Freddie Francis


Director, Director Of Photography
Freddie Francis

About

Also Known As
Frederick Francis
Birth Place
London, England, GB
Born
December 22, 1917
Died
March 17, 2007

Biography

Freddie Francis started his career as an apprentice to a still photographer and at age 17 began in motion pictures as a clapper boy. His first shot at cinematography came with the British Army Kinematographic unit during World War II, but after the war he returned to feature films as a camera operator, working with such seminal figures as Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, John Husto...

Family & Companions

Pamela Mann
Wife
Continuity person.

Notes

"Although I love working, I won't work on a film unless I meet with the director and realize that he really wants me to do his movie. I have an arrangement with my agent that if anybody asks me to do a film, first of all, obviously we demand to see the script. Secondly, my agent asks if they are seeing anybody else in connection with this movie. If they say yes, he says, 'Well, Freddie doesn't want to do it.' I'm not saying every director has to have me on his movie, but any director who does has got to want me and nobody else." --Freddie Francis in FILM JOURNAL, September 1996

"I'm not a camerman. I'm the director's collaborator. Another thing, a corny old thing I keep saying, but about which I'm very sincere, is that there are three kinds of photography in movies. There's good photography, bad photography, and there's the right photography. Sometimes, to do the right photography you have to do what is almost, to a dyed-in-the-wool cameraman, bad photography . . . Sometimes you have to tone down your approach to become a collaborator on the movie." --Freddie Francis in FILM JOURNAL, September 1996

Biography

Freddie Francis started his career as an apprentice to a still photographer and at age 17 began in motion pictures as a clapper boy. His first shot at cinematography came with the British Army Kinematographic unit during World War II, but after the war he returned to feature films as a camera operator, working with such seminal figures as Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, John Huston and Zoltan Korda. Francis did the second unit photography on John Huston's "Moby Dick" (1956) and shortly thereafter graduated to director of photography on "Hell for Korea" (also 1956). He won applause for his work on Joseph Losey's "Time Without Pity" (1957) and for his gritty photography for "Room at the Top" (1958). His Oscar-winning work on "Sons and Lovers" (1960) was at the same time dark and rich, with delicious grey hues.

Francis moved to the director's chair beginning with "Two and Two Make Six" and "Vengeance" (both 1962), but he soon became typecast as a director of horror films. He continued to demonstrate his touch with a vibrant palate of hues making for vivid images, even with the most banal of material. His work included such films as "The Skull" (1965), "The Deadly Bees" (1966), "They Came From Beyond Space" (1967), "Dracula Has Risen From the Grave" (1968), Joan Crawford's last film, "Trog" (1970), and the original "Tales From the Crypt" (1972), which included five stories of mayhem based on an old comic strip. Francis also directed numerous TV episodes, particularly of "The Saint" (syndicated, 1963), and "Star Maidens" (syndicated, 1977), but he all but abandoned directing in the late 70s, frustrated at not being able to secure a more substantive assignment. It was not until "Last Respects" (HBO, 1996), the story of greed and hatred between sisters, that Francis was given a project with some depth of character.

Francis returned triumphantly to work as a director of photography in 1980, capturing with subdued, deeply moving lighting the essence of "The Elephant Man" for director David Lynch. On "The French Lieutenant's Woman" (1981), Francis' cinematography had a fraught romantic feel. By the end of the 80s, he was in full swing as a cinematographer once again, notably with Edward Zwick's Civil War drama "Glory" (1989), for which he earned his second Oscar. Cool, yet colorful, the lighting of the film captured the vigor of war with the romanticism of Robert Gould Shaw's vision of his mission. It was a film that presented a noble heroism, in which the light of the sun guides. Francis caged the darkness for Martin Scorsese's 1991 remake of "Cape Fear," borrowing from the techniques he developed in horror films, including the frightening last sequence in which a boat is enveloped by pitch darkness from which villain Robert De Niro emerges. In 1992, Francis shot "School Ties," painting a contrast between the grimy industrial city of Scranton, Pennsylvania, from the which the Jewish teen quarterback emerges and the sunny, idyllic world of the all-WASP prep school which he enters with a sense of wonder. The film begins with a mood montage that sets Scranton as a gloomy location, its row houses looking almost like the prototype British inner city. Scranton is seen as dark and overcast throughout. The sun pierces the sky gradually as David (Brendan Fraser) sets out for his new school, and becomes almost heavenly when he reaches it. Yet, at the end, when he has survived the anti-Semitic attack of his peers, the school is no longer bathed in sun, but merely a cleaner reality.

