Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jack Cardiff

TCM is spending Thursday nights in January honoring cinematographer Jack Cardiff. Cardiff's career started in the 1930s, but it really took off in the 1940s thanks to director Michael Powell, who spotted Cardiff's work on The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (airing tonight at 8:00 PM) and then asked Cardiff to be the chief cinematographer on Powell's next color film, A Matter of Life and Death (airing overnight at 12:30 AM). Infact, this evening's entire lineup is dedicated to the movies Cardiff made when he was working for Powell.

There is one exception, and that's a documentary on the life and work of Cardiff, airing at 11:00. It aired twice last week, and I hadn't seen it then. It's actually quite a good documentary if you have any interest in the people who worked behind the scenes. Cardiff's work was quite broad. Not only did he work with Michael Powell; he was the cinematographer for such classics as The African Queen and Alfred Hitchcock's Under Capricorn, the latter of which is finally coming to TCM next Thursday.

In the 1960s Cardiff became a director, first with Sons and Lovers (interestingly enough for one of the great color cinematographers, Sons and Lovers is in black and white) and then with several lesser films. TCM actually showed the Cardiff-directed The Liquidator yesterday afternoon, but I'll mention that one in more detail when it comes up on the last Thursday of January. (It's not on DVD so I can't really mention it now.) Cardiff's directorial career is mentioned in the documentary, but not given as much attention as his work at a cinematographer, largely because it wasn't as successful.

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