ELLSWORTH J. FREDRICKS

 

Born: 2 June 1904, The Bronx, NY, USA. Also credited as Ellsworth Fredericks [see Note below].

Died: 17 [16 ?] August 1993, San Marcos, Calif., USA.

Career: Became c.asst to John Seitz at the First National Studios, Burbank, in 1927. Remained at the studio after it was purchased by Warner Bros. in 1929. During part of 1930 he worked for doph Arthur Miller at Pathé. Became c.op in 1933 when he was hired by John Arnold, head of the camera department at MGM. He operated for Ray June, William Daniels, George Folsey, Karl Freund, a.o., until 1940, when he returned to Warner Bros. During 1943-44 he served as a Major in the U.S. Army as official cinematographer for President Roosevelt. Became doph in February 1952 at Revue Productions, filming numerous segments of various tv-series. Retired in 1969.

Was member of the ASC since 1954.

Awards: 'Oscar' AA nom [1957] for 'Sayonara'.

 

NOTE: The ASC membership roster of 1936 names Ellsworth Fredricks as an assistant cinematographer. The rosters of the 1960s, '70s and '80s up to 1992 also list him as Ellsworth Fredricks. In the ASC In Memoriam article [November 1993] he is called Ellsworth Fredericks.



Ellsworth Fredericks, ASC, the distinguished cinematographer whose work included such classics as 'Sayonara' and 'Friendly Persuasion' as well as the remarkable 'cult' film 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers', died on Tuesday, August 17, at the age of 89. He had been an ASC member since 1954. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, a daughter, Mrs. Brian Herdeg, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Fredericks was born in New York City on February 6, 1904. In 1927, at the First National Studios in Burbank, he became an assistant cameraman to John Seitz, the first of the many ASC directors of photography with whom he would work during the ensuing 25 years. He also worked as a special effects assistant cameraman with Hans Koenekamp, Fred Jackman and Edwin DuPar. During part of 1930 he worked for Arthur Miller at Pathé.

Fredericks became a camera operator in 1933 when he was hired by John Arnold, head of the camera department at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He operated for Ray June, William Daniels, George Folsey, Oliver Marsh, Clyde DeVinna, Karl Freund and Harold Lipstein until 1940, when he returned to Warner Bros. During 1943-44 he served as a Major in the U. S. Army as official cinematographer for President Roosevelt. Upon mustering out he rejoined Warner Bros.

On February 1, 1952, MCA's Revue Productions, then headquartered at Republic Studios, appointed him as a director of photography. His credits there include segments of 'General Electric Theater', 'Lux Playhouse of Stars', 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents', 'Suspicion', 'The Deputy', 'Alcoa Theatre', and others. Dividing his time between television drama and theatrical features, he was one of the busiest cinematographers in Hollywood. Much of his early feature work was for Allied Artists.

He made more TV dramas for Revue until 1960, when he returned to features with Warners' 'Tall Story'.

Fredericks retired in 1969, moved to Lake San Marcos, California, and thereafter devoted much of his time to golf. His career had encompassed silent pictures, the transition to the Vitaphone and then to sound on film, the rigors of working with three-strip Technicolor, the rise of television, the emergence of monopack and color negative, the gradual escalation of color movies to a position of dominance over black & white, the burgeoning of anamorphic films, VistaVision, and the realization of color television. [From 'American Cinematographer' magazine, November 1993.]


'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' [1955]: [Ellsworth] Fredericks' photographic touches greatly enhance the story. The early town scenes, presented with long takes, bright daylight and eye-level camera angles reminiscent of the Blondie and Hardy Family series films, evoke realistic normality. Miles is sometimes shown from a slight low angle to emphasize his strength and dependability. When the pods are discovered, the filmmakers employ a few 'Dutch angles' and sharp tilts. As the nefarious alien plot is revealed, the shadows become darker and viewers are treated to some deep-focus shots in the best 'Citizen Kane' tradition. This tactic is particularly chilling when the pods are shown with the humans they will replace; in one shot, Jack's pod double awakens on a pool table in the foreground as Jack sleeps at a bar behind it. The climactic high-contrast scenes of flashlights and hulking silhouettes in the dark cave, including pit-shots of the pod-people thundering over the lovers' hiding place, could hardly be better.

