|Born||18 September 1914|
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, UK
|Died||22 April 2009 (aged 94)|
Ely, Cambridgeshire, UK
|Known for||A Matter of Life and Death
Black Narcissus (1947)
The Red Shoes (1948)
The African Queen (1951)
War and Peace (1956)
Sons and Lovers (1960)
Jack Cardiff,(18 September 1914 – 22 April 2009) was a British cinematographer, film and television director, and photographer. His career spanned the development of cinema, from silent film, through early experiments in Technicolor, to filmmaking more than half a century later.
He is best known for his influential color cinematography for directors such as Powell and Pressburger (A Matter of Life and Death, Black Narcissus, and The Red Shoes), John Huston (The African Queen) and Alfred Hitchcock (Under Capricorn). He is also known for his work as a director – in particular, his critically acclaimed film Sons and Lovers (1960) for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director.
In 2000, he was appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and, in 2001, he was awarded an Academy Honorary Award for his contribution to the cinema.
Jack Cardiff's work is reviewed in the documentary film: Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010) and Terry Johnson's stage play Prism (2017).
Cardiff was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, the son of Florence and John Joseph Cardiff, music hall entertainers.
He worked as an actor from an early age, both in the music hall and in a number of silent films: My Son, My Son (1918), Billy's Rose (1922), The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots (1923) and Tip Toes (1927). At 15, he began working as a camera assistant, clapper boy and production runner for British International Pictures, including Alfred Hitchcock's The Skin Game (1931).
In 1935, Cardiff graduated to camera operator and occasional cinematographer, working mostly for London Films. He was camera operator on the first film in Britain shot in Technicolor: Wings of the Morning (1937). When the Second World War began he worked as a cinematographer on public information films. He did a number of films on India where the British wanted to showcase the new capital city of Delhi.
The turning point in his career was as a second unit Technicolor camera operator on Powell and Pressburger's The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943); they were sufficiently impressed to hire Cardiff as cinematographer on their post-war Technicolor A Matter of Life and Death (1946). Their collaboration continued with Black Narcissus (1947), which won Cardiff an Oscar and a Golden Globe, and The Red Shoes (1948). These films put Cardiff's talents in high demand, and a string of big-budget films followed.
In 1995, the British Society of Cinematographers conferred a lifetime achievement award on Cardiff.
In the late 1950s Cardiff began to direct, with two modest successes in Intent to Kill (1958) and Web of Evidence (1959). His version of D. H. Lawrence's novel Sons and Lovers (1960), starring Trevor Howard, Wendy Hiller and Dean Stockwell, was a hit, critically and at the box-office. It received seven Oscar nominations (including a Best Director nomination for Cardiff) and Freddie Francis won for Best Black-and-White Cinematography. Cardiff received a Golden Globe Award for Best Director.
After concentrating on direction in the 1960s, he returned to cinematography in the 1970s and 1980s, working on mainstream commercial films in the United States. One of the last films Cardiff photographed was at Pinewood Studios in 2004 when he lit veteran actor Sir John Mills in a short entitled Lights 2 (dir. Marcus Dillistone). The combined age of leading actor and cinematographer was a record 186 years.
Cardiff died on 22 April 2009, aged 94, the same day as Ken Annakin, with whom he had worked on The Fifth Musketeer (1979). He was survived by his wife and his four sons.
Jack Cardiff was the camera operator and then cinematographer for 73 films, documentaries and TV series between 1935 and 2007. These are some of the main films:
|1937||Wings of the Morning||Harold D. Schuster||camera operator|
|1937||Knight Without Armor||Jacques Feyder||camera operator|
|1942||The Great Mr. Handel||Norman Walker|
|1946||A Matter of Life and Death||Powell and Pressburger|
|1947||Black Narcissus||Powell and Pressburger|
|1948||The Red Shoes||Powell and Pressburger|
|1949||Under Capricorn||Alfred Hitchcock|
|1950||The Black Rose||Henry Hathaway|
|1951||The Magic Box||John Boulting|
|1951||Pandora and the Flying Dutchman||Albert Lewin|
|1951||The African Queen||John Huston|
|1954||The Barefoot Contessa||Joseph L. Mankiewicz|
|1956||War and Peace||King Vidor|
|1957||The Prince and the Showgirl||Laurence Olivier|
|1957||Legend of the Lost||Henry Hathaway|
|1958||The Vikings||Richard Fleischer|
|1977||The Prince and the Pauper||Richard Fleischer|
|1978||Death on the Nile||John Guillermin|
|1979||The Fifth Musketeer||Ken Annakin|
|1980||The Awakening||Mike Newell|
|1981||Ghost Story||John Irvin|
|1981||The Dogs of War||John Irvin|
|1984||The Far Pavilions||Peter Duffell|
|1984||Conan the Destroyer||Richard Fleischer|
|1985||Cat's Eye||Lewis Teague|
|1985||Rambo: First Blood Part II||George P. Cosmatos|
|1987||Million Dollar Mystery||Richard Fleischer|
|1953||The Story of William Tell||unfinished|
|1958||Intent to Kill|
|1959||Beyond This Place||US title: Web of Evidence|
|1960||Scent of Mystery|
|1960||Sons and Lovers|
|1963||The Long Ships|
|1968||Dark of the Sun||Also known as The Mercenaries|
|1968||The Girl on a Motorcycle||US title: Naked Under Leather|
|1947||Best Cinematography||Black Narcissus||Won|
|1956||War and Peace||Nominated|
|1960||Best Director||Sons and Lovers||Nominated|
|1947||Golden Globe Awards||Best Cinematography||Black Narcissus||Nominated|
|1956||British Society of Cinematographers||Best Cinematography||War and Peace||Won|
|1960||Cannes Film Festival||Palme d'Or||Sons and Lovers||Nominated|
|1960||Golden Globe Awards||Best Director||Won|
|1960||Directors Guild of America||Best Director||Nominated|
|1960||New York Film Critics Circle||Best Director||Won|
|1960||National Board of Review||Best Director||Won|
|1985||British Academy Television Awards||Best Film Cameraman||The Far Pavilions||Nominated|
|1994||American Society of Cinematographers||International Award||—||Won|
|1994||British Society of Cinematographers||Lifetime Achievement Award||—||Won|
|1996||London Film Critics' Circle||Lifetime Achievement Award||—||Won|
|2002||British Film Institute||BFI Fellowship||—||Won|
A feature-length documentary was made about Cardiff's life and career, Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010) by Craig McCall. It took 17 years to make, and was not completed until after Cardiff had died. As well as many interviews with Cardiff, it included tributes from Sir John Mills, Martin Scorsese, Thelma Schoonmaker, Kathleen Byron, Kim Hunter, Moira Shearer, Lauren Bacall, Charlton Heston and Kirk Douglas. It was selected for the official selection of Cannes Classics at the Festival de Cannes in 2010, as well as four other important film festivals that year.
Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff was shown as part of the Great Yarmouth Arts Festival 2014 along with some of his photographs, often taken as preliminaries to lighting the films. Further celebrations to mark his birth date took place that September, particularly at the Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth.
Cardiff's life was also explored in the 2017 stage play Prism by Terry Johnson.