Ernest Haller - Writer

Cinematographer. Nationality: American. Born: Los Angeles, California, 31 May 1896. Career: Worked as a bank clerk; 1914—actor for Biograph, then became cameraman in 1915; 1920—first film as cinematographer, Love Is Everything ; 1925–51—worked mainly for First National (Warner Brothers), then freelance. Awards: Academy Award for Gone with the Wind , 1939. Died: In an automobile accident, 1970.

Films as Cinematographer:


Love Is Everything (Bennett); Neglected Wives (B. King); Yes or No (Neill); The Discarded Woman (B. King); Trumpet Island (Terriss); The Inner Voice (Neill); Dead Men Tell No Tales (Terriss); The Common Sin ( For Your Daughter's Sake ) (B. King)


The Gilded Lily (Leonard); Such a Little Queen (Fawcett); Salvation Nell (Webb); Wife against Wife (Bennett); The Road to Arcady (B. King); The Iron Trail (Neill)


The Ne'er-Do-Well (Green); Homeward Bound (R. Ince); Woman-Proof (Green)


Pied Piper Malone (Green); Rough Ridin' (Thorpe); Empty Hearts (Santell); Three Keys (Le Saint); Parisian Nights (Santell)


Any Woman (H. King) (co); High and Handsome ( Winning His Stripes ) (Garson); The New Commandment (Higgin); Bluebeard's Seven Wives (Santell)


The Reckless Lady (Higgin); The Dancer of Paris (Santell); The Wilderness Woman (Higgin); Stacked Cards (Eddy); The Great Deception (Higgin); Hair Trigger Baxter (Nelson); The Prince of Tempters (Mendes)


Convoy (Boyle); Broadway Nights (Boyle); Dance Music (Halperin); For the Love of Mike (Capra); French Dressing ( Lessons for Wives ) (Dwan)


The Whip Woman (Boyle); Mad Hour (Boyle); Harold Teen (LeRoy); Wheel of Chance (Santell); Out of the Ruins (Dillon); Naughty Baby ( Reckless Rosie ) (LeRoy)


Weary River (Lloyd); The House of Horror (Christensen); Drag ( Parasites ) (Lloyd); The Girl in the Glass Cage (Dawson); Dark Streets (Lloyd); Young Nowheres (Lloyd); Wedding Rings (Beaudine)


Son of the Gods (Lloyd); A Notorious Affair (Bacon); The Dawn Patrol (Hawks); One Night at Susie's (Dillon); Sunny (Seiter); The Lash ( Adios ) (Lloyd)


Millie (Dillon); Ten Cents a Dance (L. Barrymore); The Finger Points (Dillon); Chances (Dwan); I Like Your Nerve (McGann); Honor of the Family (Bacon); 24 Hours ( The Hours Between ) (Gering); Compromised ( We Three ) (Adolfi); Girls about Town (Cukor); Blonde Crazy ( Larceny Lane ) (Del Ruth)


The Woman from Monte Carlo (Curtiz); The Rich Are Always with Us (Green); Night after Night (Mayo); The Crash (Dieterle); Scarlet Dawn (Dieterle)


King of the Jungle (Marcin and Humberstone); International House (Sutherland); The Emperor Jones (Murphy); Murders in the Zoo (Sutherland); The House on 56th Street (Florey)


Easy to Love (Keighley); Journal of a Crime (Keighley); The Key (Curtiz); Merry Wives of Reno (Humberstone); Desirable (Mayo); British Agent (Curtiz); The Firebird (Dieterle)


Age of Indiscretion (Ludwig); Mary Jane's Pa ( Wanderlust ) (Keighley); Captain Blood (Curtiz); Dangerous (Green)


The Voice of Bugle Ann (Thorpe); Petticoat Fever (Fitzmaurice); Public Enemy's Wife ( G-Man's Wife ) (Grinde); Mountain Justice (Curtiz); The Captain's Kid (Grinde); The Great O'Malley (Dieterle)


Call It a Day (Mayo); That Certain Woman (Goulding); The Great Garrick (Whale)


Jezebel (Wyler); Four's a Crowd (Curtiz); Four Daughters (Curtiz); Brother Rat (Keighley)


Dark Victory (Goulding); The Roaring Twenties (Walsh); Gone with the Wind (Fleming); Invisible Stripes (Bacon)


It All Came True (Seiler); All This, and Heaven Too (Litvak); No Time for Comedy (Keighley)


Honeymoon for Three (Bacon); Footsteps in the Dark (Bacon); Manpower (Walsh); The Bride Came C.O.D. (Keighley); Blues in the Night (Litvak); The Gay Parisian ( Gaité Parisienne ) (Negulesco—short); Spanish Fiesta ( Capriccio Espagnol ) (Negulesco—short) (co)


In This Our Life (Huston); George Washington Slept Here (Keighley)


