GREAT CINEMATOGRAPHERS


#2: With Jean Harlow

#3: [Right] with dir Jack Conway

 

   


HAROLD ROSSON

 

Born: 6 April 1895, Genaseo, N.Y., as Harold 'Hal' G. Rosson.

Died: 6 September 1988, Palm Beach, Florida, USA.

Career: Started his career in 1908 as an actor at the Vitagraph Studios in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn, New York. Became asst to doph Irvin Willat at the Mark Dintenfass Studios. In 1912 he divided his time as an office boy in a stockbrokers firm and as asst, extra and handyman at the Famous Players Studio in New York. In 1914 he worked as a ticket seller, ticket taker and projectionist in a little theatre in Brooklyn. Moved to California in December 1914 and joined Metro Pictures as asst to property man Danny Hogan and doph Arthur A. Cadwell. When Metro moved back to New York he went with them. Became doph in 1915. During WWI he served in the army. After his demobilization he went to work on the Marion Davies picture, 'The Dark Star', in Fort Lee, N.J., as asst to doph Henry Lyman Broening. He was offered a contract with the Davies Company. In 1920 he was signed by Mary Pickford as a doph but not on her pictures, but on films starring her brother Jack. In 1935 he went to England to work for prod/dir Alexander Korda. Retired in 1958 [only to return for 'El Dorado'].

Was a member of the ASC since 1927.

Was married to actress Jean Harlow [1933-34; Married: Harlean Carpenter McGrew Bern (Jean Harlow), 22, cinema actress, widow of MGM's Associate Producer Paul Bern Levy who last year spectacularly died by his own hand; and Harold G. Rosson, cameraman; in Yuma, Arizona.] & socialite Yvonne Crellin [1936-45].

His sister Helene Rosson [1897-1985] was an actress, his brother Richard [1893-1953] was an actor/director and brother Arthur [1886-1960] was a film director.

Awards: Special 'Oscar' AA [1936; shared] for the color cinematography of 'The Garden of Allah'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1939; color] for 'The Wizard of Oz'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1940; b&w] for 'Boom Town'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1944; b&w; shared] for 'Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1950; b&w] & Golden Globe nom [1951; b&w] for 'The Asphalt Jungle'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1956; b&w] for 'The Bad Seed'; 'George' Award [1957] for outstanding achievement.



 

Louis B. Mayer once said to cinematographer Hal Rosson: "If it's an MGM film, it has to look like an MGM film." Rosson, one of the pioneers in motion picture photography spent 23 years at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and is one of the photographers who helped create and maintain the "polished look" that was so integral a part of the studio's films.

By 1920 he was a full-fledged cinematographer at Paramount. Rosson recalled that during those days one experimented, listened, and watched to learn and develop one's craft. Technical difficulties were approached and surmounted as they occurred, with no pretensions to "art." In doing so, Rosson became one of the finest exponents of his craft.

He joined MGM in 1930 and it was there that he perfected his own skills and aided that studio in developing the glossy patina which would become an MGM trademark. MGM loaned him to Selznick International for 'The Garden of Allah', and Rosson recalled that while he knew nothing about color film at the time, he decided "to control color, to eliminate color unless it could be used dramatically. I didn't want color to control me." His most outstanding achievement with color was for MGM's 'The Wizard of Oz', though again he modestly described his work as simply a matter of "controlling color." After 1955 he worked at various studios. Rosson was proud of his years at MGM, and fondly recalled its esprit de corps: "The spirit was such that we were proud to be at MGM." [From article by Ronald Bowers.]


 

 FILMS [1 reel = ca. 10m]

1915

David Harum [Allan Dwan] b&w; 5 reels; or ph Henry Lyman Broening; prod Famous Players Film Company

1916

The Honorable Friend [Edward LeSaint] b&w; 5 reels; prod Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company (JLLFPC)

1916

The Victoria Cross [Edward LeSaint] b&w; 5 reels; prod JLLFPC

1916

Oliver Twist [James Young] b&w; 5 reels; prod JLLFPC

1916

Panthea [Allan Dwan] b&w; 5 reels; cph: Roy Overbaugh; prod Norma Talmadge Film Corp.; shot in the Biograph Studio, New York

