GREAT CINEMATOGRAPHERS


#1: 2004

#2: © Photo by Thys Ockersen

 

   


FREDDIE FRANCIS

 

Born: 22 December 1917, Islington, London, England, as Frederick William Francis.

Died: 17 March 2007, Isleworth, Middlesex, UK.

Education: North Western Polytechnic, Kentish Town [Engineering].

Career: At school, a piece he wrote about films of the future won him a scholarship to the North Western Polytechnic. After studying engineering [which he had hoped would be romantic but turned out to be a qualification to serve in an ironmonger's shop], he began his film career in 1934 as an apprentice to feature stills photographer Louis Prothero [at Shepherds Bush Studios], for whom he set up lighting and carried 10" x 8" cameras. Joined Gaumont-British as clapper-loader in 1936, then at British and Dominion Studios, Elstree, and Pinewood Studios as c.asst. During WWII he worked with the Army Kinematograph Service at Wembley, where he worked on many training films. After the war he became c.op with London Films.

Also active as director of feature films, tv and commercials [e.g. for Moulinex (1979)].

Was member [later honorary member] and president [1998-2000] of the BSC.

His son Kevin is a film producer.

Appeared in the doc's 'The Vampire Interviews' [1994, Ted Newsom], 'Flesh and Blood: The Hammer Heritage of Horror' [1994, Ted Newsom], '100 Years of Horror: Maniacs' [1996], '100 Years of Horror: The Count and Company' [1996], '100 Years of Horror: The Frankenstein Family' [1996] & 'Behind the Camera' [1999, Richard Blanshard; for BBC-tv].

Awards: BSC Award [1960] & 'Oscar' AA [1960; b&w] for 'Sons and Lovers'; BSC Award [1980] & BAFTA Film Award nom [1981] for 'The Elephant Man'; BSC Award [1981] & BAFTA Film Award nom [1982] for 'The French Lieutenant's Woman'; 'Oscar' AA [1990], BSC Award [1990] & BAFTA Film Award nom [1991] for 'Glory'; BAFTA Film Award nom [1993] for 'Cape Fear'; BSC Lifetime Achievement Award [1997]; ASC International Award [1998]; NYFCC Award [1999] & Camerimage 'Golden Frog' nom [1999] for 'The Straight Story'; 'Manaki Brothers' Film Camera Festival, Bitola, 'Golden Camera 300 for Lifetime Achievement' [2000]; Evening Standard British Film Awards 'Special Award for Lifetime Achievement' [2000]; Camerimage Lifetime Achievement Award [2002].



GO TO FILMS
GO TO FILMS & TV AS DIRECTOR

Freddie Francis: 'I got a lot of fun out of being a cameraman, but obviously directing is more interesting. One thing wrong with being a cameraman in Britain is that from the financial point of view you have to keep working all the time and you often have to work with people whose work, frankly, doesn't excite you. When I got the opportunity to direct I decided to try it and if I wasn't excited with what I did, well, that would be my own problem and no one else's. But basically I love making films. If someone asked me now to photograph a film I still would.' [From 'The Horror People' by John Brosnan, 1976.]

 

#1: "The Skull" [1965]

 

Obituary: The American film critic Pauline Kael wrote: "I don't know where this cinematographer Freddie Francis sprang from. You may recall that in the last year just about every time a British movie is something to look at, it turns out to be his." That was when British cinema was once again bursting upon an unsuspecting world and Francis was photographing, in black and white, such films as Joseph Losey's 'Time Without Pity', Jack Clayton's 'Room at the Top' and 'The Innocents', Jack Cardiff's 'Sons and Lovers' and Karel Reisz's 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning'.

Francis became director of photography with 'A Hill in Korea/Hell in Korea'. After 'The Innocents', he turned to direction, partly because he wanted to direct and partly because, as he said, as a cinematographer if one wasn't constantly working one didn't earn enough, and he didn't want to have to work with directors for whom he didn't have any regard. Aside from photographing Karel Reisz's 'Night Must Fall', he did not return to cinematography until 1979.

He directed 'Two and Two Make Six', an innocuous little comedy, ("I decided to do a film with a script I didn't much like. Stupidly, I thought that I could make a good movie anyway. But, of course, you can't.").

In 1962 he directed the Hammer horror film, 'Paranoiac', whose success brought him more projects from Hammer Studios, and later Amicus, which he took to acquire a reputation as a director. Unfortunately, he became typecast as a horror director, a genre for which he said he had no particular affinity and, indeed, never watched horror films. His technique was probably the equal of the great horror director, Terence Fisher, who was working at Hammer at the same time, and he has his fans, but it is generally considered that his output was inconsistent, ranging from the very good to the execrable.

