GREAT CINEMATOGRAPHERS


#1: 2008

#2: With actress Julie Christie [1970]

 

   


GERRY FISHER

 

Born: 23 June 1926, London, UK, as Gerald Fisher.

Died: 2 December 2014, London, UK. [Gerry had suffered a fall and had been admitted to hospital in a semi-coma and the doctor's prognosis was not good. Gerry was unaware that his wife, Jean, had predeceased him 7 days earlier on November 26th. Both of them were living at Glebelands Care Home (Wokingham, Berkshire), the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund nursing home. (From the BSC website)]

Education: Technical College.

Career: Worked for Kodak and De Havilland Aircraft Co., then war service in the Royal Navy. Joined Alliance Riverside Studios as clapper boy in 1946. Became c.asst on doc's for Wessex Films. Worked for 6 years as focus puller for Shepperton Studios. Became c.op in 1957.

Ph commercials dir by Kevin Billington, a.o.

Was a member [later honorary member] of the BSC and the Guild of British Camera Technicians [GBCT]. His son Cary is a c.op & 2uc.

Awards: BSC Award nom [1971] & BAFTA Film Award nom [1972] for 'The Go-Between'; BSC Award nom [1976; shared] & BAFTA Film Award nom [1977; shared] for 'Aces High'; 'César' Award nom [1977] for 'Monsieur Klein'; BSC Lifetime Achievement Award [2008].

 

Jack Gold [left] presents Gerry Fisher with the "BSC Lifetime Achievement Award"

[Photo from the BSC website]



Gerry Fisher: 'It was during 'Casino Royale', which I was doing with Jack [Hildyard]. I got the offer from Joe Losey to read a script, which was 'Accident', and to let him know within three days if I thought I could photograph it. So I went back to the hotel and locked myself in my room. I was saddled with these enormous decisions, (a) whether I think I can do it, (b) whether I think I dare do it and (c) whether I dare tell them that I would have to leave 'Casino Royale' in order to do it. Anyway, I did do all those things, because I read the script, which was marvelous, and a strange thing happened, I began to read a script for the first time in terms of what I would do with it, of the way I visualized it. So it fell into place, it suggested itself to me in terms of images, of how I felt it should look, although I didn't know how I was going to achieve that look. But I discovered afterwards that it's not important to know how you're going to tackle something so long as you know what you want to do.

I'd done a picture with him [Losey] called 'Modesty Blaise' on which I was the operator, and there were things in it, images, ideas that I had contributed... so much so that recently I walked into a bar and I happened to glance at the picture on the television, and I recognized it instantly as one I'd framed myself. So it wasn't just straight forward operating. And evidently, arising out of that association, Joe Losey figured he saw something in me I didn't know I had. I mean, I wasn't saying to him, "Please let me photograph your next picture." Anyway, I did it, and finished it... probably most of the people in the business were astonished that I was actually able to do it, but nobody was more astonished than me, I can assure you.' [From interview with Bob Baker & Markku Salmi in 'Film Dope', #16, February 1979.]


Gerry Fisher, who has died aged 88, was a cinematographer who worked with some of the most renowned film directors of the second half of the 20th century, including Carol Reed, John Huston and Billy Wilder. However, he will be best remembered for his long collaboration with the cinematic auteur Joseph Losey, for whom he shot eight films, including 'Accident' and 'The Go-Between'.

In 1966 Fisher was working as the cameraman on the James Bond spoof 'Casino Royale' when Losey gave him Harold Pinter's screenplay for 'Accident'. He asked Fisher to tell him within three days if he thought he could step up to join his crew as director of photography.

A confirmed Francophile, Fisher also filmed Losey's French productions, including 'Monsieur Klein', an Alain Delon feature set in the murky art world of wartime Paris. "On the set we invented a secret code," recalled his cameraman, Richard Andry. "When he blinked his right eye, it meant: special development push one stop; the left eye: please bring me a cup of coffee; and both eyes: a glass of champagne."

During the Fifties and Sixties Fisher learnt his trade alongside some of the finest cinematographers of the 20th century, including Christopher Challis, Freddie Francis and Douglas Slocombe.

His big break came in the mid-Sixties when, as he put it, "Joe Losey figured he saw something in me I didn't know I had."

The moody palette of 'Accident' was in stark contrast to his approach four years later on 'The Go-Between'. Shot in rural Norfolk during the summer of 1970, Fisher framed the forbidden romance between two star-crossed Edwardian lovers [played by Alan Bates and Julie Christie] in a series of sunny vistas. The film won the Palme d'Or at Cannes - and a BAFTA nomination for Fisher.

