PAUL BEESON

 

Born: 16 November 1921, Hammersmith, London, UK, as Paul Antonio Charles Beeson.

Died: 19 July 2001, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, UK.

Career: 'His passion for films and photography started way back in his teenage years, as a keen amateur enthusiast. Whilst having a quiet drink in the Queen Victoria pub in Ealing, West London, his father overheard a group chatting from Ealing Studios - Beeson senior involved himself in their conversation and asked how his son could get a job. Coincidentally a film was about to start the following week, and they were still looking for a trainee. Paul was still at school and a decision had to be made as to whether he should continue his education at Cranleigh, Surrey, or grasp this opportunity. There was no real decision to be made and the following Monday Paul walked through the gates of Ealing Studios [known then (1933-38) as Associated Talking Pictures]. His initial responsibilities were to clean windows and sweep up in the machine room. His first feature film was in 1937 as 'Number One Boy' on a George Formby comedy 'I See Ice!'. He learned his trade as clapper boy, progressing to loader, focus puller and camera operator. Photography was important to Paul even during the war years. He was drafted into the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm in 1941 and later requested a transfer to the naval film unit with Gordon Dines and John Paddy Carstairs [= Nelson John Keys]. After his commission, he became one of the official naval photographers under Captain Anthony Kimmins. On D-Day he was sent to land on the Normandy beaches with BBC correspondent Howard Percival Marshall. In addition to covering the relief of Formosa, he sailed victoriously on one of the first British ships into Shanghai. It was during World War II that he met his wife Olga who was seconded to the photographic division of the Women's Royal Naval Service [WRNS/Wrens]. Paul returned to Ealing Studios to see if he could continue back as first camera assistant [focus puller] and was soon promoted to camera operator on 'Against the Wind' in 1947. The following year, Geoffrey Unsworth asked him to be his operator on 'Scott of the Antarctic' shot on the Hardanger glacier in Norway. In 1953, 'West of Zanzibar', a sequel to 'Where No Vultures Fly', gave Paul his first opportunity as director of photography. As one of Sir Michael Balcon's 'Bright Young Men', he was one of Ealing Studio's youngest directors of photography. Paul was respected by many leading directors. Whilst shooting 'Under Capricorn', Alfred Hitchcock slipped out of the set floor while a scene was being run - when he was asked how he felt it had gone he replied "Don't ask me, ask Paul, he's looking through the camera" - such was the trust Hitchcock had in Paul. When offered 'Swiss Family Robinson' Paul learned that he would be away from his home and family for five months in the West Indies, so he asked for his fee to be £150.00 - a substantial sum in 1960. The production office was horrified and did not feel they could go to this amount. On hearing that Paul might not be doing the film, Walt Disney insisted that if that was Paul's fee then he was be paid it as "I want Paul to do it". He gained a reputation as a special effects cameraman with such credits as 'Santa Claus', 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?', 'Willow', and on several James Bond movies working on car crashes and races and other explosive scenes. He was also on the Action Unit for the 'Indiana Jones' trilogy, one of the few crew members Steven Spielberg selected to work on all three films. One of his most memorable shots is the opening scene of 'The Sound of Music', strapped to the underside of an airplane he personally operated the camera to capture Julie Andrews coming up over the green hills - this was the only way he could get his shot without the shadow of the plane falling on the ground - his camera operator refusing to hang out of a plane, strapped in or not. The film industry was his life and the thought of retirement never entered his head until a stroke prevented him from continuing with the long and arduous hours necessary in the studios and he finally had to hang up his light meter. He was a loving husband to Olga and an adoring father to his four daughters Carolyn [Carrie], Jane, Denise and Sarah and nothing made him more proud than to have all his family around him including his grandchildren, Victoria, Oliver, Giles and Jack.' [From obituary by Carrie Beeson.]

Was a member [since 1954] and past president [1971-73] of the BSC. Was chairman and company secretary of the Guild of British Camera Technicians [GBCT]. Was a founder member of IMAGO.

Gave lighting workshops.

Awards: 'Emmy' Award nom [1975; shared] for 'QB VII'; BSC 'John Alcott Memorial Award' [1993].


#1: [Left] with ?

#2: With focus Ian Craig [right] - "Under Capricorn"


 

 FILMS

1951

Where No Vultures Fly/Ivory Hunter [Harry Watt] c; animal unit ph; ph: Geoffrey Unsworth

1952

Mandy/Crash of Silence/The Story of Mandy [Alexander Mackendrick] b&w; uncred 2uc; ph: Douglas Slocombe

1952

The Cruel Sea [Charles Frend] b&w; co-2uc; ph: Gordon Dines

1952

The Titfield Thunderbolt [Charles Crichton] c; 2uc; ph: Douglas Slocombe

1953

West of Zanzibar [Harry Watt] c

1954

Lease of Life [Charles Frend] c; uncred 2uc; ph: Douglas Slocombe

1954

Out of the Clouds [Basil Dearden] c

1955

The Feminine Touch/The Gentle Touch [Pat Jackson] c

1957

The Shiralee [Leslie Norman] b&w

1957

Dunkirk [Leslie Norman] Metroscope/b&w

1958

Nowhere to Go [Seth Holt & (uncred) Basil Dearden] Metroscope/b&w

1959

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll/Season of Passion [Leslie Norman] b&w

