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Overview for Oswald Morris
Oswald Morris

Oswald Morris



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Also Known As: Ossie Morris Died: March 17, 2014
Born: November 22, 1915 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Middlesex, England, GB Profession: Cinematography ... director of photography camera operator projectionist assistant cameraman clapper boy


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).

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