James Wong Howe: A Gutsy Cinematographer Finally Gets His Due

James Wong Howe: A Gutsy Cinematographer Finally Gets His Due


Chinese-American cinematographer James Wonghao was a hardworking, parapetic young man. In modern parlance, he was a hitler, but in the early, research years of cinema, when the new film industry released dozens of titles each week, everyone was like that. During the 1910’s, silent film directors who gained acclaim – such as DW Griffith and Cecil B. D. Mill – emerged with clever business acumen, false confidence, and good luck.

Wong Ho had all those things, but he was more enthusiastic – he had to be. This was evident in the reckless invention of his work. His reputation as a high perfectionist; And its success and respectable status in an industry that had virtually no place for artists of Asian descent. James Wong Howe was described as a pervert.

Her decades-long career, which spanned the silent era, the golden age of Hollywood, and the new Hollywood renaissance of the 1960s and 70s, was a symbol of a creative spirit that changed the fashion, the industry and the distinction. Persisted despite the behavior. It revolutionized the way film visually communicates, developing new techniques that can express emotions without the need for words or even actors – such as in John Franklin Heimer’s body-sweeping science fiction drama Angle and expression of fish lenses, “Seconds” (1966) Or one of the early aerial shots of the last moments of Joshua Logan’s technical romantic comedy “Picnic” (1955).

These and other examples of Wong Ho’s photographic prowess can be found in a series dedicated to his work, which will run through June 26. Animated Photo Museum In Queens

James Wong Howe was born in 1899 in Quantong, China. He was dumped in Pasco, Wash by his business father in the early 1900’s. There, he experienced racism, learned boxing and, before his father’s death, began tinkering with cameras in 1914, beginning a flowing era. Unlike Charlie Chaplin’s classic character The Trump, Wong Howo was a game that stumbled from the wrong adventure to the wrong adventure. He moved to Oregon, San Francisco and then to Los Angeles, where 18-year-old Jimmy Howe finally decided to take a job as a janitor at Laski Studios.

Demil liked Jimmy. He was pleased with the young man’s floral shirts, the difference between his short stature and his smoking on the seat. Wong Huo was not inactive. He was taking his skin color issue as a challenge. In his spare time, he began to familiarize himself with studio equipment and practiced taking pictures with a steel camera. He was soon promoted to assistant cameraman.

There was no one then who we can call a meaningful camera expert today. People learned at work, improved and experimented with new technologies, so the staff members who distinguished themselves were the ones who came up with creative solutions to the problems that arose on the set. This was Wong Hue’s strength and the source of his first big break. Actress Mary Miles Munter, impressed by Wong Ho’s still portrait, insisted that she shoot her next film. He devised a solution that could prevent his blue eyes from turning white on camera, a problem caused by the blue sensitive orthochromatic film used at the time. Since then, his reputation as a strong cameraman has been confirmed.

Wong Howe was not the only Asian artist to roam the backlights of the studio. There was Japanese-born actor Seso Haikawa. Hollywood’s on-screen anti-corruption laws have limited her to playing the role of the Forbidden Lover or the tragic Swingali type, but her popularity among white female audiences has made her a valuable presence. This was followed by Chinese-American actress Anna Mae Wong, who was a supporting actor as the film industry began to expand into larger, more spectacular productions in “foreign” settings. Wong Howe will, in fact, shoot her in one of her first major roles as the native princess Tiger Lily in Herbert Brennan’s “Peter Pan”.

But renewed anti-Asian sentiment and the 1930s production code, which stopped reflecting racial relations, further diminished the industry’s desire to work with Asian-born actors. Wong Huo initially hesitated during this period, but his work – especially his passion for dramatic, high contrast lighting, which earned him the nickname “Lu Ki Huwe” – spoke for itself. This split screenshot allows Ronald Coleman’s Major Rossandell to speak directly to his Doppel gangster in John Cromwell’s “The Prisoner of Zenda” (1937), and Busby Berkeley’s “They Made Me a Criminal” ( 1939) in which he filmed battle scenes. You can almost feel the jabbing of boxing gloves so faintly.

Although he was liked by the press – what a novelty that an Asian man could be so talented And So full of personality – and respected by his peers, Wong Ho was often ridiculed by members of the white crew under his command. He dealt with laws and prejudices that led him to a second-degree citizenship. During World War II, he wore a button that read “I’m Chinese” to avoid being harassed if anyone thought he was Japanese. Although they have lived in the United States for almost four decades. Chinese Expulsion Act 1882 Barred him from acquiring citizenship Without it, he was forced to turn down exciting creative opportunities like joining. John Ford’s wartime documentary Staff

Perhaps most devastating was her marriage to a novelist. سانورا باب; The couple tied the knot in Paris in 1937, but California’s anti-corruption laws and studio ethics clause prevented them from going public for decades. He was placed on a “gray list” by the House House Committee on Non-American Activities for his alleged affiliation with the Hollywood Communists. Wong Ho kept most of the time away from politics, but to no avail. China has become a communist state.

Still, it continues the dangerous period of the ’40s, with Fritz Lang’s provocative war thriller “Hung Man Die Too!” And cast Ida Lupino in all its shades of ambition and weakness in Vincent Sherman’s pitch-black melo drama “The Hardway”. “

Wong Ho’s pictures are brilliant, his expressive interaction of light and shadow brings moral controversy out of the air. He re-imagined New York with a dark, otherworldly mood, with the “sweet scent of success”, Alexander McIntyre’s 1957 play about a demonic newspaperman, a work that many people call Wong Ho’s chef. Understand. He applied oil to the interior seat walls to give them a real shine, and used long focus lenses to make the buildings look clustered together, emphasizing the sense of claustrophobic delirium.

There are very few people whose work has been so compared to the transformation of cinema from a mere ticket spectacle to an art form. Still, Wong Huo was hungry. From the 1920s onwards, he wanted to direct, and although he was given the opportunity in the form of commissioned documentaries and “B” films, his true intentions were often denied. There was a project about rickshaw pullers in China, as well as a script with a chapter about San Francisco’s Chinatown, but both ideas were eventually dropped due to a lack of financing. If you can only see one screening at the Museum of the Moving Image, make it Wonghua’s only instructional feature, “Go, man, go!” (1954), starring freshman Sidney Poitier and Ruby D. in a play about Harlem Globetrotters. It’s a product of bare bones, but the patience and spirit of something bigger was just below the surface, like Wong Hoo himself.

Wong Ho did not deny his Chinese roots. For a time, he ran a popular Chinese food shop frequented by Marilyn Dietrich, Mickey Rooney and Tyrone Power. And in her later years, she began wearing traditional Chinese clothing. In Todd Rainsberger’s 1981 study of cinematographer, it becomes clear that Wong Howe, who died in 1976, wanted to create a more comprehensive portrait of American identity, which would have seemed true to him if his Not employer He was one of the great American filmmakers and a two-time Oscar winner, but he wanted more because he knew he deserved it. Such was his rebellion.

“How At Done: James Wong Ho’s Cinema” opens on June 26 at the Moving Image Museum in Astoria, Queens. For more information, visit movingimage.us.

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