GREAT CINEMATOGRAPHERS


#2: With dir Richard Donner [right]

#3: "Superman" [1977]

 

   


GEOFFREY UNSWORTH

 

Born: 26 May 1914, Leigh [or Atherton], Greater Manchester, Lancashire, UK., as Geoffrey Gilyard Unsworth.

Died: 28 October 1978, Brittany, France [during the filming of 'Tess'].

Career: Entered film industry as c.asst in 1932 at Gaumont-British Studios in Lime Grove. Joined Technicolor in 1937 and became c.op. In 1942 he became doph on color shorts. In 1946 he left Technicolor and joined Rank as doph until 1959.

In 1960, he ph a screen-test [15m] with Albert Finney for 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom' [subsequently titled 'Lawrence of Arabia']. Ph commercials.

Was a member of the BSC. Was awarded the Order of the British Empire [OBE] in 1976.

Was married to continuity/script superv Margaret 'Maggie' Sibley.

Awards: BSC Award nom [1956] for 'A Town Like Alice'; BAFTA Film Award nom [1964] for 'Tamahine'; BSC Award [1964], 'Oscar' AA nom [1964; color] & BAFTA Film Award [1965] for 'Becket'; BAFTA Film Award [1969] for '2001: A Space Odyssey'; 'Oscar' AA [1972], BSC Award [1972] & BAFTA Film Award [1973] for 'Cabaret'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1974] & BAFTA Film Award nom [1975] for 'Murder on the Orient Express'; BSC Award [1977] & BAFTA Film Award [1978] for 'A Bridge Too Far'; BAFTA Film Award nom [1979] for 'Superman'; 'Oscar' AA [1980; shared], NYFCC Award [1980], LAFCA Award [1980], BSC Award nom [1981; shared] & BAFTA Film Award [1982; shared] for 'Tess'.



'When Geoffrey Unsworth died in 1978, the film industry lost one of its best-loved and most accomplished cinematographers. Although his work was renowned for its lush qualities, it was his versatility and craftsmanship, rather than any distinctive personal style, which elevated him to the top ranks of his profession. Unsworth was an artistic chameleon, capable of adapting to a wide range of directors, genres, and environmental conditions, and of evoking radically different cinematic moods. Ambitious, expensively budgeted costume dramas such as 'Cromwell', and intimate, modestly financed films such as 'Three Sisters', might pose different technical and aesthetic challenges, but variations in scale had no bearing on the amount of professionalism and enthusiasm which Unsworth invested. He enjoyed making period films such as 'Becket' because they provided him with opportunities to use cinematography's basic grammar to establish ambience and verisimilitude. Yet he was equally adept at creating visual moods appropriate to films set in our own time, such as 'The Return of the Pink Panther'. Although he learned his craft in the artificial and malleable context of studio production, he proved capable of superior work in the intractable and unpredictable conditions of location filmmaking, as 'A Bridge Too Far' amply demonstrated.

His best work was realized in the 1960s and 1970s. The frosty magnificence of '2001: A Space Odyssey', the elegance of 'Murder on the Orient Express', the chimerical aura of 'Zardoz', the ethereal and comic-book elements of 'Superman', and the grandeur of 'Becket' and 'Cromwell', and the softened representation of war in 'A Bridge Too Far', all owe a great deal to Unsworth's work. His finest accomplishment, however, was undoubtedly 'Cabaret'. The grotesquerie of the Kit Kat Klub, and the decaying fabric of pre-Second World War Germany are impeccably rendered by Unsworth's expressionistic camerawork. The effort to draw the cinema audience into the mood of the nightclub by aligning its visual perspective with that of the clientele is highly successful.

Unsworth enjoyed a harmonious and unusually long partnership with his camera assistant and operator Peter MacDonald. Their association spanned two decades and about 30 features. MacDonald describes Unsworth as an "impressionist," and has said that he was an intuitive, as opposed to a technical, cameraman who preferred to be guided by his instincts rather than by elaborate advance planning in the selection of lighting, angles, and composition. He was not renowned as an innovator, but he was always willing to experiment. If called upon to execute a particularly difficult shot, he would respond by searching for a solution rather than by dismissing the idea as technically impossible.

Unsworth was committed to the principle that the cameraman's input should be unobtrusive. He believed that cinematography should not call attention to itself but support directorial intent and the flow of the action. Yet, even though he believed that his contribution should be imperceptible, there is little doubt that his craftsmanship and artistry have left an indelible impression on modern cinema.' [From article by Fiona Valentine.]


