Karl Freund


Director Of Photography

About

Born
January 16, 1890
Died
May 03, 1969

Biography

At the age of 16, Karl Freund -- who would photograph some of the great expressionist films as well as "I Love Lucy" -- began his long, illustrious career in motion pictures as a projectionist. Within two years, he had graduated to camera operator and received a variety of assignments, including newsreels and shorts, particularly for Pathe. Always an innovator, Freund was experimenting w...

Photos & Videos

Biography

At the age of 16, Karl Freund -- who would photograph some of the great expressionist films as well as "I Love Lucy" -- began his long, illustrious career in motion pictures as a projectionist. Within two years, he had graduated to camera operator and received a variety of assignments, including newsreels and shorts, particularly for Pathe. Always an innovator, Freund was experimenting with sound film as early as 1908, and also developed his own camera. In the 1920s, Freund worked at the UFA studios during what has become known as the Golden Age of German cinema. Collaborating with such film artists as Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau, Paul Wegener and E.A. Dupont, Freund helped to create some of the most beautiful and highly regarded films of the silent era. Freund was renowned for his daring camera angles, and his lighting effects, the latter a hallmark of the expressionism school. In 1924, he worked on "The Last Laugh" with Murnau and screenwriter Carl Mayer. Mayer collaborated closely with Freund to write a script exploiting the potentials of a moving camera. The camera became an integral part of the narrative, interpreting and visualizing the central character's state of mind. To film one scene where the main character is intoxicated, Freund strapped the camera to his chest, batteries to his back for balance, and stumbled about like a drunken man.

In 1925, Freund worked on "Variety," directed by E.A. Dupont. Once again, Freund's expressive camerawork drew a great deal of praise. Faced with numerous inquiries about the innovative camerawork, Dupont wrote an article for the "New York Times" explaining the "photographer's ingenuity" in making the film. In 1927, Freund worked with Walter Ruttman on "Berlin--The Symphony of a Great City." To achieve greater flexibility in difficult shooting situations, Freund developed a special high-speed film stock. The entire documentary was reportedly shot without a single person spotting the camera.

In 1929, Freund came to the United States to work on an experimental color process for Technicolor. Shortly thereafter, he went to work for Universal Studios, shooting "Dracula" (1931) and "Murders in the Rue Morgue" (1932). While under contract at Universal, he directed several films, including the horror classic "The Mummy" (1932) and the genuinely odd musical "Moonlight and Pretzels" (1933). While his talent as a director has been applauded, Freund seemed more comfortable in the role of DP, and when he moved from Universal to MGM in 1935, he mostly left directing behind, handling one last horror film, "Made Love" (1935). While at MGM, Freund received an Academy Award for his cinematography for "The Good Earth" (1937). Freund's work as a cinematographer in the United States, including such diverse films as "The Kiss Before the Mirror" (1933), "Camille" (1937), "Key Largo" (1948), "The Seventh Cross" (1944) and "Pride and Prejudice" (1940), reflected his tremendous range and versatility. "Key Largo" was one of the last the great black and white gangster films made in the U.S., and its atmospheric lighting seems to reflect that like the mobster played by Edward G. Robinson, it is an anachronism, a dying breed.

In 1944, Freund founded the Photo Research Corporation in California. In the early 1950s, he went to work in the television industry. His TV work includes the "I Love Lucy" show, where he designed an innovative way to film the live program using three 35mm cameras simultaneously. The three-camera technique is still used in situation comedies today. While others claim to have used multiple cameras in film before Freund developed the three-camera technique, none had been able to master the difficulties of lighting so that no additional set-ups and changes were needed. In 1954, he was given a technical award by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for the design and development of a direct-reading brightness meter. The following year, he represented the US at the International Conference on Illumination in Zurich. Freund devoted his last years to his Photo Research Corporation, where he continued to experiment with and develop new photographic techniques. A huge presence, with a warm, wide grin and white hair, Freund was affectionately known as "Papa" by most who he worked with in the industry. He was no pussycat, and could be prickly at times, but few cinematographers made as many technical innovations and trained as many future technicians as Freund.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Mad Love (1935)
Director
I Give My Love (1934)
Director
Gift of Gab (1934)
Director
Uncertain Lady (1934)
Director
The Countess of Monte Cristo (1934)
Director
Madame Spy (1934)
Director
Moonlight and Pretzels (1933)
Director
The Mummy (1932)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Michael (1924)
Leblanc--Art Dealer

