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James  Wong  Howe


Oscar-winning cinematographer James Wong Howe [1899-1976]          short profile

movies of James Wong Howe

works about James Wong Howe

family & friends


"I believe that the best cameraman is one who recognizes the source,
the story, as the basis of his work."

"Zooms? Zooms are for commercials."

— James Wong Howe

          B I O
          h e r e

cousin of Anna May Wong, helped her get first movie job

In 1949, master cinematographer James Wong Howe was chosen to shoot test footage for the comeback of Greta Garbo in the proposed movie "La Duchesse de Langeais".

he owned and co-managed with his wife the Ching Howe restaurant on Ventura Blvd. in the San Fernando Valley

James Wong Howe entry at Wikipedia
James Wong Howe credits [1919-75] at Internet Movie Database

James Wong Howe won Oscar for Best Black-and-White Cinematography for "The Rose Tattoo" [1955]  James Wong Howe won Oscar for Best Black-and-White Cinematography for "Hud" [1963]       James Wong Howe won Oscars for Best Black-and-White Cinematography
for "The Rose Tattoo" [1955] and for "Hud" [1963]
— out of 10 Oscar nominations [1939-1976]
He also received
two Golden Laurel Awards, in 1959 & 1970

The Association of Asian Pacific American Artists gave out several
James Wong Howe 'Jimmie' Awards, circa 1989-91

Movies  of  James Wong Howe
James Wong Howe credits [1919-75] at Internet Movie Database
browse DVDs of James Wong Howe at Amazon

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"The Rescue" [1929 silent]

"Transatlantic" [Fox Aug 1931]
James Wong Howe filming off-shipside for "The Rescue" [1929]  An often-cited example of superb deep-focus work ten years before
"Citizen Kane" (so why no DVD?)
• Directed by William K. Howard;
b&w cinematography by James Wong Howe; starring Edmund Lowe,
Lois Moran, John Halliday, Greta Nissen, Myrna Loy, Jean Hersholt,
Earle Foxe & Billy Bevan
video/DVD not available; full credits at IMDb

"The Criminal Code" [1931]

"Chandu The Magician" feature film [Fox Sept 1932]
Chandu the Magician 1932 feature film  Evil megalomaniac Roxor {Lugosi} kidnaps a scientist to acquire his death ray and use it to achieve world domination, but is thwarted by Chandu, a powerful hypnotist and yogi • 71-minute b&w feature film directed by Marcel Varnel & William Cameron Menzies; screenplay by Barry Conners & Philip Klein, based on the radio drama; cinematography by James Wong Howe; starring Edmund Lowe {as Frank Chandler/Chandu}, Irene Ware, Bela Lugosi, Herbert Mundin, Henry B. Walthall, Weldon Heyburn, June Lang, Michael Stuart/Nestor Aber, Virginia Hammond
Kino Lorber b&w Blu-ray [8/2016] for $16.99
Cinema Classics Collection b&w DVD [9/2012] out of prodn/used
full credits at IMDbmovie entry at Wikipedia

"The Power and The Glory" [1933]

"Hollywood Party"  [M.G.M. May 1934]
Hollywood Party comedy film of 1934  Comedy jungle hero Schnarzan (Durante) needs a boost so he is buying real man-eating lions for his next film; animal keepers Laurel & Hardy track the lions down because the man selling to Durante paid for the lions with a bounced check; meanwhile, Durante's competition wants to get the lions for their own films. The original release included a Technicolor Disney-animated short "Hot Choc'late Soldiers", introduced by Mickey Mouse; because Walt Disney licensed only theatrical distribution rights to M.G.M., the sequence was excluded from TV showings until Turner Movie Channel negotiated for TV & video rights with Disney Studios in 1992. No director is credited; cinematography by James Wong Howe; starring Jimmy Durante, Laurel & Hardy, Jack Pearl, Lupe Velez, Charles Butterworth & Eddie Quillan; cameos by 'Wild Bill' Elliott, Ted Healy and The Three Stooges, Arthur Treacher & Robert Young
Warner Archive b&w/color DVD [12/2011] for $17.99
M.G.M./Warner b&w/color VHS [1/93] out of prodn/used
full credits at IMDbmovie entry at Wikipedia

"The Thin Man" [M.G.M. May 1934]
The Thin Man 1934 movie poster  Nick Charles, a detective, has just retired but is pulled back into service by the disappearance of a friend, Clyde Wynant (the actual 'thin man') just after Wynant's girlfriend is found dead. Nick and his wife Nora consume martinis and exchange witticisms; the martini glasses pile up as do the dead bodies, until the murderer is revealed at a dinner-party gathering of all the suspects. Directed by W.S. VanDyke; script by Albert Hackett & Frances Goodrich, based on Dashiell Hammett's novel; cinematography by James Wong Howe; starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O'Sullivan, Nat Pendleton, Minna Gombell, Asta & Cesar Romero; Oscar noms for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Script & Best Actor (WP); listed on the National Film Registry (1997)
Warner b&w DVD keepcase [8/2005] for $17.99
Warner b&w DVD snapcase [10/2002] out of prodn/used
Warner b&w VHS [7/2001] out of prodn/used
M.G.M./Warner b&w VHS [6/94] out of prodn/many used
full credits from IMDbmovie entry at Wikipedia

and more on BlackHat Mystery Bookstore's 'The Thin Man' Movies Page

"Algiers" [1938]

