|Date of Birth||20 November 1883 , Rome, Lazio, Italy|
|Date of Death||10 August 1951 , Burlingame, California, USA|
|Birth Name||Gaetano Antonio Gaudio|
Mini Bio (1)
In New York in 1906 Tony was employed by Al Simpson to produce "song slides" that could be shown in theaters so patrons could sing along with the music. After quitting Simpson in 1908, he worked in Vitagraph's film development laboratories in New York, then moved over to Carl Laemmle's IMP (Independent Moving Picture Co.) to supervise the construction of IMP's New York laboratories. From 1910-12 he became the chief of cinematographers at IMP, where he shot Mary Pickford's films for director Thomas H. Ince (he would later shoot The Gaucho (1927) for her husband, Douglas Fairbanks.)
Laemmle had wooed Pickford away from Biograph by offering her $175 a week, thus helping create the star system (Pickford soon left Laemmle for Adolph Zukor's Famous Players, where she was paid $10,000 per week; she left Zukor for First National, where she was paid $350,000 per film). Known as "Uncle Carl", Laemmle was famous for his nepotism, which extended even to a second cousin from Alsace, France, the future director William Wyler.
Tony's own brother Eugene would work for IMP as the superintendent of its development lab before switching to cinematography himself. As for Tony, he left IMP to work for Biograph and other companies before finding a home at Metro Pictures by 1916, where his brother Eugene now worked as a director. At Metro Tony shot 10 films for director Fred J. Balshofer and eventually wound up at First National in the early 1920s through his work as a cameraman for sisters Constance Talmadge and Norma Talmadge. From 1922-25 he shot nine Norma Talmadge pictures.
Eugene had died in 1920, and from 1923-24 Tony served as president of the American Society of Cinematographers, the professional body his brother had helped create to promote standardization in the industry and to serve as a clearinghouse for information for cameramen. Tony was at the forefront of technical innovation in his craft; in 1922 he invented a viewfinder for the new Mitchell camera. In the 1920s the Hollywood motion picture industry was dominated by Bell+Howell cameras, but Mitchell established a foothold and broke through by the end of the decade. While the Bell+Howell produced a superior image due to its innovative pressure plate behind the lens, it was too noisy for sound work, which opened up the market to Mitchell. The ASC helped promote innovations such as the viewfinder. This was rooted in the fact that in the first generation of cinema, cameramen owned their own cameras and modified them themselves. To be a cameraman one also had to be a tinkerer (Tony also would later invent the camera focusing microscope).
Tony also was an expert--as were many early cameramen--in the development of film, as most cinematographers took a hands-on approach to development in order to ensure not just the quality of their images, but to achieve effects in the lab. It was while he was employed by First National as the superintendent of the studio's film labs in 1925 that he directed two feature films released by the Poverty Row studio Columbia Pictures Corp.
In the 1920s he helped photograph Douglas Fairbanks' The Mark of Zorro (1920), pioneering the use of montage, and was lighting cameraman on Fairbanks' 1927 "The Gaucho", which featured one of the earliest two-strip Technicolor sequences (Gaudio also shot two-strip Technicolor scenes for On with the Show! (1929) and General Crack (1930)). He made his reputation during the 1920s as the chief cameraman for such top directors as Allan Dwan, Frank Borzage and Marshall Neilan, as well as for tyro director Howard Hughes' dialogue scenes with Harry Perry on the aerial scenes of Hell's Angels (1930).
When First National was acquired by Warner Bros. in 1928, Gaudio moved over to the new studio, signing a long-term contract with Warners in 1930. In time, he and his fellow Italian immigrant Sol Polito would become the co-chief-cinematographers at the studio and help fashion the distinct Warner Bros. "look" that was influenced by German Expressionism.
The opinionated Tony Gaudio was prone to clash with his directors, and Oscar-winning director Lewis Milestone'--who won his first Oscar on a film lensed by Gaudio, Two Arabian Knights (1927)--nearly fired him from The Front Page (1931) (Gaudio served as the second cameraman on Milesteone's anti-war masterpiece All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), for which the director won his second Oscar, and would shoot his last film for Milestone: The Red Pony (1949), which is renowned for its mastery of color). The studio tolerated his temperament as he was a master of black and white cinematography, winning six Academy Award nominations and one Oscar from 1930 through 1946, when he was nominated for Best Color Cinematography for the first time.
Gaudio, fellow co-cinematographer-in-chief Polito, Barney McGill and Sidney Hickox were instrumental in creating the Warner Bros. "look" of the 1930s. Warners, the most progressive studio in Hollywood, was prone to filming subjects torn from the day's headlines; the Brothers Warner, as represented by studio boss Jack L. Warner, did not demand a glamorous aesthetic as did MGM, for instance (Gaudio shot Mervyn LeRoy's gangster classic Little Caesar (1931) while Polito shot I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) for Leroy two years later). Gaudio, Polito and the other cinematographers they supervised thus were able to light their sets to evoke mood and atmosphere. The extremely versatile Gaudio shot all kinds of movies in every genre, from the prestigious A-pictures to B-movies.
Along with Polito, Gaudio shot Warners' most prestigious films, winning an Oscar for his black and white cinematography on Anthony Adverse (1936). He shot Warners' first three-strip Technicolor film, God's Country and the Woman (1937), directed by William Keighley, and, subsequently, the studio assigned Gaudio and Keighley to what was their most ambitious picture ever: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), which was also to be shot in the difficult Technicolor. The film would eventually cost $4 million, making it the most expensive film in history to the time, but Gaudio and Keighley were removed from the project by producer Hal B. Wallis for working too slowly. The film was finished by Polito and director Michael Curtiz, though all four ultimately shared screen credit on the picture and Gaudio's footage remained in the film.
Gaudio was a regular cameraman for Bette Davis, who became the studio's greatest star during the 1930s. Gaudio originally gave Davis the glamor treatment, but by the time he shot Bordertown (1935), starring Paul Muni as a Mexican-American lawyer in a corrupt town, Gaudio didn't flinch when--shooting the film with a stark realism--he deglamorized Davis, as he would later in two period films, Juarez (1939) and The Old Maid (1939).
Critics believe that Gaudio reached the zenith of his craft on another Davis vehicle, director 'William Wyler (I)''s adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's novel, The Letter (1940). For the picture Gaudio's camera evoked a moodiness pregnant with violence. The opening shot of the film, a slow track through the Malaysian rubber plantation that is the setting for the story about to transpire, is extremely memorable.
When Gaudio shot High Sierra (1941) for Raoul Walsh, he worked in an ultra-realistic, documentary-like fashion that was a precursor of film noir. He parted company with Warners in 1943 after shooting Background to Danger (1943) to go freelance. His next picture, Universal's Corvette K-225 (1943), brought him an Oscar nomination. He won his last Oscar nomination, for color cinematography, in 1946, for A Song to Remember (1945).
Tony Gaudio died on August 10, 1951. He was 67 years old.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood (qv's & corrections by A. Nonymous)