Owen Roizman, the five-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer who partnered with director William Friedkin on the gripping film classics The French Connection and The Exorcist, has died. He was 86.
Roizman, who additionally teamed with director Sydney Pollack on 5 movies, together with Three Days of the Condor (1975), Absence of Malice (1981) and Tootsie (1982) — when he in some way made Dustin Hoffman look good as a lady — died Friday night time at his house in Encino, his spouse of 58 years, Mona, instructed The truestarz. He was in hospice care since August, she mentioned.
He obtained an honorary Oscar on the Governors Awards in November 2017. “Movie is made up of many tiny, silver particles, and every a type of particles is represented by each one who works on a movie,” Roizman mentioned in his acceptance speech. “Had you modified any considered one of them on any film, the film would have regarded completely different.”
Roizman had fairly the profession, additionally taking pictures the taut subway-set The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974), starring Walter Matthau; the unsettling suburban sci-fi story The Stepford Wives (1975); and Sidney Lumet’s sensible media satire Community (1976).
The Brooklyn native with a background in TV commercials additionally knew his method round comedies, as evidenced together with his work on the mafia story The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight (1971); Herbert Ross’ Play It Once more, Sam (1972), starring Woody Allen; The Heartbreak Child (1972), directed by Elaine Might; and Barry Sonnenfeld’s The Addams Household (1991).
And he served because the cinematographer on Liza Minnelli’s energetic Emmy-winning 1972 NBC particular Liza With a Z.
Roizman’s Oscar noms got here for his work on best-picture winner The French Connection (1971), The Exorcist (1973), Community, Tootsie and Wyatt Earp (1994), the third of 4 movies he shot for director Larry Kasdan.
“My passion was magic, and I’m the perfect viewers on this planet for a magician as a result of I wish to be fooled. I’m at all times inquisitive about how anyone did one thing,” he mentioned in a podcast on the American Society of Cinematographers web site. “So I wished to idiot folks in how I’d mild one thing.”
The French Connection was solely the second movie Roizman shot (and the primary one to hit theaters). Friedkin, after firing his unique cinematographer, noticed one thing in Roizman’s work on the low-budget 1970 drama Cease and sought him out for the gritty story centered round New York Metropolis narcotics cop Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman).
“Friedkin mentioned, ‘I like your work in it; what I wish to do … what I would like it to be is a practical avenue images form of factor,’” Roizman recalled in a 2011 interview with the Los Angeles Instances. “I mentioned, ‘Why not? I ought to be capable of do something you inform me. I’m a cinematographer.’ He appreciated my angle.
“I simply was attempting to present it a glance, one thing that may improve it. We talked about digicam motion and the way we wished to have an uneasy feeling in sure scenes and undoubtedly that realism on a regular basis.”
The French Connection is, after all, famed for its six-minute automobile chase via the streets (and underneath the elevated Stillwell Avenue subway line) in Brooklyn. Roizman mentioned the entire thing took about 5 weeks to movie (they have been in a position to shoot solely between 10 a.m. and three p.m.).
“It was carried out in two other ways,” Roizman mentioned within the Instances interview. “Three cameras have been used contained in the automobile, together with a digicam on the dashboard that may look out via the windshield and one over the driving force’s shoulder. From the skin, we had 5 cameras. We broke it down to 5 stunts, and the remainder of it was simply bits and items.”
Considerably extra merely, Roizman spray-painted a lightbulb in a bar scene to create a seedy ambiance.
The harrowing exorcism scene in The Exorcist additionally was shot in New York, in a studio on tenth Avenue. Friedkin wished Regan’s (Linda Blair) sparsely lit bed room chilly sufficient to see the actors’ breath, and the crew decreased the temperature to twenty levels under zero every morning.
“The room needed to be refrigerated with air conditioners, however because the ACs have been extraordinarily noisy, we needed to flip them off whereas we did the lighting, flip them again on to chill off the room, and off once more whereas we did the precise taking pictures,” Roizman mentioned in 2011 when he was honored on the Ojai Movie Pageant. “Evidently, the scene took a very long time to shoot.”
In 1976, Roizman left New York for Los Angeles, the place he established his personal TV business manufacturing firm. He took a six-year break to are likely to that enterprise earlier than returning to characteristic filmmaking in 1989.
Born on Sept. 22, 1936, Roizman grew up surrounded by cameras. His father, Sol, was a newsreel photographer for Fox Movietone Information and a digicam operator on TV’s Sgt. Bilko, and his Uncle Morrie served as a movie editor on a number of documentaries.
Throughout summers whereas away from Gettysburg School in Pennsylvania, Roizman labored at a digicam rental firm in New York, and he discovered about lenses and methods to thread movie. After commencement, he assisted Hungarian cinematographer Akos Farkas and shot commercials for a New York agency that additionally employed future Godfather cinematographer Gordon Willis. This led to the job on Cease, which shot in Puerto Rico on a mere $300,000 finances.
On Tootsie, about an actor (Hoffman) who impersonates a lady to get an element on a TV cleaning soap opera, Roizman joked that “Dustin wished to look nearly as good as [co-star] Jessica Lange.”
“I attempted to design the lighting for every scene that Dustin was in with Jessica in order that after I lit him for the softness that may work, I did the identical type of lighting for her in order that it didn’t appear to be I used to be dishonest for one or the opposite,” he defined in a narrative for American Cinematographer journal. “I used the identical quantity of diffusion for each of them, so it could intercut nicely. And it labored out.”
His collaborations with Pollack additionally included The Electrical Horseman (1979) and Havana (1990).
Roizman additionally shot The Return of a Man Known as Horse (1976), directed by Irvin Kershner, and the ill-fated Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Membership Band (1978), and he additionally labored with Kasdan on I Love You to Loss of life (1990), Grand Canyon (1991) and French Kiss (1995).
He paired with director Ulu Grosbard for the Hoffman starrer Straight Time (1978) and True Confessions (1981) and with Harold Becker for The Black Marble (1980), Faucets (1981) and Imaginative and prescient Quest (1985).
In 1997, Roizman served as ASC president and obtained the group’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Along with his spouse, survivors embody his son, Eric, who did second assistant digicam together with his dad on Wyatt Earp and has operated a digicam on a number of TV collection, together with Monk, Justified and The Final Man on Earth, and sister Frankie.