Transcript: Cinematography | Mar 31, 1988

A caption appears on screen. It reads “Stanley Cortez. Cinematographer. Magnificient Ambersons.”

Stanley sits comfortably on a sofa. He is in his late sixties, clean-shaven with receding combed hair. He’s wearing a light blue shirt and white trousers.

Stanley says A CINEMATOGRAPHER IS
A MAN WHO MUST HAVE
A GREAT VISUAL CONCEPT OF
WHAT FILMING IS ALL ABOUT;
SPECIFICALLY, HIS
FUNCTION IS TO PHOTOGRAPH.
AND IN ORDER TO PHOTOGRAPH,
HE MUST FIRST HAVE AN IDEA,
OR AN INTERPRETATION,
SHALL I SAY,
OF WHAT THE WRITER
IS WRITING.
THE SAME AS A COMPOSER
OF MUSIC WRITES MUSIC,
AND THE CONDUCTOR
TRANSLATES THAT
IN TERMS OF
ORGANIZED SOUNDS.
ORGANIZED SOUNDS
ARE THE KEY.
THE CINEMATOGRAPHER,
TO BE MORE SPECIFIC,
AND TO HAVE THE AUDIENCE
UNDERSTAND IT BETTER,
IS ONE WHO
CREATES A MOOD,
WHO CREATES A STYLE
PHOTOGRAPHICALLY,
AND WHO HAS TO
HAVE A KNOWLEDGE
OF WHAT THE SOCIETY OF
TODAY IS ALL ABOUT,
AS THE SOCIETY WAS 20
YEARS AGO, 50 YEARS AGO,
AND IN THE FUTURE.

Elwy sits in the studio. He’s in his fifties, mostly bald with some dark hair on the sides, and he has a moustache. He wears glasses, a pale yellow suit jacket, a white shirt and a brown plaid tie. He hosts the program sitting on a chair against a black background with a red film reel. The reel reads “Talking Film” several times, alternately in white and orange. Elwy holds some memory notes on his lap.

Elwy says
WELCOME TO
TALKING FILM.
ONE ELEMENT OF A MOTION
PICTURE THAT IS FREQUENTLY
DISCUSSED YET SELDOM STUDIED,
IS THE ART AND CRAFT
OF THE CINEMATOGRAPHER.
OUR PROGRAM ATTEMPTS TO
EXPLORE THE MEN WHO PHOTOGRAPH
MOTION PICTURES, THE
CINEMATOGRAPHERS.
WHILE OUR CONCERN HERE IS
NOT SO MUCH FOR THE PURELY
TECHNICAL SIDE OF THEIR
CRAFT, IT IS AN EXAMINATION
OF SOME OF THE PICTURES
THEY PHOTOGRAPHED, AS WELL AS
THEIR RELATIONSHIPS WITH
DIRECTORS AND ACTORS.
WE'VE SELECTED FOUR
EMINENT CINEMATOGRAPHERS.
LEE GARMES, WHOSE
CREDITS INCLUDE,
“MOROCCO” AND
“DETECTIVE STORY.”
STANLEY CORTEZ, WHO
PHOTOGRAPHED “THE MAGNIFICENT
AMBERSONS” AND “THE
NIGHT OF THE HUNTER.”
HASKELL WEXLER, WHO SHOT “ONE
FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST.”
AND WON AN OSCAR FOR “WHO'S
AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?”
AND ANOTHER FOR
“BOUND FOR GLORY.”
AND LAST BUT NOT
LEAST, VICTOR KEMPER,
WHOSE CREDITS INCLUDE,
“DOG DAY AFTERNOON,”
AS WELL AS ELIA KAZAN'S
PRODUCTION OF “THE LAST TYCOON.”
LEE GARMES AND STANLEY CORTEZ
DATE FROM THE '20s AND '30s,
WHILE HASKELL WEXLER
AND VICTOR KEMPER,
THEY'RE OF THE NEW BREED.
HERE THEN ARE FOUR
CINEMATOGRAPHERS
TALKING FILM.

Victor Kemper appears. He is in his late forties, and has grayish hair. He is wearing a pale pink polo shirt with white collar and brown trousers. He is sitting opposite Elwy in film set.

Lee says IT'S INTERESTING.
A CINEMATOGRAPHER IS KIND OF
A FANCY NAME FOR A CAMERAMAN
WHO HAS THE ADDITIONAL
RESPONSIBILITY OVER AND ABOVE
WHAT YOU MIGHT DO IN
NEWSREEL OR COMMERCIALS
OF SPECIFICALLY HELPING THE
DIRECTOR SO HE CAN BE FREE
TO WORK WITH THE TALENT.
AND YOU TAKE THE
RESPONSIBILITY OF SETTING
THE SHOTS, SELECTING THE
EQUIPMENT, PICKING THE LENS,
CAMERA POSITION, THE MOVE.
AND DOING THE LIGHTING
FOR EVERY SETUP.

Elwy says BUT YOU SEE YOURSELF AS
AN AIDE TO HIM, DON'T YOU,
THE DIRECTOR?

Victor says ABSOLUTELY.

Elwy says YOU DON'T SEE YOURSELF
APART FROM THE DIRECTOR?

The caption changes to “Victor Kemper. Cinematographer. Dog Day Afternoon.”

