PROFILE
Name:
Conrad L. Hall
Birth Date:
June 21, 1926
Birth Place:
Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia
Nationality:
Polynesian
Famous for:
Oscar nominee for 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' (1969)
BIOGRAPHY
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Road to Perdition

Background:

American cinematographer Conrad L. Hall (1926 - 2003) received three Academy Awards, one for his effort in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969, also won a BAFTA Film Award), one for his work in Sam Mendes’ acclaimed American Beauty (1999, also took home an American Society of Cinematographers Award and a BAFTA Film Award), and another for Road to Perdition (2002, also received an American Society of Cinematographers Award and a BAFTA Film Award). The cinematographer became a six-time Oscar nominee thanks to his fine work in the movies Morituri (1965), The Professionals (1966), In Cold Blood (1967), Tequila Sunrise (1988, also won an American Society of Cinematographers Award), Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993, also won an American Society of Cinematographers Award) and A Civil Action (1998). For his devotion to the movie industry, Hall was granted the lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Cinematographers (1994), the Camerimage awards ceremony (1995), the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (2000), the National Board of Review (2002), as well as from the Ojai Film Festival (2002).

The late cinematographer became one of only six cinematographers to have a star on the Walk of Fame, alongside Hal Mohr, J. Peverell Marley, Leon Shamroy, Haskell Wexler and Ray Rennahan. In 2002, he served as the Kodak cinematographer in residence at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.

Hall died of complications from bladder cancer, leaving behind wife Susan Hall and three children from his previous marriage. One of his sons, cinematographer Conrad W. Hall, accepted the third Academy Award for his father. On the departure of the accomplished film person, cinematographer Wally Pfister remarked, “Though I only met him briefly, I had more respect for Conrad Hall than any cameraman I’ve met. His body of work represents the highest level of artistry that can be achieved in our profession. How wonderful to have left behind a photographic masterpiece like Road to Perdition as his final work.”


Tahitian Connie

Childhood and Family:

Conrad L. Hall was born on June 21, 1926, in Papeete, Tahiti, to author James Norman Hall and Sarah (Lala) Winchester Hall. He is also the cousin of actor Jon Hall.

Leaving Tahiti at age eight, Conrad later studied Journalism at the University of Southern California (USC), but then transferred to USC’s school of film. Conrad, who is always referred to as “Connie” by peers and associates, was soon affected by the power of pictures.

“I noticed that the school had a cinema course, and that was very interesting to me for all of the wrong reasons. I thought it was an easy way of getting through school. The problem was that once I shot a film and saw it on the screen, I was deeply affected. I realized that there was great power in telling stories through picture. It was a heady, profound concept for a young, idealistic person.” Conrad L. Hall

On January 4, 2003, the cinematographer died in Santa Monica, California, of complications from bladder cancer. At the time of his death, he was married to Susan Hall. Conrad was also survived by his three children from his earlier marriage (including cinematographer Conrad W. Hall).


American Beauty

Career:

While studying film, Conrad L. Hall, with classmates Marvin R Weinstein and Jack C Couffer, formed a small production company named Canyon Films and then made commercials and documentary films, including the award-winning Nature’s Half Acre (1951). He also sold his class project, Sea Theme, to TV and worked as an assistant cameraman and camera operator for cinematographers like Robert Surtees, Ted McCord and Ernest Haller.

Hall was first credited as the director of photography in the western movie Running Target (1956), which he co-wrote with Weinstein and Couffer. The threesome then continued their teamwork with the crime drama Edge of Fury (1958). Heading to the small screen, Hall did cinematography for the ABC series “Stoney Burke” (1962-1963) and “The Outer Limits” (1963-1965), as well as the made-for-TV film The Ghost of Sierra de Cobre (1964) and The Unknown (1964).

Soon after entering the mainstream scene with the romantic drama Wild Seed (1965), Hall received a first Oscar nomination for his cinematography in the black-and-white shot war movie Morituri (1965). He then received two other Oscar nominations for his collaboration with director Richard Brooks in the colored western feature The Professionals (1966) and the black/white crime drama In Cold Blood (1967).

Hall was credited as the director of photography for Hell in the Pacific (1968) before winning his first Oscar for his work in the biopic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969, also won a BAFTA Film award). Taking a three-year hiatus, he later returned with Fat City (1972), Electra Glide in Blue (1973) and Catch My Soul (1974).