Cinematography (Feature Film)

Montana (1950)
Director of Photography
Bright Leaf (1950)
Director of Photography
South of St. Louis (1949)
Director of Photography
Key Largo (1948)
Director of Photography
The Decision of Christopher Blake (1948)
Director of Photography
Wallflower (1948)
Director of Photography
This Time for Keeps (1947)
Director of Photography
That Hagen Girl (1947)
Director of Photography
Undercurrent (1946)
Director of Photography
A Letter for Evie (1946)
Director of Photography
Two Smart People (1946)
Director of Photography
Without Love (1945)
Director of Photography
Dangerous Partners (1945)
Director of Photography
The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)
Director of Photography
Cry 'Havoc' (1944)
Director of Photography
A Guy Named Joe (1944)
Director of Photography
The Seventh Cross (1944)
Director of Photography
The Cross of Lorraine (1944)
Fill-in Director of Photographer
Du Barry Was a Lady (1943)
Director of Photography
The War Against Mrs. Hadley (1942)
Director of Photography
Tortilla Flat (1942)
Director of Photography
A Yank at Eton (1942)
Director of Photography
The Chocolate Soldier (1941)
Director of Photography
Blossoms in the Dust (1941)
Director of Photography
We Who Are Young (1940)
Director of Photography
Green Hell (1940)
Photography
Florian (1940)
Director of Photography
Keeping Company (1940)
Photography
Comrade X (1940)
Night exteriors Camera
Pride and Prejudice (1940)
Director of Photography
Golden Boy (1939)
Photography
Rose of Washington Square (1939)
Photography
Barricade (1939)
Director of Photography
Balalaika (1939)
Director of Photography
Tail Spin (1939)
Photography
Port of Seven Seas (1938)
Photography
Letter of Introduction (1938)
Director of Photography
Three Comrades (1938)
Photography
Man-Proof (1938)
Photography
Conquest (1937)
Photography
The Good Earth (1937)
Photography
Parnell (1937)
Photography
Camille (1936)
Photography
The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
Ziegfeld roof numbers [Photographer]
The Kiss Before the Mirror (1933)
Camera
Scandal for Sale (1932)
Camera
Afraid to Talk (1932)
Photography
Air Mail (1932)
Camera
Back Street (1932)
Photography
Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)
Cinematographer
Personal Maid (1931)
Photography
Strictly Dishonorable (1931)
Camera
Dracula (1931)
Cinematographer
Up for Murder (1931)
Cinematographer
Bad Sister (1931)
Photography
The Boudoir Diplomat (1930)
Director of Photography

Writer (Feature Film)

Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927)
Screenplay

Producer (Feature Film)

Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927)
Producer

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

Fraulein Else (1929)
Photography
A Knight in London (1928)
Photography
Der Sohn der Hagar (1927)
Production Supervisor
Die Abenteuer eines Zehnmarkscheinen (1927)
Production Supervisor
Dona Juana (1927)
Photography
Madame Wunscht keine Kinder (1926)
Production Supervisor
Manon Lescaut (1926)
Photography
Faust (1926)
Photography
Metropolis (1926)
Photography
Variete (1925)
Photography
Tartuff (1925)
Photography
Michael (1924)
Photography (Interiors)
The Last Laugh (1924)
Photography
Die Finanzen des Grossherzogs (1923)
Photography
Herzog Ferrantes Ende (1922)
Photography
Lucrezia Borgia (1922)
Photography
Die Brennende Acker (1922)
Photography
Kinder der Finsternis 1: Der Mann aus Neapel (1921)
Photography
Der Schwur des Peter Hergatz (1921)
Photography
Kinder der Finsternis 2: Kampfende Welten (1921)
Photography
Marizza, gennant die Schmugglermadonna (1921)
Photography
Der Roman der Christine von Herre (1921)
Photography
Die Ratten (1921)
Photography
Der Golem (1920)
Photography
Die Spinnen (1920)
Photography ("Das Brillantenschiff (The Diamond Ship)")
Der Januskopf (1920)
Photography
Der Bucklige und die Tanzerin (1920)
Photography
Satanas (1919)
Photography
Die Arche (1919)
Photography
Rausch (1919)
Photography
Die Letzten Menschen (1919)
Photography
Das Geschlecht derer von Ringwall (1918)
Photography
Gefangene Seele (1917)
Photography
Hartungen Christa (1917)
Photography
Die Prinzessin von Neutralien (1917)
Photography
Die Ehe der Luise Rohrbach (1917)
Photography
Geloste Ketten (1916)
Photography
Abseits vom Gluck (1916)
Photography
Frau Eva (1916)
Photography
Eine Venezianische Nacht (1914)
Photography
Die Filmprimadonna (1913)
Photography
Engelein (1913)
Photography

