Burnett Guffey

Director of photography, Camera operator, 2nd unit cinematographer
The genius of this celebrated American director of photography was in his use of lighting which served him well through dozens of dark crime flicks, yet he was also able to demonstrate a great sensitivity and external ... Read more »
Born: 05/26/1905 in Del Rio, Tennessee, USA

Filmography

Camera, Film, & Tape (70)

Halls of Anger 1970 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came? 1970 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Great White Hope 1970 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Steagle 1970 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Some Kind of a Nut 1969 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Learning Tree 1969 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Madwoman of Chaillot 1969 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Where It's At 1969 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Split 1968 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Bonnie and Clyde 1967 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying 1967 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Ambushers 1967 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

King Rat 1965 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Silencers 1965 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Good Neighbor Sam 1963 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Birdman of Alcatraz 1962 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Four For Texas 1962 (Movie)

director of photography 2nd unit (Director of Photography)

Kid Galahad 1962 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Cry For Happy 1961 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Homicidal 1961 (Movie)

(Photography)

Hell to Eternity 1960 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Let No Man Write My Epitaph 1960 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Mr. Sardonicus 1960 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Mountain Road 1960 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Edge of Eternity 1958 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Gidget 1958 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Me and the Colonel 1958 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

They Came to Cordura 1958 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Decision at Sundown 1957 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Nightfall 1957 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Brothers Rico 1957 (Movie)

cinematography (Cinematographer)

The Strange One 1957 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Storm Center 1956 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Harder They Fall 1956 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The True Story of Lynn Stuart 1956 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Count Three and Pray 1955 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Tight Spot 1955 (Movie)

direrctor of photography (Photography)

Human Desire 1954 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Private Hell 36 1954 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Bamboo Prison 1954 (Movie)

(Photography)

The Violent Men 1954 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

From Here to Eternity 1953 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Last Posse 1953 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Sirocco 1951 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Family Secret 1951 (Movie)

(Photography)

In a Lonely Place 1950 (Movie)

(Photography)

And Baby Makes Three 1949 (Movie)

(Photography)

Knock on Any Door 1949 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

All the King's Men 1948 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Eadie Was a Lady 1945 (Movie)

(Photography)

Eve Knew Her Apples 1945 (Movie)

(Photography)

My Name Is Julia Ross 1945 (Movie)

(Photography)

Cover Girl 1944 (Movie)

(Camera Operator)

Foreign Correspondent 1939 (Movie)

(Camera Operator)

The Informer 1934 (Movie)

(Camera Operator)

A Close Call for Boston Blackie (Movie)

(Cinematographer)

Convicted (Movie)

(Cinematographer)

Father Is a Bachelor (Movie)

(Cinematographer)

Gallant Journey (Movie)

(Cinematographer)

I Love a Mystery (Movie)

(Cinematographer)

Night Editor (Movie)

(Cinematographer)

Scandal Sheet (Movie)

(Cinematographer)

The Gallant Blade (Movie)

(Cinematographer)

The Iron Horse (Movie)

(Cinematographer)

The Notorious Lone Wolf (Movie)

(Cinematographer)

The Reckless Moment (Movie)

(Cinematographer)

The Sign of the Ram (Movie)

(Cinematographer)

The Sniper (Movie)

(Cinematographer)

The Soul of a Monster (Movie)

(Cinematographer)

To the Ends of the Earth (Movie)

(Cinematographer)

Biography

The genius of this celebrated American director of photography was in his use of lighting which served him well through dozens of dark crime flicks, yet he was also able to demonstrate a great sensitivity and external representation of internal human emotions. Adept at both black-and-white and color photography, Burnett Guffey is particularly remembered for his two Academy Award winning efforts: "From Here to Eternity" (1953), in which the desires of the characters oozed from their lighted pores; and "Bonnie & Clyde" (1967), in which the lighting offered not just a sense of the period, but a subtle irony as well.

Guffey, who lived past the studio system to shoot such froth as "Gidget" (1959), was a favored cinematographer of such directors as Will Jason, Joseph H. Lewis, Henry Levin, Phil Karlson, David Swift, and Don Siegel. Additionally, he worked with Fritz Lang ("Human Desire" 1954), Fred Zinnemann ("From Here to Eternity"), Robert Rossen ("All the King's Men" 1950), Arthur Penn ("Bonnie & Clyde"), Gordon Parks ("The Learning Tree" 1969), and Martin Ritt ("The Great White Hope" 1970).

Raised in Etowah, Tennessee, Guffey was already in California at age 18 when he found a job at Fox working as an assistant cameraman, and his resume in that capacity includes such silent films as "The Courtship of Miles Standish" (1923), and "The Iron Horse" (1924), for which he also did second unit photography and which brought him into contact with John Ford for the first time. By 1928, Guffey was a camera operator for Paramount and seven years later worked under Joseph H. August, on the John Ford-directed "The Informer". As such, Guffey learned the Hollywood and American adaptation of expressionistic lighting methods which had been prevalent through the gangster cycle at Warner Bros. in the early 1930s, and which reached greater heights during the film noir period of the 40s. (Among his other notable credits as camera operator is Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 drama "Foreign Correspondent".)

Guffey was finally elevated to director of photography in 1944 with "The Soul of a Monster" at Columbia, where he spend the bulk of his career. "Soul", like many of Columbia's films at the time, was a low-budget programmer, but it allowed the cinematographer the opportunity to develop his style through which the visual elements of the films could speak the event of the scene perhaps better than the dialogue. Guffey was frequently assigned to films of Will Jason, Henry Levin and Joseph H. Lewis, handling all genres, including adventure yarns and musicals, with aplomb. As seen in the film collaboration with Levin in particular, the DP had an intuitive sense for lighting that revealed the psychological levels of the characters -- a key goal of expressionism. This was particularly true with "All the King's Men" (1950) for director Robert Rossen, where the lighting reflects the darkening of the Willie Stark (Broderick Crawford) character as he is corrupted. Stark is first seen in dusty, almost pastoral light at his farm, but by film's end, the darkness is almost cloying.

As the studio system crumbled in the 50s, directors of photography scrambled to become freelancers, and genre-typing almost disappeared. Because of his flexibility, Guffey was well-suited to handle such efforts as the sweet, light comedy Danny Kaye vehicle "Me and the Colonel", the playful "Gidget" (1959), and a return to the camera-as-analyst with "The Birdman of Alcatraz" (1962). Guffey worked with first-time feature director Gordon Parks in 1969 on "The Learning Tree", blending the stunning framing for which the director had been celebrated as Life magazine photographer with the enveloping, telling lighting for which the DP was heralded. Guffey's last working years were full of triumphs such as "The Great White Hope" (1970), and transcended even in the silliest of vehicles such as "Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came" (1969) and "The Steagle" (1971).

Milestones

1970

Release of final film, "The Steagle"

1967

Won Academy Award for "Bonnie & Clyde"

1959

Demonstrated versatility as DP of "Gidget"

1953

Won Academy Award for "From Here to Eternity"

1943

Began working as a cinematographer with "The Soul of a Monster"

1935

Was camera operator on "The Informer"

1928

First film as camera operator

1924

First film as 2nd unit cinematographer "The Iron Horse"

1923

Took break from entertainment industry working as a messenger in a bank.

1923

First film as assistant camera, "The Courtship of Miles Standish"

Raised in Etowah, Tennessee

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