Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to have gotten to know many of the world’s greatest cinematographers. Guy Green, OBE, BSC stands out as one of my favorites. During his fifty-three-year career, he collaborated several times with director David Lean, picked up an Oscar for Great Expectations (1946) and shot one of my all-time favorite films, Oliver Twist (1948).
When we first met around 2000, he was retired and living with his lovely wife Josephine in Beverly Hills. Every so often they would invite me to dinner at their home, along with a small but incredible group of guests. Those nights number among the most exciting of my life.
The real enjoyment began when everyone had gone home. The first time Guy held me back from leaving (“There’s something I want to talk to you about, son…”) I was a little surprised. But then, over a generous pour of fine, single-malt scotch, he’d ask me about the latest trends and industry gossip. Soon, he would segue into the most fascinating collection of stories about the old days, when cinematographers ruled the roost. And what tales they were! I could never come to terms with the fact that such a legend was speaking to me as if I were a worthy colleague, but he did and I loved him for it. I don’t know what motivates young people to pursue cinematography as a career in 2022, but Guy’s descriptions of the world he worked and played in would capture me for life right now.
A memorial was held at Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church shortly after he passed away at ninety-one in 2005. I recently came upon the handout from the service and was touched by the positive sentiment. It reflects well upon Guy’s good nature and triggers many treasured memories for me.
The 29th Ode of the First Book of Horace, VII; by John Dryden
Happy the man, and happy he alone.
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy work, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate are mine,
Not heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.