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Painting With Lightby John Alton
Synopses & Reviews
Few cinematographers have had as decisive an impact on the cinematic medium as John Alton. Best known for his highly stylized film noir classics T-Men, He Walked by Night, and The Big Combo, Alton earned a reputation during the 1940s and 1950s as one of Hollywood's consummate craftsmen through his visual signature of crisp shadows and sculpted beams of light. No less renowned for his virtuoso color cinematography and deft appropriation of widescreen and Technicolor, he earned an Academy Award in 1951 for his work on the musical An American in Paris. First published in 1949, and long out of print since then, Painting With Light remains one of the few truly canonical statements on the art of motion picture photography, an unrivalled historical document on the workings of the postwar, American cinema. In simple, non-technical language, Alton explains the job of the cinematographer and explores how lighting, camera techniques, and choice of locations determine the visual mood of film. Todd McCarthy's introduction, written especially for this edition, provides an overview of Alton's biography and career and explores the influence of his work on contemporary cinematography.
Painting with Light remains one of the few truly canonical statements on the art of motion-picture photography, an unrivaled historical document on the workings of postwar American cinema. In simple, nontechnical language. Alton explains the job of the cinematographer and explores how lighting, camera techniques, and choice of location determine the visual mood of film.
"A wonderful introduction to the workings of the Hollywood system. We learn in rich and yet accessible detail about special effects, technical wizardry and gadgetry, lighting, make-up, the breakdown of crews, and filming strategies. The book is legendary and its reprint is a major event for film study."—Dana Polan, University of Pittsburgh
About the Author
John Alton (born 1901) was one of the most renowned cinematographers of the postwar American cinema. In 1951 he won an Academy Award for his color photography of An American in Paris. He lives in Los Angeles. Todd McCarthy is chief film critic of Variety, co-editor of the King of Bs (1975), and writer and co-director of the award winning documentary, Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography (1992).
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