Thursday, January 21, 2016

Born Today January 21: Rudolph Maté


Born Rudolph Mayer in Krakau, Galicia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (in what would now be Poland), to Jewish parents.  He went into the film business following his graduation from the University of Budapest.  Though he started out using his birth name when credited, he later changed his last name in order to get more work--as the prejudice against Jews in Europe was already intense.  He first went to work as an assistant cameraman--he would go on to be one the greatest early cinematographers in Hollywood history; but he had to get there first.  Before making that leap, he worked on films all over Europe, including:  Hungary, Austria, Germany, France and the U.K.  In Europe he would often work with his directorial friend Karl Freund.  His first film credit comes in 1919 with Kutató Sámuel.  From then on, he would go on to have steady work throughout the 1920's, as mentioned above all over Europe.  His crowning achievement for that decade came when he was hired as DP on Carl Theodore Dreyer's La passion de Jeanne d'Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc) in 1928.  The last film that he photographed in the 1920's was the short La manque de memoire.  To the best of my knowledge, the first film that he is credited as "R. Maté" was Prix de beauté (Miss Europe) in 1930; this was a film with both a silent version and full talking mono version (for many years the silent version was not available--not lost, but of no interest, but renewed interest prompted viewing at silent film festivals, and finally a full restoration debuted in 2013).  This was the last silent version film that he photographed.  He went on to be the cinematograher for another well known Dreyer production, the horror film Vampyr in 1932.  He made his US debut in 1935 working for the Fox Film Corporation as DP on Dante's Inferno in 1935.  He would go on to work with several famous Hollywood directors (many originating in Europe); the list includes:  Ernst Lubitsch, Alfred Hitchcock, René Clair, and Orson Welles.  The later of which was the last time he worked in cinematography on Welles' The Lady From Shanghai (1947).  He wanted to switch to directing and his first credit in the category also came in 1947, just before his job with Welles on It Had To Be You on which he was the DP and shared a directing credit with Don Hartman.  Once he switched to directing, he did not go back to cinematography.  Amongst his directing credits are D.O.A. (1950)  and When World's Collide (1951).  He even managed to get in a little television directing on The Loretta Young Show.  On the 27th of October 1964, he died suddenly from a heart attack in his Beverly Hills home.  He is entombed at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City--a Catholic burial place.  In his lifetime, he was nominated for 5 Oscars.

No comments:

Post a Comment