1917

The American Consul [Rollin Sturgeon] b&w; 5 reels; prod JLLFPC

1919

The Cinema Murder [George D. Baker] b&w; 6 reels; prod Cosmopolitan Prod. (CP)

1920

Polly of the Storm Country [Arthur Rosson] b&w; prod Chaplin-Mayer Pictures Company

1920

Heliotrope [George D. Baker] b&w; prod CP

1921

Buried Treasure [George D. Baker] b&w; prod CP

1921

Everything for Sale [Frank O'Connor] b&w; 5 reels; prod Realart Pictures (RP)

1921

A Virginia Courtship [Frank O'Connor] b&w; 5 reels; prod RP

1921

A Homespun Vamp [Frank O'Connor] b&w; 5 reels; prod RP

1922

The Cradle [Paul Powell] b&w; 5 reels; prod Famous Players-Lasky Corporation (FPLC)

1922

Through a Glass Window [Maurice Campbell] b&w; 5 reels; prod RP

1922

For the Defense [Paul Powell] b&w; 5 reels; prod FPLC

1922

Garrison's Finish [Arthur Rosson] b&w; prod Jack Pickford Prod.

1922

Dark Secrets [Victor Fleming] b&w; 6 reels; prod FPLC

1923

Quicksands/Boots and Saddles [Jack Conway] b&w; 5 reels (re-release 1927); cph: Glen MacWilliams; prod Agfar Corporation

1923

The Glimpses of the Moon [Allan Dwan] b&w; prod FPLC

1923

Lawful Larceny [Allan Dwan] b&w; 6 reels; prod FPLC

1923

Zaza [Allan Dwan] b&w; prod FPLC

1924

A Society Scandal [Allan Dwan] b&w; prod FPLC

1924

Manhandled [Allan Dwan] b&w; prod FPLC

1924

The Story Without a Name/Without Warning [Irvin Willat] b&w; 6 reels; prod FPLC

1924

Manhattan [R.H. Burnside] b&w; prod FPLC

1924

A Man Must Live [Paul Sloane] b&w; prod FPLC

1924

Too Many Kisses [Paul Sloane] b&w; 6 reels; prod FPLC

1925

The Little French Girl [Herbert Brenon] b&w; 6 reels; prod FPLC

1925

The Street of Forgotten Men [Herbert Brenon] b&w; prod FPLC

1925

Classified [Alfred Santell] b&w; prod Corinne Griffith Prod. (CGP)

1925

Infatuation [Irving Cummings] b&w; prod CGP

1926

Up in Mabel's Room [E. Mason Hopper] b&w; cph: Alex Phillips; prod Christie Film Company

1926

Say It Again [Gregory La Cava] b&w; or ph Edward Cronjager; prod FPLC

1926

Almost a Lady [E. Mason Hopper] b&w; 6 reels; prod Metropolitan Pictures Corporation of California (MPCoC)

1926

For Wives Only [Victor Heerman] b&w; 6 reels; prod MPCoC

1926

Man Bait [Donald Crisp] b&w; 6 reels; prod MPCoC

1926

Jim, the Conqueror [George B. Seitz] b&w; 6 reels; prod MPCoC

1927

Getting Gertie's Garter [E. Mason Hopper] b&w; prod MPCoC

1927

Evening Clothes [Luther Reed] b&w; prod FPLC

1927

Rough House Rosie [Frank Strayer] b&w; cph: James Murray; 6 reels; prod Paramount Famous Lasky Corp. (PFLC)

1927

Service for Ladies [Harry d'Arrast] b&w; prod PFLC

1927

A Gentleman of Paris [Harry d'Arrast] b&w; 6 reels; prod PFLC

1927

Open Range [Clifford Smith] b&w; 6 reels; prod PFLC

1927

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes [Malcolm St. Clair] b&w; prod PFLC

1927

The Dragnet [Josef von Sternberg] b&w; prod PFLC

1928

Sawdust Paradise [Luther Reed] b&w; silent & sound (efx & music) version; prod PFLC

 

 

1928

The Docks of New York [Josef von Sternberg] b&w; prod PFLC

1928

Abie's Irish Rose [Victor Fleming] b&w; silent & sound version; prod PFLC

1928

Three Week-ends [Clarence Badger] b&w; 6 reels; prod PFLC

1928

The Case of Lena Smith [Josef von Sternberg] b&w; prod PFLC

1929

Trent's Last Case [Howard Hawks] b&w; 6 reels; silent & sound (efx & music) version; prod Fox Film Corp. (FFC)