The French cinematographer Pierre-William Glenn maintained that Fisher was "quite simply brilliant when it came to interpreting the scenery, whether it was in a studio or a natural décor." Losey had him working in both, "sculpting" light and plotting complicated shots. "His electrical installations were diabolically accurate," recalled Glenn. "He imposed camera movements that were as precise as his lighting. I often had to manoeuvre around spotlights touching every edge of the frame during a sequence shot."

One colleague described Fisher as "almost a caricature of an Englishman." He dressed with elegance, sported a neat clipped ivory-white beard, demanded the best from his team and remained optimistic on even the most difficult shoots.

"He was confident of his talent," said Glenn, "tough against pain and very tenacious. 'We are not giving up,' he would often tell me."

He was made a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1997 and in 2008 received a lifetime achievement award from the British Society of Cinematographers.

He shot his last film, the French romantic drama 'Furia', in 1998 after which he retired to East Molesey on the banks of the Thames.

He married Jean Hawkins in 1951. His wife died a few days before him and the couple had a joint funeral. They are survived by their son, the cameraman Cary Fisher. [From the obituary in 'The Telegraph', 6 January 2015.]


 

 FILMS

1966

Accident [Joseph Losey] c

1966

The Mikado [Stuart Burge] scope/c

1967

Interlude [Kevin Billington] c

1967

Sebastian/Mr. Sebastian [David Greene] c

1968

Amsterdam Affair [Gerry O'Hara] c

1968

Secret Ceremony [Joseph Losey] c

1968

[Chekhov's] The Sea Gull [Sidney Lumet] c

1969

[Shakespeare's] Hamlet [Tony Richardson] c

1969

Ned Kelly [, Outlaw] [Tony Richardson] c

1969

All the Right Noises [Gerry O'Hara] c

196?

The Ski Bum/Point Zero [scheduled as doph with dir Anatole Litvak; film was dir by Bruce D. Clark and ph by Vilmos Zsigmond in 1969

1970

Macho Callahan [Bernard Kowalski] p/c

1970

The Go-Between [Joseph Losey] c

1971

Blind Terror/See No Evil [Richard Fleischer] c

1971

Man in the Wilderness [Richard Sarafian] p/c; 2uc: John Cabrera

1971

Malpertuis: Histoire d'une maison maudiste/Malpertuis: The Legend of Doom House [Harry Kümel] c

1972

The Man and the Snake [Sture Rydman] c; short/26m

1972

The Amazing Mr. Blunden [Lionel Jeffries] c

1972

The Offence/The Offense/Something Like the Truth [Sidney Lumet] c

1972

A Bequest to the Nation/The Nelson Affair [James Cellan Jones] p/c

1972

A Doll's House [Joseph Losey] c

1973

Butley [Harold Pinter] c

 

With dir Irvin Kershner [right] - "S*P*Y*S"

 

1973

S*P*Y*S [Irvin Kershner] c

1974

Juggernaut/Terror On the Britannic [Richard Lester] c; 2uc: Paul Wilson; aph: Peter Allwork

1974

Dogpound Shuffle/Spot [Jeffrey Bloom] c

1974

Brannigan/Joe Battle [Douglas Hickox] p/c

1975

The Romantic Englishwoman [Joseph Losey] c

1975

The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother [Gene Wilder] c

1975

Aces High [Jack Gold] c; aph: Peter Allwork

1976

Mr. Klein/Monsieur Klein [Joseph Losey] p/c

 

"Comme un boomerang..."

 

1976

Comme un boomerang.../Boomerang [José Giovanni] c; cred as tech adv; c.op Pierre-William Glenn was cred as doph

1976

The Last Remake of Beau Geste [Marty Feldman] c

1976

The Island of Dr. Moreau [Don Taylor] c; 2uc: Ronnie Taylor

1977

Fedora [Billy Wilder] c

1977

Les routes du sud/Roads to the South [Joseph Losey] c

1978

The Ninth Configuration/Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane [William Peter Blatty] p/c

1978

[Mozart's] Don Giovanni/Don Juan [Joseph Losey] p/c; cph: Angelo Filippini

1979

Wise Blood [John Huston] c

1979

Wolfen [Michael Wadleigh] p/c; ph New York: Fred Abeles; insert ph: Robert Bailin & Don Stern