Francis went on to serve as director of photography on Bob Hoskins' "Rainbow" (1996). In the 80s and 90s, Francis also shot a handful of prestige TV productions, notably "The Executioner's Song" (NBC, 1982), and "The Plot to Kill Hitler" (CBS, 1990), both for director Lawrence Schiller. He returned to the big screen capturing the majestic beauty of America's heartland in David Lynch's "The Straight Story" (1999).

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Dark Tower (1989)
Director
The Doctor and the Devils (1985)
Director
Golden Rendezvous (1977)
Director (Uncredited)
The Ghoul (1975)
Director
Legend of the Werewolf (1975)
Director
Son of Dracula (1974)
Director
Craze (1973)
Director
Tales That Witness Madness (1973)
Director
Tales from the Crypt (1972)
Director
The Creeping Flesh (1972)
Director
Gebissen wird nur nachts-Happening der Vampire (1971)
Director
Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny, and Girly (1970)
Director
Trog (1970)
Director
Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1969)
Director
Torture Garden (1968)
Director
They Came from Beyond Space (1967)
Director
The Deadly Bees (1967)
Director
The Psychopath (1966)
Director
Traitor's Gate (1966)
Director
Hysteria (1965)
Director
Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965)
Director
The Skull (1965)
Director
The Evil of Frankenstein (1964)
Director
The Brain (1964)
Director
Nightmare (1964)
Director
Paranoiac (1963)
Director
Two and Two Make Six (1962)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (Do Not Use) (2011)
Himself

Cinematography (Feature Film)

The Straight Story (1999)
Director Of Photography
Rainbow (1997)
Director Of Photography
Princess Caraboo (1994)
Director Of Photography
A Life In The Theatre (1993)
Director Of Photography
School Ties (1992)
Director Of Photography
Cape Fear (1991)
Director Of Photography
The Man in the Moon (1991)
Director Of Photography
The Plot to Kill Hitler (1990)
Director Of Photography
Her Alibi (1989)
Director Of Photography
Glory (1989)
Director Of Photography
Brenda Starr (1989)
Director Of Photography
Clara's Heart (1988)
Director Of Photography
Memed My Hawk (1987)
Director Of Photography
Code Name: Emerald (1985)
Director Of Photography
The Jigsaw Man (1984)
Director Of Photography
The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)
Director Of Photography
The Elephant Man (1980)
Director Of Photography
Night Must Fall (1964)
Director of Photography
The Innocents (1961)
Director of Photography
Never Take Candy From a Stranger (1961)
Director of Photography
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1961)
Director of Photography
Sons and Lovers (1960)
Director of Photography
The Battle of the Sexes (1960)
Director Of Photography
Virgin Island (1960)
Director Of Photography
Room at the Top (1959)
Director Of Photography
Next to No Time (1958)
Cinematographer
Time Without Pity (1957)
Director Of Photography
The Scamp (1957)
Cinematographer
Moby Dick (1956)
2d unit Director of Photographer
Hell in Korea (1956)
Director Of Photography
Beat the Devil (1954)
Camera Operator
Lovers, Happy Lovers! (1954)
Camera Operator
Moulin Rouge (1953)
Camera Operator
Affair in Monte Carlo (1953)
Camera Operator
Twice Upon a Time (1953)
Camera Operator
Angels One Five (1952)
Camera Operator
Outcast of the Islands (1951)
Camera Operator
The Tales of Hoffmann (1951)
Camera Operator
Gone to Earth (1950)
Camera Operator
Hour of Glory (1949)
Camera Operator
The Golden Salamander (1949)
Camera Operator
Night Beat (1947)
Camera Operator
Mine Own Executioner (1947)
Camera Operator

