Frank Tidy, Cinematographer on Ridley Scott's 'The Duellists,' Dies at 84

Courtesy of Patrick Tidy
Frank Tidy

The British veteran also worked on five films with director Andrew Davis, including 'Under Siege' and 'Steal Big Steal Little.'

Frank Tidy, the veteran British cinematographer who shot Ridley Scott's The Duellists and five films for director Andrew Davis, has died. He was 84.

Tidy died Friday at a nursing home in Kent, England, after a battle with dementia, his son Patrick told The Hollywood Reporter.

Tidy served as Scott’s cinematographer on hundreds of commercials for RSA, the director's U.K. production company with his brother Tony Scott, starting in the 1960s. Tidy's first feature credit came on the war drama The Duellists (1977), which starred Keith Carradine, Harvey Keitel and Albert Finney.

Critics admire the film for Tidy's use of natural sources, like an open window or candlelight, to light the film.

"The artfully choreographed showdowns are staged in some of the most gorgeous settings ever committed to film," Stephen Pizzello wrote in American Cinematographer magazine after The Duellists was released on DVD. "Critic Pauline Kael praised The Duellists for its 'Gericault-like compositions,' and Tidy's lighting would earn the approval of Vermeer himself."

Scott said in his DVD commentary that he "had no concerns about how much [of the imagery] was in the shadows. Frank knew that this was what I liked … I don't mind sometimes if [the frame] goes totally dark. Frank just really knew how far to go."

Tidy received a BAFTA Film Award nomination for his work.

Tidy first collaborated with Davis on the Chuck Norris action film Code of Silence (1985) and then partnered with the American director on The Package (1989), starring Gene Hackman; Under Siege, toplined by Steven Seagal; Steal Big Steal Little (1995), starring Andy Garcia; and Keanu Reeves' Chain Reaction (1996).

Tidy also shot two films helmed by Canadian Phillip Borsos: The Grey Fox (1982) and One Magic Christmas (1985).

Tidy's film résumé also includes The Mean Season (1985), Alan Alda's Sweet Liberty (1986), The Butcher's Wife (1991), Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992), Getting Away With Murder (1996) and Hoodlum (1997).

A native of Liverpool, Tidy began his career as a stop-motion cameraman for an animation studio in London. In 1965, he formed Valley Films with director Roger Woodburn and cinematographer Peter Biziou, and they worked extensively on commercials.

His son Patrick is a veteran assistant director in Hollywood who is now at work on the Kiefer Sutherland ABC drama Designated Survivor.

Survivors also include his daughter Katharine and grandchildren Sean, Ellen and Amy.

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