Hal Mohr Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (1)  | Trivia (8)  | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (4)

Born in San Francisco, California, USA
Died in Santa Monica, California, USA  (undisclosed)
Birth NameHarold Leon Mohr
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Distinguished pioneering cinematographer who had a career in motion pictures lasting six-decades. As a teenager, Hal built his own camera while still at school and took photos of local interest which he then developed and printed. He sent a number of these pictures to the New York Herald-Tribune and they were deemed good enough to invite interest from Hollywood. After doing some free-lance work he was hired to shoot newsreels for Sol Lesser's company, General Films. In 1915, he began working in Hollywood, first as a film cutter at Universal, eventually graduating to assistant director. During the latter stages of the First World War he worked for the photographic unit of the U.S.Army, and, afterwards, shot documentaries before turning his attention to motion pictures.

In 1921, Hal became a fully-fledged director of photography. Many of his early efforts were low budget productions although he compensated for the lack of expensive sets by embracing elements of the German expressionist movement: symbolism, stylised images, sombre lighting - all designed to create mood and evoke a more profound understanding and emotive reaction to the subject. Having spent almost a year in Paris post-war, Hal had studied European film-making techniques. During the 1920's, he worked closely with noted exponents of expressionism, including the directors Paul Leni and Michael Curtiz. He was an innovator in the use of boom and dolly shots, producing exciting new visual effects.

Significantly, he was director of photography on the first ever all-talking picture, The Jazz Singer (1927). Over the years, Hal Mohr acquired a deserved reputation for best serving each director's needs by creating the exact look and mood required for each film. In the 1930's, he was one of the first to employ deep-focus photography in films like Bullets or Ballots (1936) and The Green Pastures (1936). For the Errol Flynn swashbuckler Captain Blood (1935), Hal seamlessly integrated live action shots with 18 foot-long model ships and location footage with back-lot shots. He won the first of two Academy Awards (uncontested, through a 'write-in campaign') for A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935). His second Academy Award, he shared with W. Howard Greene for his colour photography of Universal's Phantom of the Opera (1943).

In 1957, Hal also won the George Eastman Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Art of Film. Among other representative examples of Hal Mohr's best work in Hollywood one has to include Another Part of the Forest (1948) and The Wild One (1953). He also shot two classic films with Marlene Dietrich: Destry Rides Again (1939) and Rancho Notorious (1952). He was very impressed with the actress, commenting: "She just knows from the heat of the light on her when she is right for the camera" (New York Times,May 12 1974). Hal Mohr served several times as President of the American Society of Cinematographers, 1930-31, 1963-65, 1969-70. He was married to the actress Evelyn Venable for almost forty years. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame bears his name.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Family (1)

Spouse Evelyn Venable (7 December 1934 - 10 May 1974)  (his death)  (5 children)
Claire Delmar (1926 - 1929)

Trivia (8)

One of only six cinematographers to have a star on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame, the others are, J. Peverell Marley, Ray Rennahan, Leon Shamroy, Haskell Wexler and Conrad L. Hall.
Hal Mohr is the only individual to have ever received an Academy Award based on a write-in nomination (8th Academy Awards, 1935) -- the year following his award, the Academy eliminated the write-in rule.
Hal Mohr and his third wife, Evelyn Venable, were introduced by Will Rogers on the set of David Harum (1934). Rogers was also the best man at their wedding -- not long before Rogers died in a plane crash.
President of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC): 1930-1931, 1963-1965, 1969-1970.
He was posthumously awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6443 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on May 26, 1976.
Had two daughters, Dolores (born 26 November, 1935) and Rosalia (born 26 March, 1937) with his second wife, actress Evelyn Venable.
Incorrectly credited as a racetrack announcer for The Return of October (1948). Hal J. Moore should be solely credited.
He served in the United States Army Signal Corps during World War I.

Personal Quotes (1)

[on working with director Fritz Lang on Rancho Notorious (1952)] Fritz had the faculty of riding the camera dolly. He had to watch through the finder; he'd hold the operator to one side while he'd be looking through. Hell, an operator has to have complete control of the camera while a scene is being shot. In rehearsal it's all right, but when you're shooting the scene, you have to leave that man alone. I can get behind the camera and see what the operator is doing, I can see if he's getting the scene or not. But with a guy doing what Fritz did you can't do the job. He got very abusive to some of my camera crew. I wanted to quit and Lang wanted to fire me.

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