Sunday, 20 February 2011

John Alton and Anthony Mann

Of all the many artistic partnerships in film history, the one between John Alton and Anthony Mann must rank among the very best. Anthony Mann is one of the greatest image-maker film history has ever seen, both in depth and in width, and John Alton is one of the greatest cinematographer of all times. Together they made a serious of noirs, and since this is still film noir-week, I'll just share a selection of scenes.

First from T-Men (1947):

Here's a scene from Raw Deal (1948):

They also did He Walked By Night (1948), Border Incident (1949) and Devil's Doorway (1950) together, bit I couldn't find any good clips from those films. Mann didn't get any screen credit for He Walked By Night but he directed most of it, and Alton's cinematography is at its finest, especially towards the sewer sequence in the end, which in all likelihood influenced Carol Reed and Robert Krasker when they made The Third Man (1949). Devil's Doorway is an example of Mann's move away from the city to the western frontier (he did three westerns in 1950), and Border Incident is probably Mann's finest film from the 1940s, but that is a blog post for a later day.


  1. Good post. I love the Mann and Alton pictures. I had the pleasure of meeting Alton in 1991. He talked about how lighting in his early films were in some ways set up by necessity because he worked on films with small budgets.

  2. Thanks for the comment Matt, especially for the Alton memory! Yes, he and many others have testified to how budget restraints often led to bold creative decisions. I suppose it's an artistic equivalent of thinking outside the box.