplays

1928

The White Outlaw [Robert J. Horner] b&w; 56m; prod J. Charles Davis Productions

1928

Linda [Mrs. Wallace Reid (= Dorothy Davenport)] b&w; cph: Henry Cronjager & Bert Baldridge

1929

The King of the Kongo [Richard Thorpe] b&w; 10-part serial; cph: Ray Ries; silent & sound (part talking) version; prod Mascot Pictures

1929

Street Corners/Street Corner [Russell J. Birdwell] b&w; a ?-part (x 12m) 'actuality' film series

1929

Sock and Run [Les Goodwins] b&w; short/2 reels; prod WBAP

1930

The Primrose Path [William O'Connor] b&w; cph: Henry Cronjager

1943

The Hitler Gang [John Farrow] b&w; filmed 1943-44

 

 

1944

Two Years Before the Mast [John Farrow] b&w; spec pfx: Dev Jennings & Gordon Jennings; process ph: Farciot Edouart; released in 1946

1946

Dear Ruth [William D. Russell] b&w; process ph: Farciot Edouart

1947

Road to Rio [Norman Z. McLeod] b&w; spec pfx: Gordon Jennings & Paul Lerpae; process ph: Farciot Edouart; film #5 in 7-part 'Road to...'-series (Paramount, 1940-52 & United Artists, 1962)

1947

On Our Merry Way/A Miracle Can Happen [King Vidor (Charles Laughton seq, filmed July 1946, but cut from film and destroyed & Burgess Meredith/Paulette Goddard seq, filmed August 1946) & Leslie Fenton (Fred MacMurray seq, filmed September 1946 & Dorothy Lamour/Victor Moore seq, filmed October 1947); (uncred James Stewart/Henry Fonda seq, filmed February 1947) George Stevens & John Huston] b&w; uncred ph Dorothy Lamour/Victor Moore seq; other ph: Edward Cronjager (Charles Laughton seq - cut from film), Gordon Avil (Fred MacMurray seq), John F. Seitz (? seq) & Joseph Biroc (James Stewart/Henry Fonda seq)

1947

Lulu Belle [Leslie Fenton] b&w

1948

Let's Live a Little/Hell Breaks Loose [Richard Wallace] b&w; pfx: George J. Teague

1948

The Girl from Manhattan [Alfred E. Green] b&w; based on the Charles Laughton seq of 'On Our Merry Way'

1948

Cover Up/The Intruder [Alfred E. Green] b&w

1948

The Lucky Stiff [Lewis R. Foster] b&w

1948

Impact [Arthur Lubin] b&w

1948

Manhandled/Betrayal [Lewis R. Foster] b&w

1949

Riding High [Frank Capra] b&w; cph: George Barnes; process ph: Farciot Edouart

1949

The Big Wheel/Thundering Wheels [Edward Ludwig] b&w

1949

D.O.A. [Rudolph Maté] b&w

 

Jackie Robinson - EL - dir Alfred E. Green

"The Jackie Robinson Story"

 

1950

The Jackie Robinson Story [Alfred E. Green] b&w & computer colorized version

1950

M [Joseph Losey] b&w; replaced ph J. Roy Hunt

1950

The Well [Leo Popkin & Russell Rouse] b&w

1950

When I Grow Up [Michael Kanin] b&w

1951

The First Time [Frank Tashlin] b&w

1951

Mutiny [Edward Dmytryk] c; spec pfx: Jack Cosgrove

1951

Three for Bedroom C [Milton Bren] c

1951

Lady in the Iron Mask [Ralph Murphy] c

1952

Stalag 17 [Billy Wilder] b&w; spec pfx: Gordon Jennings

1952

The Steel Trap [Andrew L. Stone] b&w

1952

Scared Stiff [George Marshall] b&w; spec pfx: Gordon Jennings & Paul Lerpae; process ph: Farciot Edouart

 

 

 

