January 2, 2017


Bernard Knowles (1900-1975) b. Manchester, England.

Brilliant British cinematographer who made a fine start to his directorial career, but very quickly tailed off into the routine and spent most of this side of his career making half-hour stories for television. Knowles began his career as a newspaper photographer, at one time going to America to work for the Detroit News. On his return to England in 1922, Gainsborough took him on as an assistant cameraman, and he soon became a lighting cameraman, a pioneer of sophisticated camera techniques and an ace at conjuring up an atmosphere by use of black and white cinematography. Knowles’ work was particularly noteworthy on Dawn (1928), Forever England (1935), The 39 Steps (1935), King Solomon’s Mines (1937) and Gaslight (1940). After World War II, Knowles decided to forsake photography for direction and made a fine start with the delicate ghost story A Place of One’s Own (1945). His next film, The Magic Bow (1946), with Stewart Granger playing Paganini, and several people helping Granger to play the violin, in one word: ‘Fiddlesticks’. The decline into mediocrity continued, with the reservation that Knowles’ films always looked every bit as good as those of an ex-cinematographer should, especially his two ventures in TechniColour, The Man Within (1947) and Jassy (1947). Unlike Jack Cardiff, Knowles never returned to cinematography, which was unfortunate.

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