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Jack Cardiff Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (16) | Personal Quotes (4)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 18 September 1914Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, UK
Date of Death 22 April 2009Ely, Cambridgeshire, England, UK
Birth NameJohn George James Gran
Nickname Jack O'Lantern
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Almost universally considered one of the greatest cinematographers of all time, Jack Cardiff was also a notable director. He described his childhood as very happy and his parents as quite loving. They performed in music hall as comedians, so he grew up with the fun that came with their theatrical life in pantomime and vaudeville. His father once worked with Charles Chaplin. His parents did occasional film appearances, and young Jack appeared in some of their films, such as My Son, My Son (1918), at the age of four. He had the lead in Billy's Rose (1922) with his parents playing his character's parents in the film. Jack was a production runner, or what he would call a "general gopher", for The Informer (1929) in which his father appeared. For one scene he was asked by the first assistant cameraman to "follow focus", which he said was his first real brush with photography of any kind, but he claimed that it was the lure of travel that led to him joining a camera department making films in a studio. He had, however, become impressed with the use of light and color in paintings by the age of seven or eight, and described how he watched art directors in theaters painting backdrops setting lights. His friend Ted Moore was also a camera assistant in this period when both worked in a camera department run by Freddie Young, who would also become a legendary cinematographer. He worked for Alfred Hitchcock during the filming of The Skin Game (1931).

By 1936 Cardiff had risen to being a camera operator at Denham Studios when the Technicolor Company hired him on the basis of what he told them in interview about the use of light by master painters. This led to his operating camera for the first Technicolor film shot in Britain, Wings of the Morning (1937). He finally was offered the full position of director of photography by Michael Powell for Stairway to Heaven (1946), ironically working in B&W for the first time in some sequences. His next assignment was on Black Narcissus (1947), where he acknowledged the influence of painters Vermeer and Caravaggio and their use of shadow. He won the Academy Award for best color cinematography for this film. Jack certainly got to travel when it was decided to shoot The African Queen (1951) on location in the Congo. Errol Flynn offered Jack the chance to direct The Story of William Tell (1953) that would star Flynn. It would have been the second film made in CinemaScope had it been completed, but the production ran out of money part way through filming in Switzerland.

It has been said that Marilyn Monroe requested that Jack photograph The Prince and the Showgirl (1957). Although he had already directed some small productions, he had a critical breakthrough with Sons and Lovers (1960). He continued directing other films through the 1960s, including the commercial hit Dark of the Sun (1968), but for the most part returned to working for other directors as a very sought-after cinematographer in the 1970s and beyond. He continued to work into the new century, almost until his death. He was made an OBE in 2000 and received a lifetime achievement award at the 73rd Academy Awards.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Brian Greenhalgh

Spouse (3)

Niki Cardiff (19 March 1997 - 22 April 2009) (his death) (1 child)
Sylvia Lisette Cecily Manson (5 September 1938 - 27 December 1944) (divorced)
Julia Lily Dutton (? - ?) (divorced) (3 children)

Trivia (16)

Has 4 sons: John, Rodney, Peter and Mason.
He was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the Queen's 2000 New Year's Honours list for his services to cinematography.
Father of Mason Cardiff
Presented the 'Best New Director' award to Alice Nellis for Some Secrets (2002) (Some Secrets) at the San Sebastián International Film Festival: 2002
Patron of The Brighton Film School
Was one of the only photographers Marilyn Monroe trusted to make her look beautiful. He took many photos of her during the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl (1957).
Cousin of Kay Kendall.
Honorary Member of the Guild of British Camera Technicians (GBCT).
He was made a Fellow of the British Film Institute in recognition of his outstanding contribution to film culture.
Member of the British Society of Cinematographers (B.S.C.).
His two Academy Awards (1947, Cinematography; 2000, Honorary Award) came 53 years apart. This the record for 1) most years between first and and last Academy Awards and 2) longest hiatus between Academy Awards.
Fond words of remembrance written by lifelong admirer, Martin Scorsese, for "Time" magazine's milestones tribute (Issue: May 11, 2009). Scorsese had previously written the forward to Cardiff's acclaimed autobiography, "Magic Hour: The Life of a Cameraman" (1996).
He and writer Peter Yeldham were to produce "The Woman and the Whale", which was scheduled to start shooting in the summer of 1969.
Saffron Walden, England [June 2008]
Directed two Oscar nominated performances: Trevor Howard and Mary Ure both for Sons and Lovers (1960).

Personal Quotes (4)

Most directors who have been around for a while, acquire a gaunt, soul-scarred look associated with fighter pilots who have survived a war.
The films that I am most proud of - the film, for instance, that I made under great difficulty, Sons and Lovers (1960), I wanted to make it into a good film because the book is marvellous, and I didn't want to let the author down.
[on photographing Humphrey Bogart during the making of The African Queen (1951) on location in the Congo] Bogie didn't care much about the way he looked in front of a camera, but you had to watch his toupee. It had to be fitted properly, and the lights had to be placed so that they didn't show up the gauze upon which the fake hair was stuck.
[on the premiere of 'Scent of Mystery' in 1960, the only feature produced in "Smell-o-Vision"] Most of the audience were trade people. On the back of each seat a tiny pipe was fitted with a spray to project smells to the viewer seated behind. The pipes ran under the floor where an enormous dispensing machine had been installed, acting as a 'small brain', having stored every aroma to be projected during the film. In addition to the eight tracks on our 70mm film, there was an extra track carrying the smell signal. As the film traveled through the projector an electric signal triggered a mechanism which projected a small quantity of aroma-laden air on-cue to every seat in the audience. Well, the magnificent machinery worked wonderfully. The only trouble was, the smells that were projected towards the eager nostrils were exactly like cheap eau-de-cologne. The film was released in New York where the critics all had wrinkled noses and acerbic tongues.

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