Cardiff, Jack 1914–

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CARDIFF, Jack 1914–

(John Cardiff)

PERSONAL: Born September 18, 1914, in Yarmouth, Norfolk, England; son of John Joseph (a vaudeville performer) and Florence (a vaudeville performer) Cardiff; married Julia Lily Mickleboro, 1940 (divorced); married; wife's name, Sylvia (divorced); married; wife's name, Nicki, c. 1970; children: John, Rodney, Peter, Mason.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Faber and Faber Ltd., 3 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AU, England.

CAREER: Cinematographer, camera operator, director, and actor. Director of films, including This Is Colour (short film), 1942; Intent to Kill, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1958; Beyond This Place (also known as Web of Evidence), 1959; Scent of Mystery (also known as Holiday in Spain), Michael Todd, 1960; Sons and Lovers, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1960; The Lion, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1962; My Geisha, Paramount, 1962; (director of additional sequences) Satan Never Sleeps, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1962; The Long Ships, Columbia, 1964; Young Cassidy, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), 1965; The Liquidator, MGM, 1966; Dark of the Sun (also known as The Mercenaries), MGM, 1968; (and producer) The Girl on a Motorcycle (also known as Naked under Leather), Claridge, 1968; Penny Gold, 1973; The Mutations (also known as Doctor of Evil, The Freakmaker, and The Mutation), Columbia, 1974; Delius, 1989; Vivaldi's Four Seasons, 1991; The Dance of Shiva, Epiphany Productions, 1998; The Suicidal Dog, BBC Films, 2000; and One Life Later, c. 2001. Cinematographer of films, including The Last Days of Pompeii, 1935; (with Hal Rosson) As You Like It, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1936; (with Ray Rennahan and Henry Imus) Wings of the Morning, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1937; La caccia alla volpe nella campagna Romana (short documentary film; also known as Fox Hunting the Roman Compagna), 1938; (as John Cardiff) Paris on Parade (short film), 1938; Main Street of Paris (short film), 1939; World Windows, 1939; Peasant Island (short film), 1940; Green Girdle (short film), 1941; Plastic Surgery in Wartime (short film), 1941; Queen Cotton (short film), 1941; Western Isles (short film), 1941; Border Weave (short film), 1942; Colour in Clay (short film), 1942; (with Claude Friese-Greene) The Great Mr. Handel, Midfilm, 1942; Out of the Box (short film), 1942; This Is Colour (short film), 1942; Scottish Mazurka (short film), 1943; (with others) Steel (short film), 1944; The Western Approaches (also known as The Raider), 1944; (with others) Caesar and Cleopatra, Eagle Lion, 1946; Stairway to Heaven (also known as A Matter of Life and Death), Universal, 1946; Black Narcissus, General Films Distributors, 1947; The Red Shoes, Eagle Lion/Rank, 1948; (with others) Scott of the Antarctic, Eagle Lion/Pyramid, 1949; (with others) Under Capricorn, Warner Bros., 1949; The Black Rose, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1950; Montmartre (short film), 1950; The African Queen, United Artists (UA), 1951; Montmartre Nocturne (short film), 1951; Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, MGM, 1951; Paris (short film), 1951; It Started in Paradise, General Films Distributors, 1952; The Magic Box, British Lion, 1952; The Master of Ballantrae, Warner Bros, 1953; The Barefoot Contessa, UA, 1954; Crossed Swords, United Artists, 1954; The Brave One, RKO Radio Pictures, 1956; (with Aldo Tonti) War and Peace, Paramount, 1956; The Big Money, 1956, Lopert, 1962; Legend of the Lost (also known as Timbuctu), UA, 1957; The Prince and the Showgirl, Warner Bros., 1957; The Vikings, UA, 1958; (with William C. Mellor) The Diary of Anne Frank, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1959; The Journey, 1959; Fanny, Warner Bros., 1961; Dark of the Sun (also known as The Mercenaries), MGM, 1968; The Girl on a Motorcycle (also known as Naked under Leather), Claridge, 1968; Scalawag, Paramount, 1973; Ride a Wild Pony (also known as Born to Run), Buena Vista, 1976; Behind the Iron Mask (also known as The Fifth Musketeer), Columbia, 1977; Crossed Swords (also known as The Prince and the Pauper), Warner Bros., 1978; Death on the Nile, Paramount, 1978; Avalanche Express, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1979; A Man, a Woman, and a Bank (also known as A Very Big Withdrawal), Avco-Embassy, 1979; The Awakening, Warner Bros., 1980; The Dogs of War, UA, 1980; Ghost Story, Universal, 1981; The Wicked Lady, MGM/UA, 1983; Conan the Destroyer, Universal, 1984; Scandalous, Orion, 1984; Cat's Eye (also known as Stephen King's Cat's Eye), MGM/UA, 1985; Rambo: First Blood, Part II, TriStar, 1985; Tai-Pan, 1986; Million Dollar Mystery (also known as Money Mania), De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, 1987; Call from Space, Showscan, 1989; The Magic Balloon, Showscan, 1990; Vivaldi's Four Seasons, 1991; The Dance of the Shiva, 1998; The Suicidal Dog, 2000; and The Tell-Tale Heart, 2004. Also director of short documentary films for "World Window" series, including Arabian Bazaar, Delhi, The Eternal Fire, Indian Temples, Jerusalem, Jungle, Petra, A Road in India, River Thames—Yesterday, Rome Symphony, Ruins of Palmyra and Baalbek, The Sacred Ganges, A Village in India, and Wanderers of the Desert, 1937–40. Camera operator for films, including Brewster's Millions, 1935; The Ghost Goes West, 1935; Honeymoon for Three, 1935; As You Like It, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1936; The Coronation of King George VI, 1936; (and special effects camera operator) The Man Who Could Work Miracles, 1936; Things to Come, 1936; Dark Journey (also known as The Anxious Years), 1937; Knight without Armour, 1937; The Four Feathers, 1939; The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (also known as The Adventures of Colonel Blimp), 1943. Appeared in films, including My Son, My Son, 1918; Billy's Rose, 1922; The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots, 1923; Tiptoes, 1927; Sean O'Casey: The Spirit of Ireland, 1965; (as himself) A Profile of "Black Narcissus," Carlton International Media, 2000; (as himself) A Profile of "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp," Carlton International Media, 2000; (as himself) A Profile of "The Red Shoes," Carlton Films, 2000; and We Get to Win This Time (video), Artisan Entertainment, 2002. Cinematographer of television miniseries, including The Far Pavilions (also known as Blade of Steel), Home Box Office (HBO), 1984; and The Last Days of Pompeii, ABC, 1984. Appeared as himself in television specials, including A Matter of Michael and Emeric, 1977; Glorious Technicolor, 1998; The Hustons: Hollywood's Maverick Dynasty, Arts and Entertainment, 1998; and Larry and Vivien: The Oliviers in Love, Channel 4, 2001.