Victor says OH, NO.
YOU COULD FUNCTION APART FROM
THE DIRECTOR, BUT AFTER ALL,
IN FEATURE FILMS AT LEAST,
THE PICTURE IS THE DIRECTOR,
AND THE DIRECTOR
IS THE PICTURE.
I LIKE TO CONCEIVE
IT THAT WAY.
SOME PEOPLE FEEL
THAT IT'S NOT.
BUT WHEN IT IS
FINALLY ON THE SCREEN,
AND THE DIRECTOR GETS
THE CREDIT FOR IT,
THE OVERALL CONCEPTS,
AS THEY ARE EXECUTED,
ARE HIS RESPONSIBILITY.
EVEN THOUGH SOMEONE
ELSE, THE WRITER,
HAD PUT THEM DOWN FIRST,
THE VISUAL ASPECT OF IT,
THE WAY THE ACTORS
BEHAVE IN IT,
AND THE WAY IT LOOKS EVEN
THOUGH THE LOOK IS MINE
TO EXECUTE, IT IS THE
DIRECTOR'S RESPONSIBILITY
TO SUPERVISE AND SEE THAT IT
FITS THE OVERALL PATTERN.
IT IS NOT THE CAMERAMAN OR
THE CINEMATOGRAPHER'S JOB
TO OVERSEE THE
WHOLE FILM.
HE HAS NOTHING TO
DO WITH THE EDITING.

Elwy says THAT'S TRUE.

Victor continues HE'S CUT OFF
AT THE END.
WHEN SOMEONE SAYS, WELL,
THAT'S OUR LAST SHOT, WRAP,
AND WE ALL CONGRATULATE
EACH OTHER, THE CAMERAMAN
HAS LITTLE ELSE TO DO
WITH THAT PICTURE
EXCEPT HOPE
THAT IT'S GOOD.
AND IT'S A PART OF THE
FILMMAKING THAT UPSETS ME
BECAUSE I FEEL CUT
OFF AT THAT POINT.
YOU PUT IN MONTHS OF WORK AND
YOU HOPE THAT IT LOOKS GREAT.
AND YOU KNOW THAT CUTTING CAN
CHANGE YOUR POINT OF VIEW, AND
IT OFTEN DOES, AND YOU HAVE NO
CONTROL OVER IT WHATSOEVER.
SO IT IS THE DIRECTOR, IN THE
END, WHO HAS TOTAL CONTROL
OVER THE WAY THE FILM
LOOKS ON THE SCREEN.
EVEN THOUGH HE MAY NOT
HAVE TOTAL CONTROL
WHILE IT'S BEING SHOT.

Stanley says NO MATTER WHAT I DO, NO
MATTER WHAT ANY OF US
IN MY PARTICULAR CATEGORY
OR PROFESSION DO,
WE DO IN CONJUNCTION
WITH THE KNOWLEDGE
OF THE MOTION
PICTURE DIRECTOR.
THIS HAS TO BE A TEAM.
IF THERE IS NO TEAM,
WE'RE IN TROUBLE.
BUT ONCE WE DISCUSS
THIS WITH THE DIRECTOR,
WE'RE ON OUR OWN.
AND ANY CINEMATOGRAPHER WHO IS
WORTH HIS SALT, CAN GO OUT,
AND SHOULD GO OUT, AND TAKE
COMPLETE CHARGE IN ORDER
TO EXECUTE THAT WHICH WAS
PREVIOUSLY DISCUSSED IN TERMS OF
A CONVERSATION WITH THE
DIRECTOR AND THE PRODUCER.

The caption changes to “Joseph von Sternberg’s MOROCCO photographed by Lee Garmes A.S.C.”

Lee sits in a living room. He’s in his mid-sixties with receding white hair. He’s wearing a light suit jacket and a black shirt.

Lee says I GOT ALONG VERY WELL
WITH VON STERNBERG.
IN FACT, “MOROCCO” WAS OUR
FIRST PICTURE TOGETHER,
AND THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE
GARY COOPER'S FIRST
STARRING VEHICLE, AND
ALSO MARLENE DIETRICH'S
FIRST STARRING VEHICLE, AS
FAR AS AMERICA IS CONCERNED.
SHE HAD MADE ABOUT 30
PICTURES IN GERMANY BEFORE,
“BLUE ANGEL” WAS
ONE, OF COURSE,
THAT VON STERNBERG HAD
MADE WITH HER IN GERMANY.
BUT IF YOU EVER SEE THE PICTURE,
THE OPENING OF THE SCENES,
I HAD LIT HER
SIDELIGHT, HALFTONES.
HALF HER FACE LIGHT,
THE OTHER HALF DARK.
AND OF COURSE, IN THOSE DAYS,
WE USED TO SEE THE RUSHES
THE NEXT DAY AT NOON.
SO I HAD PHOTOGRAPHED
HER FOR A DAY AND A HALF.
I WENT IN TO SEE THE RUSHES,
AND I SAID TO MYSELF,
LEE GARMES, YOU'VE GOT TO
CHANGE YOUR LIGHTING BECAUSE
YOU'VE GOT ANOTHER GRETA
GARBO ON THE SCREEN,
AND WE CAN'T HAVE TWO GRETA
GARBOS BECAUSE BILL DANIELL
LIGHTS GRETA GARBO THAT
WAY, AND YOU CAN'T LIGHT
DIETRICH THAT WAY.
YOU'VE GOT TO GO BACK TO
YOUR OLD STYLE OF REMBRANDT
OR THE NORTH LIGHTS, SO
I DID FROM THAT TIME ON.
HE WAS VERY
PHOTOGRAPHIC MINDED.
ALL OF HIS SETS THAT HE BUILT,
AND DESIGNED WITH THE ART
DIRECTOR, THEY WOULD BE VERY
INTERESTING PHOTOGRAPHICALLY.
AFTER ALL, HE WAS A
MOTION PICTURE FILMMAKER.
AND THERE ARE VERY
FEW THAT ARE THAT WAY.
HOWARD HAWKS WAS A MOTION
PICTURE FILMMAKER.
THEY REALIZED THIS WHAT WENT
THROUGH THAT CAMERA
HAD TO BE INTERESTING, NOT ONLY
LIGHT-WISE, PHOTOGRAPHIC-WISE,
BUT ALSO WITH TALK, THE
SCENES, WITH ACTORS,
AND SO FORTH.
AND THAT'S RIGHT.
THAT'S WHAT THE
MEDIUM IS.
WHEN YOU LOOK AT IT, OF ALL
THE ARTS THAT HAVE GONE ON
IN THE WORLD THROUGH
TIME, THE MOTION PICTURE
IS REALLY THE NEWEST FORM
OF REAL ART THAT WE HAVE.
AND WE ARE JUST COMMENCING
WITH IT, REALLY.
WE ARE JUST COMMENCING.

