GREAT CINEMATOGRAPHERS


#1: "Anna Lucasta" [1949]

#2: "The Adventures of Robin Hood" [1937-38]

 

   


SOL POLITO

 

Born: 12 November 1892, Palermo, Sicily, Italy, as Salvatore [or Salvador] Polito.

Died: 23 May 1960, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Calif., USA.

Career: Immigrated to the United States at an early age. His family settled in New York City, where he attended public school. Entered films around 1912 and worked as a still ph and lab asst before becoming a cameraman. He moved from Brooklyn, New York, to Los Angeles in 1919 to continue his cinematography career at Warner Bros. Studios.

Was a member of the ASC.

Retired in 1949.

His son Eugene 'Gene' Emmanuel Polito [1918-2010] was a cinematographer.

Awards: 'Oscar' AA nom [1939; color; shared] for 'The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1941; b&w] for 'Sergeant York'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1942; color] for 'Captains of the Clouds'.



Dir Michael Curtiz - SP - actor Randolph Scott - "Virginia City" [1939]

 

Like most of the technicians who created collectively what is now known as the 'classic Hollywood style', Sol Polito received little formal training in his craft, but instead learned the intricacies of cinematography on the job. If Polito was hardly an artist whose innovations inspired others, even as he broke with established practices, he was something much more valuable in the factory system of film production that emerged with the vertical integration of the studios in the twenties and the incredible expansion of the medium: a craftsman with a deep and abiding interest in a job well-done who was eager to create the best possible product by following industry guidelines even as he perfected their application.

The studio system in general suited Polito's temperament and work ethic; it is no accident that he thrived in the rather authoritarian setting of Warner Brothers, where studio head Jack Warner was notorious for demanding efficiency, competence, and fiscal responsibility. As a studio technician, Polito found it necessary to work on a wide variety of projects in the different genres Warners then specialized in, most particularly what may be best described as the crime melodrama. For these films, Polito and the other chief cinematographer at Warners, Tony Gaudio, devised an unglamorized look, not softened by flattering lighting effects, that made much use of the chiaroscuro contrasts between dark and light that were a heritage of German Expressionism. This style is the ancestor of the film noir cinematography that emerged to popularity in the late forties, an evolution based to some degree on technical advances and more interest in realism promoted by wartime filmmaking and postwar developments abroad. Polito's work for the classic Warners crime melodrama 'I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang' [1932], however, bears comparison with that later style in its outstanding, expressive effects - most memorably, an overall somberness to which director Mervyn LeRoy's effective staging certainly contributed. Interestingly, though film noir evolved during the last decade of Polito's work at Warners and the studio was itself in the forefront of this thematic and stylistic innovation, Polito was not centrally involved, as other cinematographers of his generation, such as John Alton, were. Nevertheless, he created for Anatole Litvak's classic noir melodrama 'Sorry, Wrong Number' [1948] a washed-out, hazy look that fails to define clearly much of what is in the frame, a perfect correlative for this story of moral ambivalence, failure of character, infantile preoccupations, and anomie. In this film, Polito's lighting and exposure values deprive the upscale home of the invalid main character of any sense of richness or security. How different an inflection he gives to the same tonality of grays by making the lighting scheme more glamorizing, emphasizing soft focus in close-ups of star Bette Davis, in 'Now, Voyager' [1942], the classic forties melodrama in which the world of the rich is offered as exquisitely textured, the realm for the setting of the purest romantic fantasy. Neither film makes use of the hard contrast between white and black for which Warners became famous in the thirties, and thus each exemplifies the flexibility within a dominant studio style.

 

 

Polito, however, like any studio technician, did not enjoy the luxury of working simply in one genre and perfecting his handling of nuance within overall expressive requirements. His action photography for the studio's specialist in swashbuckling epics, Michael Curtiz, is excellent in another way. 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' [1937-38], in particular, shows how Polito could impart a highly effective glow to a Technicolor film, a medium then rather difficult to handle well. Polito's lighting and exposure values create a depth and crispness that are entirely appropriate to the story. Working with the studio's new tank and fog machines in the similar project 'The Sea Hawk' [1940], Polito is able to inflect this tale of maritime adventure with the appropriate atmospherics, a misty, often smoky look pervades the action sequences in a story that is darker and more brooding than the moral simplicity of the children's fable of the defeat of the evil King John by Robin Hood. [From article by R. Barton Palmer on the filmreference.com website.]


