Shelley Long’s character of Anna Crowley has hitched a ride home in the cab of a huge semi-truck.  Find it at 00:52:50 on the DVD…

            Night\exterior, front lit by a single unit aimed directly at the subject from camera position…an unusual choice from one of the world’s greatest cinematographers.  But there was indeed a method to Gordon Willis’ madness.  Though this shot fulfills its function as an island of ugly, by no means does it court irrelevance.

            This’s perhaps the least interesting diagram I’ve posted to date, but be sure to take a close look.  Notice the telling observation scribbled down below.  It sums up the whole of Willis’ internal approach to his work.  During my time on his crew I witnessed any number of situations in which he could have easily imposed a showy technique upon the movie’s look…but he never chose that path.  Instead, he always did what was precisely right for the story – thematically first, photographically second.  I mean, have you ever heard of anyone referring to light as being “funny?” (ed. note: see the bottom of the chart)

            I believe that in addition to his gifted eye, his penchant for selflessness in this regard played a large part in building his legendary résumé.  If you’ve seen the films and followed the previous diagrams you should be sensitive to this aspect of his work.  I’ll point out similar instances in future posts.



  1. Just noticed that in the camera reports, Willis was rating 400 ASA 5294 at 200 ASA… sort of the reverse of back when he was rating 100 ASA 5254 and 5247 faster and push-processing in the 70’s.

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