Oswald Morris

Last updated

Oswald Morris
Oswald Norman Morris

(1915-11-22)22 November 1915
Ruislip, England
Died17 March 2014(2014-03-17) (aged 98)
Dorset, England
Nationality British
Occupation Cinematographer
Years active1947–1982

Oswald Norman Morris, OBE DFC AFC BSC (22 November 1915 – 17 March 2014) was a British cinematographer. Known to his colleagues by the nicknames "Os" or "Ossie", [1] Morris's career in cinematography spanned six decades.


Life and career

Morris was raised in Middlesex (now the London Borough of Hillingdon), and attended the Bishopshalt School. His interest in film began at an early age; during summer vacations, he would work as a projectionist at the local cinema. Dropping out in 1932, he started working in the film industry at Wembley Studios as an unpaid gofer for Michael Powell, among others, eventually graduating to the positions of clapper boy and camera assistant on quota quickies. By his 20s, Morris was a camera operator, first at Wembley, and later at Elstree. [2]

His career was interrupted by the Second World War, during which he served as a bomber pilot with the RAF, achieving the rank of flight lieutenant and winning both the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Force Cross.[ citation needed ]

After his war service, Morris worked at Pinewood Studios as an assistant to such people as Ronald Neame and David Lean at their company Cineguild. He was the camera operator during the shooting of Lean's Oliver Twist (1948). He first acted as director of photography on Golden Salamander (1950). Neame referred to Morris as "probably the greatest cameraman in the world". [1]

Morris collaborated with film director John Huston on eight films, beginning with Moulin Rouge (1952), and also including Moby Dick (1956). Although his previous experience with Technicolor had been limited, for Moulin Rouge he devised many stylish effects - through the use of diffused and filtered light, fog, and bold color choices - for the film, and his innovations drew critical praise from the critics. For Moby Dick, Morris developed what David Peloquin has called a "retro-silvered pictorial" which "was designed to capture the look of nineteenth-century whaling prints with their muted colors and silver sheen". [3] Morris wrote in his autobiography that he and Huston wanted a "soft wash" effect "in which we would etch in the characters". To achieve this, in prints for the original release, colour was effectively printed over a black and white image using two negatives. [4] For the film of John Osborne's The Entertainer (1960), on which Morris was the cinematographer, his name was incorporated into the story in one scene where a radio transmission mentioned the fictional "Sergeant Ossie Morris".

He received three nominations for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, for his work on the musicals Oliver! (1968), Fiddler on the Roof (1971), and The Wiz (1978), and won the award for his work on Fiddler on the Roof. Morris' brother Reginald Herbert Morris was also a cinematographer based in Canada.

Morris was a Fellow of The Royal Photographic Society and was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1998. He published his memoirs, Huston, We Have a Problem: A Kaleidoscope of Filmmaking Memories ( ISBN   978-0810857063), in 2006. In his later years, Morris participated in the film course at Bournemouth University. [2]

Morris was married twice. His first marriage to the former Connie Sharp produced three children, Gillian, Christine and Roger. The marriage lasted from 1939 until she died in 1963. [5] In 1966, Morris married Lee Turner a member of the continuity production staff on the Franco Zeffirelli film of The Taming of the Shrew (1967). This marriage lasted until she died in 2003. His survivors included his three children, 10 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren. [2]

He was one of the interviewees in the book Conversations with Cinematographers by David A. Ellis, published by Scarecrow Press.


In June 2009, the recently completed central building of the National Film and Television School was officially named The Oswald Morris Building in his honour.

Additional credits

Awards and nominations

Related Research Articles

<i>Moulin Rouge!</i> 2001 film directed by Baz Luhrmann

Moulin Rouge! is a 2001 jukebox musical romantic drama film directed, co-produced, and co-written by Baz Luhrmann. The film tells the story of a young English poet/writer, Christian, who falls in love with the star of the Moulin Rouge, cabaret actress and courtesan Satine. It uses the musical setting of the Montmartre Quarter of Paris, France. The film is the third part of Luhrmann's "Red Curtain Trilogy," following Strictly Ballroom and Romeo + Juliet.

<i>Moulin Rouge</i> (1952 film)

Moulin Rouge is a 1952 British drama film directed by John Huston, produced by John and James Woolf for their Romulus Films company and released by United Artists. The film is set in Paris in the late 19th century, following artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in the city's bohemian subculture in and around the burlesque palace the Moulin Rouge. The screenplay is by Huston, based on the 1950 novel by Pierre La Mure. The cinematography was by Oswald Morris. This film was screened at the 14th Venice International Film Festival where it won the Silver Lion.