 

 FILMS [1 reel = c. 10m]

1914

Rip Van Winkle [prod: Edwin Middleton] b&w; 5 reels; prod B.A. Rolfe Photoplays, Inc.

1914

Wildfire [Edwin Middleton] b&w; 5 reels; prod World Film Corporation (WFC)

1915

M'Liss [O.A.C. Lund] b&w; 5 reels; cph: Lucien Andriot; prod WFC

1915

The Butterfly [O.A.C. Lund] b&w; 5 reels; prod Shubert Film Corporation (SFC)

1915

The Cotton King [Oscar Eagle] b&w; 5 reels; prod William A. Brady Picture Plays, Inc. (WBPP)

1915

A Butterfly on the Wheel [Maurice Tourneur] b&w; 50m; cph: Lucien Andriot; prod SFC

1915

The Sins of Society [Oscar Eagle] b&w; 5 reels; prod WBPP

1916

Fruits of Desire/The Ambition of Mark Truitt [Oscar Eagle] b&w; 5 reels; prod WBPP

1916

Fate's Boomerang/The Call of Love [Frank H. Crane] b&w; 5 reels; prod Paragon Films, Inc. (PFI)

1916

Paying the Price/Reparation [Frank H. Crane] b&w; 50m; as Salvador Polito; prod PFI

1916

The Man Who Stood Still [Frank Crane] b&w; 5 reels; prod PFI

1916

The World Against Him [Frank Hall Crane] b&w; 6 reels; prod PFI

1917

The Runaway [Dell Henderson] b&w; 6 reels; cph: Frank Bangs; prod Empire All Star Corporation (EASC)

1917

Queen X [John B. O'Brien] b&w; 5 reels; prod Mutual Film Corporation (MFC)

1917

Her Second Husband [Dell Henderson] b&w; 50m; prod MFC

1917

The Impostor [Dell Henderson & (?) George Abbott] b&w; 50m; prod EASC

1918

Who Loved Him Best?/His Inspiration [Dell Henderson] b&w; 50m; prod MFC

1918

Ruling Passions [Abraham S. Schomer] b&w; 6 reels & 8 reels; prod Schomer Photoplay Producing Company

1918

The Heart of a Girl [John G. Adolfi] b&w; 5 reels; or ph Max Schneider; prod WFC

1918

Her Husband's Honor [Burton King] b&w; 5 reels; prod MFC

1918

Treason [Burton King] b&w; 5 reels; prod MFC

1918

The Reckoning Day [Roy Clements] b&w; 5 reels; uncred cph; ph: R.E. Irish; prod Triangle Film Corporation

1918

What Love Forgives [Perry N. Vekroff] b&w; 50m; prod WFC

1919

The Love Defender [Tefft Johnson] b&w; 50m; prod WFC

1919

Bill Apperson's Boy [James Kirkwood] b&w; 5 reels; prod Jack Pickford Film Company (JPFC)

1919

Burglar by Proxy [Jack (= John Francis) Dillon] b&w; 5 reels; prod Jack Pickford Productions

1919

In Wrong [James Kirkwood] b&w; 50m; cph: Antonio (= Tony) Gaudio; prod JPFC

1919

Are You Legally Married? [Robert T. Thornby] b&w; 5 reels; prod Success Pictures Company

1919

Soldiers of Fortune [Allan Dwan] b&w; 70m; cph: H. Lyman Broening; prod Mayflower Photoplay Corporation

1919

Should a Woman Tell? [John E. Ince] b&w; 60m; prod Screen Classics, Inc. (SCI)

1920

The Right of Way [Jack (= John Francis) Dillon] b&w; 70m; cph: Robert B. Kurrle; 2 different endings were shot and shown; prod SCI

1920

Alias Jimmy Valentine [Edmund Mortimer & (started the film) Arthur D. Ripley] b&w; 60m; prod Metro Pictures Corporation (MPC)