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

Dune (1984)
Photography

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (Do Not Use) (2011)
Other
School Ties (1992)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Man in the Moon (1991)
Dp/Cinematographer
Glory (1989)
Dp/Cinematographer
Her Alibi (1989)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Jigsaw Man (1984)
Dp/Cinematographer
The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)
Dp/Cinematographer
Golden Rendezvous (1977)
Other

Director (Special)

Last Respects (1996)
Director

Cinematography (Short)

The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1955)
Camera Operator

Cinematography (TV Mini-Series)

The Executioner's Song (1982)
Director Of Photography

Misc. Crew (TV Mini-Series)

The Executioner's Song (1982)
Other

Life Events

1932

Began career as apprentice to still photographer

1934

Hired as a clapper boy at British International Pictures

1936

Joined Gaumont-British as clapper loader

1939

Served in the British Army; was a member of the Army Kinematographic Unit

1947

Began as camera operator with "The Macomber Affair"

1956

Won attention for his second unit photography of "Moby Dick", directed by Huston

1956

First film as director of photography "Hell in Korea"

1958

First screen collaboration with Jack Clayton, "Room at the Top"

1960

Won first Academy Award for his cinematography on "Sons and Lovers"

1962

Directed first feature "Two and Two Make Six"

1963

Helmed episodes of the syndicated series "The Saint"

1980

Returned to working as a director of photography on David Lynch's "The Elephant Man"

1982

Served as cinematographer on the NBC drama "The Executioner's Song"; film was released theatrically in Europe

1989

Earned second Best Cinematography Oscar for "Glory"

1991

Shot remake of "Cape Fear", directed by Martin Scorsese

1996

Directed "Last Respects" episode of the HBO series "Tales From the Crypt"

1999

Served as director of photography on "The Straight Story", directed by David Lynch

