Jun 3, 2010

William Fraker (1923 - 2010)

Despite that he shot such audience favourites as Heaven Can Wait or WarGames, cinematographer William Fraker is an important name among the Hollywood Renaissance of the 1970's, having established himself early on with distinctive looks in Rosemary's Bay, and especially Bullitt. However, for me, the his work will most be synonymous with the films of director Floyd Mutrux. His gritty docu-realism added to the desperation of Dusty and Sweets McGee, the melancholy of Aloha Bobby and Rose and the tragedy of American Hot Wax. The muted colours and overexposed urban streetlights added to the naturalism that made you forget you were watching a movie, and instead were participants in the chronicles of despair onscreen.

Occasionally, he would get into the director's chair to helm a handful of films. The best of these is probably the all-but-forgotten melancholy "old man" western Monte Walsh, featuring Lee Marvin as a cowpoke who's not long for the pasture. This beautifully understated fable has the same kind of naturalistic feel of Fraker's best work as a cameraman. He was also onscreen to discuss some of his craft in the marvelous 1992 documentary Visions of Light.


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