Friday, March 23, 2007
Freddie Francis (1917-2007)
The great, two-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Freddie Francis has died after suffering a stroke in December. He made his reputation in some of the top British films of the late 1950s and early 1960s such as Room at the Top and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. His second Oscar win was for the great look of 1989's Glory, prompted Haskell Wexler, a fellow 1989 Oscar nominee for Blaze to tell me in a 1990 interview that he was "so relieved that Freddie won."
Francis also worked as a director, but got typecast as a horror filmmaker and grew frustrated before eventually returning to cinematography and working with such modern greats as Martin Scorsese and David Lynch, whom he worked with three times, including on the last film he served as d.p. on, The Straight Story. From the LA Times obit:
Freddie Francis, a British cinematographer who won Academy Awards for Sons and Lovers (1960) and Glory (1989), died Saturday in London, British media reported. He was 89 and had suffered a stroke in December.
Known for his exquisite black-and-white photography in such British films of the 1950s and '60s as Room at the Top (1958) and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), as well as Sons and Lovers, Francis finally got a chance to direct.
But he grew dissatisfied and returned to cinematography when David Lynch hired him to photograph The Elephant Man in 1980. The success of that project led to jobs with other prominent directors, including Karel Reisz for The French Lieutenant's Woman in 1981 and Martin Scorsese for Cape Fear in 1991. He was director of photography for Lynch two more times, in 1984 for Dune and in 1999 for The Straight Story.