Joseph La Shelle - Writer





Cinematographer and cameraman. Nationality: American. Born: Los Angeles, California, 1905 (some sources say 1900); sometimes credited as Joseph W. La Shelle. Education: Trained as electrical engineer. Career: 1923—joined Lasky Studios as laboratory assistant, then superintendent of printing room at Paramount, and assistant cameraman: assistant to Charles G. Clarke in late 1920s, and to Arthur Miller at Pathé and Fox during 1930s; 1943—first film as cinematographer, Happy Land . Award: Academy Award for Laura , 1944. Died: In San Diego, California, 20 August 1989.


Films as Cameraman:

1926

Rocking Moon (Melford); Whispering Smith (Melford); The Flame of the Yukon (Melford)

1929

The Pagan (Van Dyke)

1931

The Painted Desert (Higgin)

1934

The White Parade (Cummings)

1935

The Little Colonel (Butler); It's a Small World (Cummings)

1938

The Baroness and the Butler (W. Lang)

1940

Brigham Young—Frontiersman (Hathaway)

1941

Tobacco Road (Ford); How Green Was My Valley (Ford)

1943

The Song of Bernadette (H. King)



Films as Cinematographer:

1943

Happy Land (Pichel)

1944

Bermuda Mystery (Stoloff); The Eve of St. Mark (Stahl); Take It or Leave It (Stoloff); Laura (Preminger)

1945

Hangover Square (Brahm); A Bell for Adano (H. King); Fallen Angel (Preminger)

1946

Doll Face ( Come Back to Me ) (Seiler); Cluny Brown (Lubitsch); Claudia and David (W. Lang)

1947

The Late George Apley (Mankiewicz); The Foxes of Harrow (Stahl)

1948

Deep Waters (H. King); The Luck of the Irish (Koster); Road House (Negulesco)

1949

The Fan ( Lady Windermere's Fan ) (Preminger); Come to the Stable (Koster); Everybody Does It (Goulding)

1950

Mother Didn't Tell Me (Binyon); Under My Skin (Negulesco); Where the Sidewalk Ends (Preminger); Mr. 880 (Goulding); The Jackpot (W. Lang)

1951

The Guy Who Came Back (Newman); The Thirteenth Letter (Preminger); Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell (Koster) (co); Elopement (Koster)

1952

The Outcasts of Poker Flat (Newman); Les Miserables (Milestone); My Cousin Rachel (Koster); Something for the Birds (Wise)

1953

Dangerous Crossing (Newman); Mister Scoutmaster (Levin)

1954

Tournament of Roses (O. Lang—short); River of No Return (Preminger); The First Piano Quartet (O. Lang—short); Movie Stunt Pilot (O. Lang—short); Piano Encores (O. Lang—short); Jet Carrier (O. Lang—short); Marty (Delbert Mann)

1955

Storm Fear (Wilde); The Conqueror (Powell) (co)

1956

Our Miss Brooks (Lewis); Run for the Sun (R. Boulting); Crime of Passion (Oswald); Fury at Showdown (Oswald); The Bachelor Party (Delbert Mann)

1957

I Was a Teenage Werewolf (Fowler); The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown (Taurog); The Abductors (McLaglen); No Down Payment (Ritt)

1958

The Long Hot Summer (Ritt); The Naked and the Dead (Walsh)

1959

Career (Anthony)

1960

The Apartment (Wilder); All in a Night's Work (Anthony)

1961

The Honeymoon Machine (Thorpe); The Outsider (Delbert Mann)

1962

A Child Is Waiting (Cassavetes); How the West Was Won (Hathaway, Marshall, and Ford) (co)

1963

Irma La Douce (Wilder); Wild and Wonderful (Anderson)

1964

Kiss Me, Stupid (Wilder)

1965

Seven Women (Ford); The Chase (Penn)

1966

The Fortune Cookie ( Meet Whiplash Willie ) (Wilder)

1967

Barefoot in the Park (Saks); Kona Coast (Johnson)

1969

U.M.C. ( Operation Heartbeat ) (Sagal); 80 Steps to Jonah (Oswald)



Publications


By LA SHELLE: article—

"Cukoloris: Set Lighting's Most Versatile Tool," in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), July 1984.


On LA SHELLE: articles—

Lightman, Herb A., on My Cousin Rachel in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), February 1953.

Film Comment (New York), Summer 1972.

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

Kimble, G., on How the West Was Won in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), October 1983.

Film Dope (Nottingham), November 1985.

Obituary in Variety (New York), 30 August 1989.

Obituary in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), October 1989.


* * *


During a long career extending from 1924 through 1969, Joseph La Shelle earned a reputation as one of Hollywood's foremost practitioners of stylistic and literate cinematography through his work on such milestones as Laura , My Cousin Rachel , The Naked and the Dead , and The Apartment . In particular, he excelled at the difficult art of successfully transferring works initially conceived for other media to the screen by experimenting with angles and lighting to imbue them with a fresh perspective.

In Laura , which was taken from the stage, he overcame a script that called for no exterior shots other than one or two designed exclusively for studio sets. Through sheer artistry, he managed to convey a world of café society, expensive restaurants, and ornate Park Avenue apartments with few viewers noticing the absence of city streets and country parks. For this achievement, he received an Academy Award. However, his achievement is equally apparent on such other adaptations from the stage as The Long Hot Summer and Barefoot in the Park .

La Shelle started in films as a lab assistant in 1923 following his graduation from high school. He worked his way up to become head of the film laboratory at Lasky's by 1925 but deserted it for a job behind the camera a year later. After a variety of photographic assignments at the Metropolitan Studios and at the Cecil B. DeMille lot, he became a camera operator for the prominent cinematographer Arthur Miller, a position he held until 1943. During this period he achieved particular recognition for his work on John Ford's How Green Was My Valley and Henry King's The Song of Bernadette . After the latter film, he graduated to the rank of cinematographer and won the Academy Award for Laura a year later.

During a distinguished career, he was recognized as being equally adept in both black-and-white and color cinematography and was similarly "at home" with intimate comedy-dramas ( The Apartment ) or sprawling outdoor panaramas ( How the West Was Won ). He received 15 Academy Award nominations, making him one of the most critically acclaimed artists, regardless of category, in motion picture history.

—Stephen L. Hanson

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