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Oswald Morris

Oswald Morris

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Also Known As: Ossie Morris Died:
Born: November 22, 1915 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Middlesex, England, GB Profession: director of photography, clapper boy, camera operator, projectionist, assistant cameraman

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of Britain's leading directors of photography, Oswald Morris eschewed formal training to work his way from clapper boy to cinematographer. His lifelong interest in films began as a child when he found work as a projectionist during school vacations. Dropping out of school at age 16, Morris found work as an unpaid assistant/apprentice to the chief engineer at London's Wembley Studio. When the studio closed briefly in 1934-35, he moved to BIP Studios where he worked as a clapper boy on films like "The Third Clue" and "Mr. Cinders" (both 1934). Returning to reopened Wembley Studios, Morris was promoted first to camera assistant, then camera operator. During WWII, he served in the Royal Air Force (receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross).After the war, Morris signed a three-year contract as a camera operator with Independent Producers based at Pinewood Studios. Among the films he worked on during this tenure include Sidney Gilliat's "Green for Danger" (1946) and two David Lean features, "David Copperfield" (1948) and "The Passionate Friends/One Woman's Story" (1949). Morris was promoted to director of photography with Ronald Neame's "Golden Salamander" (1949). In 1952, he began a collaboration with...

One of Britain's leading directors of photography, Oswald Morris eschewed formal training to work his way from clapper boy to cinematographer. His lifelong interest in films began as a child when he found work as a projectionist during school vacations. Dropping out of school at age 16, Morris found work as an unpaid assistant/apprentice to the chief engineer at London's Wembley Studio. When the studio closed briefly in 1934-35, he moved to BIP Studios where he worked as a clapper boy on films like "The Third Clue" and "Mr. Cinders" (both 1934). Returning to reopened Wembley Studios, Morris was promoted first to camera assistant, then camera operator. During WWII, he served in the Royal Air Force (receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross).

After the war, Morris signed a three-year contract as a camera operator with Independent Producers based at Pinewood Studios. Among the films he worked on during this tenure include Sidney Gilliat's "Green for Danger" (1946) and two David Lean features, "David Copperfield" (1948) and "The Passionate Friends/One Woman's Story" (1949). Morris was promoted to director of photography with Ronald Neame's "Golden Salamander" (1949). In 1952, he began a collaboration with director John Huston that lasted over twenty years and included such distinguished efforts as "Moulin Rouge" (1952), "Beat the Devil" (1953) "Moby Dick" (1956), uncredited work on "Reflections in a Golden Eye" (1967) and "The Man Who Would Be King" (1975).

Once Morris' reputation was established in the early 50s, he went on to work with some of the world's best directors on such films as Carol Reed's "The Key" (1958) and "Our Man in Havana" (1960), Tony Richardson's "Look Back in Anger" (1959) and "The Entertainer" (1960), J. Lee Thompson's "The Guns of Navarone" (1961), Stanley Kubrick's "Lolita" (1962), Franco Zeffirelli's "The Taming of the Shrew" (1967), and Joseph L. Mankiewicz's claustrophobic "Sleuth" (1972). In the mid-60s, he won three consecutive British Academy Awards for his evocative black-and-white work on Jack Clayton's intimate "The Pumpkin Eater" (1964) Sidney Lumet's prison camp drama "The Hill" (1965) and Martin Ritt's "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold" (1965; released in the United Kingdom in 1966).

In the mid-60s, Morris began to shoot musicals and won particular praise for his stunning camera work on Carol Reed's Oscar-winner "Oliver!" (1968), Herbert Ross' musicalization of "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" (1969), Ronald Neame's "Scrooge" (1970) and particularly Norman Jewison's "Fiddler on the Roof" (1971). The latter earned Morris the Best Cinematography Oscar. His sole television credit is Dan Curtis' evocative small screen remake of "Dracula" (CBS, 1974). As his career wound down, Morris worked again with Ross on the pastiche "The Seven Per-Cent Solution" (1976) and on three more films with Sidney Lumet, the stark "Equus" (1977), the colorful "The Wiz" (1978) and "Just Tell Me What You Want" (1980). Morris ended his career with two children's films, Jim Henson's "The Great Muppet Caper" (1981) and Henson and Frank Oz's "The Dark Crystal" (1982).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Glorious Technicolor (1998) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Began working as a projectionist while in school
1932:
Dropped out of school at age 16; found work as unpaid assistant/apprentice at Wembley Studios; first films "Born Lucky" and "After Dark"
1934:
When Wembley closed, moved to BIP Studios as clapper boy
1935:
Returned to Wembley when it reopened; became camera assistant
1935:
First features as camera assitant/operator include "Smith's Wives", "Old Roses" and "Blue Smoke"
1938:
Worked at BIP and Pinewood Studios as an assistant cameraman and later cameraman
1940:
Served in Royal Air Force during WWII
1946:
Signed to three-year contract as camera operator with Independent Producers, based at Pinewood Studios
1949:
Shot first feature, "Golden Salamander", directed by Ronald Neame
1952:
First collaboration with director John Huston, "Moulin Rouge"
1953:
Hired by producer David O Selznick to oversee close-up photography on "Indiscretion of an American Wife/Stazione termini", starring Selznick's wfe Jennifer Jones
1958:
First collaboration with Carol Reed "The Key"
:
Served as cinematographer for two Tony Richardson films, "Look Back in Anger" and "The Entertainer"
1965:
Shot Sidney Lumet's "The Hill"
1966:
First musical feature "Stop the World-I Want to Get Off"
:
Worked as lecturer at the London Film School in the 1970s
1971:
Won Oscar for Cinematography for "Fiddler on the Roof"
1974:
Sole television credit, photography on "Dracula", directed by Dan Curtis
1975:
Final film with John Huston, "The Man Who Would Be King"
1980:
Last film with Sidney Lumet "Just Tell Me What You Want"
:
Final films as cinematographer "The Great Muppet Caper" and "The Dark Crystal", directed by Jim Henson
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Ruislip Council School: -
Bishopshalt School: -

Notes

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service during WWII.

Morris received additional Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography in 1968 for "Oliver!" and in 1978 for "The Wiz".

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Lee Turner. Second wife.

Family close complete family listing

brother:
Reginald H Morris. Director of photography.

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