Princess O'Rourke (Krasna); A Present with a Future (V. Sherman—short)


Mrs. Skeffington (V. Sherman); The Doughgirls (Kern)


Rhapsody in Blue (Rapper) (co); Mildred Pierce (Curtiz); Saratoga Trunk (Wood)


Devotion (Bernhardt); A Stolen Life (Bernhardt); The Verdict (Siegel); Humoresque (Negulesco); Deception (Rapper)


The Unfaithful (V. Sherman)


My Girl Tisa (Nugent); Winter Meeting (Windust)


My Dream Is Yours (Curtiz) (co); Always Leave Them Laughing (Del Ruth); Chain Lightning (Heisler)


The Flame and the Arrow (Tourneur); Dallas (Heisler)


Jim Thorpe—All American ( Man of Bronze ) (Curtiz); On Moonlight Bay (Del Ruth); Pictura: An Adventure in Art (Dupont and others—compilation) (linking ph)


Monsoon (Amateau); Jhansi ri-rani ( The Tiger and the Flame ) (Modi)


Carnival Story ( Circus of Love ) (Neumann)


Magic Fire (Dieterle); Rebel without a Cause (Ray)


The Come-On (Birdwell); Dakota Incident (Foster); The Cruel Tower (Landers)


Men in War (A. Mann); The Young Don't Cry (Werker); Plunder Road (Cornfield); Hall on Devil's Island (Nyby); Back from the Dead (Warren)


Hell's Five Hours (Copeland); God's Little Acre (A. Mann); Man of the West (A. Mann); Speed Crazy (Hole)

Ernest Haller
Ernest Haller


The Miracle (Rapper); The Third Voice (Cornfield)


Bob and the Pirates (Gordon); Why Must I Die? ( Thirteen Steps to Death ) (Del Ruth); Three Blondes in His Life (Chooluck)


Chivato ( Rebellion in Cuba ) (Gannaway); Armored Command (Haskin); Married Too Young ( I Married Too Young ) (Moskov); Fear No More (Wiesen)


Pressure Point (Cornfield); Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (Aldrich)


Lilies of the Field (Nelson)


Dead Ringer ( Dead Image ) (Henreid)


The Restless Ones (Ross)


By HALLER: article—

"The Future Cameraman," in Breaking Into the Movies , edited by Charles Reed Jones, New York, 1927.

On HALLER: articles—

Monthly Film Bulletin (London), November 1969.

Film Comment (New York), Summer 1972.

Focus on Film (London), no. 13, 1973.

Lovell, Glenn, " Gone With the Wind (1998 Re-release of 1.33:1 Aspect, with Digital Color Enhancements)," in Variety (New York), 22 June 1998.

* * *

The longtime Hollywood cameraman Ernest Haller is probably best known for his work on Gone with the Wind , for which he earned his only Oscar. But his five nominations in fact tell more about his reputation within Hollywood itself. Haller produced quality work for 45 years. He came into his own during the 1950s and was known within industry circles for his expert location shooting.

Haller's roots in the film business went back to Hollywood's origins. After leaving high school, he began in 1914 with Biograph as an actor, but switched to the camera department the following year. His first work behind the camera came with an early serial, The Hazards of Helen . He then moved his way up through the on-the-job training system which was then in force, and was credited for his first film as cinematographer in 1920. An Ernest Haller film would then appear every year until 1965.

At Warner Brothers during the early 1930s, work was fast and furious, and Haller helped grind films out at the rate of one every two months. Representative titles included Howard Hawks's The Dawn Patrol and Frank Lloyd's Weary River . But he worked on every possible genre, and did what he was told. By the late 1930s Ernest Haller had worked his way up to strictly A-budget feature films. He worked with all the major stars on the Warner lot, from Errol Flynn to Humphrey Bogart to James Cagney. If he had a specialty it was photographing the films of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Indeed he won an Oscar nomination for Davis's Jezebel and Crawford's Mildred Pierce . The latter film was one of the pioneering efforts in the early days of film noir .

With the coming of age of independent film production in the 1950s, Haller began to freelance like nearly all other cameramen. He formally left Warners in 1951 and worked on some poor films, and also on some of Hollywood's best. In the latter category we certainly must include Rebel without a Cause , directed by Nicholas Ray and a pioneering effort in CinemaScope, and Man of the West directed by Anthony Mann, a great director of westerns.

Yet despite his long association with Warners and other distinguished work, Haller will always best be remembered for his work behind the camera for Gone with the Wind . He was not David O. Selznick's original choice for cinematographer, and he started long after production was well underway, replacing Lee Garmes. Historians note that although Haller receives sole credit for the camerawork on the film (and received the film's Oscar for camerawork), Lee Garmes was responsible for most of the first hour of the picture. Yet certainly the bulk of Gone with the Wind is Haller's picture, and will always be noted as the most important color film made in Hollywood prior to the 1950s.

—Douglas Gomery

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