Cast (Short)

You Can't Fool a Camera (1941)
Himself

Life Events

1906

Worked as an apprentice projectionist in Berlin

1907

Became assistant cameraperson for Pathe

1907

First film as director of photography (short) on "Der Hauptman von Kopenick"

1908

First experimented with sound

1910

Was DP on "Der Liebling der Frauen

1919

Opened own film processing laboratory

1924

Was DP on the classic "The Last Laugh"

1926

Production head of Fox-Europa

1926

Co-produced and co-wrote documentary "Berlin - A Symphony of a Big City"

1928

Founded Movie Colour Ltd. In Great Britain

1929

Moved to Hollywood

1930

Signed contract with Universal

1932

Made directorial debut, "The Mummy"

1935

Signed contract with MGM

1937

Won Academy Award as DP of "The Good Earth"

1944

Founded Photo Research Corporation of Burbank

1950

Left films for TV

1951

Designed cinematography for "I Love Lucy" setting standard for all future three-camera film TV programming; became chief cinematographer for Desilu Productions

Photo Collections

Mad Love - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Mad Love - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Du Barry Was a Lady - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Du Barry Was a Lady (1943), starring Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, and Zero Mostel.

Videos

Movie Clip

Undercurrent (1946) - Flowers And Her Boys Alan (Robert Taylor) flips a bit, coming home to his new wife Ann (Katharine Hepburn) and servant George (Leigh Whipper), during their first stay at his old family home, in Vincente Minnelli's Undercurrent, 1946.
Chocolate Soldier, The (1941) - Song Of The Flea Aiming to test her loyalty, Viennese opera star Karl (Nelson Eddy) appears at the club where his wife Maria (Rise Stevens) and best pal Bernard (Nigel Bruce) are in the audience, disguised as a romantic Russian, in MGM’s The Chocolate Soldier, 1941.
Metropolis (1926) - The Tower Of Babel In the secret chapel in the catacombs beneath the city, Maria (Brigitte Helm) with one of the wildest sequences supporting her parable, directed by Fritz Lang from his script, co-written with his wife Thea von Harbau, from her novel, in Metropolis, 1926.
That Hagen Girl (1947) - That Girl's Life Harry Davenport is the old lawyer in fictional Jordan, Ohio, sending protege Tom (Ronald Reagan) away because of the false rumor that he's the father of an adopted girl, who'll grow up to be Shirley Temple, with friend Jean Porter, loafer Tom Fadden inquiring, early in That Hagen Girl, 1947.
That Hagen Girl (1947) - That Octopus Came Creeping Up On Me Popular but nervous at the junior-college dance, Shirley Temple as Mary (title character) with a minor wardrobe malfunction when she’s assaulted by previously benevolent Dewey (Conrad Janis), busted by Miss Grover (Kathryn Card) then defended by Miss Kane (Lois Maxwell), early in That Hagen Girl, 1947, also starring Ronald Reagan.
That Hagen Girl (1947) - I Left A Mark Adopted junior-college student Mary (Shirley Temple) is checking out yearbook pictures of her presumed birth-mother, when teacher Julia (Lois Maxwell), who just did her a solid, shows up, their chat ending as lawyer Tom (Ronald Reagan) her rumored father, arrives, in That Hagen Girl, 1947.
That Hagen Girl (1947) - There's Nothing To Tell Panic in the small Midwestern town to which Ronald Reagan, as lawyer Tom, has just returned, because Shirley Temple (title character) appears to have drowned herself, because she just learned that everyone (wrongly) thinks she’s his illegitimate daughter, Rory Calhoun and Conrad Janis her spurned boyfriends, Dorothy Peterson and Charles Kemper her adoptive parents, Guy Wilkerson as Link, in That Hagen Girl, 1947.
