Filmmaker won Oscar for 'Glory'
Freddie Francis, who won Academy Awards for cinematography for “Sons and Lovers” in 1961 and “Glory” in 1989, died Saturday in west London. He was 89.
Although he received his greatest acclaim as a lenser, with numerous nominations and prizes for his work on films such as “The Straight Story,” “The Elephant Man,” “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” and “Cape Fear,” he also had a successful career as a director of horror movies in the 1960s and ’70s for cult British studios Hammer and Amicus.
Francis was born in Islington, London. Starting out as a still photographer, he entered the film business as a clapper boy, camera loader and focus puller. He gained experience with army film units during WWII, and, after the war, he worked as a camera operator on classic British films including “The Elusive Pimpernel,” “The Small Back Room,” “Gone to Earth,” “The Tales of Hoffmann,” “Beat the Devil” and “Moby Dick.”
He made his debut as a cinematographer with “A Hill in Korea” in 1956, moving on to shoot some of the pics in the new wave of realist working-class dramas, such as “Room at the Top” and “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.”
Francis stopped working as a cinematographer in the mid-1960s, when his directing career started to take off with genre pics such as “Nightmare,” “Hysteria,” “The Evil of Frankenstein” and “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave.”
He returned to cinematography in 1980 with David Lynch’s “The Elephant Man,” working subsequently with Lynch on “Dune” in 1984 and “The Straight Story” in 1999, his last film. His last film as a director was “Dark Tower” in 1986.
Francis won the lifetime achievement award from the British Society of Cinematographers in 1997 and the international award from the American Society of Cinematographers in 1998. He was nominated for four BAFTAs but never won.
He had just completed his autobiography, co-written by Tony Dalton, when he suffered a stroke in late December.
Francis is survived by his wife, Pamela Mann; sons Kevin, a producer, and Gareth; daughter Susanna; and six grandchildren.