Conrad Hall

Conrad Hall

Hall working on the 1992 thriller Jennifer 8.
Born Conrad Hall
(1926-06-21)June 21, 1926
Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia
Died January 6, 2003(2003-01-06) (aged 76)
Santa Monica, California, USA
Other names Connie
Occupation Cinematographer
Years active 19582003
Title ASC

Katharine Ross (1969–1975)[1]
Virginia Schwartz

Susan Kowarsh-Hall (c. 2003)
Children Conrad W. Hall Kate Hall-Feist Naia Hall-West
Awards Academy Award for Best Cinematography
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 1969
American Beauty 1999
Road to Perdition 2002

Conrad Lafcadio Hall, ASC (June 21, 1926 January 6, 2003) was an American cinematographer from Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia. Named after writers Joseph Conrad and Lafcadio Hearn, he was best known for photographing films such as In Cold Blood, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, American Beauty, and Road to Perdition. For his work he garnered a number of awards, including three Academy Awards and BAFTA Awards.

In 2003, Hall was judged to be one of history's ten most influential cinematographers in a survey of the members of the International Cinematographers Guild.[2]

He has been given a star in Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame.

Early life

Conrad L Hall was born on June 21, 1926 in Papete, Tahiti. His father was James Norman Hall who was an ace pilot and captain in the Lafayette escadrille that fought for France in World War I. His father also co-wrote Mutiny On The Bounty. His mother was Sarah Winchester Hall.[3] Growing up Hall never was around cameras and the idea of going to the movies was a foreign concept. In his teens, Hall moved from Tahiti to Santa Barbara for prep school. After prep school, Hall was told by his father to find his path in life. In reaction Hall attended the University of Southern California, intending to study journalism, but ended up doing poorly leading him to the cinema school. He wasn’t sure this was the right decision yet he thought since this was a new art form it would be interesting to start from the bottom. Hall went to the cinema school at a time when Slavko Vorkapić was the head of the program. Hall recalls that “He taught me that film-making was a new visual language. He taught the principles, and left the rest up to us”.[4] After creating his first shots in school he fell in love with the art and wanted to continue telling his stories through imagery. A few people that visited his school during his education at USC was John Huston as well as Orson Welles. After graduation in 1949 Hall expected to get a job right out of college. Yet, Hollywood at that time, only allowed the camera crew to be filled with people that were on the International Photographers Guild roster.[4]


