Friday, September 1, 2017

Born Today September 1: John W. Boyle


Cinematographer John W. Boyle was born on this day in Memphis, Tennessee.  By the end of his career, he had shot over 150 films, but he got his start solidly in the silent era.  His first film was Greater Love Hath No Man in 1915.  He was in fact, the cinematographer on a film starring Arthur Shirley (II), who was written up yesterday on this blog; the film was The Fall Of A Nation (1916).  By 1917,  he was working for Fox and photographed a great many of their late 1910's iconic films (most of them sadly lost)--including a great many of the Theda Bara/J. Gordon Edwards films.  Even after Edwards was through directing Bara, he kept Boyle on as his cinematographer.   He, for example, shot the now lost Edwards' directed The Queen Of Sheba (1921), which features Betty Blythe who also had a birthday on the 1st of September. From 1922 on, he was working at various studios, including: Metro, Warner Bros.,  and Goldwyn.  He was given top jobs at some the earliest merged studios as well.  1928 brought his first brush with early talking pictures; he was director of photography on The Good-By Kiss a partial sound film directed by the great Mack Sennett, for whom he worked in the late silent era.  He next worked on a short film of Sennett's that had an experimental two-color technicolor sequence: The Campus Carmen (1928).  Sennett's next comedic short The Lion's Roar (1928) was a full sound affair that Boyle also photographed.  Also by 1928, he gained the attention of up and coming directors working under Sennett's umbrella at Sennett Comedies--one of them was Frank Capra.  These aquntiances would serve him well later in his career.  The over-whelming bulk of the films that he shot in the late 1920's and early 1930's were shorts around 20 minutes long.  In 1928 and 1929, he also served as president of the American Society of Cinematographers.  Boyle worked right up until the time of his death, having made his television debut in shooting seven episodes of Big Town in the early 1950's.  The last film that he shot was Courage of Black Beauty in 1957.  Boyle passed away in Hollywood on the 28 of September 1959, almost one month to the day after his 68th birthday.  He is interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  In 1965, some of his archive footage of Abbott and Costello was used in The World Of Abbott and Costello.  

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