The caption changes to “Orson Welles’ MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS photographed by Stanley Cortez A.S.C.”

Stanley says WE WERE AT THE SAME
STUDIO WITH ORSON - BY WE,
I MEAN I WAS WITH DAVID
SELZNICK AT THE TIME.
AND I USED TO GO TO
NEW YORK FOR DAVID,
AND DO THESE VERY SECRETIVE
TESTS FOR HIM BACK THERE.
PRIOR TO MY LEAVING
FOR NEW YORK,
I HAD A CHAT WITH
JACK MOSS-

Elwy says HIS BUSINESS MANAGER,
WASN'T HE?

Stanley continues YES.
HE WAS THE BUSINESS MANAGER,
AS WELL AS A SORT OF CONFIDANT,
SHALL I SAY, OF ORSON.
AND I ASKED HIM, I SAID,
JACK, WHO IS ORSON
HAVING FOR HIS
CINEMATOGRAPHER?
HE SAID, WELL, WE ARE
GOING TO USE AN RKO MAN.
I SAID, GREAT, THEY HAVE
SOME VERY GOOD MEN THERE.
NOW, ALL THIS TIME I WOULD GO
AROUND THE VARIOUS STAGES
AND SEE THE SETS GOING UP FOR
“THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS.”
AND I'D SAY TO MYSELF, MY GOD,
I PITY THE POOR CHAP
THAT HAS TO
PHOTOGRAPH THIS.
NOW WE DISSOLVE.
I WENT BACK TO NEW
YORK AND LO AND BEHOLD,
I'M THERE FOR THREE OR FOUR
DAYS WITH GEORGE CUKOR
DOING SOME VERY EXTENSIVE
TESTS BACK THERE,
ONE OF WHICH WAS
MISTER GREGORY PECK.
AND A PHONE CALL COMES
FROM JACK MOSS THAT ORSON
WANTS ME TO DO
“MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS.”
COULD I LEAVE NEW
YORK IMMEDIATELY?
I SAID, I DON'T KNOW.
I MUST TALK WITH
MISTER SELZNICK FIRST.
WELL, TO MAKE A
LONG STORY SHORT,
I FINALLY TALKED
WITH DAVID.
AND OVER THE PHONE, WE
AGREED THAT I WOULD
GO BACK TO HOLLYWOOD,
WHICH I DID.
I LEFT NEW YORK
ON A SUNDAY NIGHT.
I ARRIVED HERE ON
A MONDAY EVENING.
WENT RIGHT INTO
THE STUDIO.
AND I MET ORSON WELLES FOR THE
FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE
ON A MONDAY NIGHT, AND WE START
SHOOTING TUESDAY MORNING.

Elwy says IT'S IMPOSSIBLE!

Stanley says TUESDAY MORNING.

Elwy says THAT'S AMAZING, AMAZING.

Stanley continues AND THE FIRST SEQUENCE WAS
WHAT YOU MENTIONED BEFORE,
ELWY, WHICH IS THE
LONG TABLE-

Elwy says IN WHICH COTTON DISCOURSES
ON THE AUTOMOBILE
IMPACT IN AMERICA.

Stanley continues THAT WAS THE
OPENING SEQUENCE.

Elwy says ONE OF THE GREAT
SCENES OF THE PICTURE.

Stanley says RIGHT.
AND I DON'T MIND TELLING
YOU, I WAS A BIT ON EDGE.
I DIDN'T KNOW
ORSON TOO WELL.
I'D NEVER MET HIM
BEFORE IN MY WHOLE LIFE.
ANYWAY, AS HAPPENS
ON A THING LIKE THAT,
I MADE A FEW CHANGES
THE NIGHT BEFORE,
THAT IS, LIGHTING CHANGES
AND THINGS LIKE THAT.
AND AS TIME WENT ON,
THE NEXT MORNING
I WENT TO THE LABORATORY AND I
SAW THE FILM IN NEGATIVE FORM,
AND I KNEW THAT ORSON WOULD
LIKE WHAT I HAD TO SHOW HIM.
AND HE DID.
HE THREW HIS ARMS AROUND ME
AND WE BECAME LIKE THAT,
WHICH IS WHAT IT
SHOULD BE.

Stanley crosses his fingers.

The caption changes to “Milos Forman’s ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST photographed by Haskell Wexler A.S.C.”

Stanley and Haskell Wexler sit in a garden. Haskell is in his fifties, with a white beard and gray hair. He’s wearing a denim jacket, a black cap, a light shirt and matching trousers.

Stanley asks BIGGEST MEMORY FROM
THAT EXPERIENCE?

Haskell says GETTING FIRED.

Stanley says GETTING FIRED.
BY MILOS FORMAN.

Haskell laughs.

Stanley asks DID HE DO IT PERSONALLY?

Stanley says RELUCTANTLY, BUT
PERSONALLY.
HE SAID TO ME, HASKELL,
YOU KNOW - I WENT TO HIM.
IT WAS AFTER MIDNIGHT
IN THE FIRST PLACE,
I WAS JUST SORT
OF NOTIFIED.
THIS IS AFTER FIVE-AND-A-HALF
WEEKS OF WORK WHERE
EVERYTHING LOOKED TERRIFIC,
AND EVERYBODY WAS HAPPY,
AND I DON'T KNOW IF YOU ARE
INTERESTED IN THE DETAILS.