Much of his success he attributed to the fact that "these films are 99% visual... most of the films that I do, these so-called psychological thrillers, depend on the ability to tell one's stories with the camera." (He considered 'The Skull' was one of his best films visually.) But there were some pretty disastrous productions and he returned full time to his first love, cinematography, when he shot, in stunning black and white, David Lynch's 'The Elephant Man'.

His achievements as a director, variable as they were, did not go unnoticed by his peers: Martin Scorsese is quoted as saying that he wanted him to photograph 'Cape Fear' because: "The main thing was Freddie's understanding of the concept of the gothic atmosphere... He understands the obligatory scene of a young maiden with a candle walking down a long hall towards a door. 'Don't go in that door!' you yell, and she goes in! Every time she goes in! So I say to him 'This has to look like The Hall', and he understands that." Francis's desire to shoot the film arose out of his memory of the atmosphere of the original 1962 version. "Anybody can photograph a film - you can just put lights on and make an exposure. I want the challenge of creating an atmosphere and the right frame for the director."

As a photographer, Francis always considered himself to have had three mentors - the great cameraman, Freddie Young, who he considered to not only have influenced him but the entire British industry, John Huston and Michael Powell. Francis's career involved a relatively high degree of filming in black and white and, to some extent, his reputation was founded on it. He later remarked that he really didn't know anything about color: "I still photograph things in black and white, but the fact that it's color stock means they come out in color. I know that sounds rather facetious ... but I prefer to think in terms of light and shade than in color."

He always saw his role as cameraman as of being of service to a director: in his young days, he said, he heard too many cameramen tell directors that they couldn't produce the effect they wanted: Francis always produced whatever was required, only warning the director that it might take a little longer.

Francis rarely discussed the look of films with directors, since he tried to work with colleagues who were on the same wavelength anyway, and as he pointed out, he would read a script and it would already be photographed in his mind.

In later years, he felt that the lenses became too sharp - "all the magic is gone today" - and hated special effects ("I only did 'Dune' because it was David"). When asked, in a Guardian interview in 1995, how he learnt his craft he replied "By doing it": in his case, "doing it" produced some of the finest examples of the cinematographer's art, for which many directors must be forever grateful. [From obituary written by Sheila Whitaker on the Guardian Unlimited website, March 20, 2007.]


 

 FILMS

1955

Moby Dick [John Huston] c; 2uc/2ud (live whaling) + sfx ph (models) (+ co-c.op); ph: Oswald Morris

1956

Dry Rot [Maurice Elvey] b&w; 2uc; ph: Arthur Grant

1956

A Hill in Korea/Hell in Korea [Julian Amyes] b&w

1956

Time Without Pity [Joseph Losey] b&w

1957

The Scamp/Strange Affection [Wolf Rilla] b&w

1958

Next to No Time! [Henry Cornelius] c

1958

Virgin Island/Our Virgin Island [Pat Jackson] c

1958

Room at the Top [Jack Clayton] b&w

1959

The Rough and the Smooth/Portrait of a Sinner [Robert Siodmak] started the prod, but was replaced by Otto Heller

 

 

1959

The Battle of the Sexes [Charles Crichton] b&w

1960

Sons and Lovers [Jack Cardiff] cs/b&w; 2uc: Nigel Cedric Huke

1960

Never Take Sweets from a Stranger/Never Take Candy From a Stranger [Cyril Frankel] Hammerscope/b&w

1960

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning [Karel Reisz] b&w

1961

The Innocents [Jack Clayton] cs/b&w

1963

Of Human Bondage [Kenneth Hughes, Henry Hathaway (started film, but was replaced) & Bryan Forbes (fill-in for 1 week)] b&w; co-addph; ph: Oswald Morris

1964

Night Must Fall [Karel Reisz] b&w

1977

Short Circuit [Andrzej Jasiewicz] c; short/6m

 

"The Elephant Man"

 

1979

The Elephant Man [David Lynch] p/b&w

1980

The French Lieutenant's Woman [Karel Reisz] c

1982

The Jigsaw Man [Terence Young] c; addph: James Devis

1982

Memed My Hawk/The Lion and the Hawk [Peter Ustinov] c

 

Exec prod Dino De Laurentiis [left], prod Raffaella De Laurentiis, David Lynch & FF - "Dune"

 

1983

Dune [David Lynch] tao35 (+ 70bu)/c; 137m & 190m; 2uc: James Devis & Frederick Elmes

