Best Cinematography 1967

1927/28 through 1997

Which Oscar Nominee was the Best Achievement in Cinematography for 1967?

Bonnie and Clyde (Burnett Guffey)
Camelot (Richard H. Kline)
No votes
Doctor Dolittle (Robert Surtees)
The Graduate (Robert Surtees)
In Cold Blood (Conrad L. Hall)
Total votes: 16

The Original BJ
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Re: Best Cinematography 1967

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Jun 05, 2017 11:56 pm

Mister Tee wrote:Honestly, I still can't believe it won.

Not that voters consciously voted collectively with these intentions, but Bonnie and Clyde's Cinematography win certainly comes off as a bit of a consolation prize. It feels odd to say that, given that this category is one of its most deserving elements. But given the losses in the top two categories, the fact that very possible Actress and Supporting Actor prizes both fell short, and the lame snubs in Screenplay and Costume Design, this category (as with Supporting Actress) became a place for voters to reward a very widely nominated movie, and make sure it didn't suffer a shut-out.

It also probably helped that the more square entries were really pretty unacceptable as winners. Had some of next year's nominees -- popular Best Picture candidates like Romeo & Juliet and Oliver!, both with more traditional but not clunky looks -- been Bonnie's competition, perhaps it might not have prevailed. (Along those lines, you also have to wonder if In the Heat of Night might have pulled off a compromise choice win in this category had it managed the nomination.)

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Re: Best Cinematography 1967

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:39 pm

This is an interesting year with which to kick off, because it's the first year of the single category (color/black and white combined), and also because it represents the beginning of a new set of standards for the category, somewhat related to that change.

What do I mean by this? Well, the color cinematography prize was essentially minted for Gone with the Wind, and, over the nearly three decades of the split category, virtually all color winners were in the Gone with the Wind sweeping vistas/epic scope vein -- Thief of Baghdad and Blood and Sand soon followed, and later came what amounted to a series of travelogue winners: Ireland (The Quiet Man), Rome (Three Coins in a Fountain), Monaco (To Catch a Thief), and ultimately the entire globe (Around the World in 80 Days). From the mid-50s to mid-60s, as the Academy fell in love with big epics and musicals, the choices were often best picture winners or at least contenders. Many of these films look impressive enough (it's hard to deny the glories of sand in Lawrence of Arabia or the snow in Doctor Zhivago), but there wasn't much of what we'd think of as the cinematographers' art on display. Black Narcissus is the only winner in the category that remains striking in pure visual/lighting terms (though She Wore a Yellow Ribbon is pretty close).

Meantime, in the seemingly secondary black-and-white division, films like Laura and Great Expectations were doing beautiful things with shadows, The Naked City was experimenting with on-location work, and The Third Man captured a texture of rot in its Vienna that deeply enhanced the film's storyline. I'm not saying every winner under black and white fell into the art niche -- there will always be The Longest Day. But, by and large, that category's winners hold up better as examples of the cinematographers' art than their color (too often Technicolor) brethren.

I'd argue, though, that the merging of the two, starting this year, soon weaned voters off their preference for galumphing white elephants. By the mid-70s, Academy choices had become far more impressive: winners like Bound for Glory and Days of Heaven strove for art effects well beyond what Ben-Hur and My Fair Lady ever attempted. While we can always still be disappointed -- and a clunker like Memoirs of a Geisha is possible even in this new century -- I think the category took a major turn for the positive once this merger took place here in 1967.

To the slate, about which people have already said much of what I would have:

Persona is the art omittee. You could probably argue it would have had a nomination under the old black and white tradition, but I'm not certain it would have made the cut. The movie was revered by the cooler critics -- winning the National Society prize -- but it got not a whiff of support from the traditionalists at NYFC. Its reputation today is stellar, but I think it's one of those movies, like Au Hasard Balthazar, that is far more widely esteemed now than in its time.

In the Heat of the Night is the missing mainstream movie, and it probably just came a little too early in the cycle for its particular achievement to be appreciated. In subsequent years, best picture nominees without epic sweep started getting nominated here (films like The French Connection or Network), but at this point much of the branch was still stuck in epic land, while the trail-blazers were wed to the more ground-breaking films that did get nominated here. In the Heat has incredible texture -- the heat of the environment just about comes off the screen at you -- but it just didn't have enough of either the old or the new to get on the ballot.

Of those that were nominated, Doctor Dolittle is the most quickly dismissed by us, and I imagine by voters, as well. These big turkeys kept getting nominated thanks to studio bloc-voting, but in the end they won very few awards, and none of consequence.

Camelot probably would have won a few years earlier; it was big and colorful, and just the sort of thing that often triumphed (remember: we were only four years past Cleopatra). It DID win for both sets and costumes, but happily fell short here.

The Graduate has lots of inventive work/impressive lighting during the earlier, Mrs. Robinson part of the film. I'm not sure I'm as taken by the more pastel Berkeley sections.