1920

The Price of Redemption/The Temple of Dawn [Dallas M. Fitzgerald] b&w; 6 reels; prod MPC

1920

The Misleading Lady [George Irving & (started the film) George W. Terwilliger] b&w; 6 reels; cph: Arthur Martinelli; prod MPC

1921

Uncharted Seas [Wesley Ruggles] b&w; 6 reels; cph: John F. Seitz; prod MPC

1921

The Roof Tree [John Francis Dillon] b&w; 5 reels; prod Fox Film Corporation (FFC)

1922

Strength of the Pines [Edgar Lewis] b&w; 5 reels; cph: Don Short; prod FFC

1922

Trimmed [Harry Pollard] b&w; 50m; prod Universal Film Manufacturing Company (UFMC)

1922

The Loaded Door [Harry A. Pollard] b&w; 50m; prod UFMC

1922

The Bishop of the Ozarks [Finis Fox] b&w; 6 reels; prod Cosmopolitan Film Company

1923

Mighty Lak' a Rose [Edwin Carewe] b&w; 80m; prod Edwin Carewe Productions (ECP)

1923

The Girl of the Golden West [Edwin Carewe] b&w; 70m; cph (?); ph: Thomas Storey; prod ECP

1923

The Bad Man [Edwin Carewe] b&w; 7 reels; prod ECP

1924

Why Men Leave Home [John M. Stahl] b&w; 8 reels; prod Louis B. Mayer Productions

1924

The Lightning Rider [Lloyd Ingraham] b&w; 6 reels; prod Stellar Productions

1924

The Siren of Seville/The Siren [Jerome Storm & Hunt Stromberg] b&w; 7 reels; prod Hunt Stromberg Productions (HSP) 

1924

Roaring Rails [Tom Forman] b&w; 60m; prod Stellar Productions

1924

A Cafe in Cairo [Chet Withey] b&w; 60m; prod HSP

1924

The Flaming Forties [Tom Forman] b&w; 6 reels; prod Stellar Productions

1924

Soft Shoes [Lloyd Ingraham] b&w; 60m; prod Stellar Productions

1925

The Crimson Runner [Tom Forman] b&w; 60m; prod HSP

1925

Beyond the Border [Scott R. Dunlap] b&w; 58m; cph: Georges Benoît; prod Rogstrom Productions

1925

Silent Sanderson [Scott R. Dunlap] b&w; 50m; prod Stellar Productions

1925

The Bad Lands [Dell Henderson] b&w; 60m; cph: Georges Benoît; prod Stellar Productions

1925

Paint and Powder/Footlights and Shadows [Hunt Stromberg] b&w; 54m & 70m; prod HSP 

1925

The People vs. Nancy Preston [Tom Forman] b&w; 70m; prod HSP

1926

Driftin' Thru [Scott R. Dunlap] b&w; 5 reels; prod Charles R. Rogers Productions (CRRP)

1926

The Seventh Bandit [Scott R. Dunlap] b&w; 6 reels; prod CRRP

1926

The Frontier Trail [Scott R. Dunlap] b&w; 6 reels; prod CRRP

1926

Señor Daredevil [Albert Rogell] b&w; 70m; prod CRRP

1926

Satan Town [Edmund Mortimer] b&w; 6 reels; prod CRRP

1926

The Unknown Cavalier [Al Rogell] b&w; 7 reels; prod CRRP

1926

The Overland Stage [Albert Rogell] b&w; 7 reels; prod CRRP

1927

Somewhere in Sonora [Albert Rogell] b&w; 6 reels; prod CRRP

1927

The Land Beyond the Law [Harry J. Brown] b&w; 70m; prod CRRP

1927

Lonesome Ladies [Joseph Henabery] b&w; 60m; cph: Al M. Green; prod First National Pictures (FN)