After graduation Hall collaborated with his classmates, Marvin R. Weinstein and Jack C. Couffer, to create the company known as Canyon Films in 1949. In the beginning they made advertising commercials and documentaries and did pickup shots for features. In 1956 Canyon Films acquired a short film, My Brother Down There, which allowed Hall to enter into the cameraman position. This job permitted Hall to become part of the International Photographers Guild. In reaction, the Guild made Canyon Films hire a Guild Cameraman for the film My Brother Down There. This, consequently, caused Hall to lose credit on this film even though he shot the entire film. Instead, Hall was credited as the visual consultant, after United Artists released the film under the new title Running Target. Once this film was finished the members of Canyon films separated and went off on their own paths. Since Hall was part of the Guild, he was able to work as an assistant cameraman at the side of many influential cinematographers such as Hall Mohr, Ernie Haller, Burnie Guffey and Ted McCord who were all part of the ASC. Following a year of working as an assistant cameraman, he was awarded the chance to be the camera operator on the television series known as Stoney Burke. In 1963, he began filming another television series called The Outer Limits. Then, in 1964, he began to shoot the black and white film called Wild Seed. This film was made in about 24 days with producer Tom Shaw. Next, Hall worked on Morituri in 1965, which helped him receive his first Oscar nomination. In the following year Hall shot Incubus, The Professional, as well as Harper, which was his first color film. The Professional gave him his second Oscar nomination from his work with director Richard Brooks. The next film Hall worked on, also directed by Brooks, was In Cold Blood, in 1967. This movie helped Hall to receive another Oscar nomination.[4] This movie was known for the documentary feel and location shots giving an extreme realism effect to the film. In that same year, Hall shot Cool Hand Luke and Divorce American Style. Cool Hand Luke was known for being shot in Panavision as well as the lush colors presented throughout the film.[5] In 1968, Hall was a part of the Hell in the Pacific production. Then finally, in 1969, Hall received the Oscar for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He also made two other films that same year; The Happy Ending and Tell them Willie Boy is Here. In order to make sure Butch Cassidy was visually compatible with the time period, he used experimental techniques. He overexposed the negatives in order to mute the primary colors when printing it back (Hunter, 2003). Finally, in 1972, Hall shot Fat City, with director John Huston. This film was known for its grainy texture to reflect the harsh reality of the storyline.[4] Next he shot Electra Glide in Blue in 1973, following that he shot Smile in 1975. He received an Oscar nomination for his work on The Day of the Locust that was also shot in 1975. In 1976 he shot the film Marathon Man with director John Schlesinger. After shooting 18 films in 12 years, Hall took an 11-year break after Marathon Man. Yet, in the mid 70’s, he teamed up with Haskell Wexler to make a commercial production company (Vinson, 1987). This allowed him to not only be the cameraman to his own work, but also the director. The break for him was about understanding and learning from others about their unique techniques. As Hall stated; “At heart I am more than a cinematographer. I’m a filmmaker.”.[4] This led to his exploration of writing such as The Wild Palms script that he wrote based off the novel. Hall finally came back to the film industry in 1987 to shoot Black Widow. In 1988 Hall became part of the union crew for Tequila Sunrise after a few complications.[6] In addition, in 1988 the ASC gave Hall the outstanding achievement award. After his powerful work on Tequila Sunrise, he shot Class Action (1991), Jennifer 8 (1992), Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993), as well as Love Affair (1994). Hall had finally returned to his love of cinematography, as well as his passion for using his creative minds. Ultimately, in 1994, Conrad L. Hall was honored with the lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Cinematographers. In 1998 he shot Without Limits, followed by American Beauty in 1999. American Beauty highlighted his unique use of the hand-held camera to capture the films intensified continuity.[7] The last film he shot was in 2002 called Road to Perdition. He won both his academy awards 30 years apart throughout his 50-year career.

Awards/ Nominations

Academy Award

(NOMINATIONS)- Morituri (1965), The Professionals (1966), In Cold Blood (1967), The Day of the Locust (1975), Tequila Sunrise (1988), Searching for Bobby Fisher (1993), A Civil Action (1998),[6]

(WINS)- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), American Beauty (1999)[7]

British Academy Award

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1970)[6]

American Society of Cinematographers -

Outstanding Achievement Award- Tequila Sunrise (1988), Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993), American Beauty (1999)

Lifetime Achievement Award (1994)[4]

Personal life

Hall married three times, to Virginia Schwartz, with whom he had three children, to Katharine Ross from 1969–1975, and Susan Kowarsh-Hall until his death. He has three children, Conrad W. Hall, Kate Hall-Feist, and Naia Hall-West.[8]


Hall died in 2003 owing to complications from bladder cancer at the Santa Monica Hospital.[9] His Oscar for Road to Perdition (2002), which is dedicated to Hall, was posthumously accepted by his son Conrad W. Hall, also a cinematographer.

Hall was and still is affectionately referred to as "Connie" by his peers and associates.





  1. "CONRAD L. HALL". Internet Encyclopedia of Cinematographers. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
  2. "Top 10 Most Influential Cinematographers Voted on by Camera Guild," October 16, 2003. Retrieved January 28, 2011.
  3. Hunter, Allen (2003). "Obituary Conrad L Hall". Scotsman Publication via Proquest.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Fisher, Bob (1994). A Lifetime of Achievement: Conrad Hall. American Cinematographer.
  5. Brodesser, Claude (Variety). "Cinematography's Hall of Fame" via Proquest. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. 1 2 3 Vinson, James (1987). The International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers 4.
  7. 1 2 Horn, John (2003). "Obituaries; Conrad Hall, 76; Cinematographer Won Oscars for 'Butch Cassidy' and 'Beauty". Los Angeles Times via Proquest.
  8. "Biography for Conrad Hall". TCM. Retrieved 2009-08-05.
  9. Susman, Gary (2003-01-06). "Goodbye". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-08-05.

External links

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