[Producer Walter] Wanger was horrified to learn that the Allied Artists executives opted to release the picture in Superscope, an anamorphic widescreen process introduced by RKO in 1954. It differed from CinemaScope in that the photography was done with normal lenses; the images were squeezed at the printing stage rather than in the camera. Wanger argued that a duped image would not do justice to Dana Wynter's beauty, that the carefully wrought compositions would be ruined, and that the widescreen effect would make the picture resemble recent inferior anamorphic sci-fi pictures. Again, he was overruled – widescreen was considered a 'must' at the time due to the perceived competition with television for audiences. Incidentally, Wanger was dead right on all counts. The damage caused by this last-minute decision can hardly be exaggerated. Fredericks had composed the picture for the 1.33:1 ratio, and the image-chopping required to obtain the 2:1 ratio needed for Superscope not only destroyed the compositions, but left important details out of the frame. In addition, the images became grainier when the remaining frame was blown up to fill the wide screens. Only a very good movie could survive such butchery; somehow, 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' did. [From 'A Case for Insomnia' by George Turner, 'American Cinematographer', March 1997.]


 

 FILMS

1952

So You're Going to the Dentist [Richard Bare] b&w; short/10m; ep 63-part film series 'Joe McDoakes/Behind the Eight Ball'

1952

So You Want to Wear the Pants [Richard Bare] b&w; short/10m; ep 63-part film series 'Joe McDoakes/Behind the Eight Ball'

1952

So You Want to Be a Musician [Richard Bare] b&w; short/10m; ep 63-part film series 'Joe McDoakes/Behind the Eight Ball'

1953

So Big [Robert Wise] b&w

1954

The Bob Mathias Story/The Flaming Torch [Francis D. Lyon] b&w

1954

Shotgun [Lesley Selander] c

1954

So You're Taking in a Roomer [Richard Bare] b&w; short/10m; ep 63-part film series 'Joe McDoakes/Behind the Eight Ball'

1954

Seven Angry Men/God's Angry Man [Charles Marquis Warren] b&w; pfx: Ray Mercer

1954

Dial Red 0 [Daniel B. Ullman] b&w; 63m; pfx: Ray Mercer

1954

So You Want to Know Your Relatives [Richard Bare] b&w; short/10m; ep 63-part film series 'Joe McDoakes/Behind the Eight Ball'

1954

So You Don't Trust Your Wife [Richard Bare] b&w; short/10m; ep 63-part film series 'Joe McDoakes/Behind the Eight Ball'

1955

So You Want to Be a Gladiator [Richard Bare] b&w; short/10m; ep 63-part film series 'Joe McDoakes/Behind the Eight Ball'

1955

Invasion of the Body Snatchers [Don Siegel] sus/b&w; 80m & 76m (1979); shot in 19 days during March & April; prologue & epilogue filmed in September; see above

1955

So You Want to Be on a Jury [Richard Bare] b&w; short/10m; ep 63-part film series 'Joe McDoakes/Behind the Eight Ball'

1955

At Gunpoint/Gunpoint! [Alfred L. Werker] cs/c

1955

Bobby Ware Is Missing [Thomas Carr] b&w; 67m

1955

World Without End [Edward Bernds] cs/c

1955

So You Want a Model Railroad [Richard Bare] b&w; short/10m; ep 63-part film series 'Joe McDoakes/Behind the Eight Ball'

1955

Sudden Danger/Calculated Risk [Hubert Cornfield] b&w

1955

Friendly Persuasion [William Wyler] c; uncred 2uc: Ray Rennahan

1956

Canyon River/Cattle King [Harmon Jones] cs/c

1956

Hold Back the Night [Allan Dwan] b&w

1956

The Young Guns [Albert Band] b&w

1956

Last of the Bad Men [Paul Landres] cs/c

1956

The Buckskin Lady [Carl K. Hittleman] b&w; 66m

1956

Trooper Hook [Charles Marquis Warren] b&w

 

 

1957

Sayonara [Joshua Logan] tr/c; 2uc: H.F. Koenekamp

1957

The Light in the Forest [Herschel Daugherty] c

1957

Maracaibo [Cornel Wilde] vv/c

1957

The Buccaneer [Anthony Quinn] vv/c; fill-in ph (for 4 days when L. Griggs was ill); ph: Loyal Griggs

1959

Tall Story [Joshua Logan] b&w

1959

Wild River/The Woman and the Wild River [Elia Kazan] cs/c; uncred addph: Haskell Wexler

