RIP: Jack Cardiff

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We’re a little under the weather today, so it’s late and light, but we had to make mention of this Not Comics obit: The legendary cinematographer Jack Cardiff has died at age 94:

An Oscar winner for Black Narcissus, in 1948, Cardiff’s career as cinematographer spanned an astonishing eight decades, with his career in films going all the way back to an 1918 acting job.

Cardiff will be best remembered for his long collaboration with directors Powell & Pressburger on films like A Matter of Life & Death and The Red Shoes, but he also worked on classics like The African Queen for John Huston, The Barefoot Contessa for Joseph L. Mankiewicz and King Vidor’s War and Peace.

And CONAN THE DESTROYER and RAMBO, of all things. Cardiff was still working even a few years ago, and directed several films himself, including SONS AND LOVERS.

The Powell/Pressburger films remain one of the great treasures of film, and Cardiff’s unbelievable photography on BLACK NARCISSUS — a delirious story of repressed nuns in the febrile Himalayas — remains a singular cinematic achievement of beauty and psychological expression. Under Cardiff, even a potboiler like THE VIKINGS looked great. Truly, one of the masters.


  1. says

    When I worked in the DVD/Music department at the Lincoln Center B&N, we would screen (silently) the Criterion edition of the Red Shoes. Given the “normal” story, it was stunning to watch, more enjoyable than the animated or action movies shown. And we sold A LOT of that DVD, which was supervised by Jack Cardiff.

  2. says

    He also directed one of my favorite 1960s movies – The Liquidator – a light-hearted spy film based on a novel by John Gardner (the guy who’d later write James Bond novels) and starring Rod Taylor as Boysie Oakes.

  3. says

    Black Narcissus is amazing. There is one aerial shot of the mountains looking into the valley that is just breathtaking.

  4. Karen says

    Nobody–but nobody–had the depth and richness of color in their films that Jack Cardiff gave Powell and Pressburger.

    What an amazing talent.

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