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Magic Hour: A Life in Movies [Paperback]

Jack Cardiff
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
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Book Description

4 Aug 1997

The most celebrated director of colour photography tells the story of his adventures in celluloid. The 'Magic Hour' is the special light that occurs just at twilight, and a very special light is what cameraman Jack Cardiff brought to films such as The Red Shoes, The African Queen, and Black Narcissus for which he won an Oscar. In Magic Hour Jack Cardiff details the adventures of his life: on tour on the music-hall circuit with his parents; acting in silent films; being chosen by Technicolor as the first British cameraman to be trained in colour photography; filming with British convoys in the Atlantic during World War II; his big break when Michael Powell asked him to photograph A Matter of Life and Death; his rambunctious expolits with Errol Flynn; and his triumph at the Cannes Film Festival as the director of Sons and Lovers.

As a master of light, Cardiff came to photograph some of the most beautiful women in cinema history: Marilyn Monroe, Ingrid Bergman, Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn and Ava Gardner, to name but a few.Cardiff's bold and imaginative photography enhanced not only the work of Powell and Pressburger, but also that of Alfred Hitchcock and John Huston. Told with modesty and charm, Magic Hour is the personal journey of an extraordinary craftsman of cinema.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New Ed edition (4 Aug 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571192742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571192748
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 363,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely magical and extraordinary book 7 April 2003
Jack Cardiff has obviously had a very full life! This book is absolutely crammed with evocative and fascinating reminiscences that take us all around the World. I have never read first hand accounts of encounters with figures such as Monroe and Hitchcock, which have been as true sounding and revealing. Cardiff was learning his craft when cameras weighed a tonne, and featured such awkward but beautiful technology as three strip Technicolor, and filmed and lit some of the great landmark fabulist films of UK cinema (e.g "Red Shoes" and "Black Narcissus".) Even if you are 20 years old and have never seen a movie made before 1990, read this book. It will make you fall in love with film making and you will want to be a cinematographer as well. Cardiff is never stuffy or old fashioned, and makes an enthusiastic and very funny guide. Witness his description of the filming of a nude scene with M Deitrich, which ended with the legend slipping on some soap and flailing about on the floor like a fish...absolute genius!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History of Cinema 3 Aug 2011
Jack Cardiff was a master of colour and light in the making of movies (the first to master the Technicolor process in England). Besides, he is very good at writing. This is a must read for any cinema lover. By narrating his life and works, the story also spans a century of cinema and some of its most important masters (directors, actors...). Together with The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff, Cameraman [DVD], you'll probably want to watch again the movies on which Cardiff worked: by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, by Hitchcock, by Huston,... and by himself. Not only that, but it will also make you want to know more about painting and light.

This book is ageless and is often very funny because Mr Cardiff has a great sense humour. The anecdotes about Marilyn, Sophia Loren, Errol Flynn, Bogart are also quite strong and make us realise that only a great writing can be the source of so much impression. This book is worth a thousand other books.

I only which there were more reviews for this book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of charm, insight and wit. 18 April 2006
Jack Cardiff is one of the true craftsmen of cinematography, a pioneer particularly of Technicolor. His memoirs cover his childhood (born into a music hall family), his early days working in silent cinema and his long career as director and cinematographer in warm, affectionate detail, with plenty of anecdotes about the actors and directors he's worked with, a lot of material about travelling the world, and much insight into the art and craft of making movies look beautiful.

Cardiff writes with elegance, charm, and true insight about the people, the art and the politics of the movies. This is a splendidly readable and thought-provoking autobiography by a true artist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellant autobiography with one reservation 17 Dec 2012
By Wingate
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Cardiff was one of the greatest cinematographers of his era.He worked with many of the most influential directors and greatest stars.Apart from many fascinating anecdotes he lets us in on many of the tricks of his trade.It is difficult to realise when watching some of his early technicolour films that the film speed of the stock was ASA 12 compared to ASA200 of modern 35mm still camera film.He actually had to run the film through the camera twice to obtain any sort of exposure in St Peters Rome.The only chapter i disliked was that which extolled the virtues of bullfighting and bullfighters.It is a cruel vicious enterprise which has no place in this otherwise flawless book.
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