1960

High Time [Blake Edwards (replaced James B. Clark)] cs/c; prod halted from 7 March-18 April due to a Screen Actors' Guild strike

1960

Sanctuary [Tony Richardson] cs/b&w

1961

Escape from Zahrain [Ronald Neame] p/c; 2uc: Irmin Roberts; spec pfx: John P. Fulton; process ph: Farciot Edouart

1962

The Stripper/Woman of Summer [Franklin J. Schaffner] cs/b&w

 

[Right] with John Frankenheimer - "Seven Days in May"

 

1963

Seven Days in May [John Frankenheimer] b&w

1964

The Young Lovers [Samuel Goldwyn Jr.] b&w; cph: Joseph Biroc

1965

Joy in the Morning [Alex Segal] c

1965

The Last Challenge/The Pistolero of Red River [Richard Thorpe] p/c

1966

Picture Mommy Dead [Bert I. Gordon] c

1966

Mister Buddwing/Woman Without a Face [Delbert Mann] b&w

1966

The Pad and How to Use It [Brian G. Hutton] c

1967

The Power [Byron Haskin] p/c; spec vfx: J. McMillan Johnson & Gene Warren

1968

Rowan & Martin at the Movies [Jack Arnold] c; comm short/11m; for the United States Treasury Department

1968

Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? [Hy Averback] p/c; spec vfx: J. McMillan Johnson & Carroll L. Shepphird

1968

With Six You Get Eggroll/A Man in Mommy's Bed [Howard Morris] p/c; cph: Harry Stradling Jr.

 

 

1968

Charro! [Charles Marquis Warren] p/c

1969 

Eye of the Cat/Wylie [David Lowell Rich] c; cph: Russell Metty; tv-version includes outtakes and new scenes filmed in 1971

 

 TELEVISION

1952

Gruen Guild Playhouse/Chevron Theatre/Gruen Playhouse/Your Play Time/Family Theater (syndication) [ep #2-06 'Al Haddon's Lamp' dir by Richard Irving (RI), #2-08 'Counterplot' dir by RI, #2.09 'Bird of Prey' dir by Norman Lloyd (NL), #2-10 'For Life' dir by NL, #2-12 'The Corner Shop' dir by RI, #2-14 'Out of the Dark' dir by George Jenkins, #2-15 'The Leather Coat' dir by RI, #2-16 'Face Value' dir by Axel Gruenberg, #? 'One Thing Leads to Another' dir by NL, #? 'Mightier Than the Sword' dir by RI, #? 'An Affair at the Embassy' dir by Bob Finkel (BF), #? 'My Brothers Wife' dir by BF, #? 'The Westerner' dir by Robert G. Walker, #? 'Incredible Luck' dir by Leslie H. Martinson & #? 'The Cave' dir by RI] dramatic anthology series/b&w, 1951-52 (ABC Dramatic Shorts [1st season, 1951-52] & DuMont Television Network [2nd season, 1952]); 2nd season, 1952

1952

The Schaefer Century Theatre [ep #8 'A Mansion for Jimmy' dir by Richard Irving (RI), #9 'Playmates' dir by RI, #10 'Cafe Berlin' dir by RI, #12 'Portfolio 12' dir by RI & #14 'Juvenile Genius' dir by RI] 14-part dramatic anthology series/b&w, 1952 (syndicated only)

 

 

1952

Biff Baker, U.S.A. [ep #1 'Koblen' dir by Richard Irving (RI), #2 'Grey Market' dir by RI, #4 'Crash Landing' dir by RI, #6 'Mona Lisa' dir by RI, #7 'Counterfeit Plates' dir by RI, #8 'London Incident' dir by RI, #9 'Paris Perfume' dir by RI & #12 'Saigon Incident' dir by RI] 26-part adventure series/b&w, 1952-53 (CBS-tv); other ph: Clark Ramsey

1953

The RCA Victor Show/The Dennis Day Show [ep #20 'The Old Friend' dir by Rod Amateau] comedy-variety series/b&w, 1951-54 (NBC-tv; live & filmed [1953-54])

1953

[Revlon] Mirror Theater [ep #12 'Next Stop Bethlehem' dir by Richard Irving] 24-part dramatic anthology series (11 ep live on NBC-tv; 13 ep filmed on CBS-tv)

1953

City Detective [ep #1 'Trouble on a Train' dir by John English, #12 'Handcuffs' dir by Robert G. Walker & #27 'The Glass Thumb' dir by Robert S. Finkel] 64 (?)-part police series/b&w, 1953-55 (syndicated only); 1st season, 1953-54; other ph: Gilbert Warrenton, Joe Novak, a.o.