1984

Return to Oz [Walter Murch] c; uncred cph; ph: David Watkin

1985

Code Name: Emerald/Deep Cover [Jonathan Sanger] c

1986

Brenda Starr [Robert Ellis Miller] c; cph: Peter Stein

1987

Dark Tower [Freddie Francis (as Ken Barnett) & Ken Wiederhorn] c

1988

Clara's Heart [Robert Mulligan] c

1988

Her Alibi [Bruce Beresford] c

1989

Glory [Edward Zwick] 35mm (+ 70bu)/c; 2uc: David Wagreich

1990

The Man in the Moon [Robert Mulligan] c; 2uc: Peter Norman

 

[Left] with dir Martin Scorsese - "Cape Fear"

 

1990

Cape Fear [Martin Scorsese] p/c; uncred addph: Geoffrey Erb; uwph: Pete Romano; vfx ph: Paul Wilson; remake of film (1961, J. Lee Thompson; ph: Sam Leavitt)

1991

School Ties [Robert Mandel] c

1993

Calliope [Alun Harris] c; short/15m; superv lighting cons; ph: Alvin Leong; prod Royal College of Art

1993

Princess Caraboo [Michael Austin] c; 2uc: Kelvin Pike & Eddie Collins

 

[Right] with dir Bob Hoskins - "Rainbow"

 

1994

Rainbow [Bob Hoskins] HD (Sony HDC-500)-to-35mm/b&w-c

1998

The Straight Story [David Lynch] p/c; aph: David L. Butler & David B. Nowell

2000

Ghosthunter [Simon Corris] c; short/20m; ph cons; ph: Gavin Struthers

 

 TELEVISION

1961

The Horsemasters [William Fairchild] 2-part ('Follow Your Heart' & 'Tally Ho') tvm; addph: Ray Sturgess; ep of 'Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color'

1982

The Executioner's Song [Lawrence Schiller] 2-part tvm/240m; 2uc: Reed Smoot; also released theatrically (97m)

1989

Peter Cushing: A One-Way Ticket to Hollywood [prod: Kevin Francis, a.o.] doc/b&w-c/90m

1990

The Plot to Kill Hitler [Lawrence Schiller] tvm

1993

A Life in the Theater [Gregory Mosher] tvm

 

 MISCELLANEOUS

1936

The Marriage of Corbal/Prisoner of Corbal [Karl Grune] clapper-loader; ph: Otto Kanturek

1937

Cotton Queen/Crying Out Loud [Bernard Vorhaus] c.asst; ph: Eric Cross

1939

The Stars Look Down [Carol Reed] c.asst; ph: Ernest Palmer

1945

Read All About It [Roy Baker; short] stills asst; ph: John Wilcox & Peter Newbrook; prod Army Kinematograph Service

1946

The Macomber Affair/The Great White Hunter [Zoltan Korda] c.asst 2u (Africa); ph: Karl Struss

1947

Night Beat [Harold Huth] c.op; ph: Václav Vich

1947

Mine Own Executioner [Anthony Kimmins] c.op; ph: Wilkie Cooper

1948

The Small Back Room/Hour of Glory [Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger] c.op; ph: Christopher Challis

1949

Golden Salamander [Ronald Neame] co-c.op; ph: Oswald Morris

1950

The Elusive Pimpernel/The Fighting Pimpernel [Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger] c.op (as Ken Barnett); ph: Christopher Challis

1950

Gone to Earth [Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger; the USA version 'The Wild Heart/Gypsy Blood' has add scenes dir by Rouben Mamoulian] c.op (as Ken Barnett); ph: Christopher Challis

 

 

1950

The Tales of Hoffmann [Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger] c.op (cred as Camera); ph: Christopher Challis

1951

Outcast of the Islands [Carol Reed] co-c.op; ph: John Wilcox & Ted Scaife

1952

24 Hours of a Woman's Life [Victor Saville] c.op; ph: Christopher Challis

1952

Angels One Five [George More O'Ferrall] c.op; ph: Christopher Challis

1952

Moulin Rouge [John Huston] c.op; ph: Oswald Morris

1953

Rough Shoot/Shoot First [Robert Parrish] ?; ph: Stanley Pavey

1953

Twice Upon a Time [Emeric Pressburger] c.op; ph: Christopher Challis

1953

Beat the Devil [John Huston] c.op; ph: Oswald Morris

1954

Beau Brummell [Curtis Bernhardt] c.op; ph: Oswald Morris

1954

Monsieur Ripois/Knave of Hearts/Lovers, Happy Lovers [René Clément] c.op; ph: Oswald Morris

1955

The Sorcerer's Apprentice [Michael Powell; short/13m] c.op (as Ken Barnett); ph: Christopher Challis

1955

Moby Dick [John Huston] co-c.op (+ 2uc/2ud + sfx ph); ph: Oswald Morris

1958

Look Back in Anger [Tony Richardson] c.op; ph: Oswald Morris

1963

Diary of a Bachelor [Sandy Howard] scrpl (as Ken Barnett); ph: Julian Townsend

1983

Secrets of the Phantom Caverns/What Waits Below [Don Sharp] co-scrpl (as Ken Barnett); ph: Virgil L. Harper