1927

Hard-Boiled Haggerty [Charles Brabin] b&w; 80m; prod FN

1927

Gun Gospel [Harry J. Brown] b&w; 7 reels; prod CRRP

1927

The Shepherd of the Hills [Albert Rogell] b&w; 90m; prod FN

1928

Burning Daylight [Charles Brabin] b&w; 72m; prod FN

1928

The Hawk's Nest [Benjamin Christensen] b&w; 80m; prod FN

1928

Heart to Heart [William Beaudine] b&w; prod FN

1928

Show Girl [Alfred Santell] b&w; 61m; silent & sound (mus score/sound efx) version; prod FN

1928

Burning Bridges [James P. Hogan] b&w; 60m; prod CRRP

1928

The Haunted House [Benjamin Christensen] b&w; silent & sound (mus score/sound efx) version; prod FN

1928

The Border Patrol [James P. Hogan] b&w; 50m; prod CRRP

1928

Scarlet Seas [John Francis Dillon] b&w; 70m

1928

Seven Footprints to Satan/Satan's Stairwell/Seven Steps to Satan [Benjamin Christensen] b&w; 60m; silent & sound (talking seq/mus score/sound efx) version; prod FN

1929

House of Horror/The House of Horrors [Benjamin Christensen] b&w; 65m; silent & sound (talking seq/mus score/sound efx) version; cph: Ernest Haller; prod FN

1929

Broadway Babies [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w; silent & sound version; spph: Alvin Knechtel; prod FN

1929

The Man and the Moment [George Fitzmaurice] b&w

1929

Twin Beds [Alfred Santell] b&w

1929

The Isle of Lost Ships [Irvin Willat] b&w

1929

Paris [Clarence Badger] b&w-c

1929

No, No, Nanette [Clarence Badger] b&w-c; silent & sound version; prod FN

1929

Playing Around [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w; 66m

1930

Show Girl in Hollywood [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w-c

1930

Numbered Men [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w; 65m

1930

The Girl of the Golden West [John Francis Dillon] b&w

1930

The Widow from Chicago [Edward Cline] b&w; 64m

1930

Madonna of the Streets [John S. Robertson] b&w

1930

Going Wild [(uncred) William A. Seiter] b&w; 68m

1931

The Hot Heiress [Clarence Badger] b&w

1931

Woman Hungry/The Challenge [Clarence Badger] c; 65m; cph: Charles Schoenbaum

1931

The Ruling Voice/Upper Underworld [Rowland V. Lee] b&w

1931

Big Business Girl [William A. Seiter] b&w

1931

The Bargain/You and I [Robert Milton] b&w; 68m

1931

Five Star Final [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w

1931

Suicide Fleet/Mystery Ship [Albert Rogell] b&w

1931

Local Boy Makes Good [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w; 68m

1931

Union Depot/Gentleman for a Day [Alfred E. Green] b&w; 67m

1931

Fireman, Save My Child [Lloyd Bacon] b&w; 67m

1932

It's Tough to Be Famous [Alfred E. Green] b&w; cph: Byron Haskin; tech efx: Fred Jackman

1932

Two Seconds [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w; 67m

1932

The Dark Horse [Alfred E. Green] b&w

1932

Blessed Event [Roy Del Ruth] b&w

1932

Three on a Match [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w; 63m

 

 

1932

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w; According to interviews with M. LeRoy, the darkness at the end of the film was the result of a fortuitous accident. Just as Paul Muni finished his line, 'I steal', the electricity in the studio failed. When the rushes were viewed, the sudden darkness was thought to be so effective, that LeRoy decided not to reshoot the end

1932

42nd Street [Lloyd Bacon (replaced scheduled dir Mervyn LeRoy)] b&w

1932

Picture Snatcher [Lloyd Bacon] b&w; filmed 1932-33

1933

The Working Man [John G. Adolfi] b&w

1933

The Mind Reader [Roy Del Ruth] b&w

1933

Gold Diggers of 1933 [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w

1933

Footlight Parade [Lloyd Bacon] b&w; uncred cph (?); ph: George Barnes

1933

Hi, Nellie! [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w

1933

Dark Hazard [Alfred E. Green (replaced scheduled dir Frank Borzage)] b&w

1934

Wonder Bar [Lloyd Bacon (replaced scheduled dir Frank Borzage)] b&w

1934

Dr. Monica [William Keighley & (uncred) William Dieterle] b&w; 61m

1934

Dames [Ray Enright & (mus numbers) Busby Berkeley] b&w; cph: George Barnes & Sid Hickox

