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McCord, Ted

McCORD, Ted



Cinematographer. Nationality: American. Born: Sullivan County, Indiana, 1898; sometimes credited as T. F. McCord. Military Service: Served as captain in the United States Army during World War II: with the first group of Americans to enter Berlin (photographed Hitler's chancellory). Career: 1917—camera assistant, Bosworth Studios; 1921—first film as cinematographer, Sacred and Profane Love; did much later work for Warner Bros. Died: 19 January 1976.

Films as Cinematographer:

1921

Sacred and Profane Love (Taylor) (co)

1924

Flirting with Love (Dillon); For Sale (Archainbaud); So Big (Brabin)

1925

The Pace That Thrills (Campbell); The Desert Flower (Cummings); Sally (Green); We Moderns (Dillon)

1926

Irene (Green)

1927

The Valley of the Giants (Brabin)

1928

The Code of the Scarlet (H. Brown); The Crash (Cline); The Upland Rider (Rogell); The Canyon of Adventure (Rogell); The Phantom City (Rogell)

1929

The Wagon Master (H. Brown); The Royal Rider (H. Brown); Senor Americano (H. Brown)

1930

The Fighting Legion (H. Brown); The Dawn Trail (Cabanne); The Lone Rider (L. King); Mountain Justice (H. Brown); Sons of the Saddle (H. Brown); Lucky Larkin (H. Brown); Parade of the West (H. Brown); Song of the Caballero (H. Brown); Men without Law (L. King); Shadow Ranch (L. King)

1931

Desert Vengeance (L. King); Freighters of Destiny (Allen); Sundown Trail (Hill)

1932

Carnival Boat (Rogell); The Big Stampede (Wright); Beyond the Rockies (Allen); The Saddle Buster (Allen); Hell-Fire Austin (Sheldon) (co); Ride Him, Cowboy! (Allen); False Faces (L. Sherman) (co)

1933

The Man from Monterey (Wright); Fiddling' Buckaroo (Maynard); Somewhere in Sonora (Wright); The Telegraph Trail (Wright); King of the Arena (James); Strawberry Roan (James)

1934

Gun Justice (James); The Trail Drive (James); Wheels of Destiny (James); Fugitive Road (Strayer); Smoking Guns (James); Rocky Rhodes (Raboch); When a Man Sees Red (James)

1935

The Rainmakers (Guiol); Stone of River Creek (Grinde)

1936

Feud of the West (Fraser); Trailin' West (Smith)

1937

Fugitive in the Sky (Grinde) (co); Guns of the Pecos (Smith)

1938

Sergeant Murphy (Eason); The Daredevil Drivers (Eason)

1939

Secret Service of the Air (Smith); Code of the Secret Service (Smith); Pride of Bluegrass (McGann); Cowboy Quarter-back (Smith)

1940

Ladies Must Live (Smith); Calling All Husbands (Smith); Murder in the Air (Seiler); Father Is a Prince (Smith)

1941

The Case of the Black Parrot (Smith); Nine Lives Are Not Enough (Sutherland); She Couldn't Say No (Clemens); Singapore Woman (Negulesco); Knockout (Clemens); Highway West (McGann); Bullets for O'Hara (Howard)

1942

Wild Bill Hickok Rides (Enright); Murder in the Big House (Eason); Bullet Scars (Lederman); I Was Framed (Lederman)

1943

Action in the North Atlantic (Bacon)

1947

Deep Valley (Negulesco); That Way with Women (de Cordova)

1948

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Huston); Johnny Belinda (Negulesco); June Bride (Windust); Smart Girls Don't Talk (Bare)

1949

Flamingo Road (Curtiz); The Lady Takes a Sailor (Curtiz)

1950

The Damned Don't Cry (V. Sherman); Young Man with a Horn (Curtiz); The Breaking Point (Curtiz); Rocky Mountain (Keighley)

1951

Goodbye My Fancy (V. Sherman); Force of Arms (Curtiz); I'll See You in My Dreams (Curtiz); Starlift (Del Ruth)

1952

This Woman Is Dangerous (Feist); Operation Secret (Seiler); Cattle Town (Smith); Stop, You're Killing Me! (Del Ruth)

1953

South Sea Woman (Lubin)

1954

Young at Heart (Douglas)

1955

East of Eden (Kazan); I Died a Thousand Times (Heisler)

1956

The Girl He Left Behind (Butler); The Burning Hills (Heisler)

1957

The Helen Morgan Story (Curtiz)

1958

The Proud Rebel (Curtiz)

1959

The Hanging Tree (Daves)

1960

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Curtiz); Private Property (L. Stevens)

1962

Hero's Island (L. Stevens); Two for the Seesaw (Wise); War Hunt (Sanders)

1965

The Sound of Music (Wise)

1966

A Fine Madness (Kershner)



Publications


On McCORD: articles—

Obituary in Variety (New York), 28 January 1976.

Obituary in Cinema 76 (Paris), April 1976.

Giddins, Gary, "Young Man with a Horn," in American Film, April 1991.


* * *

The veteran cinematographer Ted McCord worked in the American film industry for a remarkable six decades, from the 1910s through the 1960s. As such he toiled on many a big-budget silent film such as First National's Sally and was behind the camera for the major blockbuster of the 1960s, 20th Century-Fox's The Sound of Music. But remarkably he never won an Academy Award, though he received three nominations for Johnny Belinda, Two for the Seesaw, and The Sound of Music. McCord was considered a good craftsman, not a great artist.

He was most praised for his complex use of lighting. McCord attributed his use of deep shadows to his interest in the paintings of Rembrandt and the cinematography of the great Gregg Toland. This was particularly apparent in such sequences as the "Climb Every Mountain" number in The Sound of Music and the brothel hallway footage in East of Eden.

Like many who entered the industry in the 1910s, McCord had no formal training in photography or aesthetics. Rather he learned on the job. He began in a film laboratory and took his training under James Van Trees at the old Hobart Bosworth Studio. He then moved on to film dozens of B-westerns. He was able to move to a major studio only as the Second World War sent many a younger cinematographer to battle and thus opened up positions in Hollywood.

Many of the great cameramen of the studio era took long tenures at one studio. For McCord that was Warner Bros. He worked on many of the studio's most famous and profitable films of the 1940s, including The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Action in the North Atlantic, and Flamingo Road. Few of these are remembered as classics, but all were interesting visual artifacts. This is the portion of his career for which McCord will probably be most remembered.

He was also a generous benefactor to younger cameramen. Conrad Hall, cinematographer on such films as Cool Hand Luke, tells all interviewers that it was McCord who opened up the system for him and other aspiring cinematographers of the 1960s. McCord was a self-confident "old pro." He was not set in his ways, but willing to help a new generation learn from the great craftsmen of the past.

—Douglas Gomery

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