Academy Award Cinematographer – Ernest Laszlo 🎥

Ernest Laszlo

(April 23, 1898 – January 6, 1984)

Ernest Laszlo is our next artist for “The Faces Behind the Camera” theme. Best-known for his striking black-and-white cinematography, Laszlo was a painstaking technician and a true artist who rejected Hollywood glamour to bring a refreshing naturalism to his films.

Description: A cinematographer or director of photography (sometimes shortened to DP or DOP) is the chief over the camera crews working on a film, television production or other live action pieces and is responsible for achieving artistic and technical decisions related to the image. (Wikipedia)

Ernest Laszlo, A.S.C. was a Hungarian-American cinematographer for over 60 films and was known for his frequent collaborations with directors Robert Aldrich and Stanley Kramer. He was a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, and was its president from 1972 to 1974.

Laszlo emigrated to the United States and began working as a camera operator on such silent films as Wings (1927). Between 1927 and 1977, he served as cinematographer on sixty-nine films. Between 1961 and 1976 Laszlo was nominated for eight Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, and won the award in 1966 for Ship of Fools. He died in Los Angeles, California in 1984.

Some of my favorite films he shot are:

Directed by Stanley Kramer, “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963) was a scream! Every comic in the business appeared in this film. I’ve always said if you were a comedian during the filming and weren’t asked to participate, you just didn’t rate. 😟

There’s nothing more intriguing and hilarious than a bunch of strangers going on a treasure hunt and the lengths they will go through to retrieve the big prize. Dick Shawn stole the show with his portrayal of “Sylvester”, the not so bright hunk that’s determined to “save his mama”.

Filmed in Ultra Panavision 70 and presented in Cinerama (becoming one of the first single-camera Cinerama features produced), Mad World also had an all-star cast, with dozens of major comedy stars from all eras of cinema appearing in the film. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World rated #40 in the American Film Institute’s list – 100 Years…100 Laughs.

Spencer TracyEdie Adams, Milton Berle, Dick ShawnSid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas, and Jonathan Winters.

A Little Cinematographer History

In the infancy of motion pictures, the cinematographer was usually also the director and the person physically handling the camera. Cinematography was key during the silent movie era; with no sound apart from background music and no dialogue, the films depended on lighting, acting, and set.

In 1919 Hollywood, the then-new motion picture capital of the world, one of the first (and still existing) trade societies was formed: the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), which stood to recognize the cinematographer’s contribution to the art and science of motion picture making. (Wikipedia)

Some of Ernest Lazlo’s celebrated films

Ernest Laszlo, the trailblazing cinematographer whose body of work spans over 5 decades starting in the silent era with the first Academy Award winning film, Wings (1927) to his last film, The Domino Principle (1977). His visual style crossed all genres and he earned the accolade of being one of the best cinematographers in Hollywood.

 

 

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