You can argue In Cold Blood was cheated by the new rules -- it almost surely would have won a black and white category, and managed a well-deserved nomination even in a unified field (the last until The Last Picture Show ostentatiously brought back black and white in 1971). But it was clearly the right decision for the Academy to eliminate the B&W prizes, as the number of qualifying films was ludicrously small (when Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? won for costumes a year earlier, the jig was clearly up). I am sorry, though, that In Cold Blood missed a chance at calling itself a Oscar winner. Also sorry that I can't quite bring myself to vote for it here.

I have to echo the Academy's choice of Bonnie and Clyde, partly for its achievement and partly because it broke the mold of winners for the category, blazing a trail for the Sven Nykvist and Vittorio Storaro wins that followed. Honestly, I still can't believe it won. Though the film had its checklist of notable visuals (the ones BJ cites), it didn't have any of the visual splendor that had dominated the decade preceding. Maybe those few big moments -- especially that honeyed last visit to Bonnie's mother -- were just enough to win voters over. Or maybe voting was so scattered in the category that a small plurality was enough to triumph. Whatever the reason, the Academy made a great, bold, forward-looking choice, and I'm happy to endorse it.

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Re: Best Cinematography 1967

Postby Reza » Sun Jun 04, 2017 9:31 am

1. The Graduate
2. In Cold Blood
3. Bonnie and Clyde
4. Camelot
5. Dr Dolittle

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Re: Best Cinematography 1967

Postby Precious Doll » Thu Jun 01, 2017 9:08 am

It would be worth wild if people get can hold of a copy on Vision of Light (1992) which examines the role of the cinematographer in the making of the film. Numerous cinrmatograhpies are interfered during the process of the film. One of those interviewed is Conrad L. Hall and his discuss In Cold Blood and in particularly in the scene with Robert Blake sitting by the window pouring down with rain.

The wonderful effects were not be design buy a 'happy mistake'. Just turned out that way for what was to become one of the one powerful moments in cinema history.
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Re: Best Cinematography 1967

Postby Sabin » Thu Jun 01, 2017 12:00 am

I'm going to vote even though I haven't seen Camelot because I'm reasonably certain it will end up as one of those films with zero votes. How could it get any votes in a field so strong that In the Heat of the Night wasn't nominated?

Bonnie and Clyde is a fine choice, but I'm torn between In Cold Blood and The Graduate. If you were to ask me which film had the best feats of cinematography in it, my answer would be In Cold Blood for that famous gorgeous image of rain pouring down Robert Blake's face making it look like he's crying. But I'm voting for The Graduate for its New Wave evocation and also for being such a great visual comedy. To be fair, I'm not sure how much of it is Mike Nichols' direction or Sam O'Steen's editing (where's THAT guy's nomination?) but it seems to me like as soon as black and white filmmaking fell out of style, comedies got carte blanche to be ugly as sin with the occasional rare exception here and there. The Graduate is a beautiful film that takes place in the real world as well as one step outside it.
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Re: Best Cinematography 1967

Postby FilmFan720 » Wed May 31, 2017 8:52 pm

OK, I'm really going to try to keep up with this, at least for a little bit. Every year I seem to be missing 1 or 2 nominees, but of course, most of them are the harder to find nominees!

Doctor Dolittle is the first to go here. It is an ugly looking film and there isn't much to really highlight here. Camelot is close behind, but it at least has some interesting visuals to look at -- mostly thanks to the production design, which is excellent, but also in several scenes that use candle light very well. Not enough to cite it here, but I understand this nomination a little more than the other musical.

I am not as high on In Cold Blood as many here, even loving the book as much as I do, but there is no denying the power of Conrad L. Hall's work on the film -- the contrast, the rain, the shadows, the faces -- that gives the film, ironically, a documentary quality that color couldn't have done. It might have been a worthwhile winner in most any other year, and if I loved the film I might lean towards it, but there are too many other options this year.

I am inclined to go with The Graduate, which is such a physically distinctive film with so many shots that now seem textbook but must have been revolutionary at the time. Imagine modern film without the airport walkway shot, or the scuba shots, or the under the leg shot, or the jump cuts to a naked Anne Bancroft, or Benjamin lost in the midst of Berkeley, or Benjamin banging on the glass, or the notorious final shot.

But then there is Bonnie and Clyde, which matches The Graduate almost bit for bit in how original it is. It may not have as many moments that have seeped into the public consciousness, but the way that the film glides through the countryside, and is later chopped up by the editing, is remarkable and a worthy winner. This will be one of my hardest choices, especially for a while, but I have to go with the Academy's choice.
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Re: Best Cinematography 1967

Postby The Original BJ » Wed May 31, 2017 3:27 pm

One thing that's immediately notable about the period beginning with this year, and lasting for about a decade and a half, is how unrepresentative it is. This isn't to suggest that other eras in the Cinematography category were always sterling, but since the mid-80's, for example, the nominees have just made a lot more sense. This era has one year after another with 2-3 worthy nominees, 2-3 complete WTF nominees, and 2-3 head-scratching omissions.