1934

Madame Du Barry [William Dieterle] b&w

1934

Flirtation Walk [Frank Borzage] b&w; cph: George Barnes

1934

Sweet Adeline [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w

1934

The Woman in Red [Robert Florey] b&w; 68m

1934

In Caliente/Viva Senorita [Lloyd Bacon & (mus numbers) Busby Berkeley] b&w; cph: George Barnes; filmed 1934-35

1935

"G" Men/G-Men [William Keighley] b&w

1935

Go Into Your Dance/Casino de Paree [Archie L. Mayo, (uncred add scenes/retakes) Robert Florey & (uncred) Michael Curtiz] b&w; uncred cph; ph: Tony Gaudio

1935

Shipmates Forever [Frank Borzage] b&w

1935

Frisco Kid [Lloyd Bacon] b&w

1935

The Petrified Forest [Archie L. Mayo] b&w; spec pfx: Warren E. Lynch, Fred Jackman & Willard Van Enger

1935

Colleen [Alfred E. Green] b&w; cph: Byron Haskin

1936

Sons o' Guns [Lloyd Bacon] b&w

1936

The Charge of the Light Brigade [Michael Curtiz] b&w; spec pfx: Fred Jackman; sfx: H.F. Koenekamp

1936

Three Men on a Horse [Mervyn LeRoy] b&w

1936

Ready, Willing and Able [Ray Enright] b&w

 

[Left] with actors Fritz Leiber and Billy Mauch and dir William Keighley - "The Prince and the Pauper"

 

1937

The Prince and the Pauper [William Keighley & (fill-in while W. Keighley was ill) William Dieterle] b&w (also computer colorized version); uncred cph (replaced S. Polito while he was ill): George Barnes; sfx: Willard Van Enger & James Gibbons

1937

Varsity Show [William Keighley] b&w; ph finale: George Barnes

1937

Gold Is Where You Find It [Michael Curtiz] c; sfx: Byron Haskin

1937

The Adventures of Robin Hood [Michael Curtiz & William Keighley (replaced by M. Curtiz halfway through filming)] c; cph: Tony Gaudio (replaced by S. Polito when he came with M. Curtiz); Technicolor ph: W. Howard Greene & (uncred assoc) Allen M. Davey; uncred 2uc: Charles P. Boyle; filmed 1937-38

1938

Gold Diggers in Paris/The Gay Impostors [Ray Enright] b&w; ph mus numbers: George Barnes

1938

Boy Meets Girl [Lloyd Bacon] b&w

1938

Valley of the Giants [William Keighley] c; Technicolor ph: Allen M. Davey

 

 

1938

Angels with Dirty Faces [Michael Curtiz] b&w

1938

You Can't Get Away with Murder [Lewis Seiler] b&w

1938

Dodge City [Michael Curtiz] c; assoc ph: Ray Rennahan; sfx: Byron Haskin & Rex Wimpy

1939

Confessions of a Nazi Spy [Anatole Litvak] b&w; cph: Ernest Haller (replaced S. Polito when he fell ill); re-released in 1940 with a new ending

1939

Sons of Liberty [Michael Curtiz] c; short/20m; cph: Ray Rennahan

1939

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex [Michael Curtiz (replaced announced dir William Keighley)] c; assoc ph: W. Howard Greene; sfx: Byron Haskin & H.F. Koenekamp

1939

On Your Toes [Ray Enright] b&w-c; ph color seq (8m) 'Slaughter on 10th Avenue'; ph: James Wong Howe; sfx ph: Byron Haskin & Robert Burks

1939

Four Wives [Michael Curtiz] b&w; uncred cph: James Wong Howe

1939

Virginia City [Michael Curtiz] b&w; sfx: H.F. Koenekamp & (uncred) Byron Haskin

 

 

1940

The Sea Hawk [Michael Curtiz] b&w (+ some scenes in sepiatone); sfx: Byron Haskin & H.F. Koenekamp