1959

The Scapegoat [Robert Hamer] cs/b&w; spec pfx: Tom Howard

1959

[Robert Louis Stevenson's] Kidnapped [Robert Stevenson] c; spec pfx: Peter Ellenshaw; also 2-part tvm ('Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color', March 1963)

1959

Swiss Family Robinson [Ken Annakin] p/c; addph; ph: Harry Waxman

1960

Nearly a Nasty Accident [Don Chaffey] b&w

1960

Spare the Rod [Leslie Norman] b&w

 

With Walt Disney [right] - "Greyfriars Bobby"

 

1961

Greyfriars Bobby [: The True Story of a Dog] [Don Chaffey] c; addph: Ray Sturgess; spec pfx: Albert Whitlock; also 2-part tvm ('Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color', March-April 1964)

1961

The Happy Thieves [George Marshall] b&w

1962

Tarzan Goes to India [John Guillermin] cs/c; uncred cph: S.S. Chadda; 2uc: Ellis R. Dungan

1962

In Search of the Castaways [Robert Stevenson] c; addph: Ray Sturgess, Michael Reed & David Harcourt; spec pfx: Peter Ellenshaw

1963

The Three Lives of Thomasina [Don Chaffey] c; addph: Ray Sturgess & Michael Reed; also 3-part miniseries ('Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color', November 1965)

1964

The Moon-Spinners [James Neilson] c; addph: Michael Reed & John Wilcox; also 3-part miniseries ('Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color', November-December 1966)

1964

Die, Monster, Die!/Monster of Terror/The House at the End of the World [Daniel Haller] Colorscope/c

 

[Right] - "The Sound of Music" [opening shot]

 

1964

The Sound of Music [Robert Wise] tao/c; addph; ph: Ted McCord

1966

Not with My Wife, You Don't! [Norman Panama] c; ph Europe; ph: Charles Lang Jr.

1966

To Sir, with Love [James Clavell] c

1967

Africa: Texas Style [Andrew Marton] c

1967

Attack on the Iron Coast [Paul Wendkos] c; addph: Desmond Dickinson

1968

Submarine X-1 [William Graham] c; addph: Lionel Banes

1968

The Lost Continent/Lost Island/The People of Abrimes [Michael Carreras (replaced Leslie Norman)] c

1968

Hell Boats/MTB Malta World War 2 [Paul Wendkos] c; 2uc: Stan Sayer

1968

Mosquito Squadron [Boris Sagal] c; aph: Stan Sayer

1969

A Taste of Excitement/Why Would Anyone Want to Kill a Nice Girl Like You? [Don Sharp] c

1969

Moon Zero Two [Roy Ward Baker] c; sfx ph: Kit West & Nick Allder

1969

Crescendo [Alan Gibson] c

1971

Kidnapped [Delbert Mann] p/c; addph: James Allen

1972

A Warm December [Sidney Poitier] c

1973

The Mutations/Dr. of Evil/The Freakmaker/The Mutation [Jack Cardiff] c; time lapse pfx: Ken Middleham

1975

One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing [Robert Stevenson] c; 2uc: H.A.R. Thomson; spec pfx: John Stears; spec processes: Cliff Culley

1975

Escape from the Dark/The Littlest Horse Thieves [Charles Jarrott] c

1977

The People That Time Forgot [Kevin Connor] c; uncred spec tank ph; ph: Alan Hume

1977

Candleshoe [Norman Tokar] c; 2uc: Ray Sturgess

1977

Getting the Best from Telex [David Eady] c; comm doc/28m; cph: Dudley Lovell; prod Post Office

1977

Kitchen Plan [David Eady] 16mm/c; comm doc/17m; prod Electricity Council & Thorn Domestic Appliances

1977

Starcrash/The Adventures of Stella Star/Female Space Invaders [Lewis Coates (= Luigi Cozzi)] c; cph: Roberto D'Ettore; addph: Roberto Girometti & Giuseppe Lanci

1978

Ballet Gayane [Horace King] c; ballet film/90m

1979

The Spaceman and King Arthur/A Spaceman in King Arthur's Court/Unidentified Flying Oddball [Russ Mayberry] c; spec pfx: Cliff Culley

1980

Hawk the Slayer [Terry Marcel] c; + spec pfx

1980

Silver Dream Racer [David Wickes] p/c; process ph: Charles Staffell

1980

Raiders of the Lost Ark [Steven Spielberg] p/c; addph; ph: Douglas Slocombe

1981

Cook in Time [Sarah Erulkar] 16mm/c; comm doc/18m; prod Electricity Council

1981

The Pirates of Penzance [- The Slave of Duty] [Wilford Leach] p/c; addph; ph: Douglas Slocombe

1982

Never Say Never Again [Irvin Kershner] p/c; 2uc; ph: Douglas Slocombe

1983

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom [Steven Spielberg] p/c; co-addph; ph: Douglas Slocombe