1952

The Star [Stuart Heisler] b&w

1952

Houdini [George Marshall] c; spec pfx: Gordon Jennings

1953

The Moon Is Blue [Otto Preminger] b&w

1953

Die Jungfrau auf dem Dach/The Girl on the Roof [Otto Preminger] b&w; German-language version of 'The Moon Is Blue'

1953

The Naked Jungle [Byron Haskin (replaced Joseph H. Lewis)] c; 2uc: Loyal Griggs; spec pfx: John P. Fulton; process ph: Farciot Edouart

1953

About Mrs. Leslie [Daniel Mann] b&w; spec pfx: John P. Fulton; process ph: Farciot Edouart

1953

Apache [Robert Aldrich] c; uncred cph (fired after a week and replaced): Stanley Cortez; filmed 1953-54

1954

Vera Cruz [Robert Aldrich] sus/c

1954

The Kentuckian [Burt Lancaster] cs/c

 

 

1954

Kiss Me Deadly [Robert Aldrich] b&w

1955

The Big Knife [Robert Aldrich] b&w

1955

While the City Sleeps [Fritz Lang] sus/b&w

1955

Bandido! [Richard Fleischer] cs/c; ph Mexico: Manuel Urqueza Gómez

1956

Omar Khayyam/The Loves of Omar Khayyam [William Dieterle] vv/c; spec pfx: John P. Fulton; process ph: Farciot Edouart

1956

Valerie [Gerd Oswald] b&w

1957

Gunsight Ridge [Francis D. Lyon] b&w

1957

The Restless Years/The Wonderful Years [Helmut Käutner] cs/b&w; spph: Clifford Stine

1957

Attack of the Puppet People/The Fantastic Puppet People/Six Inches Tall [Bert I. Gordon] b&w

1957

The Space Children [Jack Arnold] b&w; 69m; spec pfx: John P. Fulton; process ph: Farciot Edouart

1958

Ten Seconds to Hell/The Phoenix [Robert Aldrich] b&w

1959

On the Beach [Stanley Kramer] b&w; uncred addph (deserted San Francisco seq); ph: Giuseppe Rotunno

1959

Tormented/Eye of the Dead [Bert I. Gordon] b&w; spec vfx: Bert I. Gordon & Flora M. Gordon

1959

Inherit the Wind [Stanley Kramer] b&w

1960

The Last Sunset [Robert Aldrich] c

 

EL - Marlene Dietrich - Spencer Tracy - Stanley Kramer

"Judgment at Nuremberg"

 

1961

Judgment at Nuremberg [Stanley Kramer] b&w

1962

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World [Stanley Kramer] up70/c; addph: Irmin Roberts & Hal McAlpin; uncred aph: Jack Woolf; pfx: Linwood G. Dunn & James B. Gordon; uncred vfx: Willis H. O'Brien; process ph: Farciot Edouart

1963

4 for Texas/Four for Texas [Robert Aldrich] c; 2uc: Joseph Biroc, Burnett Guffey & Carl Guthrie

1963

One Man's Way [Denis Sanders] b&w

1963

Baby the Rain Must Fall [Robert Mulligan] b&w

1964

Ship of Fools [Stanley Kramer] b&w; spec pfx: Albert Whitlock; process ph: Farciot Edouart

 

EL - Richard Fleischer - "Fantastic Voyage"

 

1965

Fantastic Voyage [Richard Fleischer] cs/c; spec pfx: L.B. Abbott, Art Cruickshank & Emil Kosa Jr.; uncred miniatures: Marcel Delgado

1966

Luv [Clive Donner] p/c

1966

The Big Mouth [Jerry Lewis] c; uncred cph (took over after Wallace Kelley had fallen ill); ph: W. Wallace Kelley; filmed 1966-67

 

EL - Robert Wise - "Star!"

 

1967

Star!/Those Were the Happy Times [Robert Wise] tao/c; spec pfx: L.B. Abbott, Art Cruickshank & Emil Kosa Jr.

