I was saddened last night to hear of the passing of cinematographer Gordon Willis at the age of 82. The Queens, NY-born Willis' work as Director of Photography on such mighty classics as THE GODFATHER series, seven of Woody Allen's best films, seminal '70s films like KLUTE, THE PARALLAX VIEW, and ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN all left a lot of iconic imagery forever embedded in my, and undoubtedly many others', movie-loving memories.
In tribute here's 10 of my favorite screenshots from the films Willis shot that I believe capture the immaculate beauty of his compositions (and give some indication of why he was called “The Prince of Darkness”):
1. MANHATTAN (Dir. Woody Allen, 1979)
2. THE GODFATHER (Dir. Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
3. PENNIES FROM HEAVEN (Dir. Herbert Ross, 1981)
4. THE PARALLAX VIEW (Dir. Alan J. Pakula, 1974)
5. ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN (Dir. Alan J. Pakula, 1976)
6. ANNIE HALL (Dir. Woody Allen, 1977)
7. THE GODFATHER PART II (Dir. Francis ford Coppola, 1974)
8. STARDUST MEMORIES (Dir. Woody Allen, 1980)
9. INTERIORS (Dir. Woody Allen, 1978)
10. KLUTE (Dir. Alan J. Pakula, 1971)
This easily could have been a top 100 Willis screenshots list as I went through so many great images to pick these out. Sure, I'm glossing over what Willis' lens viewed in the '80s and '90s in less classic though still notable movies like PERFECT, THE MONEY PIT, BRIGHT LIGHTS BIG CITY, and, sigh, THE GODFATHER: PART III, but those are the pictures I've chosen!
There are even striking shots from his last film, the critically lambasted THE DEVIL'S OWN in 1997, (frequent collaborator Alan J. Pakula's final film too), that could have made the list as well.
One last parting shot (from STARDUST MEMORIES):
R.I.P. Gordon Willis (1931-2014)