James Wong Howe: The Man Who Changed Cinema

James Wong Howe

(August 28, 1899-July 12, 1976)

James Wong Howe, A.S.C. ( August 28, 1899 – July 12, 1976) was a Chinese American cinematographer who worked on over 130 films. He was a master at the use of shadow and was one of the first to use deep-focus cinematography, in which both foreground and distant plains stay in focus. During the 1930s and 1940s, Howe was one of the most sought after cinematographers in Hollywood.

He was nominated for 10 Academy Awards for cinematography, winning twice for The Rose Tattoo (1955) and Hud (1963). Howe was judged to be one of the 10 most-influential cinematographers in a survey of the members of the International Cinematographers Guild in the United States.

Google’s Doodle on James Wong Howe, a mystery? Not anymore.

James Wong Howe, one of the most revered early era cinematographer lauded professionally as a pioneer in cinematography. Through his long career behind the camera, Howe received as many as ten Academy Award nominations(now known as The Oscars) for best cinematography, winning twice in 1955 and 1963.

James Wong Howe: The Man Who Changed Cinema
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From accidentally discovering how to use dark backdrops to create color nuances in the black-and-white film to pioneering the use of wide-angle lenses, low-key lighting, and color lighting, he did it all. He was also an early adopter of the crab dolly, a four-wheeled moving platform for cameras with a movable arm.

Why Google doodle on James Wong Howe? My counter to that is, why the heck not?

Contributions of James Wong Howe

A person who changed the peoples’ mindset about a cameraman, he quotes, “I agree with the criticism of placing camera gymnastics and an epic of sets over, or in place of, story values. I take issue with the statement that this is the fault of brilliant cameramen, and that “dumb cameramen” are a necessity for good pictures, along with less money, a good script, old standing sets and some lights and shadows. Who makes the lights and shadows which creates emotional tones on the screen? They don’t come on the old sets. The cameraman makes them.” This is what he was and this is what he contributed towards the well-being of the society and a whole community of cameramen.

Howe reformed the concept of cinematography and blended it with a fine pinch of practical creativity.

James Wong Howe: The Man Who Changed Cinema
Image Courtesy: Alchetron

While Google has done a commendable job already, it’s our turn to pay tribute to this yesteryear’ gem of an artist. Let us do our tiniest bit to let the world recollect the honor of the creative genius by sharing the post on your network. After all, every drop in the ocean matters!

Rw Authors: Moumita & Gehna

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