AWARDS, HONORS: Academy Award for best cinematography, Academy of Motion-Picture Arts and Sciences, 1947, for Black Narcissus; Academy Award nominations for best cinematography, for War and Peace and Fanny, and for directing, for Sons and Lovers; Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement, 2001.


(With others) The Girl on a Motorcycle (screenplay; also known as Naked under Leather), Claridge, 1968.

Magic Hour: The Life of a Cameraman (autobiography), Faber & Faber (Boston, MA), 1997.

Author of another autobiography, published in 1975. Contributor to periodicals, including American Cinematographer, Cinematographe, Screen International, and Time Out.

SIDELIGHTS: Jack Cardiff is "modest, literate, gossipy, generous and one of the world's greatest cameramen," Simon Hattenstone wrote in a review of Cardiff's autobiography, Magic Hour: The Life of a Cameraman, in the Manchester Guardian. Cardiff's parents were vaudeville performers who sometimes dabbled in the new medium of film, and through them, Cardiff won his first film role in 1918, at the age of four. But even before he reached his teens Cardiff's marketability as a child star was waning, so he moved behind the camera as an assistant.

Cardiff's big break came at age twenty-two, when Technicolor was looking to expand its color-film business into Great Britain. Cardiff interviewed to be the first British camera operator to be trained in the new technology. He was not the most scientifically competent candidate, he admits, but he was the premiere student of the use of light. Throughout his teenage years Cardiff had haunted art museums, studying the ways the great masters of painting had lit their subjects. Cardiff earned the job, he recalls in Magic Hour, by being able to tell the interviewers on which side of the face Rembrandt placed the key light.

