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Fisher, Gerry


Cinematographer. Nationality: British. Born: London, 1926. Military Service: Royal Navy during World War II. Family: Married. Career: Worked for Kodak and De Havilland Aircraft; 1946—joined Alliance Riverside as clapper boy; then worked for Wessex Films, Shepperton, and British Lion as camera assistant and focus puller, and from 1957 as cameraman; 1967—first film as cinematographer, Accident.Address: Smith, Gosnell, Nicholson and Associates, Pacific Palisades, California, U.S.A.

Films as Cameraman:


The Bridge on the River Kwai (Lean)


The Journey (Litvak)


Tarzan's Greatest Adventure (Guillermin); The Devil's Disciple (Hamilton); Suddenly, Last Summer (Mankiewicz)


The Millionairess (Asquith); The Sundowners (Zinnemann)


The Road to Hong Kong (Panama)


Guns of Darkness (Asquith); Live Now, Pay Later (Lewis); 55 Days at Peking (Ray)


The V.I.P.s (Asquith); Night Must Fall (Reisz)


Circus World (The Magnificent Showman) (Hathaway); Guns at Batasi (Guillermin); The Yellow Rolls-Royce (Asquith)


Bunny Lake Is Missing (Preminger)


Modesty Blaise (Losey)


Casino Royale (Huston and others)

Films as Cinematographer:


Accident (Losey); The Mikado (Burge); Sebastian (Greene)


The Seagull (Lumet); Amsterdam Affair (O'Hara); Interlude (Billington); Secret Ceremony (Losey)


Hamlet (Richardson); All the Right Noises (O'Hara)


Ned Kelly (Richardson); Macho Callahan (Kowalski); The Go-Between (Losey)


Blind Terror (See No Evil) (Fleischer); Man in the Wilderness (Sarafian)


Malpertuis (Kumel); The Man and the Snake (Rydman—short); The Amazing Mr. Blunden (Jeffries); The Offence (Lumet)


A Bequest to the Nation (The Nelson Affair) (Jones); A Doll's House (Losey); Butley (Pinter); Catholics (Gold)


Spys (Kershner); Juggernaut (Lester); Dogpound Shuffle (Spot) (Bloom)


Brannigan (Hickox); The Romantic Englishwoman (Losey); The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (G. Wilder)


Aces High (Gold); Comme un boomerang . . . (Giovanni)


Mr. Klein (Losey); The Island of Dr. Moreau (Taylor); The Last Remake of Beau Geste (Feldman); Once upon a Time . . . Is Now (Billington) (co); Exorcist II (Boorman)


Fedora (B. Wilder); Les Routes du sud (Losey)


Don Giovanni (Losey)


Wise Blood (Huston); Wolfen (Wadleigh); The Ninth Configuration (Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane) (Blatty)


Victory (Escape to Victory) (Huston)


Lovesick (Brickman); Yellowbeard (Damski)


Les mots pour le dire (Pinheiro); Better Late than Never (Forbes)


The Holcroft Covenant (Frankenheimer)


Highlander (Mulcahy); Man on Fire (Chouraqui)


Running on Empty (Lumet); Dead Bang (Frankenheimer)


Black Rainbow (Hodges); The Fourth War (Frankenheimer)


Exorcist III (Blatty)


Company Business (Patriots) (Meyer)


The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (Ritchie—for TV); Diggstown (Midnight Sting) (Ritchie)


Cops and Robbersons (Ritchie)


Dandelion Dead (Hodges—for TV)


When Saturday Comes (Geiss)


K (Arcady)


Furia (Aja)


By FISHER: articles—

On The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), October 1975.

On The Island of Dr. Moreau in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), August 1977.

On FISHER: article—

Eyles, A., in Focus on Film (London), Summer 1975.

* * *

Gerry Fisher's filmography encompasses such quintessentially Hollywood enterprises as Suddenly, Last Summer and The V.I.P.s as well as such routine jobs of work as Exorcist II. He has worked with major stars such as the Burtons and John Wayne and with such thoughtfully mainstream and contrasting directors as Billy Wilder (Fedora) and Sidney Lumet (The Seagull). A more telling thread begins perhaps with the studio work he performed for Jack Hildyard and takes in such definitively British films of their period as The Bridge on the River Kwai (on which David Lean promoted him to cameraman) and The Yellow Rolls-Royce. A self-avowedly "location sort of cameraman really," however, his career is definitively linked to that of Joseph Losey's with whom he collaborated on some of that director's most assured, enigmatic and "English" work. The collaboration began with Accident, Fisher's first film as a lighting cameraman. It was the first time he was free to read a script and consider how he would visualize the action. Despite the visibility of tracks in the final sequence, the result of the demands of the ratio and the constraints of a small budget which precluded reshooting the scene, the film boasts cinematography that perfectly meets the director's needs in the creation of a very particularly English, and rather desultory, wasteland of the spirit and the emotions. On Secret Ceremony, a Borgesian fable set in an architecturally and decoratively distinctive mansion in London, Fisher allowed the colors and contours of the house itself to determine both the dominant colors of the film and also the wandering camera movements. The effect made the house something of a character in itself rather than merely, as happened in The Romantic Englishwoman, an expressive setting for the performers. With The Go-Between, again a decidedly English story, this time of cross-class and intergenerational conflict and passions played out through notions of manners and etiquette, Fisher drew on his own childhood memories—of the particular play of sunlight on wood for example. This brought to the film a tactile precision which productively undercut its inherent nostalgia.

On Don Giovanni, Losey's film of Mozart's opera, Fisher was able to make great play with the magical and grandiose aspects of the film's Palladian setting. He was also faced with the difficulty of filming the singers in such a way that the effort of singing remained visible—and therefore convincing—but did not become so obvious as to distract from the narrative. While quite aware of the constraints placed on the cameraman by a performer's limitations (the fact that Bogarde could not play tennis had necessitated inventive hand-held camera work on Accident), Fisher is also careful to acknowledge the catalyst that a certain performance can be for framing and the selection of camera angles. A project such as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, Gene Wilder's first attempt at directing, placed other demands on the cinematographer's resourcefulness. While taking Fisher back into the studio, it also necessitated involvement in the project almost from inception. In photographing it Fisher tried to give weight to the serious and romantic elements of the story, while at the same time giving the project enough visual clarity for the sight gags.

On the whole, Fisher remains a cinematographer rather at the mercy of his material and directors. His work is never less than professional, but not always distinctive. Given, however, a director whose very personal vision he can share, and with whom he can fully collaborate he can produce work of matchless quality.

—Verina Glaessner

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