In 2001 Jack Cardiff (1914-2009) became the first director of photography in the history of the Academy Awards to win an Honorary Oscar. But the first time he clasped the famous statuette in his hand was a half-century earlier when his Technicolor camerawork was awarded for Powell and Pressburger’s Black Narcissus. Beyond John Huston’s The African Queen and King Vidor’s War and Peace, the films of the British-Hungarian creative duo (The Red Shoes and A Matter of Life and Death too) guaranteed immortality for the renowned cameraman whose career spanned seventy years.
In this fascinating documentary, Jack Cardiff describes his superb career as one of the ultimate Technicolor cinematographers of the twentieth century, who worked on 86 films. Beginning work in 1918, he continued up until 2007, dying in 2009. Telling fascinating stories of the film production, films, directors, and actors that he worked with, Jack shows a keen sense of humor. Martin Scorsese also offers commentary throughout.Below is only a partial list of only a few of his important films discussed in the film:
- West Approaches (1945) - the first documentary in Technicolor
- A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
- Black Narcissus (1947) - a magnificently lighted and filmed studio work, which appears to be location work but actually isn’t
- The Red Shoes (1948) - A film I saw about 1950 and blew me away with its innovative storytelling and knock-out color. It tells in truly glorious Technicolor of the world of an obsessed dancer/artist. I can still see the scenes through my seven-year old eyes.
- Under Capricorn (1949) – A special crane was created so that Hitchcock could construct one shot moving camera scenes where walls were moved out and then back.
- The African Queen (1951)
- The Barefoot Contessa (1954) - with Ava Gardner at her most beautiful
- War and Peace (1956)
- The Vikings (1958)
- Prince and the Showgirl (1957) – with Marilyn
- Rambo: First Blood, Part II (1985)As a portrait photographer, Cardiff captured fascinating images of his female stars: Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Anita Eckberg, Janet Leigh, Marilyn Monroe. We also get a chance to see several of his home movies of film production and stars. It is a fascinating view of behind the camera. The documentary is well told, and Cardiff becomes a man I would like to have known and whose work I greatly admire.
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