<i>The Servant</i> (1963 film)

The Servant is a 1963 British drama film directed by Joseph Losey. It was written by Harold Pinter, who adapted Robin Maugham's 1948 novella. The Servant stars Dirk Bogarde, Sarah Miles, Wendy Craig and James Fox. It opened at London's Warner Theatre on 14 November 1963.

Ronald Neame English film producer, director, cinematographer and screenwriter

Ronald Elwin Neame CBE BSC was an English film producer, director, cinematographer, and screenwriter. Beginning his career as a cinematographer, for his work on the British war film One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1943) he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Special Effects. During a partnership with director David Lean, he produced Brief Encounter (1945), Great Expectations (1946), and Oliver Twist (1948), receiving two Academy Award nominations for writing.

Ted Moore, BSC was a South African-British cinematographer known for his work on seven of the James Bond films in the 1960s and early 1970s. He won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for his work on Fred Zinnemann's A Man for All Seasons, and two BAFTA Awards for Best Cinematography for A Man for All Seasons and From Russia with Love.

Freddie Francis

Frederick William Francis was an English cinematographer and film director.

Tutte Lemkow

Tutte Lemkow was a Norwegian actor and dancer, who played mostly villainous roles in British television and films. His chief claims to mainstream familiarity were his roles as the fiddler in the film version of Fiddler on the Roof and the old man ("Imam") who translates the inscription on the headpiece of the Staff of Ra for Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

<i>Moby Dick</i> (1956 film)

Moby Dick is a 1956 film adaptation of Herman Melville's 1851 novel Moby-Dick. It was directed by John Huston with a screenplay by Huston and Ray Bradbury. The film starred Gregory Peck, Richard Basehart, and Leo Genn.

Douglas Slocombe

Ralph Douglas Vladimir Slocombe OBE, BSC, ASC, GBCT was a British cinematographer, particularly known for his work at Ealing Studios in the 1940s and 1950s, as well as the first three Indiana Jones films. He won BAFTA Awards in 1964, 1975, and 1979, and was nominated for an Academy Award on three occasions.

Jack Hildyard, B.S.C. was a British cinematographer who worked on more than 80 films during his career.

William Ashman Fraker, A.S.C., B.S.C. was an American cinematographer, film director and producer. He was nominated five times for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. In 2000, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) honoring his career. Fraker graduated from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts in 1950.

Arthur Ibbetson BSC was a British cinematographer.

Denys Neil Coop was an English camera operator and cinematographer. He was a president of the British Society of Cinematographers from 1973 to 1975.

Richard Pope, B.S.C. is a British cinematographer who has worked with British film director Mike Leigh. He has twice been nominated for an Academy Award, for The Illusionist and Mr. Turner.

This is a list of winners and nominees for the BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography, which is presented to cinematographers, given out by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts since 1963.

Anthony Dod Mantle

Anthony Dod Mantle, DFF, BSC, ASC is a British cinematographer and still photographer. He won the Academy Award and BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography for Slumdog Millionaire (2008). Other accolades include two Bodil Awards, two European Film Awards, and four Robert Awards.

John Newton Green, ASC, is an American cinematographer and film director best known for his Oscar-nominated collaborations with actor/director Clint Eastwood, taking over from Eastwood's previous collaborator Bruce Surtees.

Ralph Kemplen was a British film editor with more than fifty film credits between 1933 and 1982. Kemplen had a long collaboration with director John Huston (1906-1987) on six films between 1951 and 1966. Kemplen also directed one feature film, The Spaniard's Curse (1958).

Michael Coulter BSC is a Scottish cinematographer. On some films, he does additional photography and is a camera operator.

Gerald Leslie "Gerry" Turpin was an English cinematographer.


  1. 1 2 Sweet, Matthew (19 October 2003). "Ronald Neame (2003 interview at the National Film Theatre)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 18 August 2006. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 Baxter, Brian (19 March 2014). "Oswald Morris obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  3. Peloquin, David (June 2017). "John Huston's 1956 Film Moby Dick: A 60th-Anniversary Appreciation". Leviathan. pp. 111–4.
  4. Morris, Oswald; Bull, Geoffrey (2006). Huston, We Have a Problem: A Kaleidoscope of Filmmaking Memories. Lanham, Maryland & Oxford, UK: Scarecrow Press. pp. 83–4. ISBN   9780810857063.
  5. Hayward, Anthony (21 March 2014). "Oswald Morris: Cinematographer who developed a fruitful relationship with John Huston and worked on a host of classic films". The Independent. Retrieved 27 November 2016.