Stanley says YES, I AM.
FASCINATED BY THEM,
HASKELL.

Haskell says MICHAEL DOUGLAS
AND SAUL ZAENTZ,
WHO WERE VERY FRIENDLY TO ME
ALL THE TIME, AND I TO THEM,
BECAUSE I MEAN, I LIKED THEM -
CALLED ME AFTER A LONG DAY
SHOOTING, IT WAS ABOUT 9:00
AT NIGHT, AND SAID, WELL,
YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO, YOU
CAN'T FINISH THE PICTURE.
I THOUGHT THEY
WERE JOKING.
BECAUSE I HAD WORKED
ON EVERYTHING.
I WORKED ON THE SCRIPT.
I WORKED WITH
JACK NICHOLSON.
IT WAS PARTLY
MY PICTURE.

Elwy says YOU MUST HAVE BEEN
FLABBERGASTED.

Haskell continues I WAS, YEAH.
AND I WORKED VERY HARD.
SO I SAID, WELL,
WHY AM I FIRED?
WELL, THERE ARE CERTAIN
BASIC DISAGREEMENTS
BETWEEN YOU AND
THE DIRECTOR.
AND I SAID, WELL,
WHERE IS THE DIRECTOR?
I TALK TO HIM EVERY DAY,
AND I SIT THERE AND
SEE DAILIES FOR TWO-AND-A-HALF
HOURS EVERY NIGHT.
I MEAN, HOW CAN THAT BE?
SO THEY SAID, WELL,
THEY'RE SORRY,
BUT THAT'S THE
WAY IT IS.
SO I INSISTED TO
SEE MILOS.

Elwy says YES.

Haskell continues SO MICHAEL DOUGLAS
DROVE ME OUT.
I FOLLOWED HIM OUT TO THIS BIG
HOUSE THAT MILOS HAD RENTED.
AND IT'S ABOUT
MIDNIGHT BY THAT POINT.
AND I WENT IN
TO SEE MILOS.
AND I SAID, MILOS,
WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?
SO HE SAID,
WHAT CAN I SAY?
SO I SAID, WELL YOU CAN SAY
IT'S A LOT OF BULL, YOU KNOW?
I MEAN, WHAT IS THIS
I DISAGREE WITH YOU?
I'VE BEEN WORKING WITH YOU
ON THIS FILM, OBVIOUSLY,
WE'RE WORKING FOR
THE SAME THING.
HE SAYS, I DON'T KNOW.
HE SAYS, LOOK, WHEN
THIS IS ALL OVER,
WE CAN TALK ABOUT IT.
I SAID, MILOS, THEY ARE
TALKING ABOUT ME BEING FIRED.
I MEAN, DO WE HAVE
A DISAGREEMENT?
IF SO WHAT IS THE DISAGREEMENT
AND WE'LL DISCUSS IT.
SO HE WOULDN'T SAY.
HE DIDN'T SAY.
HE JUST SAID, HE
WAS VERY NICE.
HIS MANNER AND DEMEANOR
WAS FANTASTICALLY NICE.
AND HE JUST SAID, SOME DAY,
WHEN THIS IS ALL OVER,
WE'LL HAVE TO TALK.

Elwy says HE COULDN'T TELL
YOU DIRECTLY.

Haskell says NO.

Elwy says DID HE EVER HAVE THAT TALK
WITH YOU WHEN IT WAS ALL OVER?

Haskell says NEVER, NEVER.

Elwy says DID YOU EVER REALLY FIND
OUT WHAT THE PROBLEM WAS?

Haskell says NEVER.
THERE WAS ALWAYS SOMETHING
DIFFERENT IN SOME MAGAZINE
SAYING I WANTED TO MAKE
IT MORE OF A DOCUMENTARY,
OR THAT I LIT SO THE
ACTORS COULDN'T MOVE,
AND HE COULDN'T STAND THAT,
WHICH IS ALL NUTS.
THAT SET WAS GENERALLY LIT
WITH WINDOWS AND TOP LIGHTS
SO ACTORS COULD GO
ANYWHERE THEY WANTED.

Elwy says LIKE ALICE IN WONDERLAND,
THE STORY GETS CURIOUSER,
AND CURIOUSER, DOESN'T IT?

Haskell says YEAH.

Elwy says YEAH.

Haskell says I'M JOKING NOW AND SMILING,
BUT IT WAS VERY UPSETTING.
AND EVEN TALKING ABOUT IT
NOW, I STILL FEEL THAT UPSET.

Elwy says I CAN TELL.
I CAN TELL.

The caption changes to “William Wyler’s THE DETECTIVE STORY photographed by Lee Garmes A.S.C.”

