Via Anne Thompson comes word of the passing of director of photography William A. Fraker. Fraker wasn’t one of the biggest names in cinematography of the later 20th century, but he had a definite knack for atmosphere and direct storytelling, and wasn’t afraid to take on highly diverse and unusual projects. His CV included everything from “Tombstone,” “Vegas Vacation” and “War Games” to such ultra-culty projects as Ralph Bakshi’s “Coonskin,” Theodore Flicker’s spy-satire “The President’s Analyst,” Curtis Harrington’s “Games,” and the underrated musical biopic “American Hot Wax.” Of course, he also worked on a couple of bonafide sixties mega-blockbusters, the ur-action cop movie, “Bullitt,” and the horror masterpiece that still reverberates whether any of us likes it or not, “Rosemary’s Baby.”
Below are some clips which show what a versatile director of photography like Mr. Fraker can do, starting with the obvious, which really shows that Fraker knew his way around shadows.
I’m in the midst of a crazy day that for me that will include a screening tonight and then a quick jaunt across the street over to the New Beverly, which is in the midst of Dante’s Inferno, to catch a movie I’ve literally been trying to see for decades. It’s 1967’s “The President’s Analyst,” a political-thriller/spy comedy satire, which is basically three or four of my favorite genres all mushed up together. Writer-director Theodore J. Flicker went on to create “Barney Miller,” so there’s that, too. Sadly, I’ll miss the even more obscure first feature which I featured here just a couple of weeks back, “Cold Turkey.”
Anyhow, I shall be brief, or not. Starting now, anyway:
* It looks like there may be yet one more “last Kubrick movie” to come and it’ll be a Holocaust-themed drama to be directed by Ang Lee. Something tells me we’re looking at a Fall or Winter release here.
* Matthew Vaughn’s “Kick-Ass” is attracting strong studio interest, not surprisingly. And I can still remember a time when they’d have to put a picture of a donkey on the film poster in order to get away with that title.