 

 FILMS

1941

The People's Land [Ralph Keene] c; doc/10m

1941

World Garden [Robin Carruthers] c; doc/11m

1942

Teeth of Steel [Ronald H. Riley] c; doc/10m

1942

Gardens of England [Michael Hankinson] c; doc/9m

1942

Rhapsody in White [Richard Massingham] c; advert/3m; for Lever Brothers (Persil brand)

1942

Symphony in Colour [prod: Lintas] c; advert/3m; for Lever Brothers (Persil brand)

1942

Western Approaches/The Raider [Pat Jackson] c; doc/83m; cph: Jack Cardiff, Eric Asbury, Denny Densham, Edwin Catford, C.M. Pennington-Richards & Edward Scaife; prod Crown Film Unit

 

 

1942

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp/[The Adventures of] Colonel Blimp [Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger] c; co-Technicolor Cameramen; ph: Georges Périnal

1943

Power on the Land [Ralph Keene] c; doc/18m

1943

Scottish Mazurka [Hans M. Nieter] c; doc/19m; cph: Jack Cardiff

1944

Men of Science [?] ?; doc/27m

1945

Make Fruitful the Land [Ken Annakin] c; doc/16m

1945

Meet the Navy [Alfred Travers] b&w-c; as Technicolor lighting cameraman; cph: Ernest Palmer & Moray Grant

1946

The Laughing Lady [Paul L. Stein] c

1947

The Man Within/The Smugglers [Bernard Knowles] c

1947

Jassy [Bernard Knowles] c

1947

Blanche Fury [Marc Allégret] c; ext ph; int ph: Guy Green

1947

Scott of the Antarctic [Charles Frend] c; cph: Jack Cardiff; loc ph: Osmond Borradaile

1948

The Blue Lagoon [Frank Launder] c

1948

Fools Rush In [John Paddy Carstairs] b&w

1949

The Spider and the Fly [Robert Hamer] b&w

1950

Double Confession [Ken Annakin] b&w

1950

Trio [seg #3 'Sanatorium' dir by Harold French] b&w; other ph: Reginald Wyer

1950

An American in Paris [Vincente Minnelli] c; loc ph Paris; ph: Alfred Gilks & (final ballet) John Alton

1950

The Clouded Yellow [Ralph Thomas] b&w

1951

Where No Vultures Fly/Ivory Hunter [Harry Watt] c; game ph: Paul Beeson; 2uc: David Millin

1951

Penny Princess [Val Guest] c

1952

Made in Heaven [John Paddy Carstairs] c

1952

The Planter's Wife/Outpost in Malaya/White Blood [Ken Annakin] b&w; loc ph: Peter Hennessy

1952

The Story of Robin Hood [and His Merrie Men] [Ken Annakin] c; 2uc; ph: Guy Green

1953

Turn the Key Softly [Jack Lee] b&w

1953

The Sword and the Rose/When Knighthood Was in Flower [Ken Annakin] c; 2uc: Cyril Knowles; also 2-part ep of tv-series 'Disneyland' (1956)

1953

The Million Pound Note/Man with a Million [Ronald Neame] c

1954

The Purple Plain [Robert Parrish] c

1954

Simba [- Mark of Mau Mau!] [Brian Desmond Hurst] c; 2uc: Eric Cross & Skeets Kelly

1954

The Seekers/Land of Fury [Ken Annakin] c; loc ph: Peter Hennessy

1955

Eric Winstone Bandshow [Michael Carreras] cs/c; mus short/29m

1955

Passage Home [Roy Ward Baker] b&w

1955

Value for Money [Ken Annakin] vv/c

1955

A Town Like Alice/Rape of Malaya [Jack Lee] b&w

1955

Eric Winstone's Stagecoach [Michael Carreras] b&w; mus short/30m

1956

Tiger in the Smoke [Roy Ward Baker] b&w

1956

Jacqueline [Roy Ward Baker] b&w

1956

Hell Drivers/Hard Drivers [C. Raker Endfield] vv/b&w

1957

Edmundo Ros Half Hour [Michael Carreras] c; mus short/29m

1957

Dangerous Exile [Brian Desmond Hurst] vv/c

 

 

1958

A Night to Remember [Roy Ward Baker] b&w; 2uc: Skeets Kelly

1958

Bachelor of Hearts [Wolf Rilla] c

1958

Whirlpool [Lewis Allen] c

1959

North West Frontier/Flame Over India [J. Lee Thompson] cs/c; 2uc: H.A.R. Thomson

 

[Right] with Nancy Kwan - "The World of Suzie Wong"

 

1960

The World of Suzie Wong [Richard Quine (replaced Jean Negulesco)] c

1960

On the Double [Melville Shavelson] p/c; 2uc; ph: Harry Stradling Sr.

