Douglas Slocombe, Cinematographer for ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ Dies at 103

Douglas Slocombe dead
Courtesy of Lucasfilm

Oscar-nominated British cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, whose many films include several classic Ealing comedies in the 1940s and ’50s and the first three Indiana Jones pics in the 1980s, died Monday, his family told Agence France-Presse. He was 103.

Slocombe drew Oscar noms for “Travels With My Aunt” in 1973, “Julia” in 1978 and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” in 1982. He is famous within the industry for never having used a light meter on the set of “Raiders.”

He shot Ealing comedies including “Kind Hearts and Coronets,” “The Lavender Hill Mob” and “The Man in the White Suit.”

During the 1960s he was d.p. on films including “The Servant,” “The Blue Max,” “The Fearless Vampire Killers,” “The Lion in Winter” and “The Italian Job.”

In addition to the pics for which he was Oscar nominated, he shot “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “The Great Gatsby,” “The Maids” and “Rollerball” in the 1970s.

“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989) was his last film.

Born in London, Slocombe was raised in France but returned to the U.K. in 1933. During WWII he shot war footage that went into documentaries by Alberto Cavalcanti and Ealing. Slocombe drew his first feature-film lensing credit on “The Big Blockade” (1942), on which he was co-credited with Wilkie Cooper.

According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Cinematographers, Slocombe was not identifiable by a signature style like the other great lensers — “The features he shot are united only in their adaptive commitment to finding each project’s ideal visual language.”

Slocombe won BAFTAs for cinematography for “The Servant,” “The Great Gatsby” and “Julia.”

He appeared in several documentaries over the years about the making of various films, including “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and the Ealing comedies.

Slocombe won the British Society of Cinematographers’ lifetime achievement award in 1995.

He is survived by his daughter.

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  1. Jim Pillsbury says:

    An impressive body of work. He will be sorely missed. “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage!”

  2. michaelprestage says:

    This is certainly sad news. I’ve been a fan of Mr. Slocombe’s since junior high, especially of his earlier B&W cinematography which was every bit as outstanding as his later color work. Never one for over-the-top or flashy camerawork, he was truly a master at capturing the soul of a scene.

    Here’s hoping Douglas, Haskell and Vilmos are enjoying a brandy together and basking in the carbon arc rays of a Technicolor utopia!

  3. Vic Tablian says:

    I was lucky enough to be in Raiders of the lost Ark, I traveled on the plane several times, always sitting next to the Nicest man in the Industry, DOUGLAS SLOCOMBE I was new in acting, Learned a lot from
    The Best Kindest Gentleman.
    Vic Tablian

  4. cadavra says:

    Yet another outstanding artist whom Oscar voters foolishly ignored for decades. Fortunately, his work will always be with us.

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