"The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" [1938]
based on the novel by Mark Twain

"Abe Lincoln In Illinois" [1940]

"Walt Disney's Fantasia" [Disney R.K.O. Dec 1940]
uncredited work on the Philadelphia Orchestra sequences

"Shining Victory" [1941]

"The Strawberry Blonde" [1941]

"King's Row" [1942]

"Yankee Doodle Dandy" [1942]

"Hangmen Also Die" [1943]

"Air Force" [1943]

"The North Star" [1943]

"Pursued" [1947] >> BHNOIR
Photographed in New Mexico in inky black and white by James Wong Howe, PURSUED finds Robert Mitchum revisiting his dark past in an attempt to unravel mysteries of the present. Perhaps the pivotal 'noir Western', it’s a complex melodrama-cum-Greek-tragedy, co-starring Teresa Wright, Dame Judith Anderson, Dean Jagger & Alan Hale, and directed by Raoul Walsh

"Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" [1948]

"The Time of Your Life" [1948] /tt0040884/
Produced by William Cagney; directed by H.C. Potter; based on the William Saroyan stageplay, adapted by Nathaniel Curtis; cinematography by James Wong Howe; starring James Cagney, William Bendix, Wayne Morris, Jeanne Cagney, Broderick Crawford & Ward Bond

"The Baron of Arizona" [Lippert March 1950] /tt0042229/
Written & directed by Samuel Fuller; based on a story by Homer Croy; cinematography
by James Wong Howe; starring Vincent Price & Ellen Drew

"He Ran All The Way" [MGM/UA 1951] >> BHNOIR
Dir. John Berry; John Garfield's final film role, and one of his best. He talks a young woman (Shelley Winters) into inviting him home for dinner -- but he takes her family hostage once they realize he's wanted for a cop-killing. The daughter falls for him anyway, seeing a kindred spirit who only wants to escape tenement life. Taut and claustrophobic, with superb performances and bold cinematography by James Wong Howe

"The Fighter" [1952] /tt0044614/ with James Wong Howe based on story? by Jack London

"The World of Dong Kingman" [1953 short] /nm0455449/
15½-minute color short directed by James Wong Howe
watch for free via Internet Archive

"Go, Man, Go!" documentary feature [1954] /tt0047032/
Howe was hired to direct a feature-length biography of Harlem Globetrotters founder Abe Saperstein

"The Rose Tattoo" [1955] = WON OSCAR

"Picnic" [1955]

"Sweet Smell of Success" [1957]

"The Invisible Avenger" [1958]
Howe directed his second feature (of two), an undistinguished B-movie in which
The Shadow, Lamont Cranston, investigated the murder of a New Orleans bandleader

"Bell, Book, and Candle" [1958]

"The Old Man and The Sea" [1958]
based on a story by Ernest Hemingway, directed by John Sturges

"Hud" [1963] = WON OSCAR

"Biography of A Rookie: The Willie Davis Story" TV documentary [Wolper Prodns Nov 1963] /tt0842917/
Co-produced & co-directed by Mel Stuart; co-directed by James Wong Howe

"The Glory Guys" [United Artists July 1965]
Glory Guys movie directed by Arnold Laven, script by Sam Peckinpah  A troop of hard-luck losers stuck in the cavalry of the U.S. Army set out on a suicide mission against battle-hardened Apache warriors (based on the Major Reno portion of the Battle of the Little Big Horn). Produced by Levy-Gardner-Laven; directed by Arnold Laven; script by Sam Peckinpah, from a novel by Hoffman Birney; cinematography by James Wong Howe; starring Tom Tryon, Harve Presnell, Senta Berger, Michael Anderson Jr., James Caan, Andrew Duggan, Slim Pickens, Peter Breck, Robert McQueeney, Wayne Rogers & William Meigs
M.G.M. color VHS [9/98] out of prodn/used
full credits from IMDb
based on the 1956 novel "The Dice of God" by Hoffman Birney
Henry Holt & Co. hardcover [1956] out of print/used

"Seconds" [1966] /tt0060955/

"This Property Is Condemned" [1966]

"Hombre" [1967] starring Paul Newman /tt0061770/
Directed by [blacklistee] Martin Ritt; based on a novel by Elmore Leonard

"The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" [1968]