Collaborating with director John Schlesinger, Hall earned an Oscar’s Best Cinematography nomination for The Day of the Locust (1973) and received a British Society of Cinematographers nomination for the adaptation of William Goldman’s novel, Marathon Man (1976). Following the remake TV movie It Happened One Christmas (1977), Hall contributed additional photography of concert scenes to the drama movie The Rose (1979). Hall then formed Wexler-Hall Inc. (with Haskell Wexler) and directed some commercials, including ones for Buick and Miller Beer.

Hall provided captivating cinematography in the thriller Black Widow (1987) and earned praise for his work in Robert Towne’s Tequila Sunrise (1988), in which he took home an American Society of Cinematographers award and an Oscar nomination. The cinematographer’s work could also be seen in the legal drama Class Action (1991).

Subsequent to Jennifer Eight (1992, won a Cognac Festival du Film Policier’s Jury “Coup de Chapeau”), Hall was again widely applauded with the chess-themed family drama Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993). For his impressive cinematography, Hall was handed an American Society of Cinematographers award and a Camerimage’s Bronze Frog, as well as received an Oscar and a Camerimage’s Golden Frog nomination. In 1994, he was granted a Lifetime Achievement award from the American Society of Cinematographers.

Hall’s award-winning effort in the remake Love Affair (1994, won American Society of Cinematographers award) was ensued by his unaccredited effort in the comedy Faithful (1996), which starred singer/actress Cher.

The recipient of the 1995 Camerimage Lifetime Achievement award brought home another Oscar nomination after doing cinematography for A Civil Action (1998), based on the book by Jonathan Harr. Hall next had his second Oscar victory for working in Sam Mendes’ acclaimed effort, American Beauty (1999). In addition, he brought in Best Cinematography awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the BAFTA Film association, the British Society of Cinematographers and the National Society of Film Critics. Hall, who served as New York’s director of photography for Sleepy Hollow (1999), was then granted a Career Achievement award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (2000), the National Board of Review (2002) as well as the Ojai Film Festival (2002).

Before his death, Hall made a second collaboration with Sam Mendes in the silver screen adaptation of the graphic novel by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner, Road to Perdition (2002). Before long, his notable effort in the crime drama movie collected a Las Vegas Film Critics Society’s Sierra award, a San Diego Film Critics Society award and a Camerimage Golden Frog. Hall also posthumously received an Oscar, an American Society of Cinematographers award, a BAFTA Film award and a Golden Satellite award.

Another of Hall’s final work is the video-released short documentary Declaration of Independence, which was issued in 2003. In the non-fiction film, many big Hollywood names took part in reading the “Declaration of Independence.”


Awards:

  • American Society of Cinematographers: Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases, Road to Perdition, posthumous, 2003
  • Oscar: Best Cinematography, Road to Perdition, posthumous, 2003
  • BAFTA Film: Best Cinematography, Road to Perdition, posthumous, 2003
  • Golden Satellite: Best Cinematography, Road to Perdition, posthumous, 2003
  • Las Vegas Film Critics Society: Sierra Award for Best Cinematography, Road to Perdition, 2003
  • San Diego Film Critics Society: Best Cinematography, Road to Perdition, 2002
  • Camerimage: Golden Frog, Road to Perdition, tied with Krzysztof Ptak (for Edi), 2002
  • Ojai Film Festival: Lifetime Achievement Award, 2002
  • National Board of Review: Career Achievement Award, 2002
  • Los Angeles Film Critics Association: Career Achievement Award, 2000
  • American Society of Cinematographers: Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases, American Beauty, 2000
  • Oscar: Best Cinematography, American Beauty, 2000
  • BAFTA Film: Best Cinematography, American Beauty, 2000
  • British Society of Cinematographers: Best Cinematography Award, American Beauty, 2000
  • National Society of Film Critics: Best Cinematography, American Beauty, 2000
  • Camerimage: Lifetime Achievement Award, 1995
  • American Society of Cinematographers: Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases, Love Affair, 1995
  • Camerimage: Bronze Frog, Searching for Bobby Fischer, 1994
  • American Society of Cinematographers: Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases, Searching for Bobby Fischer, 1994
  • American Society of Cinematographers: Lifetime Achievement Award, 1994
  • Cognac Festival du Film Policier: Jury “Coup de Chapeau,” Jennifer Eight, 1993
  • American Society of Cinematographers: Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases, Searching for Tequila Sunrise, 1989
  • BAFTA Film: Best Cinematography, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1971
  • Oscar: Best Cinematography, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1970
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