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Film Appreciation... Gregg Toland


Cinematographer Gregg Toland is best known for his experimental photographic techniques, most memorably on Orson Welles's masterpiece Citizen Kane. At age 15, Toland came to Hollywood to work as an office boy. With his keen interest in camera work and immense creativity, he was a first cameraman by age 27 -- the youngest in Hollywood at the time.

Before Kane, Toland worked with such directors as John Ford on "The Grapes of Wrath" and William Wyler on "Wuthering Heights" (for which he won his only Oscar.) Other notable works include Wyler's "The Best Years of Our Lives", Ford's "The Long Voyage Home", and Disney's "Song of the South".

Toland's trademarks included sharp, deep focus pictures, black-and-white film, ceilinged sets, low-angle lighting, and touches of Germanic expressionism. After much success in his early career, Toland remarked, "I want to work with someone who's never made a movie. That's the only way to learn anything from someone who doesn't know anything." He got his chance in 1941 with Orson Welles and "Citizen Kane".

Toland recieved numerous nominations for best cinematography ( Misérables, Les (1934), Dead End (1937), Long Voyage Home, The (1940), Citizen Kane (1941)), he eventually won the Oscar for Wuthering Heights (1939)

Gregg Toland died prematurely of a heart attack in 1948.


© 1999 Debbie Twyman. All rights reserved. TERMS OF USE