April 22, 2009 / 6:44 PM / 10 years ago

"African Queen" cinematographer Cardiff dies

British cinematographer and director Jack Cardiff poses with his honorary Oscar at the 73rd annual Academy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium March 25, 2001 in Los Angeles. REUTERS/File

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - British cinematographer and director Jack Cardiff, who was director of photography on “The African Queen,” has died aged 94, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

Best known for his work on “The African Queen” and “Sons and Lovers,” Cardiff was awarded an Oscar for “Black Narcissus” in 1948 and an honorary Academy Award in 2001.

Born in England to two music hall artists, Cardiff grew up in the theater, resulting in a showbusiness career which spanned 90 years. He moved quickly to the production side as a runner on the 1928 film “The Informer,” then worked as a camera operator and eventually a cinematographer.

In 2001, he took part in an interview with readers of the BBC news website, in which he revealed he would have been a painter if he had not worked in film.

Cardiff directed the 1968 movie “Girl On A Motorcycle.” Much of his work was inspired by impressionist painters.

Cardiff was admired by many in the film industry, including director Martin Scorsese who once described the 18-minute dance sequence in the 1948 film “The Red Shoes” as “a moving painting.”

When asked which films he was most proud of, Cardiff said the “successful” ones had really made their mark.

“Naturally, I am proud of successful films that I have enjoyed working on like ‘The Red Shoes’ and the ‘Black Narcissus’ and I have had a certain satisfaction from that,” the BBC quoted him as saying.

“But the films that I am most proud of - the film for instance that I made under great difficulty, ‘Sons and Lovers’, I wanted to make it into a good film because the book is marvelous and I didn’t want to let the author (D.H. Lawrence) down.”

Reporting by Paul Casciato; editing by Patricia Reaney

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