"The Molly Maguires" [1970] /tt0066090/

"Funny Lady" [1975] starring Barbra Streisand

Works  About  James Wong Howe

three documentaries were made about Howe during the last two decades of his life

"James Wong Howe: Cinematographer" documentary ]1973]
featuring lighting tutorials with Howe

"James Wong Howe: A Lesson In Lighting" [1974] from Davidson Films of San Francisco

"James Wong Howe: Adventures" [1993 'video recording'] from Davidson Films of Davis, CA
Howe talks of his experiences in Hollywood and demonstrates some of his techniques

James Wong Howe, Cinematographer book by Todd Rainsberger  
"James Wong Howe, Cinematographer" [1982]
by Todd Rainsberger

A.S. Barnes & Co. 10¾x8½ hardcover [3/82] out of print/used
Film Lighting / Cinematographers & Gaffers book by Kris Malkiewicz  "Film Lighting: Talks With Hollywood's Cinematographers and Gaffers" [1986]
by Kris Malkiewicz

Interviews with gaffers {chief electricians} and cinematographers who know their business, including John Alonzo ASC, Caleb Deschanel ASC, Conrad Hall ASC, James Wong Howe ASC, Haskell Wexler ASC, Vilmos Zsigmond ASC, among others; book is divided into cinematography, lighting equipment, image manipulation, and studio & location lighting; with glossary
Fireside Books 9x7 pb [8/86] for $15.61
Five American Cinematographers Interviews book by Scott Eyman  
"Five American Cinematographers: Interviews with Karl Struss, Joseph Ruttenberg, James Wong Howe, Linwood Dunn & William H. Clothier" [1987]
by Scott Eyman

Scarecrow Press 8¾x5½ hardcover [10/87] out of print/scarce
Visions of Light movie  "Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography" [N.H.K./A.F.I. Feb 1993]
Co-directed by Arnold Glassman, Todd McCarthy & Stuart Samuels; interviewees include Caleb Deschanel, William A. Fraker, Conrad Hall, James Wong Howe, László Kovács, Sven Nykvist,
Vilmos Zsigmond, plus many more
Image Ent. color DVD [5/2000] for $21.49
Fox color VHS [4/94] for $29.98
full credits from IMDb
Great Moviemakers of Hollywood's Golden Age  "Conversations With The Great Moviemakers of Hollywood's Golden Age: At The American Film Institute" [2006] by George Stevens, Jr.
Knopf 9½x6½ hardcover [2/2006] for $23.10
interviews with 32 major writers, directors & cinematographers, including Ingmar Bergman, writer Ray Bradbury, Richard Brooks, Frank Capra, William Clothier, Stanley Cortez, George Cukor, Federico Fellini, George Folsey, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, James Wong Howe, John Huston, Elia Kazan, Gene Kelly, Stanley Kramer, Fritz Lang, David Lean, Ernest Lehman, Mervyn LeRoy, Harold Lloyd, Rouben Mamoulian, Satyajit Ray, Jean Renoir, George Stevens, King Vidor, Hal Wallis, Raoul Walsh, Billy Wilder, Robert Wise, William Wyler & Fred Zinnemann

James Wong Howe, Camera Eye book by Alain Silver  "James Wong Howe: The Camera Eye - A Career Interview" [2011]
by Alain Silver

Based on 15 hours of interviews conducted by film scholar Silver; includes a complete filmography (with some newly discovered credits), two essays about lighting & preparation written by Howe himself, a biographical summary, select bibliography, and a complete index.
CreateSpace 5½x4 pb [2/2011] for $19.95

Family  &  Friends

cousin of Anna May Wong, helped her get first movie job

Sanora Babb Howe [1907-2005] - married 1949, widowed 1976, died 2005
browse books by Sanora Babbofficial websiteentry at Wikipedia

Whose Names Are Unknown novel by Sanora Babb Howe  "Whose Names Are Unknown: A Novel" [2004]
by Sanora Babb Howe, Foreword by Lawrence R. Rodgers

Upstaged in 1939 by John Steinbeck's best-selling "The Grapes of Wrath", Babb's novel about the travails of a Depression-era farm family was shelved by Random House; at 97, Babb reaped long-overdue praise for the novel when it was rescued by the University of Oklahoma Press in 2004
Kindle Edition from Univ OK Press [11/2012] for $9.99
Univ OK Press 8½x6¼ pb [1/2006] for $15.87
Univ OK Press 8½x5½ hardcover [4/2004] out of print/used

James Cagney

1996 article by great-nephew Richard Francis James Lee of Yakima, WA

L i n k s
James Wong Howe entry at Wikipedia
James Wong Howe credits [1919-75] at Internet Movie Database
browse DVDs of James Wong Howe at Amazon

European poster site / James Wong Howe page
James Wong Howe Collection at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
James Wong Howe page at Internet Encyclopedia of Cinematographers

here on the Cinematographer James Wong Howe [1899-1976] Page at Magic Lantern Video & Book Store

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