1960

The 300 Spartans/Lion of Sparta [Rudolph Maté] cs/c; 2uc: Jerry Kalogeratos & Cyril Knowles

1961

Don't Bother to Knock/Why Bother to Knock [Cyril Frankel] cs/c

1962

Playboy of the Western World [Brian Desmond Hurst] c

1962

The Main Attraction [Daniel Petrie] MetroScope/c

1963

Tamahine [Philip Leacock] cs/c

1963

An Evening with the Royal Ballet [Anthony Havelock-Allan (seg #1 & 3) & Anthony Asquith (seg #2 & 4)] c; ballet film/85m; ph seg #1 'La Valse', #3 'Le Corsaire' & #4 'Aurora's Wedding'; other ph: Christopher Challis (#2)

 

 

1963

Becket [Peter Glenville] p (+ 70bu)/c

1964

Genghis Khan [Henry Levin] p/c; 2uc: Tony Braun

1964

Pop Gear/Go Go Mania [Frederic Goode] ts/c; music film/68m

1965

You Must Be Joking! [Michael Winner] b&w

1965

Othello [Stuart Burge & John Dexter] p/c

1965

Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad [Richard Quine & (uncred reshoots) Alexander Mackendrick] c; 2uc: Skeets Kelly; process ph: Farciot Edouart; Unsworth took over from doph Charles Lawton Jr., who died a few days before the end of shooting; released in 1967

 

With dir Stanley Kubrick [right] - "2001: A Space Odyssey"

 

1965

2001: A Space Odyssey [Stanley Kubrick] sp70/c; had to leave the prod after the first 6 months; addph: John Alcott, Gilbert Taylor (uncred) & Michael Wilson (uncred); Monument Valley ph: Robert Gaffney; spec pfx: Stanley Kubrick (des/dir), Bryan Loftus, Bruce Logan, Douglas Trumbull (superv), a.o.; vfx ph: David Osborne; add matte ph: Richard Yuricich

1966

Half a Sixpence [George Sidney] p (+ 70bu)/c

1967

The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom [Joseph McGrath] c

1968

The Assassination Bureau [Limited] [Basil Dearden] c

1968

The Reckoning/A Matter of Honour [Jack Gold] c

1968

The Dance of Death [David Giles] c; 149m

1969

The Magic Christian [Joseph McGrath] c

1969

Cromwell [Ken Hughes] p (+ 70bu)/c; 2uc: Wilkie Cooper

1970

Goodbye Gemini/Twinsanity [Alan Gibson] c

1970

Three Sisters [Laurence Olivier & John Sichel] c; ep of 'American Film Theatre'-series

1970

Say Hello to Yesterday [Alvin Rakoff] c

1970

Unman, Wittering and Zigo [John Mackenzie] c

1971

Cabaret [ Bob Fosse] c

1971

Baxter! [Lionel Jeffries] c

1972

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland [William Sterling] tao35/c

1972

Love and Pain [and the Whole Damn Thing] [Alan J. Pakula] c

1973

Voices/Nightmare [Kevin Billington] c

1973

Don Quixote [Rudolf Nureyev & Robert Helpmann] c; ballet film/111m

1973

The Abdication [Anthony Harvey] c

1973

Zardoz [John Boorman] p/c; process ph: Charles Staffell

1974

The Internecine Project [Ken Hughes] c

 

 

1974

The Return of the Pink Panther [Blake Edwards] p/c

1974

Murder on the Orient Express [Sidney Lumet] p/c; process ph: Charles Staffell

1975

Lucky Lady [Stanley Donen] c; 2uc: Ernest Day & Austin Dempster; battle ph: Ricou Browning

1975

Royal Flash [Richard Lester] c; 2uc: Paul Wilson

1976

A Matter of Time [Vincente Minnelli] c

1976

A Bridge Too Far [Richard Attenborough] p/c; 2uc: Harry Waxman; aph: Robin Browne

 

#1: With actor Christopher Reeve - "Superman"

#2: "Superman"

 

1977

Superman [Richard Donner] p (+ 70bu)/c; addph: Alex Thomson, Jack Atcheler, Sol Negrin (New York), Robert E. Collins (New Mexico) & Reginald H. Morris (Alberta); model ph: Paul Wilson; aph: Peter Allwork; creative dir process ph: Denys Coop; dedicated to G. Unsworth

1977

Superman II [Richard Lester & (uncred) Richard Donner] p/c; shot some scenes dir by R. Donner; film was finished in 1979-80 by ph Robert Paynter; in 2006 'Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut' was released on DVD

1978

The First Great Train Robbery/The Great Train Robbery [Michael Crichton] p/c; in memoriam G. Unsworth

 

[Center] with Nastassja Kinski and Roman Polanski - "Tess"

 

1978

Tess [Roman Polanski] p/c; cph: Ghislain Cloquet (finished film after the death of G. Unsworth); dedicated to Sharon (Tate)

 

 TELEVISION

1972

Columbo [ep #13 'Dagger of the Mind' dir by Richard Quine] 45-part series, 1968-78; 2nd season, 1972-73; cph: Harry L. Wolf

 

 MISCELLANEOUS

1937

The Drum/Drums [Zoltan Korda] clapper-loader; ph: Georges Périnal

1938

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

1939

Main Street of Paris/Paris on the Seine/Paris vu de la Seine [Jean C. Bernard; doc/25m] asst photographer; ph: Jack Cardiff; prod for the New York World's Fair

1942

The Great Mr. Handel [Norman Walker] c.op; ph: Jack Cardiff & Claude Friese-Greene

 

[Right] with doph Jack Cardiff

 

1946

A Matter of Life and Death/Stairway to Heaven [Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger] c.op; ph: Jack Cardiff