1953

The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse/(syndication titles) Famous Playhouse/Your Playtime/Action Tonight [ep #1 'When a Lovely Woman/When Lovely Women' dir by Robert G. Walker, #18 'Too Gloomy for Private Pushkin' dir by Richard Irving (RI), #25 'Open Season' dir by Rod Amateau, #42 'The Whistling Room' dir by Axel Gruenberg & #48 'Playmates' dir by RI (see also 1952 'The Schaefer Century Theatre' ep #9)] 92-part dramatic anthology series/b&w, 1953-55 (ABC-tv); 1st season, 1953-54

1954

Treasury Men in Action/Federal Men/T-Men in Action [ep #5-16 'The Case of the Iron Curtain' dir by Leigh Jason (LJ), #5-18 'The Case of the Fatal Error' dir by LJ & #5-20 'The Case of the Princely Pauper' dir by Will Jason] crime drama series/b&w, 1950-55 (ABC-tv [1950 & 1954-55] & NBC-tv [1951-54]); 5th season, 1954-55 (ABC-tv)

1954

The Millionaire/If You Had a Million [ep #3 'Joe Iris' dir by William A. Seiter & #7 'Harvey Blake' dir by Edward Bernds] 207-part dramatic anthology series/b&w, 1955-60 (CBS-tv); 1st season, 1955; other ph: Guy Roe & Joe Novak

1954

City Detective [ep #62 'Case of the Long Lost Wife' dir by Robert S. Finkel (RSF) & #63 '(Case of) the Beautiful Miss X' dir by RSF] 2nd season, 1954-55; see 1953

1955

General Electric Theater [ep #3-24 'The Blond Dog' dir by Cornel Wilde, #3-27 'Clown' dir by James Neilson & #3-32 'Into the Night' dir by Jacques Tourneur] 200-part dramatic anthology series/b&w, 1953-62 (CBS-tv); 3rd season, 1954-55

1956

Gunsmoke/Marshall Dillon/Gun Law [ep #26 'Hack Prine' dir by Charles Marquis Warren] 635-part western series/b&w-c, 1955-75 (CBS-tv); 1st season, 1955-56/b&w/30m

1956

Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre/Jane Wyman Theater/The Jane Wyman Show [ep 'The Little Black Lie' dir by Sidney Lanfield] dramatic anthology series/b&w, 1955-58 (NBC-tv); 2nd season, 1956-57; the 'Fireside Theatre' started in April 1949

 

 

1956

Alfred Hitchcock Presents [ep #54 'Crackpot' dir by John Meredyth Lucas] 268-part suspense anthology series/b&w, 1955-62 (CBS-tv [1955-60] & NBC-tv [1960-62]); 2nd season, 1956-57; ep were expanded to an hour in the fall of 1962 ('The Alfred Hitchcock Hour')

1956

Schlitz Playhouse of Stars/Schlitz Playhouse/Playhouse Drama/Star Playhouse/Hollywood Playhouse [ep #274 (6-14) 'The Lady Was a Flop' dir by Leslie H. Martinson] ?-part dramatic anthology series/b&w, 1951-59 (CBS-tv; during last season, 1958-59, alternated with 'Lux Playhouse'); 6th season, 1956-57

1957

Suspicion [ep #10 'Rainy Day' dir by James Neilson, #23 'The Eye of Truth' dir by Robert Stevens, #26 'The Bull Skinner' dir by Lewis Milestone & #29 'The Way Up to Heaven' dir by Herschel Daugherty] 41-part suspense anthology series/b&w, 1957-58 (NBC-tv; live & filmed)

1957

Alfred Hitchcock Presents [ep #89 'The Deadly' dir by Don Taylor] 3rd season, 1957-58; see 1956

1959

M Squad [ep #2-29 'The Fire Makers' dir by Don Medford & #2-30 'The Terror on Dark Street' dir by Sidney Lanfield] 117-part police series/b&w, 1957-60 (NBC-tv); 2nd season, 1958-59

1959

The Deputy [ep #1 'Badge for a Day' dir by Don Medford] 76-part western series/b&w, 1959-61 (NBC-tv); 1st season, 1959-60