1929

The Far Call [Allan Dwan] b&w; 6 reels; silent & sound (efx & music) version; prod FFC

1929

Frozen Justice [Allan Dwan] b&w; silent & sound version; prod FFC

1929

South Sea Rose [Allan Dwan] b&w

1930

Hello Sister [Walter Lang] b&w

1930

This Mad World [William C. de Mille] b&w; cph: J. Peverell Marley; silent & sound version; prod MGM

1930

Madam Satan [Cecil B. DeMille] b&w

1930

Soyons gais [Arthur Robison] b&w; French-language version of 'Let Us Be Gay' (1930, Robert Z. Leonard; ph: Norbert Brodine)

1930

Passion Flower [William C. de Mille] b&w

1930

En cada puerto un amor [Carlos Borcosque & Marcel Silver] b&w; cph: Leonard Smith; Spanish-language version of 'Way for a Sailor' (1930, Sam Wood; ph: Percy Hilburn)

1930

The Prodigal/The Southerner [Harry Pollard] b&w

1931

Men Call It Love [Edgar Selwyn] b&w

1931

The Squaw Man/The White Man [Cecil B. DeMille] b&w

1931

Son of India [Jacques Feyder] b&w

1931

Sporting Blood [Charles Brabin] b&w

1931

The Cuban Love Song [W.S. Van Dyke] b&w

1931

Tarzan the Ape Man [W.S. Van Dyke] b&w; cph: Clyde De Vinna; 1st film in Johnny Weissmuller's 12-part 'Tarzan'-series (MGM, 1931-42 & RKO, 1943-48)

1932

Are You Listening? [Harry Beaumont] b&w

1932

When a Fellow Needs a Friend [Harry Pollard] b&w

1932

Red-Headed Woman [Jack Conway] b&w

1932

Downstairs [Monta Bell] b&w

1932

Kongo [William Cowen] b&w

1932

Red Dust [Victor Fleming] b&w; uncred cph (?): Arthur Edeson

1932

Hell Below [Jack Conway] b&w

1933

Hold Your Man [Sam Wood] b&w

1933

The Barbarian/The Arab/Man of the Nile/A Night in Cairo [Sam Wood] b&w

1933

Turn Back the Clock [Edgar Selwyn] b&w

1933

Penthouse/Crooks in Clover [W.S. Van Dyke] b&w; cph: Lucien Andriot

1933

Bombshell/Blonde Bombshell [Victor Fleming] b&w; uncred cph: Chester Lyons

1933

Viva Villa! [Jack Conway; (uncred) Howard Hawks & William Wellman] scheduled as doph, but replaced by James Wong Howe after his marriage to actress Jean Harlow

1933

The Cat and the Fiddle [William K. Howard & (uncred retakes) Sam Wood] b&w + color seq; cph: Charles G. Clarke & Ray Rennahan

1933

This Side of Heaven [William K. Howard] b&w

1934

The Girl from Missouri/100 Per Cent Pure/Born to Be Kissed/Eadie Was a Lady [Jack Conway & (uncred) Sam Wood] replaced by doph Ray June after his marriage to the star (Jean Harlow) had ended

1934

Treasure Island [Victor Fleming] b&w; cph: Ray June & Clyde De Vinna

 

 

1934

The Scarlet Pimpernel [Harold Young; (uncred) Rowland Brown & Alexander Korda] b&w; spec pfx: George J. Teague

1935

The Ghost Goes West [René Clair & (uncred; re-shot and/or re-shaped some of Clair's material) Alexander Korda] b&w

1935

The Man Who Could Work Miracles [Lothar Mendes] b&w; sfx ph: Jack Cardiff

1935

As You Like It [Paul Czinner] b&w

1936

The Garden of Allah [Richard Boleslawski] c; ph adv (?); ph: Virgil Miller (uncred) & W. Howard Greene; assoc ph: Robert Carney & Wilfred M. Cline; sfx ph: Clarence Slifer & Jack Cosgrove; 'I was under contract to MGM, and Eddie Mannix called me in one day, and said, 'We're loaning you out to David Selznick.' So the next day we started to work on the picture; I went back to the studio that night, I called up Mr. Mannix and said, 'Eddie, I'm not so sure I'm the man for this picture.' He said, 'Why?' I said, 'It's in color! I don't know anything about color... I'm not the man.' He said, 'Oh, forget about it... you're the man. Mr. Selznick wants you to do it, and we want you to do it.' So I went back the next day, photographed it, and won the Academy Award that year for color.' [From interview in 'Behind the Camera: The Cinematographer's Art' by Leonard Maltin, 1971.]