1968

The First Time/You Don't Need Pajamas at Rosie's/The Beginners [James Neilson (replaced Alex Grasshoff)] c

1968

Daddy's Gone A-Hunting [Mark Robson] p/c

1969

Airport [George Seaton & (uncred winter outdoor scenes) Henry Hathaway] tao/c; uncred 2nd cinematographer: Loyal Griggs; spec pfx: James B. Gordon, Don Weed, (uncred) Linwood G. Dunn & (uncred) Cecil Love

1972

Showdown [George Seaton] tao35/c; spec pfx: Albert Whitlock

1973

That's Entertainment! [Jack Haley Jr.] 35mm (+70bu)/b&w-c; mus comp film + doc/134m; co-addph: Gene Polito, Russell Metty, Ennio Guarnieri & Allan Green

1974

Funny Lady [Herbert Ross] p (+ 70bu)/c; fill-in ph (worked for 10 days while James Wong Howe was ill); ph: James Wong Howe

1975  

Logan's Run [Michael Anderson] tao35 (+ 70bu)/c; uncred 2uc: Robert C. Jessup; spec vfx: L.B. Abbott

1976

The Domino Principle/The Domino Killings [Stanley Kramer] c; fill-in ph (temporarily replaced Koenekamp due to an accident during shooting); ph: Fred Koenekamp; aph: Donald M. Morgan

 

 TELEVISION

1952

The Trio [Rubinstein, Heifetz, and Piatigorsky]/Million Dollar Trio [Jules Dassin] mus short/b&w/1 reel; ep mus series 'Meet the Masters' for WGN Chicago (NBC-tv)

1958

Now Is Tomorrow [pilot 'Thy Will Be Done' dir by Irvin Kershner] unaired pilot (of un-produced sci-fi series)/b&w/30m

1959

The Rebel [ep #1 'Johnny Yuma' dir by Irvin Kershner] 76-part series/b&w, 1959-61; 1st season, 1959-60 (36 ep)

 

 MISCELLANEOUS

1926

Tongues of Scandal [Roy Clements] c.asst; ph: Leon Shamroy

1927

Wings [William A. Wellman & Harry D'Arrast] uncred co-c.op Akeley camera; ph: Harry Perry

1930

The Right to Love [Richard Wallace] co-2nd c.op; ph: Charles Lang

1931

The Secret Call [Stuart Walker & (assoc) Robert Lee] co-2nd cam; ph: David Abel

1931

Huckleberry Finn [Norman Taurog] co-2nd cam; ph: David Abel

1931

Ladies of the Big House [Marion Gering] co-2nd cam; ph: David Abel

1931

Rich Man's Folly [John Cromwell] co-c.op; ph: David Abel

1931

The Miracle Man [Norman Z. McLeod] co- c.op; ph: David Abel; filmed 1931-32

1932

Sky Bride [Stephen Roberts] co-c.op; ph: David Abel & Charles Marshall

1932

The Phantom President [Norman Taurog] c.op; ph: David Abel

1932

Madame Butterfly [Marion Gering] c.op; ph: David Abel

1932

The Crime of the Century/On Probation [William Beaudine] 2nd cam; ph: David Abel

1933

Mama Loves Papa [Norman Z. McLeod] c.op; ph: Gilbert Warrenton

1934

Lost in the Stratosphere [Melville Brown] 2nd cam; ph: Ira Morgan

1935

The Case of the Curious Bride [Michael Curtiz] c.op; ph: David Abel

 

c.op EL & dir Lewis Milestone - "The Night of Nights"

 

1939

The Night of Nights/Heaven on a Shoestring [Lewis Milestone] c.op; ph: Leo Tover

1940

I Wanted Wings [Mitchell Leisen] co-2nd cam; ph: Leo Tover

1941

Hold Back the Dawn [Mitchell Leisen] 2nd c.op; ph: Leo Tover

1942

The Major and the Minor [Billy Wilder] c.op; ph: Leo Tover

1942

China [John Farrow] 2nd cam; ph: Leo Tover; filmed 1942-43