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John Alonzo
Born June 12, 1934(1934-06-12)
Dallas, Texas
Died March 13, 2001 (aged 66)
Occupation Cinematographer

John Alonzo, A.S.C. (June 12, 1934 in Dallas, Texas – March 13, 2001) was an American cinematographer who pioneered hand held work, lighting techniques and HD development during his career. He has an impressive list of films, but will probably be remembered mainly for Chinatown (1974) and Scarface (1983).

Alonzo was not only the Director of Photography for some of the greatest American films of the ‘70s and ‘80s, but also the first American cinematographer of Latino heritage to become a member of the Cinematographer’s Union in Los Angeles, as well as the first to be inducted into the famed A.S.C..


Film career

John Alonzo’s career began as part of the clean-up crew at television station WFAA in Dallas. However, within a short time he had made himself indispensable, not only building sets, hanging lights and moving cameras, but also directing cooking and children’s shows. Eventually he and actor Hank Williamson created a popular comedy duo: Alonzo became the voice and puppeteer of the irreverent “Señor Turtle,” who with Williamson as his sidekick, introduced movies and cartoons. In 1956, the show was picked up by station KHJ in Hollywood, where it lasted only 26 weeks. So Alonzo worked for a time as a still photographer, and as an actor, with appearances in several well-known shows such as Twilight Zone, Combat, 77 Sunset Strip and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour."

A seminal moment came during the shooting of The Magnificent Seven, in which Alonzo had a small role, when he met the cinematographer Charles Lang. This inspiring encounter, as well as the chance to briefly collaborate with James Wong Howe a few years later, finally gave Alonzo the impetus to devote his life to cinematography. By the mid-‘60s, he was photographing many documentaries for National Geographic and the David L. Wolper Company, and greatly influencing the innovative “Look” of the New Hollywood that became so powerful in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.

His uncomplicated and minimalistic style, combined with his first-hand knowledge of acting, made him one of the most in-demand directors of photography in Hollywood. The list of film classics on his resumé is extraordinary. In addition, he was not only one of the best “hand-held cameramen in Hollywood, but also a pioneer of high-def digital cinematography. In 1993/94 he shot (for NBC) the first HD movie in the history of American television, World War II – When Lions Roared.

John A. Alonzo died in 2001 after a long illness, at home in Brentwood, California. During his lifetime he had already become a “Living Legend” for aspiring cinematographers. Perhaps his best known student is two-time “Oscar” winner John Toll, who began his career as Alonzo’s assistant on films like Black Sunday, Norma Rae, Tom Horn and Scarface.

In 2007, director Axel Schill helmed a feature documentary about Alonzo, The Man Who Shot Chinatown—Cameraman John A. Alonzo.


Awards

THE LEGEND OF JIMMY BLUE EYES, 1965 Oscar Nomination for Best Short Film

CHINATOWN. 1975 Oscar Nomination for Best Camera and 1975 BAFTA Nomination for Best Camera

WORLD WAR 2 – WHEN LIONS ROARED, 1994 Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography for a Mini-Series or a Special

LANSKY, 1999 Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Cinematograhy for a Miniseries or a Movie

FAIL-SAFE, 2000 Emmy Award Outstanding Lighting Direction, shared with Kim Killingsworth


Filmography

1961 A RAINBOW IN THE SAND (short)

1964 THE LEGEND OF JIMMY BLUE EYES (short), Oscar Nomination for Best Short Film

1965 REVOLUTION IN OUR TIME (doc.) (TV),

1965 MAYHEM ON A SUNDAY (Second Unit Camera) (doc.) (TV),

1965/66 MARCH OF TIME, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC (doc.) (TV):

AUSTRALIA: THE TIMELESS LAND (Director & Cinematographer)

GRIZZLY

WINGED WORLD (Additional Photography)

REPTILES AND AMPHIBIANS

1966-1968 WORLD OF ANIMALS (doc.) (TV)

BIG CATS, LITTLE CATS

WORLD OF HORSES (Additional Photography)

1967 THE BIG LAND (Additional Photography) (doc.) (TV)

1967 A NATION OF IMMIGRANTS (Additional Photography) (doc.) (TV)

1967-1968 DO BLONDES HAVE MORE FUN? (doc.) (TV)

1967-1968 UNDERSEA WORLD OF JACQUES COUSTEAU (doc.) (TV)

