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American Cinematographer (1986) - American Cinematographers in Britain




THERE IS A general familiarity with the wave of American cinematographers who came over to the United Kingdom in the Thirties. When Ray Rennahan, ASC, was shooting Europe's first three-strip Technicolor feature, Wings of the Morning; when Harry Stradling, ASC, was working with Marlene Dietrich and Robert Donat on Knight without Armor; when Phil Tannura, ASC was working for Alexander Korda and Gaumont-British.

However there was an earlier invasion of Britain by American cinematographers which began, to all intents and purposes, in 1919, when Famous Players-Lasky decided to establish a British film studio on Poole Street in the London borough of Islington. The first two productions. The Call of Youth and The Great Day, were both shot in 1910 by Hal Young. Nine further features were filmed at Islington, virtually all with American cinematographers, before the studio was closed in 1914.

Roy Overbaugh, ASC, photographed two of those Famous Players-Lasky British features - Perpetua and The Spanish Jade, both released in 1912 - before being brought back to the states by the company. Overbaugh returned to England in the late Twenties to photograph Harry Lauder in Hunting Tower ( 1918) and Jack Buchanan in Confetti ( 1927). His most important work at this time, however, was with producer-director Herbert Wilcox, for whom he photographed Dorothy Gish in three 192.8 starring vehicles, Madame Pompadour, Nell Gwyn and Tip Toes (which also stars Will Rogers). ...

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