Although Cardiff reveals many of the techniques of cinematography, Magic Hour is not merely a book for aspiring camera operators. Cardiff worked with most of the great stars of twentieth-century cinema, including Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, Alfred Hitchcock, Ava Gardner, and Marlene Dietrich, and his "vivid evocations" of their antics on and off the set "are a treat," Lucy Maycock wrote in the London Observer. Overall, Magic Hour "is a lively, easy-going account of a remarkable career," concluded London Sunday Times reviewer George Perry.



Cardiff, Jack, Magic Hour: The Life of a Cameraman, Faber & Faber (Boston, MA), 1997.

International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 4: Writers and Production Artists, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.


Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 29, 2001, Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, "A Few Honorary Nods to Cardiff and Lehman," p. D8.

Daily Telegraph (London, England), March 2, 2001, David Gritten, interview with Cardiff, p. 23.

Daily Variety, October 22, 2002, Adam Dawtrey, "Brits Abuzz over Biz," p. 12.

Entertainment Weekly, April 6, 2001, Ty Burr, review of Black Narcissus, p. 44.

Film Comment, November-December, 1985, Stephen Harvey, review of Black Narcissus, p. 66.

Guardian (London, England), May 10, 1996, Simon Hattenstone, review of Magic Hour: The Life of a Cameraman, p. 13; July 18, 1996, Caroline Sullivan, "Mood Musicians," p. 12; August 1, 1997, Tom Hutchinson, interview with Cardiff, pp. T6-T7; October 30, 1998, Gregory Street, "Wanna Make a Movie? Let the Master Show You How," p. 12.

Independent (London, England), November 21, 1997, David Benedict, interview with Cardiff, p. 26.

Los Angeles Times, April 20, 1984, Howard Rosenberg, review of The Far Pavilions, p. 1; April 12, 1985, Kevin Thomas, review of Cat's Eye, p. 4; May 22, 1985, Michael Wilmington, review of Rambo: First Blood, Part II, p. 1.

Maclean's, December 21, 1981, Lawrence O'Toole, review of Ghost Story, p. 50; February 6, 1984, Lawrence O'Toole, review of Scandalous, p. 54.

Mirror (London, England), March 24, 2001, Thomas Quinn, "And the Oscar Goes to … Jack Cardiff, 86," p. 11.

New Republic, July 1, 1985, Stanley Kauffmann, review of Rambo: First Blood, Part II, p. 16.

New Statesman, August 2, 1985, John Coleman, review of Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, p. 30.

New Yorker, March 23, 1981, Pauline Kael, review of The Dogs of War, pp. 138-139; June 17, 1985, Pauline Kael, review of Rambo: First Blood, Part II, p. 117.

New York Times, April 22, 1984, John J. O'Connor, review of The Far Pavilions, p. H26; March 25, 2001, Bill Desowitz, "Cinema Vermeer: A Gifted Colorist and Master of Light," p. AR17.

Observer (London, England), August 31, 1997, Lucy Maycock, review of Magic Hour, p. 16.

Sight and Sound, July, 2001, Geoffrey Macnab, interview with Cardiff, p. 65.

Sunday Telegraph (London, England), March 25, 2001, Chris Hastings, "Stage Fright for Briton Facing Oscar Tribute," p. 20.

Sunday Times, June 2, 1996, George Perry, review of Magic Hour, p. 5; February 4, 2001, Stuart Wavell, interview with Cardiff, p. NR2.

Times (London, England), August 30, 2003, Stephen Dalton, review of Girl on a Motorcycle, p. 6; November 24, 2003, Kate Quill, interview with Cardiff, p. 16.

Times Higher Education Supplement, June 28, 1996, Ian Christie, review of Magic Hour, p. 23.

ONLINE, (November 26, 2003), "Jack Cardiff."

Guild of Television Cameramen Web site, (November 26, 2003), Steve Hall, interview with Cardiff.

Internet Movie Database, (May 25, 2004), "Jack Cardiff."