Camille (1936) - Buy Me Some Sweets Mid 19th-century Paris courtesan Marguerite (Greta Garbo) thinks Armand (Robert Taylor) is the Baron with whom she's being set up, as they first meet at the theater, until her friend Prudence (Laura Hope Crews) shows up, in MGM's Camille, 1936.
Camille (1936) - You Look Ill, Too Feeling faint at a party, consumptive Marguerite (Greta Garbo, title character) retreats, followed by Armand (Robert Taylor) who professes his feelings, in MGM's Camille, 1936, from the Alexandre Dumas fils novel.
Camille (1936) - Marguerite Gautier A mild literary prologue then the introduction of Marguerite (Greta Garbo), as the "lady of the camelias," thus the name of the story, with friend prudence (Laura Hope Crews), George Cukor directing, in MGM's Camille, 1936.
Bright Leaf (1950) - Roll Me A Cigarette Royle (Gary Cooper) with ex-girlfriend turned brothel owner Sonia (Lauren Bacall), back in his North Carolina hometown looking to get into the cigarette business, in Michael Curtiz's turn-of-the-century melodrama Bright Leaf, 1950.
Bright Leaf (1950) - You Can Let Go Now Aspiring cigarette entrepeneur Royle (Gary Cooper) returning to his North Carolina hometown circa 1894, catching the eye of Sonia (Lauren Bacall) then insulting Margaret (Patricia Neal) and her aunt (Elizabeth Patterson), in Bright Leaf, 1950, directed by Michael Curtiz.

Trailer

Letter For Evie, A - (Original Trailer) A timid soldier (Hume Cronyn) sends his buddy's picture to a romantic pen pal in Jules Dassin's A Letter For Evie (1946).
Chocolate Soldier, The - (Original Trailer) A jealous husband tests his opera singer wife's fidelity by pretending to be another man in The Chocolate Soldier (1941) starring Nelson Eddy and Rise Stevens.
Dangerous Partners - (Original Trailer) A young couple's accident could make them rich, if they can evade a Nazi spy ring in Dangerous Partners (1945).
Tortilla Flat - (Original Trailer) Spencer Tracy, Hedy Lamarr and John Garfield star in Tortilla Flat (1942), based on the novel by John Steinbeck.
Camille - (Re-issue Trailer) A kept woman runs off with a young admirer in search of love and happiness in Camille (1937) starring Greta Garbo.
Keeping Company - (Original Trailer) The engagement of a young man (John Shelton) is jeopardized by the return of an old girlfriend (Virginia Grey).
Cry Havoc - (Original Trailer) Cry Havoc (1943) as a group of nurses stay behind to treat the wounded after the Japanese seize Bataan during World War II.
Rose of Washington Square - (Re-issue Trailer) A singer (Alice Faye) struggles to keep her criminal boyfriend (Tyrone Power) from trouble in Rose of Washington Square (1939).
Dracula (1931) - (Re-issue Trailer) The legendary bloodsucker stakes his claim on a British estate in search of new blood in Dracula (1931) starring Bela Lugosi.
Great Ziegfeld, The - (Wide Release Trailer) William Powell stars as Flo Ziegfeld, the producer who became Broadway's biggest starmaker, in The Great Ziegfeld 1936, featuring Luise Rainer in her Academy Award winning role.
Man-Proof - (Original Trailer) Myrna Loy may be crying in the chapel, but she refuses to give up her man, even after his marriage to Rosalind Russell in Man-Proof (1938).
Two Smart People - (Original Trailer) A lady crook (Lucille Ball) tries to steal a con man's hidden loot in Two Smart People (1946).

Bibliography