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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

R.I.P. Jack Cardiff

One of the best cinematographers in film history died today. Jack Cardiff was arguably the best color cinematographer of the 40's and 50's. His groundbreaking work in the days of early color photography is still breathtaking and unmatched. Cardiff started out as a actor during the Silent Era and then worked his way from Clapper Boy to Cinematographer. He was a Camera Operator on Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's The Life and Death Of Colonel Blimp(1943). They were so impressed by him that they hired him to photograph their next three films and his best work. Powell, Pressburger, and Cardiff all collaborated on Stairway To Heaven:A Matter Of Life And Death(1946), Black Narcissus(1947), and The Red Shoes(1948). These films are masterpieces all around and probably the best looking films of the decade. The Red Shoes is one of my favorite films of all time. Cardiff left England and went to America after The Red Shoes and worked on beautiful films like The African Queen(1951), The Magic Box(1952), The Barefoot Contessa(1954) and War and Peace(1956). In the late 50's he turned to directing with Sons and Lovers(1960) being his biggest success. He returned to Cinematography in the mid 70's and worked until 2007. Jack Cardiff won a Academy Award for Best Cinematographer in 1948 for Black Narcissus and was nominated 3 other times including one for Best Director. In 2001 Cardiff received a Honorary Oscar for his achievements, he was 94. Below is a film still from Black Narcissus.

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