1980

Rends-moi la clé! [Gérard Pirès] c

1980

Victory/Escape to Victory [John Huston] p/c; 2uc: Eric van Haren Noman

1981

Un matin rouge [Jean-Jacques Aublanc] c

1982

Lovesick [Marshall Brickman] c

1982

Better Late Than Never/Whose Little Girl Are You? [Bryan Forbes] c; addph; ph: Claude Lecomte

1982

Yellowbeard [Mel Damski] c

1983

Les mots pour le dire [José Pinheiro] c

1985

The Holcroft Covenant [John Frankenheimer] c; process ph: Charles Staffell

1985

Highlander [Russell Mulcahy] c; ph New York: Tony Mitchell; addph: Denis Crossan, Arthur Smith, a.o.; 2uc: John Harris; aph: Peter Warrilow

1986

Man on Fire/Absinthe [Elie Chouraqui] c

1986

Le dernier des templiers [Yvan Chiffre] scheduled to start shooting in August 1986; status unknown

1987

Orn [Frédéric de Foucaud (= Fred de Fooko)] in preparation is Fred de Fooko's full-length anim '(H)orn - la nuit du roi'; status unknown

1987

Running on Empty [Sidney Lumet] c

1988

Dead-Bang [John Frankenheimer] c

1988

Black Rainbow [Mike Hodges] c

1989

The Fourth War [John Frankenheimer] scope/c; 2uc: J. Barry Herron

1989

[William Peter Blatty's] The Exorcist III [: Legion] [William Peter Blatty] c; uncred 2uc: Peter Suschitzky; ph Los Angeles: Jacek Laskus

1990

Company Business [Nicholas Meyer] c; 2uc: John Ward; aph: Peter Allwork

1991

Diggstown/Midnight Sting [Michael Ritchie] c

1992

The Audiovisual Encyclopedia of Scientists: Einstein/They Changed the World: Einstein [Michael Ritchie] c; educational doc/52m

1993

Cops and Robbersons [Michael Ritchie] c

1995

When Saturday Comes [Maria Giese] c; cph: Grant Cameron

1996

K [Alexandre Arcady] c

1998

Furia [Alexandre Aja] c

 

 TELEVISION

1973

Catholics [: The Eye of the Storm] [: A Fable of the Future]/The Conflict [Jack Gold] tvm; ep 'ITV Saturday Night Theatre'

1976

Once Upon a Time Is Now... The Story of Princess Grace [Kevin Billington] doc/74m; addph; ph: Ousama Rawi; ep NBC-tv series 'The Big Event'

1983

Samson and Delilah [Lee Philips] tvm

1992

The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom [Michael Ritchie] tvm; 2uc: Paul Varrieur

1993

Dandelion Dead [Mike Hodges] 2-part tvm

 

 FILMS AS CAMERA ASSISTANT/OPERATOR

1947

They Made Me a Fugitive/I Became a Criminal [Alberto Cavalcanti] c.asst; ph: Otto Heller

1947

The Brass Monkey/Lucky Mascot [Thornton Freeland] focus puller; ph: Basil Emmott

1947

Daughter of Darkness [Lance Comfort] c.asst; ph: Stanley Pavey

1949

No Way Back [Stefan Osiecki] c.asst; ph: Robert Navarro

1949

Old Mother Riley's New Venture/A Wild Irish Night [John Harlow] focus puller; ph: James Wilson

1949

Miss Pilgrim's Progress [Val Guest] focus puller; ph: Bert Mason

1950

State Secret/The Great Manhunt [Sidney Gilliat] c.asst; ph: Robert Krasker

1950

The Wooden Horse [Jack Lee] focus puller; ph: C.M. Pennington-Richards

1950

Maria Chapdelaine/The Naked Heart [Marc Allégret] c.asst; ph: Armand Thirard

1950

The Changing Face of Europe/The Grand Design [seg #5 'Clearing the Lines' dir by Kay Mander; doc] focus puller; ph: Jonah Jones

1951

Mr. Denning Drives North [Anthony Kimmins] c.asst; ph: John Wilcox

1951

Lady Godiva Rides Again/Beauty Queen [Frank Launder] 2u c.asst; 2uc: Bill Allan; ph: Wilkie Cooper

1951

Outcast of the Islands [Carol Reed] c.asst studio scenes; ph: John Wilcox & Ted Scaife

1951

Home at Seven/Murder on Monday [Ralph Richardson] c.asst; ph: Jack Hildyard & Ted Scaife