Lee says WILLY WAS WONDERFUL.
I GOT A WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL
RAPPORT WITH WILLY WYLER.
I KNOW WHEN HE WAS PREPARING
TO DO “DETECTIVE STORY,”
I WAS MAKING A
FILM AT COLUMBIA.
SO I'D FINISHED MY
WORK AT COLUMBIA,
AND LOOK AT THE RUSHES, AND
COME OVER AND TALK WITH WILLY
TO PREPARE BECAUSE IT WAS
GOING TO START PRETTY QUICKLY.
AND I KNOW ONE TIME I WORKED
WITH WILLY AND I SAID,
TRY TO FIND A STAGE THAT
HAS NICE SMOOTH FLOORS.
AND I SAID, IF YOU FIND ANY
FLOORS THAT AREN'T SMOOTH,
HAVE THEM SAND THEM, AND
HAVE THEM FILL THEM UP
WITH PUTTY OR SOMETHING.
HE SAID WHY?
I SAID I'M GOING TO
USE THE CRAB DOLLY.
HE SAID, WHAT'S
THE CRAB DOLLY?
SO I EXPLAINED TO HIM
WHAT THE CRAB DOLLY WAS.
HE SAID, YOU MEAN I DON'T
HAVE TO LAY DOLLY TRACK?
I SAID, NO, NOT
AT ALL, WILLY.
SO ANYWAY, I FIXED MY
LIGHTS SO HE HAD
ALL THE ROOM
IN THE WORLD.
AND HE JUST THOUGHT
I WAS A GENIUS.
AND WE STARTED
SHOOTING, AND I SAID,
I WOULD LIKE TO SUGGEST TO
YOU THAT YOU REHEARSE
THE PICTURE FOR A
COUPLE OF WEEKS.
HE SAYS, OKAY,
I'LL DO THAT.
AND HE SAID, IN FACT, I'M
GOING TO DO EVEN BETTER.
I'M GOING TO HAVE...
THE LEADING MAN,
KIRK DOUGLAS,
GO DOWN TO PHOENIX AND PLAY
THE PART IN A STAGE PLAY
FOR TWO WEEKS,
WHICH HE DID.
SO HE GOT BONED
UP ON THE PART.
THEN, OF COURSE, MANY OF
OUR ACTORS THAT WERE IN IT
HAD BEEN IN THE
STAGE PLAY.
SO WHAT WE DID, WE
REHEARSED FOR TWO WEEKS,
AND THEN THE LAST
COUPLE OF DAYS,
WE BROUGHT A STILL CAMERAMAN
IN AND TOOK STILLS
OF EVERY SETUP, AND THEN WE
TOOK A PIECE OF THE SCRIPT
AND PUT THE PICTURE BELOW IT SO
THE TEXT WENT WITH THE PICTURE.
AND THAT HELPED US.
AND THEN, BY ME PRELIGHTING,
I WAS IN THREE SEQUENCES,
ONE LATE AFTERNOON,
ONE EVENING,
AND ONE AROUND MIDNIGHT.
AND I COULD HAVE THAT ALL
ARRANGED WITH SWITCHES
IN THE BACK OF THE SET,
AND A VERY GOOD GAFFER,
SO WE COULD SWITCH FROM
ONE TYPE OF LIGHTING
TO ANOTHER VERY SIMPLY.
SO I SAID, WILLY, IF YOU
REHEARSE THE PICTURE,
WE CAN DO IT
IN A HURRY.
HE WENT TO ME, THE
FIRST DAY HE SAID TO ME,
DO YOU THINK WE CAN MAKE
THIS PICTURE IN 36 DAYS?
I SAID, WILLY, DON'T ASK ME
THAT, ASK YOURSELF THAT.
I SAID, IF YOU GOT A GOOD
SCRIPT AND YOU'RE NOT GOING
TO KEEP CHANGING IT, I SAID
WE CAN MAKE THIS PICTURE
IN 20 DAYS IF YOU
WANT TO MAKE IT.

Elwy asks WHAT FINALLY HAPPENED?

Lee says WELL, WE FINALLY MADE
IT IN, WE HAD 36 DAYS,
WE MADE IT IN 30 DAYS.
SO WHEN THE PICTURE
WAS FINISHED-
OH, I MEANT TO SAY, THE
FIRST DAY SHOOTING, WE SHOT,
WE HAD TWO DAYS'
WORK, WE SHOT.
SO EACH DAY, WE HAD TWO
DAYS' WORK THAT WE SHOT.
SO THE END OF THE FIRST WEEK,
WE WERE SIX DAYS AT THAT TIME,
THE END OF THE FIRST
SIX DAYS, THE FIRST WEEK,
WE WERE SIX DAYS
AHEAD OF SCHEDULE.
SO HE SAID, WE'VE GONE FAR
ENOUGH, THAT'S ENOUGH.
SO ANYWAY, WE FINISHED
THE PICTURE IN 30 DAYS.
WELL, ABOUT THREE
OR FOUR DAYS LATER,
I WAS PASSING HIS OFFICE, AND
HE RAPPED ON THE WINDOW
FOR ME TO COME IN.
SO I CAME INTO HIS OFFICE.
AND HE SAID, LOOK AT
THESE SHEETS HERE.
I LOOK AT HIM.
AND HE SAID, WE
DIDN'T SAVE ANY MONEY
BY SHOOTING IT
IN 30 DAYS.
I SAID, HOW COME?
HE SAID, WELL THE ONLY MONEY
WE SAVED WAS ON THE CREW
FOR THE SIX MORE DAYS.
HE SAYS, YOU WERE ON A FLAT
FOR SO MUCH FOR THE PICTURE,
I WAS, AND HE SAID THE
SETS COST SO MUCH MONEY,
THE ACTORS ARE ALL
ON FOR SO MUCH.
HE SAID, WE ONLY SAVED A FEW
THOUSAND DOLLARS BY DOING IT.
HE SAID, WE COULD HAVE GONE
OVER A WEEK OR TWO WEEKS
AND IT WOULDN'T HAVE
COST ANY MONEY.

The caption changes to “Charles Laughton’s NOIGHT OF THE HUNTER photographed by Stanley Cortez A.S.C.”