1936

The Devil Is a Sissy/The Devil Takes the Count [W.S. Van Dyke & Rowland Brown] b&w; cph: George Schneiderman

1936

Captains Courageous [Victor Fleming & (uncred fill-in) Jack Conway] b&w; fill-in ph (while H. Rosson was ill): Harold Morzorati; backgrounds & ext ph in October-November 1935

1937

They Gave Him a Gun [W.S. Van Dyke] b&w; sfx: Slavko Vorkapich

1937

The Emperor's Candlesticks [George Fitzmaurice] b&w; uncred cph: Oliver T. Marsh

1937

Double Wedding [Richard Thorpe] b&w; co-uncred cph; ph: William Daniels

1937

A Yank at Oxford [Jack Conway] b&w; studio ph; loc ph: Cyril Knowles

1938

Too Hot to Handle [Jack Conway] b&w; fill-in ph (last few days of filming): Ray June; ph Dutch Guiana: Clyde De Vinna (d: Richard Rosson); sfx ph: A. Arnold Gillespie

1938

That Mothers Might Live [Fred Zinnemann] b&w; short/10m

1938

Gone with the Wind [Victor Fleming (replaced George Cukor); (add dir) Sam Wood, Sidney Franklin & William Wellman] c; uncred ph 'Burning of Atlanta' seq (filmed in December 1938); ph: Ernest Haller & (uncred) Lee Garmes

1938

The Wizard of Oz [Richard Thorpe, replaced by George Cukor (2 days), replaced by Victor Fleming (scrapped existing footage; credited dir), replaced (in February 1939) by King Vidor] b&w-c; color ph; b&w ph: Allen M. Davey; 2uc: John Arnold; spec pfx: Max Fabian

1939

Forgotten Victory [Fred Zinnemann] b&w; short/11m

1939

I Take This Woman/New York Cinderella [Josef von Sternberg (started in October 1938); Frank Borzage (replaced von Sternberg in November 1938; filming suspended in January 1939); W.S. Van Dyke II (re-shot most of the film in December 1939)] b&w; ph (with dir W.S. Van Dyke II); uncred ph (with dir F. Borzage): Charles Lawton Jr.

1940

Edison, the Man [Clarence Brown] b&w

1940

Boom Town [Jack Conway] b&w; sfx ph: A. Arnold Gillespie

1940

Dr. Kildare Goes Home [Harold S. Bucquet] b&w; 5th film of 15-part 'Dr. Kildare/Dr. Gillespie'-series (MGM, 1938-47)

1940

Flight Command [Frank Borzage] b&w; 2uc: Paul Mantz & Frank Clarke

1940

Men of Boys Town [Norman Taurog] b&w

1941

The Penalty [Harold S. Bucquet] b&w; uncred cph (?): Clyde De Vinna; loc ph: Charles Lawton Jr.

1941

Washington Melodrama [S. Sylvan Simon] b&w

1941

The Yearling [Victor Fleming] c; filmed April-June; prod was shelved and resumed in May 1945 with dir Clarence Brown and ph Leonard Smith & Arthur Arling; final version was ph by Charles Rosher (September 1945-January 1946)

1941

The Chocolate Soldier [Roy Del Ruth] b&w; fill-in ph (while K. Freund was ill); ph: Karl Freund

1941

Honky Tonk [Jack Conway] b&w; replaced ph William H. Daniels, who fell ill

 

 

1941

Johnny Eager [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w

1941

We Were Dancing [Robert Z. Leonard] b&w; ph add scenes; ph: Robert Planck

1941

Tortilla Flat [Victor Fleming] b&w; uncred cph (?); ph: Karl Freund; sfx ph: Warren Newcombe