1951

Cry, the Beloved Country/African Fury [Zoltan Korda] c.asst (studio scenes); ph: Robert Krasker

1952

The Tall Headlines/The Frightened Bride [Terence Young] c.asst; ph: C.M. Pennington-Richards

1952

Who Goes There!/The Passionate Sentry [Anthony Kimmins] c.asst; ph: John Wilcox & Ted Scaife

1952

The Holly and the Ivy [George More O'Ferrall] c.asst; ph: Ted Scaife

1952

The Ringer [Guy Hamilton] c.asst; ph: Ted Scaife

1952

Appointment in London [Philip Leacock] focus puller; ph: Stephen Dade

1953

The Intruder [Guy Hamilton] c.asst; ph: Ted Scaife

1953

The Captain's Paradise [Anthony Kimmins] focus puller; ph: Ted Scaife

1953

The Heart of the Matter [George More O'Ferrall] c.asst; ph: Jack Hildyard

1953

Beautiful Stranger/Twist of Fat/Lifeline [David Miller] c.asst; ph: Ted Scaife

1954

An Inspector Calls [Guy Hamilton] focus puller; ph: Ted Scaife

1954

The Constant Husband [Sidney Gilliat] focus puller; ph: Ted Scaife

1954

A Kid for Two Farthings [Carol Reed] focus puller; ph: Ted Scaife

1955

The Deep Blue Sea [Anatole Litvak] focus puller; ph: Jack Hildyard

1955

The March Hare [George More O'Ferrall] c.op (for 1 day); ph: Jack Hildyard

1955

My Teenage Daughter/Teenage Bad Girl [Herbert Wilcox] c.asst; ph: Max Greene

1956

Sailor Beware!/Panic in the Parlor [Gordon Parry] focus puller; ph: Douglas Slocombe

1956

Anastasia [Anatole Litvak] focus puller; ph: Jack Hildyard

1956

The Bridge on the River Kwai [David Lean] c.asst (+ c.op [last 6 weeks of shooting]); ph: Jack Hildyard; filmed 1956-57

1957

The Key [Carol Reed] c.asst; ph: Oswald Morris

1958

The Journey [Anatole Litvak] c.op; ph: Jack Hildyard

1958

The Devil's Disciple [Guy Hamilton (replaced Alexander Mackendrick after 2 weeks)] c.op; ph: Jack Hildyard

1959

Tarzan's Greatest Adventure [John Guillermin] c.op; ph: Ted Scaife

1959

Suddenly, Last Summer [Joseph Mankiewicz] c.op; ph: Jack Hildyard

1959

The Sundowners [Fred Zinnemann] co-c.op; ph: Jack Hildyard

1960

The Millionairess [Anthony Asquith] c.op; ph: Jack Hildyard

1960

Cleopatra [Rouben Mamoulian] c.op; ph: Jack Hildyard; abandoned; some footage used in final version (1963)

1961

What a Carve Up!/No Place Like Homicide! [Pat Jackson] c.op; ph: Monty Berman

1961

The Road to Hong Kong [Norman Panama] c.op; ph: Jack Hildyard

1962

Guns of Darkness [Anthony Asquith] c.op; ph: Robert Krasker

1962

Live Now - Pay Later [Jay Lewis] c.op; ph: Jack Hildyard

1962

55 Days at Peking [Nicholas Ray; Guy Green & Andrew Marton (uncred; finished film)] c.op; ph: Jack Hildyard

1963

The V.I.P.s/International Hotel [Anthony Asquith] c.op; ph: Jack Hildyard

1963

An Evening with the Royal Ballet [Anthony Havelock-Allan & Anthony Asquith] co-c.op; ph: Geoffrey Unsworth & Christopher Challis

1963

Night Must Fall [Karel Reisz] c.op; ph: Freddie Francis

1963

Circus World/The Magnificent Showman [Henry Hathaway] c.op; ph: Jack Hildyard

1964

Guns at Batasi [John Guillermin] c.op; ph: Douglas Slocombe

1964

The Yellow Rolls-Royce [Anthony Asquith] co-c.op; ph: Jack Hildyard

1965

Bunny Lake Is Missing [Otto Preminger] c.op; ph: Denys Coop

1965

Modesty Blaise [Joseph Losey] c.op; ph: Jack Hildyard

1966

Casino Royale [John Huston, Val Guest, Kenneth Hughes, Robert Parrish & Joseph McGrath] c.op on Huston, Parrish & McGrath seq; ph: Jack Hildyard