End Credits #42: Cinema's 2016 Lost Treasures Douglas Slocombe
These are some of Cinema's sad departures of 2016 taken from my personal notes soon after the tragic events took place:
Legendary cinematographer Douglas Slocombe has passed away. On February 10, he had just celebrated his birthday at age 103. This London born visionary juggernaut began his career as a magazine photographer for Life magazine and the Paris-Match newspaper, before entering World War II as a newsreel cameraman. After the war he became a camera operator for Ealing Studios and made a most auspicious debut as director of photography on perhaps the studio's finest: the horror movie Dead of Night. His phenomenal work with light and shadows contributed as much creative artistry as any other element, perhaps even more so, considering that Dead of Night is a portmanteau with more than several directors coming and going. Slocombe, however, is our guide throughout the entire journey, ingeniously enrapturing us in a mystically ominous atmosphere informed by his tremendous creative aplomb. Comedic masterpieces like Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Lavender Hill Mob and The Man in the White Suit followed, all significantly enhanced by Douglas Slocombe's photographic ingenuity. In the '60s one can easily appreciate his versatile, innovative work behind the camera in, for example, John Huston's Freud, Joseph Losey's The Servant, Charles Crichton's The Third Secret, Peter Yates' Robbery, and Anthony Harvey's The Lion in Winter. In the '70s just some of his prestigious accomplishments include The Music Lovers (with its infectiously energetic and engaging camerawork), Jesus Christ Superstar, The Great Gatsby, and Julia. It was in the '80s however in which Slocombe enjoyed the most notoriety having photographed the first three of Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones movies: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and (the famous D.P.'s final work), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Nothing need be said about his contribution to these films. Any single scene, hell, any single shot from any one of them says it all... and thankfully will for as long as there are people around to marvel at them. Douglas Slocombe (February 10, 1913 - February 22, 2016) R.I.P.
"A lot of cameramen try to evolve a technique and then apply that to everything, but I suffer from a bad memory and could never remember how I'd done something before, so I could always approach something afresh. I found I was able to change techniques on picture after picture."