1959

General Electric Theater [ep #8-04 'Night Club' dir by Mitchell Leisen] 8th season, 1959-60; see 1955

1961

Margie [pilot 'The Vamp' dir by Jack Sher] 26-part sitcom series/b&w, 1961-62 (ABC-tv)

1964

Duncan Be Careful! [Claudio Guzman] unaired pilot/30m; for ABC-tv

1965

A Man Called Shenandoah [ep #2 'Survival' dir by Boris Sagal] 34-part western series/b&w, 1965-66 (ABC-tv)

1965

Meet Me in St. Louis [Jeffrey Hayden] unsold pilot/30m; broadcast as ep of the comedy anthology series 'Summer Fun' (ABC-tv, 1966)

1966

The Dangerous Days of Kiowa Jones [Alex March] unsold pilot/85m; in theatres outside USA

1966

Return of the Gunfighter/Wyatt [James Neilson] tvm; in theatres outside USA

1966

The Scorpio Letters [Richard Thorpe] tvm; in theatres outside USA

1968

Peyton Place [ep #498-499 dir by Lee Philips] 514-part romantic drama series/b&w & c, 1964-69 (ABC-tv); 5th season/c, 1968-69

 

 MISCELLANEOUS

1931

I Like Your Nerve [William McGann] co-c.asst; ph: Ernest Haller

1931

My Sin [George Abbott] co-c.asst; ph: George Folsey

1931

Girls About Town [George Cukor] co-c.asst; ph: Ernest Haller

1931

The Woman from Monte Carlo [Michael Curtiz] co-c.asst; ph: Ernest Haller

1931

The Rich Are Always with Us [Alfred E. Green] c.asst; ph: Ernest Haller

1932

Street of Women [Archie Mayo] c.asst; ph: Ernest Haller

1932

Doctor X [Michael Curtiz] co-extra cam b&w version; b&w ph: Richard Towers; ph color version: Ray Rennahan

1933

International House [A. Edward Sutherland] co-c.asst; ph: Ernest Haller

1933

The House on 56th Street [Robert Florey] c.asst; ph: Ernest Haller

1934

Tarzan and His Mate [Cedric Gibbons &  (uncred) Jack Conway] co-c.op; ph: Charles G. Clarke & Clyde De Vinna

1934

Treasure Island [Victor Fleming] c.asst; ph: Clyde De Vinna, Ray June & Harold Rosson

1935

China Seas [Tay Garnett] co-c.asst; ph: Ray June

1940

20 Mule Team [Richard Thorpe] c.op; ph: Clyde De Vinna

1941

They Died with Their Boots On [Raoul Walsh] 2nd c.asst; ph: Bert Glennon

1942

Watch on the Rhine [Herman Shumlin & (uncred) Hal Mohr] 2nd cam; ph: Merritt Gerstad & Hal Mohr

1946

That Way with Women [Frederick De Cordova] c.op; ph: Ted McCord

1947

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre [John Huston] c.op; ph: Ted McCord

1947

Johnny Belinda [Jean Negulesco] c.op; ph: Ted McCord

1947

Key Largo [John Huston] c.op; ph: Karl Freund; filmed 1947-48

1948

June Bride [Bretaigne Windust] c.op; ph: Ted McCord

1948

Flamingo Road [Michael Curtiz] c.op; ph: Ted McCord

1949

The Lady Takes a Sailor [Michael Curtiz] c.op; ph: Ted McCord

1949

Chain Lightning [Stuart Heisler] c.op; ph: Ernest Haller

1949

Young Man with a Horn/Young Man of Music [Michael Curtiz] c.op; ph: Ted McCord

1949

The Damned Don't Cry [Vincent Sherman] c.op; ph: Ted McCord

1950

The Breaking Point [Michael Curtiz] c.op; ph: Ted McCord

1950

Rocky Mountain/Rocky Mountain Trail [William Keighley] c.op; ph: Ted McCord

1950

Jim Thorpe - All-American/Man of Bronze [Michael Curtiz] c.op; ph: Ernest Haller

1951

The Tanks Are Coming [Lewis Seiler & D. Ross Lederman] 2u c.op; 2uc: Warren Lynch; ph: Edwin DuPar

1951

Carson City [André De Toth] c.op; ph: John W. Boyle

1951

Retreat, Hell!/We Came Out Fighting/You Can't Stop the Marines [Joseph H. Lewis] c.op; ph: Warren Lynch