Stanley says CHARLES WAS A GREAT STUDENT,
BY THE WAY, OF GRIFFITH.
DAVID W. GRIFFITH.
AND I BELIEVE THE INFLUENCE OF
GRIFFITH WAS VERY STRONG IN
THE THINKING OF CHARLES, AND
ALSO “THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER.”
I WOULD COME TO CHARLES'
HOUSE QUITE OFTEN TO EXPLAIN
TO CHARLES SOME OF THE
TECHNIQUES, THAT IS TO SAY,
CAMERA-WISE, SO HE WOULD GET
A BETTER IDEA OF LENSES AND
WHAT THEY COULD DO, AND
WHAT THEY COULD NOT DO,
SO I WOULD SORT OF BRIEF
HIM ON MANY THINGS.
BUT THE ODDITY ABOUT
THAT BRIEFING WAS,
INSTEAD OF ME BRIEFING
HIM, I BECAME THE STUDENT,
AND HE THE PROFESSOR.

Elwy says REALLY?

Stanley says YES.
A GREAT BRAIN, A GREAT
MAN, AND A GREAT ARTIST.
THERE IS ONE SEQUENCE IN THE
FILM THERE WHERE BOB MITCHUM -
A GREAT ARTIST, BY
THE WAY, AND WHO,
IN CHARLES' THOUGHTS WAS A
GREAT POET AS AN ARTIST,
AS AN ACTOR AND ARTIST -
THERE'S A SEQUENCE IN THERE
WHERE BOB IS ABOUT TO
MURDER SHELLEY WINTERS.
AND AS YOU KNOW, BOB PLAYS
THE PART OF A PHONY PRIEST,
WITH THE HIGH COLLAR, AND
THE LOVE AND HATE THING.
AND IN OVERPLAYING
THE CHARACTER,
IT WAS INTENTIONAL BECAUSE
OF THE PHONY PRIEST.
BUT IN THAT SEQUENCE THERE,
IN PREPARING THE SCENE,
THAT IS TO SAY LIGHTING-WISE
AND CAMERA-WISE,
AND TO REPEAT, CHARLES
AND I ENJOYED A VERY FINE
RELATIONSHIP, AS IT MUST
ALWAYS BE BETWEEN DIRECTOR
AND CINEMATOGRAPHER.
AND IN GOING THROUGH MY ORDEAL
OF TRYING TO CREATE SOMETHING
WITH LIGHT IN TERMS
OF CINEMATIC,
HE WOULD ASK ME,
HE SAID, CORTEZ,
IN HIS OWN WAY,
WHAT IN HELL ARE
YOU THINKING ABOUT?
AND I WOULD SAY, LAUGHTON,
NONE OF YOUR GOD DAMN BUSINESS.
OF COURSE IN A LOVING
AND RESPECTFUL WAY.
BUT HE INSISTED.
SO I EXPLAINED TO
HIM, I SAID, CHARLES,
TO BE QUITE FRANK WITH
YOU, I'M THINKING ABOUT
A CERTAIN PIECE OF MUSIC.
AND HE SAID, PRAY, MAY I
ASK WHAT THE MUSIC IS?
I SAID, JEAN SIBELIUS'
“VALSE TRISTE.”
AND HIS FACE TURNED WHITE.
HE SAID, MY GOD, HOW
RIGHT YOU ARE, STAN.
THIS WHOLE SEQUENCE
NEEDS A WALTZ TEMPO.
AND WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT,
HE SENT FOR THE COMPOSER,
WALTER SCHUMANN, WHO
CAME ON THE SET
TO SEE WHAT WE WERE DOING
VISUALLY, IN TERMS OF LIGHT,
SO HE COULD INTERPRET THAT
IN TERMS OF MUSICAL FORMS.

The caption changes to “Nunnally Johnson’s 3 FACES OF EVE photographed by Stanley Cortez. A.S.C.”

Stanley says ANOTHER INTERESTING PHASE
ABOUT “THREE FACES OF EVE.”
WHICH FEW PEOPLE KNOW
ABOUT, WHICH TIES INTO THE
RELATIONSHIP OF DIRECTOR
AND CINEMATOGRAPHER,
NUNNALLY JOHNSON WHO IS AND
WAS AND WILL ALWAYS BE
A GREAT WRITER AND
GREAT DIRECTOR,
WHEN I WAS FIRST
ASSIGNED TO THE PICTURE,
I WAS ASKED BY NUNNALLY TO
DEVISE A SCHEME OR SOME IDEA
OR SOME PHOTOGRAPHIC CONCEPT
OF THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
CHARACTER A, B AND C, WHICH WAS
THE INTEGRAL PART OF THE FILM,
AND A VERY IMPORTANT PART,
AS YOU CAN REMEMBER.
WELL, I WENT HOME WITH
THE SCRIPT, STUDIED IT,
AND I CAME BACK THE NEXT
DAY AND I SAID, NUNNALLY,
I THINK WE'RE ALL WRONG
IN THINKING IN TERMS
OF SOME MECHANICAL DEVICE
TO TRANSPOSE A, B, AND C,
THAT IS CHARACTERS
ONE, TWO, AND THREE.
HE SAID, WHAT DO YOU MEAN?
I SAID, NUNNALLY, I CAN GIVE
YOU ALL KINDS OF IDEAS,
TECHNICALLY SPEAKING,
AND PHOTOGRAPHICALLY,
BUT NONE COULD SURPASS
WHAT COULD AND MUST
COME FROM WITHIN THIS GIRL.
HE SAID, WHAT DO YOU MEAN?
AND I EXPLAIN.
I SAID, NO MATTER WHAT I DO,
MUST BE SUBSERVIENT TO HER.
IT MUST COME FROM
THE HEART.
HE SAID, BY GOD, YOU ARE
RIGHT, BUT HOW DO WE DO IT?
HE CAME ONE THE
ANSWER, NOT I.
IT WAS A SIMPLE
TRICK OF THE THEATRE.
I SHOULDN'T SAY TRICK, BUT
A METHOD, OR A TECHNIQUE.
IF YOU REMEMBER THE PICTURE,
SHE GOES FROM ONE CHARACTER
TO THE SECOND AND
TO THE THIRD.
AND BY THE MERE
PUTTING THE HAND
AS I AM DOING TO YOU RIGHT
NOW IN FRONT OF THE FACE
WHICH, IN ESSENCE, IS CURTAIN.
THE HAND GOES UP, AND WHEN THE
HAND GOES DOWN IS CHARACTER TWO.
AND THE AUDIENCE
ACCEPTED IT AS SUCH.
BUT WITH THAT CHANGE OF
CHARACTER BY WAY OF A SIMPLE
HAND, WHICH IS THE CURTAIN,
I HAD DEVISED A VERY SUBTLE
CHANGE OF LIGHT,
A CHANGE OF LIGHT,
WHICH SYMBOLIZED
CHARACTER A, B AND C.