1968 SOPHIA: A SELF-PORTRAIT (TV)

1968 SAN SEBASTIAN 1746 IN 1968 (doc.) (TV)

1969 THE MOVIEMAKERS

1970 BLOODY MAMA

1971 VANISHING POINT

1971 GET TO KNOW YOUR RABBIT

1971 HAROLD & MAUDE

1971 CANNON (TV)

1971 REVENGE (TV)

1972 VISIONS (TV)

1972 SOUNDER

1972 LADY SINGS THE BLUES

1972 WATTSTAX

1972 PETE’N’ TILLIE

1973 THE VOYAGE OF THE YES (TV)

1973 HIT!

1973 GUESS WHO IS SLEEPING IN MY BED (TV)

1973 THE NAKED APE

1973 CHINATOWN, Oscar Nomination for Best Camera, BAFTA Nomination for Best Camera

1974 CONRACK

1975 ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH

1975 THE FORTUNE

1975 FAREWELL, MY LOVELY

1976 LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY’S BABY (TV)

1976 I WILL, I WILL…FOR NOW

1976 THE BAD NEWS BEARS

1977 BLACK SUNDAY

1977 BEYOND REASON

1977 WHICH WAY IS UP?

1977 CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, Additional Cinematography

1978 CASEY’S SHADOW

1978 THE CHEAP DETECTIVE

1978 FM (Director)

1979 PORTRAIT OF A STRIPPER (Director, DP)

1979 NORMA RAE

1979 CHAMPIONS – A LOVE STORY (Director; DP)

1980 TOM HORN

1980 BELLE STAR (Director, DP) (TV)

1981 BACK ROADS

1981 ZORRO, THE GAY BLADE

1982 BLINDED BY THE LIGHT (Director, DP) (TV)

1982 THE KID FROM NOWHERE (TV)

1983 BLUE THUNDER

1983 SCARFACE

1983 CROSS CREEK

1984 TERROR IN THE AISLES

1984 NO SMALL AFFAIR

1984 RUNAWAY

1985 OUT OF CONTROL

1986 NOTHING IN COMMON

1986 JO JO DANCER, YOUR LIFE IS CALLING

1987 OVERBOARD

1987 REAL MEN

1988 ROOTS: THE GIFT

1988 “KNIGHTWATCH” (TV)

1989 STEEL MAGNOLIAS

1989 PHYSICAL EVIDENCE

1990 NAVY SEALS

1990 INTERNAL AFFAIRS

1990 THE GUARDIAN

1992 HOUSESITTER

1992 COOL WORLD

1993 THE METEOR MAN

1994 WORLD WAR TWO – WHEN LIONS ROARDED (TV), Emmy Nomination Outstanding Achievement for Cinematography for a Mini-Series

1994 CLIFFORD

1994 STAR TREK – GENERATIONS

1995 THE GRASS HARP

1998 LETTERS FROM A KILLER

1999 LANSKY (TV) Emmy Nomination Outstanding Cinematography for a Mini-Series

2000 THE DANCING COW (short)

2000 FAIL SAFE (TV), Emmy Award Outstanding Lighting Direction shared with Kim Killingsworth

2000 THE PRIME GIG

2000 DEUCES WILD


Film documentaries

2007 THE MAN WHO SHOT CHINATOWN – THE LIFE & WORK OF JOHN A.ALONZO, Documentary, Germany/GB/USA 77 min

2003 SCARFACE: ACTING DVD BONUS (with John Alonzo)

2003 SCARFACE: CREATING DVD BONUS (with John Alonzo)

2002 THE 74TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS TV Memorial Tribute

2000 GUNS FOR HIRE – THE MAKING OF THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, Documentary TV (with John Alonzo)

1998 THE MAKING OF SCARFACE Documentary VIDEO (with John Alonzo)

1992 VISIONS OF LIGHT, Documentary USA/Japan 90 min (with John Alonzo)


External links:

1. "Das Kino durch die Kamera finden“ (taz 14.11.2007) http://www.taz.de/nc/1/archiv/digitaz/artikel/?ressort=ku&dig=2007%2F11%2F15%2Fa0189&src=G1&c

2. http://www.ksta.de/html/artikel/1194960687823.shtml

3. http://www.filmevona-z.de/filmaktuell.cfm?seite=2

4. http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117934159.html?categoryid=31&cs=1

5. http://www.schnitt.de/202,3069,01

6. http://www.art-tv.ch/4617-0-Kino-the-man-who-shot-chinatown.html

7. http://www.themanwhoshotchinatown.com

External links

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