D.P. Bruce Surtees dies at 74

Was cinematographer for Clint Eastwood

Bruce Surtees, cinematographer on more than 50 films, including Bob Fosse’s “Lenny,” for which he Surtees was Oscar nominated, and Clint Eastwood pics “Dirty Harry,” “High Plains Drifter,” “The Outlaw Josey Wales” and Escape From Alcatraz,” died Thursday, Feb. 23. He was 74.

Surtees made 14 films starring Eastwood, most of them directed by Eastwood. They began their association on films directed by Don Siegel including “Coogan’s Bluff” (1968) and 1970’s “Two Mules for Sister Sara,” on which Surtees was the camera operator; “The Beguiled” (1971) (Surtees’ first credit as d.p.); and “Dirty Harry” (1971). When Eastwood made his directorial debut in 1971 with “Play Misty for Me,” he chose Surtees as cinematographer. They also worked together on “Honkytonk Man,” “Firefox,” Sudden Impact” and “Pale Rider,” all directed and starring Eastwood; “Tightrope,” starring Eastwood; and 1995’s “The Stars Fell on Henrietta,” exec produced by Eastwood.

Surtees, whose propensity for low-ley lighting led to the sobriquet “the prince of darkness,” drew an Oscar nomination in 1975 for his work on Bob Fosse’s critically hailed Lenny Bruce biopic that starred Dustin Hoffman. The film was shot in black and white.

He was also praised for his work on Arthur Penn’s 1975 film “Night Moves” and Gordon Parks’ “Leadbelly” (1976).

Among his many other film credits were “Risky Business” and “Beverly Hills Cop.”

Surtees also worked in television and was Emmy nominated in 1999 for his work on the A&E telepic “Dash and Lilly.” Other credits included “Murder in a Small Town,” “That Championship Season” and “American Tragedy.”

He was the son of a cinematographer, Robert L. Surtees, who won Oscars for “King Solomon’s Mines,” “The Bad and the Beautiful” and “Ben Hur” and was nominated a total of 14 times, including four years in a row in the late 1970s. The elder Surtees died in 1985.

Bruce Mohr Powell Surtees was born in Los Angeles and educated at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. He began his career as a technician at Disney and early on worked for his father as camera operator on films including “The Hallelujah Trail” and “The Lost Command.”

Surtees is survived by his wife, Carol.

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