The caption changes to “Sydney Lumet’s DOG DAY AFTERNOON photographed by Victor Kemper A.S.C.”

Victor says DOG DAY, FOR THE MOST PART, WAS
ALL PRACTICAL LOCATION PICTURE.
EVEN THOUGH THE BANK
WAS CONSTRUCTED,
IT WAS CONSTRUCTED ON A
PRACTICAL BROOKLYN STREET.
AND THEY TOOK A STREET
WHICH WAS CLOSED UP,
NOT TRAFFIC WISE, BUT THE STORE
FRONTS WERE ALL BOARDED UP.
THERE WERE SOME GYPSIES
LIVING IN THE BACK.
THE AREA WE SHOT WAS A VACANT
AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR GARAGE.
THE STREET WAS SO EMPTY THE
COMPANY THOUGHT IT WOULD BE
AN IDEAL SPOT TO LAY
OUT THE ROBBERY AREA.
SO WE BUILT THE BANK IN
THE AUTOMOTIVE GARAGE.
PUT THE GYPSIES
IN HOTEL ROOMS,
AND CONSTRUCTED THE VARIOUS
STORE FRONTS THAT WE NEEDED.
THE BARBERSHOP, WHICH
FIGURED HEAVILY.

Elwy says ACROSS THE STREET.

Victor continues AND THE PIZZA SHOP
AND THE FLORIST.
THOSE THINGS WE PUT
WHERE THEY WANTED THEM
SO WE HAD A SHOT FROM THE
BANK TO THE BARBERSHOP,
AND THE BARBERSHOP
TO THE BANK.
WHICH WAS, IN FACT, THE
WAY IT WAS IN REALITY.

Elwy asks IT WAS A VERY REALISTIC
STRUCTURE THEN.

Victor says SO IT THEN BECAME AN
ALL-LOCATION PICTURE.

The caption changes to “Working with Kazan.”

Elwy says HOW DID YOU WORK
WITH KAZAN?
YOUR RELATIONSHIP.
COULD YOU GIVE US SOME
INSIGHT INTO THAT?
I SUPPOSE IT MUST BE
DIFFERENT WITH EACH DIRECTOR,
OR IS IT LARGELY THE SAME?

Haskell says NO BECAUSE, I MEAN,
FOR WHAT I CHANGE,
AND THEN THE DIRECTORS
CHANGE AND THE TIMES CHANGE.

The caption changes to “Haskell Wexler. Cinematographer. America America.”

Haskell continues BUT THAT FILM, LOOKING BACK
ON IT, KAZAN WAS A VERY -
HE'S A VERY BRAVE MAN BECAUSE
I HAD ONLY DONE ONE FEATURE.
I WAS NOT AN
EXPERIENCED CAMERAMAN.
AND HE WAS MISTER KAZAN, WHO
WAS AN ESTABLISHED DIRECTOR,
AND ACTUALLY A
BRILLIANT MAN.

Elwy says YEAH, EXCELLENT.

Haskell says BUT THAT DIDN'T STOP ME
FROM BEING VERY AGGRESSIVE
AND FEISTY AND
OPINIONATED.
AND I THINK WE WENT
TO IT A FEW TIMES.
AND I THINK
LOOKING BACK ON IT,
THAT WAS VERY
PRESUMPTUOUS ON MY PART.

Victor says THE DEPTH OF THE
MAN IS SO GREAT
THAT EVERYONE FEELS
IT ON THE SET.

The caption changes to “Victor Kemper. Cinematographer. The Last Tycoon.”

Victor continues AND THE ACTORS
RESPOND TO IT.
AND HE DIRECTS QUIETLY.
TAKES THEM ASIDE.
THERE'S AN AUTOMATIC
DISCIPLINE ON THE SET
WHEN HE IS THERE.
EITHER BECAUSE OF WHO
HE IS, OR WHAT HE IS,
OR MAYBE THE WAY
HE TREATS PEOPLE.
HE TREATS EVERYONE
WITH RESPECT.
AND HE KNOWS
EVERYONE IN THE CREW,
WAY EARLY IN THE PICTURE.
HE KNOWS EVERYONE
BY FIRST NAMES.
AND IT GIVES YOU A
FEELING OF CAMARADERIE,
LIKE YOU'VE ALWAYS
BEEN TOGETHER.
AND I THINK HIS
PERSONALITY LEADS ITSELF
TO DISCIPLINE SOMEHOW.
AND THEN HIS KNOWLEDGE
JUST COMES OUT,
IN THE WAY HE DIRECTS.
IT'S JUST EASY TO WORK
WITH HIM BECAUSE
HE ALMOST ALWAYS HAS AN
IDEA THAT WORKS FIRST TIME.
IT SEEMS EASY FOR HIM TO
CONVEY THAT TO THE ACTORS.
AND ALL I HAVE TO
DO IS PAY ATTENTION,
AND IT WORKS FOR ME, TOO.

The caption changes to “Working with Rafelson and Cassavettes.”