1942

Somewhere I'll Find You [Wesley Ruggles] b&w

1942

Tennessee Johnson/The Man on America's Conscience [William Dieterle] b&w

1942

Slightly Dangerous [Wesley Ruggles] b&w

1943

An American Romance [King Vidor] c; uncred 2uc: Charles P. Boyle; filmed April-August & October-November

1943

Meet Me in St. Louis [Vincente Minnelli] c; uncred ph 'The Trolley Song' seq; ph: George Folsey

1944

Marriage Is a Private Affair [Robert Z. Leonard] b&w; uncred cph (?); ph: Ray June

1944

Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w; cph: Robert Surtees; + 2ud aerial seq

1944

Between Two Women [Willis Goldbeck] b&w; 14th film of 'Dr. Kildare/Dr. Gillespie'-series

1945

Duel in the Sun [King Vidor & (uncred; finished film) William Dieterle] c; cph: Lee Garmes & Ray Rennahan; addph: Charles P. Boyle & Allen M. Davey; spec pfx: Jack Cosgrove & Clarence Slifer; filmed March 1945-September 1946

1945

No Leave, No Love [Charles Martin] b&w; cph: Robert Surtees

1945

[MGM's Miracle Love Story -] Three Wise Fools [Edward Buzzell] b&w

1946

My Brother Talks to Horses [Fred Zinnemann] b&w

1946

Living in a Big Way [Gregory La Cava] b&w

1947

The Hucksters [Jack Conway] b&w; sfx ph: Warren Newcombe & A. Arnold Gillespie

1947

Homecoming [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w

1948

Command Decision [Sam Wood] b&w

1948

The Stratton Story [Sam Wood] b&w

1949

Any Number Can Play [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w

1949

On the Town [Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen] c; uncred cph (mus seq): Harry Stradling Sr.; 2uc: Charles Schoenbaum (with dir Andrew Marton); sfx ph: Warren Newcombe

1949

Key to the City [George Sidney] b&w

 

[Right] with John Huston, Marilyn Monroe & Louis Calhern - "The Asphalt Jungle"

 

1949

The Asphalt Jungle [John Huston] b&w

1950

To Please a Lady/Red Hot Wheels [Clarence Brown] b&w

1950

The Red Badge of Courage [John Huston] b&w

1950

Love Is Better Than Ever/The Light Fantastic [Stanley Donen] b&w

1951

An American in Paris [Vincente Minnelli] c; ph 'I Got Rhythm' number; ph: Alfred Gilks; ph final ballet seq: John Alton; loc ph Paris: Geoffrey Unsworth

1951

Lone Star [Vincent Sherman] b&w

1951

Singin' in the Rain [Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen] c; replaced doph John Alton

1952

The Story of Three Loves/Three Stories of Love [Gottfried Reinhardt (seg #1 'The Jealous Lover' & #3 'Equilibrium') & Vincente Minnelli (seg #2 'Mademoiselle')] c; 3 seg; ph seg 'Mademoiselle'; other ph: Charles Rosher; filmed January-February

1952

I Love Melvin [Don Weis] c

1952

Dangerous When Wet [Charles Walters] c

1952

The Actress [George Cukor] b&w

 

 

1953

Ulisse/Ulysses [Mario Camerini & (uncred) Mario Bava] c; spec pfx: Eugen Schüfftan

1953

A Star Is Born [George Cukor] cs/c; ph 'Born in a Trunk' number (dir by Richard Barstow); ph: Sam Leavitt

1954

Mambo [Robert Rossen] b&w

1954

Strange Lady in Town [Mervyn LeRoy] cs/c

 

Dir Jack Webb, HR and actress Peggy Lee [right] - "Pete Kelly's Blues"

 

1955

Pete Kelly's Blues [Jack Webb] cs/c

1955

The Bad Seed [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w

1956

Toward the Unknown/Brink of Hell [Mervyn LeRoy] c; 2uc: Harold Wellman; aph: Paul Mantz

1957

No Time for Sergeants [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w

1957

The Enemy Below [Dick Powell] cs/c

1957

The Buccaneer [Anthony Quinn] vv/c; prologue ph; ph: Loyal Griggs

1957

Onionhead [Norman Taurog] b&w

1963

Decision at Midnight [Lewis Allen] c; prod for Moral Re-Armament

1965

El Dorado [Howard Hawks] c; spec pfx: Paul K. Lerpae; process ph: Farciot Edouart