 

 FILMS & TELEVISION AS DIRECTOR

Directed ep of the tv-series:

The Saint [ep #98 'The Gadic Collection' & #116 'The Man Who Gambled with Life'] 118-part series, 1962-69; 5th (1966-67) & 6th (1968-69) season; ph: Michael Reed (#98) & Brendan J. Stafford (#116)

Man in a Suitcase [ep #8 'Essay in Evil', #24 'Which Way Did He Go, McGill?', #27 'Who's Mad Now?' & #30 'Night Flight to Andorra'] 30-part series, 1967-68; ph: Stephen Dade (#8, #24 & #30) & Gerald Gibbs (#27)

The Champions [ep #18 'Shadow of the Panther'] 30-part series, 1968-69; ph: Frank Watts

The Adventures of Black Beauty [ep #36 'The Challenge', #46 'Goodbye Beauty', #48 'A Ribbon for Beauty' & #49 'The Last Charge'] 52-part series, 1972-74; ph: Ken Higgins

Star Maidens [1975; ep #5 'Kidnap', #7 'Test for Love', #9 'What Have They Done to the Rain?', #11 'Hideout' & #13 'The Enemy'] 13-part series/16mm, 1977; ph: Ken Hodges

Search and Rescue/Search and Rescue: The Alpha Team [ep #22 'Reggie on the Run'] 26-part series, 1977-78; ph: ?

Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson [ep #9 'The Case of Harry Crocker' & #10 'The Case of the Deadly Prophecy'] 24-part series/16mm, 1979-80; ph: Gábor Pogány

[HBO's] Tales from the Crypt [ep #82 'Last Respects'] 93-part series, 1989-96; 7th season, 1996; ph: Alan Hume

1961

Two and Two Make Six/A Change of Heart/The Girl Swappers [ph: Desmond Dickinson & Ronnie Taylor]

1962

The Day of the Triffids/Invasion of the Triffids/Revolt of the Triffids [uncred add seq; d: Steve Sekely] ph: Ted Moore

1962

Vengeance/Over My Dead Body/The Brain/A Dead Man Seeks His Murderer [ph: Bob Huke]

1962

Ein Toter sucht seinen Mörder [ph: Bob Huke] German-language version of 'Vengeance'

1962

Paranoiac [ph: Arthur Grant]

1962

Nightmare [ph: John Wilcox]

 

 

1963

The Evil of Frankenstein [ph: John Wilcox]

1964

Dr. Terror's House of Horrors/The Blood Suckers [ph: Alan Hume] 5 seg

1964

Hysteria [ph: John Wilcox]

1964

Traitor's Gate [ph: Denys Coop]

1964

Das Verrätertor [ph: Denys Coop] German-language version of 'Traitor's Gate'

1965

The Skull [ph: John Wilcox]

1965

The Psychopath [ph: John Wilcox]

1965

The Deadly Bees [ph: John Wilcox]

1966

They Came from Beyond Space [ph: Norman Warwick]

1967

Torture Garden [ph: Norman Warwick]

1968

Dracula Has Risen from the Grave [replaced dir Terence Fisher] ph: Arthur Grant

1968

The Intrepid Mr. Twigg [short/36m] ph: Aubrey Dewar

1969

Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly/Girly [ph: David Muir]

1969

Trog [ph: Desmond Dickinson]

1970

Gebissen wird nur nachts - Happening der Vampire/The Vampire Happening [ph: Gerard Vandenberg]

1971

Tales from the Crypt [ph: Norman Warwick] 5 seg

1972

The Creeping Flesh [ph: Norman Warwick]

1972

Tales That Witness Madness [ph: Norman Warwick]

1973

Craze/Demon Master/The Infernal Idol [ph: John Wilcox]

1973

Son of Dracula/Young Dracula [ph: Norman Warwick]

1974

Legend of the Werewolf/Plague of the Werewolves [ph: John Wilcox]

1974

The Ghoul/Night of the Ghoul/The Thing in the Attic [ph: John Wilcox]

1977

Golden Rendezvous/Nuclear Terror [finished (uncred) by F. Francis; d: Ashley Lazarus] ph: Ken Higgins

 

[Left] with actor Timothy Dalton - "The Doctor and the Devils"

 

1985

The Doctor and the Devils [ph: Gerry Turpin & Norman Warwick]

1987

Dark Tower [co-d (as Ken Barnett) + ph] see Films

1995

Guilty Silence [was in development for Little Venice Pictures, UK]