Victor says I THINK BOB
RAFELSON HAS A PLAN,
A PRECONCEIVED PLAN
THAT HE STICKS TO.
AND THAT'S NOT TO SAY
HE'S NOT FLEXIBLE,
THAT IS SOMETHING INTERESTING
HAPPENS ON A LOCATION
THAT WOULD BENEFIT THE FILM
THAT HE WOULDN'T USE IT.
BUT HE TENDED TO PLAN A LITTLE
MORE AND STICK TO HIS PLAN
WHEREAS CASSAVETTES
ALMOST ALWAYS IMPROVISES.

Elwy says THAT CAN BE
COSTLY, OF COURSE.
IT'S A MORE EXPENSIVE PICTURE,
ISN'T IT, WHEN YOU IMPROVISE.

Victor says IF YOU DO IT ALL
THE TIME, IT IS.
BUT THEN AGAIN, YOU ALSO GET
THINGS THAT YOU DON'T ALWAYS
GET IF YOU STICK
RIGHT TO THE BOOK.

The caption changes to “Shooting Stars.”

Victor says SOME OF THE BIGGEST, AND I
INCLUDE ROBERT MITCHUM AND
GEORGE SCOTT
AMONG THE BIGGEST,
THEY REALLY DON'T SEEM TO
CARE ABOUT - THEY DON'T,
DO THE THING WITH THE LIGHTS,
AND THEY ARE NOT ALWAYS
NOTICING WHERE THE CAMERA
IS UNLESS IT AFFECTS
A SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE.
THEY HAVE THAT ABILITY TO COME
ON THE SET AND DO WHAT WAS
REHEARSED AND ASKED OF
THEM, AND DO IT WELL,
AND NEVER SEEM CONSCIOUS
OF WHAT'S AROUND THEM.
AND THEN THERE ARE THE
OTHERS WHO ARE SO PARANOID
ABOUT THE WAY THEY LOOK,
THAT THEY ARE ALWAYS WORRIED
ABOUT WHERE THEIR KEY LIGHT IS,
OR HOW HIGH IS THE CAMERA
BECAUSE I'VE GOT THIS
THING UNDER MY CHIN.
AND I CAN UNDERSTAND IT
BECAUSE THEY GET UPSET IF THEY
SEE THEMSELVES ON THE
SCREEN AND THEY LOOK
LIKE OTHER THAN THEY
THINK THEY SHOULD.
THEY GET VERY UPSET.
AND THEY CAN'T PERFORM
THE FOLLOWING DAY.
MAYBE THAT'S WHY A LOT OF
DIRECTORS DON'T ALLOW
THE TALENT TO COME TO DAILIES,
SO THEY WON'T WORRY ABOUT
WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE.
AND IN THOSE DAYS, MUCH
MORE ATTENTION WAS PAID
TO FEMALE STARS THAN
IS PAID TODAY.
AND BY THAT, I DON'T MEAN
WE SLOUGH OFF THE STAR
AND DON'T TRY TO MAKE HER LOOK
HER BEST BECAUSE AFTER ALL,
THAT'S JUST AS IMPORTANT
A PART OF THE MOVIE
AS ANYTHING ELSE, BUT I THINK
THEY OVERDID IT IN THOSE DAYS.
I THINK THERE WAS A REAL
AURA ABOUT THE STAR
THAT JUST ABSORBED A CAMERAMAN
AS WELL AS THE FANS.
AND HE WOULD GO TO
EXTRA TROUBLE AND TIME.
SPEND HOURS, SOMETIMES,
JUST LIGHTING ONE CLOSE-UP.
AND TODAY, IF WE SPEND 15
MINUTES ON A CLOSE-UP,
EVERYBODY'S BREATHING
DOWN YOUR NECK.
WHAT'S TAKING SO LONG?

The caption changes to “Summing Up.”

Lee says I THINK TO ME, IF THE
YOUNG PICTURE MAKER
WILL ONLY BE HONEST.
BE HONEST IN WHAT HE WRITES, BE
HONEST IN WHAT HE PHOTOGRAPHS,
LIGHTING-WISE,
DIRECTORIAL-WISE, AND SO FORTH,
HE SHOULD BECOME A VERY
SUCCESSFUL PICTURE MAKER.

Stanley says PEOPLE THAT I HAVE KNOWN, AND
THAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM,
AND THAT I'VE BEEN
ASSOCIATED WITH.
I CAN MENTION NAMES TO YOU
NOW, LIKE MISTER LEE GARMES,
MISTER GREGG TOLAND, MISTER GEORGE
BARNES, KARL STRUSS,
HAROLD MOORE, OLIVER
MARSH MANY YEARS AGO,
TONY GAUDIO.
THESE ARE GREAT
CINEMATOGRAPHERS.
OH, YES, I MUSTN'T
FORGET ONE OTHER PERSON,
WHOM I'M SURE
THAT YOU KNOW OF,
A MAN WHO HAS DONE SO MUCH
FOR SO MANY, FOR SO LONG,
AND HE WORKED WITH
GRIFFITH MANY YEARS AGO,
NAMED BILLY BITZER.

Elwy says OH YES.

Stanley continues THE SO-CALLED FATHER
OF CINEMATOGRAPHY.
AND I DON'T THINK, AND THIS
APPLIES NOT ONLY TO HIM,
BUT I THINK IT APPLIES TO THE
DIRECTOR AND TO THE STAR,
WE'LL SAY OF 30
OR 40 YEARS AGO,
WHEN WHAT THEY WERE DOING
THEY DID NOT REALIZE,
NOR WERE THEY AWARE, THAT
THAT WHICH THEY WERE DOING
WOULD BECOME TODAY
A WORK OF ART.

Watch: Cinematography