1940

City for Conquest [Anatole Litvak & (uncred fill-in when A. Litvak had an accident) Jean Negulesco] b&w; cph: James Wong Howe; sfx: Byron Haskin & Rex Wimpy

1940

Santa Fe Trail [Michael Curtiz] b&w; sfx: Byron Haskin & H.F. Koenekamp

1940

The Dog in the Orchard [Jean Negulesco] b&w; short/20m

1940

The Sea Wolf [Michael Curtiz] b&w; sfx: Byron Haskin & H.F. Koenekamp; filmed 1940-41

1941

Sergeant York [Howard Hawks & (uncred some scenes) Vincent Sherman] b&w; ph battle seq: Arthur Edeson

1941

Navy Blues [Lloyd Bacon] b&w; cph dance seq; ph: Tony Gaudio

1941

Captains of the Clouds [Michael Curtiz] c; cph: Wilfrid M. Cline; aph: Elmer Dyer, Charles Marshall & Winton C. Hoch; sfx: Byron Haskin & Rex Wimpy

 

 

1941

Arsenic and Old Lace [Frank Capra] b&w; sfx: Byron Haskin & Robert Burks; filmed October-December 1941 - Warner Bros. had been contractually required to wait for the Broadway play to finish its run, which finally occurred on June 17, 1944 (during 1943 the film was shown to the Armed Forces overseas) - released in September 1944

1941

Yankee Doodle Dandy [Michael Curtiz] b&w (also computer colorized version); fill-in ph (while J.W. Howe was ill); ph: James Wong Howe; filmed 1941-42

1942

The Gay Sisters [Irving Rapper] b&w

 

[Right] with Bette Davis - "Now, Voyager"

 

1942

Now, Voyager [Irving Rapper] b&w; sfx: Willard Van Enger; montages: Don Siegel

1942

The Adventures of Mark Twain [Irving Rapper] b&w; sfx: Edward Linden, Paul Detlefsen & John Crouse; uncred vfx: Chesley Bonestell; montages: Don Siegel & James Leicester

1942

Old Acquaintance [Vincent Sherman (replaced scheduled dir Edmund Goulding)] b&w; filmed 1942-43

1943

This Is the Army [Michael Curtiz] c; cph: Bert Glennon; spec pfx: Jack Cosgrove; montages: Don Siegel & James Leicester

1943

Rhapsody in Blue [- The Story of George Gershwin] [Irving Rapper] b&w; ph add mus numbers: Merritt Gerstad & Ernest Haller; sfx: Roy Davidson (dir) & Willard Van Enger; montages: James Leicester

1943

Cinderella Jones [Busby Berkeley] b&w; montages: James Leicester; filmed 1943-44; released in 1946

1944

The Corn Is Green [Irving Rapper] b&w; sfx: H.F. Koenekamp; montages: James Leicester

1944

Pride of the Marines/This Love of Ours/Forever in Love [Delmer Daves] b&w; uncred fill-in ph while P. Marley was ill; ph: Peverell Marley; filmed 1944-45

1945

A Stolen Life [Curtis Bernhardt] b&w; cph: Ernest Haller (because of the difficulty of the trick photography Polito and Haller shared cinematography credit); sfx: William McGann (dir), E. Roy Davidson (dir), Willard Van Enger & Russell Collings

1945

Escape Me Never [Peter Godfrey] b&w; sfx: Harry Barndollar (dir) & Willard Van Enger; spec optical efx: Russell Collings; filmed 1945-46

1946

Cloak and Dagger [Fritz Lang] b&w; sfx: Harry Barndollar (dir) & Edwin B. DuPar

1946

The Long Night [Anatole Litvak] b&w; sfx: Russell A. Cully; remake of 'Le jour se lève' (1939, Marcel Carné; ph: André Bac)

1947

The Voice of the Turtle/One for the Book [Irving Rapper] b&w; sfx: Harry Barndollar (dir) & Edwin DuPar; montages: James Leicester

1948

Sorry, Wrong Number [Anatole Litvak] b&w; spec pfx: Gordon Jennings; process ph: Farciot Edouart

1949

Anna Lucasta [Irving Rapper] b&w