1985

Santa Claus [Jeannot Szwarc] J-D-C Scope/c; addph; ph: Arthur Ibbetson

1985

Ishtar [Elaine May] c; addph; ph: Vittorio Storaro

1986

Who Framed Roger Rabbit [Robert Zemeckis] c; addph UK; ph: Dean Cundey

1987

Willow [Ron Howard] p/c; 2uc; ph: Adrian Biddle

1987

An African Dream [John Smallcombe] c

1987

Jane and the Lost City [Terry Marcel] c; efx ph: Tony Willis

1987

Taffin [Francis Megahy] c

1988

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase [Stuart Orme] c

1988

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade [Steven Spielberg] p/c; co-addph; ph: Douglas Slocombe

1990

The Lost World [Timothy Bond] c

1990

Return to the Lost World [Timothy Bond] c

1991

Alien³ [David Fincher (replaced Vincent Ward, who started the film)] p/c; co-2uc; ph: Alex Thomson

1991

The Turning [James (Joshua) Newton] announced; scheduled to start shooting in fall 2011 with ph ?

 

 TELEVISION

1961

The Prince and the Pauper [Don Chaffey] 3-part (x 50m) miniseries for 'Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color', season 1961-62 (March 1962); addph: Ray Sturgess; spec pfx: Wally Veevers; released theatrically in Europe (93m)

1963

The Horse Without a Head [Don Chaffey] 2-part tvm for 'Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color', season 1963-64 (September 1963); released theatrically in Europe (89m)

 

 

1963

The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh [James Neilson] 3-part miniseries for 'Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color', season 1963-64 (February 1964); released theatrically in Europe as 'Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow' (98m & 75m)

1966

The Saint [ep #72 'The Queen's Ransom' dir by Roy Baker (RB), #73 'Interlude in Venice' dir by Leslie Norman (LN), #75 'The Reluctant Revolution' dir by LN, #76 'The Helpful Pirate' dir by RB, #77 'The Convenient Monster' dir by LN & #78 'The Angel's Eye' dir by LN] 118-part series/b&w (season 1-4) & c (season 5 & 6), 1962-69; 5th season, 1966-67

1968

The Saint [ep #107 'The House on Dragon's Rock' dir by Roger Moore] 6th season, 1968-69; see 1966

1970

Jane Eyre [Delbert Mann] tvm; in theatres outside USA

1973

QB VII [Tom Gries] 2-part tvm; ph UK, Belgium & Israel; other ph: Robert L. Morrison

1976

Beauty and the Beast [Fielder Cook] tvm; cph: Jack Hildyard; ep #238 'Hallmark Hall of Fame'-series; in theatres outside USA

1984

The First Olympics - Athens 1896/The First Modern Olympics [Alvin Rakoff] 2-part tvm

1985

Lost in London [Robert Michael Lewis] tvm

1985

The Love Boat [ep #242 & 243 'Spain Cruise: The Matadors' dir by Robert Scheerer] 2 pilots + 245-part series, 1977-86 (+ 4 tvm's); 9th season, 1985-86; 2uc: J. Barry Herron

 

 MISCELLANEOUS

1937

I See Ice! [Anthony Kimmins] number one boy; ph: Ronald Neame

1938

The Gaunt Stranger/The Phantom Strikes [Walter Forde] co-c.op; ph: Ronald Neame

1939

The Four Just Men/The Secret Four [Walter Forde] c.asst; ph: Ronald Neame; re-released in 1944 with added epilogue

1940

Saloon Bar [Walter Forde] c.asst; ph: Ronald Neame 

1940

Sailors Three/Three Cockeyed Sailors [Walter Forde] c.op; ph: Günther Krampf & (uncred) Basil Emmott

1941

The Black Sheep of Whitehall [Basil Dearden & Will Hay] focus puller; ph: Eric Cross & Günther Krampf

1941

The Foreman Went to France/Somewhere in France [Charles Frend] focus puller; ph: Wilkie Cooper

1947

Frieda [Basil Dearden] focus puller; ph: Gordon Dines; ext ph: Lionel Banes

 

 

1947

Against The Wind [Charles Crichton] c.op; ph: Lionel Banes

1947

Scott of the Antarctic [Charles Frend] co-c.op; ph: Jack Cardiff & Geoffrey Unsworth; loc ph: Osmond Borradaile

1948

Under Capricorn [Alfred Hitchcock] co-c.op (operators of camera movement); ph: Jack Cardiff

1949

Train of Events [Basil Dearden, Sidney Cole & Charles Crichton] c.op; ph: Gordon Dines & Lionel Banes

1949

The Black Rose [Henry Hathaway] c.op; ph: Jack Cardiff

 

[Top] - "Pandora and the Flying Dutchman"

 

1950

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman [Albert Lewin] c.op; ph: Jack Cardiff

1952

The Gentle Gunman [Basil Dearden] 2nd c.op; ph: Gordon Dines

1981

The Mikado [- The Town of Titipu] [Rodney Greenberg; tv-operetta] lighting designer

1982

Princess Ida [- Castle Adamant] [David Heather; tv-operetta] lighting designer

1982

Iolanthe [- The Peer and the Peri] [David Heather; tv-operetta] lighting designer