Charles Lang Poster


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Overview (4)

Born in Bluff, Utah, USA
Died in Santa Monica, California, USA  (pneumonia)
Birth NameCharles Bryant Lang
Nickname The Professor

Mini Bio (1)

One of the outstanding cinematographers of Hollywood's Golden Age, Lang spent most of his career at Paramount (1929-1952), where he contributed to the studio's well-earned reputation for visual style. Lang was educated at Lincoln High School in L.A., then proceeded to the University of Southern California to study law. He quickly changed his career plans, however, and joined his father, the photographic technician Charles Bryant Lang Sr, at the small Realart Studio. He served a lengthy apprenticeship as a laboratory assistant and still photographer, before advancing to assistant cameraman, working with pioneering cinematographers H. Kinley Martin and L. Guy Wilky. Lang left Realart in 1922, had a stint with the Preferred Picture Corporation, then joined Paramount which had, by then, absorbed Realart at the end of the decade. In 1929, he became a full director of photography.

During the 1930's, Lang was one of a formidable team of cinematographers working at Paramount, including such illustrious craftsmen as Lee Garmes, Karl Struss and Victor Milner. At this time, the studio dominated the Academy Awards for cinematography, particularly in the field of black & white romantic and period film. Lang excelled in the use of chiaroscuro, light and shade, and was adept at creating the mood for every genre and style, from the sombre Peter Ibbetson (1935) to the glamour of Desire (1936) and the Parisian chic of Midnight (1939). Lang was an innovator in the use of long tracking shots. He was also liked by many female stars, such as Helen Hayes and Marlene Dietrich (and, later, Audrey Hepburn, because of his uncanny ability to photograph them to their best advantage, often using subdued lighting and diffusion techniques. Though nominated eighteen times for Academy Awards, he won just once, for A Farewell to Arms (1932). Among his many outstanding films of the 30's and 40's, are the lavishly photographed Bob Hope comedy/thriller The Cat and the Canary (1939) and the romantic, atmospheric The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947).

Lang's work with chiaroscuro lighting adapted itself perfectly to the expressionist neo-realism of films noir in the 1950's, most noteworthy examples being Ace in the Hole (1951) and The Big Heat (1953). He was at his best working with the directors Billy Wilder and Fritz Lang. The success of films like Sabrina (1954), Separate Tables (1958) and Some Like It Hot (1959) - all Oscar nominees for Lang's cinematography - owed much to his excellent camera work. Though he preferred the medium of black & white, he became equally proficient in the use of colour photography, working with different processes (Cinerama, VistaVision, etc.) on expansive, richly-textured and sweeping outdoor westerns like The Magnificent Seven (1960) and How the West Was Won (1962), as well as romantic thrillers like Charade (1963) and How to Steal a Million (1966). In 1990, Lang received a Special Eastman Kodak Award for colour cinematography.

Lang was known in the industry as one of the 'best-dressed men' behind the cameras, modest, yet a perfectionist and a consummate professional. He lived to the ripe old age of 96, dying in Santa Monica, California, in April 1998.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (1)

Hylah (1925 - ?)

Trivia (7)

He and fellow cinematographer Leon Shamroy were nominated for the Oscar more times - 18 - than any other Directors of Photography who ever worked in films. Charles won once. Leon won 4 times.
Grandfather of Katherine Kelly Lang.
Great-grandfather of Jeremy Snider
Father of Judy Lang
Was the recipient of the American Society of Cinematographers' Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991.
Member of the American Society of Cinematographers.
He is the youngest nominee for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography at age 28, as well as the youngest winner at age 30.

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