In that last category, where's In the Heat of the Night? It was the year's big winner overall, and featured color night-time photography that influenced the look of so many films that came after. It clearly merited inclusion. Among artier efforts, Persona would obviously qualify as worthy as well.

Pictures at a Revolution does a pretty great job outlining just how challenging the Doctor Dolittle shoot was, but despite the difficulties the filmmakers faced, the fact remains that the final product is completely atrocious. And not just on a content level -- it's pretty sloppily made, too. I could never give this prize to a movie this clunky.

I feel less knee-jerk revulsion to Camelot -- Frederick Loewe's music is nearly always a virtue to any project -- but this is another head-scratcher of a nominee. We're at the point in the history of the road show musical when the genre really started to go south, and from a visual standpoint, this stagey affair barely even feels like a movie.

The other three nominees, though, are obviously worthy. The Graduate has one shot that is by now beyond iconic (Benjamin framed by Mrs. Robinson's leg) but there are carefully crafted compositions throughout the movie -- some of the early pool shots, for instance, have a cool New Wave-y feel to them, and I doubt the finale would have worked without the memorable image of Hoffman banging on the glass during the wedding. Still, I don't think the movie quite reaches the visual heights of the remaining two nominees.

In Cold Blood would certainly have made a deserving winner. The stark Kansas landscapes depicted in the film are a crucial factor in creating the film's foreboding mood, and have become almost inextricably linked with this material. (Notice how both Capote and Infamous instinctively borrowed from what Conrad Hall established here.) And to jump off of what Precious Doll said, the movie straddles the line between the era when B&W was simply used for serious dramas, and when it became a self-conscious artistic choice, and the quiet flourishes of the cinematography here reflect that balance quite well.

But I see no reason to take Bonnie and Clyde's Oscar away. For a film comprised of so many disparate tonal elements, it makes sense that the cinematography feels like a hodge-podge of styles thrown in a blender -- it's part jazzy New Wave stylization, part gritty Warner Bros. gangster drama, part sepia-tinged western. And yet everything feels of a piece, with numerous images -- the close-up explosion of blood as the bank clerk gets shot in the face, the gauzy nostalgic glow of Bonnie's last meeting with her mother, and of course, the slow-motion gut-punch of the final bullet-strewn bloodbath -- that are completely indelible. A great winner.
Last edited by The Original BJ on Wed May 31, 2017 11:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Best Cinematography 1967

Postby Precious Doll » Wed May 31, 2017 8:56 am

For me this is a toss up between Bonnie and Clyde & In Cold Blood. But I can't go past Conrad L. Hall's stark black & white cinematography at a time when black & white films were becoming rarer. It was one of the elements brought together to so accurate capture Truman Capote's astonishing book.

Worth noting that aside for never being nominated for an Oscar none of the many impressive film Nicolas Roeg would go on to direct never received a single nomination between them. One of the Academy's major slights in my book.
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Best Cinematography 1967

Postby Big Magilla » Wed May 31, 2017 2:55 am

Cinematography has been one of the most consistent categories at the Academy Awards since the first awards were given for 1927/28. For the first eleven years, there was just one category in which all the nominees were in black-and-white. Special awards were given for color cinematography from 1936 through 1938. Beginning with the 1939 awards, the category was split into two, one for black-and-white films and one for color films. Production Design, then called Art Direction, split into two categories the following year. Costume Design did not become a category until the 1948 awards. The Academy ended the split categories for all three disciplines with the 1966 awards. 1967, generally considered the first year in the modern era of filmmaking, was also the first year in which there was just one category for all three in twenty years, a good place for us to start our discussion of the Oscar for Cinematography.

Of the actual nominees, three were certainly deserving.

Conrad L. Hall, who would go on to win three Oscars for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, American Beauty and Road to Perdition, received his third nomination for the striking black-and-white cinematography of In Cold Blood.

Robert Surtees, a previous three-time winner for King Solomon's Mines, The Bad and the Beautiful and Ben-Hur, was nominated for his eye-popping cinematography of The Graduate.

Burnett Guffey, a previous winner for From Here to Eternity, was nominated for the equally eye-popping Bonnie and Clyde.

Surtees was also nominated for the white elephant that was Doctor Dolittle and Richard H. Kline, whose only other nomination would come for the generally dismissed 1976 remake of King Kong, was nominated for his pedestrian filming of Camelot.

If they had to double nominate someone that year it should have been Hall, who also had Cool Hand Luke in contention, rather than Surtees.
Equally deserving choices included Haskell Wexler for In the Heat of the Night, Sven Nykvist for Persona and Nicolas Roeg for Far from the Madding Crowd. Wexler had won the previous year for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and would win again for Bound for Glory. Nykvist would win for two future Bergman films, Cries & Whispers and Fanny & Alexander. Roeg (Don't Look Now) would never be nominated.

In the end, though, I think they went with the right choice in giving the award to veteran Guffey whose impressive list of credits as a cinematographer total exactly 100 from 1929 through 1971.
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