Videos

Movie Clip

Night Must Fall (1964) - Open, Danny, Olivia Opening from director Karel Reisz, screenplay by Clive Exton from the sensational Emlyn Williams play, first filmed with Robert Montgomery in 1937, introduces Susan Hampshire whom we’ll learn is Olivia, and co-producer Albert Finney as Danny, hiding a body, Ron Grainer’s score doing much of the lifting, in Night Must Fall, 1964, from MGM-British studios.
Night Must Fall (1964) - Have A Look At The Police Danny (Albert Finney), whom we know is responsible for the body the police are now searching for in the nearby pond, has just begun working as a handyman for Mrs. Branson, employer of his pregnant maid girlfriend, and mother of not-charmed Olivia (Susan Hampshire), in Night Must Fall, 1964, directed by Karel Reisz.
Glory (1989) - Colored Soldiers Home in Boston after surviving Antietam, Union officer Robert Gould Shaw feted by his abolitionist parents (Jane Alexander, Peter Michael Goetz), with family friend Searles (Andre Braugher), meeting the governor (Alan North) and Frederick Douglass (Raymond St. Jacques), in Edward Zwick’s Glory, 1989.
Glory (1989) - I'm Runnin' For President Director Edward Zwick introduces black soldiers who’ll serve under Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) in the Union army, Andre Braugher as Searles, Jihmi Kennedy as Sharts, Academy Award winner Denzel Washington as Trip, Morgan Freeman as Rawlins, Ronreaco Lee the drummer, in Glory, 1989.
Glory (1989) - Robert Gould Shaw Director Edward Zwick’s stirring opening, Matthew Broderick as Union officer Robert Gould Shaw, reading partly from his original letters, Kevin Jarre’s script from publications by Peter Burchard and Lincoln Kirstein, from Glory, 1989, with Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman.
Saturday Night And Sunday Morning (1961) - Every Minute God Sends The de-facto debut of Albert Finney, at work in the Raleigh Bicycle Works in Nottingham, a landmark in the British "Angry Young Man" movement, opening Saturday Night And Sunday Morning, 1961, directed by Karel Reisz from Alan Sillitoe's novel and screenplay.
Elephant Man, The (1980) - Then Have My Lips A scene which almost certainly never happened, though it might have, London actress Madge Kendal (Anne Bancroft), who did in fact take an interest in John Merrick (John Hurt, title character), pays a friendly visit, with Shakespeare, in David Lynch's The Elephant Man, 1980.
Elephant Man, The (1980) - I Am The Owner Having failed in his first attempt to see the freak-show exhibit, doctor Treves (Anthony Hopkins) returns to the corner of 1884 London where Bytes (Freddie Jones) keeps his meal ticket, John (really Joseph) Merrick (John Hurt), in David Lynch's celebrated The Elephant Man, 1980.
Room At The Top (1959) - You Can Fix Just About Anything Father-in-law Brown (Donald Wolfit) offers to set up accountant Joe (Laurence Harvey) in business in return for staying married, but leaving his daughter to herself, in Room at the Top, 1959.
Room At The Top (1959) - Opening, My Name Is Lampton Handsome Joe Lampton (Laurence Harvey) arrives for his first day of work at the borough treasurer's office, in the opening sequence from director Jack Clayton's A Room at the Top, 1959, shot largely on location in West Yorkshire.
Room At The Top (1959) - Erotic Vice Among The Working Class New-in-town Joe (Laurence Harvey) admits to aristocratic Susan (Heather Sears) that he's joined the local theater group mainly to pursue her, then gets in trouble working with Alice (Simone Signoret) in rehearsal, Anthony Newlands their director, in director Jack Clayton's Room At The Top, 1959.
Room At The Top (1959) - This Is A Small Town City supervisor Hoylake (Raymond Huntley) has a piece of counsel for up-and-coming clerk Joe Lampton (Laurence Harvey), regarding making his way in local society, in Room at the Top, 1959, from the novel by John Braine.

Trailer

Family

Kevin Francis
Son
Producer. Founding director of Tyburn Films.

Companions

Pamela Mann
Wife
Continuity person.

Bibliography

Notes

"Although I love working, I won't work on a film unless I meet with the director and realize that he really wants me to do his movie. I have an arrangement with my agent that if anybody asks me to do a film, first of all, obviously we demand to see the script. Secondly, my agent asks if they are seeing anybody else in connection with this movie. If they say yes, he says, 'Well, Freddie doesn't want to do it.' I'm not saying every director has to have me on his movie, but any director who does has got to want me and nobody else." --Freddie Francis in FILM JOURNAL, September 1996

"I'm not a camerman. I'm the director's collaborator. Another thing, a corny old thing I keep saying, but about which I'm very sincere, is that there are three kinds of photography in movies. There's good photography, bad photography, and there's the right photography. Sometimes, to do the right photography you have to do what is almost, to a dyed-in-the-wool cameraman, bad photography . . . Sometimes you have to tone down your approach to become a collaborator on the movie." --Freddie Francis in FILM JOURNAL, September 1996

"I suppose I can say I slightly regret all the horror things I directed, but I didn't regret them at the time, because I enjoyed making them . . . To be quite honest, the standard of films I've photographed, both in terms of quality and money spent, are very different from the films I've directed. If I could direct some films with the same budgets as those I've photographed, I'd prefer directing. But I realize how lucky I was to have two hats to wear." --Francis in FILM JOURNAL, September 1996