Douglas Slocombe, 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' Cinematographer, Dies at 103

Courtesy of Photofest
Douglas Slocombe on the set on 'Lease of Life' (1954) with a visiting Katharine Hepburn.

The London native also worked on such films as 'The Great Gatsby,' 'Julia,' 'The Lion in Winter' and 'Rollerball.'

Douglas Slocombe, the three-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer who collaborated with Steven Spielberg on the first three Indiana Jones films, has died. He was 103.

The famed British director of photography died Monday morning in a hospital in London, his daughter, Georgina, told the Agence France-Presse wire service.

Slocombe received his Oscar noms for his work on Travels With My Aunt (1972), directed by George Cukor; Fred Zinnemann’s Julia (1977), starring Jane Fonda; and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), the first of Spielberg’s Indiana Jones films with Harrison Ford as the adventurer.

Slocombe also did Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) and Rollerball (1975) for director Norman Jewison and other notable films like Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968), The Italian Job (1968), The Great Gatsby (1974) — for which he collected one of his three BAFTA awards — and Never Say Never Again (1983), the last movie to feature Sean Connery as James Bond.

Slocombe reunited with Spielberg for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), his final film.

“The past few months have been pretty rough on our little corner of the world,” American Society of Cinematographers president Richard Crudo, referencing the deaths of Vilmos Zsigmond and Haskell Wexler, said in a statement. “The sad news about Douglas Slocombe is just the latest kick in the pants.

“He was part of that group who inspired so many members of my generation to become cinematographers … and there are now so few left. Though we won't see the likes of him again, his spirit will live through his work for as long as there are motion pictures.”

Early in his career, the London native worked at the famed Ealing Studios of his hometown, where he shot the Alec Guinness comedies Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) and The Man in the White Suit (1951).

A former photojournalist, Slocombe was on hand for the German invasions of Poland and Holland, and his footage was used in the Herbert Kline documentary Lights Out in Europe (1940), about the prelude to World War II.

“I had fallen in love with photography and was making a living doing photographic features for publications such as Picture Post, Paris Match and Life magazine,” he told the BBC in 2014. “But in 1939 I saw a huge headline which I think was in the Sunday Express. It said: ‘Danzig — Danger Point of Europe.’ I packed up my Leica, got on a train and went.”

Later, Slocombe returned to England and worked on newsreels and propaganda films for the Ministry of Information.


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