Hoch, Winton C.

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HOCH, Winton C.

Cinematographer. Nationality: American. Born: Iowa, 1907. Education: Attended California Institute of Technology, B.A. in physics, 1931. Military Service: 1941–44—served in the photographic science laboratory of the United States Navy: filmed top-secret material, including Los Alamos. Career: 1931–34—research physicist; 1934—joined Technicolor Corporation: lens technician, helped develop 3-color film system; contracted to C.V. Whitney Productions after the war; TV work includes the series Lost in Space, 1965, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea series. 1979—President, American Society of Cinematographers. Awards: Technical Academy Award, 1939, and award for Joan of Arc, 1948; She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, 1949; The Quiet Man, 1952. Died: Santa Monica, California, 20 March 1979.

Films as Cinematographer (Shorts directed by Fitzpatrick):


St. Helena and Its Man of Destiny; Colorful Islands—Madagas-car and Seychelles; Picturesque South Africa


India on Parade; Colorful Bombay; Glimpses of Java andCeylon; Serene Siam; Glimpses of Peru; Stockholm, Prideof Sweden; Chile, Land of Charm; Land of the Incas


Glimpse of Austria; Glimpses of New Brunswick; BeautifulBudapest; Rural Sweden; Czechoslovakia on Parade


Rural Hungary


Over the Andes

Other Films as Cinematographer (Shorts):


Beautiful Banff and Lake Louise (Sharpe)


Rocky Mountain Grandeur (Smith)


Natural Wonders of the West (Smith)


Carbon Arc Projection (Wright)


A Light in Nature (Orrom) (co)

Films as Cinematographer (Features):


Dr. Cyclops (Schoedsack) (assoc)


The Reluctant Dragon (Werker) (co); Memories of Europe(Fitzpatrick—compilation); Dive Bomber (Curtiz) (co)


Captains of the Clouds (Curtiz) (co)


Melody Time (Geronimi) (co); Tap Roots (Marshall) (co); SoDear to My Heart (Schuster) (co); Joan of Arc (Fleming)(co); Three Godfathers (Ford) (co); Tulsa (Heisler)


She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (Ford); The Sundowners (Thunderin the Dust) (Templeton)


Halls of Montezuma (Milestone) (co); Bird of Paradise (Daves)


The Quiet Man (Ford); The Redhead from Wyoming (Sholem)


Salome (Dieterle) (co); Return to Paradise (Robson)


Mister Roberts (Ford and LeRoy)


The Searchers (Ford)


The Missouri Traveler (Hopper); Jet Pilot (von Sternberg—produced 1970); The Young Land (Tetzlaff) (co)


Darby O'Gill and the Little People (Stevenson); The BigCircus (Newman)


The Lost World (Allen)


Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (Allen)


Sergeants Three (J. Sturges); Five Weeks in a Balloon (Allen)


Robinson Crusoe on Mars (Haskin)


The Green Berets (Wayne and Kellogg)


Necromancy (Gordon)


By HOCH: article—

On The Green Berets in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), September 1968.

On HOCH: articles—

Black, Hilda, on Return to Paradise in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), April 1953.

Loring, Charles, on Robinson Crusoe on Mars in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), March 1964.

Film Comment (New York), Summer 1972.

Focus on Film (London), no. 13, 1973.

"A.S.C. Mourns the Passing of its President Winton C. Hoch," in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), May 1979.

McBride, Joseph, in Film Comment (New York), November-December 1979.

Film Dope (Nottingham), March 1982.

Gallagher, V., in American Classic Screen (Shawnee Mission, Kansas), no. 1, 1982.

* * *

In the written history of film thus far, John Ford has tended to get credit for most of Winton C. Hoch's accomplishments. Articles and books are churned out that praise Ford's "eye for color" and "visual sense." These attributes he undoubtedly had, but it was Hoch's "eye for color"—and his peerless technical expertise at putting that eye at the service of Ford's pictorial and narrative concerns—that impart such rare visual beauty to She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Quiet Man, and The Searchers.

Hoch never shot a film in black-and-white. His years of experience as a technician in the Technicolor laboratories gave him a unique perspective in the uses and possibilities of color cinematography. He began his career as "co-cinematographer" (actually a Technicolor consultant) on films like Dr. Cyclops, Dive Bomber, Captains of the Clouds, and Joan of Arc. Though ace cinematographers such as Bert Glennon and Sol Polito were none too happy with Hoch's co-credit on these films, (he shared an Oscar with Joseph Valentine and William Skall for Joan of Arc), Hoch quickly gained the experience needed to become a director of photography himself.

Hoch, throughout his thirty-year career, supplied sumptuous color images to films as diverse as the exotic Bird of Paradise, the delirious Jet Pilot, and the fanciful and imaginative Five Weeks in a Balloon and Robinson Crusoe on Mars. But his five pictures for John Ford remain the backbone of his work. In Three Godfathers, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (for which he won his only solo Oscar), The Quiet Man, Mister Roberts, and The Searchers, Hoch provided the director with some of his most elegant and striking images. Mister Roberts boasts admirable use of the CinemaScope frame. The film also contains one of Hoch's favorite shots: the dawn-lit panorama of the fleet which appears under the film's title. Hoch later told an interviewer that the shot was "almost hypnotic."

The Quiet Man is among the loveliest of Ford's films. Hoch suffuses the screen with dewy, pastel greens. Of course, nature also had its hand in that striking visual quality; virtually the entire film was shot in an overcast—usually rainy—Irish countryside.

The three westerns were shot on Ford's favorite location—Monument Valley, a spot which has proved unusually receptive to any number of visual approaches. Monument Valley is a poignant and mythic locale; Winton Hoch—perhaps more than any other cinematographer—was responsible for capturing its unworldly beauty in Technicolor that was by turns stark, luscious, symbolic, and rousing. Hoch's seasoned eye saw the links between the red of blood and clay and the blue of sky and cavalry uniform. Monument Valley, through Hoch's lens, could be flag, desert, hellish void, nourishing Eden.

In the 1960s, Hoch worked often with producer Irwin Allen and proved adept at visualizing the fantastic in The Lost World, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Five Weeks in a Balloon, and Allen's TV show The Time Tunnel. Hoch also worked on the much-reviled The Green Berets but even his formidable technique was unable to convince the viewer that Georgia was Vietnam.

It's one of the peculiarities of our age that audiences "demand" color in films today yet apparently care nothing about the quality of that color. But no matter how prosaic today's cinematographers become, no matter what harm is wrought with the horror of "colorization," Hoch's brilliant use